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Ten Minutes: Parable of the Sower

The reading today for my bible study was all about the parable of the sower.  Now, if Christianity and the bible isn’t your thing…go with me here anyway, as I believe the idea can be help for anyone.

What do you think we can learn from gardeners and farmers –the ones who work the land –about pursuing life?

Well man alive if this didn’t speak right to my heart this morning.  My 2018 word for the year is cultivate.  I have been reading books in 2018 (11 of them so far) that speak directly to cultivating.  Cultivate What Matters was the springboard for this whole idea and it really has just been taking off from there.

My answer to the question above that I wrote in my bible study is cultivating.  We learn from farms about being patient while the seasons change.  Planting seed, nurturing them, watching them grow and yielding a crop.  It is the idea of being patient and cultivating them that is most important.

The parable says that there are 4 kinds of seeds.  The seeds that fell on the path, those that the birds ate up.  Those seeds represent the evil one coming and carrying off what was planted in our hearts.  There were the seeds that fell on rocky places, those were scorned by the sun.  These seeds represent the people that hear the word, automatically receive it joyfully, but are only able to hold on for a little while until it “gets hard”.  The third kind of seeds are those that fell among the thorns, they grew but choked.  Those seeds represent people who hear the word, know what they should do but let their worries and other stuff in their life distract them, so their seeds choke and bear nothing.  Lastly we have the seeds that fell on good soil, they produced a crop.  These represent the people who hear what they need to do and they understand.

This can apply to so much more than God and the word.  When I chose cultivate as my word for 2018, I chose it for all facets of my life.  Myself, my marriage, my family, my career, my religion, just everything that I am and that I have.  I need to find patience to cultivate and take care of those seeds.  I need to nurture them with sunshine and water.  Keep watching them grow until they produce a crop…no matter how long that takes!!

In my devotion the topic was “Work in Pieces” and even though the question at the end didn’t have to do with farming and cultivating, that is all that it made me think about.  Looking at your life today, what’s one piece of your calling you can see on display?  Well the one piece of my life that I see on display today is Cultivating What Matters.  More than I have ever seen that in my 37 years.  I see that all of my choices are geared toward making that happen.

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Multiple Expressions: #100daystobrave

The question at the end of today’s devotion: Is God revealing some different ways you might express your calling?

 

Answer: YES

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Ten Minutes: Thesis Statement for Life

At the end of my devotion today Annie F. Downs asked the question what is the thesis statement for your life?

One might think that it took a little bit of time for me to come up with, but then it hit me.  My thesis statement is my objective on my resume.  I have had the same objective on the top of my resume since I graduated college.  Even though I have changed immensely, learned so much and grown exponentially…my objective for a job has always stayed the same.

To use my knowledge and education to help people enrich their lives.  That is it, it is very simple, but it is me.  In 20 years, I haven’t ever changed up that statement.  I mean, I very much live my life if you like me then you like me and if you don’t, well then…I guess I won’t be sticking around to help enrich your life.

Enrich means to: improve or enhance the quality or value of. (Thank you google search)

This is very much so my Thesis Statement for Life.  For everything that I do.  Even though there are different main points, they all fall under this one thesis statement.

Being an Early Childhood Professional, being a Mother, being an Instructor, being the Children’s Ministry Coordinator at my church, a Norwex and Young Living consultant, a Wife…all of these because I want people to have the tools to enrich their lives.

I have been reflecting a lot over the last 7 weeks or so.  Questioning a lot and also answering a lot.  I needed to read this today and be reminded of my objective or thesis statement for my life.  Remember that I can do anything, as long as it falls within the realm of what I was created to do.

*UPDATE: I found my resume just now and here is the actual Objective: To put my knowledge and experience to work in a capacity that enriches others lives as well as my own.*  Not too bad for a Thesis Statement for my life I should say!

 

 

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Ten Minutes: Listening to God

About 11 years ago, nearly exactly I participated in a 30 hour famine at my church.  It was a mission project to raise money and awareness about our brothers and sisters around the world who aren’t as fortunate as we are.  I was a youth group leader and there were probably about 10 of us, along with 20 or so youth.  What an amazing experience.

Two very memorable things happened during that weekend and those 30 hours.  The first was that my best friend Sarah, now she is my Bestie, then she was a friend who was the youth coordinator at our church, was talking to me about how she hears God.  Sarah confided in me that she simply didn’t hear God as often as she thought that she should.

