Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Everyone Loves a Good Parade


The marching band is heard before you ever see the procession. Music drifts through the air, while you wait in anticipation to see the elaborately decorated floats. The excitement is tangible.

Everyone loves a good parade.

I am no exception.

But I’m talking about a different kind of parade.

In Exodus 33 when Moses asked the Lord, “Please show me your glory.” The Lord responded, “I will make all my goodness pass before you and will proclaim before you my name ‘The Lord.’”

Several years ago, in a difficult season, God showed up at every turn, every day and in amazing ways. A friend shared the verse above and said that was what my life was like, “His goodness passing before me.” It made me think of a parade.

He is doing it again in a slightly different way.

Over the last several months I have seen many people that I have known over the 17 years I have lived in Georgia. It has been like a parade. As I see each person, memories come flooding back, where we met, what we did together and how the Lord showed up. It has been nostalgically, overwhelming and I’m grateful.

I am grateful because I love these people.

I am grateful because He is the same God.

With Him, there are no coincidences. Every parade has a theme and this one is no different. This is a parade of remembrance, seeing all the goodness, through people, pass before me, again.

I thank my God every time I remember you. Philippians 1:3

With these friends, there were good times - small groups, prayer sessions, worship nights, and even good cry sessions. This season has brought redemption to my heart. When it comes in a procession His overwhelming love is evident. I can’t help be aware of His faithfulness, His goodness and His care in my life.
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Hebrews 13:8
Not sure why the recent influx of friends past, but I know the Lord is showing me something and the constant reminder of all the people He has brought into my life is a great place to be this Thanksgiving.
...and it was the duty of the trumpeters and singers to make themselves heard in unison in praise and thanksgiving to the Lord), and when the song was raised, with trumpets and cymbals and other musical instruments, in praise to the Lord,“For he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever,”...2 Chronicles 5:13

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Hanging On


God has ways to deal with things. His ways are definitely not our ways and last week I was more sure of that than ever. 

It was a fairly good week with some fun and friends sprinkled in and promised to be an eventful weekend, but I was feeling anxious. God has been leading me in a direction this past month and last week, feeling terrified, I hit the brakes.

Screeching halt.

After praying, dialoguing with a friend for a bit and filling my mind with truth, I settled down for bed early. 

Before my feet even hit the floor Thursday morning God instructed me to clean my closet. He was teaching me about my recent anxiousness and relational struggles using my cluttered closet. 

Analogies, similies, and metaphors were all in His briefcase
that morning as He revealed, once again, my struggle to "let go." 

Seemingly everything the Lord reveals to me is a deeper truth He has previously introduced, so I looked up a post I wrote in 2010 and it was the basis for my conversation with the Lord that morning. A deeper revelation of my propensity to "hold on" when everything points to "let go." Even then he was laying a foundation, building layers of truth in my heart and some of that truth is beginning to bear fruit.

Going through my closet that morning was cathartic. Every item was representative of something - the times I wore it flashed across my mind, the person who gave it to me or what I was doing when I last wore it. Each item representative of something I was holding onto. It was surreal. 


There was some serious baggage in there.

When the Lord gave me the revelation years ago there were three things I tended to hold tightly, but I'm happy to report there are only two I still struggle with. It has been a long struggle, but persistence is paying off.

Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. James 1:22
He doesn't want us to hear His Word and keep going,
He wants us to hear His Word and be changed. 

I'm changing, slowly but surely.

So, as I entered the closet that morning with the previous day's battle won, but still fresh in my mind I filled five garbage bags.

Two lies were evident as I filled bag after bag:

LIE


I hold onto things because I am afraid of lacking.

TRUTH

Fear the Lord, you his holy people,for those who fear him lack nothing.The lions may grow weak and hungry,but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing. Psalm 34:9-10
LIE

I hold onto relationships that are dead or dying because I am afraid to let go.

TRUTH
"Truly I tell you," Jesus replied, “no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age: homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields—along with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last first.” Mark 10:29-31
I hold onto things and relationships that the Lord would rather see me let go of. Things that keep me from His best for me, things that keep me from His blessings, things that keep me from His will for my life. I'm still recognizing things and people that I'm holding onto and asking Him to show me how to let go because I cannot do it on my own.
Sometimes the strongest thing you will ever do will be to let go of someone. It will be painful, you will suffer guilt, and you will second-guess yourself, but for your own sanity and quality of life, there will come a time where you hand them to God, with your love, and trust Him to be who and what He is. - Lee Goff
These are long-time struggles, but I am confident after this closet decluttering experience, that I am closer to seeing fruit in the remaining areas too. Sometimes the branch has to be pruned before it will bear fruit.
Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. John 15:2

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

What Success Won't Tell You About Small Beginnings



God was moving in my heart in ways I didn't yet understand. It was a stirring, a longing. It was at a ladies' tea in December 2006. One year later, almost to the day, I knew He had been preparing me for the opportunity that seemingly dropped in my lap.

He wanted me to purchase a tea shop that was closing and run an online tea business.

