Thursday, August 9, 2012

Dreams Fulfilled = Work + Discomfort

I am going to be transparent in this post, not for the purpose of support or because I think I am all that, but for the sake of giving someone hope.  I did something that I did not want to do and tried to avoid doing only to find myself having done it (Romans 7:15-25).  I have a friend whose voice-mail greeting says, "What you think about you bring about."  These words have been fulfilled!

What I did that I had wanted to avoid was getting myself stuck in a comfort zone.  I have been in this place of comfort for five years and am now at a crossroads.  Thanks to having been jolted out of my safe, comfortable, restful, self-centered world for five weeks (I was caring for someone else who is disabled) I am no longer the same.  God keeps bringing me to this place of choosing because I long to be living the call He has placed on my life.  In order for that to happen, I need to get over myself and do the work.  His work requires me to be uncomfortable and puts me in relationships and situations where He is in control and not me.  For those who are results-driven and perfectionists, not being in control is unsettling to frightening to paralyzing.

To be completely immersed in my God-given calling is the longing of my soul, but being immersed means I can't run when I don't feel like being of use.  I want to be recklessly abandoned to Him, but my head says this is not practical.  Even though God continues to equip me for the call, the final step for complete immersion is up to me.  Unfortunately, I like being comfortable.

Yesterday I had a pity party and this morning I continued it during my prayer time before the Lord.  Waiting on Him is hard because I am used to having a plan and seeing it come to fruition.  Waiting on the Lord to help me live from my soul is driving me bonkers.  What do I do while waiting?  Study some more?  Rewrite something.  Redesign something else.  Wait some more.  Doubt myself and His call.  Wait some more.  Aaargh!!!  Waiting proves who is in control.  It's not me.

The lesson I am learning and relearning is dying to self.  If I want to live, if I want to be recklessly abandoned, if I want to serve Him I must let go completely.  I also must do the work, whether I want to or not.  The fun, rewarding work must get done along with the "drudgery" of the day.  Mundane tasks count.

For excellence and fulfillment to happen, discomfort and movement must come.  We have to let go and stretch in order to reach the next step.  To walk or move, one must leave where they are to get to the next place.  For me to minister to other women and young girls, I must come out of my comfort zone and reach out my hands and heart to them.  I must choose to trust, risk feeling uncomfortable and be comfortable not having control.

Being a disciple requires all of me, not just self-selected parts and times.  God forgive me!

"I do not understand what I do.  For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do...For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.  For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do - that I keep on doing."  (Romans 7:15, 18-19)

"Then Jesus said to His disciples, 'Whoever wants to be My disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow Me.  For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for Me will find it.'" ( Matthew 16:24-25)

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Thoughts, Revelations & Decisions on Adversity

In John 16:33 Christ tells us that we will have trouble, but we are to remember and be of good cheer because He has overcome the world.  That passage has been stirring in my head for the past few days because I keep trying to figure out how to be in a comfortable and pleasant state doing what I long to do at all times.  There is supposed to be joy there along with peace, fulfillment and abundance.  Jesus promised joy in Him and Paul always encouraged his readers to rejoice in spite of the hardships he endured for the sake of Christ.  What I have missed in their teaching is the lives they really lived on this earth.  They had joy not just in blessings, but also in hardships.  Really?

From my reflections on joy and the adversity and challenges I encounter on a daily basis, I have discovered that there will always be trouble and I should stop looking for a permanent state of bliss and comfort while here on earth.  Instead, I must get over myself and go live the life He has given me.  We can have comfort, peace and joy in this world, but lasting comfort, peace and joy can only come in Christ.  The joy, peace and comfort He promises is meant for now and in the midst of our adversity, not for some desired permanent state in the future.  My lesson learned:  We are not to be kept from adversity; we are to be kept by God in it.  We can choose to dwell on and succumb to adversity or we can choose to dwell on and surrender to Christ, His character, promises and power.  Our adversity is what it is and we have it for the purpose of His glory, not ours.

