I am going to upfront and honest right now, not all of the content you are about to consume is NOT my original composition. It is, however, in the vein of what Holy Spirit seemed to be speaking to my heart and this message confirmed for me what God was speaking.
Let’s go back a few days into last week…
Wednesday, October 24th the Rise Up Commitment gals were having a very rich and deep conversation during our weekly gathering. The inception of vision was described. Testimonies of God’s love for us by speaking in unique ways through shell messages on a beach for one and provision of transportation for another. One gal shared she sees a theme of the church being UNIFIED and another felt freedom and safety to share her heart’s deepest hurts in a painful two year season.
My heart was full and praising God for what He is doing among His daughters.
Thursday, October 25th Holy Spirit moves me to share a post stating, “He cannot heal our wounds if we are busy hiding them.” I continued to think of the gal who has grown stronger and stronger throughout the course of this year, regardless of the pain she described the night before. This gal’s willingness to be vulnerable and open, without worrying about where her thoughts would go, has continuously brought healing in her life. Her ability to be real, open, authentic, and raw is allowing Him to do a deep work.
ROAR. Holy Spirit briefly reminded me of the Lion of Judah, Jesus, being able to speak to our hurt and dark places and then through those places to help others.
Friday, October 26th I spent my day mainly alone. My husband was gone on business, our kiddos had school and a volunteer event that evening. The majority of my time was spent composing, recording and producing a podcast episode for a project at work. PAUSE. Yes, God has been opening doors in my career as a result of the ministry He began in my life, years ago. Go God! The episode wasn’t dry and what one would think would be created in corporate America, but one attached to giving, faith and the Lord giving voice and song even in the most destitute of places. Destitute according to America’s standards.
The books arrived. Holy Spirit: An Introduction by John Bevere and Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire by Jim Cymbala came. Oh goodie! It felt like Christmas, which is my FAVORITE!
Holy Spirit will be our study material for the weeks following the conclusion of the second session of Rise Up Commitment. A topic He Himself laid on my heart weeks ago! Gals are HUNGRY to not only learn more about Him, but live more abundantly with Him and His leading.
Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire I began to devour after our girls headed out for their event. What a great reminder to always, always, ALWAYS be led by the Holy Spirit and to be real and be YOU. The YOU God made YOU to be, because He KNEW your life would serve a very important purpose for His glory. This book, is nearly as captivating and inspirational as Rees Howells Intercessor. Both document the faith journey and necessity to depend on Holy Spirit every step of the way!
Saturday, October 27th, I had an amazing conversation with a close sister in Christ and the Spirit filled ideas were a firing! The atmosphere was charged with His presence, which is super cool considering we were in our favorite coffee shop and the place was a hopping that morning. So many were walking smack into the presence of God unbeknownst to them. I can’t help but imagine there day was amazing after. I know mine was, God had confirmed so many thoughts dancing around in my mind. After leaving, ROAR continued to come to mind. An image and Scripture.
The Book of Revelation, EEK, scary – to some – not all. But there He is, Jesus, Lion of the tribe of Judah, worthy to open the seven seals! Blessing, honor, glory, power, wisdom, strength, and riches stood out.
Sunday, October 28th, oh wow, God couldn’t be more clear! My Pastor from Times Square Church breaks down into detail a conversation regarding enemies in high places and their schemes to get us to fall, convinced we have no victory. Remember Ephesians 6:12? By the way, this is where the content is no longer mine…
For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
He then took the congregation to Numbers 22 where Balak and Balaam are conversing. Balaam is scheming to devour and destroy the people of Israel, in mountainous, or high, places. But he can’t. The Lord will not allow Balak to speak ill of or curse His people. Even though!
Even though in the ten or better chapters leading up to that moment, the people of Israel had seemingly failed miserably. They were given to complaining, gluttony, jealousy, fear, temptation to return to Egypt, forgetfulness of God’s goodness, disobedience, unable to do as the Lord instructed and again, complainers. This was all AFTER deliverance from Egypt and the parting of the Red Sea!
But are these the accounts the Lord recalled, when their enemies, Balak and Balaam were conniving? No.
The Lord says, “You are not to curse these people, for they have been blessed!” in Numbers 22:12.
Balam then says in Numbers 23:8, “But how can I curse those whom God has not cursed? How can I condemn those whom the Lord has not condemned?”
And later in verses 19 thru 21:
“God is not a man, so he does not lie.
He is not human, so he does not change his mind.
Has he ever spoken and failed to act?
Has he ever promised and not carried it through?
20 Listen, I received a command to bless;
God has blessed, and I cannot reverse it!
21 No misfortune is in his plan for Jacob;
no trouble is in store for Israel.
For the Lord their God is with them;
he has been proclaimed their king.
This, this is the part that got me, verse 24 “These people rise up like a lioness, like a majestic lion rousing itself. They refuse to rest until they have feasted on prey, drinking the blood of the slaughtered!”
Holy smokes! The two coming together just like it had in my mind the day before. God is SPEAKING.
The moral of the story? We, as the people of God, have got to see ourselves the way God sees us! Are there ramifications for disobedience, lack of faith and murmuring? Yes. Simply read the chapters eleven through twenty-one of Numbers. There will always be consequences for actions not aligned with the Lord.
But because we do not align with what He sees in us, does not change His mind about the way He sees us. It won’t change. He would have us be victorious! And the enemy knows this! The enemy knows once a believer SEES themselves as God sees them, hell is going to shake.
The Israelites believed in chapter thirteen they would be devoured by the enemy, which is what kept them from entering the Promised Land. God did not want the future they chose in unbelief. He had something better. Just nine chapters later, the enemy is convinced it will be devoured by God’ people because HE KNOWS HOW EMPHATIC GOD is in His mercy, love and everlasting love for His people!
