Now That’s The Kind Of God I Serve!

I believe we are in a time where God will do unprecedented things if we simply obey His words. But often when we hear Him, our response is not always what it should be. We shrug off His instructions. We delay in following His directions. We lean to our own understanding. I am convinced that even in the simplest matters, God wants us to heed His voice. Allowing Him to be our guide often simplifies a process which likely could take a tumultuous turn if we went our own way.

Recently my husband and I were discussing leading a small group at our church. Actually I kind of nudged him during a Sunday service and said, “I think God wants you to lead a small group.” After some discussion, he hesitantly agreed. We began looking at our schedules to determine a good time. We settled on Sunday afternoons, but the next question was, “Where?” In an effort to show Dale this was God’s prompting, not just me, I called several locations. Every place I contacted was unable to accommodate for one reason or another. I reminded God that He nudged me before I nudged my husband. That’s the only reason I even made the suggestion. I continued to call, but to no avail, the answer was consistently “no.” I began to get a bit discouraged. If God really wanted him to lead a group, He would open a door….wouldn’t He???

One afternoon, Dale asked if I had secured a location for his group meeting. After all, I told him not to worry about it. I reluctantly said no, but told him I would keep trying because I believed this was something God really wanted him to do. I told him to continue preparing because I knew in my heart God wanted to do something very special through this men’s group. Dale looked at me for a moment, but remained silent. I thought he was about to say, “maybe this is not meant to be,” but instead he said, “I know where I am suppose to host the group.” I was completely caught off guard, but I continued to listen. “The bowling alley.” With a big smile, I said, “Ok,” but all the while I was thinking, “Who in the world is going to allow you to host a video-based small group at the bowling alley?”

A couple of days later, Dale stopped by the bowling alley. The manager was busy, but he told the front desk staff he would wait. So he waited and waited and waited. After almost an hour, the manager came out and  ask how he could help. My husband explained his reason for being there. The manager hesitated. He inquired about the church, the material the men would be discussing, and questioned the topic of study. After further discussion, the manager agreed. He and my husband continued to talk. After about half an hour, the manager asked Dale if he had another minute to spare. Dale nodded and the manager proceeded to take him into a private area. It was the VIP room. This room had multiple private lanes, a dining area, private restrooms, and its own personal chef. The manager explained that very few people were aware that this area existed. It was “pretty exclusive,” but he was willing to allow the men’s group to use it on occasion.

Wow! Now that’s the kind of God I serve! When we follow His voice, He will lead us along the path which opens up the “exceedingly abundantly” type of blessings that can only be attained through obedience to His voice. After so many “no’s,” who would have thought a bowling alley would willing host a Christian men’s small group and make their VIP room available???

My message today is simple. Obey God when He speaks. His instructions may be out of the ordinary. They may be contrary to what we believe to be best. BUT…He always knows and He is always right!

IMPORTANT INFORMATION ABOUT VISION NOW!

VISION NOW is now full! Registration is closed. For those who were unable to register for this event, you will get a full recap next week right here! I pray God will give me more opportunities to host events and open doors for more speaking engagements. After all, I only do it to bring Him glory!

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Impossible!

How many times have you been asked to make something out of nothing? To take a half and somehow magically make it a whole. I’m sure I am not the only one, but this recently happened to me while working on a project with friends.

I was helping friends develop new strategies for their business: refining their messaging, more effective utilization of their budget dollars, analyzing their competition, among other things. We talked about creative ways to reach a broader audience. I even presented a marketing budget to help them understand what it would take to accomplish their goals by year end. They smiled emphatically which made me smile in return. Being able to help friends who were finally doing what they were created to do was like…well, let’s just say I felt like a proud big sister. Not because of what I presented, but because of their ambition and they seemed fearless.

