Welcome

Welcome

I'm a redeemed child of God and the momma to four vivacious daughters. I'm passionate about finding hidden blessings in the trials of life, living it out in an honest and open way, while encouraging those around me to believe in better.

25 Apr

(in)couraged to mend :: final thoughts

I believed it before we started this study almost two months ago, and I’ve never been more convinced. “There is no brokenness that God cannot make whole.”

The dictionary defines mended:

  • Repair something that is broken or damaged
  • Return to health; heal
  • Improve {an unpleasant situation …}

“There is no brokenness that God cannot make whole.” Mended indeed.

If I had to summarize Angie Smith’s book, Mended, I would say this … “Mended is a journey of faith. Trusting and believing — even in our brokenness — that God is who He says He is, and He’ll deliver the promises He’s made.”

As an adult — older and wiser it’s been said — I can now look back and see how, since a young age, God’s had me in His refining fire.

These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world. 1 Peter 1:7 {NLT}

I’ve come to understand, it’s through His glorious — and I can only call it glorious because He lives in me — refining fire, I have been mended time and time again. The key? To keep faith in Him throughout the fire and throughout the mending.

My faith is continually being tested and it HURTS! Which is probably why it’s called the refiner’s FIRE?!

In my life, I have known brokenness. Dare I say, more brokenness than most could bear? Out of my pain and testing, I’ve written two books, 31 Days of Faith and 31 Days of Forgiveness. It’s not easy, and I’ve been down for the count more times than I care to admit, but when we believe “God’s got this,” we can actually use our brokenness for His glory. Just as Angie’s done throughout our study with her book, Mended.

It’s through her brokenness, faith in God, and trusting and believing in His greater plan for her life, she can now give Him all the glory.

God needs soldiers for His great army. Fighting spiritual battles ain’t for the faint of heart my friend.

Have you felt God’s refinement in your life? Is your faith being tested? Are you broken and in need of mending today?

Please know and believe in your heart my friend … “There is no brokenness that God cannot make whole.”

Do you believe it?

If you’ve joined us through this study, and have written a post with your thoughts, we’d love to have you link up with us! Just enter your post details in the linky below. And if you’ve joined us, but don’t have a blog, or haven’t written a post, please leave a comment below and let us know how this study affected you. Lastly, if you haven’t followed along with the study, but you’ve felt God’s hand mending your life and circumstances, we’d love to hear from you … feel free to leave a comment below!

If you missed our (in)courager’s study of Mended and would like read a summary of our thoughts, following is the reading schedule …

February 21 – Introduction :: Jacque

February 28 – Chapters 1-4 :: Denise

March 7 – Chapters 5-8 :: Tracie

March 14 – Chapters 9-12 :: Denise

March 21 – Chapters 13-16 :: Jacque

March 28 – Chapters 17-19 :: Tracie

April 4 – Chapters 20-22 :: Jacque

April 11 – Chapters 23-25 :: Denise

April 18 – Chapters 26-28 :: Tracie

April 25 – Chapters 29-31 :: Concluding Thoughts

In case you missed the news about the second session of the (in)couragers community starting, you can read all about it by clicking here. During this session we’ve walked through Angie Smith’s crazy, wonderful book, Mended: pieces of a life made whole and I’ve loved it!


Posted in (in) courage


18 Apr

(in)couraged to mend :: week nine

Just three short chapters, yet somehow I managed to fill my tissue with tears! Suffice to say, Angie’s words struck deep this week.

The Gift Giver:

I thoroughly enjoyed Angie’s recollection of her daughter’s heart motive, only to change her mind when the moment of decision came. And the bit about God settling in with a bag of popcorn to view the great “movies” we’re living everyday? Priceless!

We have to remember that we aren’t that different from a four-year-old who realized that what her heart wanted in that moment didn’t line up with the plan she had. Page 144

I know God’s promises. I believe God’s promises. And I trust those promises.

