Don’t Miss the Miracle Because It Looks So Familiar

If you’ve been following along over the last couple of weeks, you know I’ve been sharing stories I’ve not shared here on the blog. Today I’m hitting the pause button to share this post. I felt the Lord had someone who needed this reminder today.

Before anyone in my house awoke for the day, I sat with my calendar. I had many plans for this particular Monday. I quickly jotted down all I hoped to accomplish and instantly heard the faint whispers of overwhelm rising with threat in their voices.

Laying my pencil on the table, I lowered my head. No, this isn’t how I want to start this week. I needed a day to catch my breath. The previous weeks were filled with hosting multiple sets of houseguests, running children to all the activities, starting a Bible study in my home, launching a new business. And all the other life stuff.

I am well familiar with what happens in my soul when I run on little margin. It’s not pretty.

I whispered a tiny prayer. God, I give my day to you. Help me to see where you want me to invest my time today. What should my priorities be?

Within minutes of that whispered prayer, my blurry-eyed youngest stumbled into the kitchen finding his favorite barstool.

“Well, hello there.”
“Hi,” he forced out while laying his head on the counter.
“I’ll run out to the garage freezer and grab some waffles.”

Opening the freezer door, warm air greeted me. No welcoming hum sang from within. All the food seemed to be clinging to its final moments.

Frantically, I began touching all the food determining what could be saved and what would be tossed. I instantly calculated the dollars soon to fill my trash bins.

This was all so familiar. A pattern of sorts. I’ve been down this broken appliance road one too many times. I know what to expect. And riding the coattails of this familiar feeling were discouragement and frustration. Feelings of almost giving up on the situation. Ready to throw my hands up, throw in the towel, and be done.

In the last 6 weeks, we replaced our washing machine and vacuum cleaner, repaired our broken refrigerator twice, and repaired the air condition, which chose to quit over a holiday weekend when temperatures hung out at 100 degrees.

I’ve found a fear of broken things taking up residence in me. When something threatens to break, I feel this panic try to set in. I’ve begun to assume the story will be the same with each incident.

I heard another whisper. A gentle one. It seemed to say, “It’s o.k.”

I turned away from the freezer, walked back into my house, and felt a calmness take over and joy rise up. It was the strangest of feelings.

That’s when I heard God whisper, “Just because it’s been one way before doesn’t mean it’ll be that way again. Trust me with your day and situation.”

How many times have I faced situations that seem to come at me in cycles? A relationship conflict, a misunderstanding, a problem that seems void of solutions. How often do I face these with the same expectations each time assuming because it turned out one way in the past, it’s destined to turn out the same way again?

How quickly do I allow discouragement to lead my thoughts rather than hope? How often do I give fear the freedom to speak when I should allow trust to do the silencing on my behalf?

I pulled out pans and began browning meat I could freeze. I turned on the oven and cooked bacon. I plugged in the Instant Pots and had brisket cooking in one and chicken in the other.

The kitchen was a flurry of mess and activity over the next 2 hours. When it was all done, I had dinners cooked for the entire week. Unplanned and unprecedented. That was not on my checklist or agenda, nor would it ever have been. A miracle for sure.

I cleaned up the kitchen and stored away all these unexpected dinner dishes. That’s when I remembered the freezer issue still remained.

I’d made a choice to not believe that because all our other appliances were breaking that it meant this one was doomed as well. I walked with confident assurance to that dusty old freezer.

I looked inside as if I knew what I was looking for. I noticed a seal missing in the back and a crack. Possibly the culprit? But no, I reminded myself. I won’t yet believe that it’s broken based on past history.

I followed the trail of cord to the outlet. So much dust and dirt back there. I moved in slightly closer. It was barely noticeable. The cord somehow had been nudged just the slightest bit out of the socket.

With a gentle tap of my fingers, the familiar hum signaled the freezer’s resurrected life.

I returned to my kitchen and found my calendar and to do lists. As I surveyed the nights ahead, I realized the gift these prepared meals will be to us. More importantly than the meals, I knew God had multilayered gifts for me hidden in what appeared broken and familiar.

He’s teaching me to hold my plans in my open palm. He’s teaching me to listen to His voice before any others. He’s teaching me to always believe and hope in the new things He’s doing. He’s teaching me to look for the miracles hiding in familiar situations.

Today, if you find yourself facing a discouraging situation filled with familiar, open your hands and offer it back to Him. Maybe the time is now to watch Him do something miraculously new.

See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
and streams in the wasteland.
Isaiah 43:19, NIV

 

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That time God said yes to our impossible prayer request

If you’ve been following along, you know I’ve been sharing a little more of my own journey that began before I started writing on this blog.

To read these posts begin here with:

About that whole never say never thing

We need to share our stories

How to overcome overwhelm, achieve our goals, and celebrate victories

I think in following God, it takes giving up our need to know what’s ahead of us. It takes us trusting who we know Him to be as He shows in His Word. It takes actually spending time with Him.

That is the next critical piece of this story. I shared in the last post that at the same time I worked on overcoming my Coke addiction, I began having a daily quiet time with God.

