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Getting Older

 

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People have been asking me what I’m planning for the big 3-4.  I honestly have no plans.  My emotions have been up and down (ok, mostly down) about the upcoming event and I don’t know how I will feel when it gets here.  Will I have a series of bursts of energy and strength that I’ve often experienced when the enemy has tried to come up against me?  Or, will I give in to the quiet stillness of my soul that has marked this season with Christ? 

I told my friend recently that I’m allowing myself to experience both.  I’m allowing myself to be grateful for the ground the Father and I have gained together, the victories and the wholeness He has created.  And also, I’m allowing myself the disappointment, confusion and frustration at the waiting.  I’m a numbers person and I do believe I am supposed to be, working in Accounting and all.  I believe numbers mean a lot to God as well.  He taught me a lot a few years ago just how important they were.  What I learned then was that His ways are not our ways.  His view is not ours and often He wants us to come up higher to see things from His perspective.  For a while there I was seeing but then the darkness came and I found myself lost, questioning very foundational truths that had guided me these 15 years.  I was tormented with fear and anxiety and I didn’t have time to think about singleness, I was just trying to choose life.  But I did choose and one day at a time I made it to where I am now: more soundness of mind.  More peace.  More grace.  Now that I’m here, singleness is a focus again.  I honestly never thought it would be this long.  I don’t disagree with the Master’s hand and plan.  I know without a shadow of a doubt His way, His timing is best.  But I need to process the fact that his timing is longer than I imagined.

For most of my journey I felt a security in my future.  I felt confident of His path.  Much of that confidence stemmed from my emotions and feelings; the perks of being less mature in the faith I suppose.  But now He has said I am more mature and He has treated me as such.  Instead of doing things for me He is teaching me to do them for myself. That’s been a paradigm shift.  One I haven’t welcomed freely.

The Father has been faithful in all things.  He has made promises and I have no doubt He will deliver.  But there is a process involved before the manifestation of those promises.

Psalm 105:19

Until the time that his word came to pass,
The word of the Lord tested him.

Like Joseph my friends and I know this testing.  We have each encountered our own paths of being formed by the Master’s hand and we have overcome many things.  But it seems no matter how many victories I’ve experienced, the next level is even more fierce than the last.  I believe this to be true with marriage.  I believe the tests will get more difficult and that is why the process in singleness is so needed, to create a sturdy foundation.

I am a blessed woman.  God is faithful and my cup runs over.  But I am still waiting and I did not know the wait would be this long.

The process this thorough.

The mountain this steep.

SHALOM

When You’ve Come A Long Way

I sat in the Starbucks location 10 minutes from work using my early arrival as needed time to recoup from the day.  I was meeting an old high school friend and would need the short break to gather energy for the meeting.  Not because my time with her would not be enjoyable but simply because that is what introverts do: they gain energy during down time.  When she arrived I was flooded with friendship from her smile to her perky nature.  She made it known that she was outgoing, friendly and extroverted, all of the qualities most of my close friends have.

Over my standard café latte and her sweet treat (which turned out not to be sweet enough) we caught up on life.  She advised it had only been a year since our last convo but I’m pretty sure it was longer.  I need to look up the pictures on Facebook to confirm that though…  She mentioned not having friends past certain seasons and I can identify.  I don’t have too many I keep in contact with from before college.  Most of my close friends are from that time of academic and spiritual endeavors on Miami’s campus.  I shared I think that mostly has to do with me having a shared spiritual experience with those folks.  When you become born again it changes you and sometimes old relationships do not carry over after this change.  She too is a believer, like several others from back in the day.  Our connection is always easy and comfortable probably because of our shared faith.

After about an hour of deep conversation she said, “Wow Nicole look at you compared to your high school self!”  I believe she was inferring I had come a long way.  I was too afraid to get more feedback on that statement though I wanted to ask for her to elaborate.  I can’t even picture my high school self from an outsider’s perspective and how different I am now.  I only know the process I have gone through for that transformation to take place.  I assume she sees a more polished, mature version of myself.  It is truly the work of the Father to polish and polish and polish those rough places around me and cause me to shine.

He is still polishing…

We talked about the ex and I was tickled at how distant that time frame of dating seemed.  I thought back to how deeply my feelings were for that man back then.  I thought I would never get over that breakup.  But last night I sat in front of her, experiencing a greater level of wholeness I have never experienced before.  It took a lot of blood, sweat and tears to get this far.  It took a lot of faith walking and fearful courage.  But some how, some way, the prophecy I received long ago came to pass:

“You have come leaps and bounds” the prophet said.  I knew at the time I had not but that the word was for a future time.  To God His work in us is already finished so His view was that it had already happened.  In my time it would take another 10 years…


Somehow the 10 years came and went.  And then another year.  And another.  Now I am here, removed from heartbreak, still developing, still learning, and still walking by faith.  But now I have something I didn’t have back then.  I have a history with God.  I have a history of Him showing out for me.  Doing the impossible for me.  And creating a masterpiece out of a life that was at one time in shambles.

He is faithful.

Psalm 18:33

“He makes my feet like hinds’ feet [able to stand firmly and tread safely on paths of testing and trouble]; He sets me [securely] upon my high places.”

