Purposeful Faith

Do you Focus on Differences that Separate?

differences that separate
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Standing there, remembering, it felt like these moments happened just 5 minutes ago…they still weigh heavy. Somehow, everything about these situations said so much about me. Here’s how they played out:

1. I cut the strawberries carefully, practically savoring the trifle I’d soon pick apart. Conversations were ample, fun and full. Juice ran off my fingertips and I loved the feeling, the freeness, the summer air. Life was good, until, I came undone by her words, “You cut differently than I do.”

2. A friend joined me for a morning IV of coffee. We connected, discussing: who we are, where we will go, and how we will approach things. But as quickly as the caffeine jolt appeared, it was crashed with his words, “Well, I am just different than you. I don’t do things like that.”

3. She was kind. So kind. I love her. I still do, but it stung deep when she said, “I believe differently than you do.”

Differences make us feel odd and outside the norm. Rather than feeling like a belonger, we feel like an outsider. Underneath, we hear hostile threats, declaring, “You are wrong. You are not as good as me.”

Ever noticed? These threats come in all different shapes and sizes: A child whose dreams, views or agendas are different. A spouse who thinks “contrarian”. A job moving forward with different plans than the ones you were committed to. A person who looks nothing like you. An opinion that doesn’t resonate with yours. A person you can’t relate to. Backgrounds you don’t understand.

What difference is threatening you? More.

Read the rest of the post
at Christy Mobley’s site,

where you will find the
6 easy steps to being a uniter:
click here to continue reading.

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A Wake Up Call For The Jealous Girl (& 10 Tips)

Jealous Girl
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Hey you, I know how you do things. You watch everyone else. You size them up to see if what they are doing is good enough. You pick it apart. You notice how they dress, act, carry themselves. What they do, think or say. You’ve pulled your microscope out and you are not missing a beat.

You survey things.
You predict their next step.
You pick apart their face.
You want to anti-applause their success.
You hope they will fail.
You hate yourself, how you look so small and they look so big, as if they were Jackie O’ or something like that.

Your face tenses, your eyes squeeze, your blood pressure rises. You want her to fall and trip over a sidewalk crack. Maybe if she’d hurt her face, you wouldn’t have to see it and feel as flat as a pancake. So, you imagine her ruined, politically, professionally or personally. Truly unleashed, you rub your hands together like the bad witch of the west and chuckle a little over it. Of course, you wouldn’t let any Christian people know this was going on under your covers. 

God, forbids that. 

I’ve been this girl in the past. I see these girls in the present. It’s a war out there friends.  Women are at war with women. At times we almost hate each other, and, no doubt, berate each other.

Can I just ask, “What are we doing?”

jealous girl

We take potential friends and, in our mind, make them foes.

The only one we hurt by hating – is ourselves. Because this kind of behavior makes us hate ourselves even more. We either grow so big for our britches we fear busting and been seen as a fraud. Or, we get so small we fear our whole calling will deteriorate into the vast outer limits of the universe and no one will bat an eye.

Either way, a comparing mind sits in a living hell.

It sees not all it can do, but all it hasn’t done.
It sees not where it will go, but only how it could never go there.
It sees not the call of God, but only his call on the other girl’s life.
It hears not his still small voice, for it is consumed by voices of social media.
It believes not that God will fulfill its longings, for it longs for other peoples’ unique gifts.
It knows not it’s specialness, for it never allows it.
It seeks not humble means, for it is caught up in worldly ones.

This kind of mind is so focused on outer things, it misses God’s inner voice.  It misses his voice that says, “I made you for you and no one else can do what I have set forth for you to do. It is unique to you.”

That truth gets rushed away in the after-wind of someone’s success. Gone. Unseen. Woosh…

We stand there, left with obsessive and critical views that only see the world’s nothingness.

We are the sum of all we are not, short-sheeted by the sheer genius of another. We try to stretch out, but our mind lets our legs take us nowhere. Stunted.

