If walls could talk. How about if windows could talk? Mine do! A little while ago the windows in my bathroom were speaking with a beautiful message that I believe the Lord revealed to me while I was in the shower.
There are pros and cons to living in a house that is over one hundred years old. We love the character a centenarian house brings, but our old double hung windows have a tendency to frost up to the point of completely obscuring the view to the outside world. It’s a little bit like living in a frosty root beer mug.
On this particular day, it was dreadfully cold outside and the windows were in full frosty effect. As I was in the shower, I noticed that the sun was trying to shine through one of the icy panes, and the diffused light lit up something pretty miraculous that I almost didn’t notice. What at first looked like typical frost patterns, started to reveal an even more beautiful and poignant vision. All of a sudden, the feathery ice formations revealed a stunning spring scene that almost jumped off the window at me.
I began to see flowers and in particular, dandelions, waving in the breeze releasing their seeds into the spring air. Keep in mind, it was far from spring and the actual temperature outside was well below zero degrees, so the last thing I was thinking about was a warm pre-summer day. But the specificity of what the image on my window portrayed was undeniable.
As I was marveling at mother nature’s unexpected “work of art”, I felt the Lord impress something upon my heart. He said, “Even in seasons of life that feel as cold and dead as winter, I can bring hope and new life.” It felt clear as day, and I knew He was using His beautiful creation to once again teach me more about His promises.
I think it’s safe to say we all have experienced those winter seasons where we feel like we are floundering and frozen. Those cold seasons can look different for everyone. Sometimes it’s a stagnant feeling in our professional life, or a struggle with anxiety and depression. Maybe it’s a coldness you’re feeling toward God and your relationship with Him.
What I felt He was telling me that day is He is a God of NEW LIFE! Sometimes things need to rest, or even die, to produce new life. The dandelion begins as a seed that grows into a plant which produces a flower. The flower is the “pretty” part of its life (even though us garden and yard lovers tend to despise these weeds). Those showy, deep yellow petals catch our attention and are the crown of glory for the flower. It’s the part of the life cycle where they shine! Then the flower petals die and make way for the next stage which is the seed stage. When a puff of air, or my daughters’ deliberate breath on the silvery seed clock, dislodges the seeds they begin to float in the air looking for a place to land with the sole purpose to create NEW LIFE.
1 Peter 1:3-4 says, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade.”
When we put our faith and trust in Him, He can breathe NEW life in all areas of our life. He is the God of seasons and you can believe that He will bring you out of the cold season you may be facing right now. He will cover you with “Sonshine” and warmth that will melt away the ice and bring forth the spring you are desperately needing.
If you are needing a change of seasons in your life try doing these three things:
1. Trust that the sun is coming.
Start working on your mindset. Believe that this place you’re in isn’t forever, that God has a plan and purpose for your life and that it is good!
2. Ask for change.
Go before the Lord with your hurts, your frustrations, your pain. Tell Him what you’re feeling (even though He already knows) and ask Him to do a NEW THING in your life. Be specific in your request and always pray for His will. Trust me, it’s always better than what we think we need.
3. Be expectant.
Live expecting that there will be change. It might not look like what we think, or it may take longer than we like, but expect that God will take your struggles, allow them to make you stronger, and then use them for good in a brighter season.
Winter ice eventually melts. Flowers bloom, and seasons change. Look for the lessons in the unexpected.
Even while you’re in the shower.
Did you hear that? That was me blowing the dust off of my keyboard after taking a break from writing and basic content creation in general. I’ve been M.I.A. from both my blog and social media since this past winter, but I promise I didn’t fall off the face of the earth. Really. I have plenty of dirty dishes and a needy dog to prove it. Believe it or not, there was a method to my madness. Here’s the backstory.
At the start of every new year, my husband and I take time to fast, pray and ask the Lord for guidance for the coming year. (I wrote a blog on it if you want to know more).
One of the things we consistently do at this time is ask that He give us “words” for our year that we filter the next 365 days through. One of the words that I felt was very specifically for me this year was “BE PRESENT”. Essentially, be where your feet are planted.
