Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The Growth-Though Small- Is Huge

Can you believe it's been 6 months? Six months since we've started this dare to dream God-sized dreams?

Time flies when you're dreaming with God.

When I first started out, the dream was to grow this little space into an online women's ministry. For women to share their stories and a place to be real and gut honest and throw the masks into the wind.

A place for women to learn to connect with each other, love, and be united through our experiences, strengths, and shortcomings. Where no matter where you've been or who you were didn't matter because once you've been changed by Christ you are new person.

I also wanted this to be a place that lived up to it's name, There's Something Different. Where those that don't know Christ are so touched by the grace and love that is in us they want to know why. And how.

While those are the plans and dreams for this little space. God has been working in the space of my heart. He's brought new plans and new friends into the mix. I've done a few guest posts, that if you would have asked a me year ago to do that I would have said NO WAY!  Mainly out of fear.

It's one thing to write in your own neck of the woods, but completely different to write in someone else's. But that is one thing that I felt God leading me to, probably to get over my fear of it and trust Him that I wouldn't die from it.

I have even submitted an article for an online magazine, I'm not sure if it will be accepted, but at least I tried, right?

If you would have told me 6 months ago that I would have made so many great friend connections online within this Dream Team group I would have thought you crazy, but I have. We pray for each other, encourage each other, share and laugh.It's way more than I ever thought possible. But not God.

He knew what He was doing and what the group held. He knew that some of us needed this extra push and encouragement to keep going, get on track, or even start.

I've come to realize and appreciate all the little dreams He plants inside us all. And how amazingly wonderful it is when we work together and encourage each other in God's best for us. We can do more than we ever thought possible when we have people in our lives that we know have our backs.

I'm in a growing stage online and in real life. I don't think I would have fully appreciated this stage before, but now I see how necessary and important it is to grow and learn all you can so that you are ready when those dreams finally come to pass.

And though the Dream Team may be coming to a close, the friendships and bonds shared will live on!

Linking with Holley and the other dreamers.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Mother May I?

'kids and 50mm 1.2' photo (c) 2009, Pawel Loj - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/
Mother May I?

Do you know this game?  I grew up playing it.  You were given a task, jump forward on one foot, walk backwards, take 5 baby steps, and you asked, “Mother, May I?”  In response you heard, “Yes, you may.”  If you forgot to ask, then back to the starting line you went behind your friendly competitors.

As a mother of three year old triplets, we’ve just begun experimenting with this game.  Along with Simon Says and Red Light/Green Light, we’re teaching the kids to play Mother May I.  The winner has to get all the way from the play room to the front door first.  It’s pretty funny.  And the reality is, most times they forget to ask Mother, May I.  I haven’t had the heart to send them back to the starting line (or the patience - I’d be playing the game for 12 hours). 

I’m not sure what mother invented this game, but you know she probably did it to subconsciously teach her kids (a) to ask their mom before doing something silly, and (b) manners.   If you played the game enough times, then surely that “Mother, May I?” process would bleed over into non game-playing areas of life.
I want to encourage creativity and independence and decision-making-capability in my kids.  In fact, of my two boys and a girl, my daughter is fiercely independent already!  I don’t want college-aged children incapable of making a wise choice on their own. Yet, at this age particularly, I truly want my kids to respect my husband and I as well as to recognize that our wisdom can help guide them make smart choices. 

But how scary is that?  I make messes and mistakes.  Thank heavens for forgiveness.  I’m not a perfect wife, daughter, sister, mother, friend, or colleague.  I am always coming to the Lord say, “Ack! Help!”  And now I’m supposed to be the object of respect and wisdom?  Umm, I’m sorry God, I think you have me mixed up with someone else!  The reality is, though, that we ARE supposed to be the solid place on which our children can build their understanding of right and wrong, good and bad, true and false.   Proverbs 22 is pretty clear about that, “Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it.” 

I’m pretty nervous about being that force to direct their paths.  But I am way more nervous about letting the world be the force instead.  It’s scary to be a kid today.  Facebook and social media, child predators, loss of privacy…  Good grief, if every silly action I took or outfit I wore was held up for judgment on Facebook or Twitter or Instagram, I probably wouldn't have survived middle school.  As scary as being the solid foundation can be for mommas, it’s even scarier being the kid. 