So, today with all this bull, (yes, I said bull), I want to break through the depressive bed of lies that you have trapped yourself in. It is time to rise up and to move out and into something new – and that new is – you.

jealous girl

10 Secrets to Squash Jealousy & to Live Abundantly

  1. Go forth with God. Grab his hand and let him know, “No matter how big or small, my plans will be your plans.”
  2. Establish a determined and resilient will. When (not if) you get off track, be resolute in getting back on.
  3. Give thanks for those around you. Notice their good and let them know.
  4. Notice the little things, the small growths, God is watering within you.
  5. Give out more than your flesh tells you you must acquire.
  6. Believe that God’s goodness for you is plentiful, joyful and powerful. It is not hard to grasp.
  7. Decide to follow his decrees all the way up to the place where he meets your deepest desires.
  8. Agree with God; he made you good. He doesn’t play favorites.
  9. Hope in God‘s “exceedingly, abundantly more,” (Eph. 3:20).
  10. Remember, life isn’t about here, but all about there – heaven.

Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me. Ps. 51:10

Life is too short to find your mind, heart and progress stunted. God has too great of plans for you. He put the same power that raised Christ from the dead in you (Romans 8:11).  He seated you with Christ in the heavenlies (Eph. 2:13).

After all this, you don’t think Christ has great plans for you?

He let son numero-uno take the rap for you.
Don’t you think he will carry you through?

For He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless in His presence. Eph. 1:4

jealous girl

What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived” — the things God has prepared for those who love him (1 Cor. 2:9)

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Are you Aimless & Discouraged?

Aimless and Directionless
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There’s this little homing device I wear. It’s broken. It bumps me into things. It roams and returns me to the same old stuff, like making people happy and trying to impress them with my best dresses. It gets me zapped too. Usually by guiding me outside the boundaries of safe, where I get electrocuted by a dog fence or something like that.

Zap… You look dumb again.
Zap… You messed up again.
Zap… You are letting your kids down.
Zap… You’ll never find your way.

Are you at all like me?

Trying to adventure to more, but feeling continually zapped by failure?

I just read the book, Making it Home by Emily Wierenga. I think this girl gets me.

Her words shed light on the spectrum of my issues:

She says, “I still forget I have a voice.”
I say, “Yes, Emily. I often can’t hear myself; that voice feels afraid to stand up for itself too. It feels like no matter how loud it screams it will still be hushed and shushed rather than loved and embraced. I get that.”

Maybe my voicelessness prevents me
from hearing myself – from hearing God too.

She says, “I’ve been working all my life to make something of myself.”
I say, “Yes. I go because if I stop, I might be left with – me. And having to deal straight up with all that, well, sometimes that is even more terrifying than all the work I use to cover me.”

Maybe all my hard work,
speaks over the power of Jesus on the cross
– and how desperately I need his saving.

She says, “Because there aren’t accomplishments enough to affirm the three-year old inside who still can’t talk, the nine-year old who decided to stop eating, the sixteen-year-old who was dumped for being too nice.”
I say, “Mmm…hmmm.  The voices of the past come back, but they don’t sound like the voices of yesterday, they now sound like mine.”

What was then, I claim as now.

Oh, I know, Emily, I know. I know living with the emotions called its-scary-to-be-me.

Often, the fear of self is our greatest fear.

It’s in this place where you have to come to terms with the idea that God made you alright. That he likes you alright. That you can speak inner-truth without retribution. That you can fall down and he won’t hate you. That taking the risk is worth the small chance you might fall over the cliff. Because he’ll catch you when you do. And this is the point – almost the point of life, I believe.

Unleashing the wounds under all the age-old bandages are freeing. You rip off what the enemy has placed over your mouth and again you come alive. You scream out, “I believe in Jesus. He loves me the way I am. He is healing what was broken. I don’t have to know the way; he does. You get real; he does too.”

You see his face; it looks like love.

I am approaching that.

She says, “I am learning that being a woman is about giving until it hurts and then receiving so much that my soul might break.”
I say, “It looks like letting go.”

God says, “For whoever would save his life will lose it,
but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it.” (Mark 7:35)

So often, I think it is about fixing.
I think it is about rewriting.
I think it is about thinking.
I think it is about finding a counselor.
I think it is about working harder.
I think it is about fitting more into my schedule, or organizing things well or stopping bad behavior.

It’s not. Finding my way is about losing myself to love and finding myself swept up under the feet of Christ as he saves.

