June 22, 2013

Tattoo It On Me…

Posted in Uncategorized at 2:44 pm by Broken & Brave

It is crazy how popular it is to tattoo your body these days. Wow! I go to my gym and see almost everyone there has at least one, but usually many all grouped together. This fascinates me in a way. I am an observant person by nature and am so intrigued by the various artistry displayed upon ones flesh that I find myself wanting to study a persons tattoos when I am in close proximity to them. However, I refrain because I don’t want to be rude or inconsiderate. Sometimes I will ask though, if I may look at one if I find it of particular curiosity to my eye.

Everyone has a story. Our life IS a story, our story. Each as unique as the individual they represent. I believe that for most people a tattoo is an expression of a persons heart, who they are and what they carry inside. I find most people are very guarded with others and not so quick to open up and for many they don’t really, truly open up to anyone, ever. There is this fear of intimacy and vulnerability in our culture. I am not judging, only observing out loud, that most people have been hurt or had negative experiences with people in their lives at early ages that cause this sort of crusting over a protective layer on the heart. The harder the heart, the less of it the rest of us get to see. Oh, we may see the hard parts, but I know that this isn’t truly who they are, it is the person they want to project. So, a tattoo may be a persons way of expressing who they are with out ever having to use words. This may not be how it is for all tattooed folks, but I think it is true for many. This is why I am fascinated. If I can study a tattoo, then I can gain a glimpse of a person’s heart, interests, pursuits, desires.

I do not have one single tattoo anywhere on my body.  I have never had any interest in getting one. Not even when I was in college and several of my friends were getting them. Back then, at least in my world, it wasn’t so main stream to have a tattoo. So, these girls were getting little ones on their ankles or shoulder blades. I was always curious to see them when they were finished and wanted to hear the “story” of what they chose, but still…no interest in having one of my own. I don’t share this with any judgement or criticism, just a Nicole fact, that’s all. I know a gal who is a tattoo artist. Well, to me she is a breath taking artist who also happens to display her talent on people’s flesh. Fascinating. I am not particularly close with her, but we have had some great talks and she has shared some cool tattoo stories. Fascinating…

I may not have a tattoo on my flesh, but can I quickly share that I have one brandished upon my heart? It’s true. I have a tattoo on my heart. It wasn’t put there with ink or a pen. It was burned there….sautered there if you will, by the inscribing hand of God. Would you like to know what it says?

“You are my Beloved~with you I am well pleased.”

It penetrates me deep, deeper than you think. It is with me day and night and no matter how I feel, how my day went, what disappointment, regret or failures I may greet; at the end of the day, I still know that I am ok, because I did my best and I am His Beloved and with me He is well pleased.

Would you like to have the same ink tattooed upon your heart? You can have it you know. It’s easier than you think. It may sting a little, as life always does, but this is a needle so supernatural in touch, instead of hurting when it goes in (as I hear a tattoo needle does) it actually releases pressure and causes relief. This tattoo won’t cost you anything, it was paid for at Calvary, that Old Rugged Cross. Can you imagine a sign that read?

FREE TATTOOS TODAY, ALL DAY, as a matter of fact, EVERYDAY!

Imagine how long the line would be! If all people truly knew how freeing, refreshing and inviting the touch of the Master’s hand is, the lines would wrap around all the churches in every city. But people don’t know. They are afraid that church people will make them feel ashamed.

I may be ONE, I may be small, but I know I am mighty in God’s Love and Power and Grace. I am a proud recipient of His Mark upon my heart and because you cannot look at me and see it like a regular tattoo, well, I better make sure every day it comes shining through.

In God’s word he sings an entire love song to you…

“show me your face,

let me hear your voice,

for your voice is sweet,

and your face is lovely.”

Song of Songs 2:14

You are His Beloved, and with you He is well pleased.

~Nicole

“And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.” Mark 1:11

June 18, 2013

Thy Words Are Comfort

Posted in Uncategorized at 4:02 pm by Broken & Brave

“Never talk defeat. Use words like hope, belief, faith, victory.” ~Norman Vincent Peal

What are the words projecting from your mouth? Are you using them wisely? Are you using them as a salve to comfort and heal or to inflict wounds upon another?

Our words are powerful, aren’t they? There isn’t a soul on the planet that hasn’t hurt another with their words or actions, whether intensional or by accident, we are all guilty. It’s so easy to be careless with our words, but even this, we can find guidance and help in how to overcome ridicule, check our own heart motives, and take care and consideration in our own speech, from God’s Word as seen in 2 Samuel 16:1-14. I highly recommend you read the entire passage on your own. If you do not own a Bible, then google it!

Allow me to set the story. David was King over all of Israel, but he was in great distress as his son Absalom had taken the palace and was winning the favor of the people. He intended to make his father a stench in the nostrils of the people. David, broken hearted to not only be betrayed, but by one he loved, took exile with his closest allies with him. Even then, Mephibosheth, who was a relative to the house of Saul (the previous King) turned away from David. Mephibosheth was one whom David had shown extreme mercy and grace. He could have had him killed, but instead, be-friended him and gave him a seat at the King’s dining table. As David exiled a man appeared who began to hurl verbal insults and dirt clods at the King. He cursed the King and accused him to presume the King had brought the calamity upon himself.

