Soldiers Need To Be Made

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I’ve been watching “slave” shows lately.  One of them was “Underground” and it was really good.  Though I really appreciated the character development, storyline and creative writing it entailed I was let down by the lack of spirituality.  There seemed to be no characters with really deep relationships with Christ.  I think it has to do with the fact that people who have not had an encounter with Him cannot reconcile a God of love with suffering so they are unable to write about Him.  I struggle with that too sometimes…

The latest show I’m watching now is “Glory”.  It was actually made in the late 80s and maybe because I was just born I don’t recall seeing it growing up.  “Glory” is a recounting of the civil war from the Union’s perspective.  It tells the story of an all black regiment who are made up primarily of run-away slaves.  As one character put it “We runaway slaves, but we come back fightin’ men.”  Though many of them are run-away, there is one man who is free.  He was born free and his father before him.  He is well educated, speaks properly and has cheered on the freedom of his people in a sense from the sidelines.  He was actually very close to the Captain of the army; they grew up together.  But though the slaves had it so much worse then he, it turns out the other mens’ slavery actually better equipped them for the battle ahead.

The men who were slaves learned discipline, both physical and mental.  They learned to control themselves in order to stay alive.  They learned to take orders and they learned to endure monotonous grueling work for long periods of time.  When the men are trained to be soldiers the freeman is targeted by the man training them because of his physical weaknesses.  At one point the Captain intervenes on the freeman’s behalf telling the Trainer that they grew up together, to which the Trainer responds, “Then let him keep growing up”.

The freeman did not understand why the Trainer was so hard on him.  He did not understand the training process, but the whole time I was watching the story unfold it was so heavy on my heart that he needed the training to be difficult.  He needed the training to be difficult because the war would be difficult.  The Captain knew that.  He had fought in a previous battle where many men were lost and he was adamant that his men be trained to endure such a battle.

Spiritual battles and physical battles are so similar.  I have always felt that we, as humans, were born into war.  We were born into a war where there are casualties and there are soldiers and there are choices to be made on which one we will be.  I believe Christ came so that we do not have to be casualties.  I believe He came to show us that we too can have the victory.

But we will have to fight for it.

There is a process we are each called to.  It can be difficult marriages or difficult children or poverty.  It can be physical sickness, mental illness or tragedy.  Whatever the process it is for refinement.  There are seasons where I hate my process and there are seasons where I love it and there are seasons I feel both.  There is an ebb and flow to my journey and for much of it I have fought the flow.

But God.

He has birthed out 2 books anyway.  He has given me jobs and titles and degrees and positions and ministries.  Even in spite of myself.

I believe the training we receive is not just for our battles here on earth but the positions we will hold in eternity.  I hope to one day hear those words “Well done My good and faithful servant” but there are times where I wonder if He is pleased at all. Though I know His Word says otherwise…

I hope you will see that your process is not in vain.  He is training you and the harder the training the greater the reward.  The greater the harvest.  The better the solder you will be.  Soldiers are not born, they are made.  You must go through the process to be made.

Months ago He said to me, “Who are you Nicole?” My reply was, “I’m a warrior”.  He said, “Then fight!”

As warriors we must fight.  As soldier we must train.  As His, we have already won.

SHALOM

 

God Wants Isaac

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Yesterday I had a book event. It was my first event with the new book How To Overcome Heartbreak: Stories That Heal. Unfortunately I didn’t sell as many books as I wanted. I know my mom was a little discouraged by that, but God has taught me an entrepreneur does not just look at the day to day of work, they look at the long run. Sales are up and down when you have your own business and so my outlook is just to look forward to the next opportunity to spread His Word through my writing. Though book sales weren’t what I wanted them to be, I still had a good time.

