Friday, May 31, 2013

My Dream Journey and a Give-away

Over the past months, Holley Gerth’s God-sized dream team has been getting together to support and encourage each other. Our time together is winding down and this week is our last link-up. But our God-sized dream journeys will continue. This week’s prompt from Holley is…

We’ve been walking the path of God-sized dreams together for a few months now. Will you share an update with us about your dream? Let us know where you are with it–the happy and the hard. Tell us how we can pray for you and your dream too.

I began this journey a little unsure of what my dream was. I had always wanted to write, and I was already doing that…I really didn’t know what else to dream.

As the team began, Holley coached us through identifying our skills and strengths, and how we dreamed of using them. I had never thought of myself as an encourager, but all of a sudden, that thought was taking hold through comments I received in person and on blog posts.

It was then I started to realize God was showing me a new dream—one He was already planting in my heart.

I want women to know and experience a personal relationship with Christ. And I want to cheer them on in their journey, by expressing hope and encouragement through caring, sensitive, and honest words.

What all this will encompass, I don’t know for sure, but I feel like maybe He’s leading me in these directions…

-to continue writing—on my blog and in guest posts, and possibly that will lead to freelance writing.

-to encourage women to be in God’s word by hosting online Bible studies.

-to grow my leadership skills, and maybe one day speak to women and groups.

-to write a book sharing my journey in faith.

Do these scare me? Yes. Some more than others.

But, if God is leading, then I know He’ll go before me and prepare the way. And as the enemy attacks, I’ll keep reminding myself that Satan works hard to keep us away from God’s will.

Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord will personally go ahead of you. He will be with you; he will neither fail you nor abandon you.
Deuteronomy 31:8 NLT

Prayers for self-discipline and obedience to follow God’s lead and for strength to withstand the enemy’s attacks would be appreciated.

How can I pray for you today?

**To celebrate our journey together in God-sized dreaming, I’m giving away a copy of Holley Gerth’s You’re Made for a God-Sized Dream. To enter, leave a comment on this post. I’ll randomly select a winner on Wednesday, June 5.**

In Christ,
Laura


Sunday, May 26, 2013

I am Tested, yet Unbreakable

Welcome, I’m posting at Gloria Dei Lutheran Church today where I’m talking about the storms in life—the trials that have the power to take us down. If we choose to turn inward, relying on ourselves, they just might overtake us.

But when we lean in to God, relying on His strength and protection, He’ll use the trying times to bring us closer to Him.

Below is the beginning of my post. I hope you’ll follow me over to Gloria Dei to read it in its entirety.


“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 NIV

In this world you will have trouble.

Jesus didn’t say we might have trouble, or if we have trouble. He said we will have trouble. So, we shouldn’t be surprised when it comes our way.

Every day, we struggle with something…grief, worry and anxiety, addictions, finances (good and bad), natural disasters, family riffs, and pure evil.

Some trials come from our own choices, while others are completely out of our control. But every day, we are tested. And in that testing, we face temptations and a choice. Do we turn to our own strengths or do we lean in to God and rely on Him?

To read more, please join me at Gloria Dei...

In Christ,
Laura


Thursday, May 23, 2013

Embrace Grace Summer Study

I don’t know about you, but I’m ready for another online study! The break I took this spring was much needed. It gave me time to take a step back, rest, and regroup.

Now, I invite you to join me in studying Embrace Grace, Welcome to the Forgiven Life, by Liz Curtis Higgs, beginning June 30. During this 8-week study (one chapter per week), we’ll explore what it means to embrace doubt, faith, truth, sin, forgiveness, repentance, and grace.

Each week, I’ll offer a suggested reading schedule and post my thoughts and take-aways from the chapter. Don’t stress out if you get behind in the reading, and don’t hold back if you want to read ahead—this is your study.

If you want to go deeper into the study, join us over at Liz Curtis Higgs’ Web site each week for a Biblical study of each chapter. A link to each week’s study will be on my blog, for easy access.

