Category Archives: Faith

It Was Getting To Loud

Anybody else love riding in the car alone? No one to tell you to change the channel. No one saying they don’t like this song. No one asking how much longer its going to take to arrive.

Recently, I noticed that I drive a little slower when I’m alone in the car. I tend to mosey. Yellow light? Oh, I’ll stop and wait to go with the next group of travelers. Traffic? No detour needed, I’ll wait it out.

I realized that I enjoy these precious moments alone. My phone automatically connects to Bluetooth when I start the engine so it makes it easy to listen to podcasts. To call my sister. To chat with my dad. To check on my BFF and her soon-to-be-born baby girl (yes, I’m uber-excited this!). To vox my friends. All manner of communication happens when I find myself alone in the car.

But that’s all changed now.

Car Stereo Power ButtonI was inspired by my friend to try ten days of quiet. Ten days of getting into the car and sitting in silence. Ten days of letting the calls go to voicemail. Ten days of putting off podcasts. Ten days without Kidd Kraddick in the Morning. Ten days without voxer. If you use voxer, then you know how extremely hard this can be – to hear the walkie-talkie buzz and not respond!

Ten days of quiet. But why?

The point of the quiet was to limit the noise. To get rid of the distractions. To silence the inputs.  Basically, I needed to replace the temporary balms for my heart and with space to hear from the true healer of my heart.

How can I hear the voice of Jesus when I did not allow Him any time to speak?

So silence.

In these ten days, I have been refreshed by silence. I have eagerly hopped in the car and waited to hear what the Lord wanted to say to me. Some days, He was silent. And I drove with the peace that comes from hearing the purr of the engine and the whiz of the air conditioner.

Then other days, He spoke word of direction to me about the road ahead. He comforted me as I drove with mom-tears (you know, when being a mom gets hard and the unwanted tears flow beyond your control). Other days, He brought situations and people to my mind so that I might pray for them. One morning, He reminded me of tasks that needed my attention. One evening, He challenged me to not just be a listener, but a doer.

Are you making room to hear from the Lord? Are you giving him space and time to speak directly to you? The Lord uses His Word, preachers, teachers, books, songs, and a host of other methods to speak to you. Be intentional about providing the Lord silence as an option as well.

Psalm 62:5, “For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him.”

Funny. I typed this while sitting silently in the car.

Listen, Don’t Miss It

Day One

Day One

I missed it.

One Monday in late October, I walked out the front door of my house and I noticed the trees were changing colors. I decided that morning I would take a photo of the trees every day for a month and document the change as it happened.

Before driving the boys to school, I’d walk out to the street, take my photo and go about my day. I did it every day for about fourteen days.

Day Fourteen

Day Fourteen

On the fifteenth day, I created a little video montage of all my photos. As I watched it back, I couldn’t see anything. I was underwhelmed. All my efforts to capture the leaf change seemed to be in vain. I sang that tune from the Price is Right when the contestant loses the showcase, “whomp, whomp, whompppp.”

The next morning, instead of taking my photo, I just hopped in the car and drove off. Subconsciously, my little experiment had ended I suppose. I didn’t take any more photos.

And that’s when I missed it.

Day 30

Day Thirty

Two weeks later, I walked out the front door once again to take the boys to school. The sun was bright and warm overhead and a gentle breeze was blowing. I looked up at the trees and they were BEAUTIFUL! I pointed them out to the boys. They half-heartedly agreed, “Yeah mom, they look good.” I walked out to the street and took a photo. Actually, I took ten. They were just amazing to me. But when did this happen? And how did I miss it?

Impatience, that’s how. I know this about myself. I like instant grits, pop tarts, prebaked cookies, minute rice. If there’s a way to get it fast, that’s the way I want it.

So when it came to the trees, I wanted the change to happen quickly. I wanted to see evidence of the change. I wanted to see tangible progress every day. And when I didn’t see it, I quit. When the change was subtle, I gave up. When the change was happening on the inside, not the outside, I stopped paying attention.

