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KEEP BELIEVING

When you have a second child, does it mean you love the first child any less? Of course not!

Now, before anyone’s imagination starts running too wild, let me assure you all, I am most definitely not having a second child – not in the way you may be thinking anyway 😊 I have, however, been struggling with a decision for a few weeks now.

Most of you know I am a Thirty-One Independent Consultant and, if you read this blog, you know how I struggled with that decision. Well, the same way I felt the “pull” to Thirty-One, I have been feeling a pull to another company for quite a while now and I feel I got my definitive answer this past Sunday at church. Most of you also know I struggle with whether or not I’m hearing from God on some things. This is where I need to give a little bit of a “back story”. My husband and I listen to a few different messages from different pastors on Sunday mornings while getting ready for church. The past few Sunday mornings, the station has talked about a book on “Hearing the Voice of God” and I thought to myself, “I need to look that book up and order it to see if it would help me”. Now, back to this past Sunday morning. I heard that book advertised again and made a “mental” note to myself to check into it and see how much it cost.

Sunday, a week ago, Sara (our teacher) told us her daughter-in-law, Jocelyn, would be speaking to us the next Sunday (March 19th) in Sunday School and she would be speaking on the gift of hospitality. I was ready to hear about that because I don’t seem to have that gift – at all! LOL However, when she got up to speak, she told us she had been wrestling with the Holy Spirit because she felt the Holy Spirit was speaking to her to change her message and she was like “Oh no, I’ve got this. I’m speaking on hospitality. I know all about this and I’m good”. Until Saturday night. She said Saturday night she knew she had to change her message. Well, you could have knocked me over with a feather when she said she was going to be speaking on “Hearing God’s Voice”! I wish I could share her entire message, but I can’t. I will share what is relevant to the new journey I am now on. As I said earlier, I had been struggling with this decision for a while and God, through Jocelyn, spoke clearly to me Sunday morning. A couple of things she brought out: 3 Keys to Hearing God’s Voice and 3 Mental Barriers to Hearing God’s Voice. One of the keys was Desire – I’m not waiting on God, He’s waiting on me! When He puts a desire in me, something that just won’t leave me alone, I have to choose to move forward in it and keep “carving”, keep digging it out to see what happens. One of the mental barriers was Fear. Being afraid of being disappointed or not being ‘successful’. BOOM! I KNEW I was the reason she had to change her message and I KNEW God was speaking directly to me, through her. Then, to reinforce His message to me, He spoke something else into my Spirit while I was resting after church. That is when I heard, “When you have a second child, does it mean you love the first child any less? Of course not!” He was assuring me it was okay and I can love BOTH my journeys equally!

I KNOW God set me FREE of all my fears last October; but, I was allowing fear of failure to “creep” back in a little. I am now shutting that door again and will continue to slam it shut every day, every second, if necessary, because I have been reminded I AM NO LONGER A SLAVE TO FEAR!

So, I started my new journey with Keep Collective yesterday by enrolling as a Designer and I can not wait to see where God is wanting to take me on this journey! He gave me a turtle as a representation of my journey with Thirty-One – He used (and is using) Thirty-One as a tool to bring me out of my shell – and now He is telling me to KEEP believing on my additional journey with Keep Collective!

I realize this may mean nothing to most of you reading this; but, I write these things mostly so I can look back later on and remember how and why I got started on these journeys and how God worked through others to help get me where I am. All I ever really want is to move along the path HE has set before me, giving HIM all the honor, praise and glory along the way, for I know, without HIM, I can do NOTHING! However, WITH HIM, I can do anything He calls me to do – and SO CAN YOU! DON’T BE A SLAVE TO FEAR – MOVE FORWARD WITH GOD!

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mission-trip-to-whereIt continues to amaze me how God can (and will) use the most ordinary thing to stir something in my Spirit that, I believe, He is wanting me to share with others. Last Wednesday morning was another great example.

