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Perspective and Truth

Today I have the great privilege to be guest posting on my dear friend, Jamy’s blog.  Be sure to stop by and leave me a comment; while you are there be sure to sign up to follow Jamy’s blog and check out her new book “Get Real

I want to thank Jamy for asking me to guest post today.  She is a great friend, my prayer partner and a dear sister in Christ.  I am very blessed to have her in my life.

My perspective this Christmas Season on counting every blessing and taking hold of each precious moment, capturing them before they are gone.  I hope you leave all the stress behind and do the same – before you know it, it’s here and gone!

Trimming the Tree

Trimming the Tree

A Quiet Extrovert ~ Guest Post

I would like to introduce you to one of She Speaks Sisters and dear friend, Tracy Steel from One Degree Ministries:

Simply me… a quiet extrovert.

I think we should all become quiet extroverts… here is why:

The other day my neighbor caught me off guard when she said: “Tracy, you have a quiet and calm spirit about you.” Now at that moment, my toddlers were actually behaving, so I can see why calmness oozed from my pores. But she also used the word QUIET to describe me.

I was stunned. My mother swears I entered the world babbling. Those who know me can testify that my words are many…

Yet, as I reflected on her comment later that day, the Holy Spirit brought a specific verse to my mind:

“Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.” 

~1 Peter 3:3-4 NIV (emphasis mine)

I believe that the word quiet in verse 4 often causes panic in the heart of an extrovert. So I did some digging to make sure that when Peter used the word quiet, he wasn’t implying that extroverts were ugly or unworthy! What I discovered brought me hope.

I learned that, in Greek, the word quiet carries with it the idea of self-control, trust, or meekness. It does not suggest that a person is devoid of personality or is to remain totally silent. {Whew}

Thus, beauty isn’t determined by personality type. In God’s sight, beauty is determined by the condition of one’s heart towards Him. A quiet heart is a thing of beauty because it accepts and trusts in God and His will.

Unfortunately, I can recall countless times when frustration or discontentment dominated my heart. One particular Sunday morning I barely worshipped because I was fighting the Holy Spirit’s prompting.

I was loud on the outside and loud on the inside too.

However, the more I pray and study the Bible, the more the decibel level of anxiety, anger, or frustration decreases in my heart. I praise the Holy Spirit for using my neighbor to remind me of the progress that He has made in my life. I am learning that because of the Holy Spirit:

simply me… is quiet in the depths of my heart.

Although I am not usually at a loss for words, when I am in the presence of God, I am left speechless. His presence turns chaos into quiet. 

My Prayer for you:

Extroversion: the act, state, or habit of being predominantly concerned with and obtaining gratification from what is outside the self.

~Webster’s Online Dictionary

I love this definition of extroversion. I did not find it in a Bible Dictionary or lexicon. However, I think it defines a holy habit for us all to develop, introverts and extroverts alike. So dear reader, my prayer is that we would develop the habit of exhibiting quiet extroversion. I pray that our quiet trust in the Lord increases. I pray that our growing extroversion causes us to be consumed with obtaining lasting fulfillment in our awesome God.

Over time, God is making us beautiful from the inside out. May His presence leave you speechless today…

 

About Tracy:

Tracy is proudly married to Chad, a pilot in the United States Air Force.  Whenever they are not being relocated, she loves to drink green tea and watch re-runs of LOST. She also enjoys chasing their two children, Jackson (3) and Katherine (1), throughout their toy-infested home.  Tracy graduated from Phoenix Seminary in 2005, and served as the Director of Student Women at Scottsdale Bible Church from 2005-2007. She is also the author of Images of His Beauty, a newly released Bible Study, for young women who struggle with self-image issues and eating disorders. You can find out more information about the study and follow her blog at www.onedegreeministries.com. You can also connect with her on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/OneDegreeMinistries, or chat with her via twitter @tracy_steel.

I ask all my readers to keep Tracy and her family in their prayers right now.  Pray for peace, comfort and strength.  Tracy was informed by Hospice that her mother’s vitals are changing, leading them to believe she has only days left.  I have never met Tracy’s mother but this amazing woman has inspired me with her joy of the LORD through her trials.  What a legacy she leaves her entire family.

 

The Me I am Supposed to Be ~ Guest Post

Welcome a new friend of mine, Michelle Axton Kelly.

