Tag Archive | sacrifice

Beginning to Bloom

Tis the season for transition.  For moving.  For meeting new people.  God is opening my heart.  He is opening me like a flower that is blooming.  The season is changing.  There are lots of prophecies coming forth.  Lots of confirming words.  Lots of things to look forward to.  I share my struggles with my sisters.  With my roommate.  With our cat.  I’m going to miss him when I leave, but I’m grateful they will not be too far way.

After five years I’ll be saying goodbye to my landlords.  The same ones who came to my 30th Zumba party and my first book release party and gave me a job when I was laid off.  Such love.  Such favor.  Such family.

I’ll be saying hello to the woman who raised me.  The woman who needs me in this hour.  The tables have turned.  I am honored to be there for her.  I recognize the sacrifice that is shown on my part.

Sacrifice displays love.

There is a sacrifice of another sort in my belly.  It has been there for quite a while.  He has been there for quite a while.  And even in the messy way I have responded to the sacrifice, He, like a loving Father moves towards and not away.

At His nudging, I practice opening my heart.  I practice having conversations and being open and letting new people in.  I do this because I realize the only way we can receive a gift is to open our hands to receive it.  Open our hearts to receive it.

Hoster-Flower_Blooming

It is almost June.  It is almost summer.  The season for blooming is here…

Father give us grace and courage to be open.  Give us grace to bloom.

SHALOM

More Than A Conqueror

girl on mountain 3

This weekend has been full as they normally are.  I met with my brothers who I share tender memories with of hitting the streets with the gospel when we were young and full of zeal.  The only female surrounded by guys, I was just as bold and fearless.  Those were fond days with night long fellowship, bible studies and witnessing.  Now 15 years later (where does the time go?) we rivaled our times of fellowship, choosing to leave after 5 hours of conversation.

Some things never change.

It is an answered prayer that I have prayed for godly men to be once again on the scene.  There was a season (a very long season) where I had to let them all go.  I had to detox.

Some of the most powerful spiritual fasts I have been on have indeed been from men.  

I struggled like a feen needing a fix, but Jesus strengthened me through the withdrawals. Somehow, some way, He kept me from (another) toxic relationship that would destroy my self esteem and thwart my purpose.

I asked my brothers, “How have I changed these 15 years?” and they responded, “You love God more”.  I was shocked.  How could I love Him more when I feel so far away from Him?  When I no longer have that zeal?  Those exciting, “Yes Lord’s!” that I kept giving in my 20s.  And even early 30s.  How could that be?  It wasn’t until the next day when I pondered more on their response that I heard God’s answer: “You have demonstrated greater sacrifice now than you did as a new believer.  True love is sacrifice“.  

True love is sacrifice.  We see that on the cross.  Christ demonstrated His love for us by submitting Himself to horrible torture and unimaginable pain.

I have not resisted unto bloodshed.

But I have given my all.  Over and over again.  And He has rewarded me diligently.

There is a woman in scripture who only had 2 mites.  It wasn’t a lot in her day.  It didn’t compare to the big givers in her local synagogue but her giving astounded Christ because she had given her all.

I spoke with a dear friend on the phone yesterday.  We talked for 3 hours.  We began a friendship—a sisterhood, at the age of 14 not having any idea we would have more than a friendship; we would have a covenant.  Christ did revolutionary things in our lives so even when we were not in contact we were still transforming into two souls who would shake the kingdom.

She said “Nicole, you’re an overcomer”.  I needed those words.  I needed to remember all that I had overcome.  The fact that I am going back to the beginning, giving up my independence, facing memories that once threatened to be the death of me has stretched me further than I ever wanted to be stretched.

“Only an overcomer could go back”, she said.  She’s right.  I now have authority in what I overcame.  I now have authority in that territory, in those relationships, in my family.

It has been a rocky road.  This has been a rocky season.

But the transformation is magnificent.

And the manifestation of my transformation is still being revealed.

