Monday, May 9, 2016

Fulfill Your Life's Work

Back in October, I was so excited to join the Write 31 Days Challenge.  Hundreds of writers gathered beforehand to encourage and motivate each other to write on one topic consistently for 31 days.

For some time now, I have been feeling the tug to know the feeling.  It's the feeling you get when you are called to obedience; to be obedient to your life's work.  What inner peace and joy you experience as you align yourself with the call.  

How often do we know we're supposed to be doing something but need a push to get started?  The Write 31 Days Challenge served that purpose for me. Did I mention hundreds of new and seasoned writers whether joined together in this challenge?  Such motivation and accountability!

Every day in October, I sat to write.  I didn't plan what I would write.  I only knew my topic.  Each day I sat, glaring at an empty screen.  As I sat, God would begin to speak to me what words to pen.  It was so hard sometimes to stop writing a post because the words would be pouring out of me so that I often had to condense it or continue my thoughts in another post.

I wrote every. single. day for 31 days.  I wrote of a story I know best how to own.  Even still, it's only a fraction of it's totality as I couldn't squeeze every single detail into 31 days of writing.  

I didn't have many expectations to gain readers.  I was elated though to know others were running this race with me.  Night after night, we encouraged each other to continue writing.  Don't we all need encouragement sometimes to keep going?  This question got me to thinking.

As much as I love to write and feel exhilarated when I do...I haven't done much of it since the challenge.  

My space has been quiet.  The hundreds of writers have returned to their own spaces in the world. Encouragement from like-minded writers has ceased.  Would anyone notice if I never write again?  

He will.  Who matters most.  The One who called me.  Jesus.  He sees and remembers every promise we utter to keep and fail.  And He is not concerned at all with who's watching.  He is okay being an audience of one.

But are we?  Are we okay walking in our calling alone?  If no one is clapping for us and cheering us on? No pats on the back or thank you's?

I sincerely want to be.  Sincerely.  

Maybe your call isn't to write.  That isn't the totality of mine either.  But it is one important work He has asked me to do; to use my writing to draw others to Him.

Whatever your calling is, what are you waiting for to get started?  Are you seeking encouragement from others? Do you feel stumped if no one has given you their stamp of approval?   

I have been there.  I get it.  But we can't stay there.

I firmly believe when we are obedient to His call, He will make things work.  In whatever way He chooses. Allow Him to develop you. To equip you.  Obedience to Him makes life work.

I encourage you (please know I'm also encouraging myself as well) to step out even when no one is watching. Trust Him that He will fulfill His plans as we yield ourselves fully to Him.  

He sees.  He is watching.  He is waiting on us to do what He has called us to do.  

Oftentimes, seeking approval is rooted in a sense of inadequacy and insecurity.   Find comfort in knowing what you have is not just for you.  Be willing to step out of your comfort zone.  Move in faith.  Take the first step.  

No one can do what you do like you.  Especially when He puts His stamp on it.  He walks alongside you cheering you on.  

Draw your head back, look upward and...Go!  

Let's cheer each other on.  What has He called you to do?  Have you been stagnant?  What are you waiting on? Go ahead girlfriend.  Someone needs to hear your words; experience your gift.  Don't let them down.  Don't let Him down.  People are waiting for you to fulfill what He's called you to do.

Feel free to comment; let's encourage each other.  

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Giving Thanks is An Act of Obedience

With Thanksgiving less than an hour away, I felt compelled to write about one of my favorite Scriptures. All across the world, families set aside Thanksgiving Day to celebrate thankfulness. Many will share around the dinner table what they are thankful for.  Some have been adding to this list all year only to reveal to those near and dear what thankful memories they have accumulated.

Any reason to give thanks and to share this with others is a blessing.  Especially over a great feast of deliciously homemade never-ending rounds of food!

We all have something to be thankful for.  I could rave on and on myself about everything I'm thankful for. Although I'm not my list will be much different from yours or that you will be that interested in reading all about it.  It all begins to sound very similar after you've heard the fifth or so person complete the sentence, "I'm thankful for _________."

So no worries, I won't bombard you with my list.  Except I do have to say one thing: I'm thankful for being married to my best friend for almost twelve years on November 29th.  What can I say, I have to dedicate at least one line of this post to my beloved hubby who has put up with me for almost twelve years!

Okay, back to my intent for this post.  As Christians, thanksgiving is not just a one-time event for us.  It is a daily lifestyle.  To give thanks in EVERY thing (emphasis mine).

