April 18, 2013

Diamonds

Posted in Uncategorized at 7:14 am by Broken & Brave

I think most of us know of the old saying, “Diamonds are a girls best friend”. Are they?

A diamond is very attractive to the eye and made of the hardest material that doesn’t achieve its luster, clarity, or brilliance overnight. A diamond is developed over time and under much pressure. Many woman drool at the sight of a diamond or the thought of owning them.

I got into a conversation yesterday with one of my clients about diamonds, or jewelry in general. I don’t like to wear a lot of jewelry. I love watches and bracelets (but not a lot of clanging pieces), but I am very picky about everything else. To me, the simpler the better. That is just my preference. My client shares my taste on jewelry pieces. We laughed in agreement that the hotter it got outside, the less jewelry we wanted to wear and neither of us like to exercise with our wedding ring on. I told her about a friend of mine who always wears her wedding set when she worksout. I give this friend a really hard time (teasing her that is) because her wedding set is HUGE. I tell her that she doesn’t really need to exercise because she gets a workout lugging that thing around. I couldn’t even tell you how many carrots it is, but I know you could buy a house with it. It’s so big, it’s hard not to stare at it because the beauty and shine of the stone is breathtaking.

This conversation got me thinking. Isn’t that just how it is with God and how he adores us? We are like a diamond to Him. He may apply some pressure to increase our brilliance and shine. He knows this process will take time, but we are so worth it to Him. He is patience. He can wait. He is willing to wait and walk the process out with us because He desires to be with us like many women would love to wear my friends incredible ring.

What will it take for you to realize and accept that you are the apple of His eye? He is swollen with pride over His delight with what He created in you. He wants all the angelic host and earthly inhabitants to gather round and marvel at His creation…YOU. You are beautiful in so many ways. There is no need to sit around and try and figure out why He loves you so much….he just does. He is willing to spend His life savings to purchase you…he is willing to lay down his own life for you.

Imagine if your significant other said they wanted to get you the Hope diamond. It would only be possible if they sacrificed themselves so you could have it? Of course you would think this extreme and unthinkable! You would refuse and not accept this generous gift. Isn’t this how it is with many of us? We have the greatest gift anyone could ask for, practically thrown in to our laps, yet we deny it. We refuse to accept such love and grace for it seems to extreme. It seems like there is a “catch”. However, there is no catch. That’s exactly what love does. It lays itself down so others can have more.

God’s love for you is most excellent in nature. We cannot wrap our minds around it, so instead, let us wrap our hearts around it, accept it and become liberated by it. I can only imagine the feeling of receiving a costly diamond ring pales in comparison to the feeling of the freedom God can give.

YOU are a rare and priceless treasure.

~Nicole

April 10, 2013

The BrideGroom Awaits

Posted in Uncategorized at 4:42 am by Broken & Brave

The Bride walks down the aisle, toward her Beloved. A veil cascades across her face, concealing the look about her countenance. The BrideGroom waits for her patiently, but with anticipation as she draws closer and closer. He stands tall and proud, almost regal, as she draws yet closer still. It is as though he were king and the queen were drawing neigh. She reaches her destination, facing the Groom, who, at this time, reaches out toward the Bride and gently lifts the veil. There they stand, no more veils between them. Her face, full of radiance glows with joy as she looks to him and he to her. There they stand, side by side, no more veils between. The first day of a New Day…

The wedding ceremony is a beautiful and poetic depiction of how life can be with God. God is the BrideGroom and we are His Chosen Bride. Just as a man selects who he desires to marry, so too, God has chosen you. Just as a Bride decides whether or not she will accept the invitation to matrimony, so too, we must decide if we will enter into a deeper and more committed relationship with God. If we do chose to answer, “yes”, our King patiently waits for us as we journey toward Him, drawing closer. The closer we get the greater the Radiance and Glow of His reflection is upon us. This radiance changes us, warms us, embraces us and leads us to become a better version of ourselves.

