I just love the quiet times to myself, or the times with girlfriends running and chatting about our life events. It has been a part of my life for many years. It’s what I do. But when physical circumstances left me no other choice but to take a break and pause, what would I do when I could not run?
Journal entry 2.10.16
“I’m tired this morning, still feeling sick and have a long day ahead of me. I need to be filled. Motivated. Feel you. Understand. Lord you set me on this journey this year to be intentional and live life fully abandoned. How? I don’t want to lose that feeling that nothing else matters except what you’ve given me. Living abandoned is hard with schedules, deadlines, running a business, social media, kids, and a husband. How do you live abandoned when there’s so much stuff to do? Even my journal entries have become a to-do list. I want my heart to be on display and do what you have told me to do but time constraints have forbid me…”
Yes, just six weeks after the New Year I’m over it! I can’t do it and am ready to give up! At least on this morning. I’m a visual person so when I envisioned living life abandoned to what God wants me to do this year, I pictured myself with arms in the air open wide, head up towards heaven with a sweet smile on my face as I breathed in the fresh, morning air. Can you picture it? It would be one of those pictures you post on Instagram with a quote written across that reads,
“His mercies are new every morning.” Lamentations 3:23
I would get inspiration daily on what the day would look like living life abandoned and gather all the grace needed in my speech and actions to do exactly what I was supposed to. My life would read just like the P31 woman whose husband thinks he’s found a wife of noble character and stands above the rest. Poised. Perfectly dressed as my children ran into my arms. Dinner would be hot and filling and the dishes would be washed in a flash as the children frolicked and played singing my praises. (Okay, maybe I knew that wouldn’t happen.) But I didn’t have a sort of feeling that once I “gave up” my agenda would get easier. Right?
But as the days went on, living life abandoned just meant picking up the things God had for me to do and doing the work! That meant my to-do list may have changed but none the less, there’s a to-do list. However, with living in Texas your immune system goes into shock when the weather decides to change from 50 degrees one day to 75 degrees the next, meaning you spend most mornings sleeping in because your achy body just won’t budge and the to-do list you just made gets thrown in the trash.
So this morning, as I write the words above, I’m finally coming to realization that the work He’s laid before me really does mean work and no matter how I feel that day, I must learn to push through. No, my speech hasn’t been the best everyday (insert husband’s smirk) and although my husband still loves me, there are days I’m sure he doubts my character. And perfectly dressed? Please! Just because I have a fashion & faith foundation doesn’t mean I’m the best at either one of those.
As for my children, just a little insight, both girls are amazing but I recently bought the book “Strong-Willed Child” by Dr. James Dobson…that should give you a glimpse into our house!
Yes, there’s tons of laughter, cuteness, a little bit of quiet time, and my husband and I actually got a date night over Valentines weekend. Praise em’! But the struggle is real whether your living life abandoned or not.
The good news is, the verse in Lamentations is real, too. His mercies are new every morning and I’m thankful that when I do lean into Him, even when I cry or whine, He gently reminds me why He has asked me to live my life completely abandoned giving up my plans and taking up the call He has put on my life.
He reminds me once again that I don’t fight against flesh and blood but again principalities.
He reminds me again that I’m not in the fight alone.
He reminds me again that if He is for me than who can be against me.
He reminds me of the women. The women who are trapped. The women who are waiting on me, the whole team and the army of women who are coming and marching together to release each one into a life of legacy.
Oh yes. That’s right. The women.
It’s not about me.
So I abandoned myself. My plans.
Abandon. For the women. The call. My purpose.
The reason I was born.
Then He showed me more and brought me deeper…..
So today, when it gets hard to live abandoned with intention, pull out your journal and lay it out for Him. Your fears, weaknesses and how you feel. He will show you what you need to do.
Help me to say “No” to meetings, places to go, things to do that don’t support my purpose and “Yes” to the things you have set before me.
It was here in the writing that I realized I once again picked things that were not important. I answered emails before I wrote, called someone before taking action on His to-do list – I was beginning to live my life abandoned when I wanted to, certain hours of the day when it fit the schedule I had laid out for the week.