Throughout the Bible, God has promised to never leave us nor forsake us and He won't (Joshua 1:5).  Life will always have hardship, but our hope can be kept in the promise of who we are (co-heirs, Romans 8:17), Whose we are (God's children, Romans 8:16), and His promise of eternal life (intimacy with Him, John 17:3).

Be blessed,

Friday, July 27, 2012

Isaiah 43 There is No Other

There is a hard pull or tug-of-war between the should's and the resting because we're supposed to always be doing something versus the oddity of resting in Him because we simply can.  We go continuously because something has to fill our need and simplicity is nonsense and well, too easy.

When do we go and when do we be still?  When will we accept, receive and remain?

Listen.  Get quiet and listen.  What do you hear?  Could it be your soul crying out for more, the good kind of more?  The kind of more that longs to be filled for good? 

Let it speak, for it is His instruction, promise, vision, desire that is to be accomplished in you and through you.

He creates so that He can fill.  Manipulative?  Maybe, but the rewards are like no other - unspeakable joy, unexplainable peace, fulfillment and grace.  

Why go to another when He is like no other?

Stay with Him and be.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Go. Sit. Wait for His Touch

There are two stray cats that live outside my office.  I have been feeding them for about two years and now the male cat comes to love on me and anyone who is a cat lover.  Throughout the day, I see him sleeping in the bushes outside my window or wandering across the parking lot looking for someone to give him a good belly rub. Whenever there is a car coming through the parking lot, he will saunter over to see if the driver, a passenger, someone, or anyone is a cat lover in the vehicle.  He's not picky; just give him a good rub behind the ears, under the chin or on his fluffy belly.  Whatever you can give for however long, works for him.

As I watched him today, I thought of how we seek after love, acceptance and recognition.  How we sometimes and for long periods of time, seek out love in the wrong places or at the wrong time in our lives.  We forget or choose to ignore the ever-present, always available God who sits and waits patiently for us.  He is the only one who will always have a loving touch to give, acceptance and recognition to bestow upon us.  How many times a day do we drop what we are doing to seek His loving touch, His gracious words of love, His provision and care, His true and reliable companionship? He promises in Jeremiah 29:13 that He will be found when we seek Him with our whole heart.

Today, I chose to take time throughout the day to seek Him. He has met me every time with His loving touch. Go ahead. Go. Sit. Wait for His touch.

Be blessed,

Monday, May 21, 2012

Just Try

Last week I was working on an updated version of my website but had run out of site pages to work with. Money is tight, so I thought I would add the pages once I had earned some extra money and then finish the site. Even though I had earned the five free page site as a bonus, I figured it only came with the initial five pages and any additional pages would come with a fee.

About four days went by as I eagerly anticipated a few extra dollars coming in.  While waiting, I decided to check the price of additional pages only to discover that all I had to do was to click on "Add Pages" and I would have what I needed. Duh! I laughed at myself and thanked God for the lesson on trying. All I could hear in my head at the time was, "Just try."

This may be a simple message, but it is one that God has proven several times over this week.  I have been challenged with building and marketing a new business with little to no money and every small step taken has proven fruitful.  Each small step has resulted in big, unexpected solutions, ideas and responses to prayer. Just as Jesus took two small fish and five loaves of bread to feed thousands, He has taken my small steps of intention and inquiry and provided abundance.

Many of us look for abundance and provision in our everyday needs and desires with specific expectations. But God has a way of showing up and showing off in ways we may never imagine on our own.  He will give us answers to prayer for abundance or need, but we have to be open to His presence and the likelihood that He will meet us in a surprising way.

If there is something you long to have, do or be, but are afraid to take a step, do it anyway. I know it is easier said than done, but take this suggestion from someone who has struggled with self-esteem, value and worth her entire life. God really does love us and He really does want to bless us.  It's okay to be uncertain or afraid, but know that a simple step may be the opening God was waiting for you to give Him so that your efforts could be multiplied. Step out. Reach out. Just try.