Hello, friends!! I’m Michelle and I write over at Teagan’s Travels. My blog covers my family, friends and faith. I pray my site provides daily encouragement to women in good times and bad through God’s love. I’d love for you to come visit. It is always an adventure being the wife of an Irish husband, mom to pre-schooler Teagan and baby Isla. I’m so excited to be writing here today! Thanks for letting me visit…and share with you how God helped me become The Me I’m Supposed To Be.

Have you ever had a champion in your life that made you feel special? Someone who provided you with a chance that changed the course of your life forever? I’ve been blessed to have women in my life who have been this for me in the form of mother, manager, boss, mentor and friends.

Perhaps one of the best examples of this came during college. I must admit, I used to be a terrrrrrrrrrrrrible waitress. It’s true! There is a level of multi-tasking required in this occupation that I just don’t seem to have within me naturally.  I would get flustered.  Forget to bring ketchup…even after more than three requests. I forget to place orders, became flustered organizing drinks and appetizer timing? That was a nightmare in and of itself! I have had more than one customer storm out without any inclination of leaving a tip.

Um hmm. I was THAT girl. And if I ever waited on you back in those days, I apologize. Luck of the draw and all… But none of this mattered to me because the best gig in our college town was a job at Chili’s and I needed dinero. I finally got in after hounding the manager for three months to give me just one chance. Sadly, after just a week he called me into his office to inform me that I was “not Chili’s material.”

I was stunned. Um, excuse me? Could you just repeat that again?

I’m…not…Chili’s….material???

Do you KNOW sweet reader how much this rocked my world? It has become kind of a family joke now but I called my mother sobbing. This was, quite possibly, the worst news in the world according to my 19 year old self. I felt like an utter failure with a capital “F”.

Flash forward a few months. I may not have been Chili’s material but TGI Friday’s had decided to give me a go. Each shift we gathered for a team meeting. The extra-special-shift-leader-who-could-do-no-wrong was usually a Top Ten server according to sales and comment cards. This person would kick off our shift and hand out pins to those who did an amazing job. I would hang in the back of the crowd, not getting pins, not leading. Invisible but happily employed.

THEN….(this is the cool part, ya’ll)….a manager from another store came to visit! Yeah! She eyed me for a few days. And one day, she started our shift and announced Michelle was the shift lead. Silence. Michelle? All eyes slowly turned to look at a bewildered girl who had never led anything. And I stepped up…and had the most awesome time! The next shift? I led again!

With that single action the manager changed my world and how I saw myself. Suddenly, I began talking like a Top 10 server, selling fried cheese and cheesecake like there was no tomorrow! I got pins, or flare as it was called in the day, I got the best shifts and sections. People rained praise through comment cards. And one day? I did become a Top Ten server! Ta Da!!! Take that, Chili’s!!

My point is, God made each of us uniquely special. And sometimes He places people in our lives to embrace us, to encourage our hearts and lift us up to be who He created us to be. A belief in someone is at times all it takes to make a huge difference and impact in this world. That is one reason we sponsor children through Compassion International. Our sponsorship tells these children that there is someone in this world who cares for them, who prays for them daily and that they are special, not forgotten.

Today, can you think of someone who needs a champion in their lives? Is there an opportunity or encouragement you can give to a heart that may change the way they see themselves? 

I’d love to hear from you, who has been this champion in your life?

Blessings, Michelle

For more encouragement, visit Michelle Axton Kelly at her blog, http://teaganstravels.blogspot.com , where she provides encouragement and inspiration for women seeking a personal relationship with Christ.

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Thank you Michelle!  The beginning of your story had me chuckling.  I started waiting tables in high school and continued for the next 12 years.  I didn’t work at a Chili’s or TGI Fridays.  I worked at waiting on tables long before those places were the standard. I worked in diners and restaurants right off major freeways.  The busiest one being I15 in the middle of Las Vegas and LA.  I was a Top Ten Server before there was such a thing – I could out sell the day girls in OJ sales on the night shift.  Your post brought back lots of memories 🙂

 

Where Redemption Happens ~ Guest Post

Let me introduce you to Laurie Coombs.  I met Laurie at She Speaks for the first time.  While at lunch with a group of ladies, she shared her story with us.  I was held captive by what Jesus redeemed through an unspeakable crime.  I sat in complete stillness, unable to say a word (and for those who know me, THAT in itself is a miracle.)  I saw the radiant peace wash over Laurie as described her journey and knew without a doubt it was not faked, it was not a show, it was the real deal, found only through Jesus.  Welcome Laurie and let her story show you that no matter where you are, Jesus can always redeem ANYTHING. 