A couple of weeks went by and I received a call. They finally had the funds to move forward on some of the marketing initiatives I had suggested. I was pumped! I headed to their office, took a seat, and said, “Show me what we’re working with!” (I told you they are friends). As they eagerly shared what they were ready to implement and how much they had allotted to spend, my excitement began to fizzle. What in the world? How could anyone think they could get so much for so little? I love them dearly so I asked, “In case this is not enough, what are you willing to take off the table?” They replied, “Nothing. We believe we can do all these things.” My mouth said, “Let’s do it,” but my mind said, “Impossible!”

I got in my car. As I drove away, I sensed an overwhelming feeling of disappointment building on my insides because as much as I wanted to help, I honestly felt it was impossible. But at that very moment, I heard the still, small voice of my Father say, “Give it to Me.” This time, I did without any hesitation because I knew there was very little I could do with it. I told Jesus I felt as if I had been given two fish and five loaves of bread but was expected to feed the multitudes.

Just then, it was as if a light bulb in my head went off.

I googled “two fish and five loaves.” Scriptures from Matthew, Mark, and John populated but what I found most intriguing was that when the disciples realized they did not have enough to feed all those people, the first thing they did was give it to Jesus. “Hmmmm…. I’ve done that. So what’s next?” I kept reading. Jesus gave thanks, broke it, and had the disciples disperse it among the people.

At that point, my outlook changed. I knew that what my friends were trying to accomplish would bring Him glory. I believed they were just following the divine plan He had set for their lives. And I knew they were counting on me. So you know what I did? I looked toward heaven and just as Jesus did, I thanked God for what was in my hand. In that moment, I understood that it was not what was in my hand that was important but instead my faith was on the line.

I called other business owners I knew to find out how they handled such situations. I started bidding wars between companies. I would not accept “no” for an answer. And you know what? I broke every dollar they gave me into so many pieces I surprised myself. Not only was I able to accomplish more than I imagined, but when they saw how tenacious I was with their resources, they gave me a couple of dollars extra to complete the only thing remaining on their list.

Is your faith being tested? Mine was. What I saw as impossible, God saw as an opportunity to stretch and strengthen my faith. Could this be why you are in the situation you are facing today? Before you dismiss it as impossible, give it to the Father. Remember, nothing is impossible to those who believe.

IMPORTANT INFORMATION ABOUT VISION  NOW!

Ladies,

Tony Gaskins once said, “If you don’t build your dreams, someone will hire you to help build theirs.” VISION NOW is an event created to help women move from dreaming to doing. Click visionnow.eventbrite.com now more information and get your tickets. Online registration is required for this event and will end Friday, September 23.

Don’t wait. Seats are limited.

Blatantly Obvious

She gave Him the facts. Who? The Samaritan woman. I’m sure you’ve heard the story. You see the Samaritan woman had come to the well to draw water. Jesus was there and asked her for a drink. The problem was it was uncustomary for Jews to talk to Samaritans and the woman made it known. But Jesus continued to talk. He told her, “If you only knew what a wonderful gift God has for you, and who I am, you would ask me for some living water!” But instead of her asking for the living water or even inquiring about it more, she focused on what was “blatantly obvious.”

“But you don’t have a rope or a bucket and this is a very deep well! Where would you get this living water? And besides, are you greater than our ancestor Jacob? How can you offer better water than this which he and his sons and cattle enjoyed?”

How often do we do this? We find ourselves in a situation but instead of asking God, we evaluate it based on what we see. Our thoughts become fixated on past attempts, current conditions, and future fears. But what is “blatantly obvious” to us is minute in the eyes of our God. Notice that Jesus was unmoved. He did not care that she was a Samaritan. He lovingly dismissed her surface-level words. And He did not allow her past or her present mischief to disqualify her. He knew He had something she needed. Something that would change her life forever. Her only responsibility was the same as ours today…Believe and Obey.

I recently came across this quote that says, “The Truth is more important than the facts.” Not sure if Frank Lloyd Wright was referring to Jesus, but it reminded me of John 14:6 when Jesus told us, “I am the way, the truth and the life.”