So this is all I know to do:

1.        Pray.  I pray when I’m at a loss.  I pray for their wisdom, safety, development, health, encounters, and anything else that crosses my mind.  I pray I won’t muck it up.  I pray they fall in love with Jesus.  I pray they see that in our home.

2.       Say I’m sorry.  I do.  And I’m learning to do it more.  The other night, when I yelled at little bit, she ran crying into her room.  Her action was wrong, but my response was wrong too.  I marched myself into her room and asked for forgiveness.  I told her that she shouldn’t have done what she did, but that I should not have yelled at her.  I’m fairly confident this is not the last time I will have to say  I’m sorry. 

3.       Model a good marriage.   My husband and I have good months and bad months, but we keep “fights” to after hours.  Our kids know we have disagreements, and they’ve seen us disagree, but we do not disrespect the other parent in front of the kids (and truthfully, we try not to be disrespectful period, but that doesn’t always happen).  That person is your partner.  It’s also the other person your child looks up to and receives guidance from – do not do anything to discount that.  Plus, what you model at home is what they will think relationships are supposed to look like when they grow up and fall in love. 

4.       If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.  This is not an end goal you achieve.  We’re human.  God gets that.  We’re going to mess up (see step 2).  You ask for God’s help.  You ask for other family and friends’ help.  You do your best.  You keep working on it. 

Hey, we’re all in this together.  It’s not easy, but it’s such an honor to be entrusted with such precious cargo.

And I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you in their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and your descendants after you. Genesis 17:7
The righteous man walks in his integrity; His children are blessed after him.  Proverbs 20:7
But Jesus said, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.”  Matthew 19:14

Gindi Eckel Vincent is a full-time attorney for a global energy company and a part-time speaker and writer, particularly for working moms. She lives in Houston, Texas with her husband and precocious 3-year-old triplets. She blogs daily at www.gindivincent.com and her first book on leadership, "Learning to Lead," releases Aug 1st.

Thank you so much Gindi for this amazing post on Motherhood! I think we can all relate to this. I know I've had to say, "I'm sorry," more times than I'd like to admit.

What about you, do you find it hard to give yourself grace when you mess up?

Linking with:  Fellowship Fri, and Faith Filled Fridays.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The Mom I Want To Be

When I became a parent at the age of 21 I had no idea what I was doing. For the first couple of years everything was trial and error, fall and get back up again.  But I've always strived in my parenting to remember that they are kids and will make mistakes. I also want them to personally and intimately know Jesus.  I had spent my entire life going to church on Sundays, and believing He existed, but not knowing Him personally. For my kids I want it to be different. 

I'm guest posting over at Gindi Vincent's blog today click here to read the rest of the story...and maybe leave a comment? Thanks guys! :)

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

The Scary Side Of Dreaming

What part of your dream feels the riskiest? Have you ever had people misunderstand or disagree with your dream? What do you do when your dream is scary or when others don't support you?

Any time you venture out from what everyone else is doing you will get met with resistance.

I think people aren't sure what to do with you if  you aren't doing the same thing as everyone else. It's scary for them and it's scary for you. Uncertainty breeds fear.

There will always be that part of you that want's to run and hide if you put yourself out there and you get rejected. But one of the biggest things I think we have all learned from doing this Dream Series the past few months is that you have to take the brave hard steps.

Especially when people misunderstand and try to convince you this dream isn't going to happen.

The simple of act of speaking my dreams out loud is the scariest. Giving them words makes them feel more concrete and real.

Even as the words come out I hear myself and almost can't believe what I'm saying. Is this really me, the girl that has struggled nearly her entire life with what she has wanted to be when she grew up? 

When you speak your dreams out loud you are giving them a voice- because you know in the deepest recesses of your soul, God planted something and somehow, someway, He is going to make a way for those dreams to get fed and nurtured and grow into something beyond what you ever dreamed possible.

Don't go silent when others aren't jumping and down cheering you on, or aren't as excited for this new road you are walking down as you are.

Know what's in you and dig deep. Know what God told you and hold tight. This dream is for you, not them.