Of everything I’ve ever done in my life, establishing this daily discipline has been the biggest and most life-changing. It’s something you don’t see while doing it. You see when you look back over the years you’ve established the habit.

It started so small I was certain nothing was happening. Yet, God promises His Word doesn’t return void. When I “felt” nothing or “heard” nothing, I kept sitting with Him, reading His Word, and praying. That is it. It started as 5 minutes a day that grew to 10 that grew to an hour. Over many years.

It changed how I think. It has changed who I am completely. It made it so that I know the heart of God. I know His character. When I feel a leading in a direction, I go back to who He is. Does it match? If yes, I can move confidently forward.

I’ve shared before that right out of graduate school, I passed the CPA exam and began working for a firm in Atlanta. I picked that career the best I knew how, which isn’t saying much. How does a 19-20 year old really know what they want to do for the rest of their life? The pressure.

So I used logic and reasoning- very accountant-like. I wanted to be a business woman. I wanted to make a nice income. I was really good with numbers and math. I thought like an accountant. It fit like a glove. Until 3  years into working when Steve and I were soon to have our first child.

Everything I ever aspired towards faded. All I wanted was to be home with my babies. My dreams changed drastically. We began praying fervently for God to provide a way for me to stay home. This seemed beyond impossible. We set up our life on 2 incomes. We built a brand new house, bigger than we needed, requiring a 2 income setup. I was the primary breadwinner. We saw no way at all.

While we saw no way for me to stay at home, I believed with everything in me that I would in fact stay at home with our kids. When Steve and I would discuss it, I talked as if it already happened. I knew the purity of my heart in asking this request. I knew I served a great big God. I was willing to give up the lifestyle. And something about my young faith made me like a child in the asking. I just trusted He’d say yes. So I didn’t need to understand how He’d accomplish it.

This story picks up during the exact time of life I’ve been sharing about. The time when God began to open my eyes to caring for my body and health. The time when I’d hear friends share information and I’d tune into what they shared. I became fascinated with learning new things. I became invigorated by learning to research on my own and take ownership of my health.

And then another friend shared. And I tuned in because I trusted her. She started a business with a company that prided itself on having cleaner ingredients, she was making a significant income using healthy products, she earned a car with her new company. And I had been praying for a way to stay home, so I called her, asked her to meet me for lunch, and that very day I decided to go for it.

The way I looked at it, I had nothing to lose. Turns out that decision sitting in that restaurant changed the trajectory of our entire lives.

Did you ever see the movie Sliding Doors with Gwyneth Paltrow? I don’t remember anything about that movie except the entire movie was based on the split seconds that can change our lives. The movie showed her life if she caught the train and her life if she missed the train. I think of that often because how many split seconds have altered our lives?

During this season of my life, I worked not only a full time job, but a full time job as a CPA. As in tax seasons where I had no life. I arrived at work before 6:00am, sometimes getting home between 8-9:00pm. I just worked. It was exhausting. I was pregnant with our 2nd child at this time. I tried working at home some. That was harder than going into the office.

I had a nanny for awhile. I had my mom for awhile. I had a friend keep Jacob. He bounced around however we could work it out and afford it. All the while, all I wanted was to be with him. When I got home and heard about all the firsts I’d miss, I felt sick all over again. The ache was so deep I could only pray and beg God to make a way where there was no way.

I started this business that day I had lunch with my friend. And when I say I started, I mean I started. The fact that I worked over 60 hours a week and was pregnant did not hold me back. I fit it in the cracks. I worked with everything in me. I prayed for an opportunity, and when God brought it, I played my role to the best of my abilities.

It was one of the hardest seasons of my life.

I had never been in a “sales” position. I’d never known anything about marketing. I wasn’t good at communicating with people. I’d never been a leader. None of that mattered because God saw all He had ahead of me and used every second of this experience to grow me, challenge me, refine me, and prepare me for where He has me today in this very season. 13 years ago, I knew none of this.

Within 5 months of saying yes to that business with a network marketing company, I’d promoted to the 2nd highest level of the company. I earned the same car my friend earned. I’d replaced my CPA income. I’d built a business that would allow me to work from home. And after we had our 2nd son, I left my job as a CPA.

I share none of this to boast in myself. I did nothing except see the opportunity when I’d been praying. And I worked to the best of my ability. That is all. God did every bit before and beyond.

Here’s the miraculous for me in all of that.

Steve had dreams for his career too. Those dreams would be hard to live out if my job was so fruitful financially we couldn’t move. If a promotion opened up requiring a move, we weren’t able to simply pick up and move and follow his job. But when I left my CPA job, everything changed. 2 years later, we had 2 and 4 year old boys. I’d been staying home for 2 years. We were pregnant with our 3rd son, and Steve was offered a promotion that would require an out of state move.

We were free financially to say yes when that opportunity arose. We were free in so many ways.

Through me saying yes to that opportunity and trusting God through the vigorous process, not only did God give me a way to stay home, He opened up a way to free our family so Steve could follow his dreams as well.

