Unshakable

Unshakable

Yesterday (3/15/18), I had the opportunity to speak to a chapter of Mastering Motherhood; My first time on a stage, speaking to about 50 women!

Following is the transcript. (Warning: It’s Long)

Intro

Amy currently lives with her husband of 11 years and 3 children.

J (15), L (9), and her sweet rainbow baby L (17 months), along with their 2 cats and mini pig, Sweet Tea, who’s a small 150 lbs.

Amy spent most of her childhood growing up in sunny Central Florida, moving to CT with her mom and sister at the beginning of 7th grade. She lived in M until 5 years ago, when they bought their first home a town over.

You can’t deny her entrepreneurial spirit, having had her hands in many different projects, starting her own personal chef business in 2010. Amy’s always worked in food service but recently left the kitchen professionally. However, you can still find her cooking vegetarian, gluten free meals for her favorite client.

When she isn’t leading a group or serving here at her home church, Amy works part-time as a waitress at (restaurant), just down the street from her house. And recently accepted her first office job as a business analyst for an engineering and land surveying firm which has been a true blessing for her family.

With a servant’s heart, you can often find Amy happily volunteering in her community, whether at the soup kitchen, hospital, or local cat shelter. But she’s truly happiest with her toes on a white sandy beach, next to the crystal blue waters of the Caribbean and dreams of becoming a snow bird when she grows up.

Unshakable

Nothing like a good intro to make you feel better about yourself! Thank you, K! Kinda looks like I’ve got this life thing figured out! Life looks good in black in white!

Good morning, Ladies! I know YOU know better though, life is more than black and white. And very quickly, you’ll see, I don’t quite have it all figured out.

What I HAVE recently figured out, and what I’d like to share with you today, the answer to unshakable peace, joy, and strength, in even the toughest of seasons.

We all go through it, at some point. The seasons that knock you off your feet. Maybe the loss of a loved one, trauma, illness or major disappointment.

I’ve learned, your strength and resilience in these moments, relates directly to the foundation you’ve built for yourself. Just like a house, the stronger the foundation, the more stable you are.

Not sure what the condition of your foundation is? You may need some reinforcements, if anger, worry, loss of patience, or complaining, is a common attitude, towards even the day to day stuff.

It’s the strongest of foundations that allow you to respond, with peace and love, no matter what life throws your way. And aren’t peace and love exactly what the world needs more of today?

So much is gained by shifting our focus, from circumstances, to the foundation Christ has set for us. Galations 5:22 tells us its the Holy Spirit that produces love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, and self-control.

I don’t know about you, those are the things I need more of, today! So, let me share with you my story…

Going back, I was lucky to grow up in the church, with my Mom. She did the best she could for us girls, when times got tough. I’m really only standing here talking to you today because of that foundation set from childhood. It gave me something to come back to. So, thank you, Mom.

As you can imagine, leaving my friends, dad and family in Florida, just in time for middle school, wasn’t my idea of a good time. Church here was way different, too. I stopped attending a year or 2 after we moved here. That one decision, moved my feet from a strong foundation and set me in the mud, so to speak.

About the same time, already shaken by the circumstances of our move, changing hormones brought upon my battle with chronic depression and anxiety. I was knocked down even further when sexually assaulted at 15, and utterly broken, junior year of high-school, when my Dad died. Each passing year I slipped further and further into darkness and despair.

The only relief I found, from the pain and anger, was in drugs and alcohol. By 18 I had a significant cocaine habit and a long list of regrets.

Getting pregnant at 19, was no doubt the best thing that could have happened to me. I didn’t think twice about cleaning up my act. Though it got really lonely, really quickly as no one else was ready to settle down, including my son’s father.

From then on, every little bump in the road would send me spiraling, exacerbating the depression and anxiety I was barely managing.

I wish I can say the dark days of high-school were the worst of it for me, but that hasn’t been the case. I’ve unfortunately hit rock bottom a few times, since then.

It was shortly after I was married, sitting at the bottom of the barrel, I had no choice, but to finally look up. That’s when I stopped the cycle of rebuilding in the mud, and gave the mess I created fully to God. He’s been putting the ruble back together, on top His rock, and with His glue, ever since.

