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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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How to live fearless in a terrifying world

For an audio recording of today’s post, click here.

It’s been almost a year since our family moved across the country from North Carolina to Nebraska. I’m amazed how fast a year can move.

This very weekend a year ago I was preparing to speak at a women’s retreat. This very weekend a year ago we had just returned from a whirlwind trip to find a house in Nebraska, our house received multiple offers within 48 hours of listing. Much of looking back over the span of those days seems like a blur.

The stress of preparing to move, preparing to speak, homeschooling my kids, leading women’s ministry. But mostly, in the midst of all of that, we wanted to leave well.

We wanted to leave as well as we’d lived in North Carolina. You can read about that here. I tear up as I read the words I wrote last year. I still deeply miss what we left in North Carolina.

We’ve adjusted in Nebraska. It feels like home. We have friends, church, school community, etc.

We know God brought us to Omaha for a reason. He made that very clear to us when the move began.

Friends encouraged me to write down everything God was doing during those weeks we prepared to leave. He was doing so many enormous things at once that the miracles felt impossible to believe. Except for the fact we were living them and watching God move us with supernatural speed and watching Him intertwine our lives with people for divine purposes.

During that season I lived on a spiritual high. I journaled all the Lord was doing because I knew I never wanted to forget. I needed to remember what God was doing.

What God does flows out of who God is.

I wanted to celebrate God for who He is, not only for what He did. I wanted our kids to see we serve a God we can’t begin to fathom.

My facebook timehop reminds me everyday to remember. I see the pictures of a year ago and it triggers an emotion in my soul.

Sometimes these memories bring sadness as I remember, but mostly they bring to recollection a God who has faithfully walked our family through every season of life and who will never change.

Remember is the word the Lord has kept at the front of my mind since Christmas. Life is too volatile and unpredictable to navigate it without remembering the One who holds us steady. He has shown me how quickly I’m tossed about when I forget to remember.

I hear His whispers reminding me not to forget to look back as I look forward. He has always been behind me, and He will always be before me. When I stop for even a brief moment and remember the truth of who He is as revealed in His Word, I can face forward with no fear.

God’s Word urges us to ‘fear not’, yet fear comes so naturally. When I look back at who God has always been, I’m reminded exactly why fear must get off my path. I have a great big God leading my way, and nothing can stop Him. If I follow Him step by step, I truly have nothing to fear.

If I’m being honest with you, it’s easy to talk about being fearless when we are simply talking about facing a change of location or season of life. But what about when we find ourselves in a living nightmare? What about when our worst fears take shape?

Even in the most gut-wrenching moments of this life, God is still good. He is still here. When evil seems to win, we must remember. We must remember the One who has won and will win. We must remember the cross defeated death. We must remember that He promised us there will come a day when we will see Him in His glory and will live in a world where sadness and death don’t exist.

For this time, evil is present. While evil prowls around our world, it is ever more critical we battle-ready ourselves by one simple shift. Remembering.

Remembering who God is, His character and nature. Remembering what God has promised. Remembering what He has done in the past and what He promises for today and the future.

To live fearless in a terrifying world starts with practicing the art of remembrance.

If you’ve been following along here online, you know I’ve been working on an audio devotional series titled illuminate – Seeing God by the Light of His Word. I’ve promised you I’d share more details as I have them available.

You can find out more about illuminate by clicking here.

And here’s a video too.

Lord, open our eyes to the truth of Your Word. Help us remember who You really are. The world tries to scare us with terrifying news report. And honestly, it is terrifying. We grieve with the families who grieve today, facing nightmares most of us can’t begin to imagine.

For those today facing such sadness and terror, we pray for comfort and peace. We pray for divine appointments. We pray for miracles. We pray for those who don’t know You to receive Your Son. We pray for healing.

We long for the day when You will wipe away every tear. Our hope does not rest in this earthly world. Today, may we choose to remember who You are and what You’ve promised. May we keep our eyes fixed on You so that we can walk fearless in a scary world.

As we walk about our world today, may we have eyes to see the ones who live hopeless and scared. May we boldly share the hope we have everywhere we go.

Amen.