November 28, 2012

It was Mary…

Posted in Uncategorized at 11:04 am by Broken & Brave

Each day it grows closer to Christmas. As it does, my thoughts not only go to my Lord, but also to his mother, Mary. I do not personally believe Mary to be deity, but I do believe she to be of the most esteemed people to ever walk the earth. I hold her and her story in the highest of regard and I think of her example to all of us, not only at Christmas, but all year through. Many times, when I have to take up my Cross and carry it-which simply stated means when I do what God wants me to do and asks of me instead of what I want to do- I reflect to Mary and encourage myself with her testimony. If Mary could forsake all, if only to please God, and she did so in a both grand and regal fashion…then I, too, could walk according to God’s purpose in my life.

 

“Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.” Luke 9:23

 

Imagine all she endured if only to please God. Did this little girl have any idea what the Lord was asking of her when He decided it was her he would tuck his promise inside of?

Spent some time thinking about Mary again this morning as I was listening to the Mercy Me Christmas CD on my ipod. My favorite song on that CD, since 2004 when the album came out, has been Joseph’s Lullaby. Beautiful song…you should listen to it and put yourself in Mary’s shoes….

The woman gave birth to the Savior of the world…it was Mary.

She had no idea what the journey she had only just begun would look like, but she knew it was a weighty and lofty calling.

I know, its not even December yet…but think on her story. Who was she that she should carry a promise so grand inside her? Nobody. She was young, probably quite naive, but her heart pure and herself willing to do what was asked of her. She was accused, mocked and could have been stoned if it weren’t for Joseph. She had to move away from her family and friends, not because she wanted to but she was willing to in order to follow the lead of God. She had to let go completely.

I want to be like Mary. Total surrender of my heart and will to the Lord. I gave him my all, ‘Here am I Lord, send me’, in 2003. It has been an act of the will to manage that decision of surrender every day since. God makes promises and God keeps them. It is our job to follow his lead, obey his call, and take up our cross each day and follow after him.

Jesus is the reason for Christmas.

Jesus is the greatest gift you could hope for, free of charge.

Jesus paid the price in full.

He is the answer to every problem you face.

Sometimes you have to completely let go.

God’s got all the right answers.

~Nicole

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November 27, 2012

I Dared To Ditch Sugar

Posted in Uncategorized tagged at 12:41 am by Broken & Brave

It has often been quoted, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step.” Isn’t it true that when you have a large task at hand, it can become cumbersome and overwhelming to think of what is to be accomplished.  We become paralyzed with the notion of it, whatever the task may be, if we allow it. Once we become overwhelmed we become immobilized and ineffective…defeated by a task too grand to conquer. The best way to prevent those overwhelming feelings and doubts of accomplishment is to break the objective down into pieces. Manageable goals with dates attached to them. If we only just begin…

This is true for each of us with our own health and fitness…nutrition included. Instead of waiting for a bad report from the doctor, why not be proactive in your health journey now? I know it can be overwhelming, depending on your objectives and goals. Don’t wait for the New Year. Before you know it, you’ve waited for the following New Year and the circle of life overtakes you and you have accomplished little more than the feeling of dissatisfaction and disappointment.

I am hoping to encourage you to start by sharing my own personal story of how I radically changed my eating and gradually reduced my sugar intake to next to nothing. I didn’t do it over night. I had a plan. I had a goal. My objectives were clear and I set my sights to achieve it. When I first thought about radically changing my diet to something much cleaner, healthier and “sugar free”, I truly had little idea of what it would look like when I was finished. I just knew that I had many things in this life I wanted to do, I wanted to become, I wanted to achieve. If I was going to get it all crammed into one lifetime, I’d better make sure I was as healthy as I had the power to be, trusting God with the rest, and go for it!

I guess it was in 2004 that I sat down with my journal and my pen and wrote it down. I wanted to reduce the amount of carbohydrates in my diet. I wanted to eat more vegetables. I wanted to completely eliminate processed snack foods from my diet. I had already successfully canceled all presence of soda in my diet. Wow. That pretty much ruled out the American diet. I was overwhelmed. Where would I start?

The journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step”

I decided I’d find items that I ate on a somewhat regular basis, but not daily, and I would get rid of those first. I tackled the easier foods to sacrifice and then I held this pattern until I felt I had made a lifestyle change. For example, I liked chips just like most people. I didn’t eat them all the time, but I did eat them and I occasionally bought them. I’m not a big salt craver so chips was something I enjoyed, but it wasn’t that hard to let go of. There were other foods I did the same with in this time. I little by little whittled the junk out of my diet and made a healthy substitution. I became familiar with the supplement line from Advocare and incorporated some key products into my nutrition plan. I knew going into this decision that it was going to be a journey that I would not finish overnight. It was going to take time, a lot of time, if I was going to do it right. I really had no idea how long it would take, but I determined that within two years I’d have my diet looking pretty fabulous. At this two year mark is when I would radically look at how I made choices concerning sugar. For me, sugar was the grandaddy. If I could give up sugar it would be nothing short of a miracle. I am pretty sure I was addicted to the stuff. I would get at least one craving for something sweet every day. It was usually ice cream. Ice cream was one of my favorite “cheat” foods. I had a great weakness for it. So, though I wouldn’t always act on my desire for something sweet, I still had the desire emerge and taunt me. I think it’s called temptation?! I figured if I could successfully eliminate sugar from my diet, over time, I would no longer desire it. I was right!

I had always been able to manage my decision to not go out of control with food. I was a fairly disciplined person and I wanted to keep my weight in check. The combination of the small disciplines with food I did have and my love for fitness, I was able to manage my weight fairly reasonably. But it was always work and discipline! Please don’t think I am someone who can just eat whatever she wants and be thin. I have a fairly slow metabolism actually and my body type has a bit of endomorph to it (my body would rather hold onto weight than burn it). I have had people make comments to me over the years that leads me to believe there are people who know me who just think, “That’s just Nicole, she loves fitness and healthy foods.” I’ve had people tell me they were afraid to bring me meals when I had a child because they didn’t know what I would eat (i.e. too healthy). These statements kind of surprised me because I knew my story, but I guess they didn’t.

When I began this journey to truly eat clean (whole foods, no processed foods, lots of veggies, some fruit, complex carbohydrates and the absence of refined carbohydrates), I could not even think of the effort and discipline it would take to quit with sugar. So, at that point I only wrote it on the paper, but didn’t even entertain the idea at that time. It was too big and I knew I wasn’t ready for that. I had to begin smaller with the things I was ready for. This is how it can be with you, whatever your health objective. You don’t necessarily have to quit sugar like I did. I realize many people think I am extreme with this and they cannot wrap their heads around it. I’ve had people take big bites of cake right in my face a parties and say, “Mmmm, this is soooo good.” As though somehow they were tempting me or I was standing there in agony because I wanted a bite. Not so! We have control over our taste buds. You heard me! We can train our taste buds. You get used to whatever it is you eat. Here is a newsflash, when you eat very small amounts of sugar, when you do taste something that has sugar (ie. Even a chocolate chip cookie or cupcake) all you can taste is sugar. I’m not kidding. If I were to take a bite of a cake or cookie, whatever, all I would taste is the sugar as if I scooped a spoonful of refined sugar all by itself into my mouth. Gross! It doesn’t taste good anymore. I can sit at Baskin Robbins and enjoy watching my children enjoy their cone of ice cream and not have one itch to join them. I am past it. It doesn’t mean I don’t still want something sweet now and then, but what I consider sweet has changed altogether. What began as a hunch of what could lie on the other side of a sugar free life, a loss of taste for the stuff, turned out to be pure and true intuition! I also practice wisdom with this knowledge. Because I used to battle a desire for sugar I know that I always have to remain guarded. The freedoms in my health since I quit sugar have been amazing! I feel so good all the time. When I don’t feel good I find it odd because it doesn’t happen very often. I have a mild and even temperament because my blood sugars are balanced. When you eat a lot of sweets and fats, you crave more sweets and fats because you body is in an unbalanced state desperately trying to find what is called stasis…balance! People who struggle with fats and sweets tend to have more mood swings and irritability than someone who eats clean. We truly are what we eat.