Stay focused - Lead – Discern – Faith – these are my strengths. Stay in my lane, girl!
You see, He makes it clear on what you have to do. Just open the journal and start the conversation.
He will show you more and bring you deeper….
What’s your deeper?
Journal Entry #6✅
For my 40th birthday this past December, my sweet husband threw me the best surprise party I could have ever asked for. I know he was anxious the entire year since I am a strong believer that birthdays are to be special. After all, it’s the day you entered this world! And this one, the big 4-0 was kind of a big deal so he had every right to be a little nervous because he knew I was expecting something a little out of the ordinary…okay, maybe I had made that clear to him throughout the year.
Since my birthday is right in between Christmas and New Years, I was easily convinced that we were just going out for a quiet date night dinner and we would have a big celebration in January to celebrate my entrance into a new decade. It’s my life story with a birthday planted right smack in between two of the biggest holidays of the year.
As we entered the restaurant and I approached the hostess booth to ask for a table for two, I saw a sea of friends and family gathered in one room yelling, “Surprise!” as they clapped and cheered as we entered the room. As I took it all in and looked at all the faces, I went down what felt like a receiving line at a wedding and felt truly overwhelmed with love and how many people actually came out when I knew the week must have been filled with so many other family celebrations. That’s love and I felt it that night.
The Moment Of Surprise
The next day as I filtered through the gifts I had been given, it was very clear my friends knew me very well. Each gift had so much thought put into it and as a girl whose love language are gifts; that meant the world to me. One particular gift I received was a black journal with fancy writing and gold letters (you know I love) that read, “It’s kind of a big deal.” With pages and pages of blank lines, I knew this would be the journal I would write the pages of my 40th year, my hopes and dreams and answered prayers. It was as if the very thought that had been churning over and over in my heart and mind that this decade would be the decade that would be a force to be reckoned with and everyone needed to watch out was spelled out in gold letters! This was it. This was the journal that would hold all the secrets because life was about to become a big deal!
Then January hit. I had my plans laid out. Both girls would be going to school, Hope for the first time, Monday, Wednesday and Friday and I would get up early on each of those three mornings to workout before anyone rose. I would work during the day pursing writing, speaking, and all things Created Woman and on Tuesday and Thursday, the intentional mother would rise to the occasion.
But then, like every new school semester when kids gather in one room, sickness begins to infiltrate. It attacked our house like a roaring lion. And so as the story goes, two of the four weeks in January sick kids have stayed home from school and I’ve been in bed myself once. On top of sickness, we’ve had a few sleepless nights due to a teaching baby getting her big molars. I tell you the truth; mamma isn’t a pleasant person without sleep! So between sickness and babies growing, there’s been no consistency and all my well laid out plans have not seen any sort of success. My big deal has turned into no deal!
Frustrated that I was one week away from February wondering when 2016 would actually begin for me, (you heard my whine last week so I won’t go there again) a friend stopped by in the middle of my whiny week to drop off something and we sat for a few moments to chat as I put away groceries. It was then in that moment that she slapped me across the face. Well, not literally, but may as well have been. As she spoke about some volunteer work she had been doing, she causally said, “I don’t think they realize that it’s spiritual warfare.” After she said that statement it hit me, “Oh my God I’m such an idiot!”
I had just told the world in my last journal entry how confused I was since I had been seeking so much wisdom and direction only to wonder why there was no break through. Well, DUH!
It’s not about me. I’m not the big deal.
All this time I had been focusing on me, what I could do neglecting all the things I need to pray against. Of course there’s an enemy that wants to stop the plans on my life! Whether it’s sickness in my kiddos, becoming too busy with other things to check off my list to feel accomplished, financial loss, or even tensions in my marriage, we can all look at those things that I’ve done – we’ve done. And yes, we do have to take responsibility for our decisions so please don’t misunderstand.
But, when you know that you are in a season of pursing the very dreams God has put on your life, there will be trials that look like minor aches and pains and some that come in the form of major challenges in our life. When you know your purpose, see the vision, and are pursing the call of God on your life, there will always be things that will fight against you. We must hit to our knees and fight the battle. Yes, it’s been won, but the forces are there and we have been given the tools to win every day! There is an enemy that’s real and fights hard to stop you for succeeding, especially when it’s the very thing God has designed you to do.