Does the enemy know that about us? That God in US will devour all its schemes and attempts? Does the enemy see victory in and through OUR lives? Or is the high talk in high places going uncontested and even agreed with, keeping us from victoriously standing firm in who WE ARE?
Be encouraged today to read these chapters and allow God to speak to your heart. He sees us as so much more than we see ourselves, regardless of our previous failures. For the sincere heart seeking to be transformed and love others, the victory is already had. Let’s live as such! Let’s live as a lioness, like a majestic lion rousing itself, refusing to rest!
I almost went LIVE with this thought, but decided not. Fresh thoughts can sometimes be so emotionally charged, and Spirit void, the intent may not always be conveyed. But I want to share something, trusting my time processing via writing will allow Holy Spirit to put into Word, once and for all – a very real truth we all need to EMBRACE rather than giving a head nod to.
I could see the tears welling up in her eyes, but she was fighting their flow.
How was your day?
How’d the test go? Quivering of the lip. And then it came. The dam couldn’t hold back the trickle bound back longer than this moment.
I failed. I am failing at everything. I just want to crawl in a hole and cover up…
Woah. Slow your roll.
It was time to sit down, look her straight in the eye, and bring Holy Spirit wisdom into the situation, speak life, and help her see she is more.
That’s not true, I looked at your grades. You have all A’s and a B+. You are not failing at EVERYTHING.
You may have failed at this test, but it is not EVERYTHING. The lip quivered more and then it came…
I know you struggle with not feeling as smart as other people. I know it bothers you your sister seems to get academia while it eludes you. I know you feel stupid and it makes you feel horrible. A tear comes to my eye and she asks why I am going to cry, as if I am disappointed that their aptitudes are as different as their personalities.
Far from it! My tears come from a place of knowing how long you’ve carried this burden and pain of never feeling as though you measure up in this area. Like you’re not good enough. You’re stupid. Lies, lies and more LIES.
And then the floodgates came pouring.
I was shocked, but not. Regardless of the fact our refrigerator has had on its whiteboard “Christ-Loved Ones-Academics-Talents” for over eight years and we do our best to echo and live out the very same values, performance and getting everything “right” has been a very real encumbrance for our children. Even though I said from the time they were in elementary to their now high school years, their character would always be the most important part of who they are, not their athletic talent or academic achievements, performance still seemed to influence their thoughts of worth.
I poignantly asked her…
Do you care about people?
Do you notice when others are hurting?
Do you listen when someone needs a shoulder to cry on?
Do you have advice when people are struggling?
Do you build people up?
Yes, for the most part. Of course for the most part. You’re human. There will be days when you may not appear to care, or notice, or listen, or have something helpful to say, or be able to build up. There may be days when you need to have someone care, listen, be helpful and build YOU up. You’re human, as we all are.
I went back to a moment in first or second grade. She had the wind completely knocked out of her by a young boy unimpressed with her ability to make moves on him. She hit the ground grabbing her abdomen and crying. I was that mom. I stood there waiting for her to get back up. When she didn’t, I walked. I walked towards her while all the parents sat in their lawn chairs alongside the dew kissed grass on a Saturday morning. I didn’t run, I walked with a steady yet persistent pace.
Are you alright?
Can you breathe?
Can you get up?
I don’t know.
You have two choices. I can carry you off this field and you can stop playing. Or, you can get up, dust yourself off, and get back in the game and show them (the feisty boys) you will not be kept down.
She got back up. We exchanged reassuring head nods. I walked off the field. She resumed the game.
Drawing from the memory of her demonstrable strength, I spoke life.
You are more than a number. You are more than the results of some test designed by someone somewhere to provide some metric of what they think is some “smart”. The world may value intellect and place pressure on youth and adults alike to be more and do more, but you are not of this world. You are of the heavenly world. A world where you, while not perfectly so (who can say they do?) genuinely care for people.
If you were to die tonight, people will not care about the tests you did or did not pass or the GPA you held. They will only care about how you made them feel and if you were kind, loving and encouraging. Right?
What did your counselor say about the outcome?
I spoke with the principal because he could see I was upset and stressed.
What did he say?
Everything you just said.
He asked me if I was going to let a number or test define me and my future.
Praise the Lord!!! Yes, thank you Jesus for surrounding our children with adults who DO get it and are not afraid to speak the words I was led to speak. Thank you Holy Spirit. Thank you!
As we buttoned up our conversation, determined the best steps for moving forward, my heart was wrenched.
How many times in just the past week alone had I witnessed and had conversations with gals caught in the temptation of comparing to others. The comparison leaving truth and reality distorted and forward movement paralyzed.
How many times had I observed one disengaging, or avoiding altogether, eye contact, because of the sense of inferiority? On more than once occasion conversations passively indicated the hustle and accomplishment of one was likely unnecessary and must be exhausting, but deep down revealed the lackluster energy of the one sharing the words.
What about the conversations that weren’t had due to fear of not being enough or creating disappointment? What about all the side conversations with others that place folks in our minds either too much or not enough, according to what is comfortable for us, and then there is follow through with reflective actions?
Comparison accompanied by negative judgment of self and others will never be an edifying activity.
Comparison where we positively aspire to challenge our status quo and go a level higher, literally builds up – us, and if done according to Holy Spirit leading, those around us.
We have to be able to graduate from one to the other. We have to ask and trust Holy Spirit to show us how. We have to not assume the Cain role towards our community, because they appear more Able and acceptable.