I went on to tell Sarah that I believe that she heard God all the time.  That perhaps that because she was so close to God, she was actually hearing him everywhere in the ordinary parts of her day, but she had been looking for something more major.  God can be everywhere in everything.  In a simple message from a friend, in a flower you see while you are walking down the street, even in a sentence you hear in your favorite podcast.  God talks to you all the time, it just depends on if you choose to listen to it.

My bestie Sarah went on to hear God in a BIG way, she was called to ministry and graduated from Seminary.  I go to her for so many things, because I know that she is my bestie because God gave her to me so that I could listen to him through her.

The second thing that happened during that 30 hour famine, is that my body started to feel weird.  I continued in the famine with the group drinking mostly juice and water.  Though half way through day 2, I snuck off to the kitchen to have a cup of milk (not part of the famine), I felt terrible about it.  When I left my church after the famine was over, I went grocery shopping and I bought a pregnancy test.  Turns out…I was pregnant, 8 months later I had my oldest biological son, James Peter.  Sarah was the very first person that I told.  God was talking to me that weekend and I listened.

In 2018 I have been carrying a very small notebook around in my purse with me.  I pull it out nearly every morning in the car on my way to work.  While listening to podcasts I will hear something that speaks to me, something that I needed to hear that rings so true.  I write it down and I believe that is God talking to me and I am listening.

Yesterday during our sermon at church, I pulled out that little notebook.  My pastor said a few things that I really wanted to come back to, so I wrote them down.  God was talking to me and thankfully I was ready and willing to listen.

Take some time today to listen to God, Pray, sit in the quiet, think, and listen.  “100 Days to Brave by Annie F. Downs.”

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Ten Minutes: Do Not Quit

For lent I started a Bible Study journey with a group of friends.  We are working through “Looking for Lovely” by Annie. F. Downs.  So far it is fantastic.  I also bought the book itself and finished it in less than 3 days.

Yesterday was Day 3 of Week 1.  Topic: Do Not Quit.  “I believe in perseverance.  Don’t hear me wrong, it’s not because I am good at it.  I just believe in it because I see it working in my life.”  Annie F. Downs

 

I have found more in the first few weeks of 2018 that everything I look at, read and listen to is pointing me in the exact same direction  Isn’t that beautiful? I finished reading the looking for lovely book last night, so I started on a new book. My 12th book of 2018, Business Boutique: A Woman’s Guide for Making Money Doing What She Loves. Well I read this in there just now “I’ve learned to talk to myself rather than listen to myself. When I Listen to myself, all I hear is fear, doubt, lies and failure. But when I talk to myself, I can tell myself anything I want to. I can feed myself good thoughts of hope, confidence, truth and victory. I can tell myself I can do it. When I learned to talk to myself rather than listen to myself, I realized that there was nothing I couldn’t do.”

I thought it went well with the idea of perseverance for today!  When we are able to talk to ourselves we persevere.  We know our strength and we hold on until we get what we want!!  Perseverance isn’t easy of course, but it is what makes us who we are.  It builds up our character.

Romans 5: 3-5 says: Suffering –>Perseverance –>Character –>Strength

Suffering produces perseverance, and perseverance produces characters, and there, after your character is built? Hope.

I have lived a pretty good life…but I have one big way that I suffered.  That suffering took place 7 1/2 years ago when I was going through my divorce.

February 16th…7 years ago February 16th of 2011 I posted something on Facebook to the effect of…6 months ago I made the hardest decision I have ever had to make, the decision to leave. Then I went on to say that 4 years ago tomorrow (February 17th) a man and a woman said “I do” and in the years that followed two children were born and a myriad of memories were shared. Although that marriage is no more, I would always be thankful for February 17, 2007. Yesterday would have been mine and Matt’s 11 year anniversary…we lasted 3 1/2. But that is OK! That was God’s plan, I know that 100% now. Paul and I have now been married 6+ years and God knew what he was doing when he brought Paul into my second act! He knew what he was doing when he brought Matt to me as well. Thursday night Matt and I sat on the same bleachers together to watch James basketball game. We said both “hi” and “bye” to each other, with smiles on our faces. Yesterday I called Jess (Matt’s wive) to tell her something, even though she is out of town and we finished the phone call saying “love you”. I believe in my heart of hearts that because I was able to see the positive in the suffering 7 years ago, that is why I am able to see it in leaps and bounds now. It isn’t easy, but it is so worth it!

I persevered through that mess.  I told myself that everything was going to be OK and that it was all going to make sense someday.  Well, I was right.  And that suffering produced perseverance, and that perseverance produced character, and there, after that character was built….I was left with Hope.  Hope that this life could still be whatever I wanted to it to be.  That all was a chapter in my first Act of life, but it wasn’t my whole story!!