Something magical and mysterious happens when the veil is lifted. It represents a type of “threshold” that we cross over into deeper intimacy with God when we draw close enough for Him to extend his hands and remove the veil. This is a great analogy, but how does it transcend to everyday life? How do we draw close enough to God for the veils that camouflage our vision from complete clarity of thought and deed to be lifted?

  • Seek. ~We actively look to God for direction and wisdom. We do this by praying and reading the Bible. If these things become a focal point for direction, just as the Bride makes the Groom her focal point when walking down the aisle, she safely reaches her destination. You will receive the answers you need and reach your goal or destination.
  • Ask. ~We ask God for help. We ask others for help, too. We pray for discernment to understand the guidance and direction God sends us. If we do everything on our own initiative, without asking, we may make choices that seem like a good idea, until we implement them. That’s when God comes along, through circumstance or reason, and shows us how we could have done it better and makes the correction. In these moments we gain wisdom (for indeed it is better to try and fail than to do nothing), but how much greater our wisdom becomes when we learn to practice these steps in the proper order! We can bypass many failures.
  • Listen. ~When God brings the answer or reproof we need, we pay attention! It is very common that when God sends a direction or answer, if we are still behind a veil, it is hard to discern the answer to our prayer because it may come subtly or it may not look how we expected it to look. So, we must pay close attention to God so we can recognize His answer when it comes. If we are paying attention and listening we will hear, we will see, we will know, we will understand and we will succeed!

Seeking God, moving toward him, allowing Him to unveil our eyes so we can see more clearly, is very simple and it is very duplicatable. The challenge comes with the focus and discipline to pay attention and follow these steps in every area of our life. When you try it and you find success, it will encourage you, comfort you and inspire you to do it again! Then, it becomes a pattern, a healthy habit, a way of thinking and it will change your life. The Peace that comes when we allow God to be like our spouse is the most secure feeling in the world. Try it! I know you will like it!

~Nicole

April 8, 2013

You’ve Got More!

Posted in Uncategorized at 2:04 pm by Broken & Brave

There is a time and season for everyone under God’s sun, by the Authority of His Son.(Ecclesiastes 3)

Think about that statement…that is powerful. Every person on earth has a reason to be here. Without a reason there is little direction or determination to prevail upon the heart to pursue, anything. We all want to be happy, but happy is a state of mind and an attitude and has little to do with our circumstances. I’ve known in my life the richest of people and I have also known the poorest of people. I have known vastly happy, contented people in both ends of the financial spectrum. I have also known miserable people of both extremes. God’s Grace, kindness, healing and restorative power is available to both. Just like our attitude, it is our choice to choose.

Everyone has a purpose, a reason, but not all truly know what it is. I speak about purpose a lot, but it is because I find it foundational. It is a key that unlocks the door to so many things in life. Without it, we find ourselves feeling idle or useless, even if we are accomplishing much.

  • Reason is a key for happiness, for we are not truly happy unless we are abiding in our purpose.
  • Purpose is God given, whether or not each man acknowledges Gods role in the process is another matter. Still, He is there.
  • Purpose is a key to direction. When we have a purpose it shapes and sharpens our goals, commitments, expectations (of ourselves) and our choices. We can avoid time wasted on futile activities that do not sharpen our focus and direct us to our objectives when we know our reason.
  • When we know our reason it grants us greater Vision. Vision is the “dream” the “goal” the task we set ourselves to accomplish.

I am a very task driven individual. This can be both a blessing and a curse, for I must focus to maintain the delicate balance of contentment in the process, but enough discontentment so I propel myself forward, working toward a goal (I like to check things off of my list!). I am also a visionary. My mind is always ahead to the future. I know that every day is an action step toward what I see in my minds eye. I have purpose, but I did not always know my purpose.

When I was a young woman, in college, I recall on many ocassion being deep in thought as I drove my car down the highway. I would ask myself thought provoking questions (a by product of being a very analytical thinker). A frequently reocurring question I would ask myself is, “what is the point? Why am I here and why should I care?” I really wanted to know the answer. I already knew and believed in God, but going to church and being a good person wasn’t a deep enough “reason” for me. I had a good life, but something inside me was vastly discontent and this question perplexed me. I knew something down deep demanded an answer. Going to school, getting good grades, being “good”, getting married, having kids…all good ideas, great ideas, but they didn’t drive me. These typical activities of American life were things I knew I would do, but I wasn’t content with the idea that that’s all there was to “Nicole”. I craved more, something deeper, something greater. I knew there had to be something greater still. It wasn’t about being rich or famous, I am not easily impressed by such things. It was about significance. I wanted to do something that was going to make a difference, not only in my own life, but in the lives of others. I wanted to help people.