SHALOM

 

A Few Misunderstandings

Remember that game telephone? Where there is a group of people and the first person whispers a phrase or word in the next person’s ear? They pass it on and then they pass it on and the last person says the word or phrase? Except the word or phrase has changed dramatically because of the thing that happens when people who are different in perception and nature interpret something. So the word starts off as “kite” but ends up as “bus” and everyone is looking at each other side-eyed trying to figure out where the breakdown happened. I mean how do you get bus from kite? They don’t even have a similar vowel. Anyways I bring this up because it seems like my life is lot like this game these days. Only it’s a lot more annoying to be misunderstood or misheard or misperceived in real life. Because in real life misunderstandings cause broken relationships, career hindrances and a lot of other more serious consequences.


One of the benefits of being in a community of people who have known you for some time (or even know you by the spirit for a short time) is that they know you. That means they know your sense of humor, they know your intentions, they know your character. But if someone doesn’t know you then one unassuming sentence can be mistaken as an insult or an attitude. And that can be pretty hurtful if that is not your personality. I think misperceptions of others can happen so easily and they probably happen all the time with strangers. We judge and watch and go about our way having an opinion on someone who didn’t chastise their screaming child in public who was throwing a tantrum (or maybe this is just me?) or a couple who is making out in public with no shame. We sum up people as a whole based on one incident or a few short interactions and think we have them down but our judgment is based on past experience of others who may look like them, sound like them or think like them, not necessarily on them. We live off stereotypes and repeat the distorted truth of those stereotypes in the secrecy of our thoughts or the boldness of our lips.

I was frustrated that I was misunderstood. I was hurt and I was angry. Thankfully I received peace when someone who knew me (a few someone’s actually) was able to say, “Nicole, that’s not you”. These people knew my character, they knew my ways, and they knew my intent. I was blessed when my friend was able to read what I had written the way I intended it to be read. It is an affirming thing for a writer when the reader gets what the writer is saying. But I was reminded that even when those who do know me, who I do love and who I do look up to, misunderstood my intent, well I was reminded that they too are fallen. They too are human. They too miss the mark.

But there is One who knows me through and through. He knows my ways and He knows my heart. He knows my intentions and He knows my thoughts. 

There is no misunderstanding with Him. When you say “kite” He hears “kite”. And when you say “bus” He hears “bus”. And that truth gave me great comfort when I felt disheartened from being misunderstood.

Psalm 139…

Lord, you have searched me and known me!
You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
    you discern my thoughts from afar.
You search out my path and my lying down
    and are acquainted with all my ways.

SHALOM

Christmas 2016

The year has flown by though some days seemed endless.  I wonder how we got here often.  How did we bustle through Thanksgiving and now Christmas is quickly approaching?  Every year I struggle with the lack of family around this time and even though that is still a struggle I am grateful that God has given me something a little unique this year.  He has given me community in my home (ironically as I typed that last sentence the cat busted through the door, into my room and is now doing “cat things” in it).  My roommate has been such a joy and I love laughing with her.  I’m certain she makes the Father laugh all the time.  And then there’s Benny (the cat).  Benny who acts more like a person and a dog most of the time than an actual cat.  My roommate and I have had so many nutty things happen in this house with this cat we often joke about writing a book about them!  Yes, God knew what I needed in this season, even if it wasn’t what I thought.

Often it is not what I think.

Yesterday we had our first holiday party.  We combined communities and enjoyed the company of our friends, family and loved ones.  It was a close intimate group which was about all our little upstairs duplex could hold but it was just enough.  My roommate shared on her recent trip to Africa and that was beautiful and powerful all by itself.  I am so blessed to see God move so greatly with her and bring to pass a long awaited desire of her heart.

Friday night she and I attended a holiday dance performance.  There was lovely singing about Christ and salvation and hope and love.  And beautiful dancing to compliment.  There was food and people and fellowship and smiles.  It has been a very full holiday indeed and there are 7 days left to celebrate!  I got most of my shopping done but will have to fight the crowds for a few last items.  I’m nervous to get on the scale these days because I know all the cookies and treats I’ve been consuming will eventually reveal themselves on it.  It seems every other day a client is dropping off their “thank you” at work in the form of boxes of goodies and sweetness.  And then of course we had an overload at our party last night. I’ll be taking the left overs with me to work on Monday!

Life is interesting.  It’s not something you can plan for or control and that has probably been my most surprising and difficult lesson.  Things I never could have imagined have happened, both good and bad.  And yet by most people’s standards I am still “young”.  Surely I am on the older end of the young adult spectrum but by next year I will have tipped over.

As unorthodox as this path has been, I know God has taught me that He is in control even when I am not.  He is ordering my steps even when they seem disorganized.  And He is surrounding me with people full of love, fun and laughter to make the journey a little more enjoyable.

In other news, if you or someone you know is struggling with the holiday blues as a single check out my latest Youtube video!

Also, recently I had a conference call to review the HTOHB study guide.  The study guide is available as a FREE download!  Just click here for the replay of the call!

Merry Christmas to you and yours!


Fun things lately…


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

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