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Jesus did not need a rope or a bucket. The living water He spoke of was Himself. He was the answer for the Samaritan woman and He is the answer for you and me today. Just as He explained to the Samaritan woman, temporary fulfillment was not His goal. His unconditional love compelled Him to guide her toward the thing that would have long-term effects in her life.

Is this you? Are you the Samaritan woman? Is the “blatantly obvious” more real to you than the words of your Father? What will you do when the facts and the Truth just don’t add up? Stop focusing on temporary things. Align your life with the only One who gave their life for you.

Now that should be “blatantly obvious”!

Sidenote: Did you notice in John 4 the Samaritan woman knew about Jesus? Maybe if she had focused less on religion and more on developing an intimate relationship with Him, she may have better understood who He was when they stood face to face. It’s “blatantly obvious” that without knowing Jesus, the answer could be right in front of you, but you not even know it.

IMPORTANT INFORMATION FROM SHARING MY HEART
Not only do I pray this message encouraged you, but I also believe you should be a part of VISION NOW. Hear the stories of two successful women who are now living that which was once only a dream, connect with other women who love God, and create a vision board and road map that will keep you focused and moving in the right direction. It’s time for VISION NOW.

Get your tickets now at visionnow.eventbrite.com….while they last!

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The Ultimate Sacrifice

I recently participated in a twenty-one day fast with my church family (I guess it’s ok to talk about it now that it’s over). We did not have to give up food, but were instructed to sacrifice something that consumed our time. The Sunday the fast began, I listened to a powerful story of how fasting and prayer had impacted a family’s life (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dzQJhdQDxuE) and I knew this was for me. The timing was perfect. I wasn’t looking for any “thing” from God. Just greater clarity in the things He was guiding me toward.

So I thought…what would it be? Coffee? Beef? Maybe Facebook? But this time, I heard God whisper, “Sleep.” I literally turned to my husband during worship service and said, “You will never believe what He just told me to give up…SLEEP!” My husband shook his head because He knew if I were ever to appear in a MasterCard commercial, it would always end by saying, “Sleep for TJ….priceless!”

You see, I love a good cup of joe. And hamburgers…one of my closest girlfriends and I have the best conversations when we have hamburgers! Both are important in my life. But sleep. Sleep is in a category all its own. Nothing compares to a good nights sleep. There’s nothing like a good ole nap. I reminded God that I wasn’t fasting in expectation of getting some “thing” from Him. I just wanted to hear Him clearer and gain more understanding in the things He was calling me to do. Sleep for me was like…The Ultimate Sacrifice. As His still, small voice became silent, I knew all too well what it meant. I had heard Him clearly. Getting up earlier and going to bed later so I could spend more time working to fulfill the dreams He had placed in my heart. I  knew this would be a sacrifice like none other.

Monday morning, 4:30am! The alarm buzzed but the only thing that moved was my finger to turn it off. I knew it would be hard but had no idea it would be this hard. The second morning, after snoozing and snoozing and snoozing, I rolled out of bed and went downstairs to work out. When the kids went to bed at 7:30 each night, instead of me answering the call of our 1000 thread count 100% Egyptian cotton sheets, I turned the computer on and began to write.

I soon realized what God was doing.

He was not trying to get me to sleep less, but instead was helping me understand that if I was really going to commit to fulfilling His plan for my life, there were sacrifices I must be willing to make. I began to understand there would be times when I would have to do things I would not ordinarily do (like give up sleep). Times when my comfort zone would be a mere memory. Times when I would have to make hard choices that may not be popular. Times when I would be uncomfortable but still have to push my way through. Times when others would make plans that I could not be a part of because my priorities had shifted.

God told me I was walking into a place where I would have to say, “Not my will but Yours be done” and mean it.