So, I’m ready to fight this year. I want to live abandoned and intentionally pursing the call of God on my life and that’s going to take a fight that’s worth fighting.
So thank you my friend for gently reminding me that it’s not about me, but about getting on my knees and fighting the battle that’s not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. (Ephesians 6:12)
I’m sure I’m not the only one feeling stuck. Fighting against people. Feel spiritually defeated. Well here’s your reminder or, slap in the face - it’s not about you but about hitting your knees and fighting the good fight. So today, pull out that journal you started at the beginning of the year and write down the scriptures you need to pray every day to fight the fight. To help you get started, I’ve attached a link below of a chapter in Psalm I’ve been praying and I know it will help you too.
Because this year for you too, is the year you will see dreams come true. Because it’s not about you, but about the legacy you are building and leaving behind for generations come.
And that is kind of a big deal!
Journal entry #4✅
When you were a kid, did you ever play “Let’s Pretend?” I did! Some of the most exciting days of my childhood were spent with my best friend pretending we were in a faraway place, away from the countryside of our small southern town.
So, I invite you today to pretend you are in a faraway place. I have even it picked out for you, so I can make the points I wish to make. (You get to choose next time we play pretend.)
Here goes. Pretend you are standing on the banks of The Jordan River back in the days of Joshua and Caleb. You watch as the water parts and Joshua and Caleb, along with a new generation of Israelites, walk across on dry land into their long awaited Promise Land.
You are standing there, watching the scene unfold before you, but then you notice that everyone gets very quiet. “What is going on?” Then you realize that Joshua is getting instructions from God, telling them a couple of things they must do before moving forward. (Joshua 4-5)
Let’s lend an ear.
Build a Memorial Monument with Stones: “Take 12 men from each of the 12 tribes of Israel and build a monument with stones. In the future, when your children ask you, ‘What is this monument for,’ you can tell them it is to remind you that the Jordan River stopped flowing when the ark of the covenant went across. The monument will be a permanent reminder to the people of Israel of this amazing miracle.”
Circumcise Every Male: “During the forty years you spent wandering in the desert, you stopped practicing the sign of the covenant I made with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. As your sons were born during the wilderness wanderings, my people failed to honor their covenant obligations. Don’t try to move forward in disobedience until every male is circumcised!"
Okay, our pretend game is over and now we must face the reality of how this scene is significant to us today.
I believe it goes without saying that if we had to place a big stone in our backyard every time we encountered God’s faithfulness to us, the monument would surpass the size of Mount Rushmore. When times are rough with new trials, and we want to cry out, “God, where are you,” all we would have to do is look at the stones in our backyard and remember His faithfulness to us in times past; they push us forward, rather than feeling defeated.
But, yikes! What about that circumcision He was talking about? We know in our world today, circumcision means out heart. May I just put it to you bluntly and say: “We must get the sin out of our life before we try to move forward in disobedience.”
Sin is not something we like to talk about, is it? We prefer instead to talk more about God’s love, and how we’re just going to stand on the promises of His faithfulness to us, regardless of our lifestyles. Then we expect God to shower His blessings on us. We don’t think that God would actually withhold His goodness just because of how we live. After all, nobody is perfect, right?
The late David Berheimer, my pastor for over 25 years, drove a point home to me one Sunday morning as it applies to the circumcision of my heart from Paul’s writings in Galatians 2:21:
I do not frustrate the grace of God
He pointed out that grace refers to the unmerited favor of God to bless us. It was by grace that Jesus paid our sin debt by dying in our place. It is by grace that he helps us through the storms of life. But he pointed out that when Paul said, “I do not frustrate the grace of God,” he was indicating that there are ways to stop or nullify and keep the grace of God from working in my life
The question is:
"How can I stop God’s grace from working in my life?”
First of all, it is important to understand some of the things that do not frustrate God’s grace. A partial list might include: scars from past hurts, poor choices that have messed us up. These only intensify God’s grace.
