May 17, 2013

A Reason to Give

Posted in Uncategorized at 5:33 am by Broken & Brave

Have you ever had God tug on your heart to give, but you didn’t know the actual reason? Let me clarify with a story…

Several years ago my husband and I were sitting in the evening service of Sunday church. There had been a guest speaker that night, but the guest wasn’t to speak, it was an entire family who travelled about singing in churches all over. They were a southern gospel quartet and they were good! Though I am not much of a southern gospel enthusiast (sorry if this hurts you souther gospel lovers, like my daughter, but this girl is kind of a die hard rock-n-roll mama), I thoroughly enjoyed their presentation, as did everyone else at church that evening. I couldn’t say how many people were actually in the room, maybe somewhere between 50-75?

Once the presentation was completed the pastor got up to say and little thank you, pray and then asked us to help them by making a contribution to their ministry. Most ministries are dependent of the faithful giving of the Church, Christians, to help them continue on. It is their pay check. The pastor had barely began speaking and I began to bust out in a cold sweat. I felt awkward and uncomfortable inside. I was under the conviction of the Holy Spirit to give some money to this family. I enjoy giving, and God had and was doing a lot in my life to develop my trust in God as my source and guidance in the area of offerings of finance. However, it was the dollar amount that I kept hearing in my head that made me perspire. I kept hearing this number over and over in my own thoughts, so loudly that it took over any captivation of my attention and drown out the words and presence of the pastor on the platform.

I leaned over to my husband and told him we were to give and I also told him the amount I was hearing. I was petrified to allow the number leave my lips. I knew, once it left my lips and made contact with the air, it would have life and accountability. My husband doesn’t worry about money and he is so familiar with my gift to hear God’s voice that he trusts me absolutely in this capacity. So, I knew that if I said it, he would without a doubt buy in to it and trust me. All that being said, I told him anyway and his response was his usual response, “you better get the checkbook out then”.

Now, I have been feeling the tug of God on my heart to write about this story for several weeks now. Every time, I realize that God not only wants me to testify to faith giving and how you can trust God with your money, but I am also to share the exact dollar amount. It wasn’t a huge amount of money we gave, but it was a test of faith for us. It tested our faith in this situation, unlike some of my other faith giving stories where giving meant we would have need for finance of our own as a result, not so this time. It tested our faith, my faith, because it seemed awful generous for a one hour concert at a local church, my church, but still. I wondered to myself, “why so much God?”

The dollar amount was $1,200.00. To me this was a lot of money. Maybe for others it would be a small dollar amount, but I feel pretty confident to say it was a large amount for anyone to give in this particular situation. There was no plea from our guests of dire straits or extreme need. There seemed to be no reason to give so much, expect probably the most important reason…because God asked me to.

I wrote the check, dropped it in the bucket as it passed by, and was feeling a little..well, I am not sure how I was feeling, weird yet full of peace because I knew I had obeyed the voice of the Holy Spirit. I knew I did what God had asked me to do, even if I hadn’t a clue why.

Peace is always a good guage when measuring the voice of God versus the voice of your inner self. God’s voice always fits with the Bible and what it teaches and it always yields peace (even if stress is involved or a lack of understanding, the peace is still present).

Peace is for most people the ultimate lack in their life; they may feel confident in their selves, their choices, convictions, their business/career, their possessions, status, assets, accolades or title and position, but Peace…well, Peace eludes many people.  Even Gods people struggle to find Peace when they are out of His will or lack direction on how to get in His Presence, or are listening to the wrong voices thinking that it is Gods voice. (Getting into Gods presence and dwelling in a continual state of Peace is possible and could be an entire blog all by itself, so I will leave it at that for now).

I had Peace, like a River. Like a Mighty Rushing River and it was running right through my soul. It flowed out of my soul and through my hand, my pen as I wrote that check and dropped it into the bucket. I still had questions and I still gave God my opinion as to how this was too generous and un-neccessary in my humble little opinion (I tend to be one that believes God cares about my thoughts and opinions so I share them with him and He is faithful to share His agreement or disagreement and directs me in his opinion and plan just like a best friend should).

