Thankful to be a Disciple

Oh man, it has been a while since I’ve posted. Sorry all. I think I’m breaking blogger rules; aren’t you supposed to post at least every week? Oh well. To be honest, I’ve been in a little rut. I just haven’t really known what I should write about.

So naturally, I decided to just avoid it altogether rather than waste everyone’s time with forced posts! Although I have not been posting, I have been learning some pretty cool stuff.

Where to start?

I’d say the theme I’m learning about right now is discipleship. So, what is a disciple exactly?

Though the term “disciple” is used in different ways in the literature of the period, there are examples of discipleship referring to people committed to following a great leader, emulating his life and passing on his teachings. In these cases, discipleship meant much more than just the transfer of information. Again, it referred to imitating the teacher’s life, inculcating his values, and reproducing his teachings.

I just discovered a book called Impact My Life: Biblical Mentoring Simplified. I’ve only read the first 2 chapters, but it is really awesome so far. I’m so glad that God is building me up and calling me to step out of my comfort zone to lead others as I am following him.

I’m listening to a series from Church of the Highlands called The Pastoral Epistles. My husband grabbed a few of the cd’s for me once while he was in Birmingham; unfortunately I don’t have the whole series & it is not available on their website.

One of the messages was talking about getting balance in your life. And I need some of that!! It was submitting that first you need to know your identity/find your purpose. I think that’s what so many people struggle with, not knowing what their purpose is.

Saturday, we were talking about purpose and ministry in my growth group. One of the ladies was talking about how our ministry is first in our homes. And I know a few months ago I was feeling down and not really knowing what my ministry is and my husband was like, “Right now your ministry is your family.” It’s so true!

I’m also trying to figure out what my strengths and spiritual gifts are. My husband told me that he loves my zeal. And I told him that I definitely think that’s one of my biggest strengths. Also one of my biggest weakness. I mentioned in one of my posts that I learned that your biggest strength can be your biggest weakness. I believe it.

So to help me along the path of purpose, I took a spiritual gifts test here. These are my top 3 results:

  1. Faith- The divine ability to recognize what God wants done, and to act when others fall back in doubt. Although as Christians we are all called to have faith, people with the spiritual gift of faith receive it in an extraordinary measure. Even in the face of barriers that overwhelm others, people with this gift simply have confidence that God will see God’s will done. Believing deeply in the power of prayer, they also know that God is both present and active in their lives. People with this gift, by their works and by their words, show others that God is faithful to God’s promises.
  2. Mercy- The God-given ability to see and feel the suffering of others and to minister to them with love and understanding. More simply, this gift is “compassion in action.” People with this gift are called to reach out to someone who is hurt or rejected, easing their suffering. They feel fulfilled when they can show others that God loves them. They are skilled at gaining the trust of those in need and enjoy finding ways to comfort them.
  3. Hospitality- The divine ability to make others feel welcome and comfortable. People with the gift of hospitality often love to entertain. Sometimes, however, their gift is simply demonstrated by a warm handshake or hug, a bright smile, and a tendency to greet new people and help them get acclimated to a new place or situation. People are drawn to persons with this gift-they often have many acquaintances or friends and help others make connections, too.

I took a personality test too. I’ve actually done this before and it came back the same. I’m a caregiver, an ESFJ. I suppose that’s right in line with my spiritual gifts.

Really, my desire is to spread the love of Christ by living my life with his attitude. I want God to use me for his glory! I’m so thankful to serve him. I’m thankful to be a disciple of Christ.

Speaking of thankfulness, one of the messages in the series I mentioned is called “Appetite for the Eternal.” The speaker said that we need to think of having anything more than food and clothes as extra.

It really put things in perspective. I’ve just been realizing how blessed I truly am and how insignificant my problems are compared to so many others. I’m becoming more thankful for my problems, because there is a glory that outweighs them, and I know that God is allowing things in my life to be a testimony to others.

Now, to highlight a few joys of parenthood.

Before I put Isaac to bed tonight we were playing a game. It’s called, Isaac crawls down the hall really fast and mommy crawls and chases him then tickles him when she catches up to him! He was loving it. He laughed & laughed when I would catch him.

