April 30, 2017

Symphony of Heart

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , , , at 6:35 am by Broken & Brave

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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.

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This is a piece I wrote in 2013. I love when the Lord leans into my pen…

Today is a day to enjoy simple pleasures and take delight in the things that delight you. Refresh your soul. Take a stroll. Sleep in or lounge around. Go for a drive…do something that makes you feel relaxed, refreshed and happy to be alive. Life is a beautiful gift–savor it. ~Nicole

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April 29, 2017

A Snapshot In Time…

Posted in Uncategorized at 6:16 am by Broken & Brave

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This is one of my absolute favorite family snap shots. The only thing that could make it my most favorite is if my youngest were in it…but he was no where near becoming a twinkle in my eye yet at this time.

I remember the occasion vividly. It was my husband’s birthday. I believe the year was 2007. We were out to dinner at a family favorite restaurant. I will forever love Macaroni Grill, even if I were to never go there again, because of the significant role it played in this season of life. We ate there so frequently we were “preferred guests” and the manager loved us. If it was crowded and a long wait, they’d pull out another table and set it just for us so we didn’t have to wait. If you know the rest of the story it would make you grin and realize that God, in fact, had an enormous sense of humor…But we will save it and savor it, another story for another time.

This photograph encapsulates an entire year of my…our… existence as a family.

It was one of the most pivotal years of my faith.

It is the single most unified year of my marriage and the most stellar year of my experience home schooling my children (who, at the time, I schooled all). God taught me more in this one year about Him, His heart, His Leadership, His Miracles and His Timing than I could ever learn by mere study of His Life and the Word alone. I saw it all, the Bible, come to life in my life in the most peculiar yet Glorious way.

I would not change a single day of that year, though I never desire to repeat a single day of it either. It was both the hardest and the best year of my life in countless ways. My personal version of the Classic Novel by Charles Dickens, “A Tale of Two Cities” and the opening line read…

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.”

I have so much I could share about what this picture represents. It is etched in my heart as a blue print of my past and also the future God was leading me to. It is the year He taught me and lead me into oceans deep…just like the song “Oceans” which would not be penned by its authors for another maybe seven years.

I had ventured into oceans deep and knew I was His (God’s) and He was mine. I had no doubt of this prior, but this year burned it in…deep. I had never experienced anything more difficult yet exhilarating in my life. It was the season where I realized that inside my soul I wasn’t the terrified little girl I had always known. I was a Warrior Bride who craved adventure and believed I was everything God said I was because I knew He was with me! I guess it was the year I absolutely 100% KNEW my Identity. I learned I was truly a willing risk taker, way maker and somewhat of a rule breaker. This in itself is hilarious because my entire life I follow every rule to the letter T. I love the order and boundary of God’s laws, but He was the greatest risk taker of them all! I guess I love to see Him show up and show off.

After all, the best way to witness a miracle is to be in a situation where you are dependent on a miracle. God never disappoints.

Yes, this photograph stimulates these memories among many, many more. It was a year where I saw so many miracles and witnessed God open many doors. By the end the this year, after following the lead of God to do countless things, I realized that we had anointed the entire city where we live with anointing oil in the shape of a cross! This city belongs to God…

Do you have special moments  that stimulate memories of seasons of life that acted like a Rite of Passage?

Don’t look back. The thresholds you cross are markers on a Glorious Path and God has Designed it all.

Cherish the things that speak to your soul and stir your heart deeply.

~Nicole

April 28, 2017

How My Family Has Overcome

Posted in Devotional, true story, Uncategorized tagged , , , at 6:28 am by Broken & Brave

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(Super AWESOME😝 Photo of me with my Mom, Dad and younger brother. Gotta love all that clashing fabric!)

I Believe!

Of all my aunts and uncles, only one aunt with her husband, were believers-ministers of the gospel-in fact. Aside from these two, not a single believer on either side of my family. Behold, something happened, the Spirit of God came and swept through both sides of my family and within six months all but a few were given eyes to see and they Believed! My Mom believed first and my Dad followed later, after “watching” my Mom for a while. God knew what he was doing because my Mom is the first to say she is super sassy and strong. The presence of the Holy Spirit was evident in her new found faith and my Dad agreed and believed! Praise God, when He removes scales and gives people eyes to see…he makes promises to all who overcome!

Do not give up on family members no matter where they are in relationship with you or with God. God can make a move on a heart and give it a jump start!~Nicole

Prayer: “To him to has an ear let him hear!” Lord, let us have ears for the Divine.”