For more information, click here: Embrace Grace Online Study or click on the Summer Study tab at the top of the screen.

To sign up, send an e-mail to: EmbraceGraceStudy@gmail.com with your name, e-mail address, city and state. By signing up, you will receive the weekly reading schedule via e-mail.

For questions, feel free to e-mail me at: laurajrath@gmail.com.

In Christ,
Laura

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

The Risk in Dreaming

Every week, Holley Gerth’s God-sized Dream Team gets together online to support and encourage each other. We invite you to join us. Click on the link to Holley’s blog, and scroll down to find more God-sized dreamers.

This week’s question:
What part of your dream feels the riskiest?

It’s not the dream itself that is risky.

Dream – a cherished hope; ambition; aspiration (Dictionary.com)

What’s risky is acting on it.

As soon as we step out of our comfort zones to work toward those dreams…that’s where the risk is.

Risk – exposure to the chance of injury or loss (Dictionary.com)

We risk people not understanding our dreams and criticizing them. We risk failure, either from it not working out like we hoped, or from lack of follow-thru. We risk rolled eyes and “whatevers” from those who don’t believe in God-sized dreams.

We risk putting ourselves out there…for all to see.

It’s personal. And when it’s personal, it’s risky.

When it’s personal, we can get hurt.

Leaving where we’re comfortable and putting ourselves out there…our thoughts, opinions, and work, for the world to see—and react to—that’s risky.

When the reaction is positive, we feel good. But a negative reaction can be a crushing blow, especially if it feels like a personal attack.

The alternative is to dream, but do nothing about it. No move forward means no rejection. No stepping out in faith means staying comfortable.

But…

Doing nothing means we risk missing out on all God has planned for us.

God doesn’t grow a dream in our hearts so we can fail…but at the same time, it’s not so we can succeed on our own either.

We might make it happen on our own, but chances are we’ll still miss out on something in the process. You see, God has plans we know nothing about.

“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 we rush ahead, we leave Him out of the dream, and we miss the journey He has planned.

That’s a risk I don’t want to take. Do you?

I planned this dream for you and I to experience together. Let me go before you and walk beside you.
~ God

Suddenly, stepping out in faith towards my dreams doesn’t seem so scary. In fact, it feels exciting.

And the fear of putting myself out there for the world to react to? I’ll keep taking that risk. In fact, right now…as I click “Publish” sending this out into the online world.

In Christ,
Laura


Friday, May 17, 2013

Coming Alive in God’s Dream for Me

I am so excited to be guest posting with Jennifer Hand over at Coming Alive Ministries today!

A bit about Jennifer from her blog…
Jennifer Hand, founder of Coming Alive Ministries has a desire to provide women of all ages an invitation to Come Alive in Christ….She longs to see others realize they can escape Satan’s trap of numbness to life and live alive in Christ.
Coming Alive Ministries was founded in 2012 to provide that invitation through conferences and retreats, counseling, and written and multimedia resources. 
When Jennifer extended the invitation to Holley Gerth’s God-sized Dream Team to guest post, I had some ideas on what I would write. However, when I thought about the theme of Coming Alive Ministries, I began to see some pieces from the past few months fall into place.

And I realized I didn’t really know what my dream was when I started out on Holley’s team months ago.

My dream has always been to be a writer, and a couple of years ago, God brought that dream to fruition as He led me to start my blog and an online Bible study for women. I’d always wanted to write, but I never imagined I’d be writing for women…and now I was.

I guess I thought my dream was complete. So, as the team got started writing about their dreams, I kind of felt like a fraud. My dream was already taking place. End of story. But Jennifer’s theme of coming alive has me looking back, and realizing that God had more planned. (He’s so cool like that!)

Will you please join me at Coming Alive Ministries to read my story? I’d love it if you’d leave a comment here or there, letting me know you stopped by!