For me, that meant being extremely present with my daughters this year. They are at awesome teenage and pre-teen ages right now, and I am LOVING it. (I know, sounds totally crazy, but I am.) Around last January, I strongly felt the Lord saying to lay everything else in my life down, or at least touch it loosely, and focus my attention on nurturing and pouring into my girls.
In fact, I truly believe this command was from the Lord because I lost all passion for writing and social media which, if you know me, is typically not my character. Granted, I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with social media, but writing? That’s the whipped cream to my hot chocolate. When I lost my drive for that, I knew God was trying to get my attention, and I needed to obey.
I also felt like He wanted me to REST. There are seasons that He takes us through, and times of REST are not a bad thing. If you’re a “do-er” like me, those rest times can be confusing. But we need it! Now, rest didn’t look like kicking my feet up and binge watching Fuller House all day. Nope, my days are still packed, but it’s been a focus shift that I needed to refuel my passions and put present priorities in place.
Are you feeling that there is something the Lord is asking you to put down, even for a minute, to be more present with your kids? It doesn’t mean He’s not going to tell you to pick it back up again at some point. And when He does, it will feel right and your cup will still be full enough to pour out for the people around you.
I believe the Lord gives us the desires of our heart, and He also amps them up and tones them down as a way of directing us in our lives. He knows when and where our talents and giftings are best used and right now for me, it’s being present with my girls. I only have one shot to be the kind of mom I want to be. I only have one opportunity to mold and shape these phenomenal humans to love and serve God, be kind, compassionate, hopeful of their futures, and strong to withstand the assaults of this world. And that time with them is short.
Recently however, I’ve been feeling the green light to get my creative juices flowing again and begin sharing the little nuggets God gives me as I walk, stumble, and run through this race of life.
Psalm 32:8 says, “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.”
If you’re not sure about the season you’re in or the path God has for you, pray this scripture! Ask Him to teach you the way you should go and spend time with Him. He will show you!
So here I am. I’m (kinda) back. My priority is still being super present for my girls, and I may be a little inconsistent here, but my peace comes from the Lord, not a social media algorium.
And hey! It’s great to see you again.
“See, I am doing a new thing!” This is what I keep hearing in my heart for 2022! Are you ready for something new in your life? Do you feel like you need to be refreshed? I think it’s pretty safe to say that most of us are feeling this way, and guess what? I have some good news for you!
As we know, a New Year brings all the cliche “new” things that we always expect, like new fitness goals, new work goals, and new finance goals, just to name a few. These are all great and good, but if you aren’t refreshed with a new spirit of hope and life inside of you, these dreams will be just that. Dreams. You won’t have the excitement, fire, and motivation that it takes to achieve those goals. This is where that word “new” is taking on a fresh meaning for me this year, and I want to share why I believe it can do the same for you too.
Isaiah 43:18-19 says, “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.
This verse is all about HOPE! If you’ve been living in a “wasteland” this past year, know that God wants to refresh you this year and fill you with streams of living water. He wants to give you hope and new revelation! He sees you! He wants to help you rise above the weight of this world in all areas of your life. His desire is simply that you seek Him with all your heart and lay your burdens at His feet. He will help carry the load and give you joy in the journey.
Maybe this passage in Isaiah is meant to encourage you regarding that new project you’re wanting to start, but are hesitant because doubts regarding your abilities to pull it off are plaguing you. God is all about NEW THINGS! So go for it, and trust that if He’s put that desire in your heart, He will walk alongside you every step of the way.
Perhaps you’re simply needing a new outlook on life. It’s been a hard season for you and waking up every morning with joy and peace in your heart seems like a far-fetched wish. God says, “Forget the former things!” So, let it go! Look ahead in expectation at what He has in store for you, and say, “This is the day the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it!” Let Him fill you with streams of joy and the ability to see each day filled with the hope of His promises.
Let 2022 be a year of NEWNESS and new beginnings for you and your family. I pray blessings over you and a renewed sense of HOPE because Jesus is Lord over ALL!