And today after church we went to lunch at a friend’s house, and Isaac was soaking up everyone’s attention. He pulled himself up to standing then looked around at everyone in the room to make sure they were watching him!

I love to see his personality develop. He melts my heart.

About a week ago, I set him down for a moment in the living room while I was getting something out of the kitchen. I come back in the room like maybe a minute later, and he has dog food all in his hands. Yes, it was in his mouth too. Ah!

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Quick story about our dog, Nibbler. We rescued him when he was a tiny puppy. My husband said to me, “God’s preparing us to be parents.” Isaac is exactly 1 year younger than Nibbler. How cool is that?

Well, we had originally planned on just nursing him back to health then finding him a good home. He turned out to be such a sweet dog, a big baby really, and we just couldn’t part from him. Unfortunately, due to all of the craziness and recent changes in the last month, we had to find a new home for Nibbler. He was not getting the love, exercise, and attention he needed.

Yesterday I was at my parent’s house with Isaac waiting for a couple to come look at Nibbler. I heard this really strange noise that lead me out to the garage and behold, the freezer is making the noise! Everything is melting. Of course my parents are out of town for their 25th wedding anniversary, so I’m freaking out. I ran upstairs and emptied the freezer then ran up and down the stairs to get more loads of food from the freezer in the garage, all the while Isaac is crying because I’m not feeding him. Then the couple shows up in the middle of it all!

It was pretty crazy to say the least. It all worked out though, and they will be very good parents to Nibbler. He has 3 little girls to protect: 6 years old, 1.5 years, & 1 month! He will do his job well, I’m sure of it. And they said they will send pictures and we can meet them at the dog park to play with him.

Call me crazy, but giving Nibbler away was something heavy on both my heart & Branon’s, and we prayed about it a lot. I’m so thankful God answered our prayers and sent the right family for him to be with.

It’s so awesome to watch the Lord answer your prayers. What are some prayers that you have seen answered in your life?

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This weekend we ended our brief roadtrip to Alabama to visit family with a visit to DayStar Church in Cullman. The service was really great; their introduction to the sermon was a neat little skit. It was a dialogue between your average guy & God.

God was chiseling away the guys imperfections in order to transform him into his image (with tools for sound effects). The guy would say things like, “Well, I don’t know if I want you to touch that” or “Why don’t we take a break from this and come back to it later?”

The Sermon Series title is, “The Me I Wanna Be”. I haven’t heard the first 3 messages of this series, but this one was about the painful process of being transformed into God’s image.

What was cool about it was that it was showing part of Peter’s journey. The pastor made a point I’d never thougth about: After Peter spent 3 years in the INNER cirlce of Jesus’ disciples, it took seeing Jesus’ death, resurection, & ascension to be transformed. He started out a sinner, and when Jesus appeared to the disciples on the shore of the beach, Peter was still the same sinner.

The 4 lessons Peter learned along his journey were the following:

  1. Your greatest strength could eventually sink you.
  2. You have to be tested to learn how to trust him.
  3. God’s blessing doesn’t equal his approval- God uses imperfect people to reach other imperfect people.
  4. Just when you think Jesus has left you, He’ll come chasing you down.

He wrapped up the sermon by pointing out that Jesus didn’t tell Peter, “Well if you really loved me then you should have not done ________ (fill in the blank)” He said, “If you love me, then feed my sheep” and a couple other things too. Check it out in John 21.

It was a really great message that I needed to hear.

As I was jogging the other morning, I was thinking about how often we naturally tend to let our mistakes of the past drag us down.

Jesus is just so awesome though because what he said to me is, “I bore the weight of that shame so you wouldn’t have to carry it.”

Stop, and let that sink in.

What he did next was even more incredible. I imagined being with him as he was carrying the cross. He brought up different areas of my past that I’ve been holding on to the guilt, and had me nail each individual one to his cross. It brought me to tears, imagining the pain he endured just to free us from ours.