Just in time too, because the blows, they kept coming. But, instead of getting tossed around, feeling helpless, reacting ridiculously out of fear or anger, God has shown me there are great rewards for those who stand firm in the fire. He has also shown me, I’m not alone in the fire. And neither are you.

I don’t know if you know this, but tough times rarely bring out the best in a person. And since I’ve always had sort of a cool temperament, it may surprise those of you who know me, freaking out, hot mess, isn’t outside the realm of possibilities.

I look back now and see the fool I’ve made of myself, in moments where anger got the best of me or my pride got in the way of doing the right thing or when panic would stir up an anxiety attack.

I bet we all have stories of being irrational and out of control. Throw in Mom exhaustion and it seems like some days it doesn’t take much. What if I told you some of these shakable moments can actually be blessings in disguise?

I learned this, like all my lessons, the hard way. I was working at CCSU, 8 years ago, as a supervisor in their dining hall. It was the last day of the semester, summer break was about to begin. My Aunt and cousin were visiting from Florida, I was excited to see them, as soon as I got out.

Halfway through the shift, upper management decided to extend our operating hours. As closing supervisor, that meant I wasn’t getting out when planned and I wouldn’t make it to see my family.

Not being as cool, calm, and collected, as I am today, I copped a bit of a tude and walked out when originally scheduled. I’d show them!

Well, on the way to my grandparent’s house, I was in a car accident. Not my fault, BTW! But, instead of getting to see family, my evening was spent in the emergency room on top $7,000 worth of car damage.

It didn’t take me long to admit, had I done the right thing, I would have avoided that accident completely.

Since then, I look at things like detours and setbacks, as blessings. I find myself thankful for them because I honestly don’t know what they could be saving me from. It’s amazing how simply changing your perspective and attitude can change your whole day, for the better, instead of ruining it. Either with an accident like I experienced or simply by eliminating your bad attitude.

Winston Churchill said, “Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference.”

So true, we have very little control over what happens to us. We do have 100% control over our actions and attitudes, though.

Life is hard, guys. Life as a parent, even harder! I applaud you for being here today. Just think of the foundation you’re setting up for your children.

Like Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”

Just one of the many promises we’re given, that you can hold onto as a parent.

There’s another promise I’d like to share with you, from Isaiah 28:16 “LOOK! I am placing a foundation stone in Jerusalem… It’s a precious cornerstone that is safe to build on. Whoever believes need never be shaken!”

The cornerstone God’s referring to in this verse, is Jesus. And what a promise! Whoever believes need never be shaken. All we’re asked to do, is build our life upon His.

Without that foundation, it doesn’t take much to knock you down, where you’ll find yourself in the mud, covered by fear, regret and suffering.

If you struggle with trusting God in this way, know you’re in good company.

You probably know this story from Matthew ch.8 23 Jesus got into the boat and his disciples followed him. 24 Suddenly a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. 25 The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!” 26 He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm.

The disciples became afraid, worried and unsettled, in Jesus’ presence. What’s amazing to me is their reaction in light of the first half of this chapter! These men see Jesus miraculously and instantly heal both a man with leprosy and a young servant who’s paralyzed with chronic pain.

They watched as Jesus cast out evil spirits and restored health to ALL who were sick in the town. Peter’s own Mother in Law, was sick and in bed with a high fever, they were there as upon Jesus’ touch, the fever left her. She was able to get up and cook them a meal (Mind you, we all know Mom’s don’t get sick days and she probably would have done it anyway ;)).

They saw firsthand Jesus’ power, and the very same day, were shaken by fear, as the storm around them became fierce.

Thing is, we aren’t meant to live life in turmoil, tossed around by our circumstances. Even if it’s a natural response to freak out, lose your temper, or worry yourself sick, know it’s those responses that breed fear, anxiety, anger and even insomnia, in your lives.

And you know what? That’s right where the enemy wants you.

But that’s surely not where God wants you.

In Matthew 7:24-25 Jesus says, 24 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall….

When I feel myself starting to stumble, becoming irritable, depressed, or anxious, without fail, I’ve missed a few days hearing God’s Words. When I’m not reading my Bible, my prayer life suffers, and focus quickly turns to my circumstances, causing overwhelm and doubt. A slippery slope, for sure!

Reading God’s word, is the water your roots need, to grow into the rock. It’s by hearing His words, you come to know His voice.

