One Word

With the new year coming, most of us already have things we want to change… to do differently… to start over on… we want a fresh clean slate and a new focus. I want to share with you an idea that has helped me so much the last few years, hoping it might help you too.

It’s the simple practice of choosing ONE WORD for the upcoming year. Not a phrase, not a statement, just a single word. In reality, it’s not choosing a word, but asking the Lord to reveal what one word HE wants to be your focus for 2019. Unlike New Year’s Resolutions, which are easy to fail at, a one-word focus can simplify your life, illuminate your path and bring direction and boundaries in all areas of your life.  

The first year I did this, I immediately knew what my word would be. 

BOLDNESS.  

This word was both exciting and terrifying to me, because I was timid to speak up, afraid to be in front of people, and more comfortable hiding in the background than leading out front. But God had put a desire for boldness inside of me, and I knew without it, I could never become who God meant for me to be. I just needed my Father to open my heart to where he was moving, and I needed to agree to walk hand in hand with him as he strategically put opportunities and challenges in front of me.  

Challenges that would draw boldness out of me.  

He gave me courage to say YES to speaking up with my thoughts and opinions, speaking in public (even in front of hundreds!), taking risks, praying big prayers, leading out front, and so much more. He showed me over and over what BOLDNESS looks like in me, and he did not let me fail at what I was fearful of.   

When you start asking the Lord for a word for 2019, the Holy Spirit will begin revealing a word that agrees with what your heart longs for. It could be a character trait, a discipline, a fruit of the Spirit, an attribute of God, a spiritual gift.  But it will take a relationship with the Lord to stay focused and listen and follow where he is leading. There will be highs and lows as God uses this word to light up your path, and also reveal things that need to change. But remember, the Lord is giving you this focus not to see you fail, but to help you succeed in the plans He has for you and His Kingdom. 

If you’re serious about this, you’ll come up against tough decisions and opposition. I suggest sharing your word with a few trusted friends so that when discouragement comes, or when you get distracted, they can help you re-focus. An important way to keep this word front and center in your life is to post it in places where you will see it often, like your car, your desk, or your bathroom mirror. I have a cute little 2×3 frame that sits on my desk and reminds me often of my word. I also love making these for my friends and encouraging them to stay the course throughout the year. See the attached photo above of the frames I made for my friends. Super simple.

This year my word has been TRUST. From a car wreck in February that could have ended my life, to unexpected challenges in health, leadership and relationships, the Lord has so much more deeply established my trust in Him. I’m pretty sure I already know what my word is for 2019, and as usual, it’s both exciting and scary!  

I wonder what your word will be?! If you ask God, I know he will show you and walk with you step by step to places you thought you could never go. Your word will be greater than yourself, but not greater than our powerful and loving Father GOD. 

“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” Psalm 109:105

“No dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.” Philippians 3:13-14.

We would like to thank Jill Moudy for writing this post!

Unwrapping Your Spiritual Gifts

December is an exciting time of year. The anticipation of Christmas morning: opening gifts, fellowship with family, singing carols…When I was a little girl, I knew Christmas was coming soon the day that the Sears catalog arrived in the mail! I would sit for hours checking the items that I wanted to add to my Christmas wish list:

  • A new baby doll ✅
  • A new pair of skates ✅
  • A new bicycle ✅
  • A new pair of pajamas ✅

Spiritual Gifts

Fast forward many years later and my wishes have changed. 

What I’ve been thinking about lately are spiritual gifts. I find myself “checking off” my wish list in the Bible just like I did as a little girl with the Sears catalog:

  • The gift of wisdom  ✅
  • The gift of prophesy ✅
  • The gift of healing ✅
  • The gift of tongues ✅

Lessons learned

To begin with, all gifts that I check are not gifts that I receive. As a little girl, I had a long list of wishes, but didn’t always get what I had on my list. My parents loved me so much and wanted to give me good gifts. My parents would’ve never given me a gift that I wasn’t ready to receive. For example, they would’ve never given me a bicycle if I hadn’t learned to ride a tricycle. Or they would not give me a new car until I was responsible enough to use it correctly.

Each child in my family received different gifts. My parents didn’t give me the same gifts as they gave to my brother and sister. They were older than me and had different desires than me. My parents knew that I didn’t want a football and they knew my brother wouldn’t appreciate a Barbie. They were good, good parents and gave us appropriate gifts because they loved us. They got to decide what was best for each of their children!