I knew something happened. Shaking my head, I adamantly whispered, “No. no. no. no…” But with tear-filled eyes they told me. “Laurie, your dad was murdered last night. He’s dead.”  Startled, my eyes began to dart around the room, not knowing what to do with I had been told.  As my new reality began closing in around me, I felt the shackles of a heavy burden weighing me down, but there was no escape. I wanted to run away. I wanted to scream. I wanted to hit something, throw something. This isn’t happening. This isn’t happening, I thought.  But it did happen. And in that moment, my life was forever changed.

Nine years later, Jesus called me to embark on a journey to forgive the man who murdered my dad. But then, He took it a step further: love your enemy, He said. Honestly, the word “love” in the same sentence as “enemy” didn’t seem to make sense to me. What’s more, the word “love” in reference to the man who murdered my dad was repulsive.

I cried out to the Lord and said, OK, God I get the whole forgiveness thing, but love my enemy?  How am I to do THAT?!? Immediately, His response came, bring him a bible. And this is how it  all began.

What began with a call to follow Jesus into my unknown, scary places resulted in the redemption and healing of not only of myself, but of the man who murdered my dad as well.

I have seen the unimaginable happen. And I know first hand that it is God’s intention to take the horrible chapters of our past and create beauty out of our darkness. Toward the end of this journey, I felt God saying to me, Laurie, this is what your journey has been all about. Changing lives. Bringing good out of evil. Beauty out of ashes. This is where it’s at. Not in your past. But what I will do with your past if you will continue to follow me wherever I lead.

God is good! It is His desire to lift us out of our despair and our pain and bring us to a new place.  A place that is rich in beauty and blessing. Yet, God has shown me that in order to get there, we must choose, through the empowerment of the Holy Spirit, to say yes. To say yes, my Lord, I will follow You. Yes, my Lord, I will obey Your commands. For, it is when we lay down our fear, our pride, and our resistance that we are able to experience life as He intended. The life that Jesus died for us to have.

This is where redemption happens.

And I pray that you are encouraged to say yes to Jesus to whatever He may be calling you to and to embark on your own Jesus-led journey.

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Thank you so much Laurie for sharing your story with me at lunch that day and for sharing with the readers here today.  You are a picture of grace and beauty.

Laurie is a writer who encourages others to draw closer to the heart of Jesus. She lives in Reno, Nevada with her husband, Travis. They have two little girls and are in the process of adopting one or two more children from Ethiopia. Read more on her Blog, and visit her on Twitter and Facebook.

Blind Spots ~ Guest Post

Meet another one of my lovely and awesome She Speak Sisters, Lee Merrill also known as LeeBird 🙂  I just love the encouragement I get from Lee and her gift of prayer.  Thank you my friend for standing in for me today. 

My middle son is itching for his driver’s license. Every chance he gets, he commandeers the keys to my Mamaw car and adjusts the seat, steering wheel, and mirrors to his personal specifications. Truth be told, he’s turning into a good little driver. He’s careful and considerate of other drivers and doesn’t drive too fast like his big brother does.

The other night, Logan eased into the middle lane of the freeway and asked, “Mom, am I in that car to the right’s blind spot?”

“Hmm, I don’t know, Logan, but it’s always smart to be careful. Just keep an eye out for the cars around you.”

When I drive, I try to be mindful of my blind spots, but I’ve never really thought about being in someone else’s.

Makes me wonder…how often does God shake things up in our relationships to reveal the blind spots.

  • One minute, you’re married for life, and the next, your husband threatens to pack up and leave.
  • A friendship worthy of BFF status suddenly becomes strained, awkward, and downright sad.
  • No matter how hard you’re working, your boss seems suspicious of your every move.
  • The loss of a parent brings out all the ugly in a family dynamic.

What do we do when God sheds light on things about our relationships that need to change?