Be blessed,

Monday, April 9, 2012

Changing My Story

Back in January, I watched Oprah interview Viola Davis just before the Oscars. Davis shared her personal story of growing up poor in Rhode Island and the struggles she had with being a member of the only black family in her town. Much of her story resembled mine. She reminded me of a deep sadness I had growing up of never being good enough or being perceived as ugly or stupid. Every day I was challenged to prove myself to be better or just as good as everyone else around me.

Since this interview, God has perked up my ears so that several times a week I have come across an interview, an article, book or seminar about life stories. The stories we have been telling ourselves or telling others about ourselves have brought us to where we are in our lives today. For some that can be a great place and for others, not so great. Some of our stories have been beautiful and true, others have been painful lies.

This process has helped me discover and listen for the stories I have been telling myself over the years. Many of them have been downright lies, painful truths and stories that really belong to someone else. I discovered that I no longer have to tell myself these stories and that I can tell and live different stories. Along with God's Word, I need to speak words to myself that are life-giving, edifying, encouraging and empowering.

Today it is time for new stories to be told about my physical appearance and weight, my life's purpose and vocation, my dreams and goals, my true worth and beauty. It is time for me to receive and be all that God has for me. It is time for me to let go of the stories that no longer work and speak that I am beautiful, powerful, strong courageous, passionate, compassionate, loving, worthy, bold and confident.

As God says in Isaiah 43;18-19, "forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland."

I am looking forward to the new things that God is and will be doing in my life. Some changes will be painful and some will require me to take risks, but knowing they could lead me to fulfilling my God-designed life and purpose, makes changing my stories worthwhile.

Perhaps God has new stories of truth about your value and worth as well as the plans He has for you. Why not take the time to listen to the words you say about yourself to yourself and to others. Slight changes of positive truth could lead you to a better place of joy, truth, freedom and whatever else God has in store for you. I encourage you to try.
Be blessed,

"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come." 2 Corinthians 5:17

Monday, March 26, 2012

Not Yet Time

Are your plans God's plans or are they your wants? Is that project you are working on His or is it something you are doing because you want the end result to be a certain way? We are used to things in life being in our hands, in our control and working as planned. Past experience of waiting on God takes too long and the end result never comes, it shows up and we don't want it anymore, or it turns out to be totally different and we don't know what to do with it.

We strive to live 24/7 to achieve the "shoulds" in life. Controlling our plans leaves us exhausted. We work to keep our eyes and hands on every body and every thing involved. If we don't, one slip could cause our plans to tumble and fall. Then we would be left with nothing, or so we believe.

With all the work we have put into our plans and the fruition of our desires, we have a hard time understanding times of waiting on the Lord. When we have had confirmations, been commissioned, received visions and support from others but are not seeing the desired results, we become fearful, frustrated, angry, uncertain and disappointed. There is a possibility that what we want may not happen. Yet, we want what we want when we want it, especially if we have worked hard for it.

Life with Christ is the exact opposite. What would happen if we didn't hold on tightly? What would happen if we decided we wanted something but did not plan or set goals for it? What would happen if we just trusted God to bring our desire to pass in His own time? After all, He claims He is in control and nothing happens without His knowledge. If we were to accept that, then what do we do in the meantime? Surely there has to be something for us to do because, well, we're supposed to be doing something all the time. If we aren't, then we're lazy. Besides, God would not and could not give us the dreams in our hearts if we did not help Him or take control of the plans. Or could He?

The Bible is full of characters who took matters into their own hands because of unbelief, impatience, and/or peer pressure. We have Abraham and Sarah who decided to have a baby through Sarah's maid instead of waiting for God's timing for their son, Isaac. There is Peter who rebukes Jesus when He declares His impending death, not understanding that Christ's purpose was death.

In these instances and our own circumstances, if we look we will see that our waiting is simply because it is not yet time. I am learning that life is not about all we can get, do or be. We were created to live in relationship with God. Period. Our getting, doing and being are by-products of that relationship, not its purpose.