Steve is a gifted leader. Each step of his career, I’ve watched him grow in the gifts God placed in him. If we’d not said yes to my opportunity which seemed so risky and crazy, I can’t imagine what today would look like.

Do you know how crazy people thought I was when I said I was going to join a network marketing company? Do you know how many times I heard, “Those things never work.” “You won’t make it far.” “It’s a scam. Too good to be true.”

I didn’t listen because I fully believed God was leading me. I was trusting Him rather than listening to the naysayers. I decided I was willing to risk humiliation and fail. What did I have to lose? Dignity? It was worth it to me to stay home with my boys.

Sometimes it’s only through the lookback we can so clearly see God’s fingerprints over the journey. While walking it out, it can be scary, risky, embarrassing. But when we know we are hearing God, it doesn’t matter what other people think.

I find myself again risking failure, putting myself out there in front of others, because I believe God is leading me. I’m again building a business with a health and wellness company. All the experiences of the last 13 years have prepared me for this season of life.

So I’m going for it to the best of my abilities. I believe God is inviting me again to trust Him to do something only He can do. To trust Him to use me to lead others into freeing themselves from an unhealthy lifestyle so they can live the abundant life He desires. I believe He’s inviting me to lead others who want to start their own business to join me in this adventure and allow His blessing to funnel through us to His kingdom.

I say all the time, in sharing our stories, we allow each other to find our own stories within. Sometimes the simple act of sharing unlocks something in someone else.

Today if you find yourself hearing God, find confirmation in His Word, just trust Him. You will encounter resistance. You will hear the doubters. You will risk failure. But it’s ok. Even if it fails, it doesn’t mean you heard wrong. Sometimes our greatest failures are the most beautiful gifts. He wastes nothing. Simply trust His leading. Go for it! Freely follow where He leads. He won’t abandon you!

 

 

 

 

How to overcome the overwhelm, achieve your goals, and celebrate victory

 

The last time I posted, I told you I’d share some stories I’ve not shared here before. I feel it’s important to understand some of these stories in order to see where God is leading me now. I also think that in simply sharing these stories, you will find your “me too” moments.

A reader wrote me an email in regards to my post about saying Never. What spoke to her was my admission to my Coke addiction a few years ago. Actually I had a couple people connect with that one. This reader was quite surprised I had a Coke problem.

“I recall that from time to time you’ve referenced talking a walk or a run for exercise.  So in my mind, I just think you’re one of those ‘skinny, healthy, exercising’ people and I allow that to create distance, even if only in my own heart and mind.  I believe this division in my mind is another tactic from our enemy.  He would like nothing more than to cause me to feel strange, ashamed, unable, different, and unworthy.  So, I think that’s why your (seemingly offhanded) comment about Coca-Cola spoke to me.  It was a ‘me too’ moment.” Blog Reader

Ya’ll this struck me straight in the heart. I’ve tossed it around for days now because actually I relate to what she is saying. When I see people posting their beastly workouts or their incredibly out of this world healthy meal, I feel just like this reader. I immediately find I can’t relate to that person. I really dislike exercising. It’s really not fun at all to me. I only do it because I know it’s critical to a healthy life. But I haven’t always exercised.

I only eat healthy (now) because I’ve been working for 13 years on it. And I’ve only just now found something that helps make this so much easier. But it’s been a struggle. (If you want info on what I’ve found, just hit reply to this email or the contact form on the blog. I shared a little on Instagram yesterday.)

Well-meaning people post their healthy lifestyles out of excitement and victory. But at times we receive it in shame, embarrassment, and failure.

My journey started with one conversation. My sister’s friend. She shared about her leaky gut….13 years ago when this was almost unheard of. I mean it existed but no one was talking about it.

I remember the one change I made was how I grocery shopped. To that point, if it were sold at the grocery store, I considered it food. I had no idea what was put in our food. I had no idea that FDA approved doesn’t mean it’s safe or intended to be in our bodies. I had no idea that 75% of what I put in my buggy was actually fighting against me. I had no clue. Until my friend shared her knowledge.

I remember beginning to research and wondering how I’d not known these things my whole life. I remember feeling guilty. I also remember feeling powerless on a daily basis. I felt overwhelmed. How could I “get healthy”?

Another friend asked me what goals I had. She asked me this because I often complained about the state of my health, yet I’d swing through the drive-through or eat the 2nd – or 3rd- piece of chocolate cake. I had 3 goals at that time.

  1. Have a daily quiet time
  2. Drink water (I only drank Coke all day long until after my 2nd son was born.)
  3. Exercise

But guys, this seemed like it was too big to accomplish. I focused first on water. A friend gave me an action plan and held me accountable to it.

Having a friend journey with us makes all the difference. Someone to cheer us on and push us forward.

My friend gave me a plan for how to drink water. I hated the taste of it. I’d pour a glass and “sip” all day making no dent. I’d fill a giant water bottle and stare at it hoping it would supernaturally get into my body.

