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.

comfortzone

 

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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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!

“E” is for Expect

Ok…now that I have stopped running and shouting about the vowel “A”, I am ready to dive into the vowel “E” (refer to last week’s post if you missed “A”). So I asked God, “Ok, You have me excited about the vowel “A”, what should I expect for “E”? Then God asked me, “What do you expect?”  I was puzzled for a moment, but then it was almost as if I heard Him chuckle as He revealed, “My child, ‘E’ is for expect.”

I was ready! I knew what I expected from God. I’ve mentioned previously that at the beginning of each year, my husband and I create a “By Faith” List. It lists all the things we are believing God for. We list things like salvation for family and friends who don’t know Christ. We list healing for those who are sick. We even list personal expectations that we know are impossible without God’s direction, help, and intervention. So like I said, I was ready. But before I could begin to utter #1 on the list, God told me, “No, my child. The vowel ‘E’ will teach you what to expect when you go across and what I expect of you.” Although this was contrary to my thoughts, I was ready to hear what He had to say. Going across is the only option for me this year. I’m moving forward and knowing what to do or look for once I’m across is like icing on the cake.

So I went back to the book of Joshua and here’s what I noticed:

Greater Faith was Expected
At the Red Sea, Moses held out his staff and parted the sea for the people to go across on dry ground. At the Jordan River, the priest, carrying the Ark of the Covenant, were required to get their feet wet. But once in, the waters were pushed back and again dry ground created the perfect path. Once inside the promised land, the wall of Jericho was a little different. No outstretched staff. No physical evidence for the people before this miracle took place. Greater faith was expected. Each day that they walked around the wall, there was no indication that their efforts would work, but they remained consistent. Even when they could not see the hand of God changing things on their behalf, they trusted the heart of God.

Expect The Enemy To Be Waiting 
Finally, after 40 long years, the Israelites entered the land flowing with milk and honey only to find battles waiting on the other side. And although the enemy had already heard about them and their victory was guaranteed as long as they followed the Lord’s commands, they still had to fight.

Expect the Lord to be with You  
Joshua was committed to God and God was committed to him. Multiple times throughout the book of Joshua you read, “And the Lord said to Joshua” or “So the Lord was with Joshua”. What you constantly find is Joshua receiving instructions from God, then communicating them to the people, the people obeying, victory attained, followed by God’s approval of their actions. Although there was a time when all the people did not obey (we’ll talk about that next week!) and once when Joshua failed to ask the Lord for direction, God’s expectation of Joshua remained intact and so did Joshua’s.

I absolutely love this preparation period! Now let me ask, which one of the 3 points really spoke to your heart? #1 is still tugging at my me simply because I am still learning not to be so dependent on sight. I invite you to join me as I continue reading the book of Joshua. I promise you’ll love it too!

Next week, more insight from the vowel “I”. And no, that’s not what “I” stands for…lol!