Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Passion for Obedience

Hello Dear Ones:

I hope all has been well with everyone since we last connected. I have been riding emotional waves. Sometimes I feel like I am soaring on a crest and then other times the waves break and I feel crushed by the waters weight.
Since we moved to Charlotte, more often than not, I have felt lost in the undercurrent of life. The atmosphere of transition has many times swallowed me up.
In this tempest I have battled a wreckage of my passions in life. Especially when it has come to my parenting. My oldest son has felt lost to some degree. After graduating high school and moving to a new state he has really struggled finding his assignment in our new surroundings. My 13 year old has been hit hard too. Uprooting him has brought many tears and lots of stress. My daughters although in a delightfully wonderful school, where they have been loved on well, due to their permanent brain damage from Fetal alcohol syndrome, have made very slow progress. The further they go along in school the more apparent their delays become. The one son who has found his niche in life since moving here is a complete delight to watch but has also come with adjustments to our relationship. Lets just say I genuinely delight in watching his purpose unfold and I also really miss him.

The winds of adjustment have slammed into me from every direction. I have felt subpar at best and truthfully like a Mom fiasco. I didn't like my assignment as Mom any more because I have felt my performance has suffered and even more so what to do in each situation has felt like such a mystery.  How do I help one find their calling? How do I help another adapt well? How do I help something that is completely out of my control and has life long consequences and feels too big for me?

My assignment in life just started to feel too hard. So I began to desire a new assignment. I just wanted to find something I could feel passionate about again. So I began dreaming about an assignment in my church. I love my church so much and I just wanted to have a part to play in it. I began to pray for doors of opportunity to open for me. I just felt so desperate to wake up excited about my life again. To feel good at something and have some significance and purpose.

In the midst of this a decision about the girls education needed to be made. The one thing I knew for sure was public school would not be an option. So it was continue with private school or homeschool.  Their school is such a sweet place but after meetings and prayer we came to the conclusion to homeschool them so they could learn at their own pace, according to their ability and not their age. I have peace about this decision but it also made me feel depressed. It wasn't the answer or assignment I was looking or hoping for. I kind of felt stuck in a life sentence to be honest.  But as my husband graciously reminded me. Our kids are our first priority.

This morning my time with Jesus included the Greater Devotional. The segment today was titled Obedience and Opportunity, and the verse of the day was this:

"Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much." Luke 16:10

 Here are the excerpts that spoke to me and my circumstances the most:

"Many people want God to first give them great opportunities so they can display great obedience. But often until then they won't be obedient with what they've already been given."

This question was asked; "Are you less faithful in your present responsibilities than you could be? That hit me hard. You see I have succumbed to my discouragement. I have just been getting through with the bare minimum. Rather than using what I had to give with what I have already been given and then offering a "and them some" mentality. I had "stopped at adequate rather than going all the way to exceptional."

"God won't give you more to do for Him until you do what He's already given you to do. So stop praying for a life of impact and do something as impactful as you can. Stop praying for a bigger platform and use the one you've been given. Stop praying for a better assignment and pour more passion into the one you have."

"Obedience creates opportunity not the other way around."

"Do something right now with what you have and watch the miraculous power of God multiply what you have. Be obedient with what God has given you, and He will give you more to be obedient with."

I read those words and I had my assurance. My path was clear. I knew what I am to do next. So I recommit today, to be faithful from now on, with whatever task He puts before me.  I am ready to see His miraculous power multiply. God is so faithful....even when we are faithless.

Here is to a renewed passion as I walk in obedience with the assignment he has given me, and with an expectant heart to what He will continue to put in my path to be obedient with.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Painting a Picture

Hi Dear Ones:

I am still around. Missing my writing so much. Transition is a major challenge on so many levels for all of us. I am hurting right now. We just met with a in home therapist for my sweet chocolattes. She did some evaluations and tests on them that we will have to submit and then pray medicaid will approve to cover the costs of whatever they need.