Yet, how often do we still beat ourselves up over our shortcomings? I know I do a whole lot.

Look at what Paul says in Colossians 1:21-23:

You yourselves are a case study of what he does. At one time you all had your backs turned to God, thinking rebellious thoughts of him, giving him trouble every chance you got. But now, by giving himself completely at the Cross, actually dying for you, Christ brought you over to God’s side and put your lives together, whole and holy in his presence. You don’t walk away from a gift like that! You stay grounded and steady in that bond of trust, constantly tuned in to the Message, careful not to be distracted or diverted. There is no other Message—just this one. Every creature under heaven gets this same Message. I, Paul, am a messenger of this Message. (MSG)

The devil always comes in and tells us that because of our mistakes we aren’t good enough for God. Then we have a choice to make: Let the guilt of our mistakes hold us back and repeat the same mistakes or accept God’s grace and continue running the race.

As we run, we get stronger. This is true both physically and spiritually. I have been jogging and doing some pilates for the last week and half because I’m trying to get back in shape to finish a goal I had previously set to run a half marathon. I have found that being in shape physically helps increase my confidence.

Confidence is important.

Why? Well, let me give you 2 reasons:

  1. We are children of God, we are made in his image, we are his masterpieces. Our identity in him is completely secure. This confidence gives us the ability to live our lives to please him and only him. Embracing this is part of growing spiritually.
  2. We need confidence to have the faith Jesus talks about that enables us to do the impossible!

For me, one of my biggest struggles growing up was always wanting to fit in. I always sought other people’s approval, and being shy and slightly socially awkward didn’t help. I also struggled with weight issues throughout my whole childhood & teenage years.

Two years ago, after my uncle passed away, I decided that I was going to start training to run a half marathon. I trained for a few months, and I ran the 11 mile run, the longest run in the training I was following. Sadly, I never made it to run the race.

The point is though, it took time to build endurance.  But as I committed to running several times a week, it got easier. The first 3 mile run was harder than the 11 mile run!

Once I was in shape, I stopped worrying about what other people thought about me. Overcoming difficulties and pushing myself to a point I would have never imagined was possible gave me happiness I had never experienced up to that point.

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But so much more is possible through our faith in Jesus!

Jesus promises this so many times throughout the gospels, here is one example in John 14:12-14:

“I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father. You can ask for anything in my name, and I will do it, so that the Son can bring glory to the Father. Yes, ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it!

I have faith that God will use everything I have gone through in my life to further His kingdom. He is using my trails to build endurance & character. And through that, Awakening Hearts Foundation is being built! I would not have the desire to form this non profit had I not experienced the pain and difficulties I have thus far. Like Romans 5:3-5 says:

We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.

On that note, time for an update!

My husband drew a logo for me!! I’m really excited about it, but now I just need to digitalize it and then work on editing the brouchure too. Once I have that, I can start preparing to propose my ideas to future supporters, such as businesses and other nonprofits. I need to get this rolling, I’ve been slacking due everything that’s been going on in my life. But I can’t let that hold me back; I need to form a board of directors so I can apply for a 501(c)(3) status!

Also, I’m going to make a facebook page soon for this, so please be sure to go like it once I set up a link to it here.

Refer to my post, 15 Approaches to Change Lives, and let me know other ideas this nonprofit can provide to benefit families! I need everyone to comment with suggestions, parent or not! It would definitely speed things up a little. You have no idea how much I’d appreciate it 🙂

I was driving home from work today and I passed a billboard for a radio station 106.7, The Light. I decided to check it out and see what it was about.

I wasn’t sure what to expect. It was a sermon. Sometimes I like to listen to sermons in the car, depending on the type of preaching. It didn’t sound like fire and brimstone preaching so I was interested in continuing to listen.

But there WAS static that was cutting in and out and that made me almost cut it off.

The static stopped though for a moment and I heard the speaker was talking about sinning, then telling God that you’re sorry and you won’t do it again only to do it again, continuing the cycle. I’m sure any Christ follower can relate to this, I know I can. So I decided not to cut it off.