Over those twenty-one days, I gained more knowledge than I ever expected. Knowledge to prepare me for what’s ahead. And now, before I go to bed at night and when the clock goes off early in the morning, I think twice. There is a quote that says, “A comfort zone is a beautiful place, but nothing ever grows there.”

How important is your comfort? Are you willing to sacrifice it in order to grow? In order to attain the vision He has given us, we must willingly make The Ultimate Sacrifice.

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SHARING MY HEART EVENT INFORMATION

LADIES….It’s time for VISION NOW! Register for this amazing Sharing My Heart event where you will have an opportunity to write the vision, make it plain, and develop a plan so that you can run with it! Make the sacrifice and join me on Saturday, October 1st and begin to grow and go in the direction of your vision.

Click visionnow.eventbrite.com for more information and register today!

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Is “Excellence” the Road Less Traveled?

I was recently asked to speak during a business women’s luncheon at The University of Alabama at Birmingham. As I prayed about what God would have me say, my attention was continuously drawn to one specific word…excellence. One day as I was preparing, my life flashed before my eyes. In that moment, I began to assess my actions and efforts, past and present, which led me to ask a couple of questions…

  • What does it truly mean to be excellent?
  • Is excellence today’s standard or is it overshadowed by success?
  • Are excellence and success comparable?

The online dictionary’s definitions explain excellence as the very best, possessing good qualities in high degree, a higher standard than set by culture or the world, giving your best. But forty-two years of life (and a little research) has taught me more about excellence than Webster ever could.

Here are 10 things I’ve realized about excellence:

  1. Excellence and perfection are not synonymous. Excellence is doing all you have with what you have in a particular season of life.
  2. Excellence and success are not interchangeable. Culturally, success is measured by title, prestige, and status. But while success, by the world’s standards, is only available to a few, excellence can be achieved by all. Excellence can lead to success, but success does not always equate to excellence.
  3. Excellence knows when to say no. Excellence does not attempt to be all things to all people all the time. (which leads to #4…)
  4. Excellence does not over promise and under deliver.
  5. Excellence goes beyond that which it feels like doing. It is fueled by will not want (see last week’s post!). Excellence goes the extra mile.
  6. Excellence understands that its only competitor is itself.
  7. Excellence does not live in the past, but moves forward unrestricted by yesterday.
  8. Excellence is the measure used to evaluate decisions and actions based on the highest quality you have to offer.
  9. Excellence is a process and is intentional. Pat Riley, one of the greatest NBA coaches of all times once said, “Excellence is the gradual result of always striving to do better.”
  10. Unlike success, excellence does not always make the headlines, but is most often noticed when it is no longer there.

My discussion with the ladies during the luncheon began with one of my favorite poems but today, I think I’ll close with an excerpt. The final stanza of The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost says this…

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Ahead of each of us are various roads. Much like the poet, we too must make a decision as to which path we will choose. The road of excellence. The road to success. The road that gains the approval of others. The road of dormancy due to indecisiveness. And although all roads are not mutually exclusive, I must ask…

In today’s society, is excellence the road less traveled?

Now, share your heart with me. Looking forward to your perspective on excellence.

CAST YOUR CARES!

A couple of weeks ago, I took a break from writing my blog. Well, it was actually in April and was only suppose to last a couple of weeks, but instead, my 30-day productive sabbatical turned into multiple weeks where I allowed frustration to overrule productivity. I told God during my break, “I am tired! I can’t do everything!” You see, being a wife, mother of 2 small children, working full time, and blogging part time is a lot, especially when excellence is the goal. Then recently, God presented an opportunity for me to be a Contributing Writer for one of the oldest, most well-respected newspapers in the southeast, The Birmingham Times. I was grateful for the opportunity, but as I looked at my plate, to say it was already full was an understatement. So I did what the ‘ole folks use to do back in the day. I decided to have a little talk with Jesus!