You know the cartoons, where they show a little angel on one shoulder and a tiny devil on the other? I’d say that’s accurate. Every day you have these 2 voices vying for your attention. Your actions and attitudes clearly show whose voice, you’re tuned in to.

We can see the intentions of these 2 voices in John 10:10 Jesus states, “The thief comes in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance.”

The thief, here, is Satan. He’s the father of lies. His voice is flashy, and seductive, playing into your every fear and desire.

Jesus’s voice, on the other hand, is like that of a father, consoling an upset child. Think of a child in the midst of a tantrum, they can’t hear your voice. Not until they calm down and focus, does your voice break through, to offer comfort, wisdom and direction.

His voice is raw, no tricks, no gimmicks. By knowing it, you’re able to live in obedience, following his perfect example, therefore, becoming firmly planted and unshakable, because of Him.

If you’re not yet in the habit of reading your Bible, I challenge you to start, even just a verse a day. If you need to, ask God for the time, He’ll quickly show you where a shift in your priorities, and schedule, will bring you closer to Him.

Once in the Word, don’t get overwhelmed by the rules and traditions of the Old Testament. Through the life of Jesus, God summed up all His laws into 2 fundamental points.

To love God, and to love others. Ever wonder what your purpose or calling is? That’s it!

God’s love in us, is what heals and transforms us. And it’s our love towards others, which heals and transforms the world.

I’ve experienced both over the last few years, and its awe inspiring.

One of the ways we show love for God, is by putting him first.

In my life, I do this by reading His words, every day. I personally use the youversion app, it puts a different, daily, Bible verse right on my home-screen. I also find plugging into my church, by serving through different ministries, allows me to connect with other people who are full of God’s love, and when I need prayer and support, they’re right there when I need it most. A vital part of my unshakable foundation.

What you fill your mind with, is also important. Books, TV, Music, Social Media… I have to be hyper aware and selective about these. If I’m not careful, they quickly and easily become distractions.

The other piece, to a firm foundation, can be found in 2 Timothy 2:19 God’s truth stands firm like a foundation stone, with this inscription: …“All who belong to the Lord must turn away from evil.”

We’ve been given the perfect model in Jesus Christ. He was betrayed, abandoned, tempted, abused, yet He never sinned.

He is to be our model, for an unshakable life. Not the Kardashians. When Jesus was squeezed, it was only Christ that oozed out. That should be the goal of any Christian, to become so full of God, that any form of pressure simply releases more of Him.

Coming to groups like this, is a great way to experience the love of God. Also, getting into a Bible based church. If you don’t have a church home, I’d like to personally invite you to be my guest, here. I’d be more than happy to meet you and sit with you any Sunday!

I wish I could say, recommitting my life to Christ, flipped a switch, to easy living. That’s not often the case. As I started, to walk the walk, God’s been opening my eyes, to the exact areas I was needing to surrender, to do it His way. Because my way, does not work.

These are the areas, if not given to God, Satan will feverishly attack until completely destroyed. You’re only as strong as your weakest link, after all.

Most recently, God walked me through the surrender and deliverance of chronic depression and anxiety. In December I was able to wean off the prescription medications I’d been on for over 20 years. A true feat considering my history with different meds and that the year before, my DR said it would never be an option for me, but he doesn’t know the God I know!

4 years ago, it was my marriage topping the list. And because my husband doesn’t have a relationship with Christ… yet… this is still a daily surrender for me.

We had been married about 7 years at the time. We were both unhappy and growing more frustrated, by the day. Up until that point, neither of us realized just how dysfunctional our relationship had been, since day 1 really. We were lacking any sort of foundation and simply operating out of fear. Fear of being alone, fear of being vulnerable, fear of rejection, fear of the unknown…

Had I focused on what friends were saying, or gone by today’s standards for relationships, or listened to that little devil on my shoulder, no one would have blamed us for divorcing.

I’ll never forget the moment, like scales fell from my eyes. What I saw scared me. We weren’t just growing apart or falling out of love… we were stuck in a viscous cycle of abuse, with no way out.

I, for the first time, recognized what was happening. We didn’t know any other way. I was left, walking on eggshells, for fear of upsetting him. Afraid to stay, afraid to leave.