Here’s the plan she put me on:

  • Wake up and chug a small 8 oz glass of water. Don’t sip. Chug.
  • 8:00 am chug another 8 oz
  • 10:00 am chug
  • Lunch – Reward myself with a Coke after drinking 3 glasses of water.
  • Follow same plan to afternoon
  • Reward 2nd coke after accomplishing afternoon tasks
  • Evening follow same plan

Focusing on small action steps gave me exactly what I needed to take a step in the right direction. For years I spent time focusing on the end goal with no attention paid to what to do to get there because it was too overwhelming.

Small bites. Small steps. Small glasses chugged.

I focused on only that one day. And not even the whole day initially. I segmented the day into thirds, focusing on 1/3 at a time. When I made it through the first 1/3 I felt elated.

Here’s what really began to happen after about a month. When I arrived at my lunchtime reward, I chose to bypass the Coke. When my body was filled with what truly satisfied, my cravings for what harms me decreased. When I had water in my body, I felt more awake and alert. I had more energy. I didn’t want to negate the progress so I stuck with it.

Over the course of time, my 4-5 Cokes a day became 1. Then it became only when eating out. Then it became only when eating pizza or mexican. And then it became never at all.

I have total freedom to drink a Coke. At this point, years later, I don’t have the mindset that I can’t have a Coke. But the desire is totally gone. The taste literally makes me gag. If you told me that years ago I would have doubled over laughing at you.

6 Simple steps to overcome the overwhelm

1. Write down your goal. Be specific not vague. Don’t write “get healthy”. In my case it was “drink 8 glasses of water a day”.

2. Write down specific action steps. I’ve been known to think things will just happen. I trusted in God without participating. Writing how I would drink that water gave me a plan rather than a simple hope that would lead to discouragement and frustration.

3. Have an accountability partner. My friend checking up on me forced me to follow my action steps. I wanted to make her proud.

4. Celebrate the small victories. Then prepare to celebrate the big win.

5. Pay attention. Change happens over time. Often we don’t notice the change because it’s gradual. Spend time looking back and marveling at how far you’ve come. My son struggles to read. Often he focuses on his current struggle and I remind him to look back at where he was a year ago. It doesn’t compare. We have to focus on how far we’ve come then keep on moving.

6. Focus on this moment and this day only. Your goal is longer term, but you just focus on victory for today. Looking at victory forever is overwhelming. His grace is for today. Rest in his daily grace to guide you one step at a time.

So yesterday I posted on Instagram a post I never thought you’d see me post. Remember that whole never say never thing? Y’all we say we shouldn’t say that but we still keep doing it. I have a lot of pride the Lord continues to work right on out of me.

If you aren’t following me on Instagram, I’d love to connect with you over there. It’s the only social media platform I’m currently on. I can offer a little more personal insights and more frequent postings. Here’s my post:

This is my humble pie eating post 🙂 You may be rolling your eyes. I did. Or you may be thinking “That is totally unhealthy and nothing but a fad.” I did.

Gonna be honest, my pride kept me from paying attention a long time ago.

In 1 month:
-My sugar cravings are gone. This is a miracle almost as big as the water to wine.
-I don’t crash at 2:00 & 7:00pm anymore. I have normal, healthy, stable energy all the live long day. No afternoon coffee needed.
-My thinking is clearer and sharper. I’m not forgetting all the little things anymore.
-Not only are my sugar cravings gone, but all cravings are gone. Saying no to unhealthy choices is actually easier when your body is balanced! Who knew??? -All my bloating disappeared. A month ago I couldn’t button a single pair of shorts from last year. I didn’t need to lose weight and didn’t. But all my shorts fit comfortably now! (People who want to lose weight drink it before meals. I drink it after I eat my full meal.)

God made me in such a way that when I love something, I tell everyone. I can’t hold the goodness inside. We were meant to live for others not ourselves.

I did a business similar but not nearly as generous years ago. I promoted to the 2nd highest level of the company, earned the Mercedes, and replaced my CPA income. It was the tool God used in our life to answer the prayer we’d prayed for 2 years – “God, make a way for me to stay home with our kids.” I know it works when you believe and share. It changed our life forever.

Here’s my question for you: Are you looking for something to help you on your journey to a healthier lifestyle? If yes, DM me. I won’t “sell” you anything. I’ll share what I know and trust the Lord to lead you where you need to be.

Here’s my 2nd question: Are you looking for a way to create a 2nd stream of income? Just a couple hundred dollars a month? Or bigger dreams like 10s of 1000s extra a month.
I desire to be a funnel of God’s blessings in all areas of my life – my health, gifts/talents, and finances.

I believe God has led me to this place to lead a team passionate about health and pouring out God’s blessings on the world around us. Join me?

So here’s where I am right now. I’m sharing my heart with you here on the blog. I’m running an online store while working to place physical products in stores. And I’ve started to build a business sharing what I’ve discovered as a breakthrough for people desiring a healthier lifestyle.

Some people are doing all the “right” things but there is a root issue not addressed. They can eat clean, exercise, but still can’t figure out why they have stomach issues, bloating, sugar cravings, migraines, fatigue, etc. And some people desire to do the right things for their health and need someone to come alongside them to encourage them to fight for more willpower.