I missed the majority of the sermon but what I heard was definitely God talking to me. He was talking about putting your hope in God, not in anything else. Ok, that’s obvious. But what really got me was not to put your hope even in ministry, in relationships, in success, etc.

When I met my husband, he met me in a point in my life where I was not actively seeking God. Meeting my husband changed my world entirely.

I grew up in a christian home, but in high school I fell victim to the lie that if I was followed Christ then I would miss out on the fun stuff. Well, I didn’t want to be a hypocrite or claim to follow God but really be doing things that are not in alignment with his word, so I said to God, “Ok, God, I love you and all, but I am going to put you on hold and live life my way.” Not so smart.

To make a long story short, my husband met me during a time of my life that I’m not proud of, at all. He saw my potential, and we started to spend practically every free moment we had together. It was a whirlwind romance; I just knew that we were meant for each other.

We started to read the bible together, and through his faithfulness to the promptings of the Holy Spirit, he rekindled my love for God and now my relationship with God is at a level I would have never imagined. I’m not where I want to be, but I’m not where I used to be.

Our marriage is built on God. We have so many plans to do ministry together, and we both know that God has some REALLY big plans for us.

I’m forever thankful that God sent my husband to me to pull me out of the ditch that I was gradually digging deeper and deeper for myself.

But right now, we are fighting through some really tough warfare.

We don’t have the ministry we had planned, and in fact, a lot of things have happened completely opposite of what I had imagined.

We’re like the disciples when they are in the boat with Jesus, frantically trying to get Jesus to wake up and help them when the storm comes.

If my hope was in our ministry I would lose faith.

But my hope is in Jesus. He says to his disciples, “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?”

I know that God is using our hardships to strengthen us and prepare us for what he has planned. He is shining his light through the darkness; he is stripping us from all that we cling in order to serve him wholeheartedly.

Having your life completely rearranged in an unexpected way is painful.

Letting go is painful.

But there is such joy & freedom that awaits if you keep moving forward.

I want God to have the place in my life that only he deserves. Only then will the rest fall into place.

Since I changed shifts at work, I’ve had time to spend time with God in the mornings. It’s the best way to start the day.

I was jogging this morning. I love jogging for several reasons. One is because it is some of the best time I ever spend in communication with God. It really clears up my mind and allows me to hear his voice better.

And what he told me today is that I get really excited and enthusiastic about things and I just want to run full speed into whatever it may be. I want to get to the top of the mountain the fastest way possible.

But he takes me the safest way.

And he has given me the perfect guide: The Holy Spirit.

So, I ask God continually to give me humility to follow his leading and serve him in a way that is pleasing to him, however painful it may be.

I want God to use me in whatever way he desires.

The Bible promises that we will suffer on earth.

But it’s all for his glory.

I’m just so excited that he chose me and Branon to produce lasting fruit. I can’t wait to see Awakening Hearts Foundation changing lives.

Until then, I’m going to focus on the multitude of blessings I have every single day.

For instance, Isaac started to “dance” this week. I got home from work the other night and he was so happy. He started moving his head to the side repeatedly while smiling and I was like what on earth is he doing?!

When I dropped him off at daycare the next morning I said, “Isaac started to move his head to the side and I’m not really sure why; has he done that here?” The lady in charge said, “Oh, he is dancing! We turn on some music and dance. One of the kids really gets into it and he picked up on it.”

I just about died. It’s so funny. I totally got it once she told me! Watch this cute little video.

I love my baby. I love being a mom. He is truly the biggest blessing.

Pay close attention to the blessings you encounter each day. I promise there are more than you realize. And above all, keep your focus on Jesus, he is with you where ever you go!!

Short and sweet.

As promised, here is a short video of Isaac’s pool trip yesterday 🙂

 

And here is a video of those kisses I was talking about.

 

I love this baby more than words could ever explain. He is the most beautiful gift from God. Not only is he cute as can be, he is always so happy! Parenthood has come with a few struggles (one of the reasons I want to start this nonprofit), but Isaac is overall one of the happiest babies ever; I am, without a doubt, incredibly blessed.