It’s never been physical. But psychological and emotional abuse leaves the deepest of scars. I prayed and prayed, for years, that my husband would change. For him to stop breaking stuff, to stop saying mean and spiteful things, to stop threatening his life, and to stop blaming me, for everything.

I had begged for a sign from God, an open door that would allow me to leave, clear of conscience.

As much as I prayed, those things never happened. I had to make a choice.

I know it’s hurt people, who hurt people, so I decided to wait. To wait for God to show me, what next. Surely, not because I wanted to, but because I knew in my heart, it was the right thing to do.

I continued seeking Him, through meeting with my pastor, surrounding myself with Godly women who prayed over me, lots of scripture reading, and non-stop prayer, on my part. I remember spending an entire afternoon prayer walking, around the outside of our home, reading out loud Psalms 31, claiming God’s promises over those 4 walls and everything in it.

One night, months after we had basically been living separated in the same house, waiting for the other foot to drop, I sat in my bed, not knowing what to pray anymore, utterly defeated.

In that moment, God showed up, and gave me the words I needed to say. The answer to my problems. But not the answer I was hoping for, or expecting. Somewhat reluctantly, I whispered, “Lord, change my heart”. Then, I opened my Bible, like I had been every night. And here’s the verse I opened to:

1 Chorinthians 7:14-17 14 For the believing wife brings holiness to her marriage… Otherwise, your children would not be holy, but now they are holy. 15 (If the husband who isn’t a believer insists on leaving, let them go. In such cases the believing wife is no longer bound to the other, for God has called you to live in peace.) 16 Don’t you wives realize that your husbands might be saved because of you? 17 Each of you should continue to live in whatever situation the Lord has placed you, and remain as you were when God first called you.

My mind was blown. How’s that for a clear cut answer.

This October will be our 11th wedding anniversary. We’re still 2 flawed people, committed to making it work, or, 2 lazy to start over with someone else, either way, I pick up my cross daily and know that God is at work in my marriage, and in my husband, through me. I praise God for the growth I’ve seen, in us both, and will continue to pray for my husband’s salvation.

If any of you ladies are single, please don’t settle. Let God guide you to the right relationship.

I honestly still have days where I question God and ask for an open window I can jump from, head first, but so far, His answer has always been the same. Love your husband, the way I do. Easier said than done, some days.

Since that time of reconciliation, my new foundation has held me through Lyme’s disease, getting let lo go from 2 different jobs, the loss of my 3rd child, in pregnancy, the bank coming to foreclosure on our home, and even as I held a dying stranger on the side of the road. Through it all, I’m still standing. Looking a little frazzled, but I’m here!

God is so good though! After 2 years of applying and interviewing for jobs, I didn’t even want, working odd ball hours when and where I could, I landed the best job I never knew I wanted! It was just a month ago, to the week of our time being up with the bank, the sign about to go up in our front yard, and only by the grace of God, as I never worked a day in an office in my life!

Because of this job, and its decent wage, Wells Fargo has agreed to let us pick up making payments, where we left off, over a year ago. Can I get an Amen!?

Ladies, I hope and pray you never know this kind of stress.

It’s still a work in progress, but the entire time I’ve been working on my foundation, how blessed I am to see, it’s my entire home that’s become unshakable.

I’d like to end with my favorite verse Ephesians 3:20 Will you read it with me? Now, all glory to God, who is able, through His mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. (Thank You)

Table Talk (Discussion Questions)

Read Ephesians 4:25-32 (NIV)

25 Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body. 26 “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27 and do not give the devil a foothold. 28 Anyone who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with their own hands,that they may have something to share with those in need.
29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God,with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

According to the verse, what are we to stop doing? How are we supposed to react instead?

Which of these area(s) do you struggle with?

What does the devil having a “foothold” mean to you?

How would your life change if he (Satan) no longer had a foothold?

Afterthoughts:

It was an emotional day for me, especially having my mom in attendance! Being able to thank her, was very special, to both of us, I think.

I wanted to share with you something that came to my attention, after our meeting. A young lady, we’ll refer to her as R, stopped me, with tears in her eyes!

Now, R was a part of my Mastering Motherhood small group, the year prior, where I shared the situation of our house going into foreclosure because we weren’t able to make payments. R told me, just yesterday, after hearing my talk, that the year prior, after learning about my financial struggles, she went home and prayed out to God that she could help us not lose our home. I was heavy on her heart, she said. R of course, not able to pay off what we owed on the mortgage, gave it to God and moved on.