My husband and I receive a monthly prayer calendar from We Care. The We Care calendar has specific things or people to pray for each day of the month. January is dedicated to people and/or items concerning ReNew Hope. On January 11th, we were asked to pray for “Donors, Prayer Intercessors and their families”. A simple enough request, right? Yet, something began to stir in my Spirit and it didn’t go away, so here I am trying my best to share what I believe God wants me to share.

What comes to your mind when you think of a mission trip? Africa? Nicaragua? Tibet? Ecuador? China? Russia? Haiti? The Outback of Australia? Prison?

When we were asked to pray for the donors, prayer intercessors and their families, it made me think of all the churches who go on mission trips to other countries every year; but, how many, if any, sponsor a mission trip to a prison yard?

Every year, during the last week of January, an organization called the We Care Program conducts a “mission trip” of sorts. It is called ReNew Hope and people come from all over the United States, Canada and other countries to spend a week in Alabama and take the love of Jesus into the prison mission field. Many of these people are using the only week of vacation they receive from their every day job to do this, not to mention it costs them money to come and participate. These people have a true calling from the Lord to do this and they are blessed for it. They are blessed most when they are given the privilege of seeing a lost soul come to Jesus for the first time or when one returns home (comes back to Jesus), like the prodigal son. If you haven’t already signed up, it is too late to participate in this year’s ReNew Hope. However, if you feel like this is something God is calling you to do, you should go to the website for We Care (click on the name and it will take you there) and get more information. Maybe you can join in next year. If your church participates in mission trips, maybe you could talk to them about supporting a mission trip to the prisons in Alabama (and one in Florida) next year.

I realize we aren’t all called to go to on mission trips – abroad or at home – but, we can be called to help those who are. If you don’t feel called to go, you should not go; but, if you are called to help others go, you should help in any way you can – whether that be financially or through prayer.

I believe the prisons are some of the biggest mission fields today that are lacking the most in missionaries to cover it. This is due, in part, to the fact there aren’t many willing to go into this mission field and partly due to the fact those willing to go have a hard time raising the funds allowing them to go.

My husband, along with other We Care Chaplains, goes into, what some would call, one of those most dangerous mission fields on a daily basis – not just once a year. He goes into prisons. He goes in to share the hope of Jesus, to share his own story of what God did and continues to do in his life and to let the men there know He can, will and wants to do the same for them, if they will allow it. He does this under the umbrella of the “We Care Program”. We Care does not contribute to his salary; but, forwards to him funds that are given for his support, in the form of wages. He receives 100% of the money donated to him, unless it is donated with a credit/debit card. If a card is used, a small percentage goes to cover administration fees collected by the company associated with the card. If you would like to become a partner with us, or any other chaplain with We Care, feel free to contact me and I will be happy to share with you the information on how to do that.

I would like to give a little more information about the We Care Program, for those who aren’t familiar with it. We Care’s vision statement is: “To see the redemptive power of Jesus Christ become evident in the lives of inmates as they grow and make disciples in prison and beyond.” Their mission is “to fulfill the Great Commission of Jesus Christ through chaplaincy in the correctional setting” and their core values are Biblical foundation, daily discipleship and caring ministry.

I challenge each one who has read this far to be in prayer for the over 400 people coming together next week for this mission trip. I further challenge you to be in much prayer about it this year and see how God would like to use YOU on this mission trip next year – as an active participant, a financial participant (helping or sponsoring someone else who wants to be an active participant) or as a mighty prayer warrior. All three are equally important and vital to growing the Kingdom of God.

The men and women in prison, in God’s eyes, are no different than you and I. They made wrong choices and are paying the consequences of those choices; but, they are still men and women created by God and He will welcome any man or woman into His Kingdom when they confess their sin to Him, turn from their wicked ways and do their best to live daily for Him – even if it’s from a prison yard. Think about this: there are many prisoners who have been truly born again and are living a much freer life than some of us on the “outside”.