I'd go one step further beyond speaking your dream and say standing up for your dream would be the next scariest step. Standing up when no one else does. When no one's sure what you are talking about or what this dream will entail.
"So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised...We are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who believe and are saved." Heb 10:35-36,39
Do not throw away your confidence, so many times I've done this very thing, but when I came across this verse I saw for the first time how I had been living in fear...not freedom.

God tells us to push through when things get hard and uncomfortable. Hold tight to Him, hold our heads up and fight for what we believe in and fight for good things in this life.

Good things are worth fighting for. If it's easy, maybe it's not big enough.

So, friend, are you ready to hold onto your confidence, and persevere-because  like the verse says above if we do this we will receive what has been promised us. It's time to start living like we believe it.

"For the vision is yet for the appointed time; and it hasteth towards the end and shall not lie: Though it tarries wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not delay." Hab 2:3

Linking with Holley and Soli deo Gloria, #TellHisStory

Thursday, May 16, 2013

When You Serve, Everybody Wins

I was recently asked by Tyndale to be a part of  a 3 part blog series that they are doing with Adventures in Odyssey, called A Call To Serve. They are challenging parents and children to get out this summer and serve either in the home or in the community. 

I'm excited to be a part of this special project because I recognize the importance of being the hands and feet of Jesus to those around me and want my children to know this as well. As a parent I want them to grow up not being so consumed with themselves but to look out for their fellow man.

In a very real way, then, the best path toward building selfless, confident children is to help and encourage them toward a growing and thriving faith in God. And that includes obedience to what God teaches—not because it makes kids feel good, although it often does—but because they’re following God’s instructions to love Him and serve others. That builds a faith they can count on and carry with them into adulthood—which is the greatest gift any parent can bestow on their child.~Taken from the Service Project Guidelines

I'm all for healthy self esteem, but I think as parents we can sometimes blur those lines and take it too far. It's not enough to tell our kids that they are smart or important but they need to grow a real heart for others and get their source of esteem from something that's not of this world.
Our culture puts an extravagant amount of energy into raising kids who will grow up to feel good about themselves. In schools, clubs, homes, and even at church, adults have made a decided effort to bolster children’s “self-esteem” –not by actually encouraging kids do something that’s worthwhile, but by simply telling them they are important and valuable. 
As part of the challenge you will get access to a mp3 audio to listen with your kids and a pdf download with ideas of some fun things you can do to serve.

Want to know more? Read Below::

 Adventures in Odyssey, the beloved audio series from Focus on the Family, has encouraged kids toward a stronger faith for 25 years. Whit, Connie, Eugene, and the other lovable characters from Odyssey have shared countless adventures with kids across the world in the classic audio dramas, books, videos, and devotionals, fulfilling the AIO promise to help kids discover, imagine, and grow.

This summer, Adventures in Odyssey is joining with Christian bookstores across the country, inviting kids to participate in a Summer of Service. They're promoting the biblical message, “When you serve, everybody wins,” encouraging kids to serve their families, their communities, and their world. Whether it’s baking cookies for an elderly neighbor or putting together a care package for missionaries overseas, kids will discover that serving can be a blast! 

How the A.C.T.S. (A Call to Service) challenge and contest works:
Kids who join A.C.T.S. can pick up a service log and collect fun character stickers for hours served at participating bookstores throughout the summer, or download a serving log online at whitsend.orgAt the end of the summer, kids can record and upload a short video telling how they serve and why they'd like to become an Adventures in Odyssey Ambassador.

A hundred winners will get the brand new AIO Album, and after online voting, two grand prize winners (one boy and one girl) will get to travel on an exciting Good-Goers Mission Based Adventure trip to another country with a parent!  The out-of-country destination will be announced on a live podcast May 22—hosted by AIO actors Katie Leigh (Connie) and Chris Anthony (Chris)—which you can watch at whitsend.org/acts. You don't want to miss it!

The free downloadable mp3 file of the AIO Service episode, available here: http://www.tyndale.com/blog/index.php/acts-a-call-to-serve/ (note: downloads are only accessible through this link)

The free PDF download of summer service ideas for kids, also available here: http://www.tyndale.com/blog/index.php/acts-a-call-to-serve/

This Summer service project is a great way to not only get your children involved in doing unto others but you as well.