As silly as it may sound it was the most faith-building experience I'd ever had.

There were a lot of things to consider at the time:
I had no money to start a business.
I had no experience running my own business.
I had no experience with tea.
I did not let that stop me. My faith kicked into overdrive. I stepped onto every stone He put before me.
The finances came.
All my precious job had given me the experience to start and run the business.
Since the ladies' tea in 2006 I had become a student of tea, therefore, I had a lot of  crucial information already. 
Our church had an auction recently and I wanted to contribute something, so I auctioned off a tea party for eight and a “How to Host a Tea Party” class. I wasn’t in town for the auction, so I didn’t know if someone purchased it, but a week later I received a call. The winner had not only purchased the tea party but had been determined to win the bid. She said she was bringing two groups of friends together who had not previously met, so she had my full attention since bringing people together is one of my favorite things. Her excitement was contagious.

It didn’t take long for the Lord to begin speaking to me about this party and these women. I auctioned off a tea party, but He had plans for so much more.

She picked the menu and gave me the freedom to talk about tea or not. As I prepared Friday I was near tears as the Lord was so specific about the plates and cups and these women He adored.

He wanted them to know how uniquely He had created each one of them, He instructed me to choose my most uniquely shaped teacups. When God speaks to me so specifically, so lovingly about others it reminds me He is no respecter of persons and does the same for me.

Saturday was the tea party. As is always the case with a tea party or a tea class I walk away in awe of how God shows up.

These women didn’t seem like strangers at all, they felt more like long lost sisters. 

God showed up!

The hostess had air plants at their places for them to take home and a friend and I had painted pictures for each of them. I heard more than once, "This means more than you know."

I know how our hearts need to hear Him whisper something specific to our heart.

You see God loves a tea party, but He loves His daughters even more.

A tea business may not seem like a big deal and in many ways, it wasn’t, but in the ways that matter it was the best thing I’ve ever done.
God has His own measures of success which include our obedience and commitment to the call, regardless of what we face. And so, this should be the yardstick we use to measure our success. Gladys Famoriyo, Christian Post
God continues to use my obedience and willingness all those years ago to open doors for me to share His love, His love for His daughters - that is always a humbling and awe-inspiring experience.
Though your beginning was insignificant,
Yet your end will greatly increase. Job 8:7
What has He called you to do? It may not be what you want or what you thought, but maybe, just maybe it is the next step in getting closer to His perfect plan for your life.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Fanning the Flame


We waited for this night for a year. Everyone was worshipping. I was one of 70 women in the room and I heard the Lord clearly, "It doesn't matter what size the flame, I will fan it."

It was His promise for the women, for the weekend, for me.

And suddenly there came from heaven a noise like a violent rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Acts 2:2
And when He had said this, He breathed on them and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit." John 20:22

I don't know where you are. You might have only a mustard seed of faith left or more than enough to go around. He sees you and He will meet you right where you are.

He knows just what will get you ignited.

I stood there worshipping, grateful I had even made it to the conference, as I thought of the battle I had just won. A battle for my family, my destiny, and my calling. I was on the mountaintop. He met me on that mountaintop literally and figuratively and He fanned the flame.

His fresh wind blew all weekend and I was transformed in a way that is still hard to put into words. 

I encourage you, call on Him. No matter where you're at, call on Him. He will be found and He will answer you.

Before you pick up the phone to call yet another friend or send another text, get on your knees and tell Him like it is. He already knows, but just like you would want your best friend to tell you the details of her life, so does He. He cares and is always ready to listen.

Let His Spirit blow through your life, your circumstance and ignite something in you.

It will be perfect.

Perfect for you and perfect for your situation. 

Just like a windy day, your hair might get a little messy and things may get moved around, but trust Him. He will take that tiny flame and fan it for His glory and your good.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Speak Life


guest post by Lyric Housman

You are a child of God.

I am a child of God.

You are beautiful and worthy.

I am beautiful and worthy.

You are so loved.

I also am so loved.

I believe that speaking life, gives life.

Growing up, I became accustomed to speaking death over myself. I would say things like “You are too much, you can’t do that, don’t waste your time trying to enter into friendships because they will see the real you and reject you." The lies I told myself altered my identity and made me a people pleaser.

l began to lose all confidence in who the Lord created me to be. Scripture tells us that the tongue can bring blessings and life, or curses and death. 
Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits. Proverbs 18:21 (ESV)
I think we can all say we would rather have the blessings and life.

Speaking life gives us the confidence in who we are because we are speaking the truth, over ourselves, of who we were created to be. I don’t believe the Father of kindness created us with so much purpose so that we would speak the opposite over ourselves and let it all go to waste. He is speaking that life into you every breath you take, so take a minute to quiet your own thoughts and listen to the goodness the Father is speaking over you and do the same.
So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. Genesis 1:27 (ESV)
Take some time to think of who God is to you. 

For me, He is gentle and kind, He is bold and courageous, He is a teacher. Now remind yourself again that you were made in that same image, meaning you carry all the same traits, you just have to walk into that.

