A Simple Test

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I was watching an episode of Joyce Meyer and she brought up a very interesting, but simple topic.  Jesus was not “phased” by the day’s events, because He walked in love…as simple as that.  Last night in my womens’ group, we were sharing scriptures and the topic of love came up.  I shared with them a simple trick to see if they were walking in love.  This comes from a previous post of mine.   I encourage you to take the “simple test” to see if you too are walking in love.

Ephesians 4:2 says, “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.”

Love never gives up. Love cares more for others than for self. Love doesn’t want what is doesn’t have. Love doesn’t strut, doesn’t have a swelled head, doesn’t force itself on others, isn’t always me first, doesn’t fly off the handle, doesn’t keep score of the sins of others, doesn’t revel when others grovel, takes pleasure in the flowering of the truth, puts up with anything, trusts God always, always looks for the best, never looks back, but keeps going to the end!

If you’re wondering if you are walking in love, insert your name for “love” in the scripture above (a little trick I learned from author Francis Chan). You will quickly see the path you are following.

Love in Christ,
Nichole

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Divine Purpose

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Yes, I will boldly admit that I am an avid follower of Lost. I have devoted the last six years of my life to this show (a bit of a stretch, I know!). I have always been intrigued with the unknown, especially in the plot of my own life. During each episode I was literally “lost” trying to figure out a lot of “whys” and what exactly was going on. As all great series come to an end, this one did last night. I will say that I felt very satisfied with the ending and glad that I stuck it out for the long haul. Many people criticized the show and did not see any reason to watch it. I have similar feelings to other shows out there, but I keep those feelings to myself. I thoroughly believe in “to each his own”.

For the first two hours, with the help of the writers, we followed the journey of Lost from the beginning. Ideally the show was about good versus evil and had both Biblical and Scientific reference. The characters each had a dark past and were chosen by the island’s protector, Jacob, as a replacement for him. The purpose of the island is to keep evil from the rest of the world. They were all brought together for this “Divine Purpose” through a plane crash. Through this disaster, they learned how to survive, work together, lean on each other, save each other, and most importantly, forgive each other.

I have often read that God does not call the qualified, He qualifies the called. Romans 8:30 says, “And these who He predestined, He also called: and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.” Just like Jacob had his reasons for choosing his replacements, God has His reasons for choosing us. We all have different roles to play in our own story. Just like the characters in this series, we are either called to fix people, love people, heal people, mend people, encourage people, teach people, and/or believe in people. In order for good to defeat evil, we have to accept our roles and live them out. Hebrews 10:25 says, “ Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”

Just like me, most of us are “lost” trying to figure out our sense of purpose. What I am finding is that my purpose has been right there all along, I just did not accept it. I was so involved in comparing myself to others and focusing on my weaknesses that I did not embrace who I was. Now, granted some of those weaknesses over shadowed the strengths, but through my work with God, I am able to find a healthy balance and live out what I am called to do. I fix people, love people, see the good in people, and teach people. So many times, I get hurt in the process because my help is often rejected and I have come to realize that not everyone wants my help. But who would I be if I did not try? I would not be me.

I am not sure what role you play in life, but I hope that you embrace it. Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him and who have been called according to His purpose.” Love yourself, love others, and keep striving to fulfill your destiny. You have no idea whose life you may impact.

Love in Christ,
Nichole

The Foundation

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So, I’m driving back from Florida and thoroughly enjoying the Sirius Radio in our mode of temporary transportation, when this song comes on the radio. I almost turned the station, but something prevented me from doing so. It was a country song by Miranda Lambert titled “The House that Built Me” (I’ve added it to my music player in case you need to hear it for yourself).

All this talk about houses and my recent trip to the beach has directed my thinking towards homes, their foundations, and just how important those foundations are. Beach front homes, especially, have to be built a special way in order to survive hurricanes. Devastating storms are considered when the blue prints are made.

According to Wikipedia, beach front buildings should be able to withstand the ocean rising 20 or more feet, with large waves on top of that. They should preferably be built on high ground where possible, in order to avoid waves knocking the building down. If waves can reach the building site, the building should be elevated on steel, concrete, or wooden pilings and/or anchored to solid rock.

We put our trust in the builder and hope that the end product is a beautiful peace of ocean front property that can whether the storms.

Just as a house has a foundation, we too have one.  In Miranda’s song, she talks about revisiting the house she grew up in. She was hoping to find some healing from the visit and take a few memories with her.  The words that “get” me everytime are…

I thought if I could touch this place or feel it
This brokenness inside me might start healing
Out here it’s like I’m someone else
I thought that maybe I could find myself
If I could just come in I swear I’ll leave
Won’t take nothing but a memory
From the house that built me

The visual I am getting is the foundation was not so solid. I’m not sure what went on behind those walls, but it made her who she is today. Maybe she came from a family of domestic violence, abuse, poverty, or maybe she was left without parents. Whatever the circumstances are, it’s clear that that the end result is not a house with a so called “white picket fence”. 