May I be real for just a moment?  When I first read this Scripture, I didn't love it and I wanted so bad to disregard it.  How could I give thanks in every thing?  Of course, my mind automatically went to situations I could not find a logical reason to be thankful for.

As I studied more on this Scripture, I plainly saw I wasn't asked to be thankful for every thing, but in every thing.  There is a remarkable difference!

We can be confident that all things work together for good for those who love the Lord.  All things.  Let that sink in.

Therefore, every single thing that occurs in our lives can be a reason to be thankful.  Living in prosperous times or through hardships are both equally helpful.  We can profit from both the sunshine and the rainy seasons in our lives.

Although it took me some time to grasp this, God knew it from the beginning.  I Thessalonians 5:18 goes on to say giving thanks in every thing is His will for us in Christ Jesus.

Giving thanks is an act of obedience. Thankfulness and obedience are connected.  We can give thanks in every thing because God is in control. Because we trust His will and surrender to it. Because He allows every occurrence in our lives.

Let's strive to be better in this area and live a life of thanksgiving. Giving thanks in every thing.  By faith. Because we want to fulfill His will and live a life that pleases Him.

Have you ever struggled with this Scripture?  I hope this post has encouraged you.  Will you walk with me on this journey to continually give thanks? Yes, in every thing.

I'd love to hear from you.  Feel free to comment below.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Worth It All (Day 31 - Hope Against Hope)

Photo by g7preston licensed under Creative Commons
Today is the last day of the challenge to write for 31 days.  Although I am relieved I made it until the end of this challenge, I will miss it.  I will miss going to my computer every day starting with a blank canvas with an opportunity to create engaging word art.  I will miss bravely publishing words of my story, of hope and encouragement.  

I have learned so much through this challenge.  I've learned sharing words with others is a gift.  A gift I don't take lightly.  Any time you have the attention of anyone, even it's just one, you have the opportunity to share God-inspired words.  So others may see more of Him and less of you.  It's a graceful dying of yourself to help others live.  

There is so much more I can write, so much more I can share.  I know I have to write more.  I've often questioned after publishing if I wrote enough words, if the message was properly conveyed.    

I wrote about the loss of my daughter, Reese Madison.  I wrote what it means to truly surrender.  I wrote about hope.  When all seems hopeless, when in despair, when you don't understand.  To hope still against hope. 

This song I'm sharing today is my final Saturday's Nugget of Hope.  I knew from the beginning of my writing that I would post this song.  This is the foundation of my writing.  This is "Hope Against Hope". Living it out no matter what He has allowed in our lives.  Hoping still...

It is going to be worth it all.  He's going to be worth it.  I believe this!

Worth It All by Rita Springer

I am so grateful, dear reader that you are here.  For those who have commented or have read in silence, I am grateful.  I pray my words have inspired hope in Him.  He is our hope.  

Find rest, O my soul, in God alone, my hope comes from Him. ~ Psalm 62:5

P.S. My words throughout this challenge were heavy at times so I'm looking forward to going lighter. I'm looking forward to write about all the things I love about being a woman, lessons I've learned... about guarding and protecting our hearts.  Of course, my faith will always be a common thread amidst my words. Although I won't write every day, I will consistently write.  I hope you'll join me!

This is Day 31 of a 31 day series of “Hope Against Hope”. To read all of the posts in this series, click here. To read what several other bloggers are writing for the month of October, click here

Friday, October 30, 2015

Hope Still...(Day 30 - Hope Against Hope)

Photo by Jeanette's Ozpix licensed under Creative Commons

This challenge to write 31 days has been quite a challenge for me!  It has sparked a love for the discipline of writing.

I'll be honest here.  There aren't many things I have set out to do that requires this sort of discipline. Nor have I been able to stick with something for this length of time and conquer it daily.

But I set out to do this.  No matter how late I've been awake past my bedtime or when I had other commitments, I stuck with it.  When I was easily distracted and had to stop yet again and pray, I continued.

Hoping against hope requires discipline, more so than writing every day for 31 days.  The discipline to keep going even when we lack the strength to do so.  Even when we feel defeated and empty.

We must charge ourselves to hope still.  It is a weak faith to focus entirely on difficulty that presents itself against hope.  Left to ourselves, we are weak and have a tough time seeing beyond what is right in front of us.