It is about getting so wrecked and so raw that you’re remade. This happens through little people, sometimes, small feet whose tender trust in dad, shows how much you can trust a good daddy. Or, through a book, as it sparks an area you need to stop, pray about and deeply consider. Or, through a husband, who humbly and sacrificially gives so abundantly that God calls you to scream thanks. Or, through circumstances that align, like stars, only as a loving Savior could display. Or, through a fresh encounter with God that almost leaves you breathless. Or, through prayer that works, as each word takes hold in the air.

Home is all around me. I am in the center of it, because God is in the center of me. Will I believe?

This small shift, this mustard seed belief, changes everything. For, when I get low and looking, I uncover Jesus. Then, I see me, coming to life. Rather than a dull image, I move with certainty and power.  I run like a flip-book drawing galavanting to purpose. It may not look like much by the world standards. But, God and I? We know, it is power, vision and hope that are leading.

They lead home.

Thank you, Emily, for sparking this in my heart. In this case, God rushed in through small words written in a medium-sized book that was written by you; I am grateful.

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Screen Shot 2016-07-20 at 10.27.41 AMAbout Emily Wierenga

Sometimes you meet someone you immediately connect with. Emily is this sort of gal. Her honest and engaging prose lifted my heart to another place. Emily cares. This is what I felt when I read her book. I felt loved, as she grew in love for herself. Thank you, Emily.

 About LuLuTree

To prevent tomorrow’s orphans by equipping today’s families. Discover ways you can partner with Lulu Tree and make a difference in the lives of the women of Katwe, Uganda.

About the Book, Making It Home 

Screen Shot 2016-07-20 at 10.23.07 AMFor women who have grown up in the tension between third-wave feminism and Martha Stewart, it can be a struggle to define and embrace the meaning of home. There is constant pressure to do things a certain way, and sometimes intense criticism from those who think you’re doing it wrong. But what if home isn’t really about whether or not you homeschool or have a career? What if it’s more about who you are than what you do?

Click for more information on Making it Home.

 

 


Sometimes, Failing Precedes Blessings

failing precedes blessings
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There he was, Jesus, tugging the weight of the world on his shoulders, straight up the road to his demise. He trudged along, weighted. He proceeded by faith, bent over. Heart and body, likely splintered. By all accounts, Jesus, looked like he was failing and failing badly, very badly. His Messiah mission fell, His name apparently couldn’t save, His cause was causing people to laugh, mock and taunt him.

Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads and saying, “You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself! Come down from the cross, if you are the Son of God!” Mt. 27:39-40

People anti-worshipped him by outpouring disgust.

“Fix it!” they screamed.
“If you are so great, why do you look so bad?” they yelled.
“If you trust your God, why has he let you down so badly?” they ensued.

Are you hearing the same?

Does it look like you’ve been left on the side carrying failure?

That you are destined to be hurt?

That God isn’t coming through for you?

Sometimes, I feel I am falling into the great abyss of obscurity and aloneness. I see the black storm. I see myself as homeless.

These storms make our future look dim.

We continue to drink, even though we wanted to quit.
We figure we will never shed that last 10 pounds.
We react in anger and try no different.
We gossip, then do it again and again.
We figure we will always be stuck in a dead-end job.
We have no hope for our marraige.
We decide our kids will always be ingrates.
We accept rejection at work and no longer try.
We feel like a sub-par Christian and accept that as truth.
We believe we will always be in debt.
And on and on it goes…but, no doubt about it – it will never end well – for us.

What if Jesus, by all accounts,
saw the circumstances and declared himself destined to be a loser?

He could have –
if he lived by the comments, claims and convictions of the world around him.
If he chose to believe doubts over faith.
If he didn’t believe in a good, good daddy.
If he didn’t know that a Saving God, always saves.

But, he didn’t.

Jesus believed victory was on the brink and didn’t let his mind sink.  

He kept walking…even though.
He kept ministering…even though.
He kept his mind on heavenly…even though.
He thought about forgiving us…even though.
Even though, he was hanging on a limb in gut-wrenching agony.

He thought of us.
He is still is.
He is thinking of you and where you stand.
He is thinking of that standing place as his victory-place.

Will you sink by how you think
or will you rise keeping your eyes on the prize?