I began this health quest in my early teen years. I consciously decided at the age of thirteen that I didn’t want to become like my ancestors who battled obesity, heart disease and  high cholesterol. There aren’t many thirteen year old girls who, not being raised in a health focused environment, make decisions this deep at such a young age. For whatever reason…I did. I spent most of my youth exploring fitness and studying on my own about nutrition. I think I knew every calorie of every food I could dream of consuming. I was vastly interested in nutrition so it didn’t seem like studying or work to me. I had interest. I know that  gave me an advantage. We will always invest time, money and ourselves into something we are interested in.

It’s been eight years since I took the first step and dared to believe I could eat healthier than the average American diet. If I wanted to live more than just a life of mediocrity I had to achieve excellence in all areas.  The greatest factor that enabled me to achieve the goals I set for healthy living was a purpose. Did you catch some hints to my purpose along this story?…

I noticed a deleterious health pattern in my relatives that I didn’t want to repeat. I had many things I wanted to do and become in my life and I recognized that in order to get it done, I needed to be healthy.

Ultimately, my deep faith in God lead me here. I know it was what God wanted for me. I know he helped me along as I failed many, many times. This is the stuff that truest and deepest character is made of…when we fall, we get up and “get back on that horse!” For it is but too true, the only ones who fail are those who quit. Don’t quit, but even more importantly, do not fail to begin. You are valuable and worthy of so much more than an achy body or lack of energy. I hope I have encouraged you in this. If a kid who grew up on Kool Aid can kick sugar, then surely you can achieve that much more! I believe in you…Let your journey begin… Regardless of how many miles it may take or time to overcome, with that first step…

Simply begin.

November 25, 2012

Never Had a Better Friend

Posted in Uncategorized at 4:18 pm by Broken & Brave

The Lord has striped me in many ways.

Yet, He preserves each and every one of my days.

He took away so much that mattered to me

and in the process grafted me more tightly into His Tree.

He drew me near and showered me with blessings from above.

He gave me increase in my capacity to Love.

He showed me His devotion and care

Yet I know He will not only stop there.

He took me as a seed and planted me in the Earth.

He provided the water of Salvation in Jesus

giving me second birth.

He rose from the grave and captured my soul.

So who am I to complain or be afraid of any foe?

He crowned me with splendor and His Grace crowns my head.

He asked me to walk this earth in an effort to revive the dead.

So many are abandoned and left without Hope.

Without Jesus they are left with no strength to cope.

They turn to drugs, violence, suicide and sin

Never gaining the purity of heart that can free them from within.

Who am I to complain when troubles cross my path?

For I have access to the very Throne of the One giving me life that will last.

Blessed Jesus, my Savior, Companion, my Friend

Who could turn from you, ignoring the battle within?

There is a day to day struggle that occurs

With in the hearts of all men.

Without Jesus, we are doomed to failure

in a battle that has no end.

Seek Jesus, the Savior, a Friend to all man.

Only He can take a shattered life, put it back together

And make it whole once again.

Seek, Jesus, the Savior, who was crucified and rose again.

He knows of your suffering, your loneliness and can take it from you, putting your misery to end.

Seek Jesus! Seek Jesus! I have never known another to be such a great Friend.

I wrote this poem as a love song to my Lord in April of 2004. I came across it today and couldn’t help but feel that there are lonely and hurting hearts out there right now who are in need of a friend. I want to do my best to be the friend to others that I have experienced God to be to me. Though I can comfort, encourage and pour hope over you like a moisturizing oil of Joy…There truly is no other like HIM. His love for you is unfailing. You can do nothing to make that stop. He is with you. He is for you. If you only knew how much He adores you. Blessings be yours this day and forever more. ~Nicole

November 20, 2012

A View from Above

Posted in Uncategorized at 6:21 am by Broken & Brave

Have you ever done any reading about eagles? Magnificent creatures. I once had a New Age person who believed in reincarnation ask me what I wanted to come back as in my next life. I was a little taken back by this question considering I do not believe in reincarnation. Instead of debating and arguing all my reasons why reincarnation was not from God, I answered the question. After all, I had been sharing the love of Jesus with this person and I am pretty sure they were not ready to hear my theological rhetoric. However, all people at all times are ready to be loved, accepted and heard. So…I answered, “an eagle”.