So, what do you think? Are you up to a Summer of Serving? Have any ideas for service projects you want to share? I'd love to hear them!

Linking with: Faith Filled Fridays, and Fellowship Fridays Monday MOM

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Best Charity To Donate To

This week at Holley's place we are talking about our favorite charities. And Compassion International is one of mine.

We started sponsoring our child Lawrence last year after hearing more about Compassion through a concert we had  attended at our church. My daughter begged and begged, so we went online and prayerfully we looked through all of the faces and profiles and stopped on Lawrence.

He is the same age as Keeli and had been on the waiting list for a really long time; that day we decided it was time he waited no more he became our "adopted" child.

Through our donations, Lawrence gets clothes and supplies for school. The extra money we send goes straight to him and his family for their other needs.

Can you imagine not being able to afford to send your child to school? And buy basic necessities?

The testimonies on the website are powerful and if you have ever doubted the power that one life can make you won't after visiting Compassion's website.

We pray for Lawrence daily and hope that he is safe and getting what he needs. Through Compassion, he is getting the chance at a real life. To go to school and get an education to make something out of himself to better not only his life but his family's as well. Many of the kids that graduate end up coming home and helping the community. It's an endless cycle of paying it forward.

And I'm so proud to be a part of it.

Have you been by Compassion? Would you consider taking a look and prayerfully considering sponsoring a child?

God Bless you!

Linking with Holley and my dreamer friends.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Words Stick

You may not remember my name or where you read the words I write, but you will remember the words...because they stick.

Words are with us forever. Good and bad.

Thought provoking and heart breaking.

They will build you up or tear you down.

Most of the time, I'm not sure who said what or where I read a sentence from, but I remember the words.

The words stick in my memory like a sticky note on my brain.

My words may not be very profound at times, but sometimes they will catch you right where you are... unexpectedly.

I pray and pour over each one, hoping they come out just right. Say and impact what I intend. Sometimes you take my words and come out with a completely different meaning and that's ok. Words stir us in different ways.

They tell us a story and take us to faraway lands. Make us forget and help us remember.

Words Stick.

Maybe that's why we have the Bible, God knew His word would stick in our hearts and minds if it was read.

God says His word is powerful and alive and won't return void. So even if we read with no intention of doing, those words are now stuck somewhere in our mind forever. Waiting for the day to rise up and make their presence known

Words Stick.

Here today and gone tomorrow. But words will remain forever.

How you choose to use those words are up to you; you can be careless or brilliant.

They can take you from the highest high to the lowest low, because they stick and never leave you.

God knew what he was doing when he warned us several times to watch our tongues. The tongue and heart when working together without wisdom will do damage that can't be reversed.

Words Stick.

Words spill out like vomit, try taking that back in. You can't. What will you do with those words today?

Someone in your life needs some life giving words-right now.

The labels we wear from the words spoken into us forever mark us...if we let them.

Speak truth, know the truth. Live the truth.

Words Stick.

"I have come to believe over and over again that what is most important to me must be spoken, made verbal and shared even at the risk of having it bruised or misunderstood" Audre Lorde

Linking with: Imperfect prose, #TellHisStory, Faith Filled Fri, Fellowship Fri, Soli deo Gloria

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Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Why You Should Encourage Others In Their Dreams

One thing I've learned these past 5 months is that every person's dream matters. It doesn't matter how big or small they think it is..it Matters!

When I see friends struggling to figure out what they want to do or how to get there, I feel more confident in encouraging them to go for it, and find a way and do it! Before this team, I would have sat dumbfounded with them and said something like "uh, yeah, dreams are for people that don't have a life. Who has time to go after dreams?"

Not now.

I know we have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

I used to think I needed to have everything figured out and for it to make sense before I could move forward, but through Holley's book, I've realized that just ain't so.

As I finished up my Bible Study, Esther, this week, in the last video Beth Moore said this, "Keep doing the next thing, even if you feel like you are stabbing the dark...that's the Providence of God. Everyone starts out unsure...but they keep going and trusting."

