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Moving By Faith

Yesterday I made the move.  And it was right after I spent the holiday out of town with dear friends. 

I had packed everything ahead of time because I didn’t want to be stressed the night before trying to get things together (after my flight got in).  I am a great planner and I knew planning was going to be key to getting ready for the new season.  Still, there are some things you simply cannot plan for…

The night before the move, my good friend picked me up from the airport and we enjoyed our fleeting moments together.  She will be entering her own new season soon which also involves moving so I am savoring all of my time with her.  She agreed to spend the night and we started the next day at 7 am.  I needed to pick up the U-haul truck and make it to my house by 9am.  We were making good time and decided to stop for coffee and breakfast.  Little did we know we were going to need the sustenance!  I had a few other friends coming to help but I was relying on the movers I had hired to be the real muscle.  In the past my mom and I always hired movers.  We did this because we did not have family, or men, to help.  We were always doing things on our own and independence was ingrained in me at a young age.  I had friends who had large families and men in their families that would help them relocate.  I always envied that about them…

Well about 30 minutes after my friends and I started moving I realized the movers I had hired were MIA.  I called them and was initially told they had the wrong time down (even though they were the ones who had chosen the time).  Then I was told they were stuck in traffic (which I knew was a bold face lie because we had been out and there was no one traveling the day after Black Friday).  So I cancelled the movers and my friends picked up the slack.  They were amazing.  For 2 and a half hours we created assembly lines, passed boxes to and fro and took trips back and forth between houses.  We even stuffed ourselves in the front of a U-Haul truck due to lack of space!  (Shout out to Lo for being a real G) LOL.  And the crazy part about it all is, WE HAD FUN.  We laughed and sang to the music and talked.  It was a great time of fellowship and comraderie and I knew it was the Father.  He was giving me people.  He was giving me a longtime desire of my heart.

There have been several things that have happened in this moving process that has shown me His love and one of them is His use of people.  There were some things I simply could not plan for and He has shown me He is the ultimate planner.  People would pop up at just the right time.  My neighbors who I needed to borrow plyers from.  My pastor who’s time is already limited and yet has made it a point to fix anything at my house and breakdown the large items I need to get rid of.  His sister who has been so much like a mom to me in this season has been present to look at houses and rejoice with me when I found the right one.  My friends, who cleaned the house and helped me physically move.  My realtor who took some appliances I needed to dispose of last minute (not to mention the one who actually found this house when I had given up).  Even my personal trainer who was squeezed in front of the U-Haul who I’ve only known for 2 months.  People, people, people.  God has given me people.

God will fill up the lack.  He will provide and meet the need however He so chooses.  And this is how He has chosen in this season with me.

There were some hard times this week emotionally.  The holidays usually are hard for me and now even more so.  I am still working through my grief and disappointments.  There are changes in my relationships due to the new seasons.  There are changes in my relationship with God.  But every morning I wake up in this new house and I feel His peace.  I walk upstairs and my breath is taken away all of over again.  This house is symbolic of hope for the future.

My friends and I are walking out a different path then those who are not chosen.  We struggle with how different it is.  We so want to be “normal”.

“Singleness is getting awkward,” she said.  I laughed but I knew it was true.  It has been awkward, I thought.  I am a little older and so I knew that that played into my perception.  It is also painful, I thought, but didn’t share.  I didn’t want to project my pain onto her although, I have so appreciated that I have been able to be completely honest with her in my journey.  I have so appreciated that while others transition into building families and focusing on their loved ones, I have people around me who are still in it.  They are still walking out this path of waiting.  It is comforting to have others who understand and empathize with the journey.

I am grateful for how the Father has moved in my life.  He has been very intentional with what He has blessed me with and the opportunities He has given.  He has also been intentional with what He has not allowed.  Only He knows how we are wired.  The intimate desires of our hearts and what will bring about His best in us.

I have changed a lot in this season.  Life does that.  While some may think it is not for the good, I disagree.  I think we need to be balanced out in our perception of life.  I think we need to understand the sufferings of humanity to understand the compassion of Christ.  If we don’t go through dark times we will never be relatable.  I have had to learn how to be relatable.