The Bible says that though David made many mistakes, he was a man after God’s own heart. He chased after God with his whole heart, while the previous King had “no heart”. Can you imagine the man’s anguish of soul? To have these three major blows from his son, the servant/outcast whom he showed love and mercy and the citizen who mocked and jeered. David could’ve  had all of them killed… but that’s not what he did.

David understood the heart of God. He may not have understood what was happening to him, He chose not to react, but to trust. He did not take matters into his own hands and control the situation, he humbled himself before the Lord and took his blows. In fact, this is how he responded:

“It may be that the Lord will see my distress and repay me with good for the cursing I am receiving today.”

2 Sam. 16:12

In this passage we can see how God was seperating the “wheat” from the “chaff”. David was able to truly see the hearts of men in this crisis situation, which would prove important as David’s son was unsuccessful in his attempt to other throw his Father. David was able to see who was truly for him and who was only for him in words or times of peace and blessing. God did indeed bless David. He preserved his throne and passed it on to the rightful Successor, Solomon, who would produce from the line of David, the Christ, named Jesus. Prophesy fulfilled.

Sometimes in life things happen that we do not understand. People may come against us or untrue words spoken of us. In life, we will have conflicts, it is unavoidable. In these situations we always have a choice in how we will respond. It is not easy, but with careful thought, prayer, discernment and wisdom we can choose the road less travelled that leads to higher ground (just like David climbed higher –“But David continued up the Mount of Olives, weeping as he went; his head was covered and he was barefoot.” 2 Sam. 15:30)
The Bible says that those who wait upon the Lord will renew their strength. Did it ever occur to you that your struggle could bring comfort to another? It’s true. When you reach out and take active steps of faith into new territory the opposition will be great. Your comfort zone will be stretched and your cheering section may be small, but do not grow weary! For when your victory comes it peels back a layer of darkness and paves the way for others to go where you have been. Persevere. Your efforts will yield comfort. (“Comfort, comfort my people, says your God.” Isaiah 40:1)

In the process, God will show you who your true friends are, who are the ones who may like you, but not willing to walk along side of you and those who were never truly a friend at all. You gain wisdom in the dark places of life. However my friends, it is possible, when the mud flings and we get a little dirty, to stay clear on the road less travelled. Here’s a few ways you can do this:

  • Guard your heart (Proverbs 4:23)
  • Put on the whole armour of God (Ephesians 6)
  • Pray to God and seek His will in the situation (he may not want the trial for you, but he has allowed it for a purpose. In His time, it will end.)
  • Guard your tongue (James 4:11)
  • Keep your gaze Upward. (Matthew 14) When things are stormy around you, if you keep your sights on God and the “Big Picture” of what He is doing in your life, it makes it easier to roll with the waves instead of crumbling with every breaker.

KEEP YOUR EYES ON JESUS
WHEN THE TIDAL WAVES OF TROUBLE
ROUND YOU ROLL
KEEP YOUR EYES ON JESUS
HE WILL CALM THE STORMS OF LIFE
THAT TOSS YOUR SOUL

Life is not all smooth sailing and calm waters. We will have trials, struggles and conflicts. We can handle them with CARE, CONFIDENCE and CLASS  if we follow the lead of King David, an Old Testament foreshadow of the New Testament Christ. It will not be easy, but we will grow in wisdom, knowledge, strength and gain maturity of faith to accomplish all that God is grooming us for. We begin by learning how to climb to higher ground.

“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.” Matthew 5:7

You are blessed and highly favored of God. His breath is in you and He desires for His Glory to flow through your veins. People are hurting and so hungry for love, affection, acceptance. When we know this, we can love them by example of David and Christ. You are a Champion, born to make a difference.

~Nicole

June 16, 2013

“Love Tucks”

Posted in Uncategorized at 4:11 am by Broken & Brave

Today is Father’s Day and it is the reason for my post. I want to honor all of the fathers (for I am honored when I hear men tell me that they read my blog, more than I would have thought), but my Father is the motivation for my words. Any Dads out there, take it as encouragement of your heart as well. You are vital, needed and worth more than you know to your children.

When I was a little girl, up until about the age of six, I remember vividly that my Dad would come tuck me in bed at night, say prayers with me and then he would do something so special it is burned on my brain and in my heart for life. Dad, I bet you don’t even remember, but when I was little, after we’d say good night, you would tuck me in….literally. You would tuck the covers all along each side of my body and under my body, so I looked a bit like a little mummy frozen in blankets. You’d say good night, then turned out the lights. After you had gone, I would lay there, my heart feeling warm and fuzzy about the whole thing and I would lay as still as I could until I fell asleep because I didn’t want to disturb the “tuckings” you had made. Sometimes I would start to get uncomfortable, but I willed myself not to move. It was like you were still there with me if the tucks went undisturbed. One of my best memories.

You were the one who taught me how to water ski and then drop down to the single ski on my 13th birthday. Remember? I was skiing along and lost a ski on the water. You signaled from the boat for me to keep going, don’t let go of the rope. After I went down, you got into the water with me and helped me as I tried to learn how to pull up behind that boat onto one single ski. It was getting late, everyone was ready to call it a night. Thanks for that Dad, one of my best memories.

