January 30, 2013

Secret Suffering

Posted in Uncategorized at 9:43 pm by Broken & Brave

“I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out…and I am concerned about their suffering.” Exodus 3:7

He sees your secret sorrow. He can pinpoint the very vein and nerve that triggers your pain, no words required.  Hold on, Beloved, for that is what you are. You are the Beloved Craftsmanship of the Almighty. Allow Him to be your Source, for He has a never-ending supply of Love, Comfort, and Provision. Do not be dismayed by the trials you face that no one knows about. He is producing in you something deeper that can only come from a vessel that has been broken and is contrite. After all, a cracked and leaky vessel is better able to spill over with Life Giving Water and Radiant Son Light. Allow Him to refresh you so you can go out and refresh others.

Think on Mary, the Mother of Jesus. Mary gave birth to the First Member of the New Testament Church (though we know he was so much more). Healing literally poured forth from her womb. She endured trial, rejection, fear and ultimately became an outcast, all for the sake of Pure Love. What is it God would like to birth in you? He must flow His healing power to you so it can then be a conduit of Love, Virtue and Healing through you to others. You can only lead others as far as you have come yourself. If you have endured much, then be encouraged! He has much reward and responsibility awaiting you.

Embrace the call of your heart. Allow the Holy Spirit, the Wisest of Counselors, to influence you. It may be scary (human nature leaves us desiring to be in control), but God wants to take you where you have never been before. Be willing to follow His lead and receive your healing as He also brings forth a beauty in your brokenness. He will break our heart for what breaks His. Then, after His work is complete, he will use you as a sieve for healing in others who maybe do not possess the same courage and strength that you possess. You are a part of something so much bigger than yourself. Come Alive with Fire! God’s Love is like an inferno that will illuminate, captivate and ignite everything in its Path with a Blaze of Glory.

I have been pondering a song I learned in church when I was a child. I remember the words and they seem to be fitting right now. They go like this…

“It only takes a spark to get a fire going. Soon all of those around can warm up in it’s glowing. That’s how it is with God’s Love, once you experience it…you want to pass it on.”

 

He who has begun a good work in you is faithful to complete it. I know it hurts. I can feel your pain. Though our circumstance may not be the same, God has allowed me the deepest of sorrows so I can rise up and bring Comfort from the One who is Called Faithful and True. Allow me to cover you in prayer and be a source of comfort for you. Everything will be all right. It will work out in the end. It may not be as you expect it to be or when you expect it to end, but it will come to a close. For this I know, He will not exasperate his children. He may allow us to suffer for a time, but he will grant us relief.

~Nicole

“For I, ‘says the LORD, ‘will be a wall of fire all around her, and I will be the glory in her midst.’” Zech 2:5

Steadfast and Sure…

Posted in Uncategorized at 12:45 am by Broken & Brave

It was the Fall of 2001. I was pregnant with my son, Luke, about six months along. My husband was self-employed at this time, no longer working at the University. We had been on a faith adventure, trusting God to fill our client base and pay our bills. It was a decision we had made prior to the summer Olympic games in Sydney, Australia in 2000. We had decided, upon returning from the Olympics (we had traveled there with a few athletes my husband trained) he would not return to the college.

One of the great risks of being self-employed is insurance. What do you do? Many people even admonished us, cautioned us and maybe even strongly discouraged us for our decision if only for the assurance of insurance. Our minds were decided, we knew this the path the Lord had for us. Whenever people would ask, the question we seemed to get asked a lot, “What will you do for insurance?”…we would always reply, “God will be our Benefactor. We will put our faith in Him, not Blue Cross (the provider we had at the University)”.

As you can imagine, though exciting, there were struggles and fears associated with such a big step. But, here we were, one year later and another baby on the way…and no insurance. Having babies is expensive enough with insurance, but on top, I struggle to deliver and my Doctor will not allow me to birth babies naturally. I was able to have my first natural, but after my second child was born by C-Section, my Doctor informed me that it was a miracle of God that I was able to deliver my daughter on my own, my hips too narrow.

My C-Section with Luke cost us about $20,000 (the larger portion to the hospital and then to the Doctors). Ouch! My Doctor is great, like a member of the family, so she agreed to only charge me the average of what she acquires from insurance and she set up a payment plan that worked with our budget and ability. She was wonderful! So, once a month, when I was scheduled to see her I was also scheduled to make a payment toward my bill. Even though she worked to make it affordable, it was still terribly expensive.

This particular month in the fall of 2001 that I am sharing about now, was financially tough for us. Many of John’s summer training clients had gone back to school and many others were in season of their sport (though athletes train all year round, there are definite “seasons” where they tack on a lot of extra conditioning and strength training). I used to really struggle with worry over finance. It’s an area God has had to radically transformed me. Back in 2001 I was still learning how to take financial risks for the Lord even when it didn’t make sense on paper. I’m not sure if I have shared before, but I was always the girl who saved what she earned, payed her bills on time every time and if I couldn’t afford it, I didn’t buy it. I was comfortable with tithing on my income, our income, but I was a little more apprehensive about anything sacrificial above and beyond this. I struggled to break free from my dependency to like how everything financial “looked on paper”.

God was up to something and he was stretching me and blessing me with deeper eyes to see how Amazing and Magnificent he is and he also likes to show up and show off for me!

I was sitting in church one Sunday morning, pregnant (so hard to sit through church when you are pregnant, especially when you are 5’2” and pregnant). There was a certain guest speaker that day, a local evangelist who came to our church to speak on occasion. Our church his home church. He was there to preach and share about his exploits for God reaching out to the hurting youth of America. He had a trip coming up and was hoping his home church could help him out. My husband and I both really believed in what he was doing through ministry and we always enjoyed his preaching, but I wasn’t really considering helping on this day. Oh sure, I wanted to help, but I knew I had a Doctor appointment that week and I barely had all of my money together to pay the bill. In fact, I didn’t have much else but the money to pay the bill. I was hording it like crazy, afraid of not having it or running out of funds. But as the minister spoke I was compelled, and then I was surprised. In that moment, I heard the nudge of God to actually give him money! Do you know that feeling, when God is trying to get you to do something, but you really want to ignore him or rationalize all the reasons why it couldn’t possibly be what God wants? It was that kind of moment for me. Not only was I afraid of what I was hearing, but then I got a very specific dollar amount blaring in my head. God wanted me to give him the entire balance I was saving for the Doctor. WHAT??!! But all I could hear over and over was this dollar amount and my heart began pounding. I waited as long as possible before sharing this information with my husband. My husband doesn’t worry about money like I do and he absolutely knows and trusts my ear for the Lord’s Voice. So, he looked at me and said, “Better write the check”. So, out came the checkbook and I wrote it, envelop stuffed it and I put it in the offering bucket just in time. I knew if I waited until after service I would have chickened out!

