Prayers for my friend…

Today I was honored to have my friend Tracy Steel from One Degree Ministries guest post.  I absolutely love when I get to read Tracy’s writing.  I learn so much from her, she inspires me and I leave feeling closer to God.

At the end of today’s post I asked all my readers to prayer for Tracy’s family as her mom was in hospice.  At approximately 1:25 this afternoon, Tracy’s mom, Roxie Davis won her fight against breast cancer and was welcomed into the arms of our LORD.  I am positive when Roxie arrived she heard the words most of us long to hear “well done good and faithful servant.”

She leaves a legacy for her children, grandchildren and all who knew her – even those, like me that only met her through her daughter Tracy.  Please keep this family in your prayers in the days ahead.

In Memory

May 2012: As I was leaving, my mom waved me down saying, “We didn’t take a picture with my pink bat!” so without hesitating I stopped and snapped the pics. We all gave her that bat in 2007 when the cancer came back to signify we were her biggest fans and to keep fighting.

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.

 

Freak Out Woman ~

Week 1 of Melissa Taylor’s Online Bible Study ~ Unglued by Lysa TerKeurst

“Look mom, we cleaned our room!” shouted my four year old son.  One look and I came unglued!  “HOW HARD IS IT TO PUT YOUR CARS IN THE CAR BUCKET? YOUR ARMY MEN IN THE ARMY BUCKET? YOUR SISTER’S DOLLS IN THE DOLL BUCKET? OH NO, INSTEAD THEY ARE ALL THROWN IN ONE BIG PILE!!!!”  Turning around I started in on my husband, “Thanks a lot!  I thought you were going to help me!  I should have done it myself in the first place!”

Mom of the year or decade I was NOT, the saddest part, I can’t even remember the looks on my children’s faces. I do remember my husband saying to me, “If you want perfection from a four and one year old, you will always be disappointed.  That makes me sad for you.”  OUCH!!!

Perfection was always expected of me.  I knew no other way.  I was raised with the expectation of perfection, “if you are going to do something, do it perfectly, there is NO other way!”  The motto in my family home.  I wanted to change that for my own home, I just didn’t know how.

Fast forward ten years later…

“Mom what can I do to help you?”  asked my daughter.  “Megan if you can’t see what needs to be done and then do it, don’t bother!  I swear I have to do everything around here.  You all enjoy family coming over while I have to make sure everything is done!”  I yell.  The next words my daughter says to me breaks my heart and makes me have a huge amount of respect for her (I wish I could have said something like that to my parents.)

“If Jesus’ birth means a perfectly cleaned house and yelling every year….I wish He hadn’t been born, it doesn’t make Christmas Eve fun.”  says my 11 year old daughter.  OUCH OUCH OUCH.

Right then I stopped what I was doing and I gained a new perspective. Never did I want my daughter or anyone else to remember Christmas or any other get together that way.  I decided to let my perfectionist tendencies go.

Has it been easy?  Uh, NO!  I have went from all or nothing attitude.  I have had a hard time finding a middle ground, however, holidays and family get celebrations are a lot more fun around here.  I haven’t yelled in years.  I don’t care which bucket things go in as long as they are picked up and my daughter loves celebrating Jesus’ birth all year long.
I would say that’s progress!

Melissa Taylor’s Online Bible Study is having their very first BLOG HOP ~ check it out!!!

Fabulous Friday with Cheryl & Link Up

The Light in a Dark World by Cheryl Bardwell

Have you felt overwhelmed with all the political stories and mudslinging going on? Not sure who or what to believe? Did you have a disagreement with a spouse or family member? Want to crawl in a hole and hide until it all blows over?

I feel that way sometimes. Life just seems too much to handle. Until recently, I found it easier to run away from my problems or situations rather than deal with them. However, I have now learned to take God’s hand as I walk through the pain and fear of whatever situation that I am facing. It makes me stronger not weaker. I grow in confidence, not only in myself but in my relationship with the Lord. There is a Light on the other side of pain and that Light is Jesus. The greatest thing is that He leads, guides and walks me through the pain, frustration and fear.

Turn to Him my friends in times of turmoil for He is the only Light in a dark world.

When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12 NIV)

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I ask all readers to say a prayer for Cheryl today, she will be having surgery later on this afternoon.  Thank you!  It’s time to for our Link UP party.  To link up your blog click on the link below…..

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Fabulous Friday & Link Up

God Keeps Opening Doors For Me by Cheryl Bardwell

We have all heard the expression “When one door closes another will open!” right?  I want to challenge you, the next time you hear that expression picture God holding open that next door just for you.  How awesome is that visual picture!

That our Heavenly Father loves us so much that He is holding open the door beckoning us to go through! Motioning and pointing us the way He wants us to go. Yet at times we are so hung up on the door that closed, we fail to see the open door and our Father.  What if we miss the gift that God has for us because we fail to follow and trust Him?

I have done this more times than I can count! At times I am so focused on what I believe is right for me that I forget to ask Him what He wants for me! I forget to trust my Father to know what’s best for me, His child. We ask our children to trust us as parents when they can’t see we are trying to protect them from things they are not yet ready for, but can we do the same for God? Can we trust Him and follow his lead?

“So I say to you; Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; and the door will be opened to you” ~Luke 11:9

 

NOW FOR OUR LINK UP PARTY:  Please join us by linking up your blog with us today.  Whatever is encouraging to women is the only guideline!

 

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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.