It is easy to hope when we can predict the outcome.  When we can see how the story will end.  But this isn't true hope at all.  This is conditional of a grand finale ending exactly how we anticipated it would.  Hope can be so trivial to us.  We put our hope in just about anything.  What others think of us, our jobs, the government, even our favorite sports teams.  But most unsettling is the hope we have in ourselves.

We don't know the thoughts or plans of God.  His thoughts are not our thoughts and His ways are not our ways.  We simply have to trust in His goodness and sovereignty.  We don't have to hope He is for us, we can be confident in knowing He is for us.  Our security lies in Him alone.  He is the only constant and certainty.

It comforts me to know God is never caught off guard or surprised.  Whatever comes my way, He knows I can handle it.  He has paved the way before me.  He won't permit anything beyond what I;m capable of handling.

It may sound simple until you have to live it out.   Some may falsely think their hope is in God until life happens.  Tests and troubles may disappoint us.  But hope in Him never disappoints.  Ever.

When you feel like you are on the brink of giving up.  Hope still... against hope.  I promise it will be worth it.

Friends thanks so much for sticking this out with me.  I mean it.  I appreciate it more than you know.

This is Day 30 of a 31 day series of “Hope Against Hope”. To read all of the posts in this series, click here. To read what several other bloggers are writing for the month of October, click here

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Don't Fight Insecurity (Day 29 - Hope Against Hope)

Photo by bound_4_freedom licensed under Creative Commons

I'm feeling a little uneasy tonight as this challenge to write for 31 days is soon to come to an end.  If I can be brutally honest, I feel a little insecure.

It's been years since I knew God was calling me to share my story.  It is my heart to encourage others, especially women.  But it is such a vulnerable place to be transparent and let people in.

I ran from this calling.  I didn't have answers.  I hadn't accepted or made peace with my own story.

Now that this challenge is almost over I second-guess myself.  I want nothing more than to be obedient to God in sharing what He has led me to share.  I want my readers to know whatever trial they face, they don't have to face it alone.  I want God to be pleased with my words.  I don't want readers to focus on my story solely, but to see Him.  To see the One who writes our stories.  And Who lovingly carries us through them.

I've shared my story of losing hope after we lost our precious daughter, Reese Madison.  In the back of my mind, the thoughts make their way in of those reading and following this journey along with me.  This happened eight years ago.  Eight years ago.

Why share now?  Have you given up hope to have another child?  I can hear the questions.

I had to get 'me' out of the way.  My obedience to Him had to be more important.  

Sharing has been overwhelmingly beautiful and essential to my own healing.  I have cried more tears in writing it out than I have in years.

I needed process time.  It is an afflicting, yet anointed work.  The opportunity to look back into my story with a different lens.  I see God in it.  He was at work the entire time.  He is my hope.

We haven't conceived again.  I am still hopeful.  I still long to be called Mommy.  In spite of this, I trust He is writing my story to fulfill His plan for my life.  And it is good.

I know the story isn't over.  I have to write more.  I'm grateful to let you in the deep places of my heart.  I'm grateful for you taking this journey with me.

My insecurities prove I need Him.  I need Him to write truth.  I need Him to guide my words.  I need Him to lead those who need these words to this space.

Have you ever fought feeling insecure?  Insecurity testifies of our humanity.  Rest in Him.  Let Him do all the work.

This is Day 29 of a 31 day series of “Hope Against Hope”. To read all of the posts in this series, click here. To read what several other bloggers are writing for the month of October, click here

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

You Matter (Day 28 - Hope Against Hope)

I feel led to share a word of encouragement.  You may need to hear these words...YOU MATTER.

You may have been raised in a household where you weren't affirmed or didn't feel valued.  Sure, your parents did what was necessary to provide for you, but you didn't always feel the love.  Perhaps no one said "I love you."  No one asked your opinion.  There wasn't much family time.  Everyone did their own thing.

Or you may be like me who grew up in a family that affirmed me and made me feel confident enough to do anything.  Family time was important.  I have great memories of dinner time and family activities.  I never doubted the love of my family.  My parents put forth much effort to show my sister and I that we were important to them.  This was shown through their constant support and selflessness to ensure we were given the best they possibly could.

No matter which scenario you identify with the most, over time you can begin to feel devalued.  You can begin to feel as if you don't matter.  This can't be further from the truth!