By the time all the giving was complete, the pastor had given a few announcement and such and I think the family sang one more song or somebody sang anyway. It seemed like service was over, but Pastor got up one more time with exuberance in his steps. He shared a story that he hadn’t shared when he took up the offering (because I don’t think he knew yet himself) of how this family had a motorhome they travelled in. On this particular trip it had broken down severely and several times. It was costly to repair and they were left with only enough gas money to get to our church. They had not a cent left to get them the rest of the way home. They had been traveling for quite some time and were homesick for their homes and their own beds. They hadn’t a single clue how to get home from their stop in Stockton. They had prayed that the offering would be enough to do it, but were struggling with faith for the amount they needed seemed to grand for the size of the crowd there that night. So, my pastor stood there looking so proud of his congregation as he announced that they had needed approximately $1,200.00 to get home and we (the church) had done it.

I have no idea if a single other person gave that night or how much they gave. It doesn’t matter, God knows and God got that family home. In that moment, God was faithful to give me my reason I wanted for being so generous on such an occassion as this. I believe He told me, not because He had to, afterall, he is God and I am not. He told me because he wanted me to learn something about obedience no matter what the cost or confusion. He wanted me to confidently trust His voice of the Holy Spirit over any voice of man (including myself). I call it “steel-toed devotion”.  A level of obedience to God that would cause me to stop on a dime and change direction should he so appoint it. The reward…the satisfaction of knowing I was loving my God who showers me with His love, His Presence, His Word, His Favor and most importantly..His Grace, Mercy and Peace that flows like a River and travels with me wherever I go.

I find serving God exhilarating and exciting. Your friendship with God can be the same, if you are willing to believe. Some don’t want exciting. Some prefer status quo expected happenings every day. I don’t really believe that though. I think that ultimately all people want is to be loved and to be filled with Peace in their heart that settles all that troubles them in life and in their minds and in their hearts…to live a life, what ever is thrown their way, in the midst of unyielding Peace.

If you are a Christian, or believer in God/Jesus Christ, Peace is found in salvation, but deep and abiding Peace is found in obedience. Do the things God asks you to do, give without regret, love without lording it over people, forgive without keeping account and believe that God loves you. He is actually quite smitten with you and would love for you to dwell in His Peace and His Presence continually.

Enjoy your Life, have a blessed day, know that the God of heaven can do miracles in you and through you, just like He did through me and this family who just wanted to go home.

Blessings~Nicole

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May 12, 2013

Last Dance

Posted in Uncategorized at 12:06 am by Broken & Brave

It is the last dance, the last chance to whirl and spin with glee. The song will end, the lights were dimmed, but will brighten again as the party comes to an end.

All of life is a celebration, a chance to dance about with freedom of expression that is the true you trying to get out. Break free from the things that haunt you and entangle, restrictively telling you what to do, who to be, when you only want to be free to be who the Creator made you to be.

There is a dance deep inside of you, that only you know of. There is a God in heaven who sees your heart because he choreographed your deepest desires with His creative love. He knows. He understands. He possesses the ability to connect with you in every way. He gave you freedom to dance and put the song in your heart, the smile on your face, and He wraps himself around you like a warm embrace…the ultimate dance partner.

Do not let the worries of life embitter or derail your hope. There is a vision to embark upon, no looking back, only forward. Do not allow yourself to become side tracked. When God Almighty is your Guide, He walks faithfully by your side and gives your attention focus and speed as though you were a pioneer and He your trusty steed. As though you were the locomotive and He were the rails that held you in place, guiding your every inch from departure to finish. He was there. He is there…His breath is in the air. It strikes you like a breeze or a snow white crystal on your face, the ocean mist, a winters first kiss, the dew of an early spring morning. He is there.

Set your eyes on the horizon and new adventures to begin. Though the road may be more than you thought it would be, don’t look back, the heavenly One beckons from in front, “You belong to Me.”

Last dance, last chance, to move upon your feet, you begin to believe and realize beneath what you thought was the end was really only just the beginning. Your life is a dance, let God be your romance, for His heart you have already won.