I did not discover the answer to this question over night. It was a journey full of puzzle pieces that slowly came together over time, until one day God hit me over the head with a two by four (not literally, that was an analogy) and I knew. I knew like I knew nothing else. I was born to heal. What that meant I didn’t know, but every aspect of my life to that point began to make sense. Everything we encounter in life happens for a reason. Ultimately, all experiences, people, and relationships are meant to shape us and teach us, to prepare us and then for God to use us. We never arrive, we always learn and grow. I pray I never think I have arrived! I pray I would never become proud or haughty. Anything we do or achieve is because of the Love and Grace of God in His Tender Mercy. Every fruitful effort is by God’s design because He had to bless it for the effort to be a success.

Here is what I know, God has allowed me to endure many things that lead me to ask, “why?”. I now know why. I have had plenty and I have been left wanting. I have tasted abundance and I have had to dwell in poverty. I have experienced an entire gammet of unusual things. For each and every experience, I am grateful. Not because I had to walk through it, but because of what I learned from it. Some lessons are bitter sweet, but they are sometimes the most valuable lessons of all. Through it all, the value I have come to appreciate in my experiences is that I can relate to a broad spectrum of people from all varied backgrounds. A personal experience will always give greater compassion and empathy because “understanding” is there. When you walk through an experience (both good or bad) you gain experience and hands on knowledge. This is how God gives us “territory”, an area that we can help others overcome or walk through their similar experience with loving comfort. Does this make sense? In the good and in the bad, God is there and He has purpose. Do not forget this…

God has purpose for you. You are greater still. Greater still! Just when you think you have nothing left and can do no more, God is right behind you saying, “I’m your number one fan and I tell you, You’ve Got More!”

God has a purpose and place for each person. Each has a design on their life to achieve something that only each individual has been hand crafted to do; their own identity that extends beyond a name. We are all in this together…Life. Unity is the glue of God’s choice to hold us all together. I believe it makes the Lord’s heart glad when we take the experiences of life, learn from them and then allow God to use it to glean deeper Passion, Compassion and stronger Witness. That by our experiences we learn to love each other harder and longer. To be committed one to another, never quitting or giving up on one another. There are things I didn’t understand in my life, until I had to walk through it. I did not allow it to harden me, I allowed God to move into my heart more deeply and pull a few weeds out. We all have weeds, no one is perfect. Only Jesus walked a blameless life. So, knowing this, I can say with the utmost conviction:

God’s love is for the poor man….I will not judge him.

God’s love is for the homeless man…I will not abhor him.

God’s love is for the rich man…He has heartaches, too. (sometimes my heart aches even more for the tangibly comfortable for they are many times very miserable of heart but don’t know they have a need).

God’s love is for everyman, so I will take Gods love with me everywhere I go and I will love on others until it hurts (and sometimes it does), but it is my purpose. Just like food is something every human being needs; it is something we have in common. So too, it is with love, we may not all have it, understand it, interpret it correctly…but we all need it.

Love is truly the only thing that can heal anything.

I believe that with all of my heart. We may not always get it right, or communicate love in the way someone understands/feels it best, but we can try, with all our heart, to make a positive difference in another’s life. That’s a purpose worth living for all of us. For me, there is nothing so rewarding as to cheer another on, help another, and then see them shine like a star and achieve more than they believed they could on their own. People are altogether lovely.

I feel compelled to share that I am not sure why I wrote this blog today. I just sat down and began to write. This too, had a purpose. Maybe it was for you? Be encouraged, if you do not know your purpose or reason, I pray you find it. Seek God, He will guide your path. You are His shooting star, meant to be a beam of light that illuminates the darkness that surrounds another so they can too break forth in dawn’s immeasurable Light.