And that’s how I missed it.

The Lord was working slowly on my trees. Each day, a few of the interior leaves would get a little lighter. Each day, green would transition to red and red to orange and orange to yellow. Each day, the process was happening. Each day, I was supposed to watch and wait with expectancy. Each day, He worked, right before my eyes. Each day, for two weeks, I missed it.

But, by the Lord’s grace, I didn’t miss all of it. I’ve been taking photos every day this week and it has been so rewarding! The trees were so vibrant and colorful.

Day Thirty-Two

Day Thirty-Two

On Thursday, the branches began to release the leaves. The ground was covered with red, orange and yellow leaves. I had to wade through them each morning to get to my car.

One afternoon, the toddlers next door had a great time gathering and tossing and sorting the leaves. And, of course, I took more photos.

Then, today, I went out the door to check the tree’s progress. Just about every leaf has fallen off and the trees have sung their last song of the fall. I like to imagine they are silently preparing and rehearsing for their spring performance.

I laughed when I realized my Bible Study Fellowship lesson for this week was from Psalm 19.

1 The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they reveal knowledge.
They have no speech, they use no words;
no sound is heard from them.
Yet their voice goes out into all the earth,
their words to the ends of the world.

I often find myself smiling when I finally notice the ways the Lord draws me to Himself. In the mundane routine of taking the boys to school in the morning, He inserted Himself. He made those trees sing and dance and tell me He loves me day after day. Some days I listened. Some days I ignored Him. And yet, He continued to draw me.

More than that, He orchestrated the rainiest October in recent history. This gave the trees the nourishment they would need to hold on to the leaves longer than they have in all the years we have lived here. This would allow the leaves to change to colors I’ve never seen before.

He knew that’s what it would take for me to hear Him. He knew I would grow weary with my routine. He knew I would need a morning pep talk. He knew just what tune to sing to get my attention. He knew. He sang. I heard Him.

The trees have no speech, no word, no sound, yet the Lord spoke to me through them.

How is the Lord singing to you? Where is He moving in your ordinary day? Where is He smiling at you and saying, “Hey, girl hey! I see you. I love you. Keep going. I’m here.”

Don’t miss it. Open your eyes and listen.

 

 

 

To The Phenomenal Women

Have you ever had people you needed to thank? People who needed to hear you say I appreciate you? People who’ve invested their time and energy and effort into your life with nothing to gain in return – except treasures in Heaven?

This weekend, I was asked to share words of encouragement with the women at my church at our annual women’s luncheon. With a whole lot of doubt, even more fear, a why me – why now mentality and a when do I have time to prepare for this attitude…I said yes.

See, this request came in the midst of probably the busiest week I’ve had this year. I had not slept well, I was behind on my school work (wayyyy behind – with a paper due at midnight on Friday), I had 4 football games to attend for my sons and husband, I had work (full time, all day, everyday), I had orders to fill, I had internship projects that needed attention, I had a house that was an absolute wreck, I had laundry to do (and no detergent!) and I’d actually forgotten that I signed up to attend this event!

But when the Lord says this is the time, there are words you need to say, I have a plan and you said you trust my plan…you say yes – in the midst of your crazy, you say yes. You stay up until 3:35 in the morning praying, writing, rewriting, internalizing, praying, surrendering and ultimately say Lord, bless this and you go to sleep yielded to be His vessel.

There are women at my church who have invested in me to make me better. A better Christian, wife, mother, woman, teacher, friend, neighbor – and this was my opportunity to say thank you. I didn’t want to take this opportunity for granted. I wanted to honor them and say your efforts were noticed and appreciated. You didn’t have to do it, but you did. And if I’ve never said thank you before, I’m saying it today.

So, what you can hear in this 15 minute audio is what the Lord spoke to me, in the wee hours of the morning and said this, share this with the women. (The theme was Phenomenal Women’s Weekend.)