He did the unthinkable for you.

He moved all of heaven and earth just to be with you to dance with you.

It may seem odd to you to think of God as a dance partner, but it is a word picture you understand and it is familiar to you. Sometimes it is important to take the familiar and use it in analogy to help the indescribable Truth of heaven a reality to you. God seems so infinite, so vast, so splendid and far off to the common man. It is hard to fathom the wealth of His love and desire to have relationship with us. But we serve and uncommon God who is very interested in the common man. He is very interested in you. He is very interested in me. He wants to be a part of our every step, in harmony, synchronized to our every step, our every breath. He wants to be the symphony, the melody of our heart. For us alone without his company is only a cacophony. He wants to hold us closely, like a dance partner who has to move with completely fluidity with their dance partner. Close together, steps aligned, moving in unity to the same harmony…simply beautiful.

Next time you hear music that makes you want to tap your feet, think of my playful analogy and then turn your mind to the one up above who wants the next dance with you! There are hopes, dreams and desires planted deep inside your breast. I dare even say that for some of you the dream has been pushed back or down and is only a faint memory of something you dreamed could be. Time to bring it out, dust it off, and dare to believe or dream could this be possible, if only for God? He can do it, and He would do it for you.

Believe for the Impossible in your life. You’re going to shine. You are going to shine.

~Nicole

“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

May 5, 2013

Island in the Sea

Posted in Uncategorized at 10:24 pm by Broken & Brave

I am like an island, tangled with the sea.

You, my God, are like a Tree of Splendor planted deep inside of me.

Though all alone and sometimes feeling far from human reach

You managed to plant your Love with spreading roots preserving my days and guarding my ways.

You began to grow your branch and leaves to create a covering to shade me and protect me,

A Canopy of Grace placed about me ever so delicately.

Though I cannot see your face I feel you close to my heart.

I am like an island, floating in the sea.

Your roots are what tie me and fasten me securely and properly.

I will not move.

I cannot budge.

I will stand tall for YOU, even amongst the raging sea that furrows and bellows about.

For you, Oh LORD, are like a Tree, blooming like a Garden, ever adding your infinite Beauty.

Do you ever feel like you are an island in the sea? You sit all alone, far from civilization, no one walking about on your white sandy beach?  Yet, there you are, surrounded by crystal blue water. Sometimes the waters rage and sometimes they are quiet and still; breath taking with beauty, majesty, splendor. The sea can represent storms in our life or seasons of isolation and change. The sea can also reflect the Glory of the Lord who is mingled about you, all around you, longing to wash upon you and touch your shores. Though at times it may feel as though you are going to sink, you do not. You remain, afloat, amidst the water that surrounds. Seasons change, people change, but God never changes. I imagine, if He could lavish you with Comfort right this moment, He would say something like this:

“I can feel your heart beat. I know every flutter. I know what makes your heart dance. I can sing a song to you that only you can hear. You are my Beloved. I can draw you in and wrap you up, wrap myself around you like none other. I love you. I am with you. Where you go, I go. I am there, never leaving you or forsaking you. If only you would trust me more.

God’s love for you is infinite and unyielding. God doesn’t love you one day and decide the next that He doesn’t. He isn’t like people. He isn’t fickle, finicky or inconsistent. No, quite the contrary, God is constant. He is steadfast. He is sure. His affection for you will not change. HIS AFFECTION FOR YOU WILL NOT CHANGE! Be encouraged in this. He is with you. Though you may walk through troubled waters or feel all alone in a situation or circumstance…He is there with you, fighting for you, cheering you on. He is God and like Him there is none other!

Choose Him today. Pour your heart out to Him. No prayer need to be flowery, long or poetic. It merely need to be from the heart, sincere and honest. He is there for you, I promise!

~Nicole

“Worry weighs a person down; an encouraging word cheers a person up.” Proverbs 12:25

“The words of a wise man’s mouth are gracious” Ecclesiastes 10:12

“Nevertheless, with the help of grace, the habit of saying kind words is very quickly formed, and when once formed, it is not speedily lost.” ~Frederick W. Faber