Greater Still…

~Nicole

April 6, 2013

Pullin’ Weeds

Posted in Uncategorized at 3:37 pm by Broken & Brave

“Life is a flower of which love is the honey.” ~Victor Hugo

I was out in my garden today. Each time I venture there it is like the whisper of the Lord’s Voice meets me, saying, “Here you are, our time together again….I’ve been waiting for you.”  I don’t know what it is with me and my Lord amongst the petals in my quiet sanctuary, but that is exactly what it is, my sanctuary. My garden is a place of refuge for me, always has been that way. The busier life gets with the responsibilities of family life I find it harder and harder to find the time to meander amongst the flowers; each time I do I wonder what took me so long to get there. Isn’t that always how it is with the loving comfort of the arms of the Beloved? The warm embrace is like a gentle kiss and comforting and encouraging word to strengthen our soul. For you, it may not be found in the flower beds, but it is somewhere, you know where, find it…run to it…do not deny it. That time of quiet reflection is needed and refreshing.

I bought some flowers yesterday. I had intent to fill a spot where a miniature palm tree had been, but is now transplanted into a pot on my back porch. As I groomed the soil and plucked at the weeds a thought came to me… No one really loves to weed. Though I may not mind it, it’s not my favorite aspect of gardening. Even though I don’t particular enjoy it, I know it is a very necessary step to the grooming of a yard and preparation for the fun part…the flowers. How true this statement is also with our hearts. If our heart is like a garden that must be cultivated, nurtured and loved, so too, we must tend to it and pluck the weeds.

We must always press on and challenge ourselves to grow, to expand to become our best possible version of ourselves. We must embrace the destiny and potential that God has locked inside us, each and everyone. Our thank you and act of worship to God is to be faithful stewards of our potential and seek to maximize it. Do not misunderstand me; I am not speaking of striving. Striving is the fleshes attempt to accomplish something. Our “flesh” is anything we do of ourselves by our own efforts, excluding God from the process. Striving is futile. However, when we seek the Lord and ask, with yielded hearts, ‘search me God and make my heart clean’. We are actively giving God permission to pull some weeds. He will use His Word, circumstances, experiences and even the mouth of others (whether they are well meaning or not, intentional or not) to address the weeds in our heart, bringing them to our attention. I love this passage of scripture;

“God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him…Love is made complete among us.” 1 John 4:16-17

When we allow God to probe our hearts and are open to his correction and refinement we are giving ourselves the opportunity to have more of His Love, Peace and Comfort in our lives. He wants to drive out the “dead wood” so he can give us life and give it abundantly. If our heart is full of weeds there is little room for the bloom of His Love. How beautiful is it that God would love us so much as to want to take the time to reside in our hearts, take up ownership as Master Gardener and remove the dross and mire, all the things that hold us back. There is no shame or condemnation from God. He knows every detail about us, but he wants us to always be moving toward him, not pulling away. Shame and guilt cause people to move away from the things God has for them. God doesn’t want that, it is not of Him. God’s Love is Pure and True and willing to be Truthful and honest, but with the best intentions to bless. Though the “weeding” process is painful, the relief and freedom that comes once the painful stain of the past or negative thought patterns or habits and behaviors are gone, then we become truly free! Once we are free of those weeds that entangle us (sin) then we can truly blossom and grow to be all we are destined to be!

“Love is a canvas furnished by nature and embroidered by imagination.” ~Voltaire

God’s love is the great Beautifier and Amplifier of our hearts cry to be loved, to be held, to be free of all the inward struggles that bind and restrict. He sees you…He knows you…He is aware of all the inward struggles that cause weeds to erupt in your life. Allow Him to tenderly poke at the soil of your heart and gently pull out that deep thing that you have ignored or protected (for fear of pain) for so long. No one is going to hurt you, God is going to protect you and bless you and erect you into the Man or Woman of Destiny you were created to be. I believe in you and pray that one day you will see in yourself all that I see in you, too…Beautiful.

 

Dare to imagine…you are Greater still…

Blessings, Nicole