Thank You Father for how You have moved in my life.  Thank You for showing Your Hand and making it known that I am Yours.  Even when I feel alone.  You are always there.

SHALOM

 

Home Sweet Home💕

This weekend I got the keys to my new house. I am still in awww. It does not seem real and I keep marveling at how FAST everything happened. My friend asked me last night what were my first steps of obedience that led to this gift? Thinking about it for a minute I shared about making the decision to move in with my mom. That was such a leap of faith. At the time I had been living on my own for 10 years. The place I was residing in was quaint and cute and comfortable. I had no real reason to leave and was enjoying my time in that city. I was also enjoying my time with a new roommate.

But when my mom asked me to live with her to help her financially to transition from her job I said “yes”. My friend marveled at my response and felt like it showed great faith, but for me I had heard God. How is it faith when He is making it clear what He wants? Either way that was one of the best decisions I had ever made. I had no idea the Father was giving us time.

After her passing I knew He would be sensitive to my time in the home we had shared. I was in no rush to move even though I knew eventually I would. That house served as a great comfort to me in my grieving process.

The next step of faith was probably choosing to end my lease and pay month to month. My pastor suggested it and although I did it I still thought it was very unlikely that I would move anytime soon. I just new I was overpaying and would need to move at some point. There were a few things going wrong with the home and they were indications that I could not stay there. The desire of my heart was to have my own which would also fulfill legacy.

And then I met with my friend’s realtor who I had underestimated. I did not know what a jewel she was and how divine our connection would be. I had given up on the home buying process and she was the one who kept the faith. She was the one who found my home.

“So how did you know this was it?” My friend asked. “I didn’t.” I replied. I explained it was everyone around me. It was the open door after open door. It was seeing God’s hand in the people and the process.

I fully expected to fall in love at first site with my house. There was one house in particular that I did that with. I was so giddy over that home I couldn’t sleep the whole night. But the day before I was going to put my offer in it was taken off the market. I was so hurt. It wasn’t mine.

“So when did you fall in love?” Another friend asked. “Now,” I said. I am falling in love now. I go from room to room in joy and awww. I discover so many little things that bring me joy and make me smile. I can feel the Father smiling with me. It is like He is discovering through my eyes. It is new to Him because it is new to me.

This home brings me comfort. It gives me rest.

I asked the Lord why did He choose this one and not the other one? “Intimacy”, He said. This home is more intimate. It feels like it is embracing me and hugging me when I am in it.

I am so blessed by the people and the process of buying a home. God is truly in all things. And now for the first time in 3 generations we are homeowners again.

May He receive all the glory in this home and may it be used for His good purposes.

SHALOM

Eyes To See

As I mentioned previously on this little blog things are moving quickly.  Yesterday we did the inspection on the house and while there were several things brought to my attention I was assured by the professional (the inspector) that these items were a given for a house of this age.  In fact, it was in good condition given its age.

An interesting phenomenon occurred yesterday.  I found that while the inspector was highlighting certain things my eyes became open to them also, either while he was speaking and sometimes even before he spoke.  I told him that just being around him was giving me “eyes to see”.  It is an interesting occurrence that we can be influenced to that capacity by people around us, even those we have just met.  I can see this as being symbolic of my spiritual journey.  Being “around” Christ these 15 years has greatly influenced me and helped me to “see”.

Recently I had an interaction with a family member and I was greatly discouraged to find that they did not “see”.  It had been a while since we had spoken and the reason for our disconnection was due to their own narcissism and selfishness.  I felt that I was called to implement strong boundaries to focus on my own health and healing during a season of recovery.  I had hopes that one day the relationship could be restored, so when they reached out I was surprised, but hopeful.  Unfortunately upon interacting with them I soon learned that they had not grown.

They had not healed.

They were (still) toxic.

I did not understand why they were still in the same place.  How could all this time have passed and they did not see?  But I was reminded of the gift I have in community and the teaching I am under.  I am surrounded by people who value healthy relationships.  I am surrounded by people who desire to grow and change for the better.  I am influenced by those around me.