We all matter to the God who created us.  At times, it's difficult to see and allow ourselves to experience His love simply because of our upbringing.  We have issues trusting others because no one seemed to have had our best interest at heart.  How can I trust God loves me when those who are supposed to love me have treated me unfairly and rejected me?

Although I didn't feel rejected by my family, there was a time I struggled with feeling rejected by God.  As I've mentioned before in an earlier post, things tended to work out in my favor as a child and into early adulthood.  Please don't mistake me and think I grew up with a silver spoon in my mouth.  This was not the case at all.  The only point I'm making is sometimes we can become so secure in ourselves, love from others and our own abilities that when we lose that sense of security, it hits hard.

I didn't initially have a problem trusting God.  But when things started happening that I hadn't planned, now there was an issue.

It wasn't so much just an issue in trusting who God is.  I believed in God and agreed the Bible accurately describes who God is.  I had lost hope that He was for me.  That I mattered.  That He cared for me.

Maybe this has been a struggle for you as well because we are fixated on how life or other people have treated us.  But God is not like people.  And life's experiences shouldn't cause us to doubt we matter to Him.

It does at times.  It has for me.

So what do we do when we feel inadequate?  When we feel disconnected from God?  When we just need to know we matter?

Bring your feelings before Him.  Release all of the hurt, anger and pain.  He is willing to free us if we are willing to yield ourselves fully to Him.  He wants to encourage and renew our minds with His word.

Our minds need to be renewed so our thoughts line up with His thoughts for us.  Pray sincerely that you begin to see yourself as He sees you.

Loved.  Wonderfully Made.  The Apple of His eye.  Beautiful.  Chosen.  Joyful.

Don't stop here friends.  There is so much to gain as you are intimate with Him.  He will continue to reveal what He thinks of you, what you were created to do.

Maybe you know this struggle all too well.  It's liberating to share our stories.  You matter and your story matters.  I'd love to hear from you.  Feel free to comment below.

This is Day 28 of a 31 day series of “Hope Against Hope”. To read all of the posts in this series, click here. To read what several other bloggers are writing for the month of October, click here

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Fear Breeds Hopelessness and Indifference (Day 27 - Hope Against Hope)

If we're honest, we've all experienced hopelessness.  We've become apprehensive to hope.  We've seen hope's outcome firsthand.  The pain.  The discomfort.  The silence.  The isolation.  Broken dreams. Who would dare want to experience this again?

We choose not to.  Instead, we become comfortable in our pain because it is most familiar to us.  We are afraid to hope again, only to be let down.  We fear the unknown.  To hope seems silly and embarrassing, laughable even.

This reminds me of Sarah in the Bible who laughed when she overheard the angel telling Abraham she would conceive a child.  This was absurd to her.  She had settled within herself that she would remain childless.

So often we settle as we too are convinced of our plight.  Our eyes are on our situation.  We are considering all those details that give us reason not to hope.  We ponder the enormity of our situation. More than we'd like to admit, this hopelessness stems from fear.

I get it.  If you focus on your situation too long, it will breed fear.  It will cause you to be indifferent, apathetic.  Joyce Meyer put it best when she coined the term, "the battlefield of the mind."  This is where it all begins.  If you haven't read this book, I urge you to read it.  It describes how the enemy will highlight something negative in your life and use it to control you.  To weaken you.  To get you to turn away from God and His plan for your life.  And how every battle begins with a thought that can be magnified if entertained too long.

If we resolve ourselves to hopelessness, the enemy of our soul has won!  Fear has overtaken us.

Trials are not meant to make us fearful, but to perfect us.  To make us more like Jesus.  To cling to Him, not turn away from Him.

Fear does the opposite.  It affects every part of us.  Our relationships, ministries, etc.  It puts up a wall of protection to avoid pain.  It limits us to move forward beyond our experiences.  It stunts our growth.  It is "I" focused and not "God" focused.

But real hope is superior to our realm of control.  It is hoping in a God who is our refuge and hope. In spite of our own fears and hangups.

Be truthful about where you are.  He is willing to help.

This is a daily overcome fear.  I pray sincerely for the desire to hope in Him alone.  I pray that I will not be controlled by fear.

I have not at all arrived in this area.  It's a daily fight.  That I'm determined to win.

I vow to hope against hope.  Will you join me?  I'd love to hear from you.

This is Day 27 of a 31 day series of “Hope Against Hope”. To read all of the posts in this series, click here. To read what several other bloggers are writing for the month of October, click here

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