Have you ever had one of those eureka moments, when all of a sudden you feel like, “Oh, I see so clearly now; I don’t know how I didn’t notice before.” Well, that happened to me today. It was definitely a Holy Spirit moment and I just love it when those happen! After an exhausting day, I went with my two friends and their daughter to the pool. It was actually Isaacs first time swimming so I was so excited too see how he would react! I figured he’d love it because he loves baths. He loves to splash his hands in the water during baths and since he has been born he has not stop kicking his legs, which also reaffirmed my premonition that Isaac would enjoy the pool. It was an absolute success!! He LOVED it. He was kinda tired though because he didn’t take a good nap today, which you learn as a parent can sometimes be detrimental to their happiness, but he definitely still had a blast. He was funny because he would splash the water so hard that he would splash a bunch in this face and it would surprise him. I also let him swim on his belly. I kept his head above water and held him by the tummy in the water and he would kick, kick, kick. He played in as cute little float too! I’ll upload a video!

After we had swam for maybe 45 minutes we got out and were getting the babies ready to leave. My friends were deciding their plans for the weekend and we got to talking about blocking negative thoughts by replacing them with positive. I told them, “I know you guys are going through some tough times right now but after you argue you always make up because you love each other and want to make things work, so my suggestion to you is whenever you guys sense each other getting frustrated with the other, try to think about something you can do that would make the other person happy.” I actually practice this myself with my husband. For example, when he does something that makes me upset with him, instead of arguing with him, I will do the dishes because I know he is happy when the kitchen is clean. By the time I’m done I have now replaced my negative emotions with positive emotions by serving my husband out of my life for him. Now I’m not claiming to be perfect but it is something I am working towards perfecting through my relationship with God.

God is giving me the ability to see others the way that he does: broken people searching to fill a void in their heart. Everyone has learned different ways to fill that void, and for some people it works out fine, and for others it works out for a little while but there is still that void that they haven’t filled yet. The problem is that until they learn that the only way to truly fill that void is in a relationship with God through Jesus and his spirit in us, they will always act out of pride and selfish ambition, because they don’t know any different. Rhett Walker Band expresses it perfectly, “To my selfish pride, I became my own slave.” I love this song, it’s probably one of my favorites.

I’m starting to get a deeper understand what it means to love God with all your heart and the freedom living a life of serving others brings. True happiness is found when you take the time to love the least of these. And that’s what life is all about. Awakening hearts and setting captives free. It’s a lot easier to love people for who they are when you can see past the cover. Jesus shows us the importance of this in Matthew 4:7-18 in conversation with the woman at the well:

When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?”  (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.) The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.[a]) Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.” “Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his livestock?” Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.” He told her, “Go, call your husband and come back.”  “I have no husband,” she replied. Jesus said to her, “You are right when you say you have no husband. The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.”

Isn’t Jesus so cool? I just imagine him breaking everyone’s traditions to gently reveal who he is to this woman despised by Jew and Samaratins alike. His simple invitation to her, “I see your sins and I still chose you to spend eternity with me, just accept my offer.” What a beautiful love. There is nothing like the love of Jesus:

“I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Remain in my love. 10 When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. 11 I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow! 12 This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you. 13 There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.14 You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you slaves, because a master doesn’t confide in his slaves. Now you are my friends, since I have told you everything the Father told me. 16 You didn’t choose me. I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask for, using my name. 17 This is my command: Love each other. -John 15: 9-17

I want my life to be remembered as one dedicated to serving others to demonstrate the unfailing love and grace of the one true king. How do you want to be remembered?

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I am determined to, despite my busyness, do my best to continue posting regularly; it helps me to stay focused on what’s important. Of course my family is really important to me so this will still have to stay in my spare time. I’m just going to make sure that I am working on this when I have free time instead of wasting it worrying! Work today was relatively slow, we weren’t holding calls for most of the day so I drew up a draft brochure! My initial plan had been to just make a small brochure, front & back, but I’ve since decided that I want to do a standard trifold. It’s only a VERY rough draft, but I’m glad that I have at least started on it.