Are you feeling ineffective, inadequate, unable to really do anything worthwhile, or see positive change happen around you? Especially with all that’s going on in the world today, I think it’s easy to feel ineffective and overwhelmed with inadequacy. If that’s you, I have a couple of thoughts for you.
First and foremost, YOU ARE ENOUGH just as you are! Jesus isn’t sitting on his jewel encrusted throne looking down from the heavens saying, “Hmm..if only Susie would step it up in that one area of her life, then I might think she’s worthy of my love.” Wrong. He loves you just because you’re YOU! That broken, flawed, messed up, distracted, and floundering, you. (I’m speaking to myself here, too.)
But if you already know that and you’re still feeling all those “things” I mentioned earlier, I have a question for you.
How’s your prayer life?
Over the past few weeks, God has been challenging me to pump up my prayer life. And by that I mean, adding a little more “umph” in those conversations I have with Him. So yep, it’s confession time. I have gotten lazy with my prayer life lately. Well, that’s not very juicy. You’re right, it’s not. But this concept of adding some jet fuel to my prayer life has been burning on my heart to share for a while now.
Lately, I’ve felt stuck in a “prayer rut” and have been feeling Him challenging me to do more. More fire, more umph! Yes, I have my quiet time in the mornings where I (mostly) pray silently in my mind, and that’s good and all, but God’s been calling me to dig deep and kick in my inner beast mode. You know mommas, that kind of fire you feel when you hear your kid is getting picked on at school. That spunk that says, “I am momma, hear me ROAR!” I’m not saying go WWE on God when you pray, but instead make sure you are using the weapons He has given us to do battle in the spiritual realms.
The one I’m talking about here is your spoken words. Don’t miss what I just said. I said SPOKEN words. This is where I feel God has been encouraging and teaching me lately. Our words when spoken out loud are powerful, friends! You know that terra firma you’re standing on right now? God made that by SPEAKING it first. Outloud. If you read Genesis 1, before the earth, heavens, etc, was created the Bible says that “God said,…”. This should be a clue to us that when we speak our prayers out loud there is a shift that happens.
With this in mind, I started making a point to pray more aloud in my car while running errands around town. Being alone in your car and making it a specific time to pray is such a beautiful thing. Not only do you have the privacy to pray about whatever you want, or for whomever you want, but to other drivers around you, you simply look like you’re rocking out to your favorite song or chatting on your bluetooth! (So don’t worry, you won’t look like a weirdo.)
But little do people know that you are not ordering takeout for dinner tonight, but that you are connecting to the creator of the universe! Boom! You are using this opportunity, even if it’s 15 minutes from school drop off to the gym, to speak both His truths and your requests in a powerful way. And the coolest thing is you are doing battle against the enemy, AND moving the heart of God at the same time! Now that rocks.
When I started doing this I instantly felt, and saw a shift happen around me. Distraction (something I battle) turned into focus, opportunities to be Jesus’ hands and feet in small ways opened up, and even certain prayers regarding my children were answered.
I fully believe that soft quiet prayers said internally are just as powerful, and God hears ALL of our prayers, but for me those out loud conversation prayers fire me up and make me feel like a full-on, kick-booty warrior in a 5 foot 3 inch body.
Why not tap into that power? I dare you to try it, and see what happens! If God blows your mind with something after you’ve given it a whirl, encourage the rest of us and share it in a comment!
This morning began like most mornings do. I sleepily got out of bed before my 5:30 alarm, since I’d technically been awake since 4:30 trying to wrangle in the “mind-spin”, then spent some time with the Lord, and lastly got my kiddos off to school. I pulled back into the driveway to see an anxiously awaiting double-doodle staring at me from the family room window. It was time for her walk and she wasn’t going to let me forget it.
Every morning I take Luna for a spin around the neighborhood and we almost always find our way into the university campus that resides close to our home. I love walking on the college grounds because the paths are winding and lined with trees and beautiful landscaping. I also enjoy seeing the students walking to class as the sun streams across the bluffs and lights up the walkways.
