Tuesday, November 25, 2014

When Ideas Take Flight: Exciting News at Strengthened by the Word!

Woo Hoo!  I can’t wait to tell you about exciting news at Strengthened by the Word Ministries. After recent treks down many unfamiliar roads, God continues to mold and stretch me in new and very exciting ways.  He’s leading down a new path that’s rather unexpected.  Believe me, I’m as surprised as you might be - maybe more!  

Something that started as a seemingly random thought has become an idea that's taken flight.

Here it is: My “Life Coach” shingle now officially hangs within Strengthened by the Word Ministries!

With everything else that’s going on 

[ you know: my husband’s political campaign, a building project at our church (where I’m on staff full time and serve on the building committee), the holidays, two new books that are in my mental crock pot, including an e-book that I hope to launch within 60 days, speaking opportunities, and just life in general ] 

when I felt the Lord’s nudge in this direction,
I looked at my husband and joked, 

“I think the Lord is trying to kill me.”  

Nevertheless, through a lot of prayer, endless study, research and preparation, I feel more than complete peace about the idea - I feel excitement and rejuvenation!  Everything inside of me, all of the feedback I receive from my spiritual leaders, colleagues, and trusted sisters in ministry say “GO FOR IT!’  It’s exciting when the Lord provides a passion we never expected, especially one that can help others. 

Coaching nests beautifully within the mission of the Strengthened by the Word Ministries: to help women recognize and embrace God’s best.  

Women often need a gentle nudge to pursue all that the Lord has for us and to break out of a rut of mediocrity.  As a Christ-centered Life Coach, I walk alongside career women, moms, housewives, students, empty-nesters, newly marrieds, and any other women who desire to journey toward God’s purpose, victory, and ultimate freedom.

Advantages of entering a relationship with a Life Coach are many. When involved in coaching-type relationships in the past, I’ve received the gifts of:
  • Focusing on the Lord when my day to day life seemed too overwhelming to carve out time for Him
  • Finding God’s purpose in my life during times of transition 
    • when I left a lucrative career to stay home with my children, 
    • when I re-entered the work force,
    • when I became and empty-nester, 
    • when I wondered if I had anything to offer to the Lord
    • when I left the work force to answer God’s call to ministry
    • when I finally acknowledged that I am, indeed, a writer and speaker
  • Finding energy and courage to press on when I felt stuck
  • Learning to live life intentionally with God’s plan as the center of my focus
  • Honoring God with my time, talents, and treasures 

I became…
  • a more supportive wife
  • a more patient mom
  • a more devoted follower of Christ
  • a more productive professional
  • a more respected and influential leader
  • a better friend

It is my God-given, heartfelt desire to help others in similar ways.  

Now coaching is much different than counseling. While counseling primarily deals with overcoming past issues, coaching focuses on the present and provides effective tools for moving forward with God’s divine purpose as the focus.  It helps us move from where we are, to discerning God’s will, to enthusiastically pursuing all that He has to offer.

If you’ve ever considered utilizing a Christ-centered Life Coach or know of others who have, please click here for additional information and don’t hesitate to contact me. The first session (held face-to-face in the Denver-metro area or via Skype or Face Time if you’re not) is absolutely free with no obligation to continue in a coaching process.  

There’s nothing to lose, yet mountains of blessings to gain.

“…the fruit merely a manifestation of what was inside the tree all along.” 
― Laurie Beth Jones

So every good tree bears good fruit, Matthew 7:17a (NIV)

Your Turn

What good fruit would you hope bear with the help of a Life Coach?

What blessings do you believe your family would receive if you hired a Life Coach?

How can a Life Coach aid you in the goals you want to pursue in 2015?

Be strengthened today, by His Word,
Psalm 119:28


Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Anything Helps: One Way to View an Age-Old Problem

We see their faces.  Their woeful expressions etch into our hearts.  The homeless. The beggars. The transient, The less fortunate.  All down on their luck, in need, and all created by God.  We see them in every community, at nearly every busy intersection.  The more often we pass them, the more numb our emotions become to their pleas. 

Sometimes they hold signs that say “Will work for food,” or “Anything helps.” Recently, on a trip to the West Coast, I saw signs providing more information than what we generally see in Colorado. I suppose in warmer climates, panhandling signs warrant more effort and creativity because they won’t disintegrate with the first snow storm. West Coast signs tell stories:

“My ex-wife had a better lawyer than me.”

“I’ve made some bad decisions, but I’m worth a second chance.”  
Boy, doesn’t this one describe us all?

“Can’t you see I have a baby?”  

“Why lie? I need a beer.” 

A few years ago, our daughter, Taylor, participated in a project for High School where she and a group of friends posed as homeless. They positioned themselves at a busy intersection and sought help from the community. If someone stopped to help, the students were to explain their project and the plan to donate money to a homeless shelter.  

Sadly, no one stopped to help. 

No one.

The students were ignored, disrespected, and scorned. Several days later, they dressed as they normally would and stood at the very same intersection. They asked for help in raising funds and awareness for the homeless. This time, they had some success and received a few donations.