fullsizerender-3My mom was there to support as well as my roommate and a good friend. The café was crowded and the city was getting ready for a parade outside. It felt like the perfect fall evening as people were getting into the holiday spirit. We ate and talked and I ended up reflecting on this journey in singleness with my friend. She shared she had no idea that she would not be able to control her path. She thought marriage was just something she could make happen. I echoed her sentiments. I’m a few years older and my path has taught me that I am simply not in control (as much as I have wanted to be). I, like her, thought I could just settle and choose a guy and make it work. I’m a go getter and a planner. I like to check things off my checklist and obtain what I think is success. But God keeps teaching me, this world’s version of success is not always His version of success. Actually, it hardly ever is. 2 ½ years ago I thought I could choose the counterfeit and make a life work that I so desperately wanted. I held on to the false as tightly as I could yet still felt God prying my fingers away. Sleepless nights and a restless spirit haunted me and no matter how I tried I could not escape His voice. He was saying, “No”. I battled and ran and tried my hardest to make my plan happen but in the end I obeyed. God wanted Isaac. I thought about these things sitting across my friend in this little café. Maybe the book sales weren’t as important as sharing my testimony with her. She and I actually became friends because she read my first book…

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I was talking to my friend tonight and she shared she did not know how hard this would be. She did not anticipate that the waiting and trusting and believing would be so difficult when there was not a prospect in sight. When none of us had a prospect in sight and the mid 30s are right around the corner.

I love God. And that has been the strength I have needed and used on this journey. But in this season I did not have the intimacy and companionship He gave that has helped me up until this point to walk His path. That’s what made it harder. Not having that strength.

I had to develop strength in other areas. I had to develop mental strength. I had to learn to rely on His voice through His people and His Word instead of through my heart.  I am still learning…

There are times I wish I had not laid Isaac down. That is my humanity speaking. It is Christ saying, “Father, take this cup away from me”. He did not want to do it. It was the very thing He did not want to do. And the fact that He did it is just a testament to the power of God.

The fact that I did it is just a testament to Him. It is not my will but His…

SHALOM

Anyone Else Feeling Uncomfortable?

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Thinking back on my faith journey I can see in hindsight what God was doing and why He was doing it but while being in it, it looked like a mess. A hot mess actually. I was walking up the driveway to my home the other night and my landlord was on my heart. She had been laid off earlier this year and she and her hubby have been in a serious testing season. I prayed God would open a door for her. The way He had for me. Little did I know later that evening she and I would have a conversation about that exact topic­—her unemployment. I was blessed and encouraged by her perspective. She shared God was doing a work and stretching her faith. He wanted her to trust Him. She got it. I shared I have been unemployed several times now. I know it can seem like I don’t have much wisdom to offer when speaking to someone with decades on me but when You walk closely with the Author of life and follow His path, you can’t help but to accumulate wisdom. So, I shared what I had accumulated. I said that looking back, I can see that every time I was in between jobs or the work slowed at work, He was working in me. He was teaching me that my value, identity and worth are not defined by a position or a title. He was teaching me this world is passing away and I can only hold it loosely…

There are seasons to this life. There are seasons of high-highs and low-lows. Sometimes they can intermix. I know they have for me in this season…There are times we are blessed and times we are stretched and times we are both. There is darkness and there is light. We are not exempt from the darkness. We are not exempt from the suffering and in fact I think you can’t have one without the other in this life. Would we really appreciate the blessing if we had not first experienced the pain? Can a plant bear fruit unless it is first pruned?

I know the underlying theme of my journey has been to not be comfortable. To not be focused on the surface of what this life appears to be, but to go deeper. To live from the depths of what is underneath. What is unseen…

We are not all going to have this understanding. There are some of us who will live our lives for the temporary. We will choose this world and our own passions over the higher call. In fact, it is only those who are chosen who will supersede the notion of this world’s definition of humanity; selfish gain and ego pride.

It is only His grace that the chosen will choose the more.

The depth.

Him.