Waiting is not the norm in this world. Being still is equated with laziness. Yet, being still in the Lord, even while we are in the midst of an activity or in time alone with Him, gives us the ability to receive and manage the fruition of our plans, dreams and desires when they do come. Waiting is frightening because we are used to going and afraid of what people will think if we are not. But being still is sweeter. The peace of God is in that place of waiting. The presence of God is in that place of waiting. The answers, the truth and the path to take are in our waiting.

When done for the Lord's sake, our waiting will never be in vain.

Be blessed,

"Be still, and know that I am God..." Psalm 46:10

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Obeying God's Nudges

Sometimes you just don't know. Sometimes God surprises you when you least expect it, but what He surprises us with is oftentimes an answer to prayer. We can never know when or how God will answer our prayers, but we can trust that He will.

I am finding that when I obey His nudges and do what He is urging me to do, a prayer is answered. Last week I had been praying for direction and assistance for my business. On Sunday morning, God kept nudging me to attend a different church for service and worship. I scrambled to get ready and arrived at what I thought would be late. But God always knows who and what we need when we need them. Throughout the service He answered prayers and provided an opportunity to worship and fellowship with new and seasoned friends.

I have read that it is important to be open to and aware of God's presence, being in a statement of expectation. He always comes in unexpected ways which may be why the Bible says we should be ready in and out of season. This passage was meant to remind us of the importance of being prepared to share the Gospel at any time as we may be brought before someone who needs to hear it. I also think this passage means that we should always be prepared for God to speak to and live through us.

What an honor it is knowing that God wants to meet us and be with us at all times. What an even greater honor to know that He will always be found when we choose to seek Him. Finding Him in the details of my day is where my joy is. Seeing how He meets me is a delight and knowing that He wants to always leaves me in awe.

I am often asked how I could be so in love with Jesus. My answer is that it took a long time and took me making the decision to believe Him. I am no where near perfect and there are moments of every day where I allow fear, worry and unbelief to settle in. But God is good and He has a way of reminding me of His goodness. I then have to decide if I want to stay in a place of turmoil or do I want what He has for me instead.

My experience may seem silly, but I have and am living in a better place emotionally, mentally and spiritually. I have lived in the dark hole of depression and despair. I have spent months and years in oppressive depression, tension, anger and frustration. It is by the grace and power of God working in and through me that I am able to experience relief, healing and freedom from the pain of darkness.

Everyone's journey is different, but God is the same all the time. He is and always will be present, providing, directing, correcting and loving. We have to decide if we want to believe Him, receive Him and follow His nudges.

Be blessed.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Why Would and How Could He Love Me?

God loves me. I know this, not just because the Bible says so, but because He has said so. He has whispered answers to prayers in the midst of my struggles and laying down of burdens. He has placed delightful surprises in the midst of my cares and concerns. He has led me to Scripture verses that spoke what I mean to Him.

When I ask Him why He answers, "Because I want to. Because I can no matter what you believe you are. Because My heart melts when I look at you. I know you don't understand why or how, and that's okay. There are things I do that you will never grasp, so sometimes you will have to let go of your need for understanding and just accept that I do what I do.

As My child, you are much more than you believe yourself to be. I know this is hard for you to receive or believe, but someday you will. I tell you, don't worry about when or how, because it is something that only I can work in and through you. The only thing you can do is let go. Your belief and understanding will come in My time and in My way.

You are in My hands and on this earth because I want you to do and be something for Me. I know you are struggling and the tension and oppression are often too strong to bear. Living is difficult when you don't know why you are here or what you are supposed to do. Know that I am taking care of everything and in due time, you will know and see your why's answered.

I am asking you to endure in trust and patience. I know it's hard and I know you don't know how much more you can take. Take a deep breath; and then one more. Now lean on Me one more time.

I know these words are hard to receive, but know that I do love you because I want to. In the same way you seek companionship, love and intimacy with another, I seek companionship, love and intimacy with you."