Being a creature of habit I tend to walk the same route and usually find myself passing a particular building that has many tall, rectangular, east facing windows. The building is situated in a way that the rising sun hits the windows and reflects into the path where I walk. Everytime I walk past these windows, I’m always struck by the periodic bursts of heat that hit my face. It literally feels like alternating laser beams that strike, and then are instantly gone when I pass areas of the building that aren’t reflecting the sun.
I’ve walked past this building MANY times, but for some reason something pretty profound struck me today. I got a strong sense that the Lord was showing me the power of reflection. And no, not the kind of reflection where you ponder those stupd things you did in college and realize there were probably plenty of reasons you should have gotten some professional therapy. No, the kind of reflection where a powerful light source hits a shiny surface and bounces the opposite way.
The Oxford Dictionary defines reflection as, “The throwing back of a body or surface of light, heat or sound, without absorbing it.” Hmmm.. let’s reflect on that a bit. (Did you see how I did that?)
Wow. Isn’t this what God calls us to do as believers? Doesn’t He call us to reflect Him?
He doesn’t ask us to BE the light source. That’s HIS job. He only wants us to REFLECT Him. So what does that look like? How do we reflect Jesus to every person we come in contact with? And yes, I said EVERY person. Even that guy that cut you off today in the Target parking lot because he was texting and flying in his souped up Honda Civic like a bat out of you know where!
Let’s ask ourselves, what was Jesus like? What characteristics did He exhibit when He walked the earth? If you’re a list checker like me, then let’s start with one of my favorite lists in the Bible, the fruits of the Spirit. Galatians 5:22-23
Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control. When you want to flare at that offensive comment on Facebook, do you reflect love? How about patience? Or maybe most importantly, when your flesh wants to furiously type a rebuttal and virtually body slam that ignorant bleep bleep into the cyber ground, do you practice self-control? Ouch.
It can be hard. But showing EVERYONE love, letting them see your joy even in tough times, and being gentle in spirit when persecuted, is reflecting the light of Jesus to a hurting world.
And remember when I mentioned the heat I felt from the sun reflecting in those windows? You guys, seriously, it was HOT! Like I thought the skin was going to start peeling off the left side of my face. Just because you’re the reflection and not the “source” doesn’t mean you can’t pack some heat! We have power as followers of Jesus, and we can walk boldly knowing that when we make a genuine effort to be Christ’s reflection, He will bring intensity to your witness that you won’t have to work for. That’s the beauty of reflecting from a place of power. He will translate His unlimited energy through you to positively affect someone else’s life.
Reflection can be small, like those little prisms I used to hang in my window as a kid. Or it can be massive like in the valley town of Rjukan, Norway where mirrors were installed to reflect sunlight into the town’s square that is normally shadowed for half of the year. (Cool right?)
Both are good. Both are beautiful. Big or small, your reflection is bringing much needed light into a place riddled with darkness.
Where can you shine today?
Shine on, friend. Shine on.
About a week ago, I woke up feeling fearful and agitated. The weight of all the pain, confusion, and evil in this world suddenly came crashing down on me, and I felt an overwhelming sense of fear. Yes, I have complete and utter faith in my Jesus, but I’m human. And sometimes that firm foundation gets a little mini-quake once in a while. When the enemy tries to rattle my cage there’s only one place I go when I need a little grounding….
To my knees.
I began praying, and I came to God as a child asking her Father to hold her because she was afraid. I asked for God’s peace that surpasses all understanding and for protection over myself and my family. In that quiet moment the words “Psalm 91” came to my mind. Obviously, I don’t have large chunks of scripture memorized so I had no idea what this meant. I reached over to the table next to my chair where we have our Bibles and started reaching for one. I began to grab the NIV translation, but I felt like the Lord impressed upon me, “No, not that one. This one…” And instead, I grabbed my Message translation.
I opened it up and read.
“You who sit down in the High God’s presence, spend the night in Shaddai’s shadow,
Say this: “God, you’re my refuge. I trust in you and I’m safe!”
That’s right—he rescues you from hidden traps, shields you from deadly hazards.