I’ve been in both of these places which is why I’m passionate to help others.

If this post resonates with you and you want help in this area, please reach out to me. I’d love to help you along your journey and share what I’m learning with you!

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We need to share our stories

Are you on Instagram? You may remember I broke up with Facebook at God’s prompting. I’ve switched over to sharing more on Instagram. If you don’t follow me there, please do. I share shorter insights.

But also something new and fun is IGTV. Instagram TV. I have a channel and a few videos uploaded.

I don’t always have time to sit down and write. So IGTV makes it easy for me to share a little with you about what God is doing.

I’m also thinking I might begin reading my posts there so if you are too busy to read, you can just click and listen. Easier for me than Soundcloud. Anything to simplify these days is helpful.

So today I posted a video, cried through the end of it. Lovely. But I invite you to watch it anyway because I need you to hear my heart.

I’m a firm believer in sharing our stories transparently and authentically. I can’t be anyway other than that. Instagram presents you the very best picture of us. You will only see the top moments of my life. This isn’t because I’m trying to create that image. It’s because I have to protect the lives of my family. I can’t show you everything that I’d freely tell you in person. But what I can be totally vulnerable about is what God is doing inside me personally.

Do you remember a few years ago I said if I ever wrote another book it would be called ‘Rebel in a Good Girl’s Skin’? I think I still need to write that book. I tend to find myself often doing things differently than the “norm” or what the experts say to do.

For instance all the memberships and classes I’ve participated in for blogging say to have a set schedule, post on certain days, at certain times. Write no matter what. Ya’ll, I can’t do that. That feels so unauthentic. I have to write when the Spirit leads me to write. He doesn’t work on my timetable and is constantly teaching me to lean into His schedule not my own.

All that to say, I’m going to blog a little differently over the next couple of posts. If you are new here, welcome! If you are a long time reader, you know me well by now. I think you can trust me that I’ll go back to my more traditional posts.

I need to share some of my stories I’ve never shared with you.

Here’s what I want you to do. Sit back and just enjoy the story. I’ve said it over and over, I’m convinced when we share our stories, others find theirs as well. I’m trusting as I share with you over the next few posts, you will find your own story as well.

By the way, when you send me emails how the Holy Spirit spoke through something I’ve shared with you, you can’t imagine how much it encourages me. I always respond to every single email. If you don’t hear from me, assume the email was lost. Hearing your heart is my favorite thing about writing here. Encouraging you and inspiring your journey is why I pour so much time and money into running this blog.

For today, I invite you to watch my video. The next piece of the story will be coming through a post in the next couple of days.

If you’d like to receive posts directly in your inbox, simply click here. You’ll get some free downloads to enjoy when you do!

Blessings!

Renee

 

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About that whole never say never thing

Have you ever said there is something you will never do only to find yourself doing that exact thing at some point in your life?

These nevers sometimes are spoken only inside the quiet of our own hearts. Yet, the Lord hears them.

I wonder if it’s His kindness towards us that draws us to face the nevers we proclaim with such staunch boldness.

I wonder if the nevers I proclaim are sometimes the voice of my own fear? My pride? My will? My way? My desires and likes.

I forget He is so good. When He stands me face to face with my spoken or heart-muttered “I’ll never”, it’s because He is good beyond my wildest ponderings.

Let me share some of my nevers with you.

“I’ll never speak in public. Thank you, Lord, you called me to writing and not speaking.” I uttered this prayer of thanksgiving as a manipulation tactic to the Creator of my soul. 3 months later guess where I stood? You got it. At a MOPS group speaking on enjoying the journey of life.

You know what happened that day? Something inside me came alive. Like alive in a way I’d never experienced. I’d spent years leading women online. But standing in front of their precious faces, speaking with them, connecting eye to eye, changed my ministry.

That first speaking event my voice shook and cracked, I stood on trembly legs, my sweaty hands clung to the microphone as a lifeline. But the Lord knew I needed to stand face to face with my fear. He knew I couldn’t live life bullied by fear. He needed to see I left gifts He had for me on the table if I allowed fear to keep me behind a screen only.

Here’s another. “I’ll never homeschool my kids. Thank the Lord we have a school we love that loves our kids right back.” Guess what happened? Yes, again. We are entering year 3 of homeschooling. I specifically said I could never homeschool my youngest because his strong will and his learning challenges. I felt sure I’d ruin our relationship forever.

The Lord saw more at stake than I could ever know. In this post, I can’t even begin to tell you all the Lord has done in our family by this act of obedience to homeschool when He led us this direction. But I can say it’s changed everything. I believe one day I’ll look back and shudder to wonder what life would have been like if we’d not listened to God and done what we wanted instead.

I wanted to write and speak more. The Lord wanted me to lay down my dreams and desires at the cross. He wanted me to submit those plans to Him and trust Him to keep them safe for me. He wanted me to know that He wouldn’t take a dream away from me for the sake of taking away a dream. He had bigger dreams. I dreamed too small. I needed to trust and wait.