I have set the LORD continually before me; Because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Ps. 16:8

Jesus’ situation looked bleak.
It looked heavy.
It looks so bad the ones he loved ran away in fear.

But here is how it turned out, here is what he was right on the brink of:
He was buried, he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures—and is still alive! (1 Cor. 15:4)

He is still alive and still saving us.
He is still alive and still pleading for us.
He is still alive and still making a way for us.

For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ.
And so through 
him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God. (2 Cor. 1:20)

His answer to your heart is – yes! Yes, he will do the amazing for you, according to his will, if only you believe.

And we all say, Amen.

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Believe

Believe!
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Post by: Jami Amerine

I believe.
I believe in Jesus Christ, only son of the Father.
I believe He died for me.
I believe He rose from the dead.
I believe He ascended into Heaven.
I believe He will come again.

I believe.

But sometimes, I forget that this belief means so much more because of who it is I believe.

Recently our oldest son, who is severely dyslexic, decided he wants to go to medical school.  He came to my husband and me and said, “I think I am supposed to be a doctor.”

Not for one moment did I doubt him.

I homeschooled John for the better part of his academic career this far.

I know.

I know first-hand that the road he just ventured onto will be hard. When I say hard, I mean “reads at a 5th grade level” hard, or so the test makers tell me. But I have seen the work of this man-baby, I have witnessed a determination in him like no other.

I believe.

It is one thing for John to believe he can do all things through Christ who is his strength. It is another thing for someone else to believe he can do it.  And on the evening after John’s announcement I made arrangements for him to test into the university near our home, my alma mater.  A tightness grew in my chest as I recounted the days of dreaded placement and diagnostic testing. For just a moment I entertained, “what if…”

I quickly shook off the thought.

I believe.

And somewhere on the still evening air, a warm sound swept over me.

I was bathed in peace.
I was slain by love.
I was certain the sound was audible.
The breath of my Lord comforted me and I heard Him say, I believed first.

Yes.

The Alpha and the Omega, the God of Isreal, Maker of Heaven and Earth believes in my boy’s abilities to be fulfilled, the good work that this God created him for cannot be impossible.  It cannot be measured by human standards.  And in that moment, I am further struck with the reality – He believes in me too.

As much as I strive to love and serve this Mighty and Mysterious God, as many times as I have proclaimed my adoration, as often as I have shouted “YES LORD! I believe!”

He believed first.

He believed all those years ago on a hill, nailed to a cross.
He believed as He descended into the abyss.
He continued to believe as He walked that road to Emmaus.
And when He ascended back to the Father, He believed without a doubt.
He believed in me at the dawn of my conception.
He believed in me as I took my first steps.
He believed when I fell away from Him, when I rejected Him.
He believed in my daughter-ship, He believed I would return.

He still believes. He believes even when I am at my worst.

He believes.

He believes that the good work He began in me will be carried through to bring Him glory.

This is magnificent to me.  When I am in doubt, when I am afraid, when I can’t bring myself to believe, He who dwells in me… believes.

So great His belief he took His petition, His deep and unshakable beliefs, and died for me on the Cross.

Who am I that He who measures the depth of the sea

and counts the feathers on the songbird,

believes in me?

I believe I am the daughter of the God of All.

I believe my son, a newly accepted Pre-Med student at my alma mater, is the son of the God of all.

I believe I am a foster mom, when I was the most terrified woman on the planet.  Afraid I would get hurt, afraid of the brokenness, I believed in the calling from my God.

I believe I am an adoptive mom of two precious boys, I believe in all seven of my children.

I believe I am an author, when everyone said, “It’s too hard to get published.”

I believe I am a sinner, desperate for a goodness I am incapable of on my own.

I believe in an unseen God who first believed.

Who am I that He believes in me?  I am a believer in Him.  He is mighty to save. He is mighty to deliver.  He believes in the impossible for He was able to conquer death, death on the cross – for me.

And for you.

He believes in us, dear friend.  He believed so greatly in us – and His Father loved us so, that He took it to the grave.  Meet Him there. Crumpled at the foot of the cross cry out the hurt, the disappointment, and the fear. For even if the only words you can muster are… I believe.  Know He will honor and care for you. He will deliver you and conquer that which terrorizes you.  He will make all things new. He will make it all work together for good.