SHALOM

Keep Living

This week was full of both rest and fun.  Rest because I had 5 days off work (3 of those PTO) and fun because many days were spent with really good people.  For Thanksgiving my mom and I went out to eat.  Normally one of us cooks (usually her) but this time she wanted something different.  After dinner we treated ourselves to a movie and then met her friends for bowling.  It was a full day and I was thoroughly stuffed.  Then Friday I had some alone time.  I went shopping on Black Friday at my favorite mall and marveled at the crowds.  Still, it was nice to be around so many yet be “alone”.  What can I say, it is the introvert in me that appreciates such an occurrence…Later on I relaxed with a 90s flick, only to meet up with a good friend for a latte at Starbucks.  I enjoyed a grande and even a chocolate chip muffin.  Then Sunday my friend and I made our way to the Browns’ game.  I will admit I have lived here over 10 years and have never been to a game!  Lucky me the tickets were free, the weather was nice and our seats were phenomenal.  It hardly mattered we didn’t win.  We had fun anyway…


But even in the midst of all these blessings I would be dishonest to say this holiday was not without its own difficulties.  The lack of family was evident for me while watching my mom’s friend’s daughter and her fiancé interact.  I glanced at her ring once or twice and stuffed down the never-ending longings…There were moments I was home alone when I really didn’t want to be.  Instead I wanted people, I wanted companionship, I wanted love.  But as I told my friend last night on the phone, even with all the people who do love me, they will still choose family over friendship.  It is natural.  God does set the lonely in families, but I often wonder, when will He not need to?  When will I have my own?…

The holidays are here and they are festive.  They are a mixture of fun and rest.  They are a mixture of enjoyment and lonelineness.  That is life.  The movie my mom and I saw had a character who was facing a divorce.  She was freaking out and said “What will I do now?”  My mom replied at the large screen in front of us, “Keep living”.  She was right.

One thing I have learned in this season is the importance of resilience and the ability to keep moving forward.  Someone near you dies?  You keep living.  You lose your job?  Keep living.  Depression hits?  Keep living.

It has been a year where I have practiced this concept to “keep living”.  It has been the fastest year of my life.  There were nights I didn’t think I would get through, but I am here.  And you are too.  And that means there is a hope for the future.

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.

 

And what a lovely future it must be…

SHALOM

 

New Job, New Book, New Seasons!

I was told good things come in 3’s.  I’m not a superstitious person however I know that there are patterns and ways of God that we can become awakened to.  Our change in the seasons in nature are an indication of that.

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That being said, if such a thing exists then I am a recipient of the “3-rule blessing”. My first week at work went well.  For three workdays in a row my employer treated me to lunch.  The first day was actually with my former employer who will now be my current employer part time since I’m still helping him with his business.  Someone tell me how you go from 0 to 4 jobs in one year???  Only God.  Training is just what I needed too.  I have had so many insecurities and fears concerning this calling in accounting.  My undergrad experience was pretty shocking and I think my accounting prof would think it laughable I am actually considering my CPA.  But God is our weakness where we are strong.  He definitely has been my strength in this area…

It turns out I had nothing to fear as my Controller took his time training me and I was even able to help him in some areas.  The overall feel of this position is one of “chill”.  The atmosphere is void of the stress and anxiety my previous employers carried.  The anxiety that I too previously carried…Maybe it is a prophetic picture. I can rest now.

So I’ve been worried for nothing (as is always the case).  It is like the Father is holding my hand and walking me through the steps it takes to get to where We are going.  I am overwhelmed with His good gifts to me in this season.  One of those gifts is my new book How To Overcome Heartbreak: Stories That Heal.  This book took me exactly 9 months to begin and publish.  Earlier this year He gave me a dream showing me pregnant with a very large child.  He showed me it would be an easy delivery.  It was…

I never imagined I would be an author.  That I would write about very personal things.  That the place that used to be my hiding place as a child–the library–would now find my own writings in its aisles and on its shelves. I am in awe.

I was told more books would come and there would be a demand for them.  I was told they would come without sorrow.  I desire that.  To not have to go through very hard things in order to write.  I look forward to this next chapter of my life, which consists of my new accounting position, this new book, and a new grace…

To find out more about my new book How To Overcome Heartbreak: Stories That Heal click here.