  • Calloused attitudes, ingrained and ignored
  • Selfish motives, justified as pursuing a dream
  • Gossipy conversations, disguised as venting
  • Kindred spirits, morphed into co-dependency
  • Buried wounds, unhealed and concealed

It all boils down to this: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these” (Mark 12:30-31 NIV).

The Lord wants our earthly relationships to reflect the beauty of a vibrant relationship with Him.

For that to happen, our commitment to Him must be priority number one.

God will turn us on our heads and shake out every ounce of pride and selfishness hidden in our pockets.

God will shake the foundation of any earthly relationship competing for the throne of our hearts.

God will do whatever it takes to make us holy.

“May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it” (I Thessalonians 5:23-24 NIV).

Lord, thank you for all the shaking up going on in me. As much as it hurts to deal with heart hurts and relationship woes, I understand the purpose for the pain. I want You to reign in me. I want to crave You like a desert dweller craves a cool drink. I want my relationships to have Your fingerprints all over them. Carry on, Lord. All for Your glory and the good of Your people. AMEN

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 To connect with Lee you can find her at:

Thank you so much Lee, it always amazes me when I can say thank you to God for the pain I am in, knowing it will bring me closer to Him.  Leave Lee a comment thanking her for her thoughts today and her beautiful prayer.  Be sure to check out her Prayer Gifts website.

 

 

 

Time to Connect

I would like to introduce you to another dear friend of mine, Dawn Whitmore.  Dawn is another one of my valuable She Speak Sisters.  I love the encouragement and support she gives to me and countless others.  Thank you Dawn for posting a very important message today, about God’s plans for us.  Also, today is the August 30th, which means that it’s August Fan Day ~ more information can be found at the end of the post.

I have made a decision today. This decision actually came about after reading a guest post on this blog (you can read it here…)  However, before I jump into this post, I feel that I need a disclaimer:

This blog post is in no way meant to say any of my She Speaks Sisters or fellow bloggers are doing anything wrong.

Okay, with disclaimer done, here’s my heart.

I am trying to live out my calling in someone else’s shoes.   What exactly do I mean by that?

Here is an example:  Yesterday I posted on someone’s FB page “My blog wants to be like yours when it grows up.” Don’t get me wrong this woman is a great encourager and I love reading her blog. She is actually one of the few that I will click-through to keep reading. However, my comment even if meant to be a compliment to her actually told God:

 “Your calling for me is not good enough. Why didn’t you give me her calling? She has more of an outreach and more likes on her blog. Why can’t I have her calling?”

Think two-year old temper tantrum ~

Photo Credit: rafa2010 (Creative Commons)

Did God promptly pick me up and discipline this tantrum-throwing girl? Nope. Instead, He lovingly reminds me through a blog post…ha of all things, a blog post!

He then starts slowly revealing things to me. See, He knew in the middle of my tantrum I wouldn’t have heard Him. Do we realize that with our little ones?

I have been reading some great books lately on to build a community, tribe and platform. Some of them are really good.  However, for me to blindly follow them without seeking God is me “living out my calling in someone else’s shoes.”

After reading Jamy’s guest post and spending some time with God, I didn’t walk away with warm fuzzies. Instead, I walked away feeling like a car salesman.

I feel like a little kid who is promising you cookies if you will just be my friend. What does this mean for my platform, community and tribe? It means, hopefully you will see more of God through me and less bribing, “I have cookies…be my friend”, on my part.

I understand the importance of a platform…I really do. But, I can’t continue being the car salesman. It is hurting my calling.

Photo Credit: linkedmediagrp (Creative Commons)

My true heart is to connect with others in a communication-saturated world and see their walk and life with Jesus grow.

On an extremely personal note: I have been holding back from connecting. It has been easier. However, to walk in my calling it will require me to connect. Pray for me about this. It is a truly difficult step but a necessary one.

Photo Credit: Dew Photography

Awhile back, Beth Kinder discussed the importance of making our words count instead of counting the words. This freed me from counting the words in my work-in-progress. I am grateful for Beth’s accountability at the most God-appointed times. Now, I am stepping out and asking for accountability of “not living my calling out in someone else’s shoes” and further accountability on if I am only communicating or connecting?

 Does this ring true for you? Are you communicating God’s Word but not connecting?  Are you trying to live out someone else’s calling?