Words are powerful so we must be careful with how we use them. Speaking lies over ourselves is causing death, in our confidence and in our spirits because we actually begin to believe those lies to be true. So let us speak life and better ourselves as the sons and daughters God created us to be.

You are a child of God.

I am a child of God.

You are beautiful and worthy.

I am beautiful and worthy.

You are so loved.

I also am so loved.

Lyric Housman - I am 19 years old and I attend a discipleship school called Center for Global Action (CGA). As an apprentice, I am given the space to grow closer to the Lord, learn skills to become a better leader, and how to disciple well. The Lord is calling me to a place of leadership, and He is asking me to learn from really great leaders and giving me examples of what it looks like to do that well. It’s all very exciting! If you want to hear more about this season I am entering into and what I am learning you can check out my blog!

Thursday, November 2, 2017

When Failure Threatens to Paralyze You



Sharing that things didn't go as planned here at Redemption's Champion was terrifying, but freeing at the same time. If I ask you to be transparent and vulnerable then I should do the same. Writing that post When Things Don't Go As Planned was opening a can of worms in some ways, but I am grateful.

Blogging makes your personal successes and failures public and offers a great opportunity for growth. As I meditated on that post and looked a bit further, recovering myself from failure is still a great struggle.

There are areas in my life right now where I perceive failure and am struggling to get back on the proverbial wagon. I have been asking the Lord what is at the heart of this issue? I don't think He has fully revealed the answer, but some lies that have been rumbling around in my head sound like this:

If I fail, I should give up.

If I fail, I will lose credibility.

If I fail, I am a failure.

Those are harsh ya'll! No wonder I feel paralyzed.

There is a common theme in these lies, the "if" word, which is a red flag for fear. These lies are rooted in fear. The best way to fight fear is to do the very thing I am afraid of.
I have gone through a lot of re-starts in my life. One thing I’ve found consistent: the voice of perfectionism always tries to stop me. - Bonnie Gray
Truth must be spoken to challenge these lies.
You hear a lie, you treat it like truth, and it begins to define you, like a label. And then you act out of that label. - Annie F. Downs, 100 Days to Brave
When I fail I can pick myself back up and try again.
For a just man falleth seven times, and riseth up again: Proverbs 24:16
People may react to my failure, but God never will.
The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart. 1 Samuel 16:7
I am not my failure, I am a child of God.
He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities. Psalm 103:10
Only in seeking the Lord for the root of these lies and truth that counteracts them will I be free to move forward. Fear of failure may continually be a temptation designed to keep me from fully walking in my identity, but I get to choose whose voice I listen to.
Friend, it's time to stop listening to Satan's lies and labels so you can hear the truth. - Annie F. Downs, 100 Days to Brave
The fear of this post not being "perfect" tempts me to hit delete instead of publish, but in order to silence the voice, I must listen to love. Instead of doing what would make me feel safe and unexposed, I will do what must be done to overcome.

I have the key to freedom from fear of failure, I must choose to use it.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

When Things Don't Go As Planned


Two gorgeous prophetic art pieces up for grabs, that was my last post. I was sure that people would be commenting, liking and sharing their way to winning, but nothing. Silence.

Crickets.

Not one entry except for the one girl I had comment to be sure Rafflecopter was working.


What happened?

I’m learning that I don’t have to figure that out. God has a plan. It isn’t my responsibility.

I will admit I haven’t been sure how to move forward since then, but it’s simple just move forward.

"Say to them, ‘This is what the Lord says:“‘When people fall down, do they not get up? When someone turns away, do they not return? Jeremiah 8:4

I've been here before with projects, scrap booking and books. I get stuck and stay stuck for a long time. One scrapbook sat for a whole year because a page turned out horrible.


That was the old me.

The new me dusts herself off and tries again.

"A failure is not a loss. It's a gain. You learn. You change. You grow.” - Michael Barata

So it goes with a lot of things. Relationships, ministry, finances - He has a plan. We put our best foot forward and we fall flat on our faces. It's okay.


If I put my trust in Him, commit my ways to Him, "He will act" it says in the English Standard Version of the Bible. He is responsible to act and I am responsible for my part and He will show me what that is.
"Failure is not the opposite of success, it’s part of success." - Arianna Huffington

One of the paintings has found its way into the hands of someone who really wanted it, so that is a blessing.


What about when we are talking about something more serious than a blog giveaway? The same principle applies. We are responsible for our part (no one else’s) and He is responsible for His part.


I used to believe that failure made me useless, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.


David failed.


Peter failed.


Elijah failed.


Jonah failed.


The list goes on and on. These are the heroes of our faith. The ones we read about to encourage ourselves, to be reminded of how Jesus stepped in and saved the day. Jesus always saves the day.


Failure isn’t fatal or final, sometimes it is just a stepping stone to faith.
"From your perspective, failing makes you a failure. But from God’s perspective, your dream may have to die for His plan to come to come to life." - Steven Furtick