After my morning run…


SHALOM

Living Without The Reward


This year has been full of blessings.  A great roommate (shout out to Lianna), our cute little cat Benny and a host of social activities with lovely people who feel more like family then friends.  I admit I am spoiled with favor from the body of Christ.  So much of my journey has been walking closely with like-minded people who serve as friends, pastors, mentors, etc…  It is rare that I have felt alone.

I think God is specific in the gifts that He gives us.  I think it has to do with our calling and purpose and identity.  Those are exciting words right?  There were so many great men and women in the Bible with exciting callings.  But every time I read those stories I see that what makes them great is what they overcame.

I keep thinking about Sarah and Abraham.  Three years ago Holy Spirit hit me hard with a word regarding their story.  He showed me that my journey in waiting would be similar.  Surrounded by love and strengthened with His intimacy, I was encouraged.

That was three years ago.

It takes a unique person to wait on the Lord.  I mean really wait on the Lord.  Scripture makes it clear, when you wait on the Father, it is not by your own strength;  it is by His.

I remember asking Him why He had us wait, to which He responded, “So that I will get the glory”.  When things happen according to the “culture’s” time frame then its easy to say that man made it happen.  The world will say that there was no supernatural force or outside component aiding in the events.  But when Abraham and Sarah got pregnant at 90 and 100 years old respectively, who got the glory?

God.

This couple was blessed in the end like so many men and women of the faith.  God made it worth their sacrifice.  But before the reward came, there were many days the reward was not there.  There were many times of doubt and fear and loneliness, hope deferred and faithlessness.  These things happen while waiting.  It is in this in between state I find myself in.

Many of my friends do too.

The Word says that God is our reward.  I realize that Word was much easier to believe when I actually experienced His love and intimacy.  I can look around and see many kinds of rewards in my life.  Many areas of reaping.

But I feel more like Hannah these days:

1 Samuel 8: Her husband Elkanah said, “Oh, Hannah, why are you crying? Why aren’t you eating? And why are you so upset? Am I not of more worth to you than ten sons?”

Hannah had a husband who loved her and favored her over his other wife.  She was a blessed woman but she desired a child and her husband did not meet that desire.  He was never meant to.  God put that desire in her for a specific purpose; to bring her closer to Him and to lead the children of Israel.

I do not know what my future holds.  I only know my past.  My past is full of met desires and amazing gifts and God’s faithfulness (in my life and the ones I love).  And I understand that even if He never did another thing He has already done too much.

But there is a place for living without the reward.  There is a place for grieving the sacrifice of “Lord, not my will but yours be done”.

And that is the place I find myself in.

SHALOM

The Reward

Thursday morning while driving to work I thought about the many times I have laid down my life in the area of relationships.  The many times I said “no” because Christ said “no”.  I had a speaking engagement that night where I would share my story about how I was so badly hurt by a break up that I would not have made it through if Christ had not manifested His power and love.  And though I appreciate that manifestation, I had no idea the level of surrender and sacrifice that would be on the other side of that event. 

runner

It is now nearly 12 years later since I first decided to surrender my most prized possession.  And in that time frame I can honestly say I have been immensely blessed.  But that morning in the car all I felt was the pain from the surrender and it seemed never ending.  Then all of a sudden I was in tears while driving and I heard my own voice crying out to a God I haven’t felt in over a year.  I cried out to Him in that familiar way I used to when I did feel Him and I knew He was near.  

“Where is the reward?!” I asked.  I screamed.  You see all I saw was the relentless pruning and dying to self and sacrifice.  The days that stretched out ahead mirrored the ones that were behind and I was leaning on my coping mechanisms to “make it”.  But as soon as I cried out the answer came:  “Fruit must come after the pruning”.  It wasn’t the manifestation of His presence and voice that I had experienced for most of my spiritual journey but it was a knowing.  “It is a natural law”, He said.  And I knew that He was showing me that He orchestrated the times and seasons in such a way that when there is pruning there must be fruit.  As the poet Lauren Hill said, “After winter must come spring”.