All week I fretted about this bill. I dreaded them asking for the money and my telling them I didn’t have it. I couldn’t afford to get behind on this bill. I was scared. My appointment came and went, but it was a busy day in the office so they forgot to ask. They  had always asked before. I felt like God was being kind to me because He knew how embarrassed I’d be to not have the money. So, I left my appointment that day, but continued to worry about it (I used to worry about finances A LOT).

The following day I received a phone call from the Doctors office. My stomach tightened, I just knew they were calling to ask if I could bring in the money. I DIDN’T HAVE IT because I gave it to the preacher! The receptionist was very polite and she was calling about the outstanding balance on the bill. See, I was scheduled to pay off the balance BEFORE my third trimester. I was already six months pregnant and hadn’t paid it off. No doubt to me they were calling to demand payment.

All my worry, all my fretting, all my fear. It was all for nothing.

Do you know what she said? She was calling to apologize to me. I was a little confused but silently listened. She apologized for they had made a mistake on my account. Apparently, someone had anonymously paid my entire remaining balance somewhere around the end of my fourth month of pregnancy. The notation hadn’t made it into my file, so they had continued to charge me every month and I had continued to make payments. So, she apologized for my inconvenience, but could I come by the office to collect the refund check they had for me? ISN’T GOD COOL!!! The check I got from her was double the money I had given to the evangelist. God knew all along that money was waiting for me. He probably even had a hand in the misappropriation of my account, all so he could do a few things…

  • Number One so he could build my faith.
  • God wanted to test me and then bless me for being obedient.
  • The Lord wanted to bless the evangelist who needed finance so he could reach more teens with the Gospel.
  • God wanted to bless the person who generously paid my bill.
  • I pray God is right now blessing you by encouraging your faith to trust Him with your finance.
  • I also gained wisdom on the hoops to jump through when you are cash pay. If you find yourself in that situation, contact me, I can give some pointers. My next child, cash pay via C-Section only cost me $5,000!

How many times do we want to help financially, but we examine how our life looks on paper more closely that the King of Kings promises look on His Paper…the Bible?

He is bigger than anything you can imagine and more creative than we could ever think! He wants to bless you. He wants to use you. He wants to encourage and provide for others through you! Do not be afraid! If I can grow in financial faith and do what seemed unthinkable at the time, you can do it for sure!

1“Be careful not to do your ‘acts of righteousness’ before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.  2“So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. 3But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” Matthew 6:1-4

When we give it is to come from the generosity and purity of our hearts desire to help another and never out of any compulsion to receive attention or praise. I wanted to help the pastor and I wanted to obey God. I want to please my God. I do not tell you this story for any reason other than to encourage you to step out in ways you have never stepped out before. For there is a time to give in quiet submission, but there is also a time to testify of the miracle. My focus is my miracle, not my gift. If that weren’t the case, I would be telling you the denomination of my gift. If my only blessing (because I share this story) is the fruit you produce by the encouragement you receive through this writing of my financial miracle, then I consider it worth it! You are fairer than ten thousand. How do I know? Because God created you and He only uses the best materials and quality. God is crazy about you, that’s why He died for you, and  He wants to see you exceed beyond your own wildest imaginations! He is Steadfast and Sure. Don’t be discourage or afraid, He is with you, Beloved, He is with you.

I seek the Lord, ever, on your behalf…

~Nicole

January 28, 2013

We Are One

Posted in Uncategorized at 2:20 pm by Broken & Brave

“I am only one, but I am still one; I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; and because I cannot do everything I will not refuse to do the something that I can do.” Edward Everett Hale

 

Though many attribute this quote to D.L. Moody, it’s roots and heritage stem further into our historical past to the pen of Edward Everett Hale, descendant of Nathan Hale, Revolutionary war spy and martyr. Men, such as these, took the words of this penmanship to the deepest chambers of their heart. They spoke of passion, duty, honor and responsibility. Such are the men that made men great through their courage to speak their heart and live with the deepest of convictions. They were true to God and they were true to their words.

 

I personally have a very deep loyalty in my heart to our founding fathers and the patriarchs of this nation. It’s been in me as long as I can remember. Maybe because I am a descendant of one who sacrificed and explored to discover in America, English explorer, Henry Hudson. Many of men spent their fortunes, sacrificed all they had, including their lives, to pave the way for freedom.

 

I first heard this quote of Everett Hale from a man, a mentor, a leader, who greatly impacted and shaped me. A man named Charlie. Charlie was one of the most powerful leaders I had ever seen before. He challenged and dared myself, and thousands of others, to face our fears and step out in faith. I began to dare to dream and believe for more than I had ever dreamed before. Prior to this I had always held back from dreaming for fear of disappointment.

 

Charlie carried this quote on a piece of paper for most of his adult life, folded up in his wallet, as his personal reminder. Though he passed in 2001, his imprint on my life has left a legacy of hope, vision and courage.

 

“I am only one, but I am still one; I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; and because I cannot do everything I will not refuse to do the something I can do.”

 

What do these words mean to you? Do you add your own personal “I will not refuse UNLESS” clause to the lines penned by Mr. Hale? What is it God is calling you to do? What is the purpose and vision locked inside you? Are you willing to obey the call to do what you can do…

 

  • Even when it hurts?
  • Even when it requires sacrifice?
  • Even if it will make you unpopular or make others raise an eyebrow?
  • Even when others tell you it cannot be done?
  • Even if it means you take a few step backward before you move forward?
  • What if you do not receive accolades or praise from man for your actions?

 

What if the thing God asks you to do requires you to take a risk for another so they can move forward? Will you be willing to reach out a hand to pull others along with you? Being strength for those who haven’t the strength at all. Or maybe they have the strength, but lack the resource you have access to? Would you do what you can do then, without refusing?