Fast forward… 2 months ago. R was approached by her church friend, as someone who might know someone, to fill the position she was having a hard time filling. R didn’t, until later that day, when she saw my post on FB about another interview that just wasn’t the right fit for me. Not knowing my experience she reached out to me. I mentioned I had ZERO office experience, but I have enough sense to learn whatever I need to. I was hired due to R’s recommendation and given the opportunity to prove myself. (Which I did =))

We serve a GREAT God, who in fact, used R to save our home, by getting me the job that’s allowed us to start making payments again, with the right schedule and right pay for my family’s needs.

God is GOOD, ALL the time ❤

Advertisements
Is God is talking to you, right now?  5 ways God speaks.

Is God is talking to you, right now?  5 ways God speaks.

Tis the season. Are you looking to God for an answer?

What season of life are you in, right now?  If you’re anything like me, you’ve noticed the seasons that come and go.  Some are busier than others, but most are fairly mundane.

I find, when times are good, they’re good.  The days click away, and I’m able to make it through one, to the next, with not much of a hiccup.

Everything is under control.  Or shall I say, organized chaos, in my house 😉  But it’s doable.

It’s in these days, routine is king.

Kids have appointments and games, there are deadlines at work, phone calls need to be made, and bills need to be paid… that’s life, for most of us.

It’s been my experience, during this time of life, Godly communication tends to be minimal.  Maybe a prayer before bed or worship music in the car.  Can’t really complain, because compared to many, life is good, right?

 

Until it’s not.  And when it’s not, your busy life, that was once manageable, can quickly turn into straight up chaos.  Nothing organized about it.  So much so, you may even find yourself curled up, in tears, on your bathroom floor, unable to function. (Maybe that’s just me =/)

It is often in these moments, the ones where we’ve lost all control over our circumstances, that we find ourselves begging for a sign, looking to God for an answer…

“What now, God?”

“How could this happen, God?”

“What did I do to deserve this, God?”

“Where do I go from here, God?”

“Why, God? Why??”

“Can you even hear me, up there?”

 

Sound familiar?

Those questions come shortly after any “Glitch in the Matrix”, as I like to say.

Major illness

Job loss

Betrayal

 

What I’d like to share with you is this, no matter what season you are in, right now, God is actively seeking you, to actively speak to you.  Unlike the Old Testament, with burning bushes and parting seas, God speaks to us differently, today.  However, one thing’s for sure… You certainly won’t hear Him, if you aren’t listening.

 

God is speaking, all the time. Are you listening?

I’ve spent most of my years as a “part time, when it works in my favor, Christian”, only looking for God, to act, move, or speak, when the season got tough, and I just couldn’t handle it anymore.

“God, I don’t got this *thing right here*, please help!”

I mean, I had no reason to be reaching out, at other times, right?  I could handle it, on my own.

 

Without fail, however, the seasons would cycle.  Does that happen for you, too?  It seemed like every few years I would hit a pretty dark and trying period.

Looking back, I honestly believe, it’s because I wasn’t listening, to God, for so long, He would use a breaking point to get my attention.  Every time.

 

I see it happen a lot, when people work themselves sick and are forced to stop and rest!  Not by choice, but because they have too.

 

For me, I wish I could say it’s happened only once… buuuuut, my name is Amy, and I’m stubborn and fairly certain my way is better.

Well, it’s not, and it only took 34 years for me to get that!

 

Honestly, there have been a few times, I found myself so broken and out of control, one could really only surrender and say, “OK, You’ve got my attention.  My way does NOT work.  HELP!”

It is only by the Grace of God I am here, able to share my journey with you.  Because, His way is better than my way, and He’s proven that to me, 100 times over.

All these years later, I finally made the conscious decision, to do something different.  After all, isn’t the definition of insanity to do the same thing over and over, expecting a different result?

 

My way was clearly not working.  I was beyond sick and tired, of being sick and tired.  More importantly, I was ready to break the cycle of what felt like a boat with a tiny leak.  Shoveling out the water as needed, only buying some more time until we had to abandon ship.

leek
(get it??  There’s a leek in the boat!!)  =D

My question to you is, are you only turning to God when you’re drowning?  Only when it’s in your best interest?