Just like my parents, God loves me and wants to give me good gifts. He knows when I’m ready to receive certain gifts and even though I have them “checked”, He decides when I am ready to receive them. Maybe I’m ready to receive the gift of wisdom, but maybe I’m not ready to receive the gift of prophecy. Does He love me any less because He doesn’t give me the gift of prophecy? Absolutely not! I have a friend who has received the gift of tongues. Does he love her more? Is she a “better Christian” than me because she received that gift and I didn’t? NO! God is a good, good Father who knows what gifts we need in order to grow His kingdom.

1 Corinthians 12:11 says that “All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and He distributes them to each one, just as He determines.” God gets to decide when I’m ready to receive an extra gift!

Be content in all things

As a little girl, I don’t remember a time when I woke up on Christmas morning and was disappointed because I didn’t receive a certain gift that I had checked off in the catalog. I was content with the gifts that I was blessed with.

I am content with the gifts that God has given me through the Holy Spirit. Do I want more? YES! However, I trust Him to give me the gifts when He says I’m ready for them!  Psalm 37:3-4 says to “Take delight in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.”

Using my gifts for others

I remember one particular Christmas, I received an Easy-Bake Oven. I was so excited to use that gift to “bless” others. My dad ate lots of tiny brownies that I made using this amazing Christmas gift! It was a gift that kept on giving!

God gives us spiritual gifts, but they are not meant to be consumed on ourselves. As we receive, we give it away and then more is given to us. When I feel like I’m not doing enough with my gift, I need to step back and reflect on how God is using my gifts to grow His kingdom.

Trusting that your gifts are good

I never doubted that my parents would give me good gifts! Although they threatened telling Santa to put coal in my stocking when I misbehaved, deep down I knew that I would get good gifts for Christmas. You can trust God to give you good gifts as well!

Luke 11:11-13 says, “What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; or if he asks for an egg will give him a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!”

Merry CHRISTmas!

You can trust God, our good, good Father, to give you gifts that you need to receive in His time. I pray that during this holiday season, you unwrap your gifts and receive your spiritual blessings with the same kind of excitement as receiving the Sears Christmas catalog in the mail!

Be Blessed.

We would like to thank Vickie Young for writing this post!

Hunting & Husbands

My husband asked me to go hunting with him a few months ago and I said, “Sure, sounds like an adventure.”

Ladies, be sure you get all details before you agree to go on a hunting trip. 

Turns out, we hunted for 5 days. Like hardcore hunting in the MOUTAINS. Hello! Of course you are going to have to hike, JuLea!!! We woke up at 4:15 and didn’t return back to the cabin until after dark. It was COLD…16 degrees cold and snowing. I opted out one morning when it was 2 degrees… did you get that???!!! 2 DEGREES!! I told them to come back for me when it was at least double digits. I bought a cute backpack before we went, not knowing that by the time I had packed all of my necessities for the day would weigh over 40 pounds. It consisted of: water, Gatorade, sandwich, chips, granola bar and bullets (that I never even used). In addition, I carried a 12-pound rifle, 3-pound binoculars, and a blanket strapped to the top of my pack. I was a sight to be seen!  

What had I gotten myself into??? 

One evening, I became quite nervous. We had hunted all day. I was tired, and it was quitting time. We had just hiked to the top of a double black diamond. If you are skier, you know what that means. We were 2.5 miles away from our pickup, and the sun was setting. So, down the black diamond we went. After about 20 minutes, I knew we still had at least about 1.5 miles to go and it was completely dark. Everything looked the same. I couldn’t have retraced my steps if my life depended on it.

Every step into the dark was unknown. Luckily, we had a guide who knew those mountains like the back of his hand. 

And it reminded me, sometimes we are in uncharted territory in life, or so it seems, but our Father knows exactly where we’re at. He knows our next step. He’s the one who created the mountains! And with confidence He leads us through the mountains to our destination – just like our guide. 

Things may feel way off. You may be nervous. You may feel like you’re on the wrong path. But take heart, He has overcome the world! Scripture says in many places that He is guiding your every step. Proverbs 16:9 – The Lord will establish your steps. Isaiah 58:11 – The Lord will guide you always. Friend, He knows what He is doing! He knows exactly where that dark trail leads to.  Choose to be brave in those moments of uncertainty. He will always get you to the other side if you keep walking. He cares about you. We are of such high value to Him! 

Back to the hunting trip…my husband was so excited that I said “yes.” He was proud that I was hunting with him. And you know what? Every cold moment was worth it to see him happy. Once we were at the top of the double black diamond mountain, it was amazing to watch the beauty of creation from a couple thousand yards away. Hours of peaceful sitting became filled with prayer and quiet time. But the greatest reward was the time I got to invest with my husband. 