On the days when I don't know what I am to be doing or where I am supposed to be on this journey, I listen for God. Even if I can't see or receive His words, I can take a deep breath and go one step further.

When you can't see or don't understand, please stop and listen. I promise He will whisper something good.

In Him,

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

To Follow - Lay Down and Deny

For the past few days I have been stuck on Matthew 16:24 where Christ tells us that if anyone wants to follow Him, they must deny themselves and take up their cross. Each day I ask myself a different question that comes to mind after I read this verse. Christ's instruction to deny ourselves and associate with Him requires a willingness that at times, cannot be fathomed. Sometimes we have to accept that we will never understand the depths we must go in order to serve Him. No matter what, we must go.

When Jesus says I must deny myself in order to follow Him, I discover that this may require me to let go of dreams, desires and even the fulfillment of some needs. But as I do this, I discover that greater works are accomplished because I have decreased - gotten out of His way - so that His plans can be fulfilled. I may play a part in fulfilling those plans, but the greater result could only come from Him.

This journey of denying ourselves and taking up our crosses for Christ can leave us bombarded with choices that may fulfill opportunities in this world. Do we go by the world's standards for fulfillment or Christ's? Do we do what is good or do we do what is beneficial for God, others and ourselves?

My choice to follow Christ has brought me under alignment with the calling/purpose/place He has created for me as a disciple. I have been in this place for some time and it feels huge, wide open and a blur because there is so much possibility and great potential. At times, this place can be overwhelming, to the point that I have been uncertain as to which steps to take next. So I take small steps in different directions, which for someone who likes to have everything clear and in place, this is chaotic. This often comes with an uneasy feeling as I am afraid my ducks are not in a row, I will miss something and someone will be disappointed.

I want to do so much for the Lord. I want to feed His sheep through words that inspire, bring new life and transform. My heart wants Him delighted and His children devoted to Him. My prayer is that I will be a vessel that makes a difference day in and day out. May He inhabit me so that I am a form of light, comfort, beauty and grace in the midst of the world's turmoil. This is not for my recognition but for His. I have never known a love like His and everyone should have this for themselves. There is nothing like it!

I pray you will seek Him and answer His call, that deep longing within your heart. Know that there are many who have made the choice to take up their cross and that you will not be alone. Be encouraged and take the step forward into Him.


Monday, March 5, 2012

Comparison and Calling

Why do we spend time comparing ourselves to each other? What on earth do we each have that the other wants bad enough to do almost anything to have it? We spend money on clothes, beauty products and other material items. We go to conference after conference, buy book after book hoping for the key that will unlock exactly what we want or the true path to achieving it all. We drive ourselves crazy and in some cases become obsessed with getting who and/or what we want at any cost.

Is this comparison frenzy worth the cost? Is it worth going to jail for? Is it worth getting into debt? Is the physical and/or emotional pain due to loss, heartbreak, or change worth it? When you achieve or receive what you want, are you pleased, happy, overjoyed, or are you overwhelmed, disappointed, scared? What do you do after you have what you want? What's next to chase after?

For me, comparison has been an enemy all of my life. It has kept me from moving forward to try new things, speak the truth when the situation arises, stand strong for myself and pursue dreams. When I compare myself to someone else who looks the way I would like to or is doing something that I long to do, I work myself into an anxious place because I know I can do what they are doing or look the way they look. I think it is in my ability to achieve and have what they have and if I just work a little harder, discipline myself a little more, I know I can get there. The solution will come. God said all things are possible, so there has to be a way.

I forget that I was created in His image for His purposes, not mine. When the Apostle Peter asks Jesus what would happen to the Apostle John, Jesus said, "...what is that to you?!...You must follow Me"(Jn 21:20,22). To achieve the deep longings within, longings that come from Jesus in me, I have to keep my eyes on Him. He calls each of us to feed His sheep, not measure up to or out do them.