With this knowledge I suddenly knew that my mindset had been incorrect.  In attempting to “endure” I was missing a very important truth: God would bring the reward after the cost had been paid.  That same day I listened to a minister’s sermon who confirmed what I was hearing.  “God loves to reward His children for making the right choice” He said.  Instantly I was reminded of a key point in my life where I had chosen to yield and obey.  My pastor at the time said that God was going to reward my obedience in my career.  Within weeks that word came to pass.  I was surprised that God would give me a reward for doing what I was supposed to do.  But He did and I was overwhelmed with His blessings.

Then on Sunday at fellowship the prophetic flowed sweetly in a way it hadn’t in a while.  I knew as I saw the members coming in that He was going to speak that way through one particular woman.  And speak He did.  “Nicole, God has seen your faithfulness.  He has seen the many times you wanted to leave.  He has seen the sacrifices and the obedience.  He is going to reward you this day.”  I was in awe as the words flowed over me.  SO many words of confirmation.  Things I had spoken out loud myself.  Things I had just shared with a friend that morning.  Revelation and understanding in such a dry season.  I was encouraged to say the least.

As if that were not enough the very next day I listened to my favorite minister who has spoken into my life unknowingly the past few years.  “We are entering a season of reward, “ he said.  “God is distributing gifts through his angels to the faithful”.  I was elated.  And when I looked at the date of the message, it was from the day before.  That Sunday, the same day I had received that word at fellowship.  God had given me this word 3 times in 1 week.  And the way He went about it meant the most to me because first He spoke it to my spirit.  In a season I have felt He has not been speaking, this showed me that He has been and that I do hear Him.  “He is fine tuning your hearing” the woman at fellowship said and I knew that that is why this last year has been so difficult because He is speaking in the still small voice.

I want to extend this word to you.  If you have been waiting and faithful and sacrificing.  If you have given your all and then given your all again and then given your all again.  If you have felt gutted out and emptied and depleted for the sake of the Christ and His kingdom.  I want to let you know that He sees you.  

He rewards those who diligently seek Him.  

Prepare to receive your reward.

John‬ ‭15:2‬ ‭NKJV‬‬ 

“Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit.”

‭‭Galatians‬ ‭6:9‬ ‭NKJV ‭‭

“And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.”

If you’d like to check out some tips on being single on V day check out this video!


To hear more about the reward click here!


And here’s a pic of how I spent this weekend😊


SHALOM

When Life Looks Different

Can I be honest with you?  Because I’d like to.  It is my hope that this little blog brings hope and causes people to grow closer to God, but it is also my hope that I am transparent.

When I was 19 years old something or rather, Someone got a hold of me.  I was taught about God at a very young age and feel that I had a relationship with Him.  Back then it was like God and I were in the same house but He was in the attic and I was in the basement.  He was around (somewhere) and I had access to Him but there was still distance.  And then something happened.  I was away at school and dealing with depression, only I didn’t know I was depressed.  A faculty member actually told me I was.  That same faculty member told me to join a gospel choir.  I didn’t know it but God was speaking through him.  In many ways I think that faculty member saved my life.  At the very least he introduced me to life.  Singing in the gospel choir ignited something in me and it was the perfect outlet for two very great passions I had: God and music.  And then something else happened.  Someone in the choir announced a weekly Bible Study they were having.  I went and my life was never the same.  After that God and I were no longer separated by walls and floors. We were standing in the same room, Face to face, talking, like you would a close friend.

And then we were lovers.

And I couldn’t get enough of His love.

Anything He asked me to do I would because He had my heart.  I was passionate and zealous and quite verbal about my experience and He put people in my life who shared that passion.  We were on fire.  That fire lasted and did not go out.  Not even through the darkest of storms.  And there were storms.  There were times the enemy tried to “gut me out” I believe were the prophet’s words.  There were times the unthinkable happened over and over again.  But still, He kept me standing, and used the hard things to be a testimony.