Flowers won’t grow if you don’t water them.

Your relationship with your spouse won’t grow if you don’t water it either. 

 Figure out things you and your spouse like to do together and do those things! Make time. Do the things you don’t like to do that your husband does and see what happens. A couple of years ago I stumbled across the “30 Day Husband Encouragement Challenge.” Every day you encourage your husband in a different way. Some days the encouragement was subtle and went unnoticed, other days it was apparent. Some days I would forget and so will you. But, it will become part of who you if you stick it out. Eventually Brent caught on and he started returning the encouragement!

I encourage you to step out of your comfort zone. Be intentional about showing him physically, emotionally and spiritually that you care about him. I would encourage you to do your own 30-Day Husband Challenge and keep track of what God does in your marriage. Here are some examples straight from the challenge of what you can and can’t do for 30 days:

  • You can’t say anything negative about your husband… to your husband… or to anyone else, about your husband.
  • Say something you admire to your husband or to anyone else, about your husband.
  • Let him know you appreciate him and his hard work every day. Tell him you respect him. 
  • Praise your husband for a character quality that you see in him. Build up that man of yours!
  • Appreciate your husband’s faithfulness to you.
  • Praise your husband’s faithfulness to God.
  • Ask your husband questions – hear the heart of your husband. Get to know him. LISTEN, women! Quit talking.
  • Tell your husband how handsome he is.
  • Submit to his authority. God’s perfect design. 
  • Let your husband know when he pleases you and help him navigate through those unknowns.
  • Encourage his love making and masculinity.
  • Verbally let him know you are proud of him.
  • Don’t focus on his faults. Make a list and focus on his strengths. Draw those out in him. 

I leave you with the most important thing you can do for your husband: Pray for him. Pray for him. Pray for him. Have fun encouraging him and in return, enjoy the intimacy this will bring to your relationship!

Oh, I almost forgot. My husband got a nice muley buck on the last hour of the last morning of the hunt. BAM! 

We would like to thank JuLea Bouma for writing this post.

He Never Left Me

In 1993, I committed adultery with my boys’ biological father. I’m here to tell y’all ladies, the grass isn’t always greener on the other side.

One incident out of many, the boys’ father abused me and my oldest son, D’Angelo. He was never home. He would come home one every three days or so for a couple of hours. I had gone to the doctor for my yearly exam, and the doctor informed me that I has an STD – HPV (Human papilloma virus), which has caused and will continue to cause very bad outbreaks that I would have for the rest of my life. No cure. It would break down my immune system. And it’s the number one cause of cervical cancer. Wow. Talk about feeling ashamed and dirty. I was thinking, “how could this be?” The doctor asked me, “Have you had more than one sexual partner?” I replied, “No,” which only meant that someone else did have more than one partner. That day I had gotten a treatment in the office to get rid of the clusters of outbreaks I was having. Driving home, I was furious. When I arrived, he was home, and his mother was there. At this point D’Angelo was only 5 years old and was there too. 

I confronted him, and he said he had been working, not cheating. Nope, I wasn’t stupid. Not after my doctor visit. I continued asking him. I was doing laundry at the time, and he picked up a hanger and began to choke me. He weighed about 300 pounds.

I was losing air; I couldn’t breathe. I was trying to grasp anything I could to hit him or get him off of me.

His mother tried to intervene, and he pushed her to the side. When he did this, I had a chance to catch my breath. I got up and ran to my son who was screaming and crying at the top of the stairs. He caught me again. D’Angelo jumped on his back, trying to protect mommy, and he proceeded to throw D’Angelo off. Finally, he left and didn’t return for days. I never called the police. He told me if I did, he would kill me and that they wouldn’t believe me anyways. People were outside that day, saw what happened, and never said or did anything. I guess the people were as scared as us, or they thought it was none of their business, which made me sad.

Who really cares about women and children being abused? 

Did anyone care? 

Why didn’t I leave? 

Because I loved him and thought he could change. He would continue on abusing me and my son for a while. My life spiraled out of control, and I became addicted to drugs. Then one day, he called his mother and I and told us he was on his break and on his way home, and he was going to kill me this time. His mother and I and others at the apartment packed my car with my boys and a few necessities in record time, and I left. Eight years it took. As I was exiting Lubbock to come back home to Plainview, I passed him. He was on the service road driving fast. I was on the interstate driving faster. I never looked back. The abuse ended that day.

God was watching over me and my boys. I was supposed to die that day, but God had a better plan for me and my boys, and it wasn’t that life. 