The great I am, your Father in Heaven… He who first believed.

Being confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. (Phil. 1:6)

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The Incredible Power of a Small Pause

pause
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I gripped my chin, thinking, I need to reach out and ask her if there was a problem with me. I couldn’t figure out why she didn’t seem to be progressing forward with the work I had turned in. I knew, it must be – what I had done wasn’t good enough. She thought my work was horrible, trash-worthy, and she just didn’t know how to tell me. She was avoiding me. The hair on my skin rose with the awkwardness I was about to approach.

I typed the email.

Too much talk leads to sin. Be sensible and keep your mouth shut. (Prov. 10:19 MSG)

Rather than pressing play on my mouth
was God called me to press – pause?

I waited, staring at the cursor. So much time had passed and she had given me nothing. Still, God says it wise to wrangle wild words. I minimized the screen, considered the thought and went along with my day, wondering, often, if I should text.

What harm would it do? At least I would know. At least I could tie down my emotions, rather than having them fly everywhere.

pause

Often, our greatest goal when we charge is to change our feelings. I knew many of my words were about me feeling good, and not about producing a good and Godly outcome. They were about me knowing – now. They were about me feeling – happy. They were about me getting answers – so I knew I was worthy.

He who restrains his words has knowledge, And he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding. Prov. 17:26

A cool spirit. It sounds light. It sounds like a refreshing breeze. It sounds easy. Understanding arrived: She is busy. I can offer her space.

Press pause, Kelly.

A week passed, and an email arrived. It was from her. She saw my work and not only wanted to use it, but in a more prominent capacity. God knew all along.

You never know God’s good cause,
being worked through your pause.

You want his hand ruling over your outcome, not your hasty mouth.

What I know now is I could have ruined it all by racing in to rectify my feelings. I could have spoiled what God was growing up in the perfect timing. I could have missed a growth opportunity in patience. They can be the hardest kind.

How do you do with opportunities of patience?
When do your feelings call out to you to “fix” things?
Do you speak a heap of demands or from a heart of love?

I realize now. I can lay back. Why?  Because what I want to rush into, God is already in.

One God and Father of all,
who is over all and through all and in all. Eph. 4:6

He is in it and is carving spiritual and emotional strides.  He is ironing everything out. He is making all things work together for his good, my good and the good of the entire story that extends beyond my here and now. I can trust that. I can believe in that. I can hope in that.

pause
For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving… (1 Tim. 4:4)

And, so, what small wait, what unheard response or what dead end – in those, I will remember God is there and because he is there, goodness is there. It is who he is, it is what he does and it is simply the only thing he can ever produce.

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25 Ways: To Let Jesus Reign & to Be Less Vain

http://purposefulfaith.com/be-less-vain/
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Be published/seen.
Get that job.
Posture yourself.
Promote yourself.
Produce fans.
Stand in big lights.
Know big people.
Do whatever you have to do to get ahead.
Associate only with those who can help you.
Climb up the ladder to get somewhere better, higher.

“Come, let us build for ourselves a city,
and a tower whose top will reach into heaven,
and let us make for ourselves a name…”  Gen. 11:4

Do whatever it takes to build a ladder to more fame, greater visibility, a meeting with that person. Don’t even worry about those you leave behind, or stop talking to. Don’t get consumed with the fact you’ve only got an eye on helping yourself. Don’t worry that you build up only those who benefit you. Don’t mind the fact that you are often jealous. Just build. Then, climb. Build. Then, climb.

Promote your name. Build.
Establish yourself your brand. Build.
Make great your story. Build.
Climb.

follow me!LIke me!Love Me too.1

I get questions about this kind of thing often, “How do I build platform? How do I stand out, Kelly?”

Half of me wants to write back, “The only one who is due a platform is Jesus. Get off it and build yourself a low seat (Lu. 14:10). I want to say that. I also want to say, “Stop being concerned about you and get yourself obsessed with him.” I want to say that too, but then, I realize, in some ways, I would need to carbon copy myself on this email – and put myself in handcuffs. I am guilty.

It is hard to escape the lure; it is endorsed so heavily, by the world, as the way to go.

