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What Has You Tied Up?

Today at church my Pastor spoke on Palm Sunday and Jesus’ triumphal entry. He pointed out something in Mark 11:2 that resonated with me.

and He said to them, ‘Go into the village opposite you, and as soon as you have entered it you will find a colt tied, on which no one has sat. Loose it and bring it.

Mark 11:2 (NKJV)

My pastor pointed out that many of us are like that donkey. We have all these God given talents but we have yet to use them. We act as if we are tied up and can’t move. Some of us don’t even realize what our gifts are and how we are supposed to use them.

This truly ministered to me because I have been guilty of not using the gifts that God has given me. Four years ago God placed on my heart to write my very first book, Tea for Two. He gave me the concept and how to put it all together, but I let fear stop me. I had so many fears:

  • What if my book is rejected?
  • What if I can’t come up with the money to have my book published?
  • What if I barely sell any copies of my book?
  • What if I can’t find a graphic designer?
  • What if I fail?

Because I let these fears consume me, I dragged out writing Tea for Two for four whole years. I was stagnant for four years because of the many what ifs that floated through my mind. Those fears had me at a standstill. Those fears made me feel as if I couldn’t move forward. Those fears dictated my life. Those fears kept me from utilizing my gifts for His glory and to impact lives.

Esther 4:14 (NKJV),“…Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” Someone needs our specific gifts. Someone needs to hear our testimony. There are certain people that you can reach that I am not able to reach. There is a certain group of people that you are called to. God has a specific purpose for each of our lives. He has given us certain gifts to fulfill that very purpose.

What is holding you back from using your gifts? What has you tied up? Is it fear of rejection? Is it fear of not being good enough? Is if a fear of the unknown? Don’t let these fears hold you back. When I stopped letting fear consume me and I decided to complete my book, God moved greatly in my life. He blessed me with a free book cover design. He blessed me with my head shot to go with my biography free of charge. He blessed me with an affordable publisher. He has blessed me with opportunities to speak on radio shows so that I can share my book and my testimony with the world. And this is only the beginning. This was all because I started utilizing my gifts for His glory. I undid that rope that was holding me in place and took off running.

Stop letting fear, worry, doubt, or anything hold you back from walking out your God given purpose and from using your God given gifts. Remove that rope from around you and start moving forward. God will guide you every step of the way.

Obedience and Suffering

Hebrews 5:8 (NKJV)

“though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered.”

I don’t know about you, but lately life has been nothing more than a combination of a Debbie Downers and a Negative Nancys. It hasn’t been your typical “life happens” moments, but off the wall, crazy experiences that suck the life and energy out of you. Before you can recover from one hardship, there’s another one waiting for you around the corner. I often find myself wondering, “When does it end, when do I get a break?”

Just like our lives are a challenge, when Jesus walked this earth He suffered greatly and experienced countless hardships. Throughout His ministry He was ridiculed and mocked. The Pharisees made it their sole purpose to find fault with Him and plot ways to kill Him. One of His closest friends betrayed Him for some money. He even suffered a gruesome, painful death even though He was innocent. And we complain about how difficult our lives are!?!? Yet despite all of the suffering, all of the disappointments, all of the hurt and pain, not once did Jesus get caught up in the flesh. Not once did He react to the injustices committed against Him. Not once did He throw a pity party.

How is that so? How was Jesus able to stay true to His nature despite all of the pain He experienced? Hebrews 5:8 tells us that through Jesus’ suffering He learned obedience. It was through the pain, the heartache, the sadness that Jesus learned how to stay committed to God. He did not allow the tough times to cause Him to become bitter and resentful. He did not allow criticisms, mocking, betrayal, and physical pain to cause Him to turn His back on God and step out of God’s will for His life. Instead, He remained faithful to God and walked in obedience even to the point of death. He allowed His suffering to teach Him obedience.

That is what God wants us to develop in our suffering: a willingness to walk in complete obedience to Him. James 1:2 tells us to count it all when we fall into various trials. The reason why we can find joy in our pain and suffering is because our suffering pushes us closer to God and helps us to learn how to follow His will for our lives. So instead of letting challenges and pain cause us to get caught up in the flesh, we need to draw closer to God and allow Him to use our suffering to mold us for His purposes.