His huge outstretched arms protect you— under them you’re perfectly safe; his arms fend off all harm.
Fear nothing—not wild wolves in the night, not flying arrows in the day,
Not disease that prowls through the darkness, not disaster that erupts at high noon.
Even though others succumb all around, drop like flies right and left, no harm will even graze you.
You’ll stand untouched, watch it all from a distance, watch the wicked turn into corpses.
Yes, because God’s your refuge, the High God your very own home,
Evil can’t get close to you, harm can’t get through the door.
He ordered his angels to guard you wherever you go.
If you stumble, they’ll catch you; their job is to keep you from falling.
You’ll walk unharmed among lions and snakes, and kick young lions and serpents from the path.“
If you’ll hold on to me for dear life,” says God, “I’ll get you out of any trouble.
I’ll give you the best of care if you’ll only get to know and trust me.
Call me and I’ll answer, be at your side in bad times; I’ll rescue you, then throw you a party.
I’ll give you a long life, give you a long drink of salvation!”
I hadn’t even finished reading the whole passage before I burst into tears. Knowing a God that loves His children so much that He would give me, AGAIN, exactly what I needed to hear in that moment broke me. No matter how strong or how weak our faith is at any given moment, He is always faithful to reassure us that HE is sovereign, HE is in control, and we can have PEACE when we sit in His shadow.
Don’t ever underestimate His power, and the power that you can have over fear, anxiety, and evil, when you plug into the source.
If you haven’t been living under a rock for the past few years, (oh wait, we all have been living under a rock this past year) you’re probably familiar with the many self help gurus that have been popping up all over recently. Between social media and morning talk shows there is always someone encouraging us to be our better self, reach for the stars, and hustle till we make it.
I always enjoy and value a good “rah rah” session and often learn a lot of great tips about time management, leadership, and dreaming big from some of these experts. But I’ve found one particular mantra, that gets thrown around frequently, can actually NOT be helpful. You’ve probably heard it. Ready?
“You’ve got this!”
Oh, if you could see the extent of my eye roll right now, you would laugh. I have disliked these three words for quite some time now, and I’ll tell you a funny story about it. Years ago, I was feeling particularly overwhelmed with the multiple plates I was spinning in my life. Being a type-A, enneagram 2, the pressure to get everything done was at an all time high, and I was feeling very inadequate in my abilities. These feelings had been building over a couple of days. On this particular morning I was sharing with my husband how stressed out I was feeling. (I admit, I was probably throwing myself a pretty big pity party too.)
My husband, being the caring supportive guy he is, was trying to encourage me and drag me out of the mucky pit I had thrown myself into. In his zeal to help, he looked at me and said, “Babe, you’ve got this!” Uh oh. That did it. Batten down the hatches people, the storm just got unleashed. I lost it, all over his sweet supportive self. I responded, “What?! I don’t GOT THIS. Can’t you see I’m losing it here! I don’t GOT anything! If I HAD this, I wouldn’t be in this state right now!”
Open mouth, insert foot. The poor guy slinked off justifiably mad that I had lashed out at him, and I felt terrible. I realized that my reaction was wrong and that I had hurt him with my thoughtless words. But I also realized that I was right. I didn’t have it all together. I didn’t have the capability to do it all and handle the situation, and the thought of trying to do it myself felt like a weight I couldn’t bear.
Once I had calmed down, I went upstairs and apologized to him. I told him I knew he was only trying to help and it was wrong for me to respond the way I did. And as we talked a solution came to my mind. We decided that whenever situations like these presented themselves in the future, instead of saying, “You’ve got this,” we now say, “GOD’S got this.” Gamechanger.
Ladies and gentlemen, we don’t have to live under the pressure of holding it all together. The weight of life is so great at times, and it will crush us if we believe that we are the only ones capable of holding it up. Yes, there are things that “we’ve got”, and we are responsible for putting in a strong effort toward those things we want to see manifest in our lives. But it’s not our job to pull the entire load. That’s the beauty of trusting in our Heavenly Father. Newsflash. His muscles are a bit stronger than ours. Why not let Him do some of the heavy lifting?