So, I stack bricks and mortar trying to reach some higher plane, but what I need to do is bow down and let Jesus reign.

He can do all things.
He can build all things.
He can create all things.
He can manage all things.
He can expand all things.

My best doesn’t compare to his blessed.

Don’t push your way to the front; don’t sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand. (Phil 2:3-4 MSG)

To let Jesus reign and to be less vain, looks like this – to:

1. Pray for those you’re prone to judge.
2. Help those you’re inclined to fear.
3. Offer a hand to those who can’t handle life.
4. Worship with childlike expectation.
5. Wonder and wait for where God wants you to go.
6. Move towards the small and seemingly stupid thing he might be calling you to.
7. Let go of numbers and grab hold of hearts in need.
8. Surrender progress and claim a God who requires no performance.
9. Get alone so that Jesus can accompany you in all you do.
10. Encourage others in their calling.
11.  Acknowledge you’re prone to fall, but God is never prone to leave you.
12. Accept help. Accept forgiveness.
13. Receive love.
14. Fail a bit.
15. Let Jesus hold you.
16. Let rejection be bandaged by him who cares.
17. Discover the small learnings under your skin of inadequacy.
18. Give good gifts and offer them abundantly.
19. Let the Sword of the Spirit, the Word of God, lead. Then, give thanks.
20. Focus on God’s power to bless and not on man’s.
21. Stop and rest.
22. Love the small ones being neglected.
23. Get vulnerable with Jesus.
24. Let imperfections fly.
25. Check your heart.

Bonus: Give others the benefit of grace.

less vain

I love this list. I want to clasp it on my wrist like a medical emergency band – for without doing these things, I truly might die to my own selfishness. I am not trying to sound melodramatic.  I am serious. The stakes are way too high to mess around trying to climb higher when Jesus is always found lower.

What a waste. I want to be where Jesus is, don’t you?

I want to get low, and then:
– lift him high.
– make him seen.
– market his heart.
– proclaim his beauty worked out in me.
– shout it all from the rooftops.
– speak as he would speak into other’s lives.

There is nothing wrong with that.

But, I never want to climb so high, that I put myself above – Him.

If all you want is your own way, flirting with the world every chance you get, you end up enemies of God and his way. And do you suppose God doesn’t care? The proverb has it that “he’s a fiercely jealous lover.” And what he gives in love is far better than anything else you’ll find. It’s common knowledge that “God goes against the willful proud; God gives grace to the willing humble.” (James 4:6 MSG)

What will we choose –
to be enamored with ourselves and enemies of God
or to die to ourselves and to come alive to God?

“What he gives in love is far better than anything else we’ll find…”

less vain

God is offering us his highest blessings. Will we grab them? They aren’t found at the top of a ladder, but low, very low. As you bow down, you will find them, the small breadcrumbs of grace laid out just for you – so you can find your way right to his love.

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Palaces that Prepare Us

Prepare Us
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I am delighted to welcome Sheree DeCouto from Fellowship Bible Church in Roswell, GA to Women’s Ministry Monday. Sheree’s words encourage my heart – even our best dreams, can still be difficult.

Thank you, Sheree.

Post by: Sheree DeCouto

Is it just me, or have you ever wondered what happened after Cinderella and Prince Charming rode off into the sunset? As a little girl I bought the “happily ever after” ending hook line and sinker; as a grown woman I’ve learned that palace life doesn’t always turn out to be what I expected.

Whether it be a relationship, job or ministry… our happily ever after scenarios often lets us down.

I’ll never forget the day I landed my first full-time job in women’s ministry. I thought I had arrived. For years I had dreamed of what it would be like to work for God. My head was full of all the wonderful things I was going to do for God now that He had brought me to my palace, so to speak. Finally, someone had recognized the call of God on my life and given me a chance to make my dreams of becoming a published author and sought-after speaker come true.

Needless to say, palace life has been harder than I expected.

Lately, I’ve been studying the ultimate dreamer Joseph, and I’ve wondered if he too might have grappled to reconcile his expectations with his reality. Obviously, he must have been disappointed when his brothers sold him as a slave. But, I wonder what he thought when he was purchased by Potiphar, who was Pharaoh’s captain of the guard, and put in charge of his entire household. It was a lofty position for sure. Could he have thought, Someone has finally recognized my potential; I’m finally at a place where my dreams could come true?