I believe people want to help. Our compassions lead us to do something - to take action.  But our logic tells us our handouts will be used for addictive indulgences like cigarettes, alcohol, or drugs.  When a sign blatantly tells us their motivation for alcohol, we don’t have to wonder.  Most of the time it’s not that clear.  So instead of helping, we look away.

Taylor’s project changed our thinking. It enlightened us to those who are truly in need but aren’t receiving help. Shelters are overcrowded and that sort of help isn’t always readily available. In a community with one of the highest homeless saturations in our state, needs are ignored.  We took the matter to prayer and asked the Lord for direction on what to do.  His Word is clear:

Is 58:7 Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter-- when you see the naked, to clothe them, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?

Mt 25:35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in

Rom 12:13 Share with the Lord's people who are in need. Practice hospitality.

Heb 13:2 Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.

Personally, here’s where I land on this issue:

There is no question that any money I give to the homeless can be used for all manner of activities of which I don’t approve.  However, as I’ve said many times, 

We are responsible to walk in obedience.  

The Lord is responsible for results. 

If the Lord prompts me to help, if His Word tells me that I should, then I have no choice but to obey.  This is a heart matter between the Lord and me. 

I have no responsibility whatsoever for what happens once I’ve obeyed. How a person utilizes my help becomes a heart matter between that person and the Lord. Once a gift has let my hands, I am out of the picture.

Having said that, there are many ways to provide help without giving money.  If we plan ahead, we can purchase gift certificates to a fast food restaurant. At times when I know I’ll pass a particular intersection, I’ll have small bags of vegetables on hand. I’ll often hand my leftover food from a restaurant out the window.  

And sometimes, when I feel that the prompting comes from the Holy Spirit, I’ll give money - without hesitation, free from the need to guess what it will purchase. 

Those are my convictions. They may or may not be yours.  Whatever you decide, and however you respond, I encourage you to seek the Lord before making your decision.  Let’s walk in obedience and leave the results in God’s sovereign hands. 

Your Turn:

How have you handled times when you were approached by those in need?

Please share a story about a time when you’ve helped another. 

Be strengthened today, by His Word,
Psalm 119:28

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

A Thankful Heart: 7 Unexpected Benefits

I found myself in one of those pits.  You know, the kind where we might sometimes start to feel comfortable. I justified my feelings, as if I deserved to be angry, and hurt, and bitter. Perhaps you feel that way sometimes, too.

There are times when I rest a little too comfy in my alter-ego as “Mrs. Crabby McCrabberson” - like putting on my favorite PJ’s and slippers on a brisk fall evening - and I don’t want to change. As I settled in to this particular pit, I recognized a problem. I was on the brink of a fast downward spiral.  My negative thoughts started slipping…

from annoyance 

          to anger 

                    to bearing a grudge 

                              to recognizing hints of hatred 

                                        to a desire to withdraw completely 

I didn’t like feeling that way.  I knew it wasn’t honoring to God.  I understood the need to change, and while I didn’t think I should have to change, I recognized I was on a path to destruction. I stepped into action on an impulse. Almost without thinking, I pulled a brand new spiral-bound journal off of my bookshelf and started writing. I listed all the reasons I was thankful to the Lord. It became an exercise I practiced daily.

A Thankful Heart: 7 Unexpected Benefits

Years ago, when I was involved in prayer with a ministry now called “Moms in Prayer,” (www.momsinprayer.org) several ladies gathered and prayed through a time of gratitude.  Giving thanks was not a new idea in my life.  It wasn’t reserved for the month of November and our national Thanksgiving holiday. It was a discipline, albeit one I’d recently shelved. I’d neglected it for far too long.

The act of turning - from a crabby attitude to one of thanksgiving, from the act of grumbling to the practice of giving thanks - brought some immediate results.  Other benefits took a little longer to manifest:

1)  I saw a drastic change in my attitude.
Almost as soon as my pen touched the paper, I felt a shift in my attitude. Instead of dwelling on what was bothering me, I began to see the good in my life. The abundance of good hit me like a steamroller.

2)  The weight of my burdens lifted.
I began to realize that with the Lord’s help, I could walk through my circumstance.  Rather than thinking, “I just can’t do this anymore,” I began to believe that Christ would empower me to overcome. And He did, just as He always does.

3)  My productivity increased.
The sense that I was completely overwhelmed began to dissipate.  I recalled times in my past when God proved Himself faithful and I remembered that He walks alongside me in all my trials.  Instead of falling in exhaustion, I found energy to get up and participate, knowing I never walked alone.

4)  My heart wanted to sing praise.
Seeing the Lord’s glory in my personal life - written as a long list on paper - spurred me to praise.  God never leaves His throne and never removes His crown of victory.  When times are difficult, He still reigns supreme and pours out His blessing. I found myself singing hymns and praise songs even when my radio wasn’t on.