Hymn: Ancient Words

Growing up, I went to a small (very small) traditional church where we only sang the hymns in the red hymnal. Verse 1, 2 and 4. Every song. Without fail.

I did not like hymns. They lasted too long. They were all slow. And why did we always have to sing verse 1, 2 and 4. ERRRG!

Seven years ago, I started attending Bible Study Fellowship. Guess what? We sing hymns. Not verse 1, 2 and 4, but alllllll the verses. In the early years, I would conveniently arrive after the hymns were over. Then I started working in the audio booth and could no longer skip the hymns.

Something strange happened. I started listening to the lyrics of the hymns and O. M. Goodness. HYMNS ARE AWESOME!!! They speak to my heart. They encourage my soul. They remind me of God goodness, greatness, kindness and every other Godness that He generously gives me. And the best part, the Lord often brings those hymns I learned as a child to my remembrance just when I need them – verse 1, 2 and 4.

On Wednesdays, in honor of my BSF initiated love of hymns, I will share a hymn with you. I pray they speak to your heart too.

Today’s hymn is Ancient Words. I heard this hymn for the first time at our BSF launch for the study of Revelation. It was so fitting. When you read the lyrics, you will see why.

Be Blessed!

Holy words long preserved
For our walk in this world
They resound with God’s own heart
Oh, let the ancient words impart

Words of Life, words of Hope
Give us strength, help us cope
In this world, where e’er we roam
Ancient words will guide us home

Chorus
Ancient words ever true
Changing me and changing you
We have come with open hearts
Oh, let the ancient words impart

Holy words of our Faith
Handed down to this age
Came to us through sacrifice
Oh heed the faithful words of Christ

Holy words long preserved
For our walk in this world
They resound with God’s own heart
Oh let the ancient words impart

Chorus
Ancient words ever true
Changing me and changing you
We have come with open hearts
Oh, let the ancient words impart

Waiting is Hard

image

Circumstances Are Unreliable

I often look at my circumstances and attempt to make a prediction about what the outcome of a situation may be. Do you do that? I have discovered that circumstances are an unreliable predictor or outcomes.

My TCU horned frogs were scheduled for the battle of the year against the Oregon Ducks. Days before that game we lost our QB all frog fans began to look at the circumstances and begin to predict the outcome of the game would not be in our favor.

Even my own husband, a former TCU player, declared he didn’t really want to watch the game anymore. He tuned in, but he was tuned out and playing solitaire the whole first half as the ducks went up 31-0. At half time he turned to the basketball game and said it would be more interesting. Thankfully, our son begged him to turn the TCU game back on and we got to witness a nail-biting, heart-pounding, epic comeback!

The circumstances were lined up against the team. The outcome should have been easily predicted. But circumstances are unreliable.

I can’t help but relate this to my life with Christ. When I look at my life, and I consider my circumstances, I feel like I can easily predict my outcome. But God has a way of inserting himself and changing the predictable to the unpredictable!

When I think I’m destined for failure, He turns it around. When I think surely there is NO WAY, He makes a way! When I’m feeling heavy in my heart and defeated, I turn to this verse now and it reminds me circumstances are unreliable!

May it bless you too.

“I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; Be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the Lord.” -Psalm 27:13-14

You see, I would easily despair.

Actually, let’s be honest.

I worry. I wake up in the middle of the night. I despair!

And then I remember the goodness of the Lord that I have already seen. I realize that He has more goodness that He wants to show me. So, in my life, when I despair, I remember the goodness of the Lord that I have seen in the land of the living.

I don’t know why the Lord doesn’t work on my timeline. It would be so much easier for me. But that would make me lazy – I wouldn’t have to exercise my faith. I wouldn’t have to wait. I wouldn’t have to pray. I wouldn’t have to believe that God’s plan for me is better than my desires.

