February 23, 2013

My Source

Posted in Uncategorized at 5:23 pm by Broken & Brave

In 2004 I (with my husband) sold my house, gave away all the profit of the sale, gave away nearly all of my earthly possessions…and it CHANGED ME FOREVER. I will never be the same. I am not one who seeks riches, accolades or fame. I do not find personal pleasure from boasting about myself on any level. I would be embarrassed and ashamed to do so. But there is a time for everything under the sun, and the Lord has designated this my time to testify. What does that mean, to testify?

When you read all through the Old Testament of the Bible and the amazing things God asked of the Israelites and Moses, their Commander and Chief so to speak, there is a constant theme…

The people were instructed to repeat the stories to each other and to their children, and their children’s children and so on. Why, do you suppose God desired this? Because stories, positive, faith stories encourage the Faith and Hope of others who weren’t there. People who didn’t see what they saw or live through the times that they lived through. It was decided to repeat stories so the people wouldn’t forget how great their God is. He is slow to anger and abounding in Love, but He is also a God of Righteousness and absolute Authority. The Israelites did as they were told, but over time, they faltered in their enthusiasm and from generation to generation the Love and adoration of their hearts toward God’s waned, as did their story telling.

In the United States we are extremely blessed. The blessings are wonderful and I am ever grateful to live in such a blessed land. But with much blessing, over many generations, comes a kind of self-sufficiency and comfort that denies God the power to show off a bit. We just don’t need him like we used to. Hear my heart, it is good to have good things, times, and blessings. Consider the pioneers who founded this land. The conditions they had to live in were harsh, brutal even. I can only imagine how much of their time they spent on their knees seeking God for help, for Comfort, for Encouragement. We, without meaning to, have replaced His Comforts, His Encouragement for the comforts offered through abundance of material possessions and food. This shift didn’t happen suddenly, but was a gradual shift in loyalties over many, many decades.

I am deeply in love with a God who showed up so big time in my life when I stepped out on the skinny branch of Faith and showed me just how GREAT HE IS! I completely surrendered all to him and He showed me that He ALONE is the SOURCE of everything I need. I know we need a place to live, we need food and clothing, but the Bible says that we shouldn’t worry about these things either. If he can provide for the sparrow or beautifully dress the lily of the field, how much more is He willing to do for His people…the Apple of His eye? (Read Matthew 6:25-30)

God, in fact, wanted to use my husband and I as extreme examples of living by faith. By our example, God desired to demonstrate and recreate a level of enthusiasm and adoration for a God who is Faithful and wants to do great things for his people. I know what you thinking, because it is what most people think. If God really asked us to do that it makes many people uncomfortable because they don’t want him to ask the same of them. Hold tight, this is what I was called to and it is truly an extreme, but he will always equip you for what you are called to and anoints you (gives you the gifting) to pull it off. I know I have the gift of Faith. I have crazy belief in what God can and is willing to do. Just like David when he fought Goliath. I may not always like what he asks, but I have the faith to do it. The part of my story that is meant to inspire faith, enthusiasm and hope are the miracle stories along the way. I have those in abundance.

The material goods (all of my furniture, major, minor and electronic appliances, dishes, glass, etc.) I gave to some wonderful ministers of Hope, who share God’s Love with needy people, for them to give away as they were lead. Each of these people can attest to what I say is true, for they came to my storage unit with a large truck and hauled all of my belongings away.

I have always been very blessed in tangible ways. In fact, because I was always blessed it was quite a part of my life and I never realized how deeply blessed I was. Growing up we were not a wealthy family, but we were comfortable and my parents were wonderful providers. They paid for my college education, I always had nice clothes, my own bedroom in a lovely house my folks still live in. My first car my parents bought for me and it was brand new. So, you get the idea. I was a bit spoiled. I didn’t realize I was spoiled because I have always been a bit of a “minimalist”. I am not very materialistic and am extremely frugal. I like to save my money not spend it. I was never the new Mom who had to have all the gadgets and toys. I just wanted the basics, not feeling I needed any more. But you don’t realize, even as a minimalist person, how much stuff you have until you start giving it all away!

I also realized that I was more attached to it than I realized. It was hard! It was very hard, but I could hear the Holy Spirit encourage my soul and carry me in my need. I was truly like Noah to the outside world. I was preparing for greater things that hadn’t been seen or experienced before and all I had to hold onto was a Promise. I believe God for His promises. He hadn’t let me down yet and I believe the bible. The verse I would hear over and over,

“He is faithful to his promises and loving to all he has made.”

Psalm 145:13

Then, a friend came by, who didn’t really know yet what I was up to (trust me when I say we did not advertise or share with much of anyone what we were up to), and she had a gift for me. She said she felt the Lord told her to buy it and give it to me. It was a framed Thomas Kinkade print that had this exact scripture on it. How beautiful. Such encouragements from random places came constantly, like a flood of God’s Presence. It was amazing. There is one story from this season I truly want to share.