Family, we have to accept who were are, where we are, and allow God’s wisdom to flow through us as we choose community and compassion, over apparent intellect, achievement and comparison.
God’s values are not the world’s values. He values your heart, mind and love towards Him and others. He will show you how to love and minister in the unique way only you have been called to since before you were formed in your madre’s womb.
Will that look different among each of us. Yes! But it’s supposed to! We are called to reflect Him through our own lives, not through mimicking the lives of others. That’s our offering to Him.
I’m praying this spirit of comparison will fall once and for all among God’s people. There are people craving to see continuity and community are more important than the same weights tying them down and keeping them bound.
Please let me know if I can pray for you. Blessings!
It’s October 2nd. Three months left of 2018. I truly cannot believe how fast time has gone.
As I sit and reflect on the past year, God once again amazes me. Simply amazes me.
A little trip back to January and I recall the Lord speaking to my heart, “This is the year to flourish”. I remember asking myself, “Flourish or flounder?” I felt like I had been struggling. I felt like I was so far from where God needed me to be in order to move through me in the ways I sensed He was calling me to, flourish was the last word that came to my mind. Thank God we don’t move based on feelings. Thank God we move based on His Word, both written and spoken.
I wanted to flourish. I wanted to flourish in my relationship with God, my marriage, as a mother, as an encourager, and in my career. Because I wanted to, regardless of how I felt, I chose to lay hold of that word, like words I had laid hold of in years prior. But more important than my grip on the word, I knew I had to lay hold of the One who spoke the Word.
Early on He shared I needed to keep my gaze fixed on Him. Like Peter stepping out of the boat, I would be tempted to look at the waves around me. But I couldn’t! If I did, also like Peter, I would begin to feel as though it were all too much and begin to “sink”. Early on He also blessed me with a heads up. He spoke to my heart that it was going to get REALLY challenging and rough because the enemy was seeking to sift and devour what God wanted to do, and me. Again, I needed to keep my eyes on Him.
Like the GOOD Father He is, what He spoke began to take shape. Every single time my gaze began to meander from Him, I did feel as if it was all too much. Lovingly He would bring me back – through His Word and meeting me in prayer. The prayer He would woo and call me too. The heads up, it began to take shape as well…
The scrutiny and gnashing began first with my marriage, then moved on to my relationships with my kiddos, and culminated with my career. In one month it seemed as though all hell was coming at me and coming at me HARD.
You see, when we position ourselves to love and obey the Lord with everything we have, hell begins to shake in its boots, and twists and contorts in ways we may think we will be shaken too. But. God. God honors our obedience. He honored my obedience to minister to ten women from five different churches in our community. Because He blessed them with new vision, new hearts, community, contentment, trust, connection, hope and restoration – the enemy thought He would attempt to steal those very gifts from me. Not on God’s watch. Not. On. His. Watch.
While many of the tactics were straight from darkness, God was able to speak to my heart the truth buried in the rubble of lies seemingly compounding discomfort and creating pain. First, we do not wrestle with flesh and blood, but with powers and principalities of this world. This is truth. Second, those powers and principalities will do what they can to manipulate situations to manipulate thoughts, to evoke a non-Spirit-led response – and then wreak havoc. Third, God can, will and does allow those attacks and missteps to become lessons in our lives that point us back to repentance, deliverance and healing.
The attack on my marriage led to new conversations and a deeper connection with more support from my husband. The assault on my relationship with our daughters, led to understanding and a realization the time is approaching where they will need to fly on their own. A new dynamic in our relationship is not bad, it’s just different. Different can be good. The battering in my career led to my complete and total reliance on God to surrender and submit in an unfair situation and ultimately did a 180 in a matter of three months, with potential opportunities on the horizon. Opportunities I’m open to, but praying for God’s will to prevail.
God’ will to prevail is the heart of everything I hope for. As the battles raged, gatherings with gals continued. I arrived broken more than I wanted to. Confirmations were received to host a fall Rise Up Commitment session. Deep down? I didn’t want to. I wanted to rest. I wanted to take a break. My flesh was tempting me to focus on me.
Similar to my Gideon moment with the first commitment, I needed confirmation for the second. I needed to know He needed me to do this. After all, soccer season would be in full swing and there’s a whole host of activities to support the team. The first week registration opened, eleven women signed up. Eleven! In my mind there were three I knew were interested and one possibly repeating. But the seven other women? I had no idea they were even watching. I had no idea God was even speaking to their hearts. Four more gals joined over the course of a month. Again, gals I had not interacted with, but who were watching, totaling fifteen. Confirmation made clear.
Then suddenly, something happened. Around the same time things began to turn amidst the career bombardment, God opened doors to discuss matters of His heart with two co-workers. Those discussions led to twelve more ladies joining, in a new community. And then another hopped on board and another. Before I knew it, He had nearly doubled the number of gals choosing to Rise Up, from earlier in the year. He NEEDED this commitment to happen.
How? How does one keep from sinking deep beneath the shoreline and swept into an undertow? How do you keep going when it gets so hard? When you're so tired?
I sit and write this and think of God’s goodness. I think of everything He calls us to and how He equips to make it so. I love how He can increase time and call us to pay more attention. I love how He can take what is an already busy season, and somehow make it all not only “work”, but allow blessings to flow. I love how the same God Who calls us to trust Him with the intensity of one season, is the same God who calls us to step back and rest with Him in another. Which is where I sense things are headed.
There are just under five weeks left of the current commitment. I am trusting God to provide vision, tools to build, and inspiration to press in and press on to our race before us. God has so much in store for these gals. The remainder of the year, God will continue to pour out and into the connections made with all the sister connections established throughout the past year. My hope? They sense they too are flourishing and thriving at the revelation of God’s goodness.
