March 27, 2013

Lessons Learned From Cinderella

Posted in Uncategorized at 10:53 am by Broken & Brave

“Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentleness be known to all men.” Phil. 4:4-5

Lessons Learned from Cinderella…

I think most people have seen the Disney children’s animated feature, “Cinderella”. It is a timeless classic and I have always felt it is full of teachable moments for our children, but for us adults as well.

When my daughter was very young, 3 and 4 years of age, she was quite precocious and vibrant. She was always pleasant to be around and rarely threw a tantrum. I knew I was abnormally gifted with a child being so agreeable and pleasant. Because of her beauty and disposition, people were always telling her how beautiful she was. One evening we were driving home from a visit to my parent’s house and the sun had begun to set. The view over the country landscape was breathtaking. John and I directed Alex’s attention to the sunset and it’s beauty. Her reply was pure and innocent, but shocked me just the same. She said, “yes, it is almost as beautiful as me.”

She meant nothing vein or conceited by this statement, after all, everyone was always telling her how pretty she was so that is what she knew and believed true. I knew, when I heard her words, I had a little bit of work to do. I wanted to continue to reinforce her security in who she was, but I wanted her to understand the deep and most valuable lesson in the strength and power of inner beauty over external beauty. True beauty is humble. I began to use the Disney Classic, “Cinderella” as my teaching tool for such a job. I thought is might be good to write a little today about what we can ALL learn from the fictional tale of Cinderella about character and true beauty, the kind of beauty that radiates from the heart and draws all of mankind.

You know the story, Cinderella was a young woman who had less than stellar circumstances. She lived in a large and beautiful house, but was forced to reside in the tower. She had a Step Mother and two Step Sisters who loathed her, as their hearts were filled with jealousy and spite toward her. Because of their disdain, these ladies found it a delight to force Cinderella to do all of the chores, cooking and cleaning forcing Cinderella to tend to their every need and whim. If they were hungry, she fed them. If they needed mending to their clothes, she did that too. She worked her tail off so these other gals could relax and enjoy their ease. What compounds the difficulty of Cinderella’s circumstances is that all the land and beauty of the home that surrounded her was truly her inheritance, not theirs. She had been pillaged of what was rightfully hers, as inheritance from her Father who had passed.

Wow, that’s a lot to make a girl cry. Anyone would understand if Cinderella became bitter, resentful and full of disdain and resentment toward her family…but that’s not what she did at all. In fact, through the entire movie you never once hear her say an ill spoken word about her family to her animal friends. Nor did she ever grumble under her breath. Her smile was genuine, her heart was pure, and her mind was full of Hope and optimism for a brighter Tomorrow. Cinderella did not conceal her desire for her life to change, but she chose the high road in the midst of adversity and clung to it with all that was in her.

Cinderella’s inner beauty was so intoxicating that every animal in the area came to close, just to be near her. She spent her time focusing on others and clung to joy. When things seemed to be changing for her is when adversity became it’s worst, but destiny played out just as it was meant to be. Though her promise, displayed in the form of a glass slipper, fell into the wrong hands. In the end, all ended well for her and you know the rest…she lived happily ever after.

What about us? What can we apply to our lives from this timeless children’s tale? The obvious, choose joy, peace and love when circumstances dictate you should or could behave otherwise, but I think there are even deeper nuggets to be found here.

When the Step Sisters had their chance to try on the glass slipper, it didn’t fit. In fact, in the hands of another, the promise was shattered, because it wasn’t their promise. It didn’t matter how much the girls (Step Sisters) wanted the promise or their mother connived to get the promise for them, it wasn’t theirs to be had. God’s hand is Sovereign and He knows the plans he has for each and every one of us. When we patiently rely on Him and choose gentleness, kindness, self-control, even when we are not seeing life go our way, it pays off in the end. God will see to it that His promises to you are fulfilled. He knew the adversity you would have to endure to get to your dream. It was all part of the preparation. How we handle the adversity will also determine how long we stay in the midst of adversity and how it all plays out in the end. Just imagine, Cinderella’s character was that of kindness, gentleness and a giving nature. Most likely, had her family treated her fairly (even if they were yet unkind) she would maybe have taken them with her to the palace? Unfortunately, these women desired true beauty but had little knowledge of how to get it. The world is full of women with pretty faces and lavish material possessions, but lack Beauty. Gentleness, patience, kindness, self-control…virtue complete without a hint of boastfulness, pride, rudeness…these are the attributes that truly set Cinderella apart.