In Christ,
Laura


Thursday, May 16, 2013

Spiritual Deficiency

Welcome! I’m over at 5 Minutes for Faith today talking about deficiencies that take a toll on us.

*Low energy and fatigue
*Symptoms of depression and mood swings
*Sleep irregularities
*Lowered immunity

These symptoms can be indicative of a vitamin deficiency…or a spiritual deficiency.

While vitamin deficiencies are easy to correct with supplements, a spiritual deficiency can’t be tackled with a liquid or pill. It takes time with our Great Physician.

Then Jesus said, “Let’s go off by ourselves to a quiet place and rest awhile.”
Mark 6:31

I hope you’ll join me at 5 Minutes for Faith today to read my post.

What symptoms do you experience when you’re feeling spiritually depleted?

In Christ,
Laura



Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Vi Bella Means Beautiful Life

This week, Holley Gerth’s God-sized dream team is sharing about our favorite nonprofit organizations. Why? They are God-sized dreams in action.

If I’d been asked this a month ago, I wouldn’t have had an answer. There are nonprofits I support and ones I think are important and needed, but one that moves me…I couldn’t name one. And then I attended the Jumping Tandem Retreat and was introduced to Vi Bella.
Vi Bella means “beautiful life”. We chose the name because it is our aim to help women live the beautiful life that God intends for them. ~ Vi Bella 
Vi Bella founder Julie Hulstein told her story of how a mission trip to Haiti in June 2010 turned into a God-sized dream to help women there living in poverty, unable to feed their children, with no jobs to be found.

She described “mudpies”—small cakes made of mud, seasoning, and fillers—baked, and fed to the children. Mudpies give the stomach a sense of being full, but provide no nutritional value.

With the abundance of food we have to choose from, it’s hard to fathom having to feed my daughter mud to stop the hunger pains.

Julie expressed coming back with the feeling that she had to do something to help…and Vi Bella was born.
We started Vi Bella solely to provide jobs for women who were living in extreme poverty in a country where employment is scarce at best. We felt that by providing women with good-paying jobs in safe, encouraging work environments, we could help sustain positive, long lasting change in a way that gives women the dignity of helping themselves and their families. "Sharing the love of Christ by providing life-changing jobs for at-risk women" is still our mission statement, and our main goal. ~ Vi Bella
Vi Bella now employs women in Haiti, Mexico, and the United States—women who needed employment opportunities or a second chance in life…women who stand taller now because they have a sense of purpose and a way to provide for themselves and their families.
Vi Bella jewelry spreads love and fellowship across cultures by providing a sense of purpose that rejuvenates once-tattered lives. You’re not just collecting a piece of Vi Bella, you’re helping create a beautiful life.
“I came that they may have life, and have it to the full.” John10:10b NIV

A month ago, I didn’t have a nonprofit organization to speak about, now I have one that has captured my heart. Please visit Vi Bella at www.vibellajewelry.com to read more of the story and to learn about the artists, the jewelry made from recycled materials, and how Vi Bella gives back to their artists’ communities.

To help in the small way that I can, I am hosting an online Vi Bella party. It’s going on now—from Tuesday, May 14—Thursday, May 23.

To view their beautiful jewelry, click here: Vi Bella Jewelry

**If you decide to place an order, Please write Laura Rath Book Party in the Special Instructions box on the order form. Thank you! (See example below.) Orders will ship as they are placed, and not wait until the party closes.**

Do you have a nonprofit near and dear to your heart?

In Christ,
Laura



Order Form Example:
Shopping Cart
ITEM
QTY
PRICE
SUBTOTAL

Tax:                 $0.83
Shipping:         $3.95
TOTAL:           $12.74

Special Instructions

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Praising God Moment by Moment

Photo by Kelsey Rath
On January 1, 2013, I wrote about how the word Praise came to be my One Word for 2013. Knowing that God chose that word for me, I was all gung-ho to start the year. (To read that post, please click here: My One Word 2013—Praise)

But as you’ve probably experienced at one time or another, life sometimes gets in the way of good intentions. I haven’t written about my One Word since that first day of January, but I have thought about it every single day.