 

When I was in college I had a number of male friends associated with a particular fraternity. Now, I never joined a Sorority, but many of my friends did join the Greek clubs. These particular male friends had a theme for their “class” of initiates. They were required to memorize it and recite it every time they gathered with their fellow fraternity members. I do not recall the words, but I do recall the title and how it began…”A True Gentleman”. Then, they would proceed to describe the conduct of a true gentleman and spoke an oath to be such, and behave such. I grow concerned in our society that we have lost the significance, understanding and conviction of what it is to be a true gentleman or a noble woman. What it is to have honor? Have we forgotten what it is to be noble?

 

I speak these words, not with an ounce of criticism in my heart. It is more a matter or desire. I desire to stir anyone who would listen, to help recapture the essence of what made America great. Are you in a position to recapture what made men, with all the courage, chivalry, honor and duty they had ability for, trusting God with the rest? Can we step out in faith and do the things required that need to be done, need to be said, and not focus on the minute details but trusting God with every detail? It is by my experience that I see with consistency, when I step out in faith with what I know to be true and what the Lord will me to do or say, He shows up with the rest of the instructions…BUT NOT UNTIL I TAKE THE FIRST STEP! That’s why it is called FAITH!

 

You are only one, but you are one with power. You are one who has so much more to offer than you truly know yourself. With every passing hour and each coming day, you will see it unfold in your life. You were made for greatness, it is locked inside of you and little by little it is being revealed to you. You are a gentleman/woman. You have courage. You can walk in honor and power and you can overcome every tie that binds you and prevents you from stepping out and doing more. No longer hesitating or waiting for someone else to do what God has for you to do. This is your hour. Shine bright, like the star in the heavens you are, and be all that you are destined to be. Your victory will unleash victory for the countless lives you reach, teach, lead and lend a helping hand. You are Victorious.

 

Together, WE are ONE. We are one like a body of water, so completely intertwined, though it were millions of drops not one can be distinguished from the other. Faceted together, threaded together, bound tightly and cohesively, yet all the freedom and mobility that water itself contains. When we move we are majestic and beautiful and we flow. Each complimenting and only strengthening the strengths of the other. Unity so magnificent we Shine and sparkle in the Light. Like a body of water, we are large and bold and possess the power to cleanse, purify, nourish and replenish. How beautiful…

We are One, and it is an honor and a privilege to be One with you.

As always, I bless you always, in the Name of the Lord…

 

~Nicole

 

“Now may the god of patience and comfort grant you to be like-minded toward one another, according to Christ Jesus, that you may with one mind and one mouth glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, receive one another, just as Christ also received us, to the glory of God.” Romans 15:5-7

January 13, 2013

Anticipation

Posted in Uncategorized at 8:12 am by Broken & Brave

Life is full of disappointments. It cannot be avoided. We cannot go around it. It is a fact of all things in life; we will face disappointment. I am sad to say I am well acquainted with disappointment over the years of my life. I became acquainted with it at a young age. But this in it self, is not disappointing. Though disappointment comes to us all, we do not have to let it rest there. We can rise above our disappointments. Some of them, we can do nothing about. Some we can. Some we can try and put forth our grandest effort to Believe or Begin, Hope and pursue, to live at peace with others while never allowing ourselves to love them less than what the truth requires. We learn from our experiences…this is perhaps one of the greatest truths of them all. This blog is short. It has a purpose. It is for all who read it and have struggled with disappointment. It is designed for those who are currently struggling with disappointment. I am praying a blessing over you…this will be the year that you move yourself and shake yourself free of the grip disappointment has placed on you. I am praying that this would be your Year of Anticipation. I have written this in a blog form rather than a direct post to facebook for a purpose as well. It requires more effort to open a blog and read it’s contents than to scroll through a newsfeed. I delight to feed the heart of man in either form, blogs or facebook, and I do. However, I know this, the deeper the hunger of man’s heart the greater the search becomes. If you have looked beyond a status update (my facebook posts are mini versions of my blogs more or less) or if you have stumbled upon my blogs and are intrigued by my writing…it is God’s purpose that you are here.

I am a preparer of words, feeder of the heart, nurturer of the soul. God sees your heart. He sees what I cannot. He gives me insight and glimpses of what to say, but 9 times out of 10 times I don’t know how or who it will impact. God has drawn you here and you are welcome. We are all feeding others with our words everyday (whether written or spoken). What shall we serve? I desire my words to be nourishing to the heart, mind, soul, yet sweet and flavorful to the palate. Should I serve you meat, I know you have to be able to get it down, with a delicate choice of my words. So, here is to you and all you hope to do, all you desire to see, everything in your heart you can conceive to be. God placed every desire in your heart. It is up to you to harness it accordingly and use it to live out your dreams…and as you pave a wake in your destiny, you leave a trail of a beautiful and fragrant aroma that builds others up and takes their breath away in the most delightful way. You are capable of far more than you currently dare to dream. I know this is true…you are magnificent. The Lord bless you and keep you, making his face to shine upon you. The Lord lift up your countenance and bring you Peace, Joy, Love and Glorious Anticipation as you have never known before. This is only the beginning… YOU HAVEN’T SEEN ANYTHING YET! ~Nicole

As I leave you with this scripture, know this truth… A man can possess worldly wisdom, but lack God’s wisdom. A man can have God’s wisdom, but know worldly wisdom as well. Seek Godly counsel and wisdom, the prosperity will reach further and the fruit will be sweeter. However, Godly wisdom is harder to find.

“To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven:   A time to be born, and a time to die; A time to plant, and a time to pluck what is planted. A time to kill, and a time to heal; A time to break down, and a time to build up; A time to weep, and a time to laugh; A time to mourn, and a time to dance; A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones; A time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; A time to gain, and a time to lose; A time to keep, and a time to throw away; A time to tear, and a time to sew; A time to keep silence, and a time to speak; A time to love, and a time to hate; A time of war, and a time of peace.”   Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

January 10, 2013

You Were Made To Be Great!