Some things that frustrate the grace of God and nullifies it might include:
- walking too far away from Jesus
- neglecting His word
- trying to be good in our own strength
- sins of the flesh that God has repeatedly convicted us of, yet we fail to confess it and turn from it such as: unforgiveness in our hearts, unrighteous anger - things that have become a pattern in our lives.
So, my question to you today is:
"Do you frustrate the grace of God?"
"Is there sin in your life that God has gently asked you to get rid of
time and time again?"
I encourage you today to: “Stop right here, and circumcise your heart before going forward. Only then can you become what He desires for you to be from the Inside Out! Only then can you be free to pursue your dreams and passions and go forward.
I wouldn’t ask you to do anything I haven’t been doing. Oh yeah, the whole month of January has been spent in my “War Room” with God circumcising my heart.
To be in control of your holiday eating this year, adapt a new perspective and incorporate a few simple steps at your next event.
With the day after Thanksgiving, do you feel a little exercise is needed? However, you may want to stay nestled at home or too busy to fit in a trip to the gym. No worries! With minimal equipment, you can get in a little cardio and strength training work out that only takes 30 minutes.
This year's theme for Style Speaks came from the heart of the Created Woman family. Our goal was for you to not only excitingly waltz through the doors eager for some shopping and fashion shows from local designers such as Moxi Fox, Grace & Lace and W by Worth, but also leave restored, renewed and refreshed. We wanted you to discover and be equipped in areas of your home, heart, and relationships that needed a bit of a renovation.
Fashion Power Panel - How to Style & Find Value in Who You Are
Jen Young, of Forever Styled, interviewed Kendra Staton, a renowned make-up artist and blogger of Citizens of Beauty and Rise Mitchell, founder of Made New Apparel.
Jen: How do you hold on to your faith?
Kendra: You start with the wardrobe which then leads to conversation that intentionally leads to the heart. You become a light for Jesus in a place that’s not expecting it - be the fragrance of Christ. Create a none threatening environment where you just love people. It all comes down to love and letting it shine.
Risa: Expressing your faith publicly makes yourself accountable to God and yourself. When you start your day by spending time with our creator - my motto "coffee & Jesus” - intentionally giving Him praise, you align your heart and mind with love and gratitude and everything else comes second. This daily ritual of coffee & Jesus helped me realize my purpose as well as guide me through tough times. There will always be something hard and we are not the first to face these battles. To fight these battles I create sticky notes of encouragement and scripture to bring me through.
Jen: What are your beauty essentials?
Kendra: I’m a busy mother, wife, and businesswoman, so I have three must-haves: fuchsia lipstick, concealer, and brows. Don’t run away from a fuchsia. It is the best color! Plus it doubles as a cream blush. Use your natural face and just dab concealer on your trouble spots. Finish it off with defining your brows. Your brows are very important because they frame your face.
Risa: My favorite piece that I love to use in every season is the tank top. You take the tank top and use pop of color and prints to display your personality. Add the finishing touches with a great shoe and necklace or earrings. And don’t be afraid to go a size up. A larger sweater or shirt can turn an outfit into something completely different.
Dreamer Power Panel - How to Pursue Your Dreams & Live within Life's Transitions
Jan Goss-Gibson, of Civility Consulting, interviewed Jenn Sprinkle and Kelly Rucker, co-founders of thewellstudio.co and writers of “Thirty One Days of Prayer for The Dreamer + The Doer” and Allison Lyles, Thriving Personal and Professional Development.
Jan: Is there a place for me in this world when others are doing the same “thing” that I am doing/want to do?
Jenn: Love Him, love others - start there. We are called to bring honor and glory to God first. Are you doing that well? Then, identify your gifts, your place, your resources and your people. Use your gifts and talents to help people most importantly.
Jan: God does not just call one of us. His kingdom is big enough for all! Comparison is a killer. Remember, no one has your thumbprint and DNA. Your voice is different - not one person can do what you do like you do it. Take the time to connect with God and you will not feel discouraged when finding your place and people.
Jan: How do you balance your dreams with real life?