Yet there are numerous times I cry out for things to be different. For Him to see things my way.

Like Angie, I am continually grateful, and in awe of, how big our God really is. He hears our cries and covers us in His grace. He doesn’t get angry with us if we desire a different outcome. He knows we can’t see what He sees and He loves us enough to cover us in His grace.

If you’re facing a situation today that has you crying out to God to change your circumstances, I want to reassure you it’s okay to cry out. He’s listening … all the while pouring out His grace onto you.

Underneath all that crying out, it’s so very important we understand He is in control and trustworthy.

He has a plan that we can’t see, and sometimes the best thing we can do is simply ask Him to extend His mercy as we walk in blindness. Page 145

Do you trust Him enough to believe it?

Blink:

I was a photographer in one of my {many} former lives, and even now I love all things photography. Needless to say, I adore this chapter and completely relate.

Friends, the beautiful moral of this story, isn’t about the photographs we take in our minds, it’s a message of trusting God is behind the lens of our life.

And none of these–not ONE–is missed by His yes. We don’t skate out of view and hope He catches up with us down the road. He is everpresent in every single breath. Page 151

Do you trust Him enough to believe it?

Blessed Be the Name:

He gives and takes away.

In this life we will have both. That much is certain.

There will be the IV poles, the divorce papers, the sound of dirt hitting a casket. We will have moment where we can’t catch our breath and all the world seems wrong, and we can’t help but wonder if He even cares.

On the other hand, there are days when the sun warms us just right and while dinner is cooking and the kids are laughing outside, we feel His great pleasure flush against us. Page 156

The song by Matt Redman, Blessed Be Your Name, immediately comes to mind and I’m singing it in my head as I type this.

In the land that is plentiful
Where Your streams of abundance flow
Blessed by Your name

When I’m found in the desert place
Though I walk through the wilderness
Blessed be Your name

Every blessing You pour out
I’ll turn back to praise
When the darkness closes in, Lord
Still I will say
Blessed be the name of the Lord

When the sun’s shining down on me
When the world’s ‘all as it should be
Blessed be Your name

On the road marked with suffering
Though there’s pain in the offering
Blessed be Your name

You give and take away
My heart will choose to say
Lord, blessed be Your name

As Angie says, “Our response to Him should be the same, no matter the circumstance.”

Do you trust Him enough to believe it?

Here’s the reading schedule …

February 21 – Introduction :: Jacque

February 28 – Chapters 1-4 :: Denise

March 7 – Chapters 5-8 :: Tracie

March 14 – Chapters 9-12 :: Denise

March 21 – Chapters 13-16 :: Jacque

March 28 – Chapters 17-19 :: Tracie

April 4 – Chapters 20-22 :: Jacque

April 11 – Chapters 23-25 :: Denise

April 18 – Chapters 26-28 :: Tracie

April 25 – Chapters 29-31 :: Concluding Thoughts

In case you missed the news about the second session of the (in)couragers community starting, you can read all about it by clicking here. This session we’re walking through Angie Smith’s crazy, wonderful book, Mended: pieces of a life made whole and I’m loving it!




Posted in (in) courage


15 Apr

community :: (in)RL

What is community? What does community mean to you? And what does community mean to me?

The women at (in)courage have asked us (in)couragers these questions and asked if we’d share our thoughts with our readers.

I struggled a little bit in putting my thoughts together for this post. So much so, I wasn’t going to post at all.

You see, I’ve been feeling a bit of loss in the friendship department lately, and that’s where my struggle came in. In my mind, community equals friendship, and if I don’t have friendship, I don’t have community, and therefore I’m unqualified to write about community.

See how quickly and easily the enemy can work? What a downward spiral of emotion!

But I wanted to dig deeper than that … and in the process, prove the enemy wrong.

To help me out, I did what any writer would do — consulted with the dictionary.