Mission Trip to Belize Part 1: Preparation

Last Saturday I returned from my very first mission trip. To say that this trip was a life changing experience would be an understatement. From everything that happened in my life leading up to this trip to the trip itself as well as after returning from the trip, it has all left me so in awe of my Abba Father.

For the longest God has pressed upon me to go on a mission trip. Every year I would sign up to attend an information session for the mission trips and even once I paid my registration fee, but I never fully committed. Last year I decided to truly commit. I knew that I had to go on a mission trip. I was honestly not up for discussion. I prayed about which trip I should go on and the Lord led me to go on the Belize mission trip. I paid my registration fee and attended the first meeting. I was so hyped after the first meeting. I made a godly connection with someone who is know one of my close friends. I was so excited for this mission trip. During the first meeting, they told us that we would be attacked by the enemy like crazy. I expected it, but I think deep down I didn’t take it seriously…

After that first meeting, the enemy began to attack me like crazy. Many of my friendships and family relationships began to fall apart. I mean people were doing a complete 360 on me out of nowhere. My finances and my health were being attacked. I was struggling to raise the money for my trip. My mind was being attacked. I was under so much stress because I was commuting to a job that was over an hour from my home without traffic, but with traffic it would take me anywhere from an hour and a half to three hours to get to and from work. On top of that, some of my co-workers were giving me a hard time at work, attacking me for no reason. Everything around me was literally falling apart. I seriously was in a Job season. There were so many times I thought about pulling out of this mission trip, but I didn’t. I knew that was what the enemy wanted me to do.

In the beginning, I was mad at God. I told Him, “Why are you letting the enemy attack me like this when I’m preparing to do something for You? I’m going out into the mission field to share the Gospel and to bring You glory, but You don’t even have my back!”
Yes, I have my moments when I get real with my Abba Father and tell Him exactly what’s on my heart. During this time He began to show me that He was using these trials to prepare me for my mission trip and for my future. Once I understood what God was doing, I embraced the trials. I made it my goal to not let these challenging situations steal my joy and peace or cause me to react. I learned to rest in God and trust Him to work things out.

It wasn’t until a month before my mission trip that God began to turn my situation around. Little by little people began to donate. I had a few unexpected donor’s who paid not only for the remainder of my mission trip, but also gave me money to buy what I needed for my trip and spending money. However, right after that victory, the enemy attacked me physically. I ended up missing about two weeks of work due to having a fever of 100.4 that spiked to 105 and a stiff neck. I went to Urgent Care, ER, and my doctor and none of them could tell me what was wrong with me or what was causing the fever and the pain. I prayed and asked God to keep me despite all that was happening and to show me what to do. I sang worship songs and prayed like crazy during this time. He showed me what to do and healed me. During this time off, He led me to apply for a preschool director position. I honestly didn’t think I would get an interview, but I went for it anyway. The next day I got a call for an interview. I was so scared and nervous because I honestly didn’t know what to expect. I also was concerned that if I miraculously got the job, would they be willing to give me the time off for my mission trip. I prayed and told my Abba that if this was the job that He had for me, He would work it all out. I went on the interview and it was the most laid back interview. I mean it was like I was just talking to one of my peers about child development. On top of that, the woman who interviewed me had researched me and she knew all about my mission trip and she saw my YouTube videos. She really liked me, but had more interviews to conduct. Well two days later she called me and offered me the position and was willing to allow me to start after I returned from my mission trip! You know that was God!

Not only did God bless me with a job that is 15 minutes from my house, He gave me my dream job where I will be able to do some incredible things for His glory. I’m still in awe of what He did. He truly came through for me. After all the stressing and crying because of the long commute I was making, He turned my situation around instantly!

To read about all that God did during my mission trip to Belize, go to Part 2 of Mission Trip to Belize.