When I was in high school you came to every single game I cheered at and drove me all over Northern California with a car full of girls (Mom, too, but this is your post).

You worked hard to give me the things money could provide, and I am so grateful, but it is in these little things that my heart was captivated. Even all the countless tickle matches after you got home from work. You would tickle me until it hurt and I begged you to stop. Some of my best memories.

You took me to church every Sunday morning. You sat in the living room listening to gospel albums as you waited for the rest of us (because you are always ready 30 minutes before the rest of us). One of my favorite memories.

I can’t buy you a new boat or the latest golfing gear. No surprise trip to Cabella’s Sporting Goods Store. I won’t be going hunting with you (but maybe the boys can one year). My camping days of youth are over, but your expeditions live on as my children are building memories with you as well. They adore their camp outs and fishing and outdoor fun.

I know I’m not so little, but your spot in my heart is just like the little girl who wanted to move about, but choose to be still under the covering of her father’s “love tucks”.  So, today the gift I give is one that’s from the heart. I honor you with my pen and show the world just how much I adore you.

The greatest badge of honor or accomplishment any man can have, is the lasting legacy of love, a Father to his children. Yet, there is something special to a little girl about a father’s love. You are in my heart always.

Thanks, Dad, for everything. Happy Father’s Day…

I love you.

~Nicole

June 15, 2013

Perception is Reality?

Posted in Uncategorized at 7:10 am by Broken & Brave

Yesterday we took six kids, three of my own and three friends, to SunSplash water park in Northern California. My son turned nine last Monday and this was our celebration! It was such a great day. The children had so much fun and my husband and I just relaxed near the water on a chaise lounge, drinking in the sun shine. In fact, I can’t remember the last time John and I relaxed in the sun together just the two of us (without at least one child climbing all over us). It wasn’t quite the same as our honeymoon in Jamaica, but it will do! (Babe, let’s go to Jamaica, again!)

There was a woman “camped out” next to us, enjoying the afternoon as well while her children enjoyed the park. She was very friendly and very chatty. Right away engaging me in conversation, not to the point of monopolizing my attention, but small questions and conversation now and then. We hadn’t been there before and she was very helpful actually! This woman was probably mid to upper forties and in pretty good fitness shape, but had verbalized to me that she wasn’t where she wanted to be. I said nothing at all about fitness, just let her talk and I listened.

At this particular park you cannot bring any food in. I had packed my meals for the day, as I am on a focused nutrition plan for a competition I plan to do real soon, but couldn’t bring the food in. Just when I was getting ready to leave the park to eat the woman informed me that there was a Subway inside. Perfect! I can create something with that for sure! Small talk went on, questions asked of me, all afternoon. I always enjoy friendly people. When she was packing up to leave I gave her my business card and told her that I would love to share Advocare Nutrition with her if she would be interested in hearing. She had spent much of her conversation toward me focused on fitness. Because I had spent little time speaking and most of the time listening, I learned a lot. I learned she works hard at it, but isn’t where she wants to be. I knew she would love the product line. Though I do not go around smothering people with my Advocare products and business, I am always listening and paying attention. I know I have something that can help so many the way it helped me. I kicked a five plus years Pepsi addiction with Spark and the vitamins revamped my energy, focused my attention and gave me momentum in the fitness goals I was already working toward. I’ve watched Advocare revolutionize the lives of some of my closest family members. Sound and safe nutrition packaged with optimal care, efficacy, combination of ingredients, to yield amazing results. It is so amazing what our bodies can do, how effeciently they can function and cope with external and internal stress when we just get proper nutrition through diet, proper rest and sound supplementation (not all vitamins are created equal).

Here is the peculiar thing that happened…the woman had been so fixated on my fitness/physique that when I told her I had a background in nutrition and was a personal trainer she blurted out, “I knew it! I knew you had to be a trainer!” She was so fixated on this, it was like her ears turned off after that. I simply wanted to share Advocare with her, but she thought I was trying to sell her personal training services. I explained, “Oh, no, I do not live in the area, just wanted to share about the products.” She was very friendly, but completey stuck on the training thing. She continued to ask training questions and tell me she already had a trainer. I could see that she was listening, but not hearing what I was saying. So, I let her finish and wished her well and I left it at that. As she gathered her children and walked away, about 25 feet away from me, she turned around and gave me a big wave and said, “Bye, Nicole, so nice to meet you!” I smiled.

It was a bit sad to me. Based on all she had shared I knew I could help with the last little key ingredient to help her achieve what she was looking for once and for all. But she missed out on a blessing because she couldn’t hear me. Have you ever had someone misread you because they weren’t listening? It’s like they get something, a perception, stuck in their head and are unwilling or unable to shift their thinking for whatever reason? It can be very frustrating when you are simply trying to help someone and be a blessing in an area you know you can help, but are met by a wall of wrong thinking. Do not be discouraged. Keep pressing on and moving forward. You have a message in your heart, it may not be about fitness, health or nutrition, but it’s about something and God gave it to you to pursue and to share and to benefit others, including yourself. You are a star meant to shine bright. Others will be drawn to your sparkle when you just keep on believing and anchor yourself on the knowledge that God is with you and helping you and will bring the right people to you who will lock arms and be on the team, too.

