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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.

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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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When the plan makes zero sense

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I used to be so organized! Really I did. I used to make monthly menu plans, cleaning schedules, well-planned to-do lists. In the past, I would have packed for a trip a week ahead of time. I would have begun preparing mentally well in advance. I would have plotted out the trip before leaving so as to have no wasted time.

Now my kids are older, and I spend all of my free time writing, studying, or speaking. So I put a significant amount of planning and organizing there, which means something had to give. I think secretly my family is glad about this. It makes a not free-spirited girl a little bit free-er…is that a word?

For our recent trip to Orlando, I mentioned in a previous post that we surprised the boys with a day at Magic Kingdom. The old me would have spent an enormous amount of time planning, plotting, or organizing to maximize that day. But I simply had no time, so the night before we left, I hopped on The Unofficial Guide to Disney and for $12.95 purchased their very well thought out, super-organized touring plan suited for a family with only 1 day and children at various ages and stages.

This plan makes no logical sense at all. It has you zigging and zagging all over the park rather than visit each ride in each section while you are there. A few times Steve gave me that look. The one that said, “Seriously….we have to walk all the way to the other side when the ride right here has a very small wait? This makes no sense.”

The plan seemed to make no sense. But we made a choice to trust the plan even though it made no sense whatsoever. There were so many moments that temptation was great to break the plan, to follow our own ideas, which seemed right. Then we would remember we had chosen to trust the plan.

We followed the plan exactly. Never veering to the right or to the left. Never following our own ideas, even when they seemed to make more sense. We followed the course laid out for us.

And the most amazing thing happened. We finished every single attraction on that list in record time. A plan that estimated we would finish just prior to park closing, we finished before dinner. On a peak day, during spring break!

Every single day I question God’s plan. Not out loud, not in a way anyone would recognize as questioning God. It’s a little more silent inside me. The way I become exasperated over correcting the same behavior over and over again in my children. The way I question why I continue to have to walk through various difficult situations that appear hopeless. The way I become restless and discontent in a current situation, looking to what I want rather then grasping gratitude for what I have. The way I worry and cover it by saying I’m just “thinking”.

Oh, yes, I question God’s plan. When I look at the world around me, despair beckons me to crumble at its feet. When I hear words spoken from one of my children that I swore my children would never say, and in my heart I just want to throw in the towel and admit defeat. When a difficult person continues to present difficult situations and I quit praying because I’ve decided to take sides with hopelessness. These are the silent ways I question His plan every single day.

In my heart, I trust God. I trust His Word. I sit at His feet and pour out my heart, I am strengthened by His Word. Then I take 2 steps into reality and how quickly I forget. So today I visualize following that silly, illogical touring plan. Choosing to follow what felt unnatural. That’s what it often feels like to follow God.

I choose to follow God’s plan, even when – to my human mind – it makes no logical sense. Because I know He is faithful. I know He cares for me. I know He holds me in His right hand. I know He is compassionate towards me. I know He knows my fears and struggles better than I do. I know He sees ahead what I can’t see. I know He laid a plan for me before I was born. I know that nothing can thwart His plan. I know all of this. Today I choose to walk in the belief that His plan is perfect even when I can’t see the sense in it.

Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

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