We had a very attractive desk and bookcase set. We used it daily as our computer rested there and we were avid book collectors (most of them I had to give away). We didn’t know who to give our desk and bookcase to. See, the things I gave to the ministers were the special things I held onto and stuck in a storage unit (because I just knew I was going to need them).  I had to let go of my possessions in phases. I was growing and learning to let go of stuff so I could more deeply grab hold of God. So, this bookcase and desk,  we didn’t know who to give it to. We began just telling people, “If you know someone who needs ____(fill in the blank), let us know.” A friend of ours, great Christian gal, who lived around the corner told me that she knew a young student who hadn’t any furniture in her apartment and would probably be interested. I agreed she should tell the gal and bring her over to look at them. Sure enough, the girl liked what she saw and accepted our gift.  This is where the story comes alive for me. See, my friend is a single woman who has no children of her own, but has a gift for loving on young people. They are like sponges soaking up her love and attention and this young gal was one such example. This college student was also deeply engaged in Wicca. If you don’t know what that is, its witchcraft as a religion. My friend had been loving on her and sharing her faith, planting seed of Jesus and Christianity into this girl.  Within a week of our giving her this gift she received Christ and got freed from the bondage of witchcraft (once you are in that world it is very hard to get out, even if you desire to leave).

About a year later, we were all at a party together. I asked the gal what made her finally decide to become a Christian? Her answer? She said it was the love she felt when we, total strangers, gave her such a nice and expensive gift with no strings attached. She had never experienced anything like that before. How beautiful. I didn’t do that, Jesus did. He merely counted on the faithful obedience of our generosity and without a doubt all the faithful seeds our dear friend had been planting. The result was a beautiful soul harvest, rescued from a very dark place. We had several witches get set free on this journey. The stories are countless and little by little I will share more of them, but for now there are too many stories to share,

IF GOD CAN ROLL A STONE AWAY OVER 2000 YEARS AGO HE IS STILL STRONG ENOUGH TO DO IT TODAY! We, as Christians, are called to LIVE OUR FAITH. He asked me to do the ridiculous and I succeeded…then you can do what He asks of you. I know that the things God asks of me are extreme, but I also know I have an extreme calling of God on my life. Please, do not for a moment think that you have to give all your possessions away to fully serve and be used by God. Not at all! All He desires is our absolute confidence in Him, our adoration and devotion. He wants us to yield fully, knowing He is the Source of all our needs; He IS our need. We only need to do, with thanksgiving in our hearts, the things he asks each of us to do. It will be different for everyone. We are one Body, but with many important and necessary parts. Not one could survive of function properly without the others. My purpose is to heal the broken hearted and LOVE a broken and forgotten people back to health…total restoration! I have the call of a Faith Healer on me. He will call you according to your purpose and giftings. Maybe you are still wondering, “why in the world would I want to do any of that?” For me, this answer is simple, it is my “why”. There is an absolutely powerful and potent presence of His Spirit and abounding Peace that floods a fully yielded heart. I have Peace everywhere I go, every moment of the day.  To dwell in such a place of serenity, despite any trials I may face, is a sample of heaven here on earth. Who doesn’t want peace? God’s got ample to bestow on all of creation, but we have to properly align our heart, our motives and our will to His.

You are a vital and important component to the gospel of Jesus Christ. People are hurting, empty, in need and don’t know how to get relief. Seek the Lord your God with all of your heart, and with all of your mind and with all that is excellent within you. Have a willingness to be the Love of God to someone, anyone. God will use you, I promise, and he will be faithful to meet your every need. He just needs a few more risk takers who aren’t afraid to get uncomfortable for him. If we give a little now, we can have more in the future, and along the way life becomes a most rewarding adventure! Trust me when I say, my life is anything but boring.

The best is yet to come. That’s His Promise!

~Nicole

“For I know the thoughts I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.”

Jeremiah 29:11

February 13, 2013

Root Bound

Posted in Uncategorized at 12:40 pm by Broken & Brave

I had to run to the store for a few things yesterday and while I was there, I couldn’t help myself but to go into the garden center. I have a beautiful, molded cement flower planter on my front porch and it has been crying for flowers all winter. I finally heeded the call of the flower and poked my nose in the pansies. I love pansy flowers, they are one of my favorite winter blooms. I think I love everything about them. I love the dainty leaves all clustered together. I admire the large yet flowing petals that remind me of the wings of a butterfly. The purple and yellow, so bold and showy, always captivate my eye. When I saw the pansy blooms were being sold for under $2.00/six pack, as the smile crossed my face, I carefully inspected each cluster to see the condition of the buds, the petals, the leaves. Then I made my selection.