I used this movie to train my daughter in virtue and true beauty and it helped her understand, even at a young age, the difference between external impressiveness and deeply impressionable beauty of heart. If you have young daughters I highly recommend you do the same. It was a great analogy that their young minds can grasp and glean the kind of beauty God is interested in most. Remember, most of all, our daughters learn best by our example. We need to demonstrate love, gentleness, forgiveness, unity without a hint of envy, malice, discord or strife upon our lips, upon our countenance or upon our lives. Little eyes are watching everything you do and will do as you do even more than as you say. Let us join together and raise up an entire generation of young ladies with the truest of virtue and beauty radiating from their hearts, across their faces and overflowing into the lives of those around them. Then they will truly possess the same captivating beauty as the colorful hues of an afternoon sunset. Beautiful.

Bless you as you endeavor to be more, become more, love more, embrace more the life and the Promises God has for YOU. Emulating only God the Father above who is filled to overflowing with heart felt love for you.

Have a Beautiful Easter this Resurrection Sunday! He did it all for YOU!

~Nicole

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March 25, 2013

Shine Your Light

Posted in Uncategorized at 2:16 pm by Broken & Brave

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

Many years ago I went through a span of time when, anytime, I needed to go shopping for an item of clothing I felt incredibly compelled to demonstrate loyalty to a particular little dress shop in town that specialized in petite sizes. In fact, for about two years time I went into this shop every two weeks to browse; sometimes even once a week. I did not always purchase, but I “window-shopped” just the same.

I know for many people this is ordinary and nothing particularly worth writing about. There is something unique about this story and I believe, I know, the hand of God was all over it! I have never been much of a window-shopper (unless it is shoes or watches/bracelets. I have a love for both). I am the type of shopper that knows what I need, go to the store, look for the needed item and then I purchase it. Shopping over. I was definitely not the type to linger in a store on a weekly basis. Most Moms don’t have time for that anyway. But this little shop, I could feel the Lord tug upon my heart to frequent her and spend time with her as though she were a close friend. What makes the story even more unique is that I did not particularly care for the clothes this store carried. The items were very nice, but not my style. I would bet that the target market was a more “seasoned” female.

It didn’t take long for me to figure out that the manager of the petite department in this small, family owned business was the same woman each time I came in. She was darling! I will call her “Becky” and she was always very friendly and willing to help if help was needed. I usually didn’t need much help (I like to do it myself…I’m that kind of shopper). Because I went into this store almost every week, and I am kind of a friendly person, I got to know Becky, but only on a casual and surface level.

I guess I’d been going into this store for at least a year, faithful, and wondering every single time why I had such a tug of the Lord for this store? I didn’t get it. There were other shops in town that I loved and did shop there also, but this one had a different layer of loyalty (despite not really liking the clothes so much). So, about a year gone by and on a certain occasion I did find something I liked and was at the counter to purchase. My friend Becky was there as usual. As she was ringing up my items she began to share a story with me. She told me she had just returned from a womens retreat at a friend’s church and how she had rededicated her life to God. She continued even deeper, revealing to me that she hadn’t been to church in many, many years and she was so excited to return and get reacquainted with God. Her enthusiasm was very evident. I listened, encouraged and congratulated her. What surprised me was what she said next. Becky went on to thank me and give all the credit to me for her rededicated life and inspiration to seek after God. She even credited her courage to attend  the retreat (for she was quite frightened to go) to me as well. I was FLOORED! “Me?” was the only thought going through my head in that moment. I had never even shared my faith or talked about God with her before. How in the world could I take credit for any of that? So, I asked her? “Why me, Becky?” Her reply humbled me to a new level. She proceeded to agree, I hadn’t shared all that much about my faith or God or church with her, she then continued and said, “but you didn’t have to.” Now I was even more confused. She told me I didn’t have to talk to her about God, she said she knew I was a Christian and that I loved God by how I carried myself and how I treated her and others in her store.

She told me it was my life that drew her back to God not my words.

Wow. How do you respond to that? I was so grateful to God for allowing me to be a part of something I felt I truly had little to do with. God was the one drawing her and He sent me into that store for more than a year just so I could be around Becky. So Becky could watch me and know me on a casual basis and God would use His Light, found in me, to draw her near.