But thanks be to God, Who gives us the VICTORY through our Lord Jesus Christ. ~ I Corinthians 15:57

christmas-every-day-i-wishAfter reading my devotions this morning, as I do every morning, I began to write in my prayer journal. I say it has turned into more of my “thanksgiving journal” than my prayer journal because, most days, I’m simply thanking Him for various things. Lately, most of my actual prayers are not written – for a few different reasons. This morning, however, turned out to be a little different. Oh, it started out the same – my usual “Good morning Father! Thank You for waking me this morning” then I wrote the words “Christmas Eve” and, after that, I really didn’t even know what I was writing until I finished and read back over it. I felt I should share it and I hope it will touch at least one person’s heart and/or life. I am going to simply share exactly what is written in my journal:

Christmas Eve – the day before we celebrate the day of Your earthly birth – when You chose to put aside Your glory and Your Heavenly home to come and dwell among us AS one of us! My mind is hard-pressed to even BEGIN to comprehend the depth of Your love for ME! There are no words and, even if there were, I don’t know that I would be able to get them down on paper. I feel so inadequate and extremely unqualified to even try – so I pray and I ask You to help me live my life in a way that portrays and conveys what there are no words for – a love with no explanation – a love that can not be explained – a love that only You can give! I want my life to be a life that points others to You and honors You in a way no words can and a life that brings glory to Your Name! Without You, I am nothing and worth nothing; but, WITH YOU, I am unstoppable!

Help me to share the TRUE gift of Christmas every minute of my life – every second You give me breath; for I can not even take a breath without You filling my lungs with air! Help me to remember every day I have is a rare and precious gift FROM You and how I choose to use it is my gift TO You. I want to always be able to give You a lovely gift at the end of every day and, without Your help, even that isn’t possible.

My heart is truly overflowing this morning as I look back over this past year and remember all the wonderful “gifts” You have given me:

  • time spent with family & friends
  • growing love from & for my husband
  • a daughter making her way back to You
  • FREEDOM from my fears

and so many more! With You in my life, I truly can have Christmas every day, as can anyone else!

Thank You for all You have spoken to my heart this morning and, for all I have asked this morning, I ask it in the Precious, Holy Name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth! I love You 🙂

THE QUIET TIMEI wanted so much to write about it that very day. I wasn’t able to – not only because of other things needing to be done; but, because I had no idea how to put it into words. I asked Him to help me get it down, so I wouldn’t forget and so I would have it to look back on later, as I felt He was going to begin to do more and more and I wanted to remember when and where it started. He never gave me the words to write about it, though, until today – four weeks later – and I’m still not sure I did it justice. I only know I felt it was time, because I had so much more to add now. I had no idea it had already been four weeks since my “unquiet, quiet time” until I sat down to write and looked in my prayer journal to get the date. I truly was thinking it had only been a couple of Sundays ago.

On Sunday, June 21, 2015, He led me to a verse I had already been praying quite often lately. I felt Him leading me to focus on praying that verse more. “Ask Me and I will tell you, Frank & Kathryn, remarkable secrets you do not know about things to come” – Jeremiah 33:3 (Yes, I have learned to always personalize the scriptures – especially when I am praying them). A little back-story here: My husband and I have been praying scriptures for God to show us what He wants to do about our house situation. We discovered we have Chinese drywall and it seems to be the culprit of keeping my husband so sick with his sinuses, etc. We know God doesn’t intend for us to live in a house that keeps either one of us sick, so we have been praying and asking Him to show us what we need to do. Jeremiah 33:3 is one of several verses He gave us to be praying through all this.