Rather, I chose to believe that I will continue to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.

Chanda

A New Thing

With the start of a new year comes the hope of a fresh start, a reset, a chance to begin again. I’m no different. I have a list (very short list) of things I want to do differently in 2016. I’m not making resolutions or setting goals even, I would just like to try something new.

We read the YouVersion verse of the day today from Isaiah 43:19 where the prophet says God is going to do a new thing.

Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.

I’m so thankful for God’s “new thing” and his promise to make a way in the wilderness.

The start of the new year brings with it the hope of an ability to make a changes to our lives. There’s no power in the new year or the change from one year to the next. The power of to change comes only by the Holy Spirit who gives strength to believers.

Let’s use the new year as a reminder of the new life we have in Christ. Because of Christ our old is already gone. Let’s commit to looking forward to the new that is here!

Happy New Year!

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! -II Corinthians 5:17

You Can’t Tell Where It Comes From

I’m sure you’ve heard the joke about Texas weather before – you know, if you don’t like the weather wait 20 minutes and it will change. If you thought this was just a funny statement, I can assure you this is not just comedy, it’s the truth.

See, one very hot and humid August day last year, I was helping on the sideline at my son’s football game. The temperature was above 100 degrees. We were playing on a field that offered no shade or break from the intense heat. We setup a tent for our team so the boys could rotate in and out of the game and get a break.

I was playing the role of “water-mom” making sure all the bottles were filled. Feeling a sense of accomplishment that all six bottles were full and waiting for the players, I decided to sit down under our tent and take a much needed break.

You know that feeling when you’ve been going and going and you finally sit down and you realize how tired you are? Yes? Then, insert that emotion here.

So there I am, I’m sitting on the sideline. Hot and tired under a tent.  Not bothering anyone. When all of a sudden a gust of wind comes out of nowhere. Like, there hasn’t been any wind all afternoon.

The tent comes out of the ground and flies away. At first I didn’t move thinking it was a lost cause (and did I mention I was hot, tired and emotionally drained?).

But then, the wind stopped (and I came out of my trance). So I jump up to grab the tent.

Right when I reached the tent, you can probably guess what happened. The wind started blowing again, but in the opposite direction. So, naturally, the tent that was blowing AWAY from me is not blowing directly INTO me.

The top of the tent is now on top of my head and relentlessly slamming into my body. (Insert emotion of feeling like you must look like an idiot.)

I yelled, “Oh no!!!”

Right about this time, a kind stranger came running over and grabbed the tent. He not so kindly yelled for me to “get out there” as if I had chosen this position on purpose…

Together, we were able to stabilize the tent. We restaked it and thankfully we were able to use it for the remainder of the game.

AFTER the game, my “friends” (and son) told me how ridiculous I looked getting attacked by a tent. I vaguely remember seeing them pointing and laughing too. I’ve forgiven them in the months since the incident. In fact, I’d completely forgotten about the entire debacle until yesterday when I reading my Bible while the boys were at swim practice.

John 3:5-8: Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”

The wind (especially in Texas!) truly does blow wherever it pleases.

So does the Holy Spirit of God. When we accept Christ and receive His Holy Spirit, we should begin to expect the unexpected.

I have found when I surrender to the guidance of the Spirit I am in for an adventure. The plans God has for me are beyond my expectations and my wildest imagination.

As I told you in my previous post, the Lord led me to go back into the corporate world. Remember, I wasn’t looking for a job. But God – in His ultimate wisdom – knew that me returning to work was exactly what my family needed. He prepared the way for me completely. And then He prepared me – He softened my heart and made corporate America appealing to me. The peace that I have about making this transition is so unexpected that I know it has only come from God and being in the center of His will for my life at this time

The Holy Spirit blew this change into my life and as the scripture says, I could hear His sound, but I didn’t know He was coming or where we were going.