Sometimes I absolutely hate this process. I refuse to read books on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome anymore because the picture that is painted NEVER has hope. It felt like that today. The therapist was nice enough. But this is her job. She see's what we deal with on a daily basis and she see's what the books write about. NO HOPE! Where the only available options for you are public schools that don't operate on faith.

It just puts a mama in a really tough emotional spot. Stuck between reality and divinity. What I see with my eyes and walking by faith and not by sight. What do I accept and move on about when it comes to my girls? And what do I believe and hope for?

I hate the picture that is painted about F. A. S.

My girls did not deserve this. And all their struggles connect like a string to my heart and I ache with how do I do what is best? How do I protect? How do I meet their needs? How will they make good decisions and feel good about themselves as they grow and develop. What of all that we pour into to them will stick?

How do I separate myself and them from what doctors, specialist, books, and therapist say about F. A. S.?

I renamed F.A.S Fulfilling Almighty's Story, but what does that look like? I want it to be a beautiful picture. I want what was meant for evil in their lives to be 100% turned around for good. How the enemy came at my babies in the womb does not win! He does NOT have the last word. A diagnosis is NOT a destiny! My girls WILL have a future and a hope!!!!

I refuse to accept the picture of the enemy's paintbrush. I choose to be B.R.A.V.E (Breath, Remember, Ask, Visualize, and Elevate)

God created my sweet chocolates. They are HIS workmanship. He holds the paintbrush! The canvas of Jubilee Hope and Mercy Jewel will not be stroked by a medical judgement but by their creator.

We are the clay, you are the potter, we are all the work of your hand. (Isaiah 64:8)

Deliverer not Diagnosis decides!!

Photo credit Noah Samuel Selent

Friday, June 27, 2014

Eat Your Fears Away

Hi Dear Ones:

This post is really a play on words. It's not as literal as the tittle sounds and I am certainly not promoting eating for comfort, gosh knows I've made to much of that mistake lately.

I am going to share some insights I have found in Pastor Steven  Furticks book "Crash The Chatterbox" The insights are not mine but the relating to it certainly is.

I have been asking the Lord to give me a verse or verses to arm me for battle during this time in my life. As excited as I was and am about our move to Charlotte, I have discovered that I really don't handle change well. Even welcome and desired change.  My personality shrinks at new and first time experiences. It is so uncomfortable for me to start from scratch. Relationships don't come easy to me. They take time to develop. I have been in a major relationship drought too for far to long. I am so ready to do some life with people. To share good and bad and hold each other up.  But I know this is going to be a process that will take time so most activities and outings are still uncomfortable .

Then there are other areas and relationships in my life that are changing just because of where they are in life. Little boys are becoming men and that has spun me through a loop. The fear of losing something that has been so utterly precious and dear to you, so much that it is irreplaceably valuable to you, is monstrously daunting.

On some levels I felt ambushed,  because I wasn't expecting some of these changes, at least not right now with everything else new that is going on. And when you don't really know what to do with yourself or these intense emotions you retreat. You want to just crawl into a cave and not face it all. It feels too BIG for you. It feels like you can't make it.  The noise of what is so hard is deafening.

So I cried out to Jesus and if you know me, you know there were MANY MANY tears.

So many times God speaks to me as I am reading. It really is my favorite way that I hear from him. So I picked up my book, Crash The Chatterbox, and once again heaven opened up and poured out just what I needed for my fearful heart.

Let me share with you some of what pricked me as I read recently.

"Fear often finds power, not in our actual situation, but in what we tell ourselves about our situation." I don't know about you but I can sure wind myself into a tizzy.

Pastor Furtick wrote about Elijah the prophet and how after an amazing victory he fled in fear. You can read the whole story in 1 Kings chapter 19 but this is the verse that really spoke to me:

"The angel of the Lord came back a second time and touched him and said , Get up and eat for the journey is too much for you."