If you know Joseph’s story then you know Potiphar’s palace was only another step in his journey. It was a place where he gained valuable leadership experience learned the importance of integrity. When I consider his time at Photiphar’s palace as simply a step toward God’s ultimate calling on his life I am encouraged re-think my own palace experience.

All of us yearn for the happy ending but few of us experience joy during in the journey toward it. I’ve found hope by remembering these three truths:

1.     It’s not our final destination: All of life is preparing us for the ultimate happy ending when we meet Jesus face to face.

2.     Tests are part of it: Make no mistake. . . our dream job, dream marriage, and dream life will be full of  challenges to test us. (Thankfully they are all open book tests; the Bible gives us the answers we need!)

3.     Our reaction in the gap between expectation and reality determines our level of joy. We choose our response when life doesn’t turn out the way we expected. Joseph’s life story gives us an excellent example of how to move past our past and toward the ultimate call of God on our lives. In the end Joseph considered God’s will more valuable than his own desire for success.

What palace is God using to prepare you? Are you passing the tests, or has your chosen response kept you from enjoying the journey? If I’m honest, I have to admit that the gap between my expectation and my reality caught me off guard. I haven’t passed all of the tests. But today I’m determined to consider God’s will more valuable than my own desire for success. I choose joy in the midst of my circumstances and I thank God that He is still preparing me for the ultimate happy ending.

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About Sheree

Sheree(3)-0051Sheree serves on staff as the Women’s Ministry Director at Fellowship Bible Church in Roswell, Georgia. She is a Bible teacher, speaker, spiritual coach for leaders, event coordinator, writer, and mentor–and that’s just what she does for her day job! She is also a wife, the mother of three sons, and a mother-in-law to her first daughter-in-love. Her passion is to bring the “real” factor to everything she does. Whether she’s speaking to a large audience, writing, or mentoring, her goal is to be transparent about the struggles she faces so that others feel free to do the same.


5 Ways to Bear Amazing Fruit in and through you

Bear Amazing Fruit
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I bit into a nectarine. It was straight from the rural farms of deliciousness. As I bit down, sweetness with undertones of sour exploded. Frankly, it tasted like heaven.  I stared, turned it over and over again in my hands and asked, “How could this be? What produces something like this?”

It both looked and tasted like a sunset in my mouth.

Fruit is fruit, but rare is it that it tastes good. Rarely, does it make you want a second and third helping. Rarely, does it leave you holding it, staring it and wondering how something could actually – do that!

Bear Amazing Fruit

“You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit…” Jo. 15:16

If I am supposed to be bearing fruit, does it taste like this?

Like love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Gal 5:22-23)?

Or am I producing a watered down and unripened variety? 

People should taste heaven when they encounter me.
They should stand back to consider the power of God – in me – because God stands out – through me.

What I fear, though, is I try to be like everyone else. I fit a mold of Christianity. I hinder God from making me unique. I fear being too great, vocal or in love with Christ. I fear being too much. Do you?

Then, I end up as the ordinary garden variety of grocery chain fruit; I taste average.

Bor-ing… Blah…. Been there done that… It tastes a little lukewarm. Jesus regurgitates those types (Rev. 3:16). I don’t want to be that, I want to be so jaw-dropping, so succulent people  have to step back to consider who could produce this. Imagine that?! Where all people want – is more. More Jesus. More love. More Spirit.

Where they walk on up and say, “Give me some of that!”

I want to hand out “…fruit that will last…” Jo. 15:16
I want to hand out fruit that unites people at a table of love.
I want to hand out fruit with seeds to bear more fruit.

I want people to ask how something like this could happen.

bear amazing fruit

That is what I did. I searched online to see how good fruit is produced. I found practical tips to growing good fruit. But, what grew under each of these practical tips, were God-tips. Tips that would instruct me on how to be flavorful and full of God’s life-changing juice.

Tips to Growing Good Fruit*:

1. Place them in direct sun.
Get in the light of God’s word. Let it grow you.

2. Make sure they have shelter from high winds.
Dwell in safe places: Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.” Ps. 91:1

3. Add compost or manure to the soil.
Pray that your heart is open to change and you’ll have the courage to endure as he does.