I have found the Spirit will blow me in several ways:

To Move: These are times when I am traveling down a certain path and the Spirit changes my direction. Really, this is about me getting out of the way of God’s blessing. God wants to do a new thing and I’m stuck on the old thing. So He sends His Spirit to blow me out of my own way. It’s hard sometimes to see the value in the call to move from the front, but when you turn around and look back, the view is clear and awesome!

To Start: Sometimes, the Spirit will urge me to create a new habit. Earlier this year, the Spirit told me to record the blessings of the Lord. Since January, I have been writing down prayer request and recording the answers to those prayers. I’ve also been recording times when the Lord worked on my behalf or showed me favor in a situation. I’ve written down the blessings He’s placed in my children’s lives as well.  My next step is to start a blessings wall somewhere in my house – the wall will have sticky notes where anyone – myself, my husband, kids, family, friends, visitors – can write down a blessing they have received from the Lord. The idea is to remember the benefits of a relationship with the Lord.

To Stop: Often times, I over-commit myself. The Spirit told me to STOP. I was Football League President, PTA President, teaching classes at church, attending a Bible Study…the list goes on! The Spirit told me something had to go – and nothing could replace it. Somethings that are good, just aren’t a part of God’s plan for my life at this moment. If I want His best for me, then I have to agree that He knows what’s best for me.

To Speak: Truthfully, in my life, this one is more about NOT speaking. Every thought that comes into my mind is not meant to be shared. The Bible tells us that we have to take our thoughts captive and get control of our tongues. I have to yield to the Spirit blowing me to shut my mouth. And when He does tell me to speak and I say the words He has given me, I’m not up in the middle of the night wondering if I’ve offended someone or how I will reconcile a relationship.

When I’m blown by the Holy Spirit to move, to start, to stop, to speak – without a doubt I know that it’s Him. I can hear His sound, but I cannot tell where He comes from or where He’s going. But I just know I need to act!

I love that! It comforting to know that God wants to be personally involved in my life – if I will let Him. God wants to send me opportunities and blessings and unexplainable joy and content peace – if I’m willing to be blown by Him.

Are you willing?

My prayer is that the Lord would help me to sit still long enough to hear His wind moving in my life.

 

Seasons Change

Sometimes you think you know where you are heading.

You can see exactly where you are going and you can calculate when you are going to arrive.

And then, when you least expect it, things change.

Every plan you had is interrupted.

Every ending you saw in sight has disappeared.

Now on the horizon is a totally different future.

seasons

In August 2009, I left my full-time job in the Media and Advertising world to pursue my desire to run a business fulltime. That year, the boys were 9, 7 and 3 years old. My life felt crazy and out of control. My job was overly stressful and the hours were ridiculous. What had once been a joyous experience where I felt fulfilled became a burdensome experience where I felt completely drained. When I left, I vowed I never wanted to return to that industry again.

I spent the next 5 years growing and running a successful business. I had a storefront for a couple years. I had a beautiful office space for a while. Eventually, I moved the entire operation to a spare bedroom (and any other open nook and cranny) at my house.

Working from home has been wonderful. Being my own boss has been awesome. I decided what I was going to do each day. I decided when I would work. I decided what type of work I wanted to do. Over the years, FCS Creations has taken many forms – from a wedding and stationery business to a spirit wear business to a personalized gifts and accessories business. When I was bored with producing a product, it went away. When I wanted to add a new product, overnight a new line was launched. What a great experience for a scatterbrain like me!

But, the downside of being your own boss is you are responsible for everything. From Marketing to Accounting to Production to Shipping to New Product Development to Strategic Alliances – I wear all the hats.

The other downside is that entrepreneurship in a semi-retail environment can be very unpredictable. What worked last year, may not work this year. I’m always looking for the next thing. What’s going to be hot next? What was hot last year? Is it still hot or at least lukewarm this year?