And I’ve had some very honest conversations with God.
“God, I know you gave me the word Praise, but I’m just not getting it! I don’t know what you want me to learn—what you’re trying to show me. Could you be more obvious? Please?”    
I don’t remember exactly what was going on the day of this particular conversation a few months ago, but I started to realize that I look at time in large chunks—the morning, the day, the week, etc. So, if I was having a rough day, I would remember it as a bad day, regardless of whether or not it was all bad.

I felt God moving me to look at shorter periods of time—moment by moment. And I began to see how He blesses my day, even on what seems like a really bad day.

Moment by moment, I find something to praise God for.

…a smooth morning while rushing to get out of the house on time.

…an unexpected opportunity for a heart-to-heart conversation with my daughter, no matter how busy the day is.

…the way God shows me grace when I know I’ve just disappointed Him.

…safe travel, even when bad weather tripled my commute time.

…an opportunity to stand up for what’s right, even when my knees were shaking.

It’s an ongoing journey—learning what it means to praise God…one that I know will never end.

But that’s okay.

I’m praising God for His patience with me.

And for repeating the same lessons over and over.

And over again.

How about you? If you have a One Word for 2013, how is it going?

In Christ,
Laura


Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Praying Scripture Over One Another

One morning last week, as I sat at my computer at work, I received this text message from a new, but already dear friend…

“Good morning, sweet friend. I’m praying Psalm 9:9 over you this morning.”

Her text made me smile and was just what I needed that morning.

Not only did it touch me to know someone was sincerely and specifically praying for me, it led me to Scripture.

The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed,
a stronghold in times of trouble.
Psalm 9:9 NIV

I read further to Psalm 9:10, and texted her back.

Those who know your name trust in you,
for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you.
Psalm 9:10 NIV

Her simple text took me into God’s Word where I hadn’t been that morning.

And His Word changed my focus…away from what wasn’t going right…to Him.

I stopped dwelling on what was bothering me, and remembered His goodness, His grace, and His love.

It reminded me that God is, indeed, my refuge. He is my strength. And I can always, always trust Him…because He will never leave me.

I’ve had a few other friends pray Scripture over me, and I’ve done the same—prayed over someone when I felt moved to do so.

Is a text, tweet, or Facebook message the ideal way to share God’s love and blessings with another? Probably not. But God can and will work through any form of communication.

He did for me that morning. And I pray He will the next time I pray over someone.

How about you? Have you ever prayed Scripture over someone or had Scripture prayed over you? What are your thoughts?

In Christ,
Laura 

Friday, May 3, 2013

Brave

I was half asleep around 5:00 this morning when I decided to go online for Lisa-Jo Baker’s Five Minute Friday word prompt.

Brave.

I stared at the word and my mind was blank. After a few minutes of looking at the word (I actually wonder if I dozed off.) I decided this Five Minute Friday wasn’t the day for me to participate.

I moved away from the computer to my Bible and started to pray. Still brain-dead, I didn’t know what to pray, and words were slow in coming to mind.

I opened my Bible, wondering where to start reading when my eyes focused on an underlined verse.

Wait patiently for the Lord.
Be brave and courageous.
Yes, wait patiently for the Lord.
Psalm 27:14 NLT

And there was the word “brave” again.

I thought about how it takes bravery to live for Jesus when the world values living for ourselves.

Bravery to stand up for what’s right, despite the difficult effort to do so.

Bravery to lay down what I want in life for what God wants in my life. And knowing the two may never be the same.

Bravery to wait patiently for God…for His plan in His time.

I remembered the KraftyKash necklace I received two weeks ago at the Jumping Tandem Retreat…with the word “Brave” on it. At first glance, I hadn’t made a connection with that particular necklace being meant for me.


But now…I think maybe it just wasn’t time for me to get it yet.

In Christ,
Laura