So, when He led me back to that verse on the 21st, I thought it was because maybe He was getting ready to show us something about the house situation. Now I’m not so sure that had anything to do with it. On Monday, June 22nd, He reinforced that scripture to me – remember, in Part I, I shared that I write the time down when I begin to write in my prayer journal. I think you could look through my prayer journals, covering the last few years and you would never see a time entry the same as the one last Monday morning, June 22nd. When I began to write in my prayer journal, I looked at the clock on my computer to get the time and it was 3:33 a.m.! WOW! I knew that was no accident or ‘coincidence’ – I don’t believe in coincidence. I believe in GODincidence!

On Tuesday, June 23rd, He reinforced it again when I merely glanced down at my “miles left on this tank of gas” gauge, as I do from time to time and it read 333!

I tell you these things to share why I had truly been focusing on praying that verse and to share with you, when you pray in earnest and you are truly serious about what you are praying, GOD LISTENS!!! You may be thinking He wants to show you something about one situation, yet, He will use that to get your attention and then answer your prayer by showing you something entirely different!

Tomorrow I will share with you what happened next 🙂

THE QUIET TIMERemember me saying how I try to be EXTREMELY quiet during my quiet time? Even as I began to pray, without writing, I was trying to pray quietly; but, that didn’t last long. I had my elbows resting on my desk with my hands up to my Father, praying and praying, thanking Him and thanking Him. I began crying and began to roll my desk chair further away from the desk, while keeping my elbows on the desk and my hands in the air, until I could no longer sit in the chair. I found myself on my knees, weeping uncontrollably, and crying out to my Father. Even that wasn’t enough, before I knew what was going on, I was stretched out, flat on my face before my Father. I knew I was no longer in control. All I could do was weep and pray. I have no idea what I was praying – no, I wasn’t praying in tongues, or at least not what most would consider praying in tongues. I know I was saying “Thank You, Jesus” over and over; but I was also hearing deep, guttural sounds and I have no idea what that was all about. I was praying and weeping from a place deep within my soul like I’ve never done before.

I would come to a place where I wasn’t weeping and I would think I was done.  I can even remember thinking during those times, ‘I’m going to wake up the whole house. The dogs are going to start pitching a fit to go out, Frank is going to get up and wonder what is going on in here (remember, I was supposed to wake him up at 6 and I had no idea what time it was); but, I had no control over what was going on and, remarkably, I never heard the dogs make a sound. It was as if they couldn’t hear me. The minute I would start thinking those things, I would start weeping from that deep, deep place again. I could sense God was saying, ‘I’m doing something in you. I’m starting something and I’m not done yet. I will let you know when you are released.’ I didn’t hear that in an ‘audible’ voice, just felt it in my Spirit.

Later, I was still lying on the floor and the weeping had subsided. Then I began to chuckle a little bit until I was laughing – yes, LAUGHING! – and I heard my Father ask me, “Do you remember?’”

“Oh, yes, Father,” I answered, “I remember. I remember it well,” and He held me in His lap again, with His arms around me and allowed me to laugh and laugh again, just like He did a few years ago. (You can read about that here, if you haven’t read it before)

Not long after that, He allowed me to move to a sitting position. I was even able to reach up and open the door to the office, but I couldn’t get up just yet. I heard my husband up and taking care of the dogs; but, I still couldn’t get up from the floor. I felt…….I really don’t even know how to explain what I felt….spent and, at the same time, refreshed and renewed. Still a little confused, not knowing exactly what had just taken place. I know it’s hard to understand; but, it was a feeling of knowing and, yet, not knowing at the same time. I knew one thing for sure – God had done something that morning and, I believe, it was just the beginning of far more to come.

You would think that was the “end of the story”, right? Not yet – stay tuned for Part III 🙂

ANGELS AMONG USTHE STORY OF MY FIRST AFA WOMEN’S RETREAT

What happened? The floodgates opened; but, I’m getting ahead of myself again. First, let me share exactly what I wrote in my journal… 

Saturday, November 8, 2014 9:41 a.m.