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Ten Minutes: Looking for Lovely

Sometime last week I posted on Facebook that I was going to do a bible study for lent.  I asked if any of my friends wanted to join me.  I haven’t ever done a bible study before, but after reflection of what I was going to “give up” for lent, I decided I didn’t want to give up anything, I wanted to do something that would strengthen my relationship with God.

I had read a few books so far this year and listened to some podcasts that had called out a few bible studies that I was interested in doing.  I posted 2 titles on Facebook with my post and waited to see if I had any bites.  Well…my Mom was the first one.  Thanks Mom for always supporting me.  Then, one by one more friends said “I’m in” and I could believe it.  By the end of the day we had 16 people who wanted to be involved in this Lenten Bible Study Group.

We took a vote and we decided on the “Looking for Lovely” bible study by Annie F. Downs.  For those that haven’t heard of her, she is great.  I have been doing her 1″00 Days to Brave” devotional for about a month, I listen to her Podcast “That sounds fun” and I am just genuinely happy that I found this lady in 2018.  I ordered both the book and bible study for Looking for Lovely off of Amazon.

Due to snow in our area, they arrived late, but I got them this past Monday.  Being that lent started on Wednesday, that was still enough time for me to decide on the format of the class.  I started a Facebook group and have been building posts (thanks to canva and cinchshare) where my friends and share what they are experiencing through the bible study.

It has been wonderful so far.  I posted first on Wednesday with an introduction and 2 days to follow.  Each week in the Bible Study is split into an introduction and 4 days.  For 7 weeks total, which is perfect for Lent.

I’m just going to share my notes for why this study!!

What drew you to this study?  Annie F. Downs is  a great spiritual guide in a real life way.  I wanted to do something to feed my spiritual side during lent instead of give something up.

What do you think it means to “look for lovely”?  When you can find the grace and see the good you are setting your life up more positively.  When you start looking for lovely all around it will be there for you.

What do you hope to gain from this study? The ability to slow it down.  I want to be able to see the fun, the beauty and the joy in life.  I tend to take things too seriously and I need to enjoy the lovely in life more ❤

I leave you with this…God is good!!

XOXOX

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Tell Someone: Be Brave

Are you dreaming something?  Do you have something that is on your mind?  Do you want to be brave?  Tell somebody you want to be brave, and then see what God can do!

This isn’t the forum for me to talk about what I haven’t said out loud yet.  Though, I did say it to my husband 2 days ago and I said it to a group of friends yesterday.  Before I even knew this would be my charge today.

Already, look what God is doing.  Bringing it to the front again like he always does.  He hears me and he knows what is best for me.

There is something that I am working to be brave about.  That I have been praying on for near a month now and I can feel getting closer.  With the support of my husband and my friends…I know that I can get there!

What do you want to be brave about?

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10 Minutes: Dream that is still alive

I want to write a book.  I have wanted to write a book for a very long time.  Not a novel, no no I am not creative like that at all.

I want to write a non-fiction.  The more and more I read in 2018 the more I think, I really want to do this.  I want someone to be holding my book and feeling the way that I am feeling right now.  But, how?  How does one write a book?  How do you get an editor, a publisher and actually get your book bound?  I just don’t know!

It is a dream of mine, one that didn’t even come to mind as I was writing my blog yesterday.  It has been there for years though.  From the very first journal I started keeping when I was 10 years old, all the way to today.

I work really hard to make all the things that I want to happen, come true.  I don’t give up very easily and when something comes into my head, there is pretty much no stopping me.  Ask my best friends, my parents, my kids and my husband.  I quite literally believe that I can accomplish ANYTHING.

I have a Facebook page for my blog.  I have a lot of friends and family who follow it.  Each and every blog post is shared on there.  I don’t post on my personal page, because it was just starting to get inondated with posts and I felt like some of my friends were getting overwhelmed.

Anyway, on Monday my sister shared my blog post onto her Facebook wall and wrote “My sister amazes me” #mysisterisbetterthanyours.  I mean, for those of you that have siblings you know that they can love you like no other, but they surely can tell you how it is even when you don’t like it.  My sister didn’t have to say anything, but she did.  After reading it, I had tears in my eyes.

I was texting with my sister last night and said “thank you for what you said about me and my blog.”   She said “your welcome, your such a terrific writer.”  Since we were having a beautiful moment, I didn’t say what I wanted to say which was “at least one of us is”…she had typed out your instead of you’re twice in one sentence!!  LOL.  Sorry, Dawn…love you, but I thought it was terribly funny last night!