Maybe one day that relationship will be restored but for now I must continue on my own path.  The Father has given me all the tools needed to accomplish His purpose on this path and I am grateful for the greatest tool He has given:

His love.

Now I understand so much why He revealed Himself to me as He did.  He told me years ago He would be anything that I needed and I so have needed Him as Father, Husband, & Family.

I pray that God brings forth His desires in the earth.  As an intercessor I can’t help but to do so.  But I also understand we all have choices.  And I choose to value myself above someone else who will try to devalue me.

I choose to protect myself from others who may bring me harm.

I choose to see myself as He sees me.

SHALOM

A Quick Turnaround

So I have some good news!  I bought a house!  Literally within days of writing my last post about the process, I made an offer and it was accepted.  No one was more than shocked then me!  Prior to seeing the house I was on the phone with one of my besties and was sharing with her about my revelation of the process and how much peace I now had being in it.  I simply was not pressed and also did not expect to purchase a home that day.  My mindset was, “It’s going to be awhile”.  When you’ve walked out long seasons it can be easy to have that belief system.

Last night I was watching some old videos I had posted on Periscope (is that even still around?) and I marveled at the things I discussed that I am now walking in.  One in particular talked about entrepreneurship.  I was talking about ways to identify that you yourself are an entrepreneur.  Now at the time I was in a sense an entrepreneur because I had published my first two books.  However I still had a full time job.  It is like God was slowly easing me into the idea and now, it’s full throttle.

Me at a Speaking Event on Financial Literacy for Small Business Owners

It was obvious to me that the insight I had back then was prophetic and was from the Holy Spirit.  I was reminded of this gift inside me.  I think because I am surrounded by so many with this gift I can take it for granted or think it’s normal.  The Father has manifested Himself and spoken so loudly to me so many times, I assume that is most believer’s experiences.  But I have learned (and am still learning) He manifests Himself according to the identity of the individual.  With me He manifests Himself prophetically.

This house search has been symbolic to me of a search for a spouse.  It seemed every house my realtor and I looked at had some type of obvious flaw.  Some would look good on the outside but then have very serious issues such as large appliances being rusted or foundations being cracked.  It seemed God was making it clear: “This is not the one”.  I spoke with my counselor about it and she agreed that I needed to find a house, (and a spouse), that I was willing to do minimal repair work with.  “Do you want to have to replace a whole hot water tank Nicole, or just tear up some carpet?”  Her point was that there would of course be some type of work needed in a person but that level of repair needed to be less rather then more. I knew that I wanted a house that was, “move in ready”.  I also new that I wanted a man who was the same.

We all have our flaws.  We all are a work in progress.  However Holy Spirit has taught me (along with John Townsend & Henry Cloud) that some of the keys to being a “safe person” is someone who values humility and taking responsibility.  Someone who is mature and doesn’t just point the finger.  Someone who wants to grow.  I am surrounded by people on this similar journey of becoming a whole person and manifesting our true eternal selves.  How could I not be paired with someone of that same mindset?

My Sister and I Celebrating My Mom’s Birthday

He is also showing me that I need someone who has a similar starting point as me.  I can’t be with someone who is “behind”.  I have often chosen people who were behind, but that was due to a lack of self value.  I am learning.

Now things are moving QUICKLY.  I have a lot to do in a short period of time.  But that is the pattern I can see in my journey.  Slow, slow, (sometimes another “slow”) and then quick.  I think He does that to teach me not to get comfortable and so that I know it’s Him allowing things or making things happen and not me (because I can easily default to being controlling).

I still have some questions to Him concerning this house, but I know without a doubt He orders my steps and I trust Him to guide me with His eye.

It is a new season.  It is a new day.  And it happened suddenly.

Feel free to check out the video I referenced earlier on entrepreneurship!

SHALOM

Unparalleled Peace

I was walking with a friend outside.  It was midday summer; perfect and sunny.  We had just come from lunch where we had the benefit of eating outside.  The venue allowed dogs because we happened to be in a “dog city” so folks were happily bringing their dogs to this particular restaurant.  My friend is becoming a dog lover so this setting afforded her the opportunity to “ooh” and “aww” over the cute k-9’s strolling with their owners who passed by our table. 