When contemplating and praying about a subsequent Rise Up Commitment, my sense is to learn from the past two and continue to invest in the lives connected with. I honestly don’t know how Pastors shepherd more thirty people at a time. Shoot! I don’t know how they shepherd more than twelve or fifteen! My heart gets so intertwined, my prayers arrested for the needs of the gals I’ve grown to love, more often throughout the day than not. And “celebrity” Christians? Oh my! I would feel the need to reply to and connect with every single message, email and comment made. That’s why I’m grateful God is calling me to a season of cultivating continued connection, encouragement, and support to continue to transform – here in our community.
As He sets my sites on other areas, I know He also needs to do some pruning and stretching in order to allow new life to grow. He desires every area of our lives be submitted fully to Him. This – this is when we truly flourish, when we are fully given to all that He has for us, including His Name being honored through our lives.
I pray you are flourishing and I trust God to move you to continue on in your race and the vision He has set before you.
Where do you find yourself at this point in the 2018 journey? What are you believing God to do with the remaining three months? Do you have hopes and prayers? I would love to hear from you! Feel free to leave a comment or send me a message.
You know those moments where you are thinking something you believe you SHOULDN’T? There’s a holy conviction, “Yeah, this isn’t right”. “I know acting out this or that certainly will not reflect Christ. Lord, help me keep my mouth shut, my face straight, and give me the grace to not explode in so doing”.
This morning I found myself there. Some things get me going. One of them being when others present the ideas they’ve mined from other people and present them as their own. I recently heard from a fellow creative, Erwin McManus, “Every time someone pays the counterfeit, the thief is receiving the reward”. Woah.
Counterfeits stink. They come with a cost, even though they may seem to be, or even are in many cases, more affordable. Their inception is grounded in lack of integrity. Inevitably compromising the material it is built upon. Eventually it will fall apart and cause the one who bought into it to replace it or perhaps choose to buy the original. Counterfeits come with a cost.
I’m thinking of this and then I pray, “Lord, prune my thoughts. Graft in YOUR thoughts and character for this situation. You be reflected in this situation. Bless me with the words to speak and share, should this perceived injustice be confronted.”
While praying, I saw a tree. I saw a large oak tree. Remain deeply rooted in love came to mind. I then saw branches and even some roots being cut away. Another vine was grafted in. A new sprout and bud popped up on another.
How often do we avoid those uncomfortable places or opportunities for correction? How often do we just stuff the feelings down and move on? How often do we say to ourselves I am going to make right of this situation and confront? How often do we rely on our self, rather than the Holy Spirit, to give us the words to speak?
As the image continued to become clearer, new branches crafted in and new buds popping up, I realized the tree would be bearing new fruit. His fruit. Any fruit now coming from this tree would be the “real deal”, a fruit of the Spirit, not a counterfeit provided by a soul maneuvering from a natural response.
I pray we do not fear the pruning. I pray we trust the Lord will not prune, only to leave a painful, gaping wound or severed limb. I pray we realize He prunes to make room for His character, His will, His BLESSING – His reflection.
I pray we go to Him with our character, in exchange for His. I pray the world begin to see more clearly Who God REALLY is through our lives – because we intentionally choose the REAL DEAL over our natural-world-shaped feelings, thoughts and preferences.
I haven’t written much lately. Not because I have been lazy, but because focus has been pointed at other areas. So many good God things going on, blogging hasn’t been on the top of the requests of things to do.
Yesterday, however, I sat down and wrote for about four hours. It was time I map out milestones for my story, the testimony of God’s overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love for me. If that song is now in our head… GOOD!
Writing while recalling is much different than writing to teach, encourage or perhaps facilitate some level of healing in the life of someone else. It is also different than writing to share or perhaps entertain. Although, my prayer is the pages of my written testimony will certainly encourage anyone convinced they are in a hopeless situation. I also pray it will cause others to see there is healing in the hands of a mighty God if we would but only surrender FULLY to Him! And of course, due to my God given flare, I do pray the method by which it is shared is entertaining on some level. Most importantly, I pray folks are able to live more courageously in Christ and allow the old woman or man to truly pass away.
You see, as I sat down to capture what was supposed to be 15 – 20 milestones and life lessons throughout my tenure (I hope that’s OK Ms. Writing Coach), I ended up capturing 25. I know! It’s hard to believe someone who hasn’t quite reached the top of the hill just yet would have so much to share. That’s exactly why I sense the Lord speaking to my heart it NEEDS to be shared. Exactly.
When recalling the milestones and faithfulness of God, I come to tears. He truly does have a reckless love for me, and I know He has one for you as well! It’s breathtaking. He has pursued and protected His plan in my life since before I was formed. He protected my ability to hear and speak when spinal meningitis threatened to steal both when I was an infant. He was there with me through the heartache of learning my father’s life had been carelessly stripped away by a family member, even though I couldn’t really sense it at the age of five. Even after others tried to hush me by convincing me to stay quiet after their poor choices, or shame me with insults of how my obese body looked at a very young age – He was looking after me.
When pain and depression would not loosen its grip and I chose to bring my own happiness and gratification, He kept watch and let me go only so far. When rejection from the ones closest to me came, He received me with wide open arms like the loving Father He is! God has been good, sooooo goooood!
It amazes me how He transforms poor choices, heartache and sorrow, into jewels of lessons learned, joy and peace. I am astonished at how He WILL NOT LET UP and CONSTANTLY calls us back to Him, even from our own self-reliant, self-imposed captivity. I am blown away that His passionate pursuit is not for our sake alone. No. It has always been and always will be for the sake of the lives we are surrounded by. He came to this life to live wholly unto the Father and sacrifice His life for you and I. We are called to do the same.