Eagles are gorgeous! I love how striking their features. The prominence of the eagles white feathers upon their head. The eagle soars high in the sky, up to 10,000 feet and their eye sight keen. Eagles can live to be 35 years of age, on average. They have a stoicism about them that I always find appealing. Did you know that when an eagle is ill he will fly himself to the highest rock he can find and will sun himself? It is true, that the eagle will lye upon a rock in the open sunlight and sunbath until the infection or illness has been drawn out by the Glorious Rays. What a powerful example of what God can do for us when we draw close to Him. He will draw out all of our impurities. Unfortunately, do not expect a party up on that rock, it is a lonely place for few other birds dare to fly and perch as high as the eagle.

I received a profound blessing. It was a moment in time that was to be captured in my heart and mind for my entire life. The finger tip of God was fully upon it and in it and I knew, in this moment, I had received a rare opportunity to witness something that maybe only an accomplished and patient bird watcher could capture. It was very early in my marriage to John. We were visiting his family, who reside in Connecticut. There are so many beautiful mountains in New England. So different is the landscape from that of California. John and I had decided to go for a hike on a local mountain. We packed water and snacks and took along one of our nieces. The trail that we hiked was literally on the side of a mountain. A thin path carved along the crevice of dirt and rock surrounded by wooded terrain. Our visual range was mountain to the left, vast valley to the right. It was a clear and bright Autumn day. It was gorgeous. As we hiked along we heard a rustle in the brush on the side of the mountain just at our feet. We could barely turn our heads in the direction of the sound of the brush when we saw something that took my breath away. We were right above, maybe 5 to 10 feet, from an eagle’s nest. The nest was not visible to the eye, but tucked in the trees. What emerged from the trees was a very large and grand bird. Her wing span must have measured at least 7 feet wide as she spread them and glided away from her home, cascading herself over the valley. Regal. Beautiful. In fact, she was exquisite. She must have been around four or five years old, as this is when an eagle reaches full maturity. So, there I was, standing in awe as I look out OVER THE TOP of an eagle watching her soar. I have seen eagles gliding in the sky before, but never had I ever, live and in person, been directly above such a large and grand bird and seen the view of the top of her wings and back. This was a true honor and gift I believed. I drank in the moment, for I knew I would never get another one like it.

I love that I got to have this experience. I didn’t just walk away and say, “Wow, that was cool.” My thoughts ran deeper to the Sovereignty of God and how he designed that moment for me. I believe God cares about every detail and experience of our life. I never have been one to think that God is too busy to bother with the details of my little life. I have always been aware that not only does he have time for me he is quite smitten with me as well. Just as an engineer takes pride in his structure. Just as an architect takes pleasure in his design. An artist, who drinks in and savors the fruit of his or her labor. So it is with my God. He is my Creator and takes pleasure in all that he has created. It says so right in His book.

“The LORD is faithful to all of His promises and looks lovingly over all He has created.” Psalm 145:13

Knowing that I had this belief that God has His hand in everything whether I chose to recognize it or not, how could I take for granted such a gift and not take advantage of the opportunity to make declaration over my own life? That is what I did…I made declaration over my life and prayed to God for it to be as I said. I prayed and thanked God immediately, expressing my gratitude for what I had just witnessed. What I did next, I challenge you to do in your own life. I asked God that this would be a symbolic declaration and a sign in my life of things to come. I didn’t have any ideas  what things, but wanted His plans and my potential to equal such heights. I prayed that I would not only soar on the heights like an eagle, but that I would climb so high that I would soar above the eagles. See, the bible says this,