As we walked, we took in the scenery.  It’s a gentrified area and those have their own pluses and minuses.  Pluses because they get “redone” with the money that’s flowing into the city.  Minuses because the previous residents get kicked out when they can no longer afford the new amenities being added.

As we walked, my friend even stopped to smell some beautiful flowers at a flower shop and I took note.  We had been talking about contentment and enjoying the moment.  I knew God was working in her.

“Do you feel peace?” she had asked me at some point.  We had already been together for over an hour and were catching up on each others lives.  I had told her about the ups and downs in my romantic life as well as this season of recovery.

I thought about her question.  “Peace?” I asked as I mulled that one over in my head for a sec.  Did I feel peace?  I asked myself.  I struggled with that.  Because in all honesty I did not feel peace.  I did not feel ok with this journey of surrender and submission.  I did not feel ok with grief and loss and trauma.  I did not feel ok. 

What I eventually told my friend was the truth.  I did not feel peace.  But I could not disregard my past journey of God showing His faithfulness.  That when He had me do hard things in the past, it was actually for my good.  So I said something to the effect of, “No, I do not feel peace.  But He must see something that I don’t.  I also understand that I am an eternal being and this life is fleeting.  I understand the importance of living for the eternal even when in the natural I am not rewarded.”

And that mindset is a mindset that I have carried.  To do what is eternal over what is natural.  But as I am growing and evolving, the Father is expanding my mindset.  He is showing me the “both, and”.  That there is a dual dynamic with His ways.

I will be teaching a workshop soon on bookkeeping.  I started my business this time last year and though it hasn’t grown as fast as I had wanted, there is growth.  In the class I will be debunking accounting myths.  I realize many small business owners confuse bookkeeping and accounting and I want to shed light on this topic to help them become more successful.  I realize that is what God is doing with me.

He is debunking my myths.

I believe there are lies we all believe and depending on your journey, your family history, your DNA, your “wiring” so to speak, you may have more false beliefs than others.  Or may have those false beliefs in certain areas of life.  For me, I have struggled with trusting God and others.  And I have had limitations on that trust.

I did not realize that the reason I did not have peace when my friend asked me that day was because I did not believe wholeheartedly that He was for me.  I did not believe that ‘He would withhold no good thing from me.’  I believed that I was missing out on something good.  In some far off way I did believe He had something better, but at this point in my journey, I would take the good.  I thought that was a reasonable request after all I had experienced.  Little did I know, it may have been good for someone.  But it would not be good for me…

Now I see His ways are for us, even when they are hard.  Even when they are long.  Even when they are not the “ideal” of what we think our life should be, or what other people’s lives are.  He knows us intimately and He knows what is best for each us.  That realization has given me peace.

I now have peace.

I am so grateful He has given me peace and He has exposed the lie.  I have not felt this trust in so long, it is a wonder to me that it is here so freely.  We are all wired uniquely and He leads us on the path that will bring out our transformation of our true eternal selves to be manifest in the earth.  He takes the good and the bad and somehow uses it all for His end purpose.  It is truly amazing.

I pray the Father reveals to you your false beliefs, and keeps leading you along His path of righteousness.

After the storm…

SHALOM

 

Thoughts on Suffering

Today I got to spend the day with a woman who has been used greatly in my family.  Decades ago she became one of my grandmother’s very best friends.  When my grandmother passed away, she was there, standing in the gap.  She and my own mother grew closer and I knew she was like a surrogate mom for my mother.  A godmother.  Since my mom passed away, she has been faithful in sending me cards and pictures and other tokens of her affections.  Always reverencing their love for me (my mother and grandmother), reminding me of what I struggle so often to remember.

That I am loved.

me and linda

Today she spoke about her battle with breast cancer.  She has in fact battled this disease three times.  She was honest in her speech, sharing that yes, emotionally she struggled with this 3rd diagnosis.

