Thursday, March 28, 2013

My “Extra” Ordinary Days

Holley Gerth’s God-sized dream team question for this week…
Sometimes when we’re really focused on the destination we can miss the journey along the way. What’s a typical day in your life like right now? How can you see God’s hand in the middle of the “small” and ordinary too?

A typical day in my life sounds ordinary.

I’m a wife and a mother, so I juggle schedules and responsibilities, trying to make sure everyone gets where they need to be, while keeping up on laundry, housekeeping, meals, and well, you get the picture.

I also work at my church. I assist the senior pastor, so I juggle schedules, meetings, and projects, trying to make sure he knows where he needs to be and when, while keeping up with all the other behind-the-scenes necessities.

In my, ahem, free time, I write, while also trying to spend time reading, exercising, dreaming God-sized dreams, and spending time with loved ones.

And, I can get super-stressed-out…sometimes I handle it well, but more often than not, I don’t.

See? Pretty ordinary.

Except, it’s not, because there’s a piece I didn’t tell you.

I’m a daughter of the King, and I walk with Him every day in this journey of life.

He’s there to guide and correct me.

He listens and encourages me to talk with Him.

He speaks wisdom through His Word, and He’s patient when I just don’t get it.

He leads me in the God-sized dreams He’s planted in my heart, and opens my eyes to new possibilities.

God takes my ordinary days and makes them extraordinary.

That’s because He has plans for me. From the moment He thought to create me, He knew.

For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11 NLT

When my days seem endless and without hope, I know there’s more to God’s plans for me.

When I don’t understand how life took this turn, I know it’s not the end of the road.

When I’m at the end of my rope, God lengthens it and ties a giant knot for me to hold on to.

He adds the “extra” to my ordinary days.

What is an ordinary day like for you? Where do you see God adding the “extra?”

In Christ,
Laura  

Linking up with Holley Gerth, #TellHisStory, WholeHearted Home, Winsome Wednesday, Thought Provoking Thursday, and Faith Filled Friday.                                                                                                                                 

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Joy Found in Christ

As I’ve been thinking about joy this week, I’ve realized there is a big difference between God getting me through hard times, and walking with God through those hard times.

The first is a promise from God, the second means that with the promise comes joy, even in the difficult times.

Let me back up for a moment.

I’ve always believed in God. I have prayed to Him my whole life, and at times, I’ve even begged Him for help.

But I didn’t know Him.

I didn’t know Him as my God who wanted to spend time with me, and I certainly didn’t know how to spend time with Him. I went to God when I needed His help, but I didn’t spend time with Him—through the good and the bad times. There is a difference.

I have no doubt God got my family through the rough times all those years ago. Without Him, life would have turned out much differently. I just don’t remember hearing from God when I was young. I’m not saying He didn’t speak to me or try to get my attention. But I didn’t know what to listen for or how to hear Him.

Fast forward to the present.

God has walked with me through many trials. I’ve felt His presence and heard His voice. And during the times God choses to remain silent, I still know He’s there…because I know He promises to never leave.

Back then, I didn’t know how to walk with God and let Him get me through. I was surviving because I had to, but I felt alone the entire way. 

Now it is a very different story. The issues and situations are no less painful than they were back then, but facing them with God makes the journey one in which I can even find joy—joy in knowing that God is at work. I can feel Him and see Him at work.

Does living in Christ mean there will no longer be trying times? No, not at all. It means that I’m not going through it alone.

Living in Christ allows me to see God’s blessings along the way, even when I’m going through something I would never wish on anyone else.

Knowing God’s voice and presence means I can focus on Him instead of the chaos around me. I’m human, though, and it’s easy to lose my focus. But now, it’s easier to hear His voice when He says, “Laura, over here. Look at Me.”

Living life with Him enables me to see how I’ve grown and changed, much of it happening during the bad times.  

My memories of recent trials include times of His comfort and guidance. Yes, I still remember the bad stuff, but it’s diluted with the joy I’ve found in Christ. While my memories of the long ago past focus on the hurt, anger, and hatred during that time.

What a difference! Back then I didn’t know God’s comfort or love. Now, I lean into Him because I can’t get enough.

In this life we will have trouble, but even through the trouble, we can find joy in our relationship with Christ.

Undeniable joy—the kind that can be hard to explain, but when you feel it—you know it.

I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.
John 16:33 NLT

In Christ,
Laura 

Linking up with Holley Gerth, Jennifer at #TellHisStory, Winsome Wednesday, WholeHearted HomeThought Provoking Thursday, and Faith Filled Friday.

Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

What Brings You Joy?

Tuesdays are God-Sized Dream days, when Holley Gerth’s team gets together to explore the dreams God plants in our hearts.

Holley’s question for this week is…

What brings you joy—especially when it comes to your God-sized dream?

A God-sized Dream is a desire in your heart for more of what God has for you.
~Holley Gerth

For me, joy is found in my personal relationship with God.

I’ve always believed in God, but I didn’t know Him personally.

I knew Him as a God I could pray to, but not as my God whom I could talk to all day long, about anything.

It was when God began to capture my heart that I knew I wanted to know Him better.

As I turned to Him, He drew me closer. I could feel His presence and I grew to know His voice. I began to see how He was working in me and in my life.