And I’m told a few things … community is:

  1. a group of people living in the same place or having a particular characteristic in common.
  2. the people … considered collectively, esp. in the context of social values and responsibilities.
  3. a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals.

A feeling of fellowship. That resonates with me. I’ve come to believe in something I’ll call a “heart connection.” I picture God standing between two people. Coming out of these two people are large, cartoon-like cords with large outlet prongs on each end. I picture God holding the large electrical prong — one in each hand. I believe when a friendship has His blessing, He’ll allow these prongs to connect and will plug them together. But when He feels a friendship isn’t right for us, He stands in the middle of it not allowing that heart connection to happen.

What does that look like on our end? In community, we have heart connections. We know in our spirit — hearts have been connected. I’ve had relationships where I really like someone, enjoy spending time with them, yet didn’t feel a “connection,” and could never put my finger on why. It was then, I believe, God gave me the image I mentioned above.

My new definition of community? It’s what I call a Heart Connection.

Are heart connections reserved for in-real-life relationships only? Or can they happen online?

Heart connections — community — can happen right in your neighborhood or through the screen of your computer. Ooorrrr … if you’ve been blessed like I have, a screen connection becomes a heart connection, only to find out your friend lives in your neighborhood!

{Angela & I on vacation in Exuma, Bahamas}

Angela and I met through Instagram and I love this girl with all my heart! And she lives right in my neck of the woods!! Oh the joy!

We’ve been (in)RL friends for just five months! Crazy when I think of it, because it’s a heart connection that feels like we’ve known each other since birth. In our short friendship, we’ve already been through a few ups and downs that life threw our way and we’ve been there for each other. Our hearts hurt for the other.

I received some devastating news back in January and called Angela to let her know. She had a busy day, but dropped everything, brought me lunch, and we cried together.

Have you ever gone through something, big or small, and someone says to you, “Call me if you need anything.” How many of you actually call that person and let them know what you need?

Often times, we don’t even know what we need. But community? Community comes anyway. Community brings lunch. Community cries with you. With community — a heart connection — you figure out what you need together.

Angela girl … God blessed me good with you!

{Cyndi & I during one of her many visits to NC}

And then there’s this one! Cyndi. I met Cyndi online too. Back in the days when I was blogging for the store I owned, Cyndi followed and left comments.

And when I sold the store, she hopped over to my personal blog and our friendship began to grow. I started following her blog, we met up on Twitter and Facebook and finally brought our online friendship — and heart connection — to a real life relationship.

Cyndi lived in Louisiana when we first “met.” She’s since moved to Cleveland, and last fall moved to Mississippi. I’ve been in Wisconsin and now North Carolina, and our friendship continues to only get stronger.

Community lets me Vox, vent, share, encourage, and cry.

Cyndi – you are a treasure and I don’t know what I’d do without you in my “community.” I love you!!

{Dawn & I in front of the Billy Graham Library}

I’m not certain how long ago it was that I met Dawn … but what I know for sure is, ours is a kindred community. We were online friends. Her in Florida. Me … not in Florida. And yet prayers, whispers, tears, and encouragement we share.

I’ve had the awesome pleasure of meeting Dawn in person. Sometimes one worries it will be awkward, or not the same somehow that this kindred spirit we “know” through a screen will be the same when faced with each other.

But no. Not with Dawn. She’s as real in life as she is behind the screen.

Dawn – I’m so thankful we were able to meet for real and I pray we have many more “for real” encounters. You are a blessing to me and I love you!

{Wendy & I at the Ol’ Miss homecoming game}

And then there are those friends who just “happen.” And so it was with Wendy. This friend lives just down the street from me and is an “in real life” friend.

I prayed a literal prayer one morning, “Lord, please send godly women into my life.” No sooner had I said amen, and I received a call from this sweet woman! She’s the real deal and I love her inside and out!

Wendy – you’re a treasure to behold and I’m thankful to call you friend!