As I wrote the milestones and then took the step of sending them to my writing coach, I felt a twinge of anxiety. What will she think? Oh my goodness, only a few people know these things about me, will she even want to work with me? Being vulnerable isn’t easy. In fact, not coincidentally, the subject of being vulnerable has been prevalent in the first week of the Rise Up Commitment. I even completed a mini video study where we looked at the life of Hannah, the woman from Shunem, Adam and Eve, and King David. From them we learned why some folks may offer up vulnerability, why some appear to not be open, the one thing that may be lying at the heart of being able to become more vulnerable, and an example of how we can live when we are vulnerable with both God and man. It may be of interest to you. CLICK HERE TO VIEW and please let me know if it spoke to you!
I pray you have a great week and be encouraged today to spend a bit of time reflecting on how good God has been to you throughout your life. If you don’t know Him, through the person of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, and you’re tired, hurting, broken, angry and fearful. Would you do me a favor? Would you reach out and message me? I want to pray with you.
Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good,
for His steadfast love endures forever.
2 Give thanks to the God of gods,
for His steadfast love endures forever.
3 Give thanks to the Lord of lords,
for His steadfast love endures forever;
I recently updated the homepage to this site and felt overwhelmed! I was overwhelmed by the faithfulness of God, always! Overwhelmed by how He has grown me, stretched me outside my comfort zone, and truly caused me to be a blessing – an instrument called for His GLORY!
It was literally just over one year ago when Rise Up! Devotions was published and released. Thirteen months later and God has penned five more publications! FIVE. And God receives all the glory for it. Every last ounce I have to give, is HIS!
You see, I share often, God will take what little we have offer and multiply it. I share this because this has been my experience. I also share it because oftentimes we may see the vision He has for us and feel like we have to make it all happen at once. This is a reminder – we don’t. We simply rely on Him to receive our offering and cause it to grow.
I am so grateful Rise Up! has been purchased by women all over the country and into South Africa. I’m also grateful He made the way for Rise Up! to be translated to Spanish and shared with Dominican friends. I’m also grateful for the kind words left by book reviewers:
" A great devotional to encourage everyone to Rise Up and know who we are and what God's Word says we are. "
" Such a great book to read if you are looking for a devotional to help you dig into the Bible deeper! You can go through it as slow or fast as you want. You can sense the author's passion and the way God is calling her all throughout this book. Such a great devotional! "
" The Rise Up Devotions are a great tool to help you dig deeper into God's word. If you are looking for a devotional that encourages as it guides you through scripture, this is it! "
I am grateful Rise & Pray has been shared with nearly a hundred women, now encouraged to rise and pray for others in their lives. Prayer. Prayer has been, is and will continue to be the power behind everything God does through this ministry. And when I read a review like this:
" Beautiful done, Holy Spirit led, and simple. Perfect for us Mamas who feel we don’t have a lot of time to sit with the Lord. However, this makes you want to draw close. This makes you realize what you are missing. "
My heart is completely satisfied knowing the Holy Spirit is literally being sensed through the words of the pages He lovingly composed through my feeble hands and soul.
Both Courageous Humility one and two, what can I say?! God seriously showed up in a profound way in the writing and composing of each six week study. He made His will known in that He wanted it to be accessible to millions of people via YouVersion. And, He made it so! Although I am currently working on getting part two uploaded to the Bible app, I love seeing thousands have read and completed part one – in less than a year!
With the Rise Up Commitment Daily Devotional just recently being released, my heart swells. The content Christ penned for the devotional means so much to me. It means so much because I literally witnessed Him bring understanding, awareness and transformation in the lives of twelve very special women in my life, whom I now consider sisters!
Through writing, the Lord has created an unbelievable community! But He isn’t done. Not by a long shot. I’ve recently been brainstorming two book ideas in my mind, both I believe calls from God. One book idea will be the testimony of my life, the other an experiment for Christians and non-Christians alike. BOTH, I believe will bless others and provide understanding, encouragement, and perhaps some level of healing on the wide array of faith journeys intersecting with my own.
The exciting part? I envision this writing being done in a new way. Writing, for many, is very isolating, which may be difficult when you are an extrovert and know you have a call to interact with others. These two projects will be social and interactive. You will be given an opportunity to join me on the journey of composing both. If you are interested in learning more, please leave a comment and I will share what is currently stirring in my heart and how we can connect with one another.
Take care and God bless!
One of my personal goals this year is to read more from like-minded authors. I believe it is important for iron to sharpen iron and allow the insights of trusted individuals to challenge our thoughts. Already, I have quite the list going! To kick-off the monthly book review challenge, I share my thoughts on Adamant, by Lisa Bevere. Adamant was just published and made available for order on April 17, 2018, but the Words have been constructed on the Rock for years. Please have a read and let me know if you have read or plan to read, by sharing in the comments.
When Lisa Bevere shared she hoped to “build a team of bold believers who are committed to standing upon truth”, I couldn’t shake it. I had literally just gifted the finishing participants of the Rise Up Commitment with a charmed necklace adorned with the following verses:
Isaiah 60:1 “Arise, Jerusalem! Let your light shine for all to see. For the glory of the Lord rises to shine on you.
Ephesians 3:17-18 Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is.
1 Corinthians 16:13 Be on guard. Stand firm in the faith. Be courageous. Be strong.
Isaiah 61:3 In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks that the Lord has planted for his own glory.