“Lord, again?  Haven’t I already been through this?  Haven’t I already passed the test?”

This resonated with me greatly, as I thought about my own journey in waiting, and relationships, and surrender.

“Lord, haven’t I already passed this test?” I’ve wondered so often.

But His answer to her may not be the answer you hear in the pulpit, or online, or at a popular mega church, because it’s not a popular message.

It’s a message of the cross.

“Yes daughter,” He says to her.  “But I got you!  I got you!” 

I am discovering that one can experience and overcome various tests, trials and tribulations.  Even in the same area.  They can have those experiences and keep going through them.  Again, and again, and even again.

We see this in the Bible.  What does God say to Paul when he asks to have the thorn removed from him three times?

“Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.”  (2 Cor 12:8)

And even with Christ in the garden of Gethsemane, crying out to the Father to remove His cup.

“Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and said to the disciples, ‘Sit here while I go and pray over there.’ And He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and He began to be sorrowful and deeply distressed. Then He said to them, ‘My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch with Me.  He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, ‘O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.’ (Matt 26:36-39).

I can’t imagine the depth of sorrow Christ felt to ask to be removed from this experience of physical suffering.  I can only imagine it must have been so great because He also knew all the world would be saved through it, and yet it was so painful that He  still did not want to experience it.

And in both cases (Paul and Christ’s) God basically said, “My will is for you to suffer.”

We do not like suffering.  Our flesh hates it.  Whether it is physical, emotional or mental.  When we are hungry we want food.  When we are tired we want sleep.  When we have to use the restroom we find the nearest toilet.  We do not like being uncomfortable.  And suffering is, in my opinion, the worst kind of uncomfortable.

But suffering in the kingdom, is highly regarded.  We cannot get away from that fact, and any gospel that is preached without the teaching of suffering is erroneous.

2 Timothy 2: “If we suffer, we shall also reign with him…

One of my struggles in this season is not the teaching of suffering.  I think I understood that early on in my faith, that I would need to do hard things for Him.  That I would need to lay down my life.  But I didn’t know about long suffering.  I didn’t know about the lengths and depths that He could call one to.  I didn’t know that He could call you over and over (and even over) again to experience difficult circumstances.  And I didn’t know He could give you power to sustain you through it.

I got to speak with some women today who are related to my grandmother’s friend.  They too are in seasons of recovery from loss, grief and trauma.  They too are overcoming things they never imagined they would go through.  And I can see the changes.  I can see there is more humility, there is more kindness.  Our hearts are tender now…

Suffering changes you.  But if you know Him, it can change you for the good.  He can work it for the good…

When Paul cries out to have his thorn removed, we find out why God said ‘no’.

“And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure (2 Cor 12:7).

He was humbled through this thorn.  He was sustained by His grace.

I realize the Father has been after something in me in this season.  Something that I didn’t know was there.  It was distrust.

I have known that the way I have related to the Father has always been intimate and passionate, zealous and possessive  (on both sides).  Yes, I have loved Him.  But I have consistently struggled with trusting Him.

Looking back on my journey, I would trust Him to a certain extent.  And with my singleness I would only trust Him up until a certain number of years (we have passed that number of years by the way).  Of course, consciously I was not aware I was doing this.  But He knew.

At the service today my friend Linda testified about her “thorn”.  She testified that the Father would not remove it, but that He would keep her through it.  She also testified that she would worship anyway.

Wow.  To worship Him anyway.  Even after the third time.  That is the faith He is after.  That is the call for His chosen.

I am grateful that even in my pain and grief and anger, He has never changed.  His love and loyalty are steady and even though I don’t experience the high feelings of emotions I did all those years in my journey, I sense His love as strongly as I used to.

And for the first time, in such a long time, I trust Him.

I trust Him like I used to.  I trust Him like I did as a babe.  I trust Him like before the tests and trials.  Before the losses and setbacks.  Before the confusion over my identity.  I trust Him.  Because now I can see (as I have in the past but forgot) that He really is for me.  That His choices really are in my best interest.  Especially when it comes to relationships.