Today was probably the best day I’ve had in the last couple weeks. What a breath of fresh air! I got to do some training for some new calls I will start taking next week, and it was nice to do something different. I’m also excited that I get to enhance my knowledge at work to become a better employee. I am just so thankful for my job, all of my coworkers are so awesome & understanding. I also moved desks today to a different area, and I will miss the people I sat by before, but I will still go talk to them regularly. 🙂

The main thing that is still dragging me down is lack of sleep. I know sleep will never again be anything but a luxury, but I’m still coming to terms with that. I take encouragement from Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 6,

3 We live in such a way that no one will stumble because of us, and no one will find fault with our ministry. 4 In everything we do, we show that we are true ministers of God. We patiently endure troubles and hardships and calamities of every kind. 5 We have been beaten, been put in prison, faced angry mobs, worked to exhaustion, endured sleepless nights, and gone without food. 6 We prove ourselves by our purity, our understanding, our patience, our kindness, by the Holy Spirit within us,[c] and by our sincere love. 7 We faithfully preach the truth. God’s power is working in us. We use the weapons of righteousness in the right hand for attack and the left hand for defense. 8 We serve God whether people honor us or despise us, whether they slander us or praise us. We are honest, but they call us impostors. 9 We are ignored, even though we are well known. We live close to death, but we are still alive. We have been beaten, but we have not been killed. 10 Our hearts ache, but we always have joy. We are poor, but we give spiritual riches to others. We own nothing, and yet we have everything.

This is the attitude I’m striving to achieve. Right now though I don’t do well without much sleep! Unless I drink a lot of caffeine, but I don’t like depending on caffeine. In fact, I am going to try to quit drinking it altogether once I get in a little better shape. Exercise gives you energy, but it’s so hard to motivate yourself to exert energy you don’t have! I’ll be starting to implement exercise into my routine next week, and I’ll be staying accountable on here!

For the rest of the week I am going to stay positive, and every time I notice my thoughts drifting to the negative side I will replace them with positivity. I will start my day by meditating on a bible verse to encourage me throughout the day, even if that means getting up a few minutes earlier and sacrificing some precious sleep; are those few extra minutes really more precious than time with my Heavenly Father?

What do you turn to when times are rough? Any particular bible verses or songs, or something else entirely different? Comment and let me know what lifts you up when your spirit is down!

A Season of Change

Let me start out by saying that the last 2 weeks have been extremely crazy & stressful due to some major unexpected changes, unfortunately causing this to move to the back burner! However, things are starting to settle down a bit but will still be slightly hectic until probably sometime later next month, so I may not be able to post much or even really research much.

That being said, my parents got me this really awesome book for my birthday, The Everything Nonprofit Toolkit. After doing some reading, I’ve determined that I need to start recruiting people that want to be a part of starting this organization and then have a meeting with them. This is your chance to get involved! If you are interested in helping me out with getting this foundation started please email me at awakeningheartsfoundation@gmail.com. I’ll form a list and send out invitations to the first meeting. Just to clarify, this is not for the board of directors. That will come later. 

Knoxville Leadership Foundation has a monthly training class for nonprofit management, but I will not be able to attend that until next year once I have more paid time off. I emailed them asking what they recommend if you were unable to make it to the class at the scheduled time, and they replied that they have 4 hours of one on one coaching available per month for $125. I’m praying for God to provide!

I’m really excited to start contacting other non profit organizations in Knoxville to partner with once I get a little farther along. There are some really awesome ones. I actually contacted The Restoration House about their program for a friend of mine, and they responded and pointed me to several other resources that were available as well as their waiting is. I have no idea what it will be like once I am contacting them as a nonprofit but we shall find out later!

After this week my schedule is changing from Monday-Friday 8:30-5:30 to Monday-Thursday 11am-8pm & Friday 9am-6pm, so next week we will be working on getting into a new routine and forming some structure. I’m really excited for the shift change though because Isaac is always happiest in the mornings so it will be nice to spend more time with him then. It will also allow me to exercise before work! I only have about 15 pounds to lose now to get back to my prepregnancy weight, which is awesome considering I gained 80 pounds during my pregnancy. That was also partially due to pre-eclampsia, but still. I can’t wait to have the time to get in shape in the mornings with my new jogging stroller that a friend of my parents was so nice to give me for my birthday!

This week I put Isaac in daycare for the first time. We have had to use in home day child care previously but this is his first time starting in an actual daycare facility. It’s so convenient though and we are getting a good deal, which may or may not be because our friend/neighbor’s mom owns it 🙂 I only visited one other day care while I was on maternity leave and let’s just say it did not leave a favorable impression. This one is smaller and much cleaner and I felt really good about it, and I think it will probably be good for him to be around other babies and kids.