It is my belief that all of life is purposed for many great adventures, but ultimately, it is all about relationships…what we do with them, how we treat, help and bless others. Cultivating an atmosphere of love to make the world a better place. To me, this is adorable.

Blessings to you! Be the Difference in the life of another, you are a Champion in Action!

~Nicole

June 12, 2013

Just you…Beautiful YOU!

Posted in Uncategorized at 4:31 pm by Broken & Brave

I have a deep love for women. I want to build them up and encourage them and fill them with belief in themselves. I want to empower them. Each and every woman, in my opinion, is capable of amazing things. Women can give life, we manage our homes and family life. We are the pendulum that determines the feel and the security of our households. We are strong. We are powerful.  We are sensitive, loving and emotional. All of this is good. We are smart. We have our head on our shoulders fixed properly. We multi-task and juggle. We do so much. I see how the ways of the world have warped the female perception of what beauty and worth look like. As a result, many women, far too many women, waste their energy and efforts comparing themselves to other women or competing with them. Imagine what would happen if women embraced one another, free from insecurity, and empowered one another for our many gifts and talents. Where one was weak, the other could be strong and vice versa. Instead, far too often, insecurity gets in the way and unity is not found.

I realize that the topic of this blog, female worth and security in an insecure world, is one that is very delicate in nature. I am lead of the Lord to venture down this path, but want to do so ever so delicately. I envision a field of flowers, wild flowers maybe, with petals so delicate and vibrant. I want to walk through the field carefully to not disturb one single leaf or petal. You possess the beauty of a flower and all of your unique gifting and attributes are like the vibrant hues of a field of wild flowers. I have no intentions to damage the flowers, I only want to water and add some “Son~Shine” to increase strength of your stem and luster to your petals.This is a topic that is on the forefront of my mind for many years, but never felt it was the right time to truly dig into this topic. I received a phone call yesterday from a long time friend of mine and I knew, it was the catalyst for this blog. Then I lie in bed last night, dreaming through the night, of this very topic.

Let me give you some background…my friend is someone who confides with me. I know her deepest struggles and her greatest victories. She knows mine as well. We have had a front row seat on each others journey. I have known her since I was a young child. So, when she called she shared somethings looking for wise counsel. It regarded a friend of hers who seemed to be on a path of slow self destruction rooted by low self worth. My friend cares about this woman deeply, and the other woman cares for my friend. However, whenever my friend tries to help the other gal she gets shut down with responses such as, “You really wouldn’t understand because you are so beautiful and because you are beautiful you have a perfect life.” This crushes my friend. I must stress to you, my friend is gorgeous. In physical appearance, head to toe, she is a very beautiful woman. Her heart, in my opinion, is even more beautiful than her form or feature. To think that someone has  a perfect life because of how they look is absurd, but people make such assumptions all the time. Just as people are judged wrongly for the color of their skin or the size of their clothes (too big) or the blemish of their face, or whatever, you get the idea…it is wrong to make such external judegements. It is equally wrong to judge someone by how they look if they look attractive, or if they have a lot of money or nice things. Their struggle may not be in that area, but everyone has struggles and no man knows the struggles of another or what they have been through or where they have come from. Also, a woman who is beautiful can be just as insecure as someone who feels unattractive. True beauty is a reflection of the heart.

The thing that makes me sad is that I can look at any woman and I literally see so much beauty! I can lock in on strengths and the things they do well and sometimes, lots of times, I also see that they are so focused on what they cannot do or what they do not like about themselves that they are missing out on the blessing of their  own beauty.

The story of my friend is a good example, for the woman who told her she wouldn’t be able to relate because of her beauty was such a pretty lady as well. The difference is self worth. When you fail to see your beauty and all God has created you to do and be you are robbing yourself of the joy of your beauty and you are robbing others from enjoying your beauty as well.

Imagine that same field of flowers. You go and pick your favorite one and hold it up in front of your family and friends. They think this flower is beautiful. Next, you begin to pluck out every petal and leaf leaving only a wilting stem, who wants to look at that? This is what happens every time you put yourself down (or others), make jokes at your own expense or point out your flaws and shortcomings (whether perceived shortcomings or real) as though is was some badge of honor or stability. It’s not true! It is our job as adult women to be an example to younger women. There isn’t a woman on the planet who couldn’t name something they don’t like about themselves or an area they are struggling in. It is not our job to go around pointing out our weaknesses or anyone elses. Young women…your daughters, their friends, the girls you mentor or work with…they are watching and gleaning from what we do. We must be an example of truest beauty shining through.

“I would like to be remembered as someone who accomplished useful deeds, and who was a kind and loving person. I would like to leave a memory of a human being with a correct attitude and who did her best to help others.” ~Grace Kelly

We must empower, encourage and lift each other up. You are extraordinary in so many ways. Stop putting yourself down and belittling yourself. Stop listening to the lies that appear between your ears and stop repeating them. You matter! You are beautiful in so many ways and have so much to give and offer. There is truly  not another soul like you…you have a purpose and the rest of us need what you have to offer.