He protects me.  Like a good father does His child.

I am His.

What I know now, that I didn’t know earlier in my faith, was that His way somehow feels/is harder and at the same time protects.  I also did not know that His way does not negate (long) suffering.  That though He is for me, pain is inevitable.  And in life pain is inevitable. But at-least with Him it can be used for our good.

Because in order to reign with Him we must suffer.

That is the cross.  That is being a disciple.  That is being His.

SHALOM

 

His Answer

Hosea 2:21

“In that day I will respond,”
declares the Lord—
“I will respond to the skies,
and they will respond to the earth;
22
and the earth will respond to the grain,
the new wine and the olive oil,
and they will respond to Jezreel.
23
I will plant her for myself in the land;
I will show my love to the one I called ‘Not my loved one.’
I will say to those called ‘Not my people, ‘You are my people’;
and they will say, ‘You are my God.’”

I have had this word on my heart for a while and felt that I needed to write it down.  In my process of recovering from a very difficult season, I often look back (almost daily) and I wonder why the Father orchestrated certain events in my life in the manner that He did.  I all too often compare and see how He blessed “so and so” with this or that and yet chose not to for me.  I am very well aware of the scripture that cautions us not to compare, yet and still, it happens.

It’s so easy to quote scripture when you are growing in your faith.  It’s easy to know the word logically, it’s quite another story to actually walk His path out.  To apply His teachings to your life’s journey.  Day in.  Day out.  For years.

I remember when my friend started dating her now husband, she talked about having all of this book knowledge about dating beforehand, but how difficult it was to use that knowledge when she finally had the opportunity.  She said it was like being on a sports team and learning the plays before the game,  then she got in the game and forgot the plays.  That resonated with me.  How often do we forget to apply the knowledge that we have accumulated in those “high” season of faith, when we walk through the valley of the shadow of death?

And maybe it’s not that we forget.  Maybe its just that we are in too much pain to do so.

I have sought the Father on His way of doing things in my journey, even so recently as this morning during quiet time.  “Father, why did you do it this way?  Why did you ‘bend’ to your people in times past and not for me now?”  Indeed, I could think of several scriptures where I saw that He would give the people what they wanted, even if it was not what He wanted.  Never mind that they ended up being worse off in the end.  I just wanted some kind of relenting from this thorn in my side.

But in my time of prayer I was reminded of what He is teaching our fellowship in the spiritual school we are in.  He is teaching us, that in all things, to give thanks.  So as hard as it was, I started doing that.  Memories of how He manifested Himself in those final days with my mother flooded my heart.  How He led her to repentance.  How He gave us time.  Every trip she made us go on.  The Bible Study He gave that we attended together.  His presence during that time.  He made Himself so manifest even though I didn’t know why.  Now I can look back and say, He did it for me.

He did it for us.

There is so much pain still in my heart that I am working through.  So many mornings I wake up and think of them.  My family.  My mom.  My grandmother.  I am still in shock that this is the path.  This is the outcome of all those years of faith.  And yet, when I give thanks, I see that He did not forsake me.  He did not leave me alone, even though I have felt so very alone.

I wrote in a journal entry recently, “Singleness has been a thorn in my side these 15 years, but it has not killed me”.  That was the truth.  It has been difficult and challenging.  Painful and lonely.  Hard and led to much hope deferred.  But it did not kill me.

He does things His way.  That is what I am learning.  He answered in His way.  He gave me my own business in response to my former employer persecuting me.  He gave me time with my mom when I didn’t know our time was limited.  He gave me an amazing companion in a season of singleness when loss was faced on several fronts.  He gave me sisters when I did not have close family.  He gave me financial provision when I didn’t have steady income.

He answered.  He just didn’t answer in the way I wanted Him to.  He did not take away the thorn.

Instead He gave grace for it.

I’m grateful for His provision.  I’m grateful for the women in my life who are there through thick and thin.  I’m grateful for the Holy Spirit who’s mercies are new every morning.

He does not give up on us.  He does not leave us alone.

Thank You Father for Your answer.

I know that I am not worthy of even that.

SHALOM