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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

 

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

 

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

 

 

Learning Resilience, Getting Unstuck

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Can I share something with you? I tend to get “stuck”.  This is something I didn’t realize about myself until this season but it’s true.  I get stuck on songs.  My roommate can attest to this as I will put a song on repeat in a minute!  I LOVE listening to the same song over and over!  I’m doing it now.  I’m having a hard time getting through the whole Hillsong United album because I’m stuck on “Prince of Peace” & “Scandal of Grace”.  But in general getting stuck on a song is not necessarily a bad thing.  It actually can serve as great background music when you’re studying for an exam or writing a book.  That’s my experience anyway.  But getting stuck on thoughts, well, that’s another story.  You see I tend to get stuck on thoughts too.  And maybe if they were super happy memories like my grandmother taking me to the amusement park or my best friends showering their love on me during a road trip or other excursion that would be great.  But no, these thoughts tend to be negative and even dark.  They are a constant temptation that I give into more often than I resist and before this season I just lived with it.  I barely recognized it.  Then God said it was time to address those negative thoughts.

“You need resilience”, He said.  I remember years ago He said I needed endurance.  Then I waited several years for a spouse, ran a half marathon and waited years to move on in my career.  I’m pretty sure I have that endurance now.  Then I remember He said He was giving me discipline.  I obtained that Masters degree in Accounting and that involved a lot of discipline.  It involved a lot of faith too because I was really bad at Accounting in undergrad!  But now He says I need resilience.  I need resilience not just in recovering from toxic thinking but recovering from toxic relationships.

My friend was sharing with me a little while ago about a sermon she heard about David. The minister shared that while David’s child was ill David prayed and fasted and wept before the Lord.  He cried out and interceded and pleaded that his child would live.  But then his child died.  And instead of continuing in mourning, David got up and ordered his servants to feed him.  They marveled because others would now grieve but David did the opposite.

David understood something.  He understood the times to weep and the times to count your losses and move forward.

I have not understood that. I have wept and wept and wept.  I have grieved and grieved and grieved.  But now I am learning, there is a time to move on.

There is a time to realize that the past is the past and though it was good, the present and the future can actually be even better.

I am learning resilience. I am learning to count my losses and keep it moving.  I am learning to believe that the future is full of prosperity and peace and beauty.

I am learning that my present is full of all those things too.

My friend and I at a family gathering…

kennei-and-i

SHALOM

We Are The More: Thoughts on Sonship

Can I tell you something that may seem a little sinful? I’ve been fighting with God lately.  I’ve been fighting because I want the old way.  I want the “over the top” way He rescues me.  I want the invading of my personhood with His intimacy.  I want to be like a child, but He is weaning me.  He is prying away my fingers from His bosom and taking away His milk.  I get frustrated because I want the milk.  I want the dependency we created these 14 years. I want Him.

Psalm 131:2 (AMP)

Surely I have calmed and quieted my soul; Like a weaned child [resting] with his mother, My soul is like a weaned child within me [composed and freed from discontent].

 

But even as I sit here struggling with this new way He is developing in me I hear a popular worship song. The song is a nice song.  It’s a good song, but it is asking Him for what He has already given.

We already have Him.

I am reminded of going to a few Christian events recently and the same song was playing at those events along with other popular Christian songs. And I am reminded of how I felt when those songs were played.  I knew the lyrics were “outdated” (even though these were new songs).  They were outdated in heaven.  I knew the people worshipping were sincere but they did not have revelation that God is maturing His body to a place where we are no longer “asking for more”.

We ARE the more.

God has created a plan so that His children will become Sons and the Sons will dominate the earth. That was the original plan, but we got off track.

God is calling for Sonship.

I was talking to my roommate last night right after this huge ordeal with trying to catch a mouse but instead we ended up with the kitchen flooded, a broken vacuum cleaner and at least 30 wet towels on the floor (but that is a story for another time). I told my roommate last night God had been dealing with me about not being moved by my emotions.  He had been showing me how fearful I had been by this little rodent and it was just that: a little rodent.  I am the owner of this home (well, kind of since my roommate and I rent).  I am larger than this mouse.  I am the one with the authority.  But often I have let fear intimidate me from using my authority.  This little event in our home has caused me to rise up, take my place and face my fear.

The world is desperately in need of Sons dear friends. They are lost and in darkness and do not know which way to turn.  Feeding from His bosom does well for us, but what does it do for them?  When we mature and are weaned and eat from more solid food, we then have that food to offer others.  They can then eat from maturity and wholeness and freedom.

The whole earth is waiting for the revealing of your true self. Will you partner with Him in revealing it?

SHALOM

Can I Be Casual?