I have learned something, in this newer season of my life, and that’s the life boat of God never goes away.  Even when you can’t see it, or feel it or don’t think you NEED it.

By shifting your focus, from the hole in the boat, to the Son Of God, you’ll find He is there, every time.  Not only to lift you up in times of trouble, but in His new yacht for the day to day grind, as well!

 

God speaks in the good times too

Since the God I’ve come to know is faithful, ALL the time, I committed myself to seeking what He had to say, during the calm(er) seasons of routine.  Not just when I was stuck.

Doing this will help you too.  Especially if peace, perseverance, guidance and strength are on your to do list!

 

Read what Isaiah 43:2 has to say

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you. When you pass through the rivers, they will not flow over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned. The fire will not destroy you.

 

From the calm waters, to the rising rivers, to the fire… HE is beside you, offering love, protection and guidance.

 

God is good, ALL the time

When you shift your focus, to our heavenly Father, and keep it there, the chaos doesn’t go away. No. It’s not a magic wand that turns everything to unicorns and rainbows.  But, what it does do, is keep your heart in check, and your soul grounded, no matter the storm going on around you.

AKA a peace that passes all understanding.

 

I like to think of a giant palm tree.  (Preferably one that’s planted on a white sandy beach, next to the crystal clear, aquamarine waters of the Caribbean <3)

A strong and healthy tree has roots that reach far below, and wider than its branches, above.  It is here the roots have access to cooling waters and nutrients which keep it strong.  Because of this, when a giant storm arises off the shore, our friendly palm tree can stand tall.  Its trunk is flexible, able to bend with the pressure, as the winds pick up.

The tree doesn’t focus on the storm around it, no, it stretches those roots even further and hangs on.

Just like you and me, trees are subject to the tumultuous weather beyond their control.  Notice how they don’t bend and break with every thunder storm.

 

Imagine if, like us, our palm tree uprooted itself and ran to higher ground every time there was a storm? How fragile would the root system be then?  Similarly, how we respond, in every season, will determine our level of peace in the times of turbulence.

 

I think of Jesus’ words in John 15:5

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” (NIV)

 

Where have you been planted?  Most likely the view isn’t as glamorous as our trusty metaphorical palm tree… But, where ever you are, are you growing your roots in the right direction, in the right soil? (That’s Jesus, btw)

 

When you remain in HIM, in the good times as well as the bad, you will begin to notice something spectacular.  God is in fact, speaking to you, in the good times too! And it is in these seasons, we truly grow in our faith and strengthen our roots.

This is important, because life is full of trials and sorrow; it comes with the broken world we live in.  So, if things are going alright for you, at the moment, the time to prepare, is now.

When a tornado is in your yard, is NOT the time to head outside and bring in the lawn chairs.

5 ways God is talking to you

1st way God is speaking to you

Hands down, the best way to hear from God, is to get into HIS word. Every day.

I always knew reading the Bible was important to my spiritual journey.  So, I adopted the practice of reading my devotional and saying prayers, daily.  With 3 kids, pets, a house to run, a marriage, and multiple jobs, that time was right around 11:00 at night, when it was finally quiet.  As you might imagine, many nights, I spent this time in my Bible out of obligation or guilt, because I knew it was something I didn’t NOT want to do.

 

2 Timothy 3:16-17 says

All the Holy Writings are God-given and are made alive by Him. Man is helped when he is taught God’s Word. It shows what is wrong. It changes the way of a man’s life. It shows him how to be right with God.  It gives the man who belongs to God everything he needs to work well for Him. (NLV)

 

That verse sums it up pretty nicely.  But, I recently realized something… that God wanted to speak to me, more clearly.  And it wasn’t going to happen when I was drained and zoning out at the end of the day.

A message I heard, one Sunday morning, prompted me to MAKE the time to START my day with HIM.  Even if it was 5 minutes.  I’ll tell you, it sure does make a difference in my attitude, and opens my ears to how God is speaking to me throughout the rest of the day.

 

This one step alone will help you be more patient, kind and calm.

 

If this is something you haven’t done before, start with the YOUVERSION, BIBLE app.  It’s my go to way to read God’s Word.  Even if it’s only for a few minutes.