Sometimes the biggest dreams come true from the smallest of daily sacrifices.

I needed to learn to let God shape my dreams. I needed to allow Him to break my own strong will so He could use me more fully.

“I’ll never write another book again.” I wrote Seeking Christmas naive to the publishing world. I thought I was obedient to write the book and the Lord would do the rest. I had no idea how much marketing would be involved. It was incredibly challenging and I never ever ever wanted to do that again. So I told the Lord in the secret space of my heart to count me out.

audio devotional

Well, I wrote Illuminate. It wasn’t a book. It wasn’t published by a traditional publisher. You know what? I’ve had to do the exact amount of work sharing Illuminate that I did for Seeking Christmas.

Here’s some smaller nevers.

  • I’ll never stop drinking Coke
  • I’ll never lose my sweet tooth and intense love of desserts.

Ya’ll these two right here came from a place of wanting to hang tightly to my own likes and fleshly desire. I gripped so tight and said I’d never let go.

The Lord knew how tight I clung and with the most gentle touch I’ve ever received He removed my Coke addiction before I ever realized it was gone. This is an entirely separate post altogether and I will write out more of this journey soon.

But there is one more thing I said I’d never do again and I think you can guess the outcome. I’m doing it.

A little backstory first….

In 2005, after 2 years of praying for a way for me to stay home with our kids and help me find a way to replace my income as a CPA, God brought an opportunity. It took work. Money didn’t fall in my lap. I went for it, worked hard, and in 5 months I replaced my salary, earned a car, and 3 months later began staying at home with our 2 year old and newborn.

You know what I was doing during those months? Leading a team of women. I’d never been in a leadership role before. Suddenly, I found myself with all these women looking to me for guidance, encouragement, and motivation. I fell in love with this team of women. I fell in love with leadership.

Saying yes to that opportunity changed the trajectory of our entire lives. Financially for sure. But serving in that role prepared me to lead women spiritually in the years to come. I never guessed God had bigger assignments down the road to lead women closer to Him.

After the season of working with this company, building a successful business, life got busy. We moved states. I started writing and stopped working my business. I looked at it as having served its role and time in my life. I thanked God from the bottom of my heart. Then secretly said, “That was awesome. I’ll never do that again.” Because, well, it’s work.

Back to the point. I said I’d never do it again. The first time around we desperately needed the finances. As it stands today we are in a different place financially than 13 years ago. But over the last 9 months, God has been drawing me towards something. I started plugging my ears initially.

“God, I don’t hear you. Nah, nah, nah, nah, nah.”

Then He brought me face to face with two things. One is bringing all my experiences with health issues in our family, all the research over the last 13 years I’ve done in this area, my passion for helping people, my desire to share all good things all the time, and then something so unexpected in a doctor’s office. But all these things came together and the Lord said, “Look. Pay attention.”

I sat with my husband in the office of an eye specialist. Andrew had weeks of testing done to determine the level of his visual processing disorders. It was clear we were about to spend the next year in weekly therapy to train his brain and eyes to communicate and process properly.

This therapy could change his life forever.

It’s expensive. Incredibly expensive. The Lord provided the money via the sale of our home in North Carolina last year. I began to wonder, how does the average person who didn’t just sell a home pay for this type of therapy?

I’d read an article recently about the percentage of children who have these disorders who never receive therapy services. Many are in low income situations and have no access. The statistics were frightening about the children who without intervention would go on to become involved in drugs, gangs, serve time in prison, etc. I felt that familiar movement in my heart. The one that says, “We have to do something about this!”

As we sat in the doctor’s office, God began speaking to me. He showed me the why behind what He was drawing me into.

I’d felt God drawing me toward a particular business. But it made zero sense at all. None. Not an ounce. I homeschool, which is full time. I write. I just launched an e-commerce business. Nope. Didn’t want to hear it.

The Holy Spirit is quite persistent though.

As we left the office I asked one of the staff members if there were scholarship opportunities for these children who need services and can’t afford them. The answer. No.

I stood at a point of intersection. All of my experiences of leading women, leading a business team, researching and learning so much about health over a 13 year period that all began when I began having unexplained stomach issues, hosting orphans causing my heart to never be able to ignore the hurts of children again, watching God shape me into a person who wants to help people all the live long day. And then there was this extended hand of opportunity waiting. All while I’m leading a bible study by Priscilla Schirer, Discerning the Voice of God, in my home.

I got in my car and began to cry. The Lord has grown, changed, shaped, and molded me since the very first I never was uttered by my heart. Each never He’s pushed me towards has turned into blessings I can’t bear to think about having missed. And yet, here is another one. I have a choice. I can go my way. Or I can take the road of opportunity. I can release fear. I can live freely in Him. I can receive all He has. Or I can walk the “safe” road. But oh what we miss on that path of “safety”.

I stepped into another “I’ll never”. I said yes to building another business. Not because I have extra time. But because when I saw how the products were changing me and I saw the potential I had to use this business to change the course of the lives of others, I simply couldn’t say no.