Just as the writer of the old hymn said, “And He will answer by and by”…guess what? He did. I don’t know the time frame as it relates to “by and by,” but He answered me pretty quickly. God simply told me to cast my cares. I knew the scripture “cast your cares on Me, because I care for you” and I felt I was doing just that. After all, I made sure God knew how I felt about each and everything on my plate. And being the perfect gentleman that He is, He let me ramble on and on and on….

As I wrapped up telling God what I could not possibly handle, I sensed that He agreed with me. At that moment, God so gently reminded me of a fond childhood memory. It was fishing with my dad. I remembered standing on the shore and casting my fishing line as far as I could into the water. As I reminisced, God said, “I need you to do the same thing with everything that concerns you. Don’t just tell me about it. Give it to me. Cast it.” God continued. “My child, the reason you think you are tired is because you are trying to do everything in your own power, in your own strength. Apart from Me, you can do nothing, but with Me, all things are possible. Trust Me with your cares. Give Me all your worries. I really do care for you.”

As I thought back to those days of casting my fishing line into the water, my thoughts were dominated by the serenity of the environment. Even in the waiting, my dad and I knew if we were patient, what we were waiting for would come to us, almost effortlessly. The key was to relinquish control.

Today, I challenge you to “cast your cares on Him.” I did and believe it or not, God sent people to help me…some I knew, some I didn’t know. The things I once thought were burdensome and impossible, seemingly overnight, were resolved. Now, I chuckle when things are thrown my way. The tension is significantly lessened when the solution seems nonexistent. With each occurrence, I simply respond by saying, “God, here you go! I’m casting my cares!”

Now It’s Your Turn:
1 Peter 5:7 says, “Let him have all your worries and cares, for He is always thinking about you and watching everything that concerns you.” If you are willing to trust God and give Him your anxieties, worries, and concerns, type here in the comments or on social media, CASTING MY CARES!

The Game Changer!

Easter made me realize something very significant….Change Is In The Air. It’s more than the changing of seasons, the frustration of allergies, and the colorful eggs. When you stop and look at how the truths of the resurrection directly impact where we are on this journey called life, there has to be a sense of excitement. If you can’t sense it in the air, just hold on. By the time you finish reading this post, you’ll be dancing in your seat!

The change I sense relates to things that were once dead or lay dormant. You know…those desires you have never uttered to a soul. The things in your spirit that are exciting yet unexplainable. The recognized revelations where the “how” is still a mystery. Those things!!!! The things you know you are “gooder than good” at but not sure how to let the world know about it. The dream God gave you many years ago that over time you have accepted will only be a dream. Those very things!!!!

THEY ARE NOT DEAD!

Don’t allow anyone to make you think those dreams, desires, or revelations you know God placed in your heart will not happen. Change is in the air! It Will Happen! But you have to believe. You see, Jesus always knew He would not stay in the grave. With that same fervor and tenacity, you must know that within you there is resurrection power. You must believe, “I can get up!” You must declare, “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” You’ve got to walk by faith. You must know that “greater is He that is within me than he that is within the world.”

Change In The Air! This change is not a little change. It’s not like that of a budding flower. It’s major! As we continue to walk with Him and declare from our hearts, “Not my will, but Yours be done,” I believe we will experience open doors that we never knew existed. He will begin to put us in places and give us influence we never thought we would have.

Remove impossibility from your vocabulary, because Easter proves that “all things are possible for those who believe.”

Easter/Resurrection Sunday will always be the most defining moment of my life as a Christian. Our salvation was secured when He took His last breath, but when He got up….That Was The Game Changer!

Now it’s your turn. Share your heart with me if you too believe…Change Is In The Air!

SIDEBAR
Over the next couple of weeks, I will be spending an immense amount of time with God so that Sharing My Heart can be all He wants it to be. I’ll post inspirational quotes and images to keep us connected, but my next blog will be released around the beginning of May. Pray for me during this time just  as I am always praying for you.