Life looks different now then I thought it would as that young, zealous, passionate teenager.  I’m a planner so I had my life planned out a few different ways.  I was going to marry the man who broke my heart.  Then I was going to be a missionary and spread the gospel all over the world.  Then I was going to climb the corporate ladder and make my way to the top of a Fortune 500 company.  But all of those plans failed.  Instead His purpose prevailed.

Proverbs 19:21

His purpose consisted of several seasons of unemployment, several years of downtime and walking out nearly 12 years of singleness after declining several marriage proposals.  His plan included becoming a local author and publishing 2 books, obtaining an MBA in Accounting and simultaneously growing as a business woman and writer.

I realize now as I near the big 3-4 I cannot control my life.  I can make choices and I can lay down my choice for His but I do not have control.  A  long time ago I chose His way, His will, b/c I had seen something I couldn’t resist.

I had seen Love.

Love in its finest fashion.  And that love caused me to count it all dung.

I am still counting.

Most days it is a painful counting in this season of waiting but I can’t help but think about those early days and have hope that eventually the reward, whether it be earthly or heavenly, will come.

If you haven’t yet checked out my youtube channel you may be interested in the latest video “Trading Your Dream for God’s”.


AND if you’re in the area…don’t miss this!!! 

SHALOM

 

I Prayed for Movement

I prayed for movement because my friend hasn’t had a date in 7 years. My beautiful friend who is smart and funny and loves Jesus.  She overcame a brokenheart 10 years ago just like me.  Chose to let Christ lead her on this journey of faith just like I did. Has seen Him answer prayers and move on her behalf in so many areas of life but this one. There has been no movement for her. She has just been waiting. She says that she is hidden. She knows she is hidden and if God is hiding her then He is protecting her. He is storing up some good stuff for her. But 7 years is 7 years. That is her sacrifice for the call.

“I know God is investing in me”, I shared with her. I know He has taken great lengths with my journey and been so intentional with me because He is expecting to get a return on His investment. I know my life is attached to a harvest and there needs to be an annointing to receive that harvest. The anointing comes through the process“.

Neither of us knew what that process would look like 10 years ago. We didn’t know it would mean 7 years with no movement. Or in my case movement after 9 years only to sacrifice it all over again. God doesn’t tell you stuff like that. 

He just says “follow me”.

He just says “come and die”.

Before we ended our call I prayed for both of us. I prayed we would be the women He intended. I thanked Him for all He has done. I reminded Him He is faithful. And I prayed for movement in 2016 for both of us. I did this because when I pray for movement, He moves.  SHALOM

A Mysterious Love

Now that I’ve walked some with Jesus I can look back on the path and see His hand, working, molding, shaping and developing. I kicked and screamed during most of that development but still, He had His way. 

A friend of a friend had to give up a relationship recently. She cried, he cried and maybe even God cried. But she gave it up because God told her to. I was super impressed she obeyed so quickly, thinking back to my own similar experience nearly 2 years ago. It took me more than 2 wks to obey.  I have never heard God so clearly in my life. Before that time I really thought I could choose. I had waited so long, surely it did not make a difference at that point if I settled?  Of course I didn’t call it settling back then. Instead I justified and reasoned and ignored the red flags. 

Thank God for His mercy.

The decision to lay down that relationship was probably the most rewarding decision I have ever made but at the time it felt like one of the most painful. 

God met me and did not leave me hanging when asking for my obedience.  He manifested His presence and revelation like never before. In the coming year I experienced His love in a way I didnt even know existed. 

Now I think about His love and struggle to receive it. It is so overwhelming and intense its hard to believe someone could love me that much, especially the Creator of all things!

I realize in this season that knowing His love is the foundation of wholeness. He is after me to know this love regardless of my  thoughts on the matter. He has been after me since birth I just didn’t realize it. All gifts He gives are to keep directing us to His love. He tests us and matures us and calls us higher. He calls us to the deep.

It is all to know His love. To be satisfied by it. And to offer it to this lost world.

SHALOM