My big why is that I want to live free in the abundant life He promises. I want to live a healthy and whole life so I can pour out my healthy life for the sake of others. I want to create a scholarship fund for kids who can’t afford vision therapy that can change the rest of their lives. I want to watch my friends and family gain their health back because that is the life we were intended to live. Abundantly. Bearing fruit.

Why do I share all this with you? Because I process my heart as I write. Because my desire is to encourage and inspire you. And because I trust as I share my stories with you, you are finding your own stories tucked inside mine.

So what “I nevers” are you carrying in your back pocket? Might it be time to lay them at the foot of the cross?

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5 Ways To Invest In Yourself & Why You Are Worth It

Invest in yourself.

These were the only words written on a page of notes my son wrote at a youth event.

I focused on these lone words and paid attention because I’ve been pondering this exact phrase recently.

I think the tendency for many of us is to focus on investing solely in our families or others at the expense of ourselves. The money we spend on youth sports, the time we give sitting at recitals and tryouts, the hours we spend taxiing our kids to their friend’s house, their job, or next activity. The time we give serving in all areas we are needed. The hours we spend cleaning or organizing to invest in a warm, comfortable environment. The time we spend meal planning, preparing meals. The hours we spend at a teen’s bedside talking that we’d plan to spend asleep. All of these daily duties play a role in investing in the lives of the ones we love most.

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”

Galatians 6:9

May we not grow weary. May we not lose focus and hope. May we also see the value in the investment of ourselves. Because others deserve the best version of us we have to offer.

Investing in ourselves isn’t selfish. It’s life-giving to everyone we encounter.

The temptation in this culture is to wear the busy badge and play the martyr mom or wonder woman role. The one where we give all we have and run ourselves into the ground as a sacrificial offering. While this may look noble for 5 minutes, the long-term effects aren’t so noble.

How is there time to invest in ourselves when life is so demanding? How can we squeeze in one more thing?

This is where I’ve been camping out recently. For me, I’ve found it means letting go of a few things. Some of those “things” are actually expectations. I may simply not be able to do all the things I want to the level I want. I’m learning to be okay with less in order that I have the energy for the things that matter most.

Last year I shared about my journey through a stomach ulcer. This was a major wake up call to me. What I learned is that my physical body will break down if I don’t care for my total body – physical, mental, spiritual, and emotional.

I invest in taking care of my car because it’s paid for, and I want it to last for as many years as I can get out of it. I invest in caring for my house because I want it to offer to our family and others the best it can. I take care of my family because I love them and want to see them flourish in life. Why would I not think investing in my own well-being is as important as investing in anything else I invest in?

Our Heavenly Father’s heart is that we love ourselves, children of the King, seeing our worth in Him as so valuable that we invest in caring for ourselves because we know how loved we are. Caring for ourselves is critical if we desire to care for others.

Before I share 5 ways to invest in yourself, I may need to share with you why you are worth the investment of both time and money.

“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.”

1 Peter 2:9

You are worth the investment because you are:

  • a child of the King
  • created in the image of God
  • loved enough that He sent His Son to die for you.
  • His prized possession. A holy treasure.
  • special.

How do you handle the things in your life you deem as special and valuable? Probably with extreme care. You might even spend money on taking care of them so they last.

So the why is simply because He says you are worth it! And then – so you can be poured out for the greater work of the Kingdom.

5 Ways to invest in yourself

  1. Pay money for something you believe will be good for you.

  2. Do something that is totally fun and not one bit productive.

  3. Change one habit today that will benefit your physical health. Commit to 30 days.

  4. Invest in time with people with no agenda other than community and companionship.

  5. Add one spiritual discipline.

Here’s the breakdown:

1- Pay money for something that you believe will be good for you. Pay actual real dollars. Why? Because it holds value and when we pay our hard earned dollars for something, we are more likely to treat it seriously.

What could you pay money for? Well, is there a talent you want to develop? A craft? A hobby? Something for your profession?

I paid actual real money investing in myself over the last few months. I’m taking an online course to learn all things Pinterest in order to learn how to use it effectively in sharing my writing and my shop. I paid actual real money to join a writer’s membership site because I want to grow in the areas of writing, marketing, and entrepreneurship I feel stuck in.

Typically, I wouldn’t spend the money on myself in these areas. But I began feeling God’s leading in these areas and realized how quick I am to pay for my children to get better in a sport or hobby or anything they love.

2- Do something that is totally fun and not one bit productive. Seems hardly an investment but it actually is. Doing something simply because you enjoy it helps you to experience rest and joy in doing what you love. We often neglect ourselves from having fun because we take ourselves too seriously.

One way I’ve been doing this is by reading fiction. Reading is something I love and is totally fun to me, yet it seems to be the thing I’ll never take time for. However, recently I’ve heard the boys remind me to take some time to read. They see I am a better mom when I’ve taken even a brief time out from chasing life to simply sit and enjoy it.

This is an investment in a time out of sorts for ourselves. Time out from the seriousness of life in order that we find the fun and lovely again. Investing in our souls.