Posted in Uncategorized at 6:41 pm by Broken & Brave

A dear friend loaned me a movie to watch called, “The Father of Lights”. I watched it with my family last Sunday night; it was beautiful. All true stories of the miraculous and divine touch of God through ordinary people who believed in an extraordinary God and were willing to behave in such a way that they knew who they were as children of God.

One of the main stories was of a man named, Robby. Robby is in India, but has an interesting life because of how clearly he hears the voice of the Holy Spirit. The stories on the video were beautiful and you can watch with your own eyes a man who is the equivalent of a bishop in an eastern religion had a vision of Jesus. In the vision he was told to go to a certain location where he would meet a man, a stranger, but he saw the man’s face in the vision. The man was Robby. Robby also heard the Holy Spirit tell him to go the same location and look for a man and Robby had seen the man’s face in a vision (so he knew what to look for). The two men met and conversed and the man of eastern religion became a Christian and then left Robby to go tell all of his disciples to believe in Jesus the only giver of Peace. Wow.

As many of you know I am working on a book. I am writing not for Nicole’s glory, but for God’s, as an instrument of His use to lead others to Him. See, I shyly share with you, that I hear God the same way Robby does. In fact, most of my stories are a result of my obedience to the lead and direction of what I sometimes call my “Holy Spirit GPS”. I have always been sensitive to God’s voice, but it was through years of refinement, seeking the Lord, discipleship of my heart through the Bible, I began to hear him with ever increasing clarity.

Now that your doubt, skepticism and judgmental thoughts are all stirred up, let me suggest that maybe you could hear him the same as I do?  I know we are all gifted differently and used in varying ways, still, imagine the possibilities. Some are called to sing or to be a writer of songs (which lead others to God). Some are called to preach or teach or conduct business affairs (for the glory of God). Some are asked simple things and some are asked the hardest things. Each is rewarded according to his or her obedience to whatever it is each is called to. Each of us is expected to do as the Holy Spirit instructs. The bible is clear:

“For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required; and to whom much has been committed, of him they will ask more.” Luke 12:48

I believe, with all of my heart, that there is nothing extraordinary about myself that I should hear the Lord more clearly than any of you. The clarity comes with the process of filtering out all that is “me” and accepting all that is of “Him”. No doubts. No worry. No fear. Only courage to believe, dream and DO as I am told. Aw, I can tell you still doubt. As usual, I have a story to share that may encourage your faith that you might begin to believe you are a deep and useful person of faith that is capable of the extraordinary.

Several years ago I had a dream. I dreamed of a particular family that I know very well. They were a young couple with an infant, only married a few years. They lived in a quaint little house that they rented from a very reasonable and good landlord. I thought all was well with them, until I had this dream. I dreamed that they were hurting in the finance and hadn’t the money to pay their rent. In fact, in my dream, they were so delinquent, that they were several months behind and in danger of eviction. I woke from this dream, as though it were real, feeling quite disturbed and concerned for this young family. Now, I know them rather well, so I was comfortable enough to pick up the phone the following day and share my dream followed by the question, “Is my dream truth?” The couple hesitated, but confirmed that my dream was in fact truth. They only had a few short days to come up with the rent or the landlord would be forced to evict them. Apparently, the landlord didn’t want to do such a thing, but he had finances of his own to be concerned with and was hard pressed in this situation. I did my best to listen and comfort my dear friends then I got off the phone. I knew God had shown me their need because he wanted me to help. I conferred with my husband, later that same day, and we agreed that we would help them on some level. However, we decided (as we frequently do) to pray about it as individuals and come together and discuss what we heard from the Holy Spirit. We both knew that anything we did was going to be a sacrifice on our part.

After another day had passed and we had each prayed our prayers…we came together to discuss what we felt the Lord had said. We were in total agreement. We had a dollar amount to give, so I called up the family and asked about the need and if the specific amount we wanted to share would be enough. To our joy, we discovered it was the exact dollar amount they needed to be all caught up on their current and past rent. I was thrilled! I love being a part of all this adventure! However, it brought concern of my own, for by this sacrifice I would have to dip into my own bill money.

Maybe you are wondering, like I would as well, “why would God ask you to skip paying your bill to pay someone else’s?” I think I have an answer…faith.  I was in a place in my walk with the Lord that I had enough faith to know that God would care for all of my needs according to his glorious riches. After all, if I believe the Bible and what it says, what it promises, then who am I to doubt? God had given me the dream, I had no way of knowing they had a need, so if he brought me to it…He would get me through it! And so he did, but the story doesn’t end there.

Because I knew that this gift would be a sacrifice, I knew God would handle the greater bills (like my mortgage), but I had a few immediate needs that included food! I have no trouble being very straightforward with the Lord. After all, he is my best friend and so I talk to him like a best friend. If I have a need, I tell him! So, I reminded him that if I was going to do this gift thing, then He was going to have to bring me some groceries. I didn’t need what was on my entire list, but I did need a few items NOW. I knew some money would be in by the end of the week. However, I gave him my “short list” of about five items I absolutely needed TODAY! On this list were items such as eggs, milk, juice for the children, bread…you get the idea. I distinctly remember there were five items I needed ASAP.  I finished this prayer and within thirty minutes they were delivered to my front porch. I was ecstatic! I knew God delivered, but that was a new record for me! A good friend of mine was right there, knocking on my door and setting a few items on the porch. She said, “hold on, I have more”, then she scampered off to her car for another load. When she returned to my porch she said, “What is going on?” I think I laughed out loud! I told her what had happened and how I had just told the Lord what food I needed to get by and then there she was…thirty minutes later. Here is what she said (a paraphrased quote).

“I was in the parking lot leaving Costco. I don’t know what it was, but this nagging feeling wouldn’t leave. I knew, I don’t know how I knew, but I knew I had to go back inside and buy you some food. So, I put my groceries in the car and went back inside. It was the strangest thing. I was walking up and down the aisles because I hadn’t a clue what to buy you. So I just grabbed some things I thought you could use.”

Guess what she bought…Yes, you guessed it! The exact five items I asked for! I even remember she shared that she bought juice but on the way over had decided to keep it, but God told her, “No, she gets it all!” So she gave me the juice, too!