“But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.” Isaiah 40:31

Thank the Lord for the bountiful blessings and opportunities he has granted. They are there, even when you are in a hard place, there are glimpses of God promises and His goodness to you all around. We have to stop and notice before they can be seen. In this week of Thanksgiving, dare yourself to believe and dream again. If your hopes are shattered and dreams unfulfilled, worry not, He has a plan and sees every hill, every valley, every wooded glen and shadowy landscape. He is with you and sometimes the most precious blessings are experienced while you are climbing that hill. I believe in you and can see a God who believes in you, too. Soar higher than the eagles with me.

I frequently have people ask me to pray for them because, as they put it, “God hears me.” While it is always my delight to pray for people, and indeed God does hear me and He answers me as well. But guess what, he hears you also! He hears everything. We need only be still and climb toward Him so we can grow in our understanding and ability to hear Him back. When I prayed this prayer those many years ago, I had no idea what it meant to “make declaration” over myself. I just knew I wanted good things in my life and I believed in prayer so I asked. I wasn’t versed in “Christianity” or “Purpose”. I didn’t even know my purpose yet at that point in my life. I did, however, know God loved me. He loves you, too, so very much. Don’t be afraid to ask.

Happy Thanksgiving to you all…I love Thanksgiving, it is a special time of the year. Of course, as always, you know how much I genuinely care for and love you, God’s Masterpiece.

Blessings…Nicole

November 17, 2012

A Word to Live By…

Posted in Uncategorized at 9:22 pm by Broken & Brave

Loyalty. Loyalty is defined as such~ 1.The state or quality of being loyal; faithfulness to commitments or obligations. 2. Faithful adherence to a sovereign government, leader, cause, etc. (www.Dictionary.com)

A few synonyms for loyalty that stand out to me are “devotion” and “constancy”. Constancy, that’s a good one. It has strength, don’t you think? It makes me immediately think on the word “un-waivering”. Not changing or yielding…constant.

You may be asking yourself, “why all this talk of loyalty?”

I am a huge believer in its importance. I believe it penetrates each person to the deepest levels and has influence that trickles through our every relationship and our every decision. We make choices on product purchases and restaurants we frequent, stores we shop in,  all because of a sense of loyalty we may feel for one reason or another. Usually, we are loyal to something or someone because we had a positive experience, encounter, relationship. Some loyalties are casual in nature, maybe based on convenience. Other loyalties are a tie that run deep and chart the coarse of our daily lives. Loyalty can be based on Purpose. Loyalty may be present between individuals for one small yet profound reason…family.

I am a very loyal person, always have been, it is my nature. At times, I will choose the inconvenience or added expense just to remain loyal to a certain business owner. I know it is a way I can be a blessing and for whatever the reason I make that choice. I am aware that loyalty traits do not come naturally to everyone. If you know anything regarding personality types and temperaments, there are four basic categories of personalities with a whole host of traits each personality type represents. I won’t be going into major detail about these personality types and traits, but I will say that they are called Choleric, Sanguine, Phlegmatic, and Melancholy. Each person has one of these four as their foundational blueprint of personality. The fascinating thing is that we are all so unique, we have other components of other personality traits mixed in. A choleric person is the person in charge, leader, gets things done. The Sanguine is so much fun to be around. They make even the toughest chores a party and everyone loves them! The Phlegmatic person is a good friend and is known for their staunch loyalties. The melancholy is very organized and particular about things. Each personality has positive and negative traits. I could go on and on, but my point is, some people are more naturally loyal, myself being one of them. Yes, us Phlegmatic personalities are just like a golden retriever, an analogy commonly made in psychology circles and literature.

I am a lot like my Dad. My Dad was always my greatest example of loyalty growing up. It’s in looking back and seeing now, his constant display of friendship to his peers. He is there for them always, whenever needed. Everyone knows they can call on my Dad…they can count on my Dad. Faithful. Constant. Loyal. I see it in how my Father treated his family. His loyalty to us was and is a constant example that this is what family looks like.  I know that I have much to be grateful for…not everyone has this.