Ask God to speak to you, in this time.  It has been my experience, by starting with prayer, God will bring a verse across the page that talks directly to my situation.  It happens all the time, actually.

 

God’s word is there to speak to you.  If it’s not, read a little longer 😉

 

Matthew 6:33 tells us to,

Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. (NLT)

 

Above all else means, before social media, before emails, before starting you day.  I challenge you to open your Bible and ask God to speak to you, before all else.  Heck, you can listen to your bible in the car, now a days!

 

I bet you’ll find yourself more relaxed and peace filled throughout the day, once you adopt this practice.  I promise, you won’t regret it!

 

2nd way God is speaking to you

Another big way God speaks to us, is through the Godly people in our lives.

This could be a Pastor, a Christian author (so a book / biblical devotion), or Christian artists, through their worship music, poetry or other art.

Who are you surrounding yourself with during the week?  Think; TV, movies, reading, your top 5 circle of influence (friends/family), the music in your car, people you follow on social media…

 

I truly believe what you allow into your head is what settles in your heart.

I’ll admit, I used to think checking in with God, every Sunday morning, was enough.

However, there are 168 hours in a week… Do you think spending 1 of them, giving your attention to God, is enough to strengthen and grow your faith throughout the rest of the week?  Probably not.

 

Since the vast majority of us don’t live and work in a Church, God will certainly use Godly people to speak to us, the rest of the week.  Think about it, that’s what we’re called to do as Christians.  Share God’s Love and His Good News!

That means, He is readily available to speak to you, any time!  How cool is that??

 

This is why it’s important to plant yourself in an environment that God is present in.  If not, you won’t be able to hear Him through all the noise of the world.

It’s especially important when you’re struggling.

Think about it, when do we need to hear and feel God the most?? In our hurts and pains, right?

 

In these times, getting to church, or reading your bible, or listening to worship music, will probably be the last thing you want to be doing.  That’s why it’s so important to implement good habits, by reading your Bible, listening to worship music, building relationships within a church, in the good times too!

When you do this, on the day depression hits, or circumstances get rough, it won’t be too much to reach out for God, because He’s already surrounding you (and you’ll feel it!). =)

 

I would never have been pulled through some of my darkest moments if I wasn’t already surrounded by church family, or wasn’t already flooding my radio with the promises found in worship music, or already meeting with a counselor that shared my faith.

 

No way would my life be where it is today, standing in victory, without those Godly people.  And they would not have been there if I wasn’t already cultivating the relationships and habits, when I had the mind to do so.

 

3rd way God is speaking to you

We’ve been given a gift.  The gift of God within us!  The Holy Spirit.

John 14:26

The Helper is the Holy Spirit. The Father will send Him in My place. He will teach you everything and help you remember everything I have told you.

 

I find the Holy Spirit speaks God’s will, through a small still voice.  You can barely hear it, but you can feel it.  A verse may come to mind, or a calming thought, or nudge in a certain direction.

The voice of the spirit, for me, is highly activated during prayer or worship music.  I LOVE when the word of God is given a rhythm, don’t you??

Ever hear a really good gospel song, or read a touching story that gave you goosebumps, or brought you to tears?  That’s a great indication the Spirit has moved in your heart!

Here’s one of my favorites, gets me every time  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ktsPuZvH-rQ

 

Throughout the day, when you feel yourself getting agitated, confronted with a difficult situation, or you’re not sure what to do or say, simply pause and do a heart check.

Stop your racing thoughts for a moment and listen; if all you get are crickets… go back and evaluate the other 4 areas God may can be speaking to you.  The more distant you are, from His word and His people, the harder He is to hear.

 

Matthew 7:7 reminds us

“Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you.” 

 

Keep on.

 

Now, you might be wondering, the Holy Spirit is given to those who have acknowledged Jesus as the Son of God and opened their hearts to Him.

Never had the opportunity to do that?  If you feel led to give your life over to God and start living the life He designed you to live, simply read the following prayer.  You may even be feeling some tightness or agitation in your heart and stomach.  Believe it or not, that’s the Holy Spirit!  God is seeking you, because He has something to say =)

prayerofsalvation
(If you just read that, for the 1st time, congratulations on taking the BIGGEST lifesaving action step, ever!  Please reach out to ME and I’ll share some next steps <3)

 

4th way God speaks to you

God speaks through His creation and nature’s beauty.