Pastor Furtick went on to explain how God did not give Elijah what he asked but he did find him in his fears  and spoke to him not with threats but with reminders of his care.

What did I love about this verse? First of all I loved how the angel came back a second time. This reminds me of Gods faithfulness. How he pursues me even when I am running away. I also loved how Elijah was given what he needed for the journey.  I had been in a spot of just not knowing what to do and terrified that I would do the wrong things. I felt this was my verse. This is what I am to do. I am to feed my faith. God has provided an amazing church, his word, people, books and on and on as my buffet.

So as the spirit was nurturing my ailing heart I read on. Did you know that even after this verse Elijah kept going in the wrong direction. He went 400 more miles away into a cave. Then comes this verse:

"The Lord said Go out and stand on the mountain, in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by." 1 Kings 19:11

Then a great wind came followed by an earthquake, and then some fire. And as the word says "after the fire came a gentle whisper."

Maybe you are like me and you can feel so bombarded by fear, that the noise of it is just so loud that "the enemy's threats deafen your spirit to God's reassurance."

Let me share another quote from the book "God calls us out of caves because, in our caves, voices of fear and doubt and dread monopolize our minds." I could have had a giant flashing red arrow placed directly above my head when I read that. #nailedit

So why did God call Elijah out on the mountain? Because "on the mountain the signal is stronger than the noise." and he whispers because he is close. How beautiful is that? I mean I am sure I am not the only one who has ever been frustrated by the noise and the whisper. You want God to yell louder than the noise but isn't that better? Isn't it better to be close? I love that.

So I wiped my tears and I blew my nose and I sat there resting in the peace that comes with His closeness. The signal was clear. And my spiritual belly was full.

Thank you Jesus for coming back to me no matter how many times it takes and thank you for providing me with just what I need to feed my faith and thank you for calling me out of the cave I hide in so your signal is loud and clear.

From now on when fears come, and I know they will,  I plan on eating all I can at my mountaintop restaurant listening to close whispers until I have exactly what I need to go on for the journey,
otherwise I know it will be as the word says too much for me.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Sabotaged by Weeds

Hi Dear Ones:

So we have been in Charlotte for 2 weeks now.  I've been on a roller coaster of emotions that I did not even expect. One minute I have been thrilled and the next crying my eyes out. I can wake up excited and by noon I can be feeling really blue and ready for anything again by 4:00 in the afternoon.

Then I can feel old battles creeping in on me again. One in particular is my feeling insignificant in this world. Almost obsessed with do I matter? Then I am just flat out angry with myself because, didn't I already conquer this demon? Haven't I put this lie to rest? I started this year tired of insulting Gods creation and I find myself slipping back into that pit. My mind bombarded with everything that is a mess inside or outside of me.

"I'm not a nice person. I'm impatient. I'm too emotional. I have no gifts or talents. I am fat and old and ugly. I am good for nothing but taking up space. Who wants to be your friend." These messages pelting me like a never ending hail storm and leaving incredible damage.

I keep feeling like why is this back? Why now? I waited for over a year for this move and now its here and I am this crazy emotional yo yo.

My faithful God always seems to meet me right where I am at, this mess that I am. I had been asking God for a verse. A sword I could swing at the enemy. Something to keep my focus on Him and on truth.

I listened to one of Pastor Steven Furtick's sermons tonight "Death by Distraction" that I had missed and near the end it completely absorbed me.

He started talking about sabotage. He started saying how God has put a seed in us. Something He has created for us to do. A destiny. What I so deeply crave. To have a purpose and to do something that matters. REALLY MATTERS! He brought up Mathew 13:25 which says:

"But while everyone was sleeping his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat and went away."

Pastor said the enemy will plant something next to God's seed to keep you from recognizing what God has put inside of you. And then he leaves and you focus on those weeds and you water those weeds and before you know it you are sabotaged.