A big part of self love and acceptance is to not just accept yourself where you are in the process, but to challenge yourself to move forward and change, becoming even more of what God desires you to be. It takes courage, but I know you can do it. You may not have confidence of your own, but you can have God’s confidence and that is so much better anyway! If He believes in you and thought how he made you and gifted you was good enough, then you should think so too! A verse that you can recite over yourself to help you grow in your belief in yourself is:

“We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God and take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” 2 Cor. 10:5

You have to be the master of your own thought life. We must be imitators of God’s attitude and inclinations. If someone close to you does something more successfully or with greater skill and ease than you, then call on them to help you with such tasks or to learn and grow from their expertise. Maybe that is one of the reasons God placed them in your life to begin with? This will profit you far greater than allowing yourself to feel inferior or incapable. Trust me, there will be something that friend will call on and rely on you for. We are ONE, united we can lift and build each other up, divided we are weakened.

Look in the mirror everyday and thank God OUT LOUD for that certain attribute. For example, don’t like how your arms look? Thank God you HAVE arms, because someone out their doesn’t. You get the idea, now just insert whatever it is you feel poorly about. Find something to give thanks for. Maybe you like your hands, thank God out loud for giving you attractive hands. This can carry over into performance/work areas, not just appearance. You may not be the most gifted person of prayer at the church or prayer meeting, but boy can you organize the event! We all need each other and have so much to offer.

Change on big scales will always start with something small….yourself. Though you are created, built, wired to be BIG & GREAT, on the scale of eternity we are but small. Most feel too small for their choices to make a difference or lasting impact. But this is not true. It all starts with what you do on the inside of who you are. It starts in the mirror. I received a card yesterday with a quote from a book I love, “The Butterfly Effect” by Andy Andrews…

“Not just to you, or your family, or your business or hometown. EVERYTHING you do matters to ALL OF US FOREVER.”

You daily habits, choices, thoughts, attitudes and actions have a ripple effect on others.

“If we love until it hurts, then there will be no more hurt, only love.” ~Mother Teresa

So love yourself by accepting who you are and what God created you for. You don’t have to be like anyone else, just you, wonderful you. Here is the challenge…loving yourself is not only accepting yourself, but it is daring to challenge yourself to change. Change your home, change your town, change your community, country, and changing the world must first begins by looking in the mirror. You can do it, I know you can.

We are all called to lead on some level. We lead whether it is many people or our own children or if you are a youth, your peers at school. People are watching you. You must embrace the leadership skills within you and lead from a place of security and strength. Future generations are depending on it. People want to follow strength and security, not insecurity. Imagine if the First Lady of our country acted doubty or put herself down to seem humble. It wouldn’t work. You are beautiful and strong and God made no mistake when He created you. Breath deep and begin the journey of magnificence. You ARE extraordinary and capable of so much. Just be you, you don’t have to be or compete with anyone else. If we all do that, God’s order of things will fall into place and the world will truly become a better place.

Just be you…beautiful you!

~Nicole

June 5, 2013

He Is The God Of The Second Chance

Posted in Uncategorized at 2:59 pm by Broken & Brave

“When Elisha came into the house, there was the child, lying dead on his bed. He went in therefore, shut the door behind the two of them, and prayed to the LORD. And he went up and lay on the child, and put his mouth on his mouth, his eyes on his eyes, and his hands on his hands; and he stretched himself out on the child, and the flesh of the child became warm. He returned and walked back and forth in the house, and again went up and stretched himself out on him; then the child sneezed seven times, and the child opened his eyes.” 2 Kings 4:32-35 (NKJV)

I have a Daily Bible that I like to use when I read a devotion in the early morning hours along with my prayer, meditation and journal (of course my journal). I’ve used this Bible since my Mom gave it to me in the early ’90’s. The entire Bible is broken into daily readings from the Old Testament, New Testament, Psalms and Proverbs. I highly recommend a daily Bible for anyone who wants to read the Bible but had no idea what to read. The guess work is taken out of the equation and you don’t have to think about it, just open it up to the date and read.

Earlier this week, Monday I think, I went to read in my Daily Bible, but found myself drawn to June 23rd’s entry versus the actual daily reading. This happens sometimes, I read a different day because an old highlighted area catches my attention, or a note in the margin or just a leaning on my heart. I figure it is God’s way of directing me to a certain passage He would like to speak to me through on that particular day. This is what happened earlier this week. The above passage was the first portion of the Old Testament reading for the day. I’ve read this passage before and have always noticed that it specifically mentions Elisha covered the boy with himself TWICE and the boy sneezes SEVEN times. If a passage of scripture gives a detail, it is there for a reason. On this day, it was like the symbolism of the passage jumped off of the pages at me! This passage is an Old Testament foreshadow of Christ and what he did for us and is still doing for us to this day!

Elisha was a prophet. He was God’s messenger and was gifted to heal people, help people and give people messages from God. The boys mother had called upon Elisha to resurrect her son after he died. Elisha went to the boy and prostrated himself upon the child. He came face to face with one who was dead in his sin. It looked to the natural eye that all hope was gone and the child was “a lost cause”. But how untrue as we find as we read on! Elisha lay upon the boy which symbolizes a holy covering. God is our holy covering, a source of protection from things that can cause harm. A warmth covers us as God covers us daily in His Love. We see evidence of this loving covering as the passage says the boys body became warm.