Some really good times lately…

SHALOM

 

I Choose “YES” 


I stood in the conference room with the phone pressed against my ear, almost breathless at the words that were being shared by the person on its other end. She was asking if I would accept their offer. I was in disbelief. After 4+ years, numerous  job applications submitted and several interviews, was the door finally opening? And more importantly was I “allowed” to walk through it? In a split second I thought about God’s word to me in this season, how people keep telling me He will be like a parent. When a parent has a child they will make decisions for them that they know the child is too immature to make. It is the parent’s job to nurture and protect and give the child the best outcome. That is how so much of my journey has been. When it came to big decisions such as jobs, living arrangements and relationships God made it very clear what choice He had in mind, and it was my job to submit to that choice. I had gotten in such a rhythm of submitting that I created false instances for me to practice this art. I made up scenarious thinking God was saying “no” when in fact He was saying, “It’s your choice”.

That was what my sisters told me a month ago when I shared my concerns about my current position. I assumed I had to ride it out til the end like so many times before. On 2 separate occassions without either of them knowing it their response was the same: “Nicole, what if its your choice?” I thought about that for a while. From my perspective it had never been my choice. If it was now than my response to God was, “Then prove it”.

And He did.

I heard myself respond to the HR lady on the phone. I heard myself say 3 letters which sounded so foreign to my own ears because I was so used to saying “No”.

“Yes. Yes, I accept your offer!” We both rejoiced at this new opportunity for me to be further groomed in my career and for me to add value to their company. It was a win win.

After that the week flew by. My boss took me out to lunch as a farewell treat, I tidied up the loose ends I was working on and packed up my remains. We have an agreement and I will still work for him part time. Business is slow so he simply does not need me more than that.

Looking back on this last year I can see God’s hand on my life very clearly. It has been exactly 12 months since my layoff and now I will have a more stable job situation. Even though the path was so unorthodox, it was Him. I never went without. My bills were always paid. I always had food. And I even had extra for social engagements. He gets all the glory.

I believe He used this time to heal some of my thought patterns and wean me from codependency with Him. It still feels very uncomfortable to say “yes” after 14 years of saying “no” but I am learning how to overcome fear in this season.

I’ve heard it said being courageous is not the absence of fear but choosing to move forward in spite of it. Well if it’s my choice than I choose to be brave.

I choose “yes”.

Not A Good Match


I remember the last relationship I was in, God kept telling me “No”.  At one point around this time I was doing laundry and found a mismatched pair of socks.  The socks looked so similar to each other but they were not exact.  I felt He was using it as a picture to show me that yes the person I wanted to be with was similar to who He had in mind, but not the same.  It was not a good match.

These words were echoed by a friend recently.  They observed that while this person may be good, they were not good for me.  I find comfort in that observance because they know me well.

God knows me better.

He knows my insides and my outsides.  He knows my tendencies to be attracted to the wrong type and the difficulty this 11 year journey of singleness has been for me.  He knows how much I hate being bored at work, and how easy it is for me to take up a multitude of projects to stay busy.  He knows these things and uses them all in the revealing of my true self.

I told my friend last night, I feel I have lost it all in this journey.  On the outside there is much fruit and that is probably all people will see.  But on the inside, I have nothing left I am holding on to.  I have “counted it all as dung”.  She understood.  She has let it all go herself.

We keep letting it go.  As our sisters continue to age without their dream being brought to fruition.  As God moves in His very specific areas and has us waiting in others.  As we lean not to our own understanding and follow Him…

When Adam saw Eve He knew that she was the compliment to him.  No other species had existed that could be as compatible as she.  There was something other worldly and supernatural that occurred between this couple when this realization occurred.  I look forward to having my own experience of that sensation.

One day, there will be a good match and it will be evident to all those who know me.

It will not be an “almost” but it will be a “completely”.

SHALOM