Mission Trip to Belize Part 2: There’s No Turning Back

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This trip seriously snuck up on me. I felt so unprepared. I started packing my bag a week before we were to leave for the trip and ended up not completely packing until the night before we left. When the day finally arrived for us to leave for Belize, I was a mixture of emotions. I went from excitement to fear to curiosity to anxiety. During the drive to the airport, I started wondering if I was even supposed to be on that trip…wondering if I had made a mistake. But it was too late to change my mind lol.

When we touched down in Belize, we immediately got to work. Our first project was to a couple of bathrooms and a patio area at a school. We also had the opportunity to play with some of the kids that went to the school and pass out supplies. Some of the other projects we completed were building a fence around a school and a playground to make it secure for the children, painted a church both inside and out, went out into the community to pray with people and invite them to an outreach we had in order to share the Gospel and pass out more supplies.

Although we were able to be a blessing to the people of Belize, they were even a greater blessing to us. They showered us with so much love and welcomed us with open arms. They taught us how to be content and joyful with what we have. They taught us how to appreciate each moment in life. While we were at one of the schools putting up a fence, I helped pass out candy to the children. We gave each child one starburst. What got me was how each child was so grateful for that starburst. They didn’t complain. They were truly thankful for that. Honestly, that convicted. How dare I ever complain about anything? How dare I ever be ungrateful? It really made me start thinking before I twisted up my lips to complain about anything.

Of course the enemy attacked us while on this trip, but God intervened. Our first night there, one of my roommates found a scorpion on her bed. Thank God she saw it before she went to bed and we were able to get it out of the room. A couple of days later we went back to where we built a fence around a playground in order to take a group picture in front of the completed project. While we were there, one of the local kids had a metal goal post fell on his head causing a deep gash. Thank God we were there and we had a few people on our trip who work in the medical field. That same night when we got back to our dorm, there was a fire literally a few feet from the room I was in. Unlike in the US where we’re able to call 911 in order to have firefighters deal with a fire, we had to handle it ourselves. We as a group along with those who were hosting us worked together to put the fire out. We had people praying and singing worship songs, we had people going and getting everything from buckets to trashcans to fill with water to dump on the fire. On top of that, the water pressure was very low so it took time to fill up each bucket, but God. God allowed us to be able to put that fire out and He kept us safe while doing it.

This trip also pushed me outside my comfort zone. When most people first meet me, they think I’m quiet and for the most part I am. Well by day three of the trip, I was my regular self. I was joking around and laughing and letting my personality shine through. I also started building some strong bonds with the people on my trip. They have honestly become my extended family. I was also asked to lead the morning devotional with 3 other women. Surprisingly, I wasn’t nervous. God led me to speak on being pushed outside our comfort zones because that was what He was doing in me during this trip. I mean this trip seriously put me in situations that I would have never imagined I would be in. From taking a cold shower just about every night to doing manual labor to not knowing if I was going to wake up with a tarantula or a scorpion in my bed, this trip stretched me.

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Everything I experienced on this trip has prepared me for my new job. Going to Belize has taught me to be assertive, how to lead, how to take the lead when I see a need, how to be patient with others, how to make the best of each moment and situation, and how to embrace and love who God created me to be. Honestly, if you have never been on a mission trip, go. Now. No, seriously, go on a mission trip. That trip will change you forever. You are separated from all of the distractions. You are forced out of your comfort zone, but most importantly You will hear God speaking to you loud and clear, and you will learn how to trust Him like never before.

 

This is My Story

Hey guys! God put it on my heart to share my testimony. Some things have happened in my life within the last 1-2 years that most aren’t aware of. God delivered me from some things and has been doing some great things in my life. I broke the video down into two parts or else it would’ve been way too long. I was hesitant about posting the second part because I share some personal things that I went through in 2013-2014 and made some mistakes that I’ve just now been able to forgive myself of. I was worried that those who know me and know what I stand for were going to judge me, but God asked me, “Are you doing this for man’s approval or for my glory?” Since I’m doing it for God’s glory, it honestly doesn’t matter what man thinks of me. With all that said, please keep any negative or judgmental comments to yourself. I pray that this blesses you and ministers to you. God bless!