Next, Elisha gets up and paces around the house. The boy was warm but not revived completely. Have you ever known someone who is on a destructive path of life choices? They make some changes for the better, but they are not free and clear yet, as they are still learning and growing, stumbling along? It could go either way for a person in this place. They are one decision away, either way, from deeper darkness or a turn for the better. God watches all of this as though He were right there with the person. The Bible says that his eyes roam to and fro keeping watch over the earth (2 Chronicles 16:9 ). As Elisha roams to and fro in the house about the child.

Elisha doesn’t quit! He perseveres with un-waivering Hope! He lay upon the boy one more time and this time the child is revived and made whole, sneezing seven times. Seven is the number of perfection and the Breath of Life, God, had breathed new life into the child, giving him a second chance! God does the same with each and every one of us. Though we may stumble, be it a thousand times, he never gives up on us. He never quits or turns away from us. His tender mercies are new each and every day (Matthew 5:7) He is always waiting for us with arms open wide, willing to give us a second chance.

My grandmother on my father’s side never knew Jesus in a personal way. When she was dying my father tried again to share the love of God with her and to secure her eternity with him. Her reply to my Dad was that it was too late for her, God couldn’t help her. In her mind she was a lost cause…she gave up on herself.

What is life like for someone with no hope or has lost hope? There is nothing you have done that can separate you from the love of God (Romans 8:38) There is a quote that goes,

“Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.” Lao Tzu

God’s Love is Perfect, Pure and Unique all on its own. For God’s Love radiates and permeates down deep to the soul giving both strength and courage to the recipient. God’s love is always available, but it truly comes alive when we meditate upon it, believe Him for it, nurture it within our own hearts and share it with others to help them blossom and grow.

There is nothing you can do to be separated from a love so true. Don’t give up. Don’t lose hope. The King of all of heaven and earth has a place in his palace for you. His Kingdom with never end and he looks at you and calls you friend. Your past, present and future mistakes and shortcomings are already accounted for and forgotten. He loves you that much. He loves you so much.

May the Breath of Heaven fill you today to overflowing with His Love, Adoration, Compassion, Tenderness, Mercy, Hope and Liberty…in the Name of Jesus!

~Nicole

June 3, 2013

The Gift Of Time

Posted in Uncategorized at 3:03 pm by Broken & Brave

Earlier today my husband gave me one of his watches to use for work. I am a personal trainer and I prefer to use a stop watch with my clients versus counting repetitions of any particular exercise. I find when clients work for time it gives each person freedom to decide how hard they are going to push themselves. After all, I am their structure and motivator, but the best and deepest motivation to succeed must come from within. In all of life we must decide if we will push deeper to find that next gear of potential and possibility that resides within each one of us or if we will remain the same. Some push through and tap into it, while others back off and coast in the safety of the comfort zone.

I’ve been wanting a wrist watch with a stop watch built in so I could time my clients as they work instead of a hand held device. I was very excited to receive this watch. Now I can be hands free to assist and change weights or equipment and to encourage my clients! I have mentioned before my love for watches in general. I have always loved watches. I can remember it being a favorite gift from my parents on more than one occasion as a teenage girl. So, as I was cleaning up from a morning of training ladies, I reflected on my new watch and also my curious fascination with watches in general. This lead my thoughts to a watch I owned several years ago that is no more. Here resides the direction and purpose of my story…

This watch was indeed the finest piece of jewelry I have ever owned. My husband bought it for me many years ago. We planned the whole day, a trip to San Francisco for fun and a planned stop to the Gucci store. This watch was gorgeous. It was a delicate silver chain link with a rectangular and curved face with delicate hands and no numbers. It was the prettiest little bracelet. The outside edges of the face was completely lined with tiny crushed diamonds for extra sparkle. I also owned a diamond tennis bracelet and the two together were a beautiful pair. When I wore one you can be sure the other dangled beside it upon my wrist~side by side. I don’t have either one anymore. I was robbed and they were both stolen.

It was 2:00 in the afternoon on a weekday. I had just returned from a business trip out of town and had taken the jewelry with me. I was going to be putting them in their “safe place” later that day, but oh how the children were begging me to go to the park. So, I loaded them all in the car and decided I would drop off my jewelry after the short play at the park. We went to a park that was familiar and we visited this particular park often. It was located right across the street from my church. It was a busy day at the park. Not only were there many people their sitting at the picnic tables and children on the playground, but their were road construction workers doing something to the street. I was so nervous to have the jewelry in my bag (which was a brand new all leather designer handbag, a gift for my birthday I believe), so I decided to do something I NEVER DO which is tuck the bag under my seat and I left it in the car. After all, we were only going to be there about 20 minutes, it was mid-afternoon and I was only about 40 feet from my car.

20 minutes came and went and I rounded up the children and we scampered back to the car to finish our errands and our day. My daughter, who was maybe 10 years old at the time, was the first to reach the car. I was focused on the younger children when I heard her call out to me that the window was smashed on our vehicle. My heart sank and I felt all of the blood leave my face. No doubt it had all drained to my stomach which felt like it was about to be sick. Grief overwhelmed me and I prayed the worst hadn’t happened, but it had. My purse was gone and so were the thieves. 20 minutes, a swarm of activity around in the middle of the day and they had managed to go unnoticed, with me (a very suspicious person by nature) only a few feet away. Inside my purse was not only the Gucci timepiece and diamond tennis bracelet, but I also had a few pieces of high end costume jewelry and another everyday watch that I had taken on my trip with me. No doubt the thieves made some money on my goods, after they hit the gas station, mini-mart and Carl’s Jr with my debit card, of course.