I quit cold turkey and have been clean and free from meth since 2005. I was diagnosed with the first stages of cervical cancer caused by HPV in 2006 and had the option to do a hysterectomy. I did, and there was no cancer! 

I was raised in church, but I left God when I was 13. I was busy. Busy doing my own things, which weren’t good things. I don’t remember praying or even attending church. But God never left me. He never leaves us, ladies. We all have a story, and we are called by God to have a plan of action.

I’ve been at CVS pharmacy going on 13 years, selling legal drugs… ironic, I know. Some of my co-workers are just there for the paycheck, but I’m there for the people. That’s my ministry, that’s my way of witnessing to people on a daily basis. I’m able to serve and help others. Sick people, depressed people, recovering people. All at a place where I have been in my life. Mrs. Sherry Wall helped me in my ministry. She prints me up cards with different scriptures on them, so I can pass than out. I always write on the back, telling them that I’m praying for them or to say how awesome they are, or how much I love them. They always appreciate that word from God, plus it’s sharing the news of the gospel. 

I always do my job with a smile on my face. That smile goes a long way. God has me at CVS for a reason. I’ve been through some things in my life; we all have. I’m not perfect, but I love people. God gave me that gift from Him. I know the wait at the drive-thru gets long sometimes at CVS. Maybe people just come to see what color my hair is that month, or to see if I’ve gotten any new tattoos… either way, God gets to shine through me, and I believe that’s why people come to CVS. 

Ladies, keep smiling and praying and telling others you love ‘em. That’s sharing the gospel. Thank you, Abba! 

A merry heart does good like medicine. ~Proverbs 17:22

We would like to thank Leslie Wall for writing this blog post!

What If… God Surrounded

Editor’s Note: We truly are surrounded by a host of women who are living lives of faith. What’s even more amazing is that we are surrounded by Christ himself who is cheering us on to victory. Our stories are as different as the characters in the “Hall of Faith” in Hebrews 11, yet each one of us is running a race that requires faith. This semester women have read Hebrews 12:1-2 and shared what God placed on their heart. We are cheering you on in your journey of faith in Christ!

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12: 1-2

We all have had times when we’ve asked God, “Really? Me?” while laughing in uncertainty. Sharing my experience balancing family and career is one of those times for me. Family is a blessing, but challenging with all it consists of. To top that off-career-another story in itself. I have to laugh and just go along with God’s plan for me.

I heard God speaking to me through songs I will reference. This one is by Blanca.

What If……

I don’t have what it takes

Things don’t ever change

I don’t leave room for Jesus

Then the truth of Your love shines through—

What If……

You hold me up

Your love is enough

The power in Your name can do anything

You’re making me strong

You were here all along

I’m right where You want me

You were right there fulfilling Your promises

Life’s an ever challenging and changing whirlwind, so be surrounded with God’s promise to fill our hearts with peace and thanksgiving. God’s blessings are abundant:  Love, happiness, provisions and good health shared with our wonderful husbands, beautiful children, friends and co-workers. Think of how many souls we reach just by being where God leads us. God has great plans for us as we run with perseverance the race He marked out for us.

This song by Josh Wilson is easy to relate to:

Carry me…..

Father hold on to me, You’re all I’ve got

Carry me from my sinking sand to Your solid ground

Jesus calm my heart, come near to me

Lord don’t let these worries get the best of me

Remember the ‘Spiral Art’ and how it worked well only if the pencil was kept flush leaning to the inner circle as it spun? If the rhythm changed, imperfections were created amongst the beautiful pattern immerging. In the same way, keep God and all His ways in the center of your life so that Heaven on Earth is revealed with all its beauty intended for each one of us.

Trust the Holy Spirit surrounds, strengthens, guides, even carries us daily. We’re never alone.

Balancing family and career can only be done by the grace of God. Let us not forget the promises God gave us. His love endures forever. What if….we live our lives counting our blessings, keeping our eyes on Jesus and letting His light shine from within our hearts!

We would like to thank Wendy Baker for sharing this post with us!

A Change of Perspective

Editor’s Note: We truly are surrounded by a host of women who are living lives of faith. What’s even more amazing is that we are surrounded by Christ himself who is cheering us on to victory. Our stories are as different as the characters in the “Hall of Faith” in Hebrews 11, yet each one of us is running a race that requires faith. This semester women have read Hebrews 12:1-2 and shared what God placed on their heart. We are cheering you on in your journey of faith in Christ!