I learned so much about God through that experience. I learned, yet again, on ever deepening levels to trust Him and how He leads and guides me. Shopping in that store had little to do with what I liked and everything to do what He liked, Becky. He so craved her attention and missed His friendship with her that He sent me out to find her so she would draw back to Him. Never be afraid to be a witness for the Gospel. It doesn’t have to be scary. There will be times when you do need to speak about the reality of Calvary and all that Christ did for us by surrendering himself to a tree. But there will many times, you may never know how many, that people will watch you from afar or from close proximity and learn all about Jesus by what they see in you. You do not have to be “perfect” or  “have it all together” to be kind, patient and gentle with others. I believe for many people all they need to meet Jesus is an experience with a person who would value their time, value their thoughts/opinions and to make them feel valued. Love. The Bible says the world will know us by how we love each other. Sometimes we make Christianity so complicated, but it really isn’t. Love people and love God; Simple and duplicatable. If God is in your heart then you can do exactly what I did and exceedingly grander still! God is the one doing it anyway, all we have to do is be willing to listen for His lead and follow after Him, even when it leads to a petite boutique for older ladies. Jesus will be there.

You are His Beloved; He is drawing you near. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. All He needs is a willing heart who may dare to Hope. You are enough to Shine Bright during the daylight hours and the darkest hours of night.

~Nicole

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. ‘By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:34-35

March 5, 2013

God’s Behind The Wheel

Posted in Uncategorized at 5:29 pm by Broken & Brave

Have I ever told you about the time that John, myself, and our children drove across country by faith? Literally. We had $150 in our checking account and no savings to dip into. Do not misunderstand me, we did not set out with the intensions to drive across America with next to nothing to fund such a trip. However, God was teaching us to release the steering wheel and allow Him to drive our destiny. We were learning to yield to even deeper levels to God, who deeply desired to show us, by experience, that He can still do the ridiculous…just like He did in the Bible (both the Old and the New Testament accounts of His Glory).

He once again, showed up and showed off, and He did it extraordinarily well. One of the things I love about God is we can always count on Him to be consistent and extraordinary. Simply Magnificent and Magical in a way that the LORD alone can do and none can duplicate.

It was the spring of 2006. John received a call from his father inviting us to visit them in June. We already had a trip planned to vacation with John’s family in North Carolina at Holden Beach in August. In our mind, two trips to the east coast would be more than we could afford. John’s Dad shared that they were missing the children and couldn’t wait until August and they also had a gift for us that we needed to collect. John’s Dad continued to share that he wanted to purchase a new car and after discussing it with John’s mother, they decided they wanted to give us the car they had, rather than trading it in.

For us, this was an absolute miracle. We were in need of a car, but John’s family did not know this. We strongly felt we were not to go finance a car. Sometimes, you just have to trust God even when you have to wait for His timing to answer a need that is very real and pertinent in your life. So, instead of “making it happen” ourselves; thus meeting our own need, we waiting on the Lord in prayer. We shared with no one that we needed a car. My parents were the only people who knew our need. This is how we always handled our needs before the Lord. We never petitioned or bartered with man, we only petitioned God in prayer. We always felt it was a greater demonstration of HIS power to make a way if we pursued our needs in this manner. Though I believe there are times to ask for help, this was not one of them. With all this being said, you can imagine our joy to hear those unexpected words, “we want to give you a car.” Not only was it extremely generous, but the car they were giving us was only a few years old and was in pristine condition with minimal mileage. John’s Dad continued on that they would help us pay for airfare to Connecticut (where they live) if we did the footwork and found decent prices on the plane tickets. Again, God came through. We found ridiculously low priced tickets and our entire family was off to Connecticut in June, for a fraction of the price we should have paid.

The plan was to visit a few weeks, then I would fly home with the children and John would drive our new car back. This was a great plan. John is a survivalist by nature and we had no doubt that he could pack water and food and plow his way cross country with minimal stops, making it home in only a few days. He had done it several times before. So, why was it that for most of our visit back east I had this nagging feeling in my chest that it wasn’t what God wanted us to do? In fact, I had this overwhelming sense that the kids and I should also ride home with John in the car. BAD IDEA! At least, that is what I kept telling the Lord in prayer. No matter how I tried to reason with God I could not shake it, like a knowing in my gut. I finally told John what I was sensing. He agreed with me, “BAD IDEA”! All of our common sense pointed out together, in agreement, how much more expensive and time consuming it would be to bring the entire tribe of McBride across country. Even though our children are seasoned traveler and they do great on the road or in a plane, it would still mean hotels, meals, and more stops than I could imagine!