This was a wake up call. I need to tend my field. I need to dry up the water source to these nasty weeds. I want my mind, my joy and my peace back.

Lord Jesus, as you sow your good seed into my life. I ask that I would be focused on you and your truth. Help me keep distractions at bay.  Let the seed not be snatched away from me. Let it not be scorched but let it take deep root in my heart and spirit. Let it not be choked but let it sprout and bear fruit. I rebuke worry from my life, untrue interpretations of what may or may not ever even happen. Let me rest in your truth of what you say about me and the reality of what you put before me each day of my life.

Fulfill my destiny in me.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Dreams to Reality

Hi Dear Ones:

I know it has been forever since my last post.  I genuinely miss blogging. Sometimes though I just feel like the words won't come. I guess I know what writers block feels like now. It is frustrating for me but that is not the case today. Today I have so many words rambling through my brain.

For those who don't know we are moving to Charlotte NC in just 13 days. I remember vividly sitting in Elevation Church last August, my birthday weekend, and listening to Pastor Steven preach The Horn, The Sword and The Robe sermon. The room was full but I felt it was all directly spoken to me. It was like God had singled me out. There were areas of my life that had such a death grip on me and I felt the crushing grip lose its strength and I felt free.

We had thought about moving to Charlotte for a couple of years but nothing seemed to line up or work out so we shelved that dream. But I had such a strong sense in my heart that day sitting there and I knew it was all changing after that sermon. I felt God say to me this time next year you will be here. As Eric and I left church, I could not contain my tears or my feelings or my words. They all came spilling out of me. I told Eric what I felt God was saying to me and his eyes widened and he shared that he felt he had heard the same words and time frame as I did.

So we picked our dream back up again and watched as the Lord caused things to fall into place. We tried for years to sell our house and it never did. Soon after picking our dream back up again a awesome family we know is now lease/purchasing our home.

We also were in a predicament since we had fallen on incredibly hard financial times. Almost complete financial ruin. We had filed bankruptcy when we were left with no other options or choice. This meant we could not purchase a home until we had been 4 years out of bankruptcy.
Never the less we kept moving forward and we started looking at homes in Charlotte and just did not even know how things would work. We found a house we completely loved and knew we were paralyzed to do anything about it until our time was up. Months passed and I stalked the house we loved and could not believe that it was not selling. We asked our realtor to ask if the owners would consider a lease purchase with a closing date after we were out of bankruptcy prison. Our realtor was honestly baffled when the owners came back with a yes. She said these things never happen. She said this has to be a God thing. So we signed our own lease purchase agreement and we got our dream house and when I say dream house I kid you not. It was like if I could design a house and then there it was.

Eric and I have been married for 22 almost 23 years now and for most of our married life we have lived paycheck to paycheck and it always seemed we had more month than money or worse as mentioned above. I tell you this because God dropped the surprise of my It Works business in my lap. It enabled us to be able to pay two house payments since December and so much more. We always felt like the charity case. Like when we couldn't even afford school field trips for our kids, much less full tuition. When I say that my business has completely transformed our finances I mean it is a complete 180 from where we were at for so many years. God has used this business to take our dreams from desire to reality. I sit in complete amazement and think from bankruptcy to this, all the time!

God lined up all the details from job, to house, to school for our kids.  It is just 13 days away and I will be spending my next birthday as a NC resident, attending Elevation Church. A true dream to reality, only by His hands,

I am so excited!!!!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

What happened to Me

Good Morning Dear Ones:

So I have wrestled with this post. Not sure what or how to say things. Since November 21st I have been dealing with nerve damage in my head. That has led to frequent migraines and daily headaches and almost constant buzzing or vibrating sensations in my head. I am scared to exercise because in the past it has brought on a terrible migraine. 

In November my mom purchased a keratin blowout treatment for me on Amazon. I was super excited about this because I thought I am going to be a good mama to my girls and give them beautiful hair and save money while I am at it. Having two girls with African American hair is very expensive if you pay to get their hair done so I also felt proud of myself for doing it on my own. 