There you go! He may speak to each of us in a different way or leading, but you, too, can develop your ear for the lead of God in your life. You are capable of the extraordinary. You can be used to be a Difference Maker and make an impacting difference in your own life, and the lives of others. To venture on this faith journey you will have to sacrifice. You will be inconvenienced at times (like I’m sure my friend was. Who ever wants to go back inside Costco after they’ve made it out alive?).

Sometimes you may receive opportunities to help, but miss the opportunity for one reason or another (usually lack of experience, fear, discomfort, etc.). That’s ok! It is a process of becoming more sensitive to God’s lead. It is a process to include God in every detail of your day. A great friendship with God requires you spend more time with him than just a quick thanks over a meal or an occasional trip to church. Just like any friendship, your friendship with God and the level of depth it possesses is up to you. You may think, “I don’t want to hear God like that, kind of strange to me.” That’s ok, too! Love does not force itself upon anyone. Again, just like any relationship…

It is only as strong as the person who wants it the least.

God lets you decide how much or how little of him you desire.

I must conclude with this, I told another friend this story a few days later. I was hoping it would encourage her faith. She shared with me that she also heard God tell her to help me, but she didn’t do it because she said she was very busy that day and brushed the idea off. This kind of made me sad, not for me, but for her. I know she encountered a lost blessing but I hoped that our conversation served her for the future. Even this, taught me more about the importance of being sensitive in the spirit to the Spirit of God and do to as He requires. What if neither friend had done what God had asked? How many people would he ask before someone agreed and I received something to eat? I learned a valuable lesson by someone else’s missed opportunity and it is this…

The speed to which I obey the Lord could make a profound difference in the speed to which someone else’s prayers are answered.

We are all tied together, our hearts bound in Love. Living a life of faith is exhilarating and exciting and the adventure entices me. I love the thrill of the unknown or unexpected. It’s much like a roller coaster ride, full of anticipation.

Dare to step out on your own adventures. I would love to hear a story or two from you!

Believing for great things in you…for you and through you in 2013. Know that the God of heaven absolutely adores you. I long to see added favor spill over you like honey. So much blessing you cannot contain. How beautiful!

~Nicole

January 7, 2013

It’s Just A Car…

Posted in Uncategorized at 5:01 pm by Broken & Brave

“We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.”

~Marianne Williamson

As children of God, dearly loved, we are to be a reflection of the heart of the One who is called Holy. We are to be set apart for His Glory. What does it mean to be set apart? What does it mean to shine like Christ and to be Holy?

“I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh

 I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” Galatians 2:20

It comes with the death of our flesh. What does that mean? It means that if we are to be a Christian, then Jesus needs to shine through us. If people cannot see something different about us, or become attracted to us because of Him, then they will not want what we have. The shine of Christ does not come from our comfort zone. We have to get out of our comfort zone and do everything the Holy Spirit directs us to do…Living in the Faith Zone.

Leading up to the sale of our home, little by little, God asked everything of me….literally. (He still asks everything of me to this day, but I was learning then, how to trust Him completely with absolutely everything) I had to one by one sacrifice everything I held dear or thought I needed. He may not ask this of you, but he did ask this of me.

Because he had so much He wanted to give me and He knew I wanted what He had to share…ALL OF IT.

I was never one to want only a portion of my blessing or to settle for mediocre. I wanted my entire inheritance. I could care less if I were rich. I didn’t care if I had accolades or praise of man. Seriously, I was hungry after God’s presence.

I recall the last object of my flesh he asked of me before I was launched into the realm of the miraculous. What does that mean, “object of my flesh?”  Our flesh is any thought, will, action, desire made from our own wants, desires rather what God wants for us. Sometimes what we want is exactly what He wants for us, but it has to come in His order and His timing. For me, at this time,  it was a car. I had a car that I purchased without praying about it first. I used logic, reason, budget and “need” and went to the dealership and bought it. The purchase of that car was and is, to this day, the last choice I have made without God being a part of it. As soon as it was purchased, it hadn’t warmed the driveway but 30 minutes and I knew in my gut I shouldn’t have bought it. My husband knew, too, but we had it now. I learned that day to deeper level how God wanted to be in my every decision, even the ones that seemed good but were born in my heart, not his. Have you ever made a decision to only realize later God had another way? Do you remember that feeling you had with the realization? Yeah, I know I do, I didn’t like it enough to never want to have that feeling again. So, to this day, I obey to please God but to also avoid that feeling!

It was a 2007 VW Jetta…red. It wasn’t a fancy car, but it was new and it was nice and I enjoyed it. I bought it when I had Alex, my first born. Everyone wants a new and reliable car to start their family, nothing wrong with that. God used it to teach me a valuable lesson in living by faith, trusting God with everything and never making a single decision apart from him. I’m the type that likes to please God. One of the things I hate most is disappointing the people I love, so why should my greatest love, God, be any different? It wasn’t. I care very much what God thinks of me. I know he loves me, but that doesn’t mean he always likes the choices his children make. I care about what he thinks and it drives me to make good choices.

Despite all I have shared, the car was an enormous blessing. We never had any trouble with it. The gas mileage was great and it was perfect for our little family of three, which grew to four. It was a great little car.

There came a day when God asked for my red jetta… this is my story for today.

John and I know a family, a large family, who live by faith. They found themselves loosing a car and only having one. They asked everyone to please pray for them and the provision they needed because it was a challenge to have only one vehicle. I want to say it was like six months before God answered their need (but I may be mistaken on the time frame). I remember many times standing at the dishwasher (I tend to spend time with God while I do dishes) and asking the Holy Spirit if we should give them our car? We had two cars, but God knows my heart and if he desires it, it is his…all that I am and all that I have. The Holy Spirit told me, “The burden on your heart to give them your car is indeed from me, but not yet.” I didn’t ask any questions, but complied. I confess, I was glad he said no, it would have been a big sacrifice to go down to one car. It was a few months later, the burden to help them still on my heart. They seemed to really be struggling to only have one car. This time, the Holy Spirit said, “yes”.

John and I talked and decided to give them our Nissan. It was a great car full of extra features. Our friends were delighted and the husband came over that evening to pick up the car. When he got in to start it, it wouldn’t start. It was the strangest thing. We drove that car all the time, no trouble! The battery was good. After much tinkering with it, still the trouble was not evident. John and I were heart sick as we watched our friend in front of our home, in the dark, with a flashlight trying to work on the car we had given him. John and I agreed with our feelings, “Some gift. Who gives someone a car that isn’t running?” To us, that was no gift at all and it left us confused because we hadn’t a single trouble with it and knew God wanted us to bless these people.