As our time in Connecticut was coming to a close, only a few days left to visit, I began to feel afraid. We had already been through so much the previous few years with the selling of our home and giving everything away. Even though it was a wonderful season of miracles, it was also very hard.

The growing and development of extraordinary faith is for the spirit what an intense workout, beyond your ability, would be for the body. It hurts even if it’s good for you.

 

I wanted a time of rest and recovery, not more faith stretching workouts! God, however, had more for me in mind. I feared that we would run out of money for such a trip and would be forced to pan handle for provision (which shows you how ridiculous fear is. For if needed, either set of our parents would have given us a credit card number I am sure). I wondered if this was all part of God’s journey for me? After all, nothing would give me more grace for the homeless beggar than to make me endure it! Just when my fear was beginning to tug fiercely at my heart, God dropped this bomb into my mind and my spirit…Psalm 37:25.  Peace washed over me and caused my every doubt and fear to flee. I had a new boldness and confidence appear that I hadn’t had before and I knew everything would be just fine. All it took was this simple promise from His word:

“I have never seen the righteous forsaken or his seed begging for bread.” Psalm 37:25

 

Truth so pure it cut straight through any trepidation I was feeling, allowing me to break free into crystal clear vision, faith and courage to do the very thing God was asking of me. Now, if I was yet lacking in the faith and confidence to follow through, later that same day I received a phone call from a friend who lives in Texas. (Can I just say, I am beyond blessed to have faith filled friends who know who they are in Christ all over this country! It. Is. Awesome!) She knew nothing of the internal battle I was having with God, but she heard God speak to her about me. He told her to call me and tell me that she hadn’t any peace about me flying home, but she felt I was to ride in the car with John. ISN’T GOD GOOD!? YES, HE IS!!! So, John and I had to work up the courage to tell his folks, who would no doubt think we were nuts!

We told them and they did think it was a bit foolish, but they love us and know we have wisdom and common sense and hear the Lord. So, they supported us in our decision and showered love and grace upon us as they always do…they took us to Sam’s Club and bought us a bunch of “car food”. John and I are both so blessed with amazing parents!

Here is where my story truly steps into the realm of walking by faith, just as Peter walked upon the water. If you are from Northern California and you remember anything at all about 2006 you may recall it was a very wet year. In fact, John couldn’t work for six solid weeks because he did all of his consulting/training of athletes at a local park. It rained every single day and every day it rained represented a day that we didn’t make any money. It was a very lean year for us. So, when it was time to drive across the country with babes in tow, we had only $150 in our checking account. We didn’t dare tell John’s parents. We knew they would give us money and we felt like God wanted us to do this alone, relying only on Him. You may feel this story too far outside your realm of faith, but I know what God did for us on that journey. I know what He was doing inside of me. He was asking us to test him in the finance. The book of Malachi speaks of testing God in the tithe (giving). Consider this journey a sort of tithe or giving if you will. He wanted to teach us abundantly clear, over and over, driving His point home…He is our Source.

Miracle number one of the drive home was the food from Sam’s Club (thanks Mom and Dad). Miracle two…we had gotten to Pennsylvania before needing to stop for gas. Gas was at an all time height in price. $80 into the gas tank of this little mini van that got approximately 400 gallons to a tank. It consumed over half of our $150. How in the world was this going to work? You better believe I was reciting Psalm 37:25 over and over and over again! “I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging for bread!” Just in case God had forgotten his word (smile). About a half of an hour down the road John gets a phone call from a friend of ours who was a young college student. We knew (and still know) countless young people. We have a heart for them, coach them, train them, mentor and love on them. This particular student told us that he had gone to our bank and made a deposit under the direction of the Holy Spirit. He didn’t want to tell us, but he was worried about why God would ask such a thing, so he wanted to call and make sure we were ok. What an incredible encouragement that was. God’s people are all unified, One Body, many parts, called to walk in unity. All we need to do is listen to the Father and yield to His will and he makes all of our paths straight. Though we have many and varied likes/dislikes, tastes, passions, personalities and backgrounds…we have HIM in common and it is possible to walk together with one mind and one heart…beating together for him.