      Here I sit at the Women’s Retreat that I never planned to attend, but You, Father, had other ideas. I don’t know of a single reason, yet, why You wanted me to be here, but it doesn’t matter anyway. I may never know and, then again, You may show me later – either way is okay. I have enjoyed it. I’ve had fun and now I am truly enjoying sitting here by the lake.
          Please forgive me, if I messed up back there in the worship time. I truly felt You were speaking to me that we should march around that room 7 times to break bondages, the same way You “broke” the wall at Jericho. I still doubt myself though – and question. It’s not YOU I don’t trust – It’s ME!!! 

While writing that last sentence, the floodgate of tears opened as God revealed to me exactly what was wrong. He revealed to me what I have been battling with – unknowingly – for the last five years. This, I began to feel, was the entire reason for me being at this retreat. However, now that I had the answer to that question (Why did I have to go on this retreat?), I felt it left me with even more questions! Why was I still struggling with this? Would I ever be able to overcome it? I could write no more in my journal. All I could do was sob and cry out to my Father, the One Who loves me – yes, loves me still! I felt I should talk with a certain lady at the retreat; but, I wasn’t sure of the chances of that happening. I told the Lord I would leave it up to Him. If I was truly meant to speak with this person, He would provide the opportunity. Not only did He provide that opportunity, He provided it almost immediately! Yet, even when that lady spoke to me first, I almost didn’t take it. I answered her question to me then turned to finish what I was doing; but, I knew I couldn’t ignore this opportunity. I turned back to her and said simply, “Actually, can we talk?” So we stepped outside the meeting room and I explained to her what had happened. She spoke quite matter-of-factly to me and absolutely nailed it! The guilt, confusion and, quite honestly, almost “shame” that I felt over this HAD to GO!!! As I had said, more times than I can count over the last five years, God is a gentleman and He will NOT override man’s free will. To provide an explanation in the shortest way I know how, I had been struggling with what I guess could be called self-doubt for the last five years because of my second marriage. I was not looking to get married, but I truly felt God was in it. I was led to believe I was marrying a Godly man and I prayed about it and truly felt it was the right thing to do. Then, one month before our first anniversary, I came home to find my husband had left. For the next five years I struggled with self-doubt because I wondered how I could have missed God THAT bad! He showed me in many different ways and assured me that I was wrong in my thinking. Somehow the enemy tricked me into believing I had accepted it and moved on, when in reality, I had not. 

With GREAT happiness, I am here to tell you that, because of Him sending me on the retreat where He could get me TRULY quieted before Him, my Father has COMPLETELY broken that bondage. With that bondage broken, He has been able to do so many other things in me – in my heart, in my faith, in my strength and courage in Him – things I feel sure He wanted to do a long time ago; but, He had to wait for me to be ready. Well, now I am ready and He is awakening a great hunger and boldness in me! The feelings of self-doubt and timidness are GONE and He is replacing them with feelings that I can’t even begin to describe. 

Getting rid of that self-doubt may have been the main reason for Him taking me on the retreat; but, other good things have come from me being there, too. Remember in Part I of this story, when I shared how I didn’t even want to be at “that” church? Well, I feel it only fair to share, the next Sunday (the Sunday morning following the retreat) when we went to church, I didn’t feel as much like an “outsider”. It felt more like being in a wonderful second home. Trust me when I tell you, it wasn’t because anyone in that church was any different than when I’d started going there last December. It was because I was different. 

I would also like to share, the change I am feeling in myself today, some two weeks after the retreat, did not happen overnight. I get stronger and stronger every day and He is filling me with so many thoughts every day and showing me things He wants to do through me – YES, little old me! Does He need me to do these things? No, absolutely not! He just loves me so much, He WANTS to include me in His plans and allow me to play a small part in them. 