Because I have a natural bend toward loyalties and then the example of my Father, I have had a lifetime of reinforcement toward “loyalty”. Not everyone has had this kind of reinforcement. I am realizing more and more that our culture is becoming more and more a culture that has abandoned this concept, idea, way of living. Fewer and fewer people are familiar with true loyalty. We are becoming a society of “loyal to self alone”. This observation and discovery saddens me to a deep level. So much so I decided to blog about it. Maybe, if only one, I can educate and demonstrate what loyalty is and why it is so important for us as a nation, but even more so, it is foundational to myself and all of those who call themselves “The Church”.

Families are known for loyalties one to another. They are our blood relatives and even when we are at odds or estranged, something rises in us when our family members are compromised or in harms way. We would move a mountain to make a difference for them. I know this isn’t true for all families, but in general, it is very applicable. It is a part of what makes a family nucleus unified. Through hard times and easy times, loyalty is a tie that binds…family.

A nation is built up of families. Individuals who come from a mother , a father, and usually siblings as well. We have relationship, some closer than others, but family. It is an undeniable yoke that holds us together…no matter what. The more that families crumble in our culture the more children are forced to grow up too fast and become independent at young ages, the more each becomes focused on protecting one’s self. It is instinctual really and I cannot fault anyone who has had circumstances that force them to this mindset. Self preservation comes alive looking out for “me”, loyal to “me”. This is the mindset of a narcissistic person. Narcissism is clearly and definably on the rise in America especially in younger generations. It is difficult for someone who is looking out for themselves first to be truly loyal to others. Loyalty requires that we think outside of ourselves and sometimes even yield our own best interest to the best interest of another. Loyalty, at times, requires sacrifice…self sacrifice.

So, what we do as Christians? What can we, “The Church” do to make a difference? We want to see the world a better place, our country in a better direction. We think in bigger terms like changes in Washington and taxes, etc. Honestly, real change can come when we treat each other as family. When the Church becomes loyal to each other.

I get a picture in my mind of an old fashion wagon wheel. The pioneers moved across the plains to settle in the Western United States. They drove wagons with large wooden wheels. These wheels had spokes or cogs made of thick wood with a hub in the center. The hub connected to the axle that connected the wheel on each side of the wagon.  The spokes created a firm support inside the framework of the wheel. The wagon could not roll without the wheel. Bear with me here, the wheel was a critical piece of equipment, but had no redeeming value without the help of the spokes for support, the hub for connection and the axle to unit all four wheels beneath the wagon which carried the people. Are you with me? I am going somewhere with this.

Now picture all Christians united. We are working together, paving the way like a pioneer driving across a plain, full of Hope for a better Life. We are not the Baptists, Pentecostals, Presbyterians, Lutherans or Catholics, etc. We are not “the church over here that is anointed to do this great work” or “this one over here that does that great work”. We are The Body. We are each like a wheel, a spoke, a cog, a hub, an axle, a wagon. All working together to carry the people…the sick, the wounded, the poor, the broken hearted, the lonely, the lost, and the afflicted, to the destination of Healing Virtue. We move every stone out of the way that may cause one of the least of these to stumble. We build up the high way. Not a literal highway, but the Way, the Truth and the Life. (John 14:6)

How can we make a difference, a true and definite difference in the lives of others if we are not in total and complete loyalty and unity one to another? When we are loyal we celebrate each other’s victories and cry with each other’s defeat. We carry each other. We love each other. We sacrifice for each other. We favor each other. We provide for and bless one another. We spend our time thinking on each other. We never compete with each other because we are too busy upholding one another. WE ARE THE BODY! We are to pave the way, to make way, so others may live and that they may live abundantly.

“Pass through, pass through the gates!

Prepare the way for the people.

Build up, build up the highway!

Remove the stones.