After my morning personal training clients I usually fiddle around the yard a bit with Andrew before greeting the remainder of my day. This morning was much the same, poking around my front yard, raking some leaves from the flower beds and pulling a few weeds. I then meandered with my shovel, my glove and blooms to the little pot that had been yearning for flowery friends. As I pressed in my shovel I was pleased to discover, the soil was good.  Plenty of air, moisture, nutrients creating the best environment for my flowers to grow.  It is so important to have good soil for a strong and healthy plant. As I loosened each individual cluster of flowers from the plastic container, I did what all gardeners do…loosen the roots. If you rub the root/soil portion of the flower before placing the plant in the dirt it will flourish and feel free to spread its roots and branch out. Growth will be cultivated and size will not be restricted, giving the little plant unlimited potential.  As I began this process, I quickly realized why my flowers were purchased for only a dollar plus a few cents. These flowers were root bound.

A root bound plant is a plant that is good, healthy strong, but has remained in a container too small for its size for too long. Therefore, the roots clump up all around the dirt in a tangled mess. This is very restrictive to the plant and hinders proper hydration. If it is bound for too long the roots become just that, too long, with no place to spread and grow. If a root bound plant in not put into a larger container or the fresh earth soon, it will die.

It may sound silly, but these little pansies and I were bonding in this moment. I felt happy to have purchased them and that, though only a plant, they do have life and I felt I was helping them to be free. I was saving them. How many other pansies on the shelf would be discarded and die because they were not purchased? What if they are not placed in a pot or the earth freeing them to grow, flourish, be all that they could be? (Yes, I was really thinking this. I have compassion for little flowers.)

How about yourself? Are you feeling root bound today? What is it in your life that you struggle with? Are you meeting resistance, confined to a container too small for all that God has placed before you? Ask the Lord today what will it take for you to fly? What is it that the Lord must untangle in your life so your roots of life would not be bound, but could stretch out and dig deeper into the earth to find valuable nutrient. Once found, the riches of His Goodness will nourish you just like that little flower, and you too can become bright and showy. You are a beautiful, but delicate ornament for the world to enjoy and admire. Just like a flower, you can be something that others can draw from and find a sense of peace and comfort from without ever having to be touched. All you will have to do is be yourself and God will bring to you those who need to draw that peace and comfort from you.

You are God’s beautiful flower, His lovely creation. There are no two flowers alike, and there is none other like you.  You are His precious piece, a priceless addition to His collection.

Take some time today to drink in His Heavenly Rays, soak up the dew of His precious Holy Spirit, drink deep of His word…

Bloom…

Grow…

…and become more than you ever could have known.

“Now the LORD is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the LORD is, there is freedom.” 2 Cor. 3:17

When all else fails, remember, just like the little flower, I see your beauty and want to massage the roots of your heart so you can blossom and grow to be all you were created to be. You ARE an amazing Garden.

~Nicole

February 10, 2013

Believe

Posted in Uncategorized at 5:26 am by Broken & Brave

There is an old saying that goes, “You cannot judge a book by it’s cover.” This old fashion saying holds great truth and profound wisdom. I sometimes wonder how many younger people have never heard this idiom before? There are all types of examples of this in the world around us, especially within people:

There are people who appear very thin, but are high in body fat and unhealthy.

There are people who are very heavy, but extremely fit and healthy.

There are those who are attractive on the outside, but ugly on the inside.

There are those who aren’t so attractive on the outside, but gorgeous on the inside.

There are wealthy people who live modestly and there are poor people who live extravagantly.

All of these are examples of appearance to outward eye being one thing but the reality quite another. This is a concept I have been well aware of for most of my life. No one had to tell me, I noticed it by observation. It’s quit interesting really, how a young girl would spend time being a student of “people.”

Growing up my Mother poured a lot of wisdom into me. She would teach me all kinds of things and when it had nuggets of wisdom, she would say, “That one is for your Book of Life.” I would listen and then etch her every word onto the tablet of my heart and I would burn it into my mind. I was like a sponge, taking it all in. By the time I was in the 8th grade, my Little Book of Life was getting pretty thick, but I had started another little book of mental notations as well. The source of my inspiration was people, ALL people. If I had interaction with you, I learned something from you I promise. You could have been the mean girl at school, the strange and awkward kid who lacked social skills, the harsh teacher, the kind teacher…it didn’t matter. You didn’t even have to be interacting with me, I was watching! I had my Book of Wisdom my Mother was writing and I had my own book I was writing that contained all the things I DIDN’T want to do. Especially things I observed that made others feel badly. I have always had a deep concern for people feelings, empathetic and compassionate. I was learning by the mistakes of others, so I could avoid them myself.