Since allowing Him to completely remove the unhealthy thoughts from me, He is filling me with so many HEALTHY things and revealing so much to me that I wouldn’t be surprised if y’all see more posts here from me soon. As I’ve said before, I don’t usually post much in my blog because I only post when I feel it is something God wants me to share for some reason. Whether it’s to possibly help someone else going through something similar or to give someone something to really think about and ponder on. Since the retreat, though, He has been giving me a lot to think about and ponder on and, when I feel He is telling me to share something, I will. 

I love y’all and I thank you for taking your most valuable possession, your time, to read the story of my first ever AFA Women’s Retreat – and beyond 🙂

P.S. How cool is it that in our (mine and my husband’s) devotion time this morning, He gave me the scripture that truly sums up this first ever “series” of blog posts that I’ve written……

“I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death.” ~ Philippians 1:20 (NIV)

ANGELS AMONG USTHE STORY OF MY FIRST AFA WOMEN’S RETREAT – PART III

I pushed open the door to find……..my SECOND God-wink. My roommate was inside, but she was no stranger! It was a sweet, sweet lady I had met a couple of years before and she is a very dear, sweet friend to me! Now I KNOW I’m God’s favorite because here He is blessing me again! Now all that was left was to see if I was going to enjoy the retreat and to see if God was going to show me just why I had to be here. 

First thing we did was go over to the cafeteria for lunch and then it was back to our “meeting room” (that’s what I’m gonna call it in this blog post anyway). I want to share a little ‘side’ story here. Let me just say this – these ladies know how to fix some food! There was so much food there was no way we would ever be able to eat it all; but, we definitely put a serious dent in it – LOL Anyway, back to my side story, this retreat was about angels, remember? Well, I just want to say that room was either very crowded with angels or else the angels that were there got very rambunctious. We were in line to get our first fill of the wonderful food I mentioned when, quite suddenly, to our left, a picture on the wall started swinging and fell to the floor! Scared us quite a bit for a second. The glass broke and went everywhere, but, thankfully, no one was hurt. We saw it happening, but had no time to do anything about it and, I need to add, there was no one near the wall where the picture was hanging. I still say the angels were just flying around and knocked it off – LOL – and now I’ll get back to my ‘regular’ story. 

The message Friday evening was wonderful and there were a lot of people being prayed for and having bondages broken. After the service was over, we were free to go to our room and turn in for the night or we could stick around for the talent show. I think pretty much everyone stayed for the talent show and it was truly great. It sure made for a late night, especially since we had to get up early the next morning, but it was so worth it! 

My roommate had told me Saturday would be an “easy” day. Yes, that’s what she told me. However, I’m thinking her idea of an “easy” day and my idea of an “easy” day, are two different things! In her defense, however, there is a reason why it wasn’t such an “easy” day for me. I’m getting a little ahead of myself, though. 

First, we gathered in front of the building where our meeting room was located to have a group picture made. Have you ever tried to get over eighty women in one picture? It was quite interesting to say the least. Then we went over to the cafeteria for breakfast and afterward it was back to our meeting room. We had some wonderful praise and worship time. During that time, I felt in my Spirit we should all march around that room seven times. Why? Again I felt, the same way they marched around the walls of Jericho seven times, y’all need to march around this room seven times to completely break the bondages that ladies were receiving prayer for Friday night. My response? “No way am I going to start marching around this room. These people don’t even know me. I am not about to do anything like that. This is my first time ever being at one of these retreats. I’m not sure it’s really You telling me to do that, Lord. I am just going to stay right here and mind my own business.” That’s exactly what I did, too. After the praise and worship time, we had what they call “Lap Time”. My roommate shared some things with us and then everyone was to go off on their own, anywhere on the campsite, and spend time with God. 

I already knew where I wanted to go. I went and sat down on a bench facing the lake. I had taken my journal with me so I could write my prayer. I figured sitting by the lake, listening to the water would be a wonderful place to write and to listen for God’s voice. 

I was not disappointed. I began writing in my journal and you are going to be very surprised at what happened then. However, you’ll have to wait for Part IV to see just what that was.


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