“Trust in the Lord with all of your heart, leaning not on your own understanding, but in all of your ways, acknowledge him and he will make your path straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6

 

Our dear friend was only able to deposit $80, but don’t you know, it was a tank of gas. To God be all the Glory. Our entire trip looked like this. My faithful friend in Texas interceded us the entire way home. I have another friend I called in Portland who prayed us through also.  On the journey home, we managed to stop at a large event for our business so John could be a guest speaker. We mingled with more friends from the southern part of the United States, Oklahoma to be exact. We shared with them that we were driving across country and how God changed our plans, but we didn’t ask them for a penny. God blew me out of the water one more time. Several of our friends, each on their own, gave us a cash blessing for our trip. How beautiful is the body of Christ. One of my girl friends got down on her knee, looked my daughter in the eye, and told her that she and her brothers were so good during the meeting that she wanted to give them a little something for our trip home. Then she pulled out four $100 bills and said, “There is one here to represent each of you.” How beautiful.

But the greatest help came when a friend of ours who lives in Wisconsin. A spirit-filled, Pentecostal, Catholic…heard the call of the Lord on his heart and he phoned us up to check on us. He proceeded to tell us that he had to obey the Lord who was telling him to pay for our hotel room every night. What a blessing, so sweet it was humbling to receive. So, we would call our friend by the end of the day and he would call ahead to the town we planned to sleep and book us a room. We told him to conserve his funds, our only desire was a motel with a pool and continental breakfast, if possible, so we could take the kids for a swim to expend energy at night and the breakfast before we start off in the mornings. The Lord blessed our friend to find us a room every night.

When we arrived in Winnemucca, NV, we were tired, cranky, and ready to be out of the car and in our own beds. As we sat in a little diner for dinner John explained to me that he was determined to drive through and get home that night. He didn’t want our friend to pay another night in a motel for us. I could see a little motel out the window of the diner, right next door, as John spoke. I felt it would be foolish to continue on. Though I agreed with not wanting to cost our friend another dime, we were exhausted and the pass over the mountains of Nevada into California were steep, winding and dangerous. If you know John at all you know how tenacious he is! There was no changing his mind, so off we went. Not 30 minutes down the road, everyone except John was asleep, and John’s eyes were trying to do what we call, “an eye-lid leak check”. He was beginning to get very drowsy when his phone rang. It was our faithful friend in Wisconsin telling John that he sensed God prompt him danger was ahead and we needed to stop for the night. We were in the middle of nowhere. Any motel would have to do, but I was quietly praying that God would give us a motel that did not require we walk the children through a casino to get to. God did it again, the only available hotel our friend could find was in Sparks, NV, upon our arrival, we discovered that the hotel/casino rooms were across the street for the hotel’s casino. God heard my heart and granted my request, protecting my children and their virtue.

The following morning we arrived safe and sound back home. Having traveled across country in a car that usually gets 400 miles to a gallon, but averaged on this journey to get over 600 gallons per tank, with one tank of gas making it for 670 miles! That is miraculous! Once again, the Lord had changed me and shown me that he will use the natural to produce the super natural. He needed me to walk into deeper seeds of Belief.

God has overwhelmed me with the quality of relationships I have in this country. America is still full of amazing Christian men and women who live their faith and give from the heart and desire to see all that is good in others. I am so blessed. Even though it was harder to drive home and trust God instead of taking the “sure thing airplane”; I know what He did for my faith. I also know that each person he called upon to either pray for us or tangible help us, they received a blessing greater than I for being a blessing. It’s not about me, it’s about something so much bigger. It always is. In all of these amazing stories I have watched the God of all heaven and earth raise up my kids to have mountain moving faith. They blow me away with the depth of their belief that the God of the Bible is the same God today and if he did it then, he can do it now. How do they have such amazing faith? Because they have seen the power of His Witness alive and well in their own lives. They have first hand experienced that when you pray with belief you will receive what you ask for in prayer if it lines up with the Word and the motive is pure. Have you ever listened, truly listened, to a child pray? It is as pure and sweet as any prayer could be. This is how we should all be, just likes babes; trusting…believing…expecting…all things good from the Father above. His love for you supercedes any fear you could ever contain. If you could only just believe and trust him just a little bit more each and every day. How beautiful…

Believing for the extraordinary to unfold in your life. You are beautiful.

 

“And my God will meet all of your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19

~Nicole