He is such a sweet baby! The other night I was teaching him to give me kisses. I would say, “Isaac, give mommy a kiss!” then make a kissy face, and he would smile & open his mouth and bring it to mine. He hasnt learned how to pucker his lips yet, but he’s only 6 1/2 months old so hey I’m glad he’s trying! He gets tired of it real quick though, and I have to catch him in the right mood to give kisses.

Look at my beautiful growing boy getting ready for daycare this morning! I have to dress him warmly, it’s cold in there!

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I’m so thankful that God has blessed me with such a beautiful child to raise & prepare for God’s kingdom work! He is worth every stressful moment. Through all the chaos & confusion that has been going on the last couple weeks, I have to continually remind myself to just take one day at a time, just like Matthew 6:26-34 states,

25 “That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? 27 Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?28 “And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, 29 yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. 30 And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith? 31 “So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ 32 These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. 33 Seek the Kingdom of God[a] above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. 34 “So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.

Time to pause, take a deep breath, and try my best to start relaxing in the peaceful presence of my Lord & savior each day with a joyful heart and thankful attitude! I have to start saturating myself more in God’s word; I can’t endure this without him. I have to admit that I’m guilty of letting some emotions of hopelessness creep in but I recognize the lies of the enemy. I’m so thankful to serve a faithful God, who gently reminds me of his love and mercy. One of my favorite bible verses is 2 Timothy 2:13, “If we are unfaithful, he remains faithful, for he cannot deny who he is.”

Pressing on toward the valley

Valley: an elongated depression between uplands, hills, or mountains, especially one following the course of a stream. I am absolutely ready to get to a valley on my journey that really started 2 years ago now, around the time I started dating my husband. I feel like it has been a straight uphill climb, sometimes a steep climb. The last 2 years have had many wonderful times and other not so great times, and definitely nothing I anticipated. Starting this organization is giving me new hope though. It makes me feel like I am getting closer to my calling in life.

So, I’ve been thinking about the two main parts I’m dividing my timeline into. First, the initial start up, the hardest part being the research and making connections. The easier part of this will be to form an actual website, make a facebook page, and possibly twitter if I ever decide to get a smart phone, which won’t be for a while because I’m broke. I need to volunteer with other organizations to see how they work and function, and also meet other likeminded people. I definitely want to work along and partner with other organzations. I know it is not realistic for me to think that this organization will be able to serve the needs of everyone alone, so I’d love to point to the right resources that are available for whatever the need is. Once I’ve done my research I will form a board of directors. Then, the second part will be to fundraise. This will be the fun part! I’m sure there will be obstacles throughout all of this but I am not expecting everything to happen perfectly and overnight. But I am going to stick with it until we are up and fully functioning. I know there will be so much growth opportunity as well, I’m just so excited. I strongly desire to see so many lives changed because of the love of God. 

I want to depend on God alone, so I become less and he becomes more. I want to live my life for Him, my life is not my own. And I want to be so filled with the love and the joy and the peace of my Father that I can spread it to others. That’s why I want to start this organzation. I want to let God use my hardships to bring glory to His name, so that I can encourage others when they go through similar troubles, as demonstrated in 2 Corinthians 1:3-5:

3-5 All praise to the God and Father of our Master, Jesus the Messiah! Father of all mercy! God of all healing counsel! He comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, he brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us. We have plenty of hard times that come from following the Messiah, but no more so than the good times of his healing comfort—we get a full measure of that, too. (MSG)

I had a really rough day today. In fact, I broke down and cried, lots. More than I have in a long time. But God is still near, and yesterday he reminded me who I am in Him. I always love when God reassures me of my identity and the security I have in that. This is what enables me to pick up from a bad day to say that instead I will choose joy, like 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 tells us, “Always be joyful.Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus”. I will put my trust in God’s love like stated in 1 John 4:16-19,

16 We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love.

God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them. 17 And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world.

18 Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love. 19 We love each other[a] because he loved us first.

And we are his children, so of course he loves us. My love for my son is so much more than words could ever explain, and my love is not perfect. But look at this sweet baby, how could you not love him?

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That must be how God feels about us. I am so privileged that God desires to use me for his kingdom and give me a glorious future. I am glad that God is shaping my heart and molding me into his perfect plan. I want to be ready to do whatever he may ask. Times are hard now, but that is just the part of the journey I’m at; I have a feeling I’m about to get to valley soon, to give me time to rest, catch my breath, and just enjoy the beauty of our God. I asked him for confirmation the other day for a big decision we were making, and he took me straight to Ezekiel 34:11-24. Take the time to read it if you’d like, it’s pretty neat.