Psalm 46:1 says, “God is our refuge and strength always ready to help in times of trouble.”
He’s ready to help! God’s sitting there poised and ready to jump in and take the weight of that burden you have. I challenge you to try this the next time you’re feeling overwhelmed and you or someone around you is tempted to say that “you’ve got this”. Instead, say out loud, “God’s got this!” I can guarantee that a shift will happen in your spirit. The crippling responsibility and weight of doing it on your own will suddenly lift. And you’ll be free to navigate through whatever it is that you’re experiencing knowing that you have the best kind of help there is.
Hey! Where are my fellow perfectionist peeps at?! I’m calling all of you friends who can relate to the feeling of needing EVERYTHING that you do to be perfect. Let’s call it the “Midas Touch” of today. If we touch it, it better be gold. Friends, it’s a blessing and curse, right?
I admit that I am a struggling perfectionist. This has been something that I’ve had to battle since I was a child. The drive to do everything with the utmost excellence can be a great quality, and yet it can be a burden if we allow it to creep into the obsessive zone. I precariously teeter on that line, and I believe it’s how I’m wired. But over the past few years I’ve been working on finding a better way.
Perfectionism has some ugly side effects that I have definitely seen in my life. The first being “The Freeze.” I’ve often felt that if I can’t do something, and do it perfectly, then I’m just not going to do it. Period. This plagued me as a child big time. I remember being young and learning new skills like golf, for example. Okay, I know, probably not a great example to start off with. I personally think golf is one of the most frustrating skills to master on a good day, but stay with me here.
My parents did a great job of working to instill skills and hobbies that would be lifelong social assets as I was growing up. However, I often failed to stick with certain things because I couldn’t do them “perfectly” right off the bat. In golf I hit a few great shots, and then the rest sent 99% of the nearby woodland creatures, living near the golf course, running for the hills. So what did my perfectionist mind tell me in those situations? That’s right, if you can’t do it perfectly then don’t do it at all. And I quit taking lessons. There were many other examples of times when I didn’t even try a new skill because I knew I wouldn’t be able to do it perfectly, immediately. I like to call this, “The Freeze.”
“The Freeze” manifests itself in so many more ways, specifically if I’m working on a project. If the project has any ounce of creative attributes, I will often delay completing it or all together abandon it if I don’t think it looks or feels “perfect”.
The other side effect of perfectionism is self doubt. That nasty perfectionistic voice, many of us know so well, starts telling me that if I can’t do something perfectly, then I must not be good enough or truly called to do that work. Hence, I become extremely hard on myself and critical.
Is this resonating with you at all? Because I know I’m not the only one out there that feels this way. But here’s the good news. YOU DON’T HAVE TO BE PERFECT. Hallewooyah, pa-wayze da Lord! (as my daughter used to yell around the house as a three year old.)
God didn’t call us to be perfect. That’s why He sent His son Jesus to this earth. He is the ONLY one who is and ever was perfect so why are we putting that burden on ourselves?
Corinthians 12:9 says, “Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.”
The first thing we need to do is embrace who we are and all of the weaknesses that we have. We ALL have weaknesses and that’s okay! We aren’t going to do everything perfectly, but that’s the cool part. When we let Christ into those areas of weakness HE will show up with His strength and downright awesomeness to fill in where we lack.
The other area that us perfectionists need to constantly keep in check is PRIDE. Ouch. Yep, I said it. We are prideful! Isn’t that the true root of why we feel we need to be perfect? It’s because we are concerned with how we look to others. If what we do or create isn’t perfect then someone else might think we aren’t talented, good enough, or as fabulous as whatever the “best of the best” is out there. Whenever my pride starts creeping in over a project I’m working on, I run to a very specific Bible verse. This is my weapon I use to fight that sneaky, flaming, pride dart.
Colossians 3:23-24 “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord.”