4. Give them support, netting or canes.
Lean up against God: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Mt. 11:28

5. Cut off the top of the plants.
Let God shape you, even when it hurts: “He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.” Jo. 15:2

bear amazing fruit

Simply said: Let God water you straight into delicious. Then, the world will take a bite and fight to know how God makes something that good. They will hear, and peace will reign. Your fruit will produce fruit.

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Source: https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/gardening-blog/2010/may/18/growing-tomatoes-tips


Take Courage

Take Courage
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Post by: Karina Allen

We live in a beautiful world. But, we live in a scary world that appears to be becoming increasingly so. To be honest, it has been a bit difficult to navigate but I must. We must. We cannot rely on our emotions or even our perceptions of what is going on around us. We cannot allow that to dictate our lives/behavior. We are only to rely on the God who never changes and whose Word is a sure foundation.

The world we live in and actually my very city is in a state of pain and anger and frustration. I don’t have any answers or advice to offer but I do know that I am not to fear. I am to rise up and stand strong in the midst of confusion. I am to be a light in the midst of darkness.

How we do this is simple, not easy, but simple. We look to God. It sounds cliche but really, it’s not. Jesus is the solution to EVERY problem.

He is our anchor.

He is our hope.

He is our truth.

The key to not living in fear is to remember the truth of who the Lord is in spite of circumstances that surround us.

Trust the nature of God.

John 4:8 says that God is love. Ephesians 2:4 says that God is merciful. Ephesians 2:8-9 says that God is gracious. And Psalm 136:1  says that God is good. The nature of God never wavers or falters. He cannot be anything other than Himself. I love that! He doesn’t change according to circumstances or moods. He is not a man that He should lie. He is who He is and that’s all there is to it. He is peace in the middle of our storms. He is our rock when all around us is shaking.

Trust the faithfulness of God.

“But the Lord is faithful. He will establish you and guard you against the evil one.” 2 Thessalonians 3:3

There are countless verses about the Lord’s faithfulness but this is one of my favorites! I live in Baton Rouge and as you’ve probably seen on every media outlet, the atmosphere here has been tense and angry and hostile at times. I need to remember this. Our enemy is not flesh and blood but Satan. It is God who works within His children and gives us strength and causes us to stand strong in the face of any opposition. He never leaves us to fight battles alone. He encamps us on all sides.

Trust the sovereignty of God.

“I declare the end from the beginning, and from long ago what is not yet done, saying: My plan will take place, and I will do all My will.” Isaiah 46:10

This one of those verses that blows my mind! God knows the end from the beginning. He’s knows everything that would ever happen before even the foundations of the world. I don’t know about you, but that can be trusted. Nothing in our lives or in the world around us comes as a surprise to Him. He is faithful to make a way when there is no way. Often times, our pain and struggles and hardships catch us off guard and we wander around dazed and confused. The Father isn’t. He knows every detail inside and out, upside down and right side up. He never causes tragedy, but He does sometimes allow it. I’m not sure we’ll ever know why but I am willing to live in that mystery knowing that He will bring about the outcome that brings Him the most glory and is for our good.

He is our anchor.

He is our hope.

He is our truth.

He is our very present help in our time of need. Let’s praise Him! And let’s stand up boldly and take courage…not in our our own strength, but in the strength of the one who placed it inside of us.

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Karina AllenKarina
is a devoted follower of Jesus from New Orleans, Louisiana, but has made her home in Baton Rouge for the past 15 years. She spends much of her time leading worship at church, writing, reading, dancing and mentoring the next generation. She has a huge heart for serving and missions. She is an advocate for the local church especially the one that she attends, Healing Place Church. She also enjoys working out, traveling, photography and going to concerts/conferences.

Karina believes that every woman has a God-sized dream on the inside of them and it is up to an encouraging community to help nurture that dream. Her goal in writing is to see women get a revelation of God’s Word and discover how to apply it to their lives in order to walk in freedom and live the life that God intended. But the most important thing to her is to live out the call of Isaiah 26:8…For His Name and His Renown are the desire of our souls! You can connect with her at “For His Name and His Renown.”


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