Archive for May, 2011

May 25, 2011

What Do You Live By?

I work in the nonprofit world. Mission statements, passion, and causes are what we live by. I’ve also worked in the corporate world where “your brand” seems to be king. It all boils down to this: character.

What do you choose to live by?

I attended a conference last week and went to a seminar on networking. I really thought I’d hear how to connect with others to further my nonprofit’s cause, instead I was surprised to find I was working on my personal mission statement.

In reality, why not? If I don’t know why I am doing what I’m doing then I cannot be authentic. And who wants to work with or be friends with someone who is inauthentic?

At the core of who we are we must have a personal mission – one that encapsulates our God-given gifts and abilities as well as what burdens our hearts. Does your personal mission statement give you direction and inspire you? Is it generic enough to carry you through life? Take a moment and think about yours? Write one down. Use it to guide you.

My personal mission statement is this: To make Jesus Christ known by helping the hurting and those in need by using my gifts of mercy, compassion and administration so that others have a chance to heal and experience God fully.

Now, it’s your turn. What’s your personal mission statement?

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May 23, 2011

28 Lessons on My 28th Birthday

“It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.” E.E. Cummings


Today, I’m celebrating my birthday and what a great chance to reflect on the past year. I often forget to remember what God has taught me or blessed me with over the past year so in preparation for my birthday, I decided to share a little bit of what I’ve learned this year.  Enjoy!

1)      You cannot live on a spiritual mountain top.

2)      You need friends and community when you are in the valley.

3)     Some of your greatest friends are your oldest friends or the ones willing to look you in the face and tell you you’re wrong and still love you anyways

4)      You cannot escape the Holy Spirit. (Praise God!)

5)      Love is great but can leave you with a whole mess of heartache. Guard your heart.

6)      Never be afraid to ask for help. This is actually a sign of strength.

7)      God provides. It may not look the way I thought it would or be abundant but He gives me just enough to prove I can trust Him.

8)      People notice when you follow Jesus. Even when you think you mess up.

9)      Community is important. No one can do the faith thing alone. Link arms and fight together.

10)   Text messages should not be responded to when you are half-asleep.

11)   Thermostats need batteries or your house will be very cold.

12)   I am capable of taking care of a home including a lawn.

13)   By learning more about myself – likes, dislikes, passions etc. I have discovered my uniqueness, found joy, and can fulfill a unique role in this world.

14)   Exercise is very important for my physical and mental health.

15)   God won’t let me escape him.

16)   Sometimes, you have to let the ones you love hit rock bottom. This may be the best thing for them.

17)   Children’s movies aren’t just for kids.

18)   I may be becoming a coffee snob. I can now pick up hints of butter, sweetness, and woody flavors. Yes, this is my passion.

19)   Life rarely goes as planned. Might as well throw my plan out the window and embrace what God has for me today.

20)   Black ice is the devil. A few moments of sliding can cause hundreds of dollars worth of damage.

21)   Music is a powerful way to touch my heart and change my mood. 

22)   Hope can be dangerous.

23)   Stepping out of formal ministry is difficult but sometimes needed. Seasons of rest produce growth and readiness for the future.

24)   God speaks using unexpected people or things. Look for them.

25)   Joy doesn’t always come easy. Fight for it.

26)   The unexpected can happen and God is capable of restoration.

27)   Realizing your own depravity is a scary thing. We are all just one hesitation away from sin. Mercy and grace have never looked so sweet.

28)   Clinging to Truth can give you strength you don’t have in you. God never leaves his throne my friends.

What about you? What has God taught you this year? Do you have any personal reflections or ways you celebrate your birthday?

May 21, 2011

Gulp. Me, Really?

Have you ever been anxiously waiting for the Lord to clue you in on His plan? Have you ever been caught off guard at what it is or how abruptly your waiting ends and you have to hit the ground running? I find it humorous to think that I would expect God to always be gentle in what he asks of me or how he chooses to reveal it. But I somehow forgot his power and might – some of his most beautiful attributes.

I’ve been waiting for God to call for a long time now. I couldn’t figure out why all my attempts to leave my current situation, better my life, or make changes to lessen the overwhelming sense of being trapped failed. A month ago, I sat with a Christian mentor and bared my soul at my inability to wait much longer for Him. We prayed in earnestness that God would move. I saw my mentor two weeks later and my first words to her were, “be careful what you pray for.”