Journeying Uphill

Between being a new mom, wife, and full time employee, I don’t have a lot of spare time. My journey of starting Awakening Hearts Foundation is spent entirely during free moments. But I love it. I love thinking about what it will be like once I get it established. I love thinking about the lives that can be changed. But these last 2 weeks have been rough. Branon’s aunt Tammy passed away 2 Sundays ago, and we had to take our car on a last minute trip to Birmingham, Alabama. Our car needs some work, and we really hated to take it, but we couldn’t miss it. All this week Isaac has been waking up all throughout the night, and I’m not getting the restful sleep I desire. Branon has a lump that hasn’t gone away so I made an appointment to get it checked out. The good news is that it is most likely not cancer, however, he still needs to go to a specialist to determine whether it is a tumor or a cyst. Sometimes it’s hard to concentrate on God’s voice amidst the confusion. Needless to say, we could really use some prayers our way!

There is still so much to be thankful for though!

  • Isaac, his perfect health and development, and the immense joy he brings in my life.
  • My job and my coworkers-. My coworkers are so awesome that the other day at work I didn’t have lunch or a way to get one, and they all pitched in and gave me some stuff and I ended up with a pretty awesome lunch, and healthy to top it off!
  • A place to live with things that work. In fact, our stove only has one large burner, and then has 3 small burners. Well, it one day just stopped working. Then another day as I’m doing the dishes I pull out the nozzle sprayer and it comes off the hose, and the washer that seals it gets lost so we were doing our dishes for over a week with the small hose that is attached to the nozzle sprayer, and by the time you were done you were soaked. The maintenance people came by yesterday and fixed the stove, so Branon cooked a delicious dinner. They fixed the sink too, and it’s so nice, it ALMOST makes me want to do dishes. But not quite.
  • My husband, my best friend, my other half. I don’t even know where I’d be without him, and certainly not trying to start a nonprofit organization. He brings out the best in me, and he supports me and gives me advice and helps me to see things differently. He inspires me on my journey with God. He always gives me thoughtful gifts, and does little things to make me happy, and it makes him so happy, it’s the cutest thing.
  • Friends. I am going hiking on Saturday with a great friend, Kayla, who I don’t get to see often enough, and I am beyond excited. Hiking is one of my all time favorite things to do, but I never get to go. I needed someone to watch Isaac last minute today for Branon’s doctor appointment, and we had two friends who were more than willing to do it for us.

These are just a few major things, certainly not all of them, but there are countless little things every day that God does to show his love for me. One of those ways for me is in the beauty of his nature. I love to take pictures of the sky when it looks cool, which is often, but it’s always while I’m driving and it’s rather difficult. But it’s just so awesome how personal God is with his children, how he enjoys us and longs to be with us.

I am learning to slow down and not try to rush into everything, and just go with God’s time. I know that God has everything worked out, and I choose to stand on his promises. I saw this really awesome quote this week:

“What you and I might rate as an absolute disaster, God may rate as a pimple-level problem that will pass. He views your life the way you view a movie after you’ve read the book. When something bad happens, you feel the air sucked out of the theater. Everyone else gasps at the crisis on the screen. Not you. Why? You’ve read the book. You know how the good guy gets out of the tight spot. God views your life with the same confidence. He’s not only read your story…he wrote it. ” ― Max Lucado

I love that. It’s so true. God is so amazing, friends. I can’t wait until I have grasped even more of what God is teaching me, when I will have learned to live a life of transcendence. I want to lead others to the love of God because they see the joy it brings, despite circumstances. This will happen as I just love God with all that I have and seek after him with my whole heart.

Just to brag on God’s love a little more:

“5 Your unfailing love, O Lord, is as vast as the heavens;

your faithfulness reaches beyond the clouds.

6 Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains,

your justice like the ocean depths.

You care for people and animals alike, O Lord.

7 How precious is your unfailing love, O God!

All humanity finds shelter

in the shadow of your wings.

8 You feed them from the abundance of your own house,

letting them drink from your river of delights.

9 For you are the fountain of life,

the light by which we see.

-Psalm 36:5-9

I’m just blown away by the love of our God.