I did their hair once and it turned out amazing and yes I was by proud of myself as a mama and in saving us some money. Then in November it was time to do it all again. I did things just the same this time. I followed the directions. I used gloves. But I distinctly remember during one pass through of the flat iron, a puff of smoke went directly up in my face and I inhaled it deeply, at the time I didn't think much of it but the next day my brain started to have waves of feeling like someone was shaking my brain. As time went on it just intensified and became more constant. If you have ever been to the chiropractor or the physical therapist and felt those electrodes that they put on your body well that is how my brain/ head feels. 

I live with regret every single day of my life. I hate what I have done to myself. One day I was healthy and normal and the next I may never be again. If I had harmed my daughters I don't really know how I would live with it. I have not spoke in detail about it because I did not want to be thought of speaking out against the cosmetology profession. I support business and have a stylist that I dearly love not only for the work she does but for who she is. So I am not speaking out against professionals and I believe they are the ones trained to handle these chemicals. They have a license for a reason. 

 I am speaking out against the product itself. No amount of saving money is worth what I deal with on a daily basis now. So I say this to say be careful. Speak to your stylist about the risk.  As for my sweet chocolates I think we will do the best we can with their natural hair. 

If you think of me please pray for my healing. I know I didn't know what I was getting into but God did and I pray he will heal me every day.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

New Year ~ Kindness

Hi Dear Ones,

I know it has been a while and this is my first post of 2014. Forgive me if I am rusty. My writing has fallen to the wayside and oh how I genuinely miss it.

Here are some highlights to fill you in on what has been going on with our family. Elijah my oldest son turned 18 on December 27th and will graduate from high school this year. Jubilee started kindergarten. I promoted to double diamond with my It Works business. Basketball season is in full swing for both Zion and Elijah. Noah and I are taking a photography class together. Mercy is FINALLY potty trained during the day. I am suffering nerve damage due to a chemical I used on the girls hair to straighten it, experiencing buzzing sensations in my head and several headaches throughout the week, sometimes even migraines. And we are currently in two houses and got to spend Christmas break in our new home in Charlotte. How's that for a hodge podge recap?

So on to why I wanted to write tonight. Something about a New Year causes one to contemplate. Take inventory of where you came from, where you are, and where you want to be. I am excited about our future as a family. I sat in elevation church in August last year listening to a sermon that literally changed my life. I sat there sobbing uncontrollably. It was like Pastor Furtick had read all my journal entries and spilled out what my heart had been searching for.  For some time we had considered moving to Charlotte but the planets never seemed to line up and we put it off. Sitting in that sermon that day on my birthday weekend 2013 I felt the lord say "one year Michelle,  this time next year you will be here." I shared what I heard with Eric whose eyes widened as he told me he felt the same thing as we sat there that day. So we put our thoughts and desires into action and I will celebrate my 42 birthday as a North Carolina resident.

As we have been making physical preparations to move I thought about things I want to move in my heart this year. What did I want my word or theme to be this year?  Kindness just kept coming back to me over and over again. I love kindness. I love to see kind people in action. I want to be purposeful about kindness this year like never before. It is really easy to be self centered. To think about how things only affect you. I want kindness to move in and take up residency in my heart in a fresh and new way. It makes me a little nervous to share these things because I know me. I know how selfish I can be. I like to think about me. I am hoping though that as I purpose to be kind, that selfishness will wither, and kindness will flourish in my heart and life.

 Romans 12:10 says "Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves." That verse defines kindness to me, and I want it to take root deep in my heart and define how I live.

I follow the ministry of Christine Caine on Facebook and as I was solidifying my theme for this year I came across this in her feed today and I found it to be an incredible challenge so I thought I would share it here with all of you:

That is just what I am hoping for … to never be the same again. Happy New Year!

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