Much has changed and I have a new weight of leadership and responsibility. I keep making excuses in my head at why I am not right for this challenge but God’s word rings living and active in my ears. How can I not see that He was preparing me for such a time as this? All my attempts to change my situation only to be kept in the same place? All the lessons I’ve learned through failures and building my character? How could I not say ‘yes’ when the Lord asked? God brought Esther to mind.

Esther 4:14 “If you keep quiet at a time like this, deliverance and relief for the Jews will arise from some other place, but you and your relatives will die. Who knows if perhaps you were made queen for such a time as this?”

Remember Moses? Remember how even he didn’t want the challenge God laid out before him?

Exodus 3:10-12 “Now, go, for I am sending you to Pharaoh. You must lead my people Israel out of Egypt. But Moses protested to God, ‘Who am I to appear before Pharaoh? Who am I to lead the people of Israel out of Egypt?’ God answered, ‘I will be with you. And you have brought the people out of Egypt, you will worship God at this very mountain.’”

But God promised to go with him – personally. He would provide rest.

Exodus 33:14 “The Lord replied, ‘I will personally go with you Moses, and I will give you rest – everything will be fine for you.’”

While fear may quickly surface when God calls us, we must remember he would not call and then not go with us. God has been preparing each of us for a specific calling – for such a time as this. Be watchful and train yourself as you wait because when He calls, it may not be gentle and you may have to start running. He is good and will not let you go it alone.

May 8, 2011

In Due Time

My pastor gave an amazing sermon today. He preached on 1 Samuel 1 – where Hannah fasted and prayed for a child. She probably prayed a hundred prayers and implored God to move. I can identify with Hannah – I’m sure many of you can too. Do you ever feel like you pray a prayer a thousand times and when you say “amen” you wonder if you were even heard?

Well, He heard you. I promise you, He did.

1 Samuel 1:20 says, “and in due time she gave birth to a son. She named him Samuel, for she said ‘I asked the Lord for him.’”

You see, God hears our prayers. He’s just waiting for the right time to reveal his plan.  

This past year I have personally wrestled through letting go of my plan and seeking the Lord’s direction with my life. For an entire year (if not more) I’ve wondered why every step I’ve tried to take has failed and have felt stuck.

Has this ever happened to you?

But what happens when He calls? Are you ready? When your number is drawn and you’re asked to fight, or assigned an unexpected challenge can you do it?

God has given me Joshua 1:9 as my battle cry.

Joshua 1:9 “This is my command – be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

We are commanded to have courage and to be strong. Whether we are waiting in our current circumstances and yearning to hear God’s voice or direction or if after a season of quiet, you are quickly given a challenge – we must rely on Him. He is with us always.

In due time He will reveal himself. We can trust that.

Photo credit: Shutterstock

May 2, 2011

Dear God, Are You There? It’s Me, Traci.

Ignored – much like this blog for the past month. That’s how I’ve felt. Surely I am not alone. I think each of us comes to a point (multiple times) in our faith walk where you feel like you’re at a crossroads. It may not be anything dramatic but there you stand clueless about where to go next or how to take one step forward.

If you’ve been there for any significant length of time you may begin to feel like living at the crossroads is normal. The danger in that is that we can forget to pray or seek the Lord. You “know” the right answers that God will come through and reveal in His timing but do you really believe it? Have you gone to Him and asked? How often do you and God have a heart-to-heart?

I was convicted when I read Isaiah 65.

“The Lord says, ‘I was ready to respond, but no one asked for help. I was ready to be found, but no one was looking for me. I said, ‘Here I am, here I am!’ to a nation that did not call on my name.’” Isaiah 65:1

“…For when I called, you did not answer. When I spoke, you did not listen. You deliberately sinned – before my very eyes – and chose to do what you know I despise.” Isaiah 65:12

How convicting! God wants to give us an answer. He may be waiting with clear directions but instead we forget to ask! How many times do we confide in friends and self-help books but forget to go the One with the plan? In our impatience, we run ahead and take matters into our own hands – often deliberately sinning in the process. We also then run a risk of damaging God’s perfect plan for us.

It is not easy to wait – but in the process, talk to the Lord. He is ready to respond. He’s anxiously awaiting your attention. Run to Him.

Image Source: Google Images

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