Right now I need to be gathering research to prove that there is a need for this nonprofit in Knoxville. I need this research in order to form a board of directors and apply for tax exemption. I’m wondering how long this process will take; I think since I don’t have a lot of time to dedicate soley to this purpose I’m going to aim to have done my research and form the board of directors within the next 6-8 months, possibly 1 year. I want to make sure everything is done right! I’m so excited to see who God will be placing in my path.

Also, today is my birthday, I’m 22 years old! This weekend I’m going to try to upload some pictures from the last few weeks. Isaac is just so stinking cute, I want to share him with the world 🙂

When you don’t understand.

Is it just me or do you ever have one of those days where you just feel like saying to God, “Hello? Do you see what I’m dealing with down here?” Sometimes it’s hard when nothing seems to be going the way you imagined and it doesn’t make any sense. Well, yesterday I was researching the steps I need to take to form a board of directors & it turns out to be more complicated than I thought. I found myself thinking, “I don’t see how this is possible for someone without experience.” But I know what the bible has to say about God’s character:

Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” (NIV) Matthew 19:26

Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. (NlT) Ephesians 3:20

‘Ah, Lord God! It is you who have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and by your outstretched arm! Nothing is too hard for you. (ESV) Jeremiah 32:17

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So as I was thinking about this God just gave me an image of an eagle. Immediately I thought of Isaiah 40:31:

But those who wait for the Lord [who expect, look for, and hope in Him] shall change and renew their strength and power; they shall lift their wings and mount up [close to God] as eagles [mount up to the sun]; they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint or become tired.

Isn’t it awesome that the God we serve is so awesome in power? His ways are above our ways; if we just trust in him and his steadfastness: his unfailing & everlasting love, goodness, & grace, then we have nothing to fear. I am willing to endure what ever circumstance necessary to further God’s kingdom and bring glory to His name!

gifts & talents

What are my unique gifts & talents? This is the question that lead me to the Listen Up conference at Two Rivers Church last weekend. It was all about spiritual gifts. These have always interested me, but I’ve always felt like there is nothing that I am persay talented at, nothing that I would consider a spiritual gift. But I know that’s a lie from the enemy. He wants us to believe any lie it takes to keep us from learning how to operate in our giftings, because he knows what we are capable of through the power of the Holy Spirit living in us once we embrace our giftings.

I truly believe that once we are ready to be in a position of surrender to God’s will for us, we are able to do so much more than we could ever imagine. For instance, 2 years ago, if you told me that I was going to be blogging and starting a nonprofit organization I would have probably thought, “Do you even know me? I’m not a writer!” But God’s plans are different than ours, and his plans involve stepping out of our comfort zone.

So at the end of the Listen Up conference, each person who signed up attended at 15 minute listening prayer session. This is awesome, and if you are unfamiliar with how this works, let me explain. You go into a room with around 4 other people. There is a period of silence where these people are just listening to hear/see what is given to them pertaining to your life. Then they tell you, and pray over you, and it is your job to  test and weigh what is said.

One of the ladies said she saw me dancing before the Lord. In the last recent months, God gave me a vision of me dancing in a field. What’s so crazy about this is that I can’t dance. Period. But I started going to some Zumba classes that my mom’s friend Sarah teaches, and I loved them and even bought the dvds! So hopefully this will be a good step for me to get comfortable dancing while also getting in shape since I still have weight to lose from having a baby! Check out Sarah’s inspirational blog, Fueled & Aflame.

I realized last weekend that I want to be constantly in a position of vulnerability to follow the promptings of the Holy Spirit, even when it’s out of my comfort zone. I want remain pure, to be filled with light because God’s spirit lives in me, that he will use me for his kingdom. These 2 verses come to mind:

“If you keep yourself pure, you will be a special utensil for honorable use. Your life will be clean, and you will be ready for the Master to use you for every good work.” 2 Timothy 2:21 (NLT)

“Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:14-16 (The message)

I strongly encourage you to watch the sessions from the Listen Up conference here at the Two Rivers Church website, although I just checked and they haven’t posted them yet. I also found a cool article about finding your God given talent.

So the next steps I need to make to launch Awakening Hearts Foundation are:

  • Apply to reserve the name
  • Draw the logo
  • Revise the mission & vision statments
  • Make a brouchure
  • Form a board of directors
  • Apply to get 501(c)(3) status
  • Form a timeline to stay on track

Hopefully I’ll have the brouchure mostly designed by the end of next week.

 

Do you know what any of your spritual gifts are? Comment & let me know 🙂

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