I told her that my dream is to pull a bunch of blog posts and create a book out of it.  I know that I have enough.  Some posts that are surely long enough to fill 1 or two pages of a book.  I have to have between 100 or 200 that I would like to share.  In various categories that could legitimately be something that people would want to read.

Divorce, Marriage, Children, Mental Health, Friendships, Growing…I mean living life in a real way.

So to any of you that happen to have some kind of connection with someone who could make that happen, send them my way!!  It is a dream for me though, I am going to do some research to see how I can get this off the ground.  It will happen!!

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Ten Minutes: Mourning a Dream

What dream do you have to mourn?

As I go through…I am not certain that there is a dream that I have ever really had that I needed to mourn.  That I needed to accept wasn’t going to come true or be true in the way that I wanted it to.

Dream is such a big word.  Daydreaming about something greatly desired!

Honestly, I think it hurts me more that I am not much of a “dreamer”.  I am a practical, doer.  When I think that I can achieve something, then I do anything that I can to make it happen.

There are currently things that I am dreaming about, hoping will happen in the near future or in my lifetime.  I firmly believe that they will happen.

If you would have asked me this questions 12 or 13 years ago, my answer would have been that I wasn’t married with children yet.  I wanted to be married at 23 and have my first child at 25.  I wanted to have 4 kids and be done by the time I was 35.

Well, I wasn’t ready to get married at that time.  The right man wasn’t around, so it just wasn’t meant to be.  I ended up married at 26!  Had my first baby at 27.  So, it didn’t happen so much after the fact that I had given up on it.  I ended up with 3 biological kids and 3 through marriage by the age of 32.  I never had to “mourn” that dream.

Being married until my dying day.  Being married to the same person for 50+ years.  That is a dream of mine.  When I got divorced at 30, I could have mourned that dream I suppose.  I didn’t though and it didn’t give up or think that there was no way that dream could still happen.  I got remarried at 31, we have been married for 6 years.  It is totally possible that I live until 81 and him until 82, so that we can spend that 50 years together.

Owning my own home.  10 years ago, in my first marriage we bought our first home.  A mere 2 years later, I was moving out and we were getting divorced.  After what felt like forever, working to recover our income, moving up the career ladder and paying off debt for 5 years…it finally paid off.  Paul and I bought our first home almost a year ago now.  That was some hard work, but had I given up, mourned the dream, then we wouldn’t be where we are right now.

I am not much of a “dreamer”, but I am definitely not a person who gives up on the dreams that I have.  Even if they take a little longer than I would have liked or turn out a bit different than expected.

Happy Ash Wednesday, Glory to God!

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Tuesday Ten Minutes: Closed Door

Write about a time when you know God closed a door for you!  It might be painful or scary.

OK…truth here…Divorce!!  This is painful to talk about, but might be a little scary for some to think about as well.

This is crazy right?  I mean I have this wonderful relationship with God.  Many people believe that God doesn’t believe in divorce, the church doesn’t believe in divorce…so we don’t get divorced right?

That wasn’t God’s plan for me!  Now…7 1/2 years later, I can see that it was God working.  Due to the wonderful relationship that I have with God and the church, I wouldn’t have filed for divorce all willy nilly.  It would have to take something HUGE and off the top of my head my whole life those two things have been infidelity and abuse.

Well, let me make clear that there was no abuse!  God knew that in order for me to give up and to walk away, something big had to happen.  I believe that God had spent the years prior to the divorce trying to connect us, trying to help us make things work.  When it became obvious that we weren’t the best mate for each other any longer, God closed a door.

I mean now to be fair God, it was more like you slammed a door right in my face.  Though for that part, I believed you had a little bit of help.  I couldn’t see it then, I couldn’t see the positive side.  All I saw was my world crumbling down around me.

7 1/2 years later, I know that it was what was meant to happen.  It had to happen when it did and the way that it did.  The following year of work I did with you, helped get my heart and mind ready for when I met Paul.  I couldn’t have been ready for love again if you didn’t guide me through that season.

You knew that there was something different for both myself and Matt (my ex).  That we couldn’t make each other as happy together as we could separate.  I see Matt a lot now.  Our families make sense now.  Sitting all together at a basketball or baseball game.  Going to eat at his restaurant and doing business with his wife.  These are all parts of my life that bring light, parts that couldn’t have been there if it weren’t for the door that closed.

Some of Gods greatest gifts are unanswered prayers (or closed doors)!