Kelly: Most importantly give yourself grace. Sometimes we are good about giving others grace but we forget about ourselves. Women wear many hats, remind yourself there is grace for you too. I used to find value in my daily to-do list but now I relinquish that to God, give myself plenty of grace, and spend time in his presence to find priorities for the day - for the right now. Everything you do, do it unto the lord. Know the value for every season. Some seasons you're behind the scenes and other seasons you are doing the heavy lifting - be faithful where you are.
Jan: How do you handle transitional seasons when you’re forced to hit pause?
Allison: Stay present with the Lord and His word. Spend the extra time in prayer and being still. And in that time notice things that He’s confirming in your heart and surroundings. Trust Him that the pause you’re going through is going to be the best it can be. Trusting Him makes you vulnerable, therefore you have to be gentle and extend yourself grace. During this season surround yourself with other dreamers and doers. Find those who dare greatly and are brave. Take the time to connect with them and God about your desires and passions. Look at your desires and use your gifts and talents towards that and watch your dreams come true.
CW Family Power Panel - Renovate
During the Created Woman Power Panel, the CW family of writers Cheryl Luke, Crystal Breaux, Lynn Cherry and founder, Heather Frierson provided tools of how to identify the areas that need a bit of a make-over in our lives and how to get the work done.
Cheryl told us that life gets tough. Things change, life changes, but we still have desires, passions and dreams. How do I become the person I'm suppose to become when I'm loaded with baggage and life is rough? In the bible, Paul says that he's writing to help you hold your mind in undistracted attention. He encourages us that we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us. Remember, all things!
God has audacious plans for you - through chaos and all. He has the power to help you become "fill in the blank." First, pursue freedom. We get distracted. We're full of fear. Assess your life and see where you came from. Second, dream. Have the courage to dream. You've dreamt but life got too hard or you're just trying to exist. Don't give up. Last, trust yourself. You have what it takes. You have everything you need.
What's your "fill in the blank?"
Crystal showed us ways of how to renew our minds and spirit when we've reached a spiritual plateau. #1 - Renew each and everyday with the Lord. #2 - Get rid of old way of thinking, old habits, and old friends. If you're staying in a comfortable stagnant place, you won't be able to move to higher ground. #3 - Gain new perspective. Seek the Lord in a new way. For example, pause at different times of the day and pray and/or praise. Seek ways to pray differently. Seek new friends. Seek new counsel. Get a fresh perspective.
Restore & rest. Are you resting daily in the Lord? Do you pause and rest in his presence? Rest in him to bring restoration.
Lynn shared the colors in her closest: gray, brown and black - dull and colorless. If you know Lynn, you know she is an all around 80's girl! She is full of vibrant life and energy and splashes of color. But she stepped into a season where she couldn't escape darkness, and her closet showed. God turned her darkness into light. A rainbow broke through her gray existence.
Light is color. And light shines in darkness. God painted our world in million of colors and He built us differently to interrupt those colors. The most reliable source of light and color is the bible. Use your color to empower and refresh your soul with God.
Heather's home is going through a renovation. It is ugly and messy and really uncomfortable. But she knew it was time to renovate. During the first floor portion of the renovation, Heather and her family lived upstairs with a baby gate creating a barrier between them and the mess. She was ready to get and begin the work! Stop and think, are you ready to begin the work or are you more comfortable staying behind the baby gate? What kind of house would you live in if you stayed on the second floor away from the renovation process? The work got scary and you stopped and are now living in an unfinished purpose.
Tear down the walls, pull out the nails and begin the renovation. We may have to repaint or go back to Home Depot a few more times, but keep going back. Until we get it right we have to keep going back. Just remember the why - people & love. When you stand behind the gate you are blocking others from receiving the blessing He has for someone else.
Is it time to renovate your life?
[title subtitle="Style Speaks: Renovate Pictures"][/title]
Check out all the fun, fashion & panel pictures on the CW Facebook page HERE
Have you found yourself in a rut and feel you have hit a plateau in your weight loss journey, fitness level or motivation? Often times I hear that from women and have to ask, “Have you done anything to change your routine?”
To be fit, we must develop healthy eating and exercise habits that can be maintained for a lifetime. Here are my fives ways to make healthy habits stick.
The key to having hope, strength and confidence to keep going, is to set smaller goals and stay focused on what is right in front of you.