{Tracie & I playing Thelma and Louise in the convertible}

I have many friends. Community. Heart connections. Some have come. Some have gone. Some are sticking around. And some came back.

In many ways, I feel like Tracie falls in the “came back” category.

I consider Tracie the second BFF I’ve ever had. We met in our early twenties. Before children. Before our current husbands {I was married to my first at the time}. And really, before “life” happened.

We worked in the same building, but different floors. For one reason or another, she was often visiting the area where I worked. One day out of the blue, she walked past me, quickly flung the back of my skirt up, declared it “dress up day,” laughed hysterically, and we’ve been fast friends ever since!

We’ve seen each other through good times and difficult times, we even separated for a bit. But when the going got tough … “community” came calling.

Tracie was there when I brought my first babygirl home from the hospital almost 18 years ago. And sweetly, she was here this past weekend to see that same babygirl dress for prom and drive away in a limousine.

Tra, Fendi – We could write a book. Seriously. I have so many special memories of the community we’ve formed together. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for being real.

#####

And noowwww {insert drumroll here} … the reason for my post! If anything I’ve said resonates with you here and you feel the need to strengthen your own communit, to sit and talk with women who are willing to be transparent and available, I’d like to encourage you to sign up for (in)courage’s (in)RL event. There are meetups literally, all over the world … whether you’re in Ireland, North Carolina, or anywhere in between, I know there’ll be women ready to welcome you with open arms. I’ve included links below on how to register and find a meetup in your area.

{if you’re reading via an RSS feed, please click here to view video}

Links with more information:

What does community mean to you?


Posted in (in) courage


13 Apr

(in)couraged to mend :: week eight

Denise is hosting our study on her blog today with a summary of chapters 23-25. Be sure to stop by, as I know her words will bless you!

And … if you’ve written a post and would like to link up, you can do that at Denise’s, Jacque’s, or right here! The links will show up on all three of our blogs.

Are you currently reading along? If so, I’d love to hear how this book is working in your life!

Here’s the reading schedule …

February 21 – Introduction :: Jacque

February 28 – Chapters 1-4 :: Denise

March 7 – Chapters 5-8 :: Tracie

March 14 – Chapters 9-12 :: Denise

March 21 – Chapters 13-16 :: Jacque

March 28 – Chapters 17-19 :: Tracie

April 4 – Chapters 20-22 :: Jacque

April 11 – Chapters 23-25 :: Denise

April 18 – Chapters 26-28 :: Tracie

April 25 – Chapters 29-31 :: Concluding Thoughts

In case you missed the news about the second session of the (in)couragers community starting, you can read all about it by clicking here. This session we’re walking through Angie Smith’s crazy, wonderful book, Mended: pieces of a life made whole and I’m loving it!




Posted in (in) courage


5 Apr

(in)couraged to mend :: week seven

Jacque is hosting our study on her blog today with a summary of chapters 20-22. Be sure to stop by, as I know her words will bless you!

And … if you’ve written a post and would like to link up, you can do that at Denise’s, Jacque’s, or right here! The links will show up on all three of our blogs.

Are you currently reading along? If so, I’d love to hear how this book is working in your life!

Here’s the reading schedule …

February 21 – Introduction :: Jacque

February 28 – Chapters 1-4 :: Denise

March 7 – Chapters 5-8 :: Tracie

March 14 – Chapters 9-12 :: Denise

March 21 – Chapters 13-16 :: Jacque

March 28 – Chapters 17-19 :: Tracie

April 4 – Chapters 20-22 :: Jacque

April 11 – Chapters 23-25 :: Denise

April 18 – Chapters 26-28 :: Tracie

April 25 – Chapters 29-31 :: Concluding Thoughts

In case you missed the news about the second session of the (in)couragers community starting, you can read all about it by clicking here. This session we’re walking through Angie Smith’s crazy, wonderful book, Mended: pieces of a life made whole and I’m loving it!




Posted in (in) courage