If Beth Moore can start out unsure that teaching Bible Studies is the direction God wants for her life, then it makes me feel better where I'm at. Right now, I'm where Beth Moore was 30 years ago. She felt the same way I do!

I may keep stabbing at the dark and wondering what I'm doing and if I'm going in the right direction, but with every faithful step, God leads.

And He leads you too. You may not have the who, what, how, or why but if you have the desire He will lead you into BIG things if you seek Him on them. Doors will open, opportunities will arise, struggles and unfortunately, setbacks will happen. But don't give up, because you never know what may be waiting around the corner if you keep pushing through.

Encouraging others in their own dreams gives you the power to fight for yours. You see just how important realizing those dreams are and it makes you want to fight for them all the harder.

Encouraging others creates community in a way that God intended. Because when we are truly happy for others, then we are steadfast about who we are as well and sure of the plans He has for us, and there is no room for jealousy.

I want to encourage you to keep going, friend. He has this. You were made for such a time as this to influence those around you! Now, Go!

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

Still haven't checked out the book everyone is talking about? For a limited time get the book and a canvas wrapped block for $14.99--->  *Holley Gerth- Book and Canvas Set

*Affiliate link-which means I will get a small portion when you purchase through this link, no extra cost to you though :) And I wouldn't recommend something that I don't love myself!

Linking with Holley and the other God Sized Dreamers, you can join in too! And Soli Deo Gloria

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Wednesday, May 1, 2013

I Doubt Too

We had just finished reading our morning devotional. That's when she looked at me and quietly said "Sometimes I don't know if He's real, I  mean, I want to, but sometimes I just don't know."

I didn't say anything at first. She had just revealed a piece of her heart, and I wanted to stop time for just a moment. My girl holds things close to her heart and rarely speaks of questions she may have out of fear of looking dumb(now where did she get that from??).

Did I dare tell her that I've doubted too?

There have been so many days when I've struggled to see God in anything. And just plain wasn't sure anymore. I've whispered "God help me believe and Lord increase my faith" more times than I can count.

There have been days when the doubt threatened to consume me for good and left me wanting to give up Christianity. Wouldn't it be easier to be blind?

So many times I've cried out to God to reveal himself to me and make him real to my heart that I have felt like an Israelite begging for a sign.

There were some nights I remember reading them a Bible story and getting this uncomfortable feeling, and thinking did this really happen? How can I teach them, when I feel so uncertain, and so much like a hypocrite.

Well, friends, God heard my cry. And for some reason He didn't zap me with a boat load of faith like I thought He would, instead He made me walk through some long dark valley's.

In those in the valley moments when I didn't see a way out or through is when He revealed himself the most.

Take two years ago for instance right before we moved to Iowa. Our home in Alabama wouldn't sell, but April 27, 2011, tornadoes ripped through my part of town destroying everything around my little neighborhood, except my neighborhood.

All of the sudden there were a lot of  people that needed a place to live. And my house looked pretty good! We ended up renting it out to a couple that lost their home.

And last year, when tornado season rolled around, and this time didn't miss our house! All the stress of owning a home nearly 1,000 miles away that now needed work was on us. But, God, He worked it all out.

When we weren't sure what to do with same house after our renters moved out and it still wouldn't sell...do we short sale...foreclose? We couldn't afford to keep paying the mortgage forever, but yet somehow, with careful planning the money was always there month after month after month...it was God's provision through and through.

Before our recent move to Texas God did eventually make a way for that house to sell and we were able to buy a new one and settle into our new lives here. Thank you Jesus!

There were so many uncertainties the last two years that left us completely dependent on God for it all. We couldn't have worked any of it out any better had we tried.

Those moments that I thought were going to get us, and caused countless fights, those are the things that God used to seal my faith.

I know now without a shadow of a doubt, that God sees and knows what's going on, even our deadlines!  He knows when we need an answer by a certain time, because that's when He'll give you His answer, right in the nick of time :)

So, when my little girl tells me she just isn't sure. I say it's OK, we'll figure it out together.

It's hard explaining to a twelve year old, that maturity takes trials.

Like me, she will probably wrestle with doubts for awhile. But also like me, I hope she falls on the side of faith at the end of her wrestling.


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