RISE UP, FIRMLY ROOTED IN LOVE. We, Lisa Bevere and I, seemed to have the same hope and prayer – with unique taglines.
I gained access to the audio files of the book before the hardcopy arrived. I downloaded and began digging in while on spring break. The story of the adamant stone was intriguing. I was encouraged to be adamantly intimate with God. I was reminded God is constant, and because of His never changing character, I can trust Him to help me change and better reflect His character. Pause.
We must be believers first loving God and then loving others, not just in word, but in action also, as His Holy Spirit leads! From there Lisa discussed that it’s not enough to be adamant in love, but adamant in hate as well. This is where it could get quite sticky for some. But Lisa Bevere, in her simple yet profound way, shares that we must hate what God hates, which is anything that destabilizes love and our perception of God, and ultimately disgraces us (the apples of His eye). Lisa then breaks down seven things the Lord hates. It’s a challenging list that, if reading with the intent to have the speck removed from our own eye, and may have us weeping towards the prayer closet for repentance.
Lisa then moves into being adamant for Truth and dispels the notion that Truth is fluid, by contending that Truth is the Word of God. When she referenced John 17:17, the foundational Scripture for the Rise Up Commitment devotional, I’m pretty sure my socks would have been blown off – if I ever wore them! Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. Where exactly is the heading, Lord? You are speaking the same message to little ole me, as you are to the best-selling author, Lisa Bevere!
After being moved to be adamant for Truth, readers are cheered to be adamant in Word. This chapter is very timely, and needed for the era in which we find ourselves. Lisa largely focuses on how we should speak with our mouths and what we type and post on social media. Social media being the primary place that seems ungoverned by etiquette and loving discourse. One particular area spoke to my heart: virtual versus actual.
Lisa shares in the book, “Virtual communities can be good or bad, healthy or abusive. Healthy virtual communities encourage our engagement and relationships with our actual communities.” Bingo. This was one lesson learned from hosting a series of challenges. The conviction was applied throughout the Rise Up Commitment and was a game changer. Lisa even states, “it is far easier to invest in a virtual community than to cultivate an actual one.” We learned throughout the commitment, God and His Word at the center of a gathering and relationship, supernaturally provides all the water, light, and weeding necessary to yield a finely cared for community.
When I began the section on adamant transformation, I knew that I knew God is doing a deep work. A deep work in the lives of many, and He is calling for transformation in the Body of Christ. When Ms. Bevere began to tackle the topics of the reality of our God, our day, the cost of sin, and the reality of us by pointing to the book of Romans, socks were lost and jaw dropped with eyes bugging out a bit. Our Rise Up Community had just read through the sixteen chapters of Romans AND the first half is currently being covered in my church home. Lord, I’m listening.
The end certainly confirmed the call and inspired me to declare, “I am adamant”. I sense those who will order this book and read it will certainly be moved and inspired. I pray it motivates fellow Sisters to press in to the Word of God and actively cooperate in the sanctification process, in an effort to truly live adamantly whole in Jesus Christ – spirit, soul and body.
If the words of Adamant wasn’t enough, God fully confirmed and persuaded me this morning Lisa truly has a message from God. She shared these words with gals participating in the online study group:
"I believe that in these last days God is raising up Women who are going to be standard bearers for Truth... I am already praying that God is gathering your women in strength and that we are going to RISE UP in such a beautiful day of Truth and splendor!"
Amen and amen! Thank you Lisa Bevere for writing Adamant, and sharing God’s message with so many. I am adamant with you, Sister.
Rise Up Commitment is a ten week journey where participants intentionally focus their efforts on becoming whole in spirit, soul and body, by intentionally getting into God's word, eating whole foods, moving their body as needed, and nurturing relationships.
April's Book & Next Month's Book:
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Every time we have completed a challenge, there seems to be a somewhat unpleasant phase that follows. This phenomenon has been no different for the Rise Up Commitment. What are the typical symptoms experienced during this phase?
The overarching symptom is an overall sense of feeling “off”. Off may be described as feeling tired, disconnected, tempted to withdraw, changing priorities and routine back to what was comfortable BEFORE, feeling “heavy”, bloated even – you know? “Off”… and uncomfortable. And it may include any combination of these individual symptoms as well as others not mentioned.
Why does this happen? I believe it has to do with being less intentionally focused, which leads to a sort of disconnect to God and our sensitivity to Holy Spirit. I too was feeling off. However, I felt it was because of a couple life events. First, I didn’t follow through on the intentional period of rest I knew I had been called to. This left me scrambling with how to fit other things in that I hadn’t planned for. Second, our 11 ½ year old, beloved black Lab, Zeppelin, was put to rest, and it left my heart and mind feeling heavy. His home going represented not only his leaving our home, a home in which he was the very fiber and fabric of, but also signified our teenage daughters leaving in just a couple short years, to live the lives they are called to. Can you say introspective much? That thought process spiraled quickly! Third, exhaustion set in like I haven’t experienced in a while. I’m still not sure if it is due to the day light savings time switch (Hello? Shouldn’t I be adapted after nearly three weeks?!) or my body rejecting the long distant running I have been trying to build up to for a half marathon in May.
I felt I had prepared for “post-commitment”, in order to dull the risk of the uncomfortable feeling. Daily devotions are just as natural as brushing my teeth now, so this area wouldn’t fall to the wayside. I had a plan in place for my nutrition for the next three months. I had a plan in place for my fitness. And I knew I was going to continue to spend more intentional time with my husband and daughters and others. As I write this, I begin to see the root. Heart connection to the Holy Spirit was already beginning to be dulled. That is what may cause many of us to feel “off”.