5)  Thankfulness multiplied. 
The more I gave thanks, the more my eyes were opened to see additional reasons to be thankful.  Some of what I listed seemed tiny and inconsequential, but seeing on paper that the Lord provides for the smallest details as much as the biggest trials was encouraging.  Gratitude flowed like a mountain waterfall in spring.

6)  My attitude became contagious.  
Gratitude began to enter my vocabulary and I noticed that others around me began using similar vernacular.  Family members, colleagues, volunteers, and others began sharing ways they were thankful, too.
7)  Joy erupted.
“Mrs. Crabby McCrabberson” was put to bed.  There was no room for her with a heart so full of gratitude.  My frown turned to a smile - small at first, but growing over time. Without focusing on my difficult circumstance, it was easy to find my joy and savor the fruit of the Spirit.

I’ve learned that a heart of gratitude is very effective in helping me snap my out of a bad mood, or to serve as a ladder on which I can climb out of a pit. Whether I’ve struggled with my negativity for 12 years or 10 minutes, turning from grumbling to thanksgiving helps clear the mental fog nearly every time.  

in everything give thanks; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.  1 Thes 5:18 (NASB)

Your turn:

November is upon us and this is the month when we celebrate a day of Thanksgiving.  How can you practice a heart of gratitude in your day-to-day living?

What are some ways that you can communicate gratitude and help spur others to give thanks as well?

Will you share your stories with me?

Be strengthened today, by His Word,
Psalm 119:28


Tuesday, November 4, 2014

It Comes To This

Today’s the day!  It's the end of the race.

It’s Election Day and, Lord willing, by the time our heads hit the pillows tonight, we’ll know the results of our work, the fruit of our labor. For the last 3 years, we heavily invested our lives into Mike’s campaign to become the Sheriff of Adams County, Colorado. I’ve shared ownership of Mike’s calling to the point where I can’t consider it merely “his.”  

It’s “ours,” all the way.  

There are times when we’re called to give our all.  Sometimes God calls us to pour ourselves into a thing until we have nothing left to give. To press on through discouragement and realize that quitting is not an option.  To keep facing giants knowing that our only hope is full surrender to the Lord’s strength and will. 

Today marks the end of one such season for Mike and me. 

Throughout the campaign, we’ve stretched to the the point of breaking. We've pushed past the point of exhaustion. We’ve sacrificed things we value. Without a doubt, 

it was the most difficult, challenging experience we’ve ever intentionally faced. 

Through it all, we’ve watched the Lord manifest Himself as we never imagined. This particular call demanded that we lean wholly on God and focus on obedience. We find encouragement knowing:

We’re responsible for obedience. God is responsible for results.  

I praise the Lord that when things were especially hard, our personal “crashes” happened at different times from one another so that we could lift each other up.  When I faced times of discouragement, Mike prompted me to keep my eyes firmly fixed on God. He’d help me put things back into perspective with the reminder that we’re pursuing no less than the best God has for us.  If the Lord leads us to “point A,” we want no part of “point B.” And vice versa. 

When Mike was down, I pray that I had some part in doing the same for him. He tells me that I most certainly did. To God be the glory.

When we face any challenge, 

it is helpful to remember the “why” behind the adventure. 

In our case, we often called to mind why Mike entered the campaign to begin with. 

I’ll tell you that running for Sheriff was not a decision surrounded by personal ambition.  Mike has served a long time - nearly 27 years with the Sheriff’s Office. He looks forward to retirement.  For our family’s financial future, it would be more beneficial for him to retire and begin a 2nd career. 

There is an overwhelming amount of responsibility carried by a Sheriff - especially in a metro-area county.  We’d certainly enjoy more time together and have more time to serve in ministry if Mike said farewell to the Sheriff’s Office.  

During times of our deepest discouragement, these truths wailed loudly in our ears.  It would have been easy to give up and pursue the desires of the flesh.  But when we disregard the path that the Lord reveals and pursue fleshly desires, it always leads to destruction. Always.

Mike’s true “why,” came as response to a profound calling.  The Lord prompted his desire and then confirmed the instruction through prayer, through His Word, through circumstances, and through His people.  The need became increasingly evident.  Soon, while he was still doubting his discernment, Mike’s staff, peers, and colleagues began to encourage him to run. They fanned the embers into flames.

Sometimes people around us believe more in us than we believe in ourselves. 

When Mike stepped into obedience, we realized that all of the pieces had already fallen into place. This helped us to press on toward the goal, even through times when we believed we didn’t have the strength to take another step. We walked in the Lord’s strength and He carried us through each and every stride. We know that we serve a faithful God who is always working toward His glory and our good. 

Tonight we’ll finally learn what the Lord had in mind all along.  Win or lose, the victory belongs to God.  We trust Him entirely and have no doubt that He’s taking us into a good land.  (Dt 8:7)

Your turn:

When has the Lord prompted you to do something you knew was too big to accomplish without Him?

How long did you wait before seeing results?

Did the outcome look differently than you had hoped?

How did the Lord reveal His character to you in the process?

Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God.  2 Corinthians 3:5 (NIV)

Be strengthened today, by His Word
Psalm 119:28