 

God Opportunities

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16“Brothers,” he said, “the Scriptures had to be fulfilled concerning Judas, who guided those who arrested Jesus. This was predicted long ago by the Holy Spirit, speaking through King David. 17 Judas was one of us and shared in the ministry with us.” 18(Judas had bought a field with the money he received for his treachery. Falling headfirst there, his body split open, spilling out all his intestines.19The news of his death spread to all the people of Jerusalem, and they gave the place the Aramaic name Akeldama, which means “Field of Blood.”) 20Peter continued, “This was written in the book of Psalms, where it says, ‘Let his home become desolate, with no one living in it.’ It also says, ‘Let someone else take his position.’ 21“So now we must choose a replacement for Judas from among the men who were with us the entire time we were traveling with the Lord Jesus…”

-Acts 1: 16-21

This morning I started reading Acts 1 and verses 16-21 ministered to me. They made me think of my Pastor’s sermon yesterday. My Pastor spoke on how God invites us to be a part of His great plans, but He will not force us to accept His invitation. The choice is ours. The example my Pastor gave was when the Angel of the Lord came to Mary telling her of God’s plan to bring Jesus into the world and that He wanted to use her to bring Jesus into the world. Not to go too much into it, but basically Mary was presented with a great opportunity that would require her to make sacrifices, such as the fact that she had never been with a man and most people would not believe her story about an immaculate conception and the fact that she was engaged to Joseph (Matthew 1:18-21, Luke 1:26-38). Mary had many reasons to say no, but she didn’t. She decided to trust God even though she did not know the details of how it would all turn out.

Acts 1: 16-21 is similar to Mary’s story, but it shows what happens when we reject God opportunities. This passage discusses Judas’ story. We all know Judas as being the one who betrayed Jesus. It honestly did not have to be that way for Judas, but he made his choice to reject God’s invitation.

When reading this passage God ministered this to me:

God presents each one of us with great opportunities. In Judas’ case, it was to be one of Jesus’ disciples and to help spread the Gospel throughout the world. When God brings us these opportunities, we have a choice: to accept or reject. If we choose to accept, that means we have to do it God’s way and according to His standards. It also usually means that we are going into this with knowing very little and trusting Him because He will not reveal every detail of how it will happen or play out. We have to trust that no matter what problems may arise or what sacrifices we have to make, He will work it all out in our favor. Accepting these God opportunities leads to fulfillment and great blessings. However, if we reject these God opportunities, He will find someone else with a willing heart to replace us, which is what happened to Judas (Acts 1:21). Also, when we reject God opportunities, we are more vulnerable to becoming like the world and we essentially choose the world’s opportunities over God opportunities, which will end in disaster and feeling much regret. Once we reject those God opportunities, we cannot get those opportunities back.

This truly ministered to me because I have seen this happen in many people’s lives. They let fear of the unknown, opposition from others, or belief that what the world has to offer is greater since it does not require any sacrifice or denying of the flesh, to cause them to reject these amazing opportunities from God. They get so caught up on what’s going on in the natural that they take their eyes off of God.  This is what happened to Judas. He took his eyes off of God and believed what the world had to offer was better so he rejected his God opportunity, which ended in him feeling so much regret that he took his own life and he ended up being replaced.

What I love about the story of Judas is that even though Jesus knew all along what Judas was going to do and it was even foretold that he was going to reject Jesus, Judas was still presented with this amazing God opportunity. That’s the incredible thing about God, even though He already knows whether or not we are going to accept His opportunities, He still presents them to us. He still tries to win us over. He is so patient and merciful! We even see this with Judas during the Last Supper when Jesus went around washing each of His disciples feet (John 13: 1-5). That was such a loving gesture. The washing of feet was the responsibility of a servant. The fact that someone as mighty and powerful as Jesus would do the work of a servant for Judas despite knowing that Judas was going to betray Him is incredible. That’s how loving He is! He will still present these opportunities to be a part of His great plans to those He knows will reject His plan. Let that sink in…