3- Change one habit today that will benefit your physical health. Commit to 30 days.

  • Replace one can of soda with a glass of water
  • If you don’t exercise, add walking 3 mornings a week
  • Eliminate desserts and sweets
  • Add in an extra vegetable everyday.

The options here are limitless. No matter where we are on this journey, we can all make one small adjustment today that will invest in our physical bodies. Often this requires dollars spent for me. When I invest in healthy supplements or healthier food options or a gym membership, I feel held accountable to stewarding that investment well.

4- Invest in time with people with no agenda other than community and companionship. Simply be with a friend.

  • Invite one friend or several friends over for coffee.
  • Call a friend on the phone and have a catch up conversation.
  • Invite a friend to walk with you.

I often hear people say they don’t have time for friends or to simply go to coffee with another person. In other cultures, investing in relationships is priority over productivity.

We were created by a relational God to be in relationships with others. We were not created to be productivity machines who could create the perfect life and keep up with all the increasing demands. Yet, that is the temptation in today’s culture.

Open your home, invite someone in, invite someone out. Just go be with someone. Invest time (and potentially dollars) in building deep, meaningful relationships.

5- Add one spiritual discipline. Commit for 30 days.

  • Do you struggle to pray regularly? Set an alarm. Add in even just one minute. Starting starts somewhere. Don’t focus on where you start. Just start. It’ll change your life and become 2nd nature.
  • Do you read your Bible daily? Wake up 10 minutes early. Read for 5 minutes.
  • Scripture memory. Write a verse on a card. Keep it nearby and read it a few times a day. Tape it to the mirror or the car dash.
  • Never fasted? Choose one meal once a week to fast from.

Each of these 5 things, when added in, will invest in our total lives for the better of everyone we intersect our lives with. Investing in ourselves is worth it.

We are valuable to our Father. He knows every hair on our head. He cares deeply and tenderly for us. To invest in caring for ourselves is simply aligning with the way our Father thinks of us. We are a holy treasure. Therefore, we should handle with the best care.

When we begin to care for ourselves by investing well, we offer the best of us to the world. One step at a time we impact the world for good.

If you find yourself wanting to invest in your spiritual growth, I have something I think can help you along that path. In the writing and recording of Illuminate, I can’t tell you how much God has grown me. Spending 14 days focusing on who He is completely changed how I view every situation I find myself in.

Now when fear speaks too loudly, I’ve practiced for 14 days turning my heart and mind back to who He is. Fear shrinks. When anxiety threatens to take me down, I’ve practiced for 14 days laying down my worries and remembering the magnitude of God.

Illuminate is a 14 day audio devotion, with transcripts, with the goal of creating in you the spiritual discipline of renewing your mind. It’s practicing the art of remembrance of who God is by the light of His Word, no matter what storms of life may blow our way.

It’s gentle and kind to your soul. It’s 10 minutes or less a day. It’s yours forever. At the end of 14 days, you may find you are ready to start again with another 14 days. It’s $10 that you are more than worth. It’s one small way you can invest in yourself spiritually.

audio devotional

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How to Help Your Kids Screen Less and Read More – A Free Gift!

If you are already a blog subscriber, you have read what I’m sharing today. Share this with your friends you think would love it too!

For those of you who don’t receive my emails, I have a free gift for you today I think you will love!

Read ‘em & Reap – the rewards that is

A free gift for you to encourage summer reading in your kids

Take this little quiz

  1. Would you love to walk into the room and find your kids reading? Without being asked??
  2. Do you want to limit screens without constantly telling them to put the screens down?
  3. Do you dread hearing “Mom, I’m bored!”
  4. Are you wondering how you will fill all the live-long summer hours?
  5. Would you love your child to become more compassionate, empathetic, and kind?
  6. Do you want to sneak in some learning that will actually be fun?
  7. Do you want to watch your kids have fun doing something that is incredibly good and enriching for them?
  8. Do you want some peace and quiet in your home?

Ok, if you answered yes to most of these questions, I have something we are doing in our home that is a ton of fun.

Our library summer reading program began a bit early for us and the prizes were so good my kids began reading for hours at a time. I’m not kidding.

This happens for us every single summer. School’s out, they read, they earn the prize at the library, then the reading tapers off.

My middle son, Zachary, gave me a great idea. “Mom, what if you make us prize packs for every 10 hours we read beyond the library time. I’m loving this and it will keep me reading all summer long.”

I thought it was a fabulous idea. So I did just that. I created what I called a ‘Big 10 Prize Pack.’

Within 2 weeks, Zachary logged in 20 hours of reading. (BTW audiobooks count too!) So I had to get to work fast. What I came up with had him so excited I realized I had to share it with you.

I’ve created a pdf download for you to create your own Big 10 Prize Pack. Keep it simple. Use them all in one pack or just a couple at a time.

Here’s a little video.

 

Grab your free download now by entering your email address here!

 

 

 

Happy summer reading! Here’s to many quiet hours in your home this summer!!

Grab your free download before leaving!

And if you are in need of a little bag for your books, check out the shop!