Raise a banner for the nations.” Isaiah 62:10

 

I know my words are strong, but I am speaking to myself as well. I want to be a living, breathing, example of the Love of God and the Unity and Loyalty of the Church. Let us be so incredibly intoxicating with our beauty that we ravage the gangs of their members! Our Loyalty is free of condemnation and guilt and full of Peace and Freedom. I Believe in you and I know you can do it. I will uphold you and ask that you would do the same for me. Together, we can make a difference!  We are the Church and Loyalty is a word we can live by. ~Nicole

November 2, 2012

Gorgeous Face

Posted in Uncategorized at 4:38 pm by Broken & Brave

I have a friend named Jackie. Jackie and I have gone to church together for many years, but it was only in the last four years that I really got to know her. It’s funny how God works sometimes. I had signed up to volunteer in the Wednesday night preschool class at my church.  It was a time of transition and change at my church and more help was needed. I really felt the Lord direct me to that particular age group. I could have selected second grade or another group of girls to work with, but I strongly discerned preschool was where I was to go. I find humor in this because I thought God was directing me to preschool because they need a lot of supervision and preschool is usually one of the hardest age groups to find volunteers for (because they are so busy). That’s what I thought anyway. Though it’s true, it is a hard group to find volunteers for and they do need much supervision, that isn’t the real reason God wanted me there…it was Jackie.

In this season I got to know Jackie on a deeper level. I had always had a fond appreciation for how Jackie glowed when she worshipped God. It was so beautiful to me, but what I saw as I grew closer to her was that her spirit glowed all the time, not just during worship. We’d meet every week to teach and watch those little ones, but we’d also have some of the most incredible fellowship, conversations and prayers together. We would share of different experiences we had in life and how God really used it to grow us, bless us, protect us. It was very common for the both of us to get a bit teary eyed as we would recap God’s grace and goodness. I remember when she told me the whole story of her becoming a Christian and all the mess God rescued her from. The beauty in which she shared her story amazed me…truly beautiful…gorgeous even. On many occasions I would leave Wednesday night church and spend the entire drive home praying and weeping and thanking God that I knew Jackie and had those times with her. My appreciation for her was immeasurable. It’s not every day you have that kind of edifying and mutually encouraging fellowship…she was such a blessing. Her heart was so genuine, so pure, so loving…she looked like Jesus to me. I’d get home and my husband would wonder why I was crying and ask what was wrong. I’d say, “Oh, nothing, I just love Jackie.” I know it seems silly, but I am a very sentimental person and I have a deep passion for people. Jackie was not just a sister, she was truly a kindred spirit soul sister. I felt tremendous unity of spirit with her…that was special.

Today I said goodbye to Jackie as I went to celebrate her life and burial amongst her family and friends. It was bitter sweet. I rejoiced for her, for she suffered no more and was no doubt dancing and worshipping in heaven. I felt compassion for her family who grieved for her. Their tears and cries of love made my heart ache. But once again, Jackie found a way to bless me. So many times she and I would pray for her family, people I hadn’t met before. Today I got to meet a few of them and catch up with others I hadn’t seen in a long while….family. God’s family.

Thank you, Jackie, you may be gone for now, but I will see you again. I will never grow weary of bragging on you and how you blessed me with your pure and sweet love for Christ. I carry a piece of you with me always. ~Nicole

Unified Message

Posted in Uncategorized at 12:53 am by Broken & Brave

With the Presidential elections here there is so much talk about politics these days. Each person has their own convictions, beliefs, opinions. Some are boisterous with their proclamations and adamant with their views, while others keep them quietly tucked within, only sharing when needed or asked. We are all different, but we are all the same. We are Americans. Our preamble of this nations great Constitution starts like this:

“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America”

I am extremely Patriotic. I display my patriotism in silly little ways like preferring stamps with the flag pictured on them and I cry when I sing or hear the National Anthem. (In fact, a few years back we were in Australia for the Olympics and stayed with a host family, I made it a point to teach each of them our National Anthem and explain why Americans were so patriotic.) I prefer to buy made in USA products, and I prefer to shop with local merchants over large discount stores. There are other ways I display patriotism on deeper levels…I believe it is my moral duty to exercise my right to vote and to be an informed voter. I vote my biblical beliefs over any alignment with political party or person. I spend much time in prayer, seeking wisdom and guidance for my vote. Though my vote may not always be popular with man, I want it to be popular with God.