As I lay in bed that night, pondering the car, I heard the Lord speak to my heart. He said,  “The Nissan doesn’t work because you are suppose to give them the jetta.” I knew what I heard. God wanted us to give them our best car…the jetta. I won’t lie to you and tell you I didn’t remind the Lord that we, ourselves, needed the jetta. Would God ask us to sacrifice and go without the most reliable car, down to one car, so someone else could have two cars? His reply, “yes”.  I said, “ok, God, ok.”. I didn’t say a word to John but slept on it in my effort to digest what God had asked. I loved my jetta.

The next morning I was getting dressed when John entered the room. He walked toward me, gingerly, clearly with something he wanted to say. I looked up at him. He began to explain, as delicately as he could, “Nicole, the reason the car won’t run is because we are suppose to give our friends the jetta instead.” I looked him right in the eye and without batting an eye I said, “I know, the Holy Spirit told me last night.” He let out a huge sigh of relief. He was so frightened to tell me what God had been telling him because he knew it would be a huge sacrifice for us and he knew how much I loved that car (as much as I could love a car anyway, I don’t get all excited about cars like many people do).

We called our friends and let them know. They came over and got it that day, no troubles. It’s funny though. They only had the car for a month or a little more before they had car trouble beyond what they could afford to repair. This, again, perplexed me because we hadn’t ever had any trouble with it at all. That is when God made this portion of my journey complete. He revealed to me how buying that jetta was the last thing I did without God being an active part of my every decision.

Ever since then I don’t do a single thing without the direction of the Holy Spirit. He guides me, leads me and instructs me. The fruit of my obedience is the amazing clarity with which I hear his voice, lead and instruction as it flows through me and lines up with the word of God always. There are many things he asks of me that I do not want to do or want to say (like even writing this is out of my comfort zone, but I must be obedient and know it is for a purpose that I share it).

This is how we die to our flesh. This is how we become radiant as the Lord who shines brilliantly through us. Not by giving our stuff away…it will be different for everyone. But by the willingness to do, say, go anywhere for anything that he declares. It is our willingness for total and complete obedience that produces un-measurable fruit and a shine that is bright within us. The kind of obedience Paul demonstrated through out the New Testament. That’s the kind of Bride he is coming for…pure, spotless, radiant…with all of HIS glory. All that is required of us is a willingness, the rest is all him.

Know that you are blessed and highly favored. God will never ask you to do anything that he hasn’t equipped you for, but the Word of God is clear:

“For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required; and to whom much has been committed, of him they will ask more.” Luke 12:48

Take up your cross, shine brilliantly for all to see, and carry on…carry on.

 

“If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me.” Luke 9:23

There is a beauty locked inside you that your Lord sees and he should desire that all the world should see it, too. I see it inside you with the eyes of the discernment. Grace, mercy, and pardon flow from the depths of me…my cross to carry as well.

~Nicole

January 4, 2013

Tweet That! A Story of Thoughtfulness

Posted in Uncategorized at 9:15 am by Broken & Brave

I frequently wake up early in the morning and just lye in bed writing in my head. For some reason, many great ideas come to me in the stillness of the night as though the creativity fairy were hovering over my head sprinkling her dust upon my brow. In actuality, I know it is the Creative Creator of Heaven and Earth who is stirring my spirit and stroking my thoughts with His ultimate talent and artistry.

Today was a day such as this. Sometimes, many times, I receive a very clear quickening in my heart, dream or directive on the subject I am to write about. Other times it is a combination of all of the above revealed to me over time. This time, creativity was stirred by a thought about a task, that lead to another thought, and another, and so and so and so on. So, here I am writing about thoughtfulness and relationships that grew from my own idle little thoughts about twitter. Yep, twitter. You can find me on twitter at: https://twitter.com/Nikkimcbfit

I have been dragging my feet to open a twitter account for two or three years (I’m not sure which). I’ve really been fighting it since summer when I realized I really needed to open one so I can try to expand my contacts and reach for the encouragement of others. God has birthed a ministry of Love in my heart. I’ve known it was coming for at least a decade, but I first had to grow into the person God needed me to be. Now, I am seeing many things prophesied over me (spoken words over me, birthed either in my heart or from the heart and lips of another, as predictions and promises of the future by people gifted to do such…some famous, some not). I have known all these years I had a ministry call on my life, but I also knew it had a “marketplace” feel to it.  I’m so glad God doesn’t do anything “cookie cutter” style. He uses a myriad of personality types in a plethora of ways to reach the heart of man.

So, how does this all tie in to twitter? Relationships, that is how. Much to my dismay, technology has replaced face to face time as the primary means of nurturing and building relationship. I wish it weren’t so, it is drastically lacking in warmth and intimacy of being in someone’s presence to connect, talk, share, bond, and grow. There are also advantages to the electronic highway, I know.

As I lye there in bed, thinking about this account I just opened (and why do they make you choose all these things to “follow” from various categories) my mind quickly went to an old and dear friend. I have lost touch with her over this last year. She is local, in my city, works at one of the biggest churches in town as the secretary for a pastor. I began thinking about how I wanted to see her, talk to her, reconnect. She is very busy and texting, email works but not that great. Then, I remembered she is very into twitter! In fact, she was one of the first people to try and convince me to sign up. Next, my thoughts went to all the changes that have happened in our lives since we first met (this friend and I). Many, many years ago we went to the same church, but her season there was fairly brief, mine longer. This thought lead to another thought about how fragile relationships are. They so much need to be handled with care, consideration, thoughtfulness, patience and time. When you put in the time, they can last a lifetime. We don’t have to have people flit in and out of our lives for it’s entirety. It perplexed me a bit how God has granted me favor to remain connected to so many people in friendship that I have known over the years.