It can be exhausting and depressing and inspiring all at the same time. I find myself in a state of bipolar-ness. I have really high highs where I feel like I’ve finally found the paydirt (Gold Rush TV Show reference). And I have really low lows where I’m not sure when or if the next dollar will come.

But God.

In the midst of a low season (after a super high high) God called me to completely change course.

He sent me an unexpected opportunity to return to the corporate world.

I didn’t expect it. I didn’t see it coming. I wasn’t even looking for it.

God prepared the way completely for me and called me back to my first love of Media Buying.

I always LOVED the scope of my job.  See, being a Media Buyer validates my excessive television addiction. Now, I watch TV for work! I’ve got to know what the shows are about in order to successful buy them!

Another drawback to my previous corporate experience was that it had a harsh daily commute.

My new position doesn’t require me to get on the highway at all. In fact, I only go through 8 traffic lights to get to work now.

My hours are great – amazing actually.

And I get paid to do something that I love and that validates the reason I took out all those student loans…

Now, I can fill my free time with my creative passion. Which means if there’s a reason to give a gift, I’m probably going to make it myself. If a friend or previous customer wants to purchase an FCS Creation, they can – I just will not be able to work on it until evening time or weekends (so plan ahead and accordingly y’all! LOL)

So my friends, seasons change. The outlook changes. The movie of your daily life changes.

I’m thankful that when God called me I was listening. I didn’t miss the call or let it go to voicemail. I have to make sure I’m sensitive to the Holy Spirit so I don’t miss the signals that He’s calling me to a new direction.

The whole situation reminded me of a hymn we used to sing in my grandparents church.

“Jesus calls us o’er the tumult
of our life’s wild, restless sea;
day by day His sweet voice soundeth,
saying, ‘Christian, follow me!’ ”

Is God calling you to make a change? Are you listening for His voice?

Worthy of Display

I’m not sure where to start with this post. So I’m just going to jump right in.

For the last couple weeks, I’ve been unconvinced that I could publicly call myself a Kingdom Woman.

First, I thought I couldn’t be a Kingdom Woman because I just don’t have it all together. But I quickly discovered through my readings that being a Kingdom Woman is not defined by having it all together.

Dr. Tony Evans defines her this way: “A Kingdom Woman is a female operating under the rule of God in every area of life.” That definition does reflect the true desire of heart.

But really, could this be me? So much self doubt kept me from believing I could PUBLICLY call myself a Kingdom Woman.

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to hear Chrystal Hurst, the co-author of the book speak about the Journey of a Kingdom Woman. You know that feeling when you hear a message and you realize God is speaking directly to your heart and your situation?

Chrystal talked about the process of a diamond coming out of the deepest parts of the earth and going through a refining process. She also told us that the final beautiful product that we all cherish and desire is not perfect – it has flaws, but in the end, it’s still worthy of display.

Is this me? Flawed, yet still worthy of display?

What I’m learning to embrace is that if I live for Christ and publicly proclaim my quest to be a Kingdom Woman, Christ can use me to draw others to HIM.

And I’ve seen this happen several times in just the last week. Several friends have asked me what this Kingdom Woman thing I keep talking about. Some have purchased the book. They are now on their own journey to embrace biblical womanhood. If I hide in the corner and keep this to myself, I will miss opportunities to be used by God.

I also realized that Satan wants me to live defeated.

Satan wants me to feel unworthy.

Satan wants me to give in to my self doubt.

BUT, when I embrace my True calling as a Kingdom Woman, I remember and proclaim I am a daughter of the King.

Jesus said, “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you.” John 15:16

Chosen. Appointed. Directed. Favored by the King of KINGS.

How empowering. How motivating. How amazing!

Jesus knows my faults and fears and yet He still wants to use me.

How humbling!

So I’m breaking free from my own negative self-talk (weight watchers anyone?) and proclaiming PUBLICLY:

Yes, I am a Kingdom Woman – worthy of display!938467ac65c49edb4013c609768a7d42

Chanda