I see a shifting in our country, this great melting pot, as it was once called. We are becoming more and more divided on our beliefs over where the direction of this great nation should go. I am definitely not a political commentator. In fact, I avoid discussing politics because I am not a gifted debater and quite frankly, a lot of it goes right over my head. I think if most politicians were honest, it goes over their heads, too. So my purpose for this post is not to discuss politics, but to possibly stir you a bit and get you to think about how you can make a profound difference to unify our land once again. You DO have that much power….and it is on your knees. “On my knees?”, you ask? Yes. We can pray for our land, but we can also listen for the voice of God to speak ever so subtly, or even loud and direct,  what He would have us do. But what I am about to say next is what can really shake a nation to it’s foundations and cause it to re-direct and regain focus on it’s promise to be a nation “of the people, by the people and for  the people.” (Abraham Lincoln, “The Gettysburg Address)...We obey.

“Bend the Church, bow the world.” ~Evan Roberts

Mel Gibson made a movie several years ago called, “The Patriot”. I love this movie. In fact, it’s one of my favorites. I saw two scenes in that movie, when I watched it for the first time, that penetrated my heart deeply. I will never forget what God showed me and I have acted upon it. I don’t know if you’ve seen this movie, but there is a scene early in the show where the British had come upon the plantation of a farmer (Mel Gibson) and one of his sons was killed, while another son (a courier in the colonial army) was taken as a prisoner of war. Benjamin (Mel Gibson) proceeded to gather two very young sons, maybe 8 and 10 years old, giving them each a riffle while running into the wood. They were going to rescue the older son. Each boy did EXACTLY what their father told them to do. Their obedience saved their own lives and the life of their imprisoned brother. As I watched this, I was penetrated within. I only had one child at the time and she was an infant. I thought to myself, “teach my children first time obedience and it could save their life.” How so it is with us, even as adults. The Voice of the Lord is all around us. God is with us, as Believers He is in us by vehicle of the Wonderful Counselor, and He desires to move His Presence through us. He is ready to guide us and direct us and give us our “marching orders”, just like those little boys. It is when we listen, we pray and we obey that results are profound.

The second scene that impacted me was negative in nature but profound in wisdom. One of the men from Benjamin’s community becomes a traitor and fights for the British armies. He  (the traitor) is taken with one commander of the British army to find Benjamin’s town and family. The entire community is locked in the local church and this man is instructed to burn the church full of innocent men, woman and children. The actor displays true depth of emotion on his face as you can discern his internal quandary over the matter. He knows these people, for he worked and lived beside him. Then, you see fear come over his face and he changes his countenance. Though not wanting to commit this horrible act, he does so, obeying orders for fear of his own life.

Wisdom…my  delayed obedience to God may delay some other persons blessing. Worse still, my disobedience could harm someone else’s life. It’s important to Trust God and obey his commands, no matter the cost. My obedience or disobedience affects far more people than just myself…I cannot be selfish.(Matt. 16:24-25)

“If my people, who call upon my name, will humble themselves, and pray and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14

We are all tied together. Our lives ebb and flow amongst each other, around each other, and sometimes intertwined with each other. Our every action and decision is affecting someone else, not just ourselves. We all carry great responsibility with every choice and every decision that can have immediate and trickle down effects for decades and generations to come. Some of these effects we may see, and many we will not. But they will still exist. Make wise choices. Seek God for wisdom. I’m not just speaking of the elections and voting…I am speaking on Life. If we want to see our nation turn around, then we, I’m speaking to the Church here, we need to be on our knees praying, listening, obeying the direction of God in our lives. We must humble ourselves. We must sacrifice our own selfish wants and desires and do the right thing, the best thing, the God thing.

“The Lord is slow to anger, abounding in love…” Numbers 14:18