I’m sure we can all relate to the song.  For some of us, we are made out of fear, anxiety, depression, impatience, loneliness, unworthiness, shame, and guilt.  Our foundation is broken, so we are broken.  The picture may display something else, but when we are faced with the storms of life, our true identify is revealed. 

Luke 6:47-49 (New King James) says, “Whoever comes to Me, and hears My sayings and does them, I will show you whom he is like: He is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently against that house, and could not shake it, for it was founded on the rock.  But he who heard and did nothing is like a man who built a house on the earth without a foundation, against which the stream beat vehemently; and immediately it fell. And the ruin of that house was great.”

The house that built me was not perfect and for many years I endured tremendous pain from it.  But as I am discovering through my journey and my relationship with God, my house is slowly being rebuilt.  With each storm, I become stronger; with each step, the correct foundation is being layed.  

If the storms of life overtake you everytime, then maybe it’s time for an inspection; time to inspect the foundation of the house that built you.

Love in Christ,
Nichole

A Temporary Status

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At work, I am classified as a “temporary” employee…temp for short.  The word “temp” has such a negative connotation.  At a previous job, temps were often given the jobs that nobody wanted to do…the scraps so to speak.  Being a temp, I often did not feel included.  I guess something about not being a full time employee with benefits and perks, took me out of the inclusion loop.  I missed out on team outings, paid days off, etc. 

But what I am discovering in my present status is that being  a “temp” is not so bad after all.  I guess, I am seeing “temp” in a whole new light.  Temporary means that nothing is constant, change lies ahead.  Temporary gives you a chance to grow intellectually and as a person.  Being a temp, keeps you on your toes, provides daily challenges.  Through this temporary job, I am learning so much about curriculum development that will greatly increase my value as a teacher, if I make it back down that path one day.  If I don’t, then this experience will not be wasted.  I am learning the value of myself.  My professional “status” does not weigh more than my values, beliefs, and actions. 

I may not have a road map as to what lies ahead, but I am going to enjoy the journey right where I am at.  Proverbs 16: 19 says, “In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps.”  I am going to keep on marching the course that God has planned for me.   So, if you find yourself starrring down the path of the unknown, simply trust that is where you are supposed to be.

Love in Christ,
Nichole

Escaping Usual Boundaries

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I am not skilled to understand
What God has willed,
what God has planned
I only know at His right hand
Stands one who is my Savior

The words from Aaron Shut’s song My Savior My God gets me every time I hear them. I am not skilled to understand devastation and loss and I don’t think I ever will. What I have come to realize through all my experiences is that God doesn’t always want us to know, but to simply trust.

Many Tennessean’s lives have been completely turned upside down. Floods have wreaked havoc or have touched the lives of just about everyone in this state. Every minute every hour, headlines are updated to read “Flooding death toll rises to 18”, “ Nashville braces for more flooding as Cumberland River swells”, “Mayor asks all Davidson’s Co. residents to conserve water”, and this list keeps pouring on.

According to Wikipedia, a flood is an overflow of an expanse of water that submerges land. Flooding may result from the volume of water within a body of water, such as a river or lake, which overflows or breaks levees, with the result that some of the water escapes its usual boundaries.

Sure, we all know the definition of a flood, but something about the part of “escapes its usual boundaries” has captured by attention. Boundaries, according to Merriam-Webster.com, are something that indicates or fixes a limit or extent.

As I stated before, I am not skilled to understand devastation and why it occurs. It breaks my heart continuously to see lives lost, businesses lost, homes lost. My boyfriend’s family business is a complete loss. The family has spent 30 to 40 years building a business to see it washed away by water escaping its normal boundary.

But what I have experienced by all this devastation is people are too “escaping their usual boundaries”. People no longer see a stranger and pass by; they risk their lives trying to save one another. Age, race, and gender is non existent; we are all one big family united by the desire to help one another.

Wikipedia further stated that, floods (in particular the more frequent/smaller floods) can bring many benefits, such as recharging ground water, making soil more fertile and providing nutrients in which it is deficient.

I know our flood in particular was not small on any scale and from what I can tell did not provide any benefits. However, God’s glory always shines through any tragedy or loss. In the natural eye, we cannot see the benefits throughout this devastation, but I believe He can. He sees love being demonstrated on a continual basis. He sees strangers becoming friends. He sees good people being exposed and honored instead of the bad that are constantly shown in the media and He sees racial barriers being dissolved. Whatever His plan was for all of this, we may never know. Maybe He needed us to come out of our comfort zone and spill over our boundaries for the sake of love and realigning priorities; again, we may never know.

Just as the waters recede and the restoration process begins, individuals too begin the restoration process. The damaged will be assessed and repairs get underway. As hard as this may be for people to process, God is still with us. Psalms 139:9-10 says, “If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; even there Your head shall lead me, and Your right hand shall hold me.”

It is my hope that after the pain of this devastation subsides, we can see the benefits of the storm through His eyes.

Love in Christ,
Nichole