Genesis 1:1

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.

 

I find it impossible to look at the mountains, oceans, flowers, or animals, and not feel God’s power.  Even our own bodies; YOU are beautifully and wonderfully made!

 

But, it’s easy to get caught up in the world, today.  The sights and sounds around us are distracting and loud!  It’s important to take time to unplug, reconnect, and recharge.

Look up.  It’s a beautiful place we live in!

 

Notice the birds, a pretty sunset, babbling brook, beautiful field of flowers… God is speaking to you, through the majestic landscaping, about who He is.  Take some time to appreciate and connect with Him, in His glory.

sunset-over-mountains-and-water-wallpaper-3.jpg

You can always find God in His creation.

What do you think He’s saying?

I often think He’s saying, “I am bigger than any problem you may be facing”.

I also feel He is saying, “Look how magnificent my creations are, and yet, I thought the world needed one of YOU too”.

 

If you’re having a hard time hearing God, find a quiet spot, in nature, and just praise Him for His creations.  It can be quite the humbling experience, but also a great way to clean out your ears 😉

 

5th way God speaks to you

This is a big one.  God will speak to you through your circumstances.

Believe it or not, God uses our environment and experiences to speak to us.

 

Remember how it’s usually when circumstances become unbearable that we, stop, look, and listen?  I’ve noticed, it is in these moments, decisions are made to take action.  When our discomfort finally outweighs the fear of change, we move.

uncomfortable

How often do we get up and move or make a change for no reason, right?

 

God uses our circumstances to speak for His Glory

Another way God uses our circumstances is to show His glory to the world.

 

We serve a God of miracles.  Often times these miracles are overlooked as “coincidence”, or “luck”, but I know better 😉

One of my favorite verses is Ephesians 3:20

Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. (NLT)

 

Amen!

 

By maintaining your relationship with God, you will quickly see how He is working all things for your good!  It will be hard to miss!

 

Jesus said, in Matthew 17:20

“…I tell you the truth, if you had faith even as small as a mustard seed, you could say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it would move. Nothing would be impossible.”

 

That’s what God wants to do for you.  Move the mountains!

What is the mountain you currently need moved??  Debt collectors?  Your health?  An abusive relationship?

 

We pray for these “mountains” to be moved, but don’t stop and think about what it actually looks like or feels like, for that to happen.

I’ll tell you what, to move a mountain, you’ll need some pressure.

Yes, that means it will get uncomfortable, but in the end, it’s all a part of God’s plan!  Trust Him, because when you remain faithful to his word and promises, you’ll be able to stand tall on the greatness of what just happened!

 

What an amazing testimony it is, to the world, when God moves your mountain.

 

God also uses your circumstances to speak THROUGH you

It is also through your circumstances God will use YOU to speak and share Him with those around you.

This can look many different ways.  From sharing a smile in the grocery line, to being an encouraging word to a friend that really needs it.

I call these God moments.  And when your eyes and ears are in tune with Him, you’ll notice them everywhere!

 

Most of the time, they are seemingly small moments.  There are times, however, when God will place you into a situation that is anything but.

One such story comes to mind, when I think about God using circumstances, to speak through us, in a big, big way.  I’d like to share it with you…

For the past 7 years, I’ve been involved in my church’s Vacation Bible Camp.  It’s a fun time, with a bunch of crazy kids, learning about Jesus, on their level, for a week.  It’s a whole lot of work, but an amazing time.  Every year, we have a competition to raise money for local charities and organizations.  LOTS of change is brought in, on a daily basis.  I remember the first year I was a part of the program, and we spent so much time rolling and counting coins!

I knew there was a better way, so I offered to bring it to my bank’s counting machine… We’ve done it that way for years now.

In 2015, as I was making one of my many trips to the bank, God put me right smack dab in the middle of a circumstance where He needed ME to be His hands, feet and voice.

I will not go into too much detail, but the situation involved a pedestrian and a large vehicle, that was backing up and didn’t see her crossing the street.  The way it all played out, anyone not paying attention could have missed it!  In fact, many did.

In that moment, I felt God speaking to me, very loudly and clearly, that I needed to get out and help.   Because I listened, and was where He wanted me to be, that day, I was able to provide God’s comfort and assurance to a stranger, in her final moments