I say all this to make the point that we need to be like Mary instead of like Judas when God approaches us with these great opportunities to be apart of His plans. Yes, these plans will require us to make sacrifices, to deny ourselves, and will require much of us, but they are so worth it in the end. Think about Mary. Because she chose to accept God’s opportunity, we now read about her in God’s Word! She was part of the ultimate plan of bringing our Savior into the world to die for our sins and overcome death! That is amazing! You may not fully understand the opportunity when God first presents it to you, but know that it will bring Him glory and it will be a marvelous, magnificent plan that He is allowing you to be a part of. Put aside your fears and insecurities, fix your eyes on God, trust Him, and accept the opportunity when He presents it to you.

 

 

Does God Care About the Small Stuff?

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Have you ever had a day where everything seems to be going wrong? You woke up late for work and then in a rush you forgot your lunch at home. Then at the end of your work day you come out to find that you have a flat tire. In reality, these things are a pain, but they are minor things…not the end of the world. Have you ever sat and wondered if God cares about those minor incidents in your life?

I have heard people say that God doesn’t care about stuff like that because those are things we can fix ourself, or you should only bring the “big things” to God. It always breaks my heart to hear people say such things. You see, God cares about every aspect of our life…small, big…it doesn’t matter. He wants to be included in everything that goes on with us. He cares when your day doesn’t start off right…He cares when you forget your lunch or get a flat tire. Yeah, you can easily go and fix those things, but He wants you to bring those things to Him and pour your heart out to Him. Although those things are minor, they are still frustrating and can cause our attitude to turn for the worse. That’s why we bring those things to Him. In my experience, pouring my heart out to God about small things gives me so much peace and joy…it literally melts away the frustration. It’s such an incredible feeling knowing that my Lord and Savior cares about the small stuff that occurs in my life and listens to me when I talk to Him about those issues.

I think sometimes we as Christians underestimate how much God cares about us. We tend to limit Him with our thinking. We think that He has more important things to deal with than to care about our insignificant issues. We have to change that thinking. Jeremiah 1:5 says that God knew us before He formed us in our mother’s womb. This amazing, all-powerful God took the time to make it a point to know us not only before we were born, but before He even shaped us in our mother’s womb…just think about that. How can we say that God doesn’t care about the small things in our life? Luke 12:7 says that God knows the very number of hairs on our head. How can we say that God doesn’t care about every aspect of our life when He made it a point to know the number of hairs on our head? I don’t even know how many hairs are on my head and honestly don’t care to find out, but God wants to know. That’s how much He cares about us! He wants to know every, single detail of our lives! We can truly talk to God about anything. I’m going to be transparent right now. I literally talk to God about everything. I truly mean everything. For instance, when it’s time for my monthly intruder, I have to go to God about it because honestly it’s not something I can make it through on my own. I get real with God. I tell Him, “Lord, You know that I hate this time of the month. You know that I have the most excruciatingly painful cramps. I need you to strengthen me Lord so that I can do the things I need to do because life can’t stop because of this. If You don’t strengthen me, then I’m just going to lie in the bed curled up in the fetal position until this is over.” It gets that real lol, but you know what I always feel better after opening up to Him about it and He strengthens me through it each month. That’s how real you can be with God. I love the fact that I can open up to Him about anything. Trust me, He wants us to go to Him. He wants us to go to Him before we try to figure things out on our own or go talk to our friends or parents about the situation. He has the greatest solution to even the smallest of problems. Not just that, He will cover you with His peace and joy, which will make the situation so much easier to handle. He understands the frustrations of everyday life, He understands when things don’t work out the way we want them to do. He is such a loving and understanding God. We just have to open up to Him. I want to leave you with one more scripture…this is one of my favorites. It’s Isaiah 49:16, which says, “See, I have written your name on the palm of My hands.” Every time I think about the fact that God has my name written on the palm of  His hands..I am speechless…I am so in awe of how much He loves me…how much He cares for me. We matter that much to Him. If He will write your name on His hands, He cares about every aspect of your life. Talk to Him. Trust me, you will not be disappointed.