 

“You cannot do a kindness too soon, for you never know how soon it will be too late.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

I began to think about all of the people I have known across my city because I went to church with them for a time. This one church is the hub for connections all over the city, not by man’s design, but by Gods. There are people all over this city who’s hearts are tied to this one church, by God, as though it were a part of them even though they are gone for one reason or another. I’m talking…I went to this church for fourteen years. That’s the span of time I speak of. I realized how I have stayed in touch with most of these people on one level or another. Those I lost touch with, God would give me Divine encounters with them. People tease me because I see people I know everywhere I go, every time I leave the house. It is unusual for me to go even to the store and not run into someone I know. Not because I’m super gregarious Miss Popularity, because I am wired for relationships and God is the designer of man’s time whether men realize it or not. I do not believe in coincidences. My God is too big for that. If you see someone, it is because God wanted you to.

This got me thinking about all the marvelous things that have been spoken about the positive future of my city. If you aren’t local to me, you may not be aware that my city has a horrible reputation nationwide. But I love my city, even since I was a youth and lived in the cute, quaint city next door. God placed a burden for this city in my heart. I love Stockton and have seen with my spiritual eyes for years that one day she would be known as “The City of Righteousness”. People would say, “Stockton, you know, that city where God lives.” Power, Favor, Blessing, Joy, Prosperity and thoughtfulness to humanity, would shine like a beacon of Light.

How is all of this goodness going to happen? It will unfold and is unfolding in many ways. Ultimately, it comes down to relationships. Without quality relationships trust cannot be established. Without trust folks won’t open their hand to be grabbed by those who mean to grab hold and help them. This was true when Jesus walked the earth. He came and focused on relationships. Through the building of relationships he next came forth in the miraculous. But he only worked his wonders where he was welcomed.

 

“You can’t stay in your corner of the forest waiting for others to come to you. You have to go to them sometimes.” A.A. Milne

When the events of Newtown, CT occurred my heart broke, as I am sure yours did as well. In the aftermath of this event my daughter deeply struggled. She is very compassionate and her heart ached for that community and the families especially. I tried to talk with her and comfort her and share about how precious life is and how important it is to nurture relationships and care for the heart of others. What went wrong in that young man’s life that his hurt ran so deep as to do such a hateful thing? My daughter shared with me some of the things trending on twitter among young people across the country (not by anyone she knew, or local friends, just trending stuff I guess). They were voicing their annoyance over the attention. It was interrupting their lives. They were distraught because shows, concerts, appearances by celebrities were cancelled out of respect and they didn’t like it. My daughter’s heart was breaking for the youth of America and their coldness of heart and selfishness of thought. My heart broke, too.

We have to teach young people to be thoughtful. We have to instruct and admonish them on how to show compassion to others. They need to be taught how to nurture another’s emotions and be patient one to another. They need to observe and learn by observation how to die to their own self and focus on loving others more than themselves. If they are not taught, they will not do it on their own, it isn’t in our human nature to be anything but selfish. If they are not taught, and it seems they are not being taught, we will crumble as a nation, self-destruct for lack of vision, virtue and purpose.

“I believe that every right implies a responsibility, every opportunity an obligation, every possession a duty.”

~John D. Rockfeller Jr.

 

Quality relationships do not just happen. Though we may only have a few deep friendships in our lives, if we are to be the change our city needs, our state needs, our country needs, then we must step outside of our own little busy lives and observe others around us. We must make effort to reach out to others and connect with them. We need to be nurturer’s of the hearts of man. We will always have our own problems and things keeping us “busy”. We must make time for others. This is the fundamental key to victory in Amercia. We must rebuild our ability to be relational on more than just surface encounters. We must be purposeful, patient, kind and attentive. We must be loving and caring and not be quick to become irritated or judgmental of others. I know it is not easy. In fact, I guarantee to you that it will be hard. If you are not sure what to do, or maybe building relationships is such an outside your comfort zone idea, I have a few suggestions on how to start.

  • Pray. Ask God to give you an opportunity to connect, build, have “face to face” time with others and how to focus on THEM in that time.
  • Do something thoughtful for another human being outside your immediate family. Choose someone to bless that will in no way be able to do anything for you (we want the motives to stay pure. A true giver does not give to get or manipulate or to “look good” to everyone around). It doesn’t have to be big, it could be small, just make it thoughtful.
  • Think. Do you ever have someone pop into your mind all the time, either for a brief period of time or extended? Act! They are in your mind because God placed them there! Maybe your reaching out, even in the littlest way, is their hope for that day!

You can do it, I know you can. Let’s make 2013 the year that your Joy is complete because you stepped outside yourself and redeemed the time for your fellow man. This is the true essence of being a Difference Maker. The best is inside you like a gift waiting to be opened and shared with all those around. Beautiful…

Bless your heart! I am with you ~Nicole

“We could never learn to be brave and patient, if there were only joys in the world.” ~Helen Keller

January 1, 2013

Are You Glowing?

Posted in Uncategorized at 11:48 pm by Broken & Brave

Several years ago I had a most fascinating experience. It was a season of life when many things were changing for my family and for me. It was an exciting time. It was a stressful time. It was a meaningful and purposeful time. It was the hardest time of my life. It was, to that point, the most rewarding and exhilerating time in my life. I mentioned in a recent blog titled, “A Man Without A Home”, about my homeless friend, Tim, and how he impacted my life. It was right around this same season, when I was growing in grace for the homeless, that my current tale occurred…

There are many things about me that most people do not know. I have my whole life been a quiet person. I’m a very friendly person, but a quiet person. I don’t really like to stand out in the crowd. I’d rather encourage someone else who is in front. I prefer a “support staff” sort of role in life. Never craved center stage…at all. Even in personal conversation at parties or events, the small talk you make, I would much rather talk to you about you than talk of myself. That’s just how I am wired. I share this because it is a main reason why many of my stories have yet to be told. I have a lot of very unique and bazaar stories. These stories are the experiences that have shaped my faith to be one that is willing to attempt to walk on water. I have always believed the cliché that “experience is the best teacher”. I grew up in church and knew in my heart I Believed, but it was so surface for me, just something you do. I hadn’t had an encounter with God. As a young adult God grabbed my attention in a very unexpected way…. another story for another day. Once my attention He had, I was never the same in my focus and purpose. I was hinged with curiosity about the God of the Bible and this tantalizing encounter I had experienced. It lead me to many seasons of discovery of the depths of my own soul and how there was a God who longed to fill it and possess it with a burning fire of complete fullness of Peace, Liberty, Freedom, Faith and Joy. The deeper I went on this journey, the greater the risks I would take. The Bible calls it “walking by faith” or “obedience” to the Holy Spirit. The more I followed God’s leadership in my life, the greater the risks He asked me to take. He would literally coach and share with me IN DETAIL (just like I describe in my Red Fern blog) steps to take, things to say, places to go and what I should do. The Bible says that when God asks something of you He will equip you for what you are called to do. I know this is true because it is what I experienced. I am such a non-risk, rule follower, by nature. My Mom used to joke that I thought she had eyes in back of her head until I was a teen. I liked predictable and stable and a sure thing. Living by faith is anything but that!