When I was 16, I made a covenant to pray and wait for my future husband. In that season of singleness I delved into the word of the LORD. I focused all of my being on the One who created me. He showed me His heart for me and I was never in doubt of who I was to Him. I prayed constantly for my future husband. “Lord, guard his heart. Give him courage. Make him like you. Give him a heart like David.” Praying for my future husband was making me reposition my heart and causing me to be less self focused. My prayers were not, “God send me a man that you know I need.” It wasn’t selfish. It was more about his relationship with the LORD than it was about him coming to me. I would be remiss if I didn’t also add that I surrounded myself with young men and women of the same mind. I wanted to keep my covenant and I knew I would need encouragement.

About four years later, God brought me Rance. God knew I needed this headstrong, tender, courageous, idealistic, loving, risk taking man and I had no idea I did. Rance did NOT check ANY of my personal boxes. I know, however, that God knew exactly what I really needed more than I did. We really have only two things in common; that we wholeheartedly pursue the LORD and His people.

If you’re in a season of singleness, there’s probably a ton of people telling you to be patient. That God has someone in mind for you. And my favorite: Don’t look, and then he’ll show up!

One day, God rephrased these well intended words for me. He said, “SEEK MY HEART FOR YOU! I have something BETTER than you can imagine. I have a better YES coming your way.”

God wanted to reposition my heart to concentrate on HIM and HIS HEART for me.

Not the man he had in mind; not what I was supposed to do to find him.

This allowed me to view my season of singleness with not only hope that God had something amazing planned, but with CONTENTMENT with where He had me. Seasons are given to us as a gift. Not for us to use selfishly but for us to use to build up the BODY OF CHRIST. Just like all the other spiritual gifts we are given. (1 Cor. 12-14 and Ephesians 4:12-16.)

When you find yourself being discontented in your season, surround yourself with women of HONOR and of good repute. (Proverbs 31) Look to Jesus. Focus your heart on Him. Ask your friends to pray with you. Ask the people around you to help you reposition you heart. (Romans 12:2) Above all. Pursue the LORD with all your heart, mind, body, and soul because HE made you and HE knows what you need. (Luke 10:27) In Hebrews, the author says, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off every hinderance and let us run the race before us, looking to Jesus, The AUTHOR and Perfecter of our faith.” (Heb. 12:1-2) Look to Jesus, beloved. Let him be the author of your story, not you. Choose to pursue Jesus instead of a spouse. You won’t regret it.

We would like to thank Rachel Loafman for writing this post!

Keeping The Faith

At the age of 26, I’m finally realizing that keeping the faith and trusting in God’s timing will be a part of my life for years to come. Faith is my strongest spiritual gift, but patience in God’s timing usually isn’t.

I grew up in a Christian home and attended a small church. It almost felt like trusting in the Lord was supposed to be easy. We didn’t talk about what trusting in the Lord was supposed to look like during trials and suffering. It was always broadened into, “Trust in the Lord always.” As you can imagine, when I started dealing with different struggles as a young adult, I didn’t understand why those things were so hard for me to deal with. That there had to be faith in action to believe that in all things the Lord is my strong fortress.

I want to share with you an experience where the Lord gently reminded me He alone has my every day planned. I am a momma to a sweet, sassy, nearly three-year-old girl. She made me a momma in October of 2015, a time when I didn’t think I was ready to be a mother. My husband and I had already made plans to further our education, but when we found out we were expecting a baby, all our plans changed. The Lord grew me in ways through that season (and still is) that I didn’t know were necessary. But He knew. And I had to surrender control.

Fast forward to the fall of 2017. I felt baby fever coming on and wanted to start trying for another baby. Once my husband was in agreement, I took control.  My trust was no longer in the Lord, but in our ability to conceive. “Well, we need to get pregnant by this month because I want Raelyn to be this old when we have the baby. I want to announce it to our families here,” blah blah blah. I think God chuckled, like I often imagine Him doing when I start thinking I am in control of it all. In March of 2018 I bought a tiny onesie. I prayed, telling the Lord the desire of my heart and again, surrendering control.

Four days before Easter, we found out we were expecting. Come to find out, we are pregnant with TWINS, a double portion! Only when we fully surrender our plans, our faith, and our trust in God, can he begin to give us what HE desires for us. God reminds me that His timing is perfect, and that the plans He has for me are much better than the ones I could have for myself. And sometimes, His plans turn out later and much differently than we could have ever expected.

Are you waiting on God for the desires of your heart? Here are ways that I keep my faith at all times:

  1. Pray and listen to God (even if it’s just for a couple minutes).
  2. Study the word of God.
  3. Surround myself with others who speak life into me.
  4. Remember that God is always faithful.

We would like to thank Paige Keller for writing this post!