And I found joy.

Joy is knowing that when I’m at the end of myself, I’m not alone. God never leaves me.

Joy is seeing the blessings along the rocky roads.

Joy is learning to focus on Him, and not myself.

Joy is the peace He brings, when nothing in life feels peaceful.

Joy is in knowing I can trust God in everything, because I’ve seen that He always keeps His promises.

Joy is leaning in to God for a hug, sharing something exciting with Him, and crying on His shoulder.

Joy is knowing He’s never too busy to spend time with me.

Joy is knowing God wants to be in a relationship with me. One-on-one. Him and me.

How about you? What brings you joy?

In Christ,
Laura  


Thursday, March 14, 2013

My Esther Moment

Welcome! I’m over at 5 Minutes for Faith today talking about my Esther moment. Maybe you have one too…when you thought maybe you were here for such a time as this.
For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?” Esther 4:14 NIV
No one can do exactly what you do. God planned it that way.

He created each of us as different as our fingerprints. And He knows what you can do—not alone, but with and through Him.

If He’s called you for His purpose, you can expect that He’ll walk alongside of you.

Every step of the way.

For such a time as this.

Will you join me at 5 Minutes for Faith to read the rest of my post? I’d love to hear your Esther story through the comment section, either here or over there.

In Christ,
Laura  


Wednesday, March 13, 2013

More of Him…Less of Me

A God-sized Dream is a desire in your heart for more of what God has for you. ~Holley Gerth

Holley’s question for this week:
What do you really want more of in your life? Will you dare to say it out loud? Hint: it probably means having less of something too {ex: more joy, less stress}.”

Last week, I put my God-sized dream here in writing…to continue expressing hope and encouragement to the hearts of women through writing and speaking caring, sensitive, and honest words.

What I want more of in my life is an open heart and mind for what God has planned.

I want to not get stuck within my comfort zone.

I want to step out in faith wherever and whenever God leads me.

Two years ago, God led me to start my blog and an online Bible study for women. Oh yeah, He took me way outside of my comfort zone. Although He may have had to drag and shove me at times, I loved where He was leading.

Then about a month ago, as the first study of this year was nearing its end, my energy and enthusiasm were at a low. I started to wonder if God was telling me to take a break.

Days later, God confirmed it. I was relieved. And confused.

Was God telling me I need to spend more time with Him and regroup before hosting another study, or was He turning me in a different direction on the path He has me on?

I don’t have that answer yet.

I know what I can’t get out of my head, though…

I want to keep writing—on my blog and in guest posts, and maybe that will lead to freelance writing.

I feel God leading me to grow my leadership skills. And I wonder if that will lead to one day speaking to women.

What will there be less of? Me trying to control these things.

Don’t get me wrong, I will take advantage of opportunities that come my way, but I won’t force them.

I will step out in faith when God leads me to do so. But if He’s not leading, I won’t rush ahead and expect Him to catch up to me.

More of Him…and less of me.

That’s what I want.

A God-sized dream isn’t about what you do as much as how you do it. It’s about pursuing life with passion, purpose, and going with God wherever he leads.

How about you?

What’s your God-sized dream?

In Christ,
Laura 

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

The Hurdle of Fear


I haven’t been here writing about God-sized dreams for the past few weeks. I was ready to put my current dreams in writing, and then before I could do that, my days went a little topsy-turvy.

As they straightened out, I began to see one word standing tall in the settling dust.

Fear.

I’ve been distracted, so I’m not sure when the fear started creeping back in. But I know who it’s coming from…

The enemy.

“If the enemy can’t make us deny our dreams, then it seems his next tactic is to make us delay them.”Holley Gerth, You’re Made for a God-Sized Dream

The enemy will try to move our focus off of the goal any way he can.

He sets up hurdles in our way, and each one seems bigger and more intimidating. That’s his plan—if we get tired enough of jumping over them, we’ll stop trying. Or at the very least, it will take us longer to get around them.
                                     
The enemy may have slowed my God-sized dreams lately, but he can never extinguish what God puts in our hearts. 

Fear has had enough of my time over the past month…so, here goes…

My God-sized dream is to continue expressing hope and encouragement to the hearts of women through writing and speaking caring, sensitive, and honest words.

What comes next or how this dream takes shape, only God knows right now…but I trust He’ll let me know when the time is right.

Take that Satan!

What dream is the enemy trying to stop or delay in your life?

In Christ,
Laura


Monday, March 4, 2013

When You Feel Alone

Encourage 24/7 is no longer active, but you can find this post in its entirety here: When You Feel Alone.

Have you ever felt alone and lonely, even while having family and friends around you?

It doesn’t make sense, but it happens.

Maybe you know what I’m talking about.

When it feels like there’s no one to talk to.

No one who understands or has time for you.

No one who cares what you have to say, or is interested in your dreams and goals.

Join me at a new site today called Encourage 24/7 where I’m talking about my experience with loneliness.

Feeling alone is not new. From the days of the Old Testament to days we haven’t seen yet, loneliness is a part of life—and it’s also a time to move in closer to God.

Has there been a time in your life when you felt alone, despite who was around you? Share your experience by leaving a comment here or at Encourage 24/7.

In Christ,
Laura