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To learn more about Dawn Whitmore visit her website by clicking here .  I don’t know about you but this post has me doing some serious thinking and soul-searching.  Thank you once again Dawn for your genuine honesty.

August Fan Day….it’s super easy to be entered, all you need to do is fill out the entry form (click here) on my Facebook page.  That’s it, you will be entered.  If you don’t want to miss other monthly giveaways then considering liking my page, not required though 🙂

Wendy Blight Visits…..

I am thrilled to have Wendy Blight stop by for a visit on my blog today.  There are not enough words to describe the special place she holds in my heart.  Her book Hidden Joy literally changed my life.  If you have deep hurts that are causing you to live with bitterness, anger and maybe even hatred in heart, I encourage you to read her book.  Wendy has a special message today:

Veronica, thank you for inviting me to be a guest on your blog today.  But even more, thank you for being such a blessing in my life.  You have a beautiful servant’s heart, and I am so thankful to call you friend.

As I prayed about what to write, the Lord laid on my heart a woman who feels unworthy, unimportant, average, and most of all without purpose. At one time, that woman was me.   What is my purpose God? How could you ever use me?

But as I journeyed with God through some painful years, years I believed would never have any value in my life, He taught me very powerful Truths.

For those of you sitting in the place I just described, this post is for you.  May you never forget God created you with a special purpose.  He says in His Word…

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place.
When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, 
Your eyes saw my unformed body.
All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.
~Psalm 139:13-16

God says in Jeremiah 29:11

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, 
plans to prosper you and not to harm you,
plans to give you hope and a future.

Sometimes we hear a voice whispering in our ear:  You are unworthy. God could never use you. But Jesus tells us in His Word that words like these have one source and one source only.  They are spoken by the evil one, the one Jesus identified as “the father of lies” in whom there is no truth.  He seeks to steal, kill, and destroy all that is God’s and all that is good.

You, sweet friend, are God’s child.  As His child, you are good.  Satan’s goal is to keep you from believing this and prevent you from being the wonderful creation God created you to be.

Please, please do not listen to him. Instead of believing lies, believe TRUTH from the One Who says, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.”

Hear Truth from God’s Word today:

You are LOVED

with an everlasting love. (Jeremiah 31:3)

You are PRECIOUS and VALUABLE

your name engraved on the palm of His hand. (Isaiah 49:16)

You are WORTHY

for He gave the life of His only Son, Jesus Christ, for you. (John 3:16)

You are FORGIVEN

you need only repent of your sin. (Acts 3:19)

You are REDEEMED

the old is gone and the new has come…in Christ you are a new creation! (2 Corinthians 5:17)

You are SAVED FOR A PURPOSE

one which He specially created for you. (Ephesians 2:10)

Will you believe with me today that God created you for a great PURPOSE…one that only you can fulfill?

If you don’t know that today, promise me you’ll spend time in these verses and ask Your Father in heaven to make them very real to you! As I close this post, I am going to pray for each one of you that God brings here today…pray that this is a day you will have an amazing God moment…where you KNOW that you KNOW He is working in your midst, listening to the cry of your heart. He desires to heal your hurt and bring you back to wholeness.

I am praying for you!

And if you have a story or truth you would like to share on this topic, please leave a comment today.  From the comments left, I will choose a winner to receive a signed copy of my book Hidden Joy in a Dark Corner:  The Transforming Power of God’s Story.

Veronica, thank you again for allowing me to be your guest.  I pray the Lord uses the words He laid on my heart to bless and encourage someone today!

Blessings,

Wendy
www.wendyblight.com

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Thank you so much Wendy for guest posting today.  For all the visitors here today, check back later in the month for a follow-up to this post from me.  God’s timing is always perfect.  At the exact moment that Wendy sent this to me, God had just whispered to me my own special purpose.

Hidden Joy IS life changing, grounded in scripture, written by someone who knows exactly what it means to be fearful and have shattered dreams.  Wendy’s journey to healing shows that God redeem any shattered dream and making it so much more.  I don’t just believe in it, I am living proof, so I too will be giving away a copy of Hidden Joy in a Dark Corner:  The Transforming Power of God’s Story.  Leave a comment for Wendy and she will pick TWO winners to receive a signed book!  Thank you all for visiting today.