I felt so sick to my stomach I literally thought I would throw up right there. I sat on the grass nearly in shock. See, not only was it rough to loose all of these pieces, but my grandmother’s diamonds were in there to boot. They were two of the cuts from her wedding set and my parents had then extracted and fastened into a pair of earring for my 21st birthday. I was very close with my grandparents and they had been gone for several years. These earrings were covered by insurance, but insurance cannot replace sentiment. 

I had been through a lot the previous two years. So much that I wondered if God had forgotten His word..the part where He says He will not give us beyond what we could bear. I knew I was a fairly resilient person and I was strong on the inside (have always had a “no quit” mindset) but I truly believed that what ever it was God was grooming me for…HE HAD THE WRONG GIRL! Truly He must think I am stronger than I really was? Remember, this event alone would be sickening but no one was hurt so,  that makes it something to get over and move on.  I must  stress to you without going into details, I had been to hell and back those previous two years. So, this event, on top of all I had been dealing with put me over the edge. My kids didn’t know what to think, they’d not seen me so somber before. I just sat there on the grass. I wasn’t crying. I didn’t yell or scream or anything like that. I didn’t rebuke them for wanting to go to the park. I just sat there devastated that God had allowed this to happen in the midst of an already extremely testing season of my life. I felt like it was the last straw, I had nothing left. I was so broken, so weary, so discouraged of heart. I cried out to God in that very moment. I didn’t blame Him, accuse Him or curse Him. I called out to my Daddy and asked, “Why? Why did you allow this to happen?” Then, the voice of the Holy Spirit struck my heart hard and deep. It was such a pivotal moment for me. My God replied…

“Because I want to use your voice.”

I was a bit surprised by the clarity in which I heard the Holy Spirit speak, but I also wondered at the same time, “use my voice for what?” I admit that at that time I didn’t understand why nor did I understand what He planned to use my voice for. I guess I am still learning this today, but it gets clearer and clearer to me all of the time.  But on this day, I just sat and prayed (and felt really sick, literally) and as I did so something unique happened.

At that moment a car pulled up behind mine and about 5 young men, colored with red, got out of the car and stood there, facing me and exposing their “color”. I wondered if they were the young men who had robbed me and they had come back to “brag” about it? I will never know. I just looked at them and then I began to pray for them. I knew they must have had things happen in their lives so opposite of mine. How else could their eyes look so cold? No body is born with coldness in their heart or eyes, it comes through negative encounters over and over again. The heart begins to shut down to protect itself from hurt or pain. The more it hurts the more it shuts down the darker it becomes and the more capable of the unthinkable begins.

I don’t know if these boys had anything to do with my robbery. For all I know it was the man sitting with another at the picnic bench in his business suit. I have enough wisdom to know that the eyes can deceive and the heart is as deep as the ocean….so deep that only God can see and reflect the light within.

This experience lead to many conversations about how my church, just across the street and another church, right next to the park, were the Light to the darkness in this neighborhood. Often times people think crime only happens at night or in a “bad” part of town, but it can happen to anyone, any time of day and anywhere. I began to dream of a day that these two churches of different denominations but serving the same God could lock arms in unity and be a bridge to the community that surrounded that area. That was many years ago, but the dream for a unified city that was transformed for the Glory of God has burned in my heart for a decade or more. I am happy to say I see so much happening in my city to bring unity and healing and it is lead by many churches, including these I have mentioned.

In the end, when our time is no more we will not celebrate the things we use to decorate our homes or our bodies. We won’t want to make one last trip to the beach house or see our Rolex one more time. We won’t care about the stains on the carpet or the sheen of wax on the car. In our last moments when time is no more, we will long for our loved ones. When we are gone we leave behind  all of our “stuff” which is quickly divided or discarded. Our lasting impact on our family, our city, our culture is what we did with our time while here. Think about those young men at the park. Who invested time into their hearts? Who spoke encouragement and life into their lungs? Did anyone ever tell them they were dearly loved?

Time….it is the greatest of gifts. Use it wisely. Use it to make a difference, not just in the lives of people you love and your own family, but pour yourself out like a drink offering to quench the thirst of those who may be a little tougher to love. This is a challenge, I know that it is true. It challenges me and it challenges you. But we can do it, every last one. It may be a little or it may be much. It won’t be a love that translate the same to everyone, but God will direct you and open doors for you to pour into the life of another. God can do it through you if you only just try, only begin, to reach out a hand of friendship.  People sometimes need help to overcome.

Be a blessing, as I know you are. Live an extraordinary life, leaving a lasting imprint on the hearts of others…for the better.

Find your Strong and Love them STRONGER 🙂

~Nicole

June 1, 2013

You C.A.N.

Posted in Uncategorized at 10:16 pm by Broken & Brave

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28

The past month has been full of “long days”.  Almost every day has left me feeling completely spent. Though my days are always jam packed, the springtime is always faithful to bring a heightened sense of everything. In fact, come March of each year I start to mentally prepare myself for the next few months. With this said, I come to you late in the evening, very tired in my physical body, but knowing all day that this post was inside of my heart and on the way. I know there are some who need it. I know you need it.