For me, I can see where my gaze quickly shifted from that of Jesus, and hence my uber sensitivity to His Spirit, now known as abiding in Him – according to my mind. I first began avoiding eye contact after not following through with His instruction to intentionally rest. Abide was also hindered when I began focusing on my broken heart, which snowballed to nervous anticipation about time left with my daughters. Regardless of where the exhaustion was coming from, it bothered me enough to provoke me to pray, assess and adjust to what I knew was best for this vessel.
Eat whole again, a commitment or challenge doesn’t have to be in place to eat well. Be ok with a change of plans when it comes to fitness. Get to bed on time (yes, that means some tasks will have to be left undone). Allow God to hold the tears of my sorrows, so I can let go. Trust Him to help me make the most of my daughters’ and I’s time together, rather than allowing sadness to damper when we ARE TOGETHER, TODAY. Ask forgiveness for disregarding instruction, and move on with what He’s asked. Continue moving forward, rather than looking back…
What about you? Are you feeling “off”? Be encouraged to spend some time reflecting, but be cautioned. When we feel like we “should know better” or become disappointed with how we’ve “let things go”, we have a tendency to avoid the very place we need to go most for conviction of heart, and wallow in condemnation, rather than run to the arms and throne room of the Lord. Sprint to Him the very next moment, or pile of moments, you find you have. Ask Him to reveal what is going on. Repent if need be. Ask Him to help you assess and adjust. Ask Him to show you the way to abide in Him, and stay there – day after day on this journey to becoming whole, not just during specifically intentional times. Be encouraged to be purposeful every day, for God, yourself and every single person you love and care for.
I pray this met you well, and if you found yourself feeling “off” the past couple of weeks, God has spoken to you in a tender and loving way. In His love for you and your love for HIM, I hope you allow Him to pick you up, dust you off, and get back in the vein of the vine.
Rising in Christ,
I felt like I had been punched in the gut. I sat across the table from the hiring manager of what seemed like the perfect opportunity. It seemed as though God had been providing opportunity after opportunity to reflect His glory through art. A talent I had chosen to lay down five years prior, for the sake of my family.
Earlier in the year I was compelled to respond to a newspaper article in my community, related to highlighting the arts. The response inspired an in-person conversation with key folks in our community, which led to sharing my story as an artist over the past twenty years. The conversation inspired the request for me to share art for a first ever Chamber of Commerce exhibition in my community.
Initially, it didn’t seem to fit, but then it did. Time was arranged enough to allow the creation of several new pieces, while also tending the souls in my home, working, creating new devotional content, and continuing to support and encourage others. When opening exhibition day arrived, I was elated at the pieces God had inspired me to create: Jesus as the center piece, my daughters and marriage secondary and tertiary, my community fourth. The exhibit, along with pieces from twenty years before and in between, captured the evolution, or transformation of my heart and perspective over the years.
From this newly inspired art collection, followed the selection of one piece. The piece was chosen for the cover of a women’s magazine in a surrounding area. Again, I was elated at the opportunity to share my love for God and the fact that all my inspiration comes from Him! The passion spark for art that was flamed from both these events inspired the creation of this website, with a thought I might be one day providing creative services for others, in a new capacity. The intent of the site was to showcase creative capability and function as a portfolio of sorts.
And then some interesting events took shape…
On October 18th 2017, God shared the Rise Up Commitment idea with me (in my mind somewhat flippantly so), and I shared the same day (which I rarely ever do) with a gal I love very much. She pretty much said, “DO IT!”
October 20th 2017, Glo Magazine released the November copy featuring the chosen piece to newsstands. My heart was happy!
October 25th 2017 (seven days after the Lord planted the Rise Up Commitment seed), I discovered a job opportunity as a Graphic Designer. Following the inquiry and discussion with the hiring manager, an initial interview was set up.
October 26th 2017, I emailed about a space to host the Rise Up Commitment. I sensed God needed this commitment to be VERY different from challenges past. A very distinct curriculum was formulating, details of the flow and location. All coming together in a clear vision, but I needed to know it was from Him, rather than my over creative mind.
November 1st 2017, I had an interview with the hiring manager. He had sent me the details of the position and the expectations. Was it God’s hand? Everything I had taken upon myself to learn throughout the development and creation of this new ministry, was exactly what he was looking for. Had God been preparing me for THIS?
The punch came just as swift as the opportunity and interview had. My stomach felt hot, my heart began to race, I felt a bit woozy and my entire demeanor morphed three quarters of the way through the initial interview, from poised and confident, to not so much. I could tell the hiring manager picked up on the shift as well. In an instant, I realized that if I took on this position (which was seemingly a guarantee based on the way the conversation had gone to this point) all other areas, including my home, family and the ministry God had entrusted me with, may fall to the way side or I would burn out trying to make everything "work".
You see, I have a tendency to operate with tunnel vision when learning something new and trying to do my very best. I knew God didn’t want me operating in a tunnel for someone else’s vision with a talent I held dear to my heart. I knew He was calling me to operate out and about with the spiritual gifts He had been making known and blessing me with.
I left the meeting knowing THIS was not what God was preparing me for. The next day, the entire curriculum for the Rise Up Commitment was formulated and captured via Word. The space I had inquired about, was also approved for use throughout the ten week program (I'm told this is somewhat rare). God was confirming. Five days passed. I prayed. I spoke with my husband. On the fourth day I shared with my husband I believed if I pursued the opportunity, I knew it would only be self-serving. Yes, it was perfect for me. Yes, it would help me feel like my talent was being put to use. Yes, I might get a new office. Yes, I might get a new salary. Do you see the theme there? Me – I – myself. I knew it would fulfill a hope I had, but it would essentially cause me to lose or diminish focus on others and ultimately God’s heart.
