Archive | November 2016

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

Lessons From A Cat

Yesterday my roommate left for Africa.  It has been a long awaited dream that is now being fulfilled and I bless God for that.  She has been preparing Ben-Samuel all week long for her departure as best she could.  With limited understanding between species who knows how much he actually understood when she told him frequently she would be leaving for a while.  Though I care about Ben he is really her cat and so she does all the heavy duty stuff for him.  When he was sick she took him to the vet.  She changes his litter, buys all his food and is his primary caregiver.  He has also gotten into the habit of sleeping in her room most nights.  For that very reason I have been a little concerned about his response to her departure.

When we got Ben it was clear he was suffering from abandonment and really enjoyed people. He was so excited to be in our home that he made sure he was apart of every conversation and even made it a point to sit at the kitchen table to join us for meals!  I have never seen such a cat.  When we are lounging around the house he easily climbs on our laps and even computers just to snuggle.  But lately I have noticed he has gotten even more attached to my roommate and thus I wondered how would he respond to her absence?

I can’t help but see a parallel of this season with God and Ben’s relationship to my roommate.  She made sure to spend extra time with him, love on him and even tell him that she would be gone for a little while, but if Ben is anything like me, those things would fail in comparison to the seemingly never ending absence.  You see, I can look back on this prior year and see how God was preparing me for the season of “silence”.  I can see how much He was overwhelming me with feelings of His love.  I felt it everywhere and wondered at people who did not.  I can see how He was revealing Himself to me and who I am to Him in my heart and mind, flooding me in every waking moment of this revelation.  I can see now it was all preparation for the darkness to come.

I tell myself cats are like kids and are resilient.  I tell myself Ben will be ok and though he doesn’t know it, her leave is only for a short while.  I must also believe these things about myself.  I am learning resilience these days.  I’m learning to be secure in a love I most days no longer “feel”.  I’m learning to trust the Word over my emotions and I’m learning that though I may still desire a sign a sign has already been given.  Many signs in fact.

Right now as I type this post Ben is sleeping on my leg.  He has joined me for an early morning snuggle after trying to eat my cereal.  For some reason he likes people food…

And in that picture I am shown the need to adapt.  And the need to seek out other ways to have our needs met.  And I am grateful for this picture which I’m sure is given from the Father of all creation.

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SHALOM

Does God Care About My Vote?

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In about 24 hours America will have a new President. A new Leader. And that’s a pretty big deal. Leadership determines the direction of a team. Leadership entails power and authority and influence. There are lots of scriptures in the Bible that teach us how important leadership is and how important the government is. This particular election has stirred up a lot of people’s emotions. People who normally wouldn’t vote are voting and people who normally would are not. Either way, someone new will be in office tomorrow night.

When I first became a Christian I was pretty vocal about my views on the presidential election at the time. My convictions and thinking were set in stone and many of those around me echoed my sentiments. And though some of my thinking has changed over the years, I wouldn’t go back and change my vote, simply because I appreciate the fact that I was sincere about my choice. There was no one swaying me to vote a certain way. If anything I probably swayed others.

This time around however I feel the temptation to be swayed. I am told to “pray about my vote”. The Christians I have been around have historically voted a certain way though many claim to not be a certain party. They have had their certain views and highlighted their certain issues that mean the most to them. And that’s fine for them. But what about for me?

Every election year I pray for God to give me a “heart” regarding politics. I want to do research and have an opinion and care about the things concerning this country. And I do care. But often that is not reflected in researching politics. Often it is spending evenings on my knees weeping for my city and spheres of influence to walk in freedom, healing and wholeness.

I’ve struggled with my role in these elections. I’ve struggled with making the wrong choice. But the very people I have admired seem to be functioning from the same bias and deception as the ones they point the finger at. The body seems to still be functioning from a lesser state of maturity when it comes to these matters and I am disheartened once again. Until I remember that even leaders are not perfect. Even leaders, very good ones, miss the mark. I cannot put my trust in man…

In this season I am learning about choice. I am learning that as we mature in Christ and become Sons He starts asking us to make the choice. He starts giving us free reign because we are in Him and He is in us and we need not fear our decision because it is Him functioning in us. And yesterday while discussing these issues with a wiser woman I am affirmed that while God cares for me, He probably doesn’t really care about my vote. At least not in the way I used to think. Could it be that it’s more about the motive of my vote than my vote itself? Could it be that it’s more important to vote according to the revelation that you have of your eternal identity at this point in your journey than who you actually select on the ballot?

Some people are losing sleep over this election. They are so stressed and anxious about their future because they believe their future is predicated on its outcome. I don’t share that logic. Yes, we are affected by the decisions of our leaders, but as an eternal being I believe we can exert greater influence in the spirit than what any carnal person (man or woman) could possibly demonstrate. We, as in the body, (not one individual person) can put to flight more than 10,000.

If you are like me and have struggled with making the wrong choice in this election than I share with you what I feel God is saying to me. It is your choice and it will work for your good. Stay true to who you are and know that your future, this country’s future, is in His hands.

And whatever you do…don’t forget to vote :-).

 

SHALOM