Many years ago I was pretty much desperate to be in a committed relationship. I hate to use that word but it’s pretty accurate.  I was needy and codependent and did not know my identity.  When you’re in a state like that you’re liable to accept anything.  And so I did.  Thankfully God got a hold of me pretty young and though I made a lot of poor choices they could have been worse.  Much worse.

It’s been a journey of learning what Love is and who He is and who I am.  This journey has been an ebb and flow of emotion and passion and pain.  Mostly because of who I am and how I have functioned.  It’s only now in this season that my vocabulary has words to describe what it is I have experienced with God.  It was passion.  But it was passion because I was passionate.  Yes I was desperate, but I became desperate for Him.

Yet my affection for Christ was rivaled and though I loved Him I still loved my idols. The only way I knew to become free from those idols was to be “all in” with Christ.  Kind of like the way my city has been “all in” for the CAVS (Go Cleveland!).

 I have always been intense and driven and goal-oriented.  Jesus became my goal and I wanted to do everything I could to “get to Him”.  My heart was sincere and He met me where I was.  But I didn’t have the healthiest ways along this journey.  My intense, serious, single-mindedness served its purpose, but it also hindered me.

It caused me anxiety. It caused me to fear the One who loves me the most.  It misshaped my view of Him, His love and His path which, although narrow, is not a burden.  It kept me in bondage.

For a long time I just wanted “the one”. But then 10+ years later “the one” never came and instead there were tests and trials and pruning.  I can see the wisdom in him not showing up but still, those things can take their toll.  Even with the Holy Spirit.  So now I find myself here after those tests and difficult choices and I see the fruit.  I also attempt to find a better way at functioning.  One that is not so “black and white” because in my 30s I’m learning life is never black and white.  Yes, I am still waiting on “the one” but what does my waiting look like?  I don’t think it looks like it did in the past when I was not allowed certain experiences because I couldn’t be trusted with them.  I’m more apt these days to think it looks more like saying “yes” than saying “no” (even though when saying that there is still doubt).  It looks more like finding balance and embracing the opportunities to meet others, connect and value them as people, not use them to satisfy my own selfish desires.

I’m more apt to lean more toward the casual and less toward the heavy commitment.  At least for now.

And if I’m wrong, well He’ll do what He always does: steer me back on the path. But if I’m right, I will have grown more, developed more and become more balanced.  Which I believe has been His goal from the beginning.  Even when I wasn’t aware.  Especially when I wasn’t aware.

At the parade!

SHALOM

THIS V DAY

We met for our first one on one.  It was magic.  We held hands while skating around the ice. He was light on his feet and ever so graceful, even though it was his first time.  We glided and danced as if it were a dream.  It was.  I was in awe of this man and his beauty.  How could this be when there had been 8 years of nothing?  We took breaks and warmed ourselves by the outside fire.  We made small talk with strangers and I was affirmed of my own beauty.  We made our way to the gallery and pretended to look at sculptures and paintings but really we were looking at each other.  Was this real?  I was swept off my feet and had no idea that such a thing was possible.  Over dinner we conversed for hours about the future and our plans and how similar they were.  The evening ended with the exchanging of gifts and a kiss.  Our first.

That is my experience 2 years ago on Valentines’ Day.  It was the epitome of romance and could have easily been written in a romance novel or a movie script.  But it was real.  What I did not know then and what I have since learned is that the reality is there are layers to people.  There are layers to this life and there is nothing “black and white”.  There are strongholds and generational curses and things much bigger than ourselves.  

We have callings much bigger than ourselves.

I have walked away from love a few times in my life.  I have laid it down and suffered heartbreak as a result.  But I have learned the heartbreak I have experienced from walking away only protected me from greater heartbreak.  I don’t know if I will experience another romantic date like that but in all honesty I don’t want one.  I would rather be protected and respected and loved.  Truly loved.  Not a misguided, selfish, immature love that doesn’t last as soon as the first storm hits.  But a deep, sturdy, selfless love, built on a foundation of character and wisdom.

I looked forward to fellowship today.  I looked forward to dialoguing about eternal things with people who love me with the Lord’s love.  I looked forward to wearing a cute outfit and drinking a cup of coffee and having a really good hair day, b/c that doesn’t always happen.  I  will probably go grocery shopping and make this soup I found on Pinterest.  I may stop at Marshalls to do some therapeutic shopping.  I will call one of my BFF’s who sent me a V Day gift in the mail b/c my friends are thoughtful that way.

This V day isn’t at all like the one 2 years ago.  Instead it’s quiet, at times stretching, and yet still fulfilling.  I’m learning life is complicated and people are complex.  I’m also learning the Father knows best.

My spiritual dad and I…  

 SHALOM