Everything we do, and I mean EVERYTHING, should have a heavenly focus. Is what you are doing pleasing the Lord or are you trying to please people? When I started making this focus a priority and filtering everything I did through it, I found so much peace! I stopped worrying about what other people thought of me and my efforts and it was so freeing! However, it’s still something I have to continually check myself on because pride is a cunning adversary.
I have a sneaking suspicion that some of you fellow perfectionists are screaming right now, “But Jamie! Are you saying I shouldn’t care about the quality of my work and completely chuck all desire to make what I do really really good?” Heck no! You are wired the way you are for a reason! I believe that God calls us to a life of EXCELLENCE! There is a big difference between excellence and perfection. God doesn’t want second class products because He is far from second class. So do your best in all you do! But don’t let the fear of it not being perfect stop you from putting it out there.
Staci Wallace, a dear friend of mine who is full of Godly wisdom, has taught me this.
“Progress over perfection.”
Just do something! Don’t let your fear of not being perfect paralyze you and hold back the thing that God wants released into this world through you. You’re not perfect, but He is! Let yourself off the hook and start partnering with the One who can make everything you touch HIS version of gold.
When I think about this idea of an “influencer”, I immediately think of the many men and women with massive, beautifully curated, social media accounts with epic numbers of followers. Many are celebrities with thousands, or even millions, of people watching their every move. These influencers share everything from what they ate for lunch to what brand of shoes they are wearing for their morning jog. Most times, their motivation is a desire to sell a product, or promote their latest creative project.
Few of us can relate to this type of influential status, or what it might feel like to have this kind of grand scale impact on those around us. However, I’m realizing that we ALL are “influencers” and should live with a mindset of having influence on others. We may not have thousands of people “following” us, but we do have the ability to positively affect the immediate sphere of those we come in contact with.
If you’re a mom, you’re an influencer. If you’re a grandparent, you’re an influencer. A teacher, a friend, a neighbor, that’s right…you’re an influencer. God calls us to be salt and light to the world. He didn’t say that the only way to do that was to have a wildly successful “brand” or an uber engaged Facebook following. He’s also talking to all of us normal people.
God has put you where you are for a reason. There are people around you that are searching for love and truth, and God wants you to use your influence to show them just that. Think of “influence” as proximity. You may be the closest thing to goodness and the love of Christ that the people around you will ever see. Be a light! (a.k.a. an influencer!) Proverbs 12:26 says, “One who is righteous is a guide to his neighbor, but the way of the wicked leads them astray.”
Challenge yourself to get out of your “influence comfort zone”. Do something that stretches you a bit. I personally took on this challenge for myself awhile back when I was having some issues with my computer. I was extremely frustrated with a software update that wasn’t working correctly so I called the Apple customer service phone line to get some assistance. I was connected to a very patient young man that stayed on the phone with me for over an hour making sure everything was updated and working as it should. We were about to end the call when I decided to just throw it out there. I said, “Hey, you’ve been so kind and helpful today. We are a praying family and I was wondering if I could pray for you quickly before we hang up?” (Then I held my breath and squinted my eyes in panicked anticipation of what he might say.) Surprisingly, he was very receptive, and I was able to pray for his family and more specifically, protection over his two year old daughter. After I was finished, he seemed absolutely taken back and grateful that I would do that for him.
I’ll never know the long term effects that this prayer had on that gentleman, but I did my part by planting a seed. Simply planting seeds of light for others can often be the start of something really beautiful that God will water and grow into maturity.
Use your influence through your actions and by doing random acts of kindness for people.
Matthew 5:16 says, “In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”
There is so much hurt and falsehood in the world today, but you have the opportunity to show someone the opposite of that. Where does God have you placed in this moment, and what giftings do you have that can be used for positive influence. Are you dripping God’s truth into everything you do? Now more than ever, we need people to stand up and operate in the authority that God has given us to be a positive influence on others. Remember, YOU are an influencer so start thinking like one!
How many times has this happened to you? You’ve planned out your whole day, every minute is strategically orchestrated for maximum productivity, and you know that when your feet hit the floor you’re going to get stuff DONE!