I had been given a mission right here in my community. This new role, I believed, would not help but hinder this mission. All this I shared with the hiring manager who called me the fifth day to gauge where I was regarding the position and next steps. He had in fact noticed the shift in my body language. He also arrived at the same conclusion, but for different reasons, once I shared my heart. This opportunity was not for me, and it was confirmed.
And I have to say, praise God! He in fact provided everything needed, regardless of my concerns and insecurities regarding capabilities, for the Rise Up Commitment. He added sustenance and cohesiveness to the curriculum. He provided me with the ability to create everything needed before and during the commitment, when the support I once had was no longer there. He showed up week after week in the space He laid on my heart to pursue - for every gal participating. He transformed hearts and minds in a very short period of time, and created a Sisterhood. He brought clarity and certainty to my mind as a result of my participation in the commitment, as to what my spiritual gifts are, and how to serve others with them. He provided vision as to what is next. He continues to move.
Be encouraged today, wherever you are, to always seek God when standing at a crossroads. Seek HIM FIRST and all will be added to you. You may be a fairly new wife wondering how on earth you can nurture a marriage, when you might feel your needs/wants aren’t being met. Seek God. You may be a stay at home mom questioning how on earth you are going to love the children God has blessed you with, while also maintaining your personal identity and sanity. Seek God in the little moments and downtime. You may be a successful female professional or working mother wondering how you are going to do everything you are called to do or even how to figure out your calling, when there is never enough time for you. Seek God in the day to day tasks of life and consider praying for a way to rearrange the day for more deliberate time with Him. You may be a mamma whose not-so-little birds have left the nest way sooner than you ever thought possible, leaving you feeling a sorrow and sadness for days gone, but also yearning for a stirring in the heart to serve God in a new way. Seek God.
He will provide the vision for what is next. He will equip, empower and enable the vision to become reality in His time and way. He will provide support through others. He will, if we are willing to seek Him first and press in. Be encouraged to do both.
In Christ WE Rise,
There were no selfies. No video was taken to post to YouTube. There weren’t even blog posts to update the blog world and a handful of readers, what each week brought. No hashtags to tweet, follow or add.
It was perfect. Intimate. Personal. Powerful. And IN PERSON.
Twelve women, including myself, have an extremely difficult time putting into words exactly the experience we have had the past (almost) ten weeks. Part of me wanted to utilize the word encounter right there, rather than experience, because that is also what our time together became. We encountered one another. We encountered God. We experienced something so divine, words fail to appropriately and amply describe.
Yet we tried.
“The Holy Spirit was THICK tonight!!”, is how one described it.
Another expressed one of our gatherings as an, “AHH-MAZING Spirit filled night!!”
Rich, is the word I found myself using when attempting to describe it.
From the first night gathered, to the last, the Lord blessed us with His presence in amazing ways. And indeed, the atmosphere was plentiful, abundant, luxuriant, exuberant, and rich. His presence, and the fullness to which He made Himself uniquely known to each of us, certainly was astonishing, astounding, surprising and breathtaking! In my mind, I envision Heaven causing the same effect.
Many nights many of us would walk through the double doors bringing more luggage from the week than our backs or shoulders should have been able to bear. By the time we left, it was as if we’d spent eight ours at the spa with every pampering offering we could afford. Our cost? A willingness to arrive with an open mind, softened heart, readiness to pray, and adaptability to move as the Holy Spirit of the living God would lead.
Lead and move He did! On the night of our kick-off, He was seemingly able to alleviate many feelings of discomfort and awkwardness. He led us in a night of healing. He also brought to mind the importance of His Holy Spirit actively operating in our lives as the Bible describes – with no omissions. He compelled us to press in to becoming a truly peculiar people, and to be prepared for the persecution and praise that may result. He began to lay the foundation and magnify what VISION is, from His perspective. He then equipped us with the ability to build according to His vision. We sensed He was abiding with us this past Monday while we joyfully received communion together and humbled ourselves to wash feet.
Even in the resistance He was there. We had to cancel one evening, due to winter weather that made it unsafe for travel. He watched over His daughters and kept each of us safe. We had to cancel another evening, when flu hit me and tore through like a storm in our community. Again, He protected each of us, while compelling us to lift one another in prayer.
God established connection and community, while compelling us to draw closer to Him and others.
He changed lives. He provided clarity. He restored hope. He provided vision. He renewed. He provided contentment. He was with us.
He saw us where we were and met us there.
Now He is moving us.
We know He has only just begun. He’s calling for so much more. Yes, He increased our sensitivity to His Spirit as we incorporated devotions, whole foods, exercise, and focus on our relationships - the goal of the commitment. Yes, He oriented our lives towards Kingdom direction for 2018, another goal of the commitment. Yet, He is also calling us to RISE UP MORE.
More as Wives. More as Mothers. More in our homes. More in our places of professions.
More in our COMMUNITY.
Not only is He calling each of us to more, but we fully believe He is calling us to grow. In the days, weeks, and months to come, there will be opportunities for you to encounter God right where you are, as well as connect with the RISE UP movement, and become part of the Rise Up Community. We are praying for you already.
Please stay tuned. There’s much on the horizon, He’s only just begun…
The Rise Up Commitment is a ten week program designed to help women grow closer to, and increase awareness of, God. Participants read the same Scripture each day, eat whole foods, exercise, focus on relationships with family and others, and engage with a community of other like-minded women.
If you would like to learn more, please CLICK HERE - or - leave a comment for Shanon, below.
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