It’s interesting to me how God shapes and molds the human life. He gathers every detail of our existence and every experience we have and He cultivates it. We’ve heard before the analogies of it being like a tapestry that has been woven, or a mural. I, naturally, see a garden. I learned at a young age how to distinguish a weed from a flower as it relates to human behavior.

I had been probing this idea to write about peculiar assumptions people make, for quite some time, but this week I was getting little inspirations and reminders of it. I get inspiration and little sayings, quotes or word combinations floating into my mind at random moments, so I am always scratching on a piece of paper or notepad or my journal. This day, I was driving to get the kids from school and it all flooded my mind. I scribbled my notes as I sat waiting for my boys in the car. In this same day, my daughter tells me a story she heard form her teacher. Her story tied in so beautifully to my very ponderings I asked her if I could share.

Alex’s teacher shared a personal account of his experience at the DMV. Now, if you’re not from Stockton or California, DMV is the Department of Motor Vehicles and while you wait…well, it makes for some very interesting people watching! Apparently, this was the case when her teacher took his seat to wait his turn. He opened his laptop and began to work when the young man next to him said, “I know.” The teacher was a bit surprised and looked up at the young man, somewhere in his early twenties, and the he said it again, “I know.” Alex’s teacher replies, “what do you know?” or something to that effect. Then the young man proceeds to explain to the teacher that he knows that he (the teacher) was judging him for his appearance. The young man “looked” very gangster like. However, unlike a stereotypical gang member, this young man was very articulate and well spoken, educated. The teacher became intrigued, especially being an English teacher, at the vocabulary and eloquence of this young mans speech. His curiosity increased as he leaned in to hear the young man’s tale.

The young, gang member looking, man began to explain to the teacher that this was how he had to dress because of where he lived. He explained that he didn’t want to dress that way, he knew the perception it gave others, but if he wanted to survive in his neighborhood he had to blend in. After an extended conversation the young man even took the time to show the teacher how elaborate his look was. He wore sagging blue jeans with boxer shorts showing out the top. But when he pulled his shirt up a bit so the Alex’s teacher could see that not only did the pants have belt around the jeans to keep them low without falling, the REAL belt was looped through belt loops sown into his boxer shorts up around his waist. He said those jeans cost him $150. A perfect example of my case in point. I guess I should also add the disclaimer that though the saggy jean/boxer look is a bit of a gang stereotype, it is also fashionable amongst some to dress this way. Saggy jeans doesn’t mean you belong to a gang.

I am saying all of this to cause reflection. Many times we, all of us, see things a specific way because we are conditioned to it. We place everything in compartments in our mind. Many times we experience something or see something and place it into a compartment of assumption that it doesn’t belong in. For example, though I am an encourager, just like all other encouragers, we value encouragement as well! Just because we are God’s little cheerleaders doesn’t mean we never need a pep talk. Make sense? Or just because someone is driving a fancy car, it doesn’t mean they can afford the fancy car. Did you know there are countless celebrities who make more money than you will ever see and they live pay check to pay check? It’s true!

In the military, a Marine has to get into strange and awkward positions in order to watch their post. They may have to hold this position for hours at a time. They must stay in perfect balance so they can watch undetected. They are conditioned and trained to do so. What awkward and uncomfortable position are you in? Have you been treated poorly because of how you “look”, when really you just wished others would take the time to get to know you? Perhaps, you are God’s soldier in training, building your resilience to not break down, but stand your ground when added pressures come? You are being groomed into an impenetrable wall of Courage, Strength and Might. When God has worked his coarse through you and you have finished your “schooling” then you shall pass your test and the results may look something like this:

You are an impenetrable wall of Resilience and Tenacity. You have to go for broke. You have to be all in, no holding back. God is not interested in a “fence walking” Christian. Honestly, He already has enough of those. Allow Him to breath new life in your blood. Allow Him to overtake your heart…your arteries…your veins. Then every ounce of your vascular system can exude LIFE. It would be upon your breath. It would touch your lips. Your skin would tingle and you would become fascinated with the Giver of all. He wants all of you. Then, after all has come to pass, others would look upon you, your life and they would like what they see. The scent of your breath would be sweet and the words of your lips would be inviting, tantalizing the spirit, but never eluding their hearts. Then those very people who gaze upon you, would realize they, too, could cross over and have a deeper existence, a healed life. Their hope would be renewed. All of this could come through you, all because God has ordained it to be so. The ultimate key to victory is…balance.

Challenge yourself to see others this week through fresh eyes. Break the mold of assumption and see each and every person as an individual with their own heart, their own story, their own voice. People are beautiful and wonderful and they are hurting and in need. They need our strong arms around them to help them succeed. Make a difference in your own life and the lives of others and watch the Fire of the One who is Faithful Ignite Fire and Passion in his people like never witnessed before. You can do it! I know you can.

~Nicole

“To know even one life has breathed easier because you lived. This is to have succeeded.” Ralph Waldo Emerson