Instead of focusing on what other people are called to do, I must focus on the Lord and the plan He has for me. I am to remain faithful to the call He has placed on my life, not the one He placed on someone else. I can still learn from others because we all have something good to offer each other. But I must remember that my uniqueness has a purpose, and it is His.

Remembering that I am chosen, a co-heir, predestined for a particular work that He works through me, helps me get back on track. As I faithfully use the gifts and talents He has given me, I find that opportunities arise where I get to do what I long to do and be who I long to be. I trust Him instead of what others have to say about getting ahead. He opens doors that no human being could open on their own.

All things are possible, but only with God. We have to choose who we will follow and at what cost.


Monday, February 27, 2012

Several years ago, I took a New Testament class at my church. This class was taught by a woman who knew more about the Bible than I could ever imagine. She offered great insight and knowledge during our classes and there were times when I wondered if she and I were reading the same Book.

At the time I was taking this class, I was also trying to start my own business and really wanted my father's help. Unfortunately, he did not want to support me in this venture and believed it would not work. My father has always been my hero and my standard for success. I idolized him and wanted him to always be proud of me. To have him not support something that I knew I was called to do was heartbreaking. How could I honor my earthly father and be obedient to God at the same time?

One evening we were studying the Song of Songs in my class and for some reason, no one was paying attention. We were in the gymnasium for class and it was really cold and we all were ready to go home. As the teacher wrapped up she said she wanted to give us her interpretation of the last three verses of Song of Songs. She said she might get in trouble for sharing her view about what God was saying to His beloved, but she felt it needed to be said. Her words were,
"Oh, don't look at Me with those big, beautiful brown eyes of yours! For when you look up at Me, My heart just melts. I love you so much, I just want to give you the world!"

Those were God's healing words to me. He knew I needed to hear and know Him for myself. In essence He was saying, "Monica, I want to give you the world. Your earthly father cannot give you what I can. He can't be your provider, cheerleader, source of wisdom, discernment, finances, instruction and direction the way I can. Only I can be your Strength and the One who fills all of your needs to the full. I want to do this for you. I have so much for you and I love you with an everlasting love, a love no one else has for you."

Even though this happened several years ago, every time I think about that moment, God reminds me of His promises and always reveals something new about Himself to me. From this lesson, I was given eyes to see my earthly father as a human being instead of an idol.

I am excited and humbled by the fact that God wants to be with me and care for me. He wants to do and be the same for you. Will you let Him?

To Him be all the glory and honor!


Monday, February 20, 2012


Over the years, I have earned credentials such as a B.S. degree in Dance, certifications in life coaching, wedding planning and image consulting and am currently pursuing an M.A. in Practical Theology. I have spent twenty-four years in the retail, fashion and beauty industries and have also spent nine years in the insurance industry (No, I am not that old! The careers overlapped during those years.)

So what does all of this mean? It means I have paid my dues, skinned my knees, and burned the midnight oil in order to achieve. Yet, no matter how hard I work to achieve, nothing will compare to what was achieved for me as a child of God. For twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year I am a sinner saved by grace. I am a woman who wakes up every day determined to live her best for God.

What credentials or initials do you have before or after your name? Do they represent degrees or certifications? Are they M.O.M., which represents a vocation that comes with the responsibility of raising precious children? Or are they W.I.F.E., which comes with the tasks of being partner, friend and lover? Some of you may see the letters S.I.N.N.E.R. or U.N.W.O.R.T.H.Y. after your name. Please know that you no longer have to carry or claim those for yourself.

As a child of God, your most valuable designation is R.E.D.E.E.M.E.D.! You are
R - reconciled and restored to righteousness
E - edified by God's Word and truth
D - delivered from sin and death
E - elevated from darkness to light
E - encouraged to embrace who you are in Christ
M - made in His image and likeness, not for the world, but for His glory and honor
E - essential for the fulfillment of His plans and purposes
D - a delight and joy to God.

Through God's grace and mercy, we can receive the greatest gift and His seal of approval. This designation comes with the greatest value and the greatest worth. Receive what is rightfully yours in Him.

Be blessed,