I do not presume that my words are just what another may need, but I know that I have a burden from God above to write, to edify, to encourage and to exhort the hearts of others. Especially so to those who are weary, burdened and broken of heart…hurting in their hearts. This post is for those who struggle to keep the vision, those who are on a quest for clarity, those who have unanswered prayers and many questions of “why?” floating about in their minds.

It’s funny to me how many times the very thing we know we are purposed to do are the very areas we meet the greatest adversity. I imagine in my mind the Lord looking upon me, encouraging me, and asking all at the same time, “How badly do you want to follow me and do all that I have put your hand to do? Push through, Nicole, push through.” Then, I encourage myself, push myself, coach myself.  I push, I press, I overcome. Then a new day comes and I begin this process all over again. As I etch these very thoughts across the page, I am thinking specifically of my own occasional, “why?”, but then God faithfully helps me decide to stay the coarse. Take my writing, for example, I know what I am to do; Write and write a lot. Devotions, books, blogs, and encouraging words and affirmations on my facebook and twitter posts. I’ve even found a way to encourage through instagram. Any vehicle the Lord offers for me to share His love and Voice to those who don’t know where to look for the answer to their hurts or their own “why?”. So, I shouldn’t really ask why when I meet tremendous opposition to my efforts to write. I have the usual obstacles: children, work, schedules, etc. but I have passed these tests with relative ease. So, deeper oppositions have come against me. I have been experiencing extreme technical difficulties. In fact, I am only able to write this because a dear and faithful friend has been sharing her laptop with me. My desktop keeps crashing. Then there is my phone, which is where I must do most of my social media posting. It survives by prayer alone I think! Because of other obligations I cannot just go buy new ones right now. I am forced to trust the Lord and wait for His provision. He always does, so I am not worried. It is an opportunity for me to demonstrate to God how much I love him by continuing to try. He shows His faithfulness back to me in ways He knows I need. As an encourager, I have deep appreciation for encouraging words myself. In fact, words of affirmation is my primary love language. So, to hear something encouraging is such a key to my heart, and God knows this. There are times when I get tired and discouraged and think, “maybe I just won’t write for others any more, just journal and write for myself instead.” Then, I will have within hours it seems, someone contact me and tell me how a certain blog came right at the perfect time, or how my writing encourages them daily, they look each day to my facebook page for support and encouragement. Most of the time these words come from folks I had no idea even read my stuff! Then, my heart smiles and I thank God and I persist to try to be his supplemental strength for others. I love it! It is what I was born to do!

Perhaps you are in a situation or season of life where a “why?” is appropriate to describe your heart or circumstance? I’d like to direct this for you and encourage you for a moment with my simple offering of wisdom.

You C.A.N.

  • C=Commit all things to God .
  • A=All can be accomplished through Him.
  • N=Nothing is impossible for those who Believe.

Do you believe how much God loves you, is for you, and is on your side? If you truly believe this then lean on Him a little harder. Trust Him a little more deeply. You may not have crystal clear vision of the possibilities or what He is up to in your life or situation, but He can see it all quite clearly and He is working behind the scenes to take care of everything. Then, on the other side of fear…the other side of worry….the other side of uncertainty, you will arrive. You will be stronger, wiser, and better than you every thought obtainable. He is just helping you tap into your “inner awesome”. Because you are! Amazing and awesome…created by God and are dearly loved by God. Sometimes He shows His love for us in ways we don’t understand. Let me tell a simple story to help illustrate my point.

Several years ago I knew a woman who was a single woman and she was in need of a car. She prayed and prayed for God to provide a car, but no car came for quite a long time. In the meantime, she rode her bike everywhere. This was fine, inconvenient, but fine for a long time. Until winter came. Then, I saw her one day out riding to her destination and it was about to rain. I began to pray and ask God, “why?” I wondered why God would make her ride her bike so long and not somehow bring better transportation to her? Then, like a download right into my head, I feel I got an answer, an idea, I hadn’t ever thought of before. See, this woman had some health issues and severe edema in her lower legs was one of them. Her legs were so swollen with edema that you couldn’t discern her knee from her shin from her ankle. They were all the same size. So, it occurred to me…all of that bike riding was excellent for her circulation! I believe, though she was inconvenienced and didn’t know why she had to ride a bike, God was working it all out for her good because he was blessing her health! It may never be known the depth of the blessing the bike riding was in her life. I guess the key is to find the blessing and Joy and opportunity to grow in every situation or uncomfortable event. This too is possible.

One last example of possibility thinking for you tonight and it’s found with the bumble bee. Did you know that a bumble bee is aerodynamically designed with a big body and small wings? Laws of physics say he shouldn’t be able to fly. The bumble bee doesn’t know that the “facts” point to “impossible” … so he flies anyway. If he can, so can you. It is all a matter of perspective.

Be blessed. Be hungry for the deeper things of God. He is there, waiting for you. He wants to take you to places in your own possibilities that you have never seen or even dreamed. He will take you higher, just like that bee. All you must do is trust and Believe.

~Nicole