And then, something happens that throws a complete wrench in your plan, and all those hopes and dreams of epic effectiveness go screaming out the window. Been there. Many times. Being a type A, ESJF Myers Briggs girl, this is always a tough one for me. I love to have a plan. Flying by the seat of my pants does not bode well for my mental sanity. In the past, when some type of roadblock thwarted those perfectly laid out plans, it would send me into “tilt mode” like a robot stuttering and smoking as it short circuits.
But over the past few years, I’ve learned a strategy that has helped me cope when MY plans get thrown off the rails. It’s called TRUST. That seems a bit ambiguous, you say. Let me explain. There are three things that I do when I plan my day that help me avoid frustration when things don’t go as I planned.
Surrender Your Day
This is uber important! As soon as you begin your day, surrender your plans to God. I often pray, “Lord, I want your will to be done, not mine.” Luke 22:42. God knows how the day is going to unfold before we do, so give all your plans to Him before it even starts.
When we put our lives in the hands of our Heavenly Father it’s essentially saying, “Jesus, take the wheel”. (Thank you, Carrie Underwood.) He gives us free will to plan our days, dream, work, and play. And I’ve found that when I surrender my day to Him every morning and let Him direct my steps, it gives me so much peace.
Look at Roadblocks as Opportunites
It’s not an if, but when roadblocks will come in our day. Just this past week I scheduled my whole week to have a relatively light Friday by packing in a bit more of my duties and work toward the beginning of the week. I was SO looking forward to having a Friday to myself, with kids at school and the dog at daycare, to go for a hike or relax and read a book. I don’t schedule these kinds of days for myself enough and I finally did it. I was pumped.
But then I was playing with our dog and I noticed a couple of stitches were poking through her skin from a recent surgery she had. These were internal stitches, and I could tell they were bothering her. I emailed the University Veterinary School that we been taking her to versus our local vet (because her surgeries were pretty serious) and asked what they recommended I do. They said I needed to bring her in so those stitches could be removed. No big deal, right? Well…their office is located almost three hours away. Hmm….. The only day I had available to take her was my gloriously free day on Friday. Doggone it. Literally.
Not a huge deal, I know, but I was disappointed and honestly, a bit annoyed that I would now be spending the entire day in the car. But then I remembered to change my thinking and look at this roadblock as an opportunity. I asked myself, “What are the positive things that can come from this and how can I use this time by myself in a fulfilling way?” I ended up grabbing my favorite chai tea drink to go, got in the car with the pup, and used those hours to listen to praise and worship music, talk to God and pray outloud. For six hours! It was awesome!! I can’t remember the last time I’ve had the chance to do that. I saw it as an opportunity to “slow down” (at 70 miles per hour) and just be with the Lord. He obviously wanted some one-on-one time with me, and I so needed it with Him.
Step back and try to look at those hiccups in your day as opportunities. Maybe it’s getting stuck in a long line at the post office when you have an appointment in five minutes. There might be someone next to you that needs a warm smile or an encouraging conversation. Be open to the possibilities when your right turn becomes a U-turn.
Trust that God Has YOUR Best Interest at Heart
Lastly, trust that God wants what’s best for you! I believe that He sees and knows SO much more than we could ever know. He may be protecting you from something you’re not even aware of. That canceled meeting you’ve been trying to get on the calendar for weeks may have just protected you from a massive multi-car pile up accident on the highway. You just don’t know. But God does. Trust that He is guiding you and protecting you in areas that we may never see. Don’t get angry when things fall through or plans are ruined. Instead, have a mindset that says, “There’s reason for this, and I’m going to trust that God’s got it. He knows what’s best for me and I trust that He will work this out.” Then ask, “How do you want me to pivot God?” He’ll show you, and I would probably be pretty safe to say that you may even see how things worked out better in the long run.
There are so many verses in the Bible about trusting God with His plans for you. Here are a few of my favorites.
I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you. Psalm 32:8
Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5-6
The plans of the LORD stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations. Psalm 33:11
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11
We can make our plans, but the LORD determines our steps. Proverbs 16:9 NLT