So, here I was, in a season where I was learning to trust by faith and help people like Tim the homeless man at the Lords lead or whim. I learned to trust and ACT to such a level I could stop on a dime and change coarse should the Holy Spirit require. I cannot describe to anyone the beauty of the friendship with God that occurs at this level of obedience. It was the driving force behind every choice I made to go where He sent me. I longed for his love, approval, favor. He gave it abundantly and I loved it all!

At this time, John and I had recently sold our house ($150,000 BELOW market value…ON PURPOSE) when the market was at it’s peek. We gave most of that money away, as well as, most of our furniture and possessions. I am not going deep into that story, but just accept for now that it was the biggest step of faith I had ever done and I was scared out of my mind, but the Peace and Comfort of the Holy Spirit was without a doubt there in Abundance. God used countless experiences, people, strangers even, to confirm what he had prepared us to do for years in advance. I had known for three years prior to selling that we would indeed sell it and give the money away, but we would never place the house on the market. Someone would come knock on our door and ask to buy it…and that is exactly what happened… just as God told me. (Again, deeper details of that story in the book I am working on.)

You can imagine how God was doing a radical work in me, in my family and through us all. It was the best and worst time of my life.

It was a Saturday, we didn’t have a house anymore and had pretty much given everything away (as I said already). The girl (me) who hated the spotlight was  now center stage because many, many people freaked out at what we had done. Yet, there were many who had heard from the Lord themselves and knew we were in God’s will. So, I was in a perpetual state of living outside my comfort zone to say the least. I was tired and weary most of the time, but I had peace. A guest evangalist would speak frequently at my church and every time he did, I was at my weariest. He would come preach and say, “If you are in God’s will, you can walk through hell backward and still have peace.” He knew nothing about our circumstance. God was using him to comfort both John and I. It was that kind of a journey.

So, back to that Saturday afternoon, I will never forget it. Our family was actually staying with a family and we had next to no privacy. We tried our best to maintain independence and respect to those who hosted us, so we were out to Podesto’s (a local grocer in town) for a sandwich. I noticed a couple walking across the front of the grocery store on the sidewalk. They were a peculiar looking pair and they caught my attention as we pulled up to park. They kind of “looked” homeless, if homeless has a look. But they were pretty clean and hair groomed. The man walked a few feet behind the woman and was reading a newspaper as he walked. The woman scuffed along in front of him holding a soda in her hand. Both were looking down, he at the paper and she at the ground. We were unloading kids from the car and I was still kind of watching this couple, when they both stopped walking, abruptly, and just stood there. The man, his face in the paper, and the woman her face toward the ground. It was so odd. But what happened next quickened me to the bone. They both rose their eyes IN UNISON toward us and the woman pointed her finger and together, unified, they both declared very loudly,

“Chirstians!…Christians!….GO!”

Then they, very slowly and methodically both looked back down and walked away. I looked at my husband and said, “They were talking to us?” (Please note we were the only people besides them in the parking lot). I got so excited! I literally squealed with delight! I knew and no one can convince me otherwise, that indeed both of these people were demon possessed and it was the demons speaking to us through the people. I said over and over…”they recognize us! They recognize us!” When you have the Light of Christ living inside you, and you follow his lead, obey what the Christian life should reflect, not with perfection, but with purity of heart…the demons will know you and shudder.

If you are someone who has never heard of the Holy Spirit or following God’s lead, or you are thinking, “What? Demons?” Then, hopefully, even if I have aroused your doubts and speculation, I have also aroused your curiosity. We are all spiritual beings living in bodies and have a need to feed our spirit. If this weren’t true there wouldn’t be such a fascination in TV, movies, literature and our entire culture, moving toward themes about magic, potions, witches, power, etc. It just matters what you feed your spirit. God’s power supercedes any power of the world and comes with peace.

If you are a Christian and understand much of what I shared, even if it kind of seems creepy to you, I hope to arouse your senses as well. Ask yourself probing questions about your own spirituality. What is the current state of your friendship with God? Are you on speaking terms? Are you doing all the talking or are you listening as well? What are you hearing? Are you doubting? Are you fretting? Why are you always trying to figure it out and make sense of it in your head? God delights to do the impossible through man’s foolishness. It shows the world His Majesty. If a demon possessed person crossed your path, unprovoked, would their eyes hurt from the light your spirit emits?

If I can do the extreme steps of faith God asks of me, then you can do what he asks of you. It is him doing it through you, after all. The miracles never come until we take the first step of action toward what is in our heart….then the rest unfolds in the most delightful way.

Releasing all my material things was harder than hard. God won’t ask it of everyone, but he asked it of me. In it’s place he gave me a house more than twice the size on a 2 acre plot of land…another miracle story for another day. But when I stepped out in faith and did was was asked, I didn’t know he was going to give me all of that. I just knew I was crazy in Love with the God of Heaven and I wanted His attention!

God truly is Love and He wants our light to shine before man. He wants others drawn to us by the Power of His Love Glowing through us. You can do it. I know you can. God loves you with an unfathomable love. If it is my purpose to help you know your value, strength, ability and worthiness to be loved, then I have succeeded when you realize this. Know my heart, my writing is never about me. I am only encouraging you through my experiences. Think to yourself, “If little, meek, soft spoken Nicole can do it (trust the Lord, walk by faith), I can, too!”

“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:16

 

The Lord bless you and keep you, raise you up, do mighty miracles through you as you enter in to this grand new year of 2013. Be the joy for others to glean from. Long to touch the hearts of others as I long to touch yours. Blessings ~Nicole