“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God.” Rev. 2:7

April 27, 2017

A Pregnant Pioneer

Posted in Devotional, true story, Uncategorized tagged , , , , , , at 3:28 am by Broken & Brave

Being a Pioneer means you are willing to do and try things that other people don’t do or try before its at all popular to do…

When you have a Pioneer Mindset, Vision, and are a forward thinker it permiates every area of your life, not just one or two, because it’s just how you think.

I have 5 kids. I worked out through the entire pregnancy with every one of them. Right till the end– full workouts. They modified as gestation progressed  and the weights weren’t as heavy, but I kept at what was my normal. I didn’t see a lot of other women doing this. It wasn’t a norm in culture around me. But my husband and I knew it was good. John had studied under a professor who’s done extensive research on benefits and safety. We actually loaned my OB/GYN research materials when I was pregnant with baby número uno and told her what we planned to do so she could monitor me. Thank God I have a Doctor who also has a pioneer mindset.

Look around today. I’m not saying I started a trend. Others were doing this as well but they were fewer and further between. We weren’t afraid of what people would say or think. I didn’t get upset when people coddled or babied me over lifting small objects or walking on stairs. I accepted their love and then I’d go clean a whole house or something.

It’s beautiful to see women caring for their bodies as they enjoy the beautiful changes in their body during pregnancy. What a Joyful Journey. If you are pregnant and want to be active but don’t know how much you can do. Check with your Doctor and I’d ever be happy to share with you.

God loves your body. He loves your babies both when they are inside and when they make their grand entrance. You love it, too. So many benefits to being active in every phase. This is one example of a pioneer mindset. I’m so glad I did it anyway even when I received awkward looks and scrutiny.

You may not be pregnant but I bet there is something God has planted down deep that breaks the mold and goes against things you’ve known or been told as status quo. You were built for more than status quo living. Get moving! Enjoy the ride. 💜Nicole

“…I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” John 10:10

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(Photo of me doing plyometrics at about 18 weeks along. I lifted weights and worked out my entire pregnancy with all my pregnancies. With each pregnancy the scrutiny I endured became less and less as culture began to change the prejudice of their mindset).

April 26, 2017

Big Splash💦

Posted in Uncategorized at 6:18 am by Broken & Brave

Kids crack me up.

There is something so infectious and intoxicatingly about the pure and radiant heart of a child. When I see kids smiling my heart wants to explode.

My youngest stirs my heart every day. All of my kids do, but the older ones in a different way. With the older I enjoy the way they have grown and matured. I love having intelligible conversations with them on deeper subjects. All of life contains lessons in wisdom for life. I always begin pouring these words for their “Little Book of Life”, as my Mother always said, into their life at a very young age. My Mother would always say, “Tuck this into your Little Book of Life.”

Blessed to have a Mother with ample wisdom. I feel like she is a walking talking Pinterest. Half the DIY stuff I see on there I somehow have a memory of my Mom doing it or showing it to me. Anyway, back to my kids…

All last week my kids were on Spring Break. My youngest kept begging me to go swimming. I kept telling him it was kind of cold and the weather still a bit inclement. He hoped and persisted in the cutest of ways. Finally, on Friday, I let him dip his toes in. The weather was a bit nicer and I was sure that icy waters would be all it took for his need to swim to end. Do you know what he did? He dipped his toe then went right back in the house. I was sitting on the back patio. No more than 3 minutes later he returned in his swim suit and jumped right in! His head came up out of the water and he was giggling with tremendous joy and glee! I could tell the temperature was cold!

I smiled the hugest ear to ear smile I could possibly come up with. Had I a bigger face I assure you my smile would have been larger! Then his next elder brother joined the mix. The two of them swam for maybe ten minutes. But the happiness it brought them and to see it on their faces gave me Joy for a lifetime. I love moments and memories like these.

So far this week he’s been in the pool three times, no visit lasting longer than five minutes. But that’s all it has taken to make him happy.

I absolutely cherish my Tiny Treasures- Most of who are now taller and heavier than I.

Before I had children I would have laughed you out of the building if you fortold I’d have five. I knew I’d have children, but I never sat around dreaming about marriage and children when I was younger. I knew I wanted it all and I knew it would happen and I guess I was in no hurry for it. I never thought about how many kids I’d like to have. After having my eldest, my only natural birth, I was a bit freaked out by the whole thing and thought for sure I’d be good with one. But God is so amazing, he knows how they would each touch my heart and bless me upon bless me in countless ways. I always look forward to them in my life every single day. Yet, at the same time I give them age appropriate freedom to live, breath and spread their wings. I’m probably the furthest from helicopter parenting. I have raised and groomed my kids to be competent and independent.

Kids are just awesome. I learn from them as they learn from me. I wouldn’t have it any other way. Just as my little loves swim was refreshing to him, so each of them are to me! ~Nicole

April 25, 2017

Nostalgia

Posted in true story, Uncategorized tagged , , , , , at 6:39 am by Broken & Brave

Sit back for a moment. Ponder with me. Think for a moment…what familiar thing arouses your senses of happier things? Times or experiences in your life that make you feel good inside? Do you have a familiar sound or smell or sight that makes your heart warm? Think about it for a moment.

I was driving into town yesterday and saw a plastic bag in a tree. Have you ever noticed plastic bags in trees? It’s quite common actually. I used to never notice them.

When I see a plastic bag in a tree I think immediately of my Mother-In-Law. My Mother-In-Law is well advanced in years. She is old enough to be my Grandmother rather than a Mother. My husband is the youngest of four and his oldest sibling is close in age to my parents. My husband is a great deal older than I. So many of her habits, traditions, etc. are different than mine. Both because of her generation and her location, New England.

Years ago while driving with her up the east coast she told my oldest, who was like 3 years old at the time, she wanted to play a game with her. They would spy out plastic bags in trees as we drove a rather long journey. I said nothing, but was thinking to myself, “A bag in a tree? What? This will be a short game.” I was shocked when I kind of played along and there were tons! To this day I notice bags caught on tree branches and I inwardly smile and think on my Mother-In-Law and her little car game.

Did you ponder with me a bit? Did you think about it? Do have things that bring back fond memories? A sight, a sound, a smell?

I have a fond memory of the smell of bleach. Yep, bleach. I love the smell of bleach. It’s a potent and powerful smell, but to me it reminds me of walking in the front door after walking home from school in my childhood. I was fortunate to have my Mom at home when I was a kid. I grew up in a clean and tidy house. I think my Mom cleaned house everyday. So when I’d step in the house, it would be that clean smell of household bleach. I guess some kids came home to the smell of fresh baked cookies, but I loved the smell just the same.

So go ahead, your turn to play. Nostalgia is a glorious thing to cause a smile to erupt on your face. No one ever need know why you’re smiling. The smile will be contagious and inviting and others will smile along with you. Take a moment and think on your favorite smells, sights or silly things that mean nothing to others, but carry fondness of heart to you. These are things to cherish.

Have a Glorious Day…

April 24, 2017

Charmed or Favored?

Posted in true story, Uncategorized tagged , , , at 6:32 am by Broken & Brave

As the body thirsts for water, so my soul will thirst for you…

Since I was a youth people, friends, say things to me such as, “you have a charmed life” or “everything always works out for you”. I guess I never spent much time thinking about it until these statements became a regular pattern in my young adult life. My life is not “charmed”. But what I do have is “Favor”. The unmerited favor of God. We are all spiritual beings, thirsting for more than what we have. I know the extremely wealthy who thirst for more. I know the beautiful, the successful who still feel a void. Soul searchers knowing not what they hunger for. I do not profess to be more or have more than any other. My thoughts of self tend to be minimal. But here’s what I do know. There is a Creator above…shaper of the soul…comforter of hearts…who longs to bestow favor upon you. I never asked God for anything other than to know Him, feel Him, draw near to Him. Seek the One and find True Love. -Nicole

April 23, 2017

Be…

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

Since opening this blog I’ve primarily written about God and how my life’s experiences have all lead me to Him, in ever increasing measure. I’ve shared the thoughts He has leaned into my pen.

I was a reluctant blogger to begin. I’ve been a writer for years and years, but many of those years I enjoyed my pen and my heart mingled with my Lord in the quiet of my alone time. Just my heart, my thoughts, my prayers scribbled on the page. I loved it and I most assuredly would have been most comfortable to just leave it there. Me and God alone with my heart. I can honestly say I trusted few outside of Him to penetrate the deep regions of its chambers. So when I began to share what I had penned it was painful, it was intentional, it was my heart, my privacy (something I’ve always held dearly) my obedience to God’s lead and if it weren’t for Him I would still be writing more myself alone to this day, most likely anyway. So, now I guess I am comfortable with sharing and writing and knowing someone else is reading what’s in my heart and head. I feel the leaning on my heart to just write. No message. No life lesson or wisdom come by virtue of experience. Just ramblings…let’s see where this leads. I want to write just to write. I already do this on my own, but I want to open it up and share more of my days on my blog page. That’s going to be new for me..

My entire life, as far back as I am able to recall, I’ve had passions that run deep. I feel deeply. I tend to care deeply and my compassions and empathies also, run deep. I feel and discern the hearts of others, deeply. I have a jovial and playful silliness to me that comes naturally, but I am also a bit serious and contemplative. It’s hard not to be for I also, think and ponder on things…you guessed it…deeply.

It can be a bit overwhelming to experience passions of mind, heart and soul deeply so at a young age I sort of learned how to compress them and package them and file them away I guess. It was just easier. This, of course, was not healthy, but very socially acceptable as most people do the same on some level. As I grew and matured and became more of the woman I had been Designed to be–I was no longer content to keep it all to myself. I guess I stopped being selfish. I began to allow myself to feel more, be more, embrace more. It was a risk of heart worth taking.

I love my pen. I love how God has so gracefully anchored it through my hand as an extension of my heart. I feel safe and free when I write. I imagine I need all that passion and feeling to stimulate its creativity. Expression of soul is always beautiful. It’s who you are, unashamedly.

It’s difficult for me to write and not shift my focus from myself to encouragement, to you, your needs, your life, your cares…so I guess for now I’ll stop there.

I want to just Be.

Take Care– Nicole.

April 22, 2017

Complete: Together We Are Stronger

Posted in Uncategorized at 7:24 am by Broken & Brave

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One of the things I love about my natural bodybuilding shows, the organizations with which I have selected to associate, is their commitment to integrity, class and camaraderie. Figure competitions– to me–are an opportunity to test my grit and personal commitment to self discipline and self control. How hard can I push myself? How strong am I? My physical being is the canvas I sculpture. It’s something I enjoy and in this community the gals I step on stage with compliment this by putting themselves to the same challenge.

We don’t compete with each other…we complete each other.
We step on stage in unity and enjoy ourselves immensely! There are other bodybuilding federations much larger than the ones I select and may even offer greater opportunities for advancement in modeling or advertisements/endorsements–but they don’t have that level of excellence in friendliness that mine do. So I opted to not choose them.

All of life is like my figure competitions. We sculpt and mold our minds with education, we try to eat right and get exercise, we work hard for things we feel passionate about to make a difference in our communities. The more we lock arms with each other, grabbing hold of one another and stepping out together, the more the victory unfolds. God’s got work for you to do, things for you to sculpt and no one else has the tools and resources he has given to you. The rest of us need you and dare I say, we need each other. Be a Champion! -Nicole

“Do to others whatever you would have them to do to you. This is the essence of all that is taught in the law and the prophets.” Matthew 7:12

April 21, 2017

My AdvoCare…

Posted in true story, Uncategorized tagged , , , , , , , , at 9:26 pm by Broken & Brave

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I was 26 years old, married, no kids, when I met AdvoCare. I knew I was planning to start a family soon and at the time was working two part time jobs. I knew I wanted to stay home with my baby once I had one. My husband worked in Division 1 College Athletics and was rarely home due to the demands of his career. I had been praying for financial provision so I could walk away immediately from one job and then later the second. Here comes AdvoCare. I am a fitness enthusiast most of my life and had an educational background in nutrition. I had never seen anything like AdvoCare. Quality of ingredient, safety, sound and solid research. No magic pills or grandiose claims, just good nutrition. I felt fabulous and got results I’d been working hard for, but wasn’t getting in my own efforts. I lost 5% body fat, 4 dress sizes in 90 days, but only lost 6 pounds. I completely shifted my body composition. I ate better. I had more energy. I felt great. So, when I prayed for John to get a raise or promotion so I could quit, God had something else in mind. Each time I prayed I could discern His lead, “AdvoCare”. I ignored for a while. It wasn’t the plan I wanted. But after the third time I knew, “ADVOCARE!”. Since then I can say this little company has blessed my family in innumerable ways. It pays for all of my kids to receive a private education. This income got us debt free in 3 years and we’ve carried no debt outside a mortgage. Our health has longevity and the friendships are bar non. This company attracts the best of the best in servant hearts. My kind of people. Interested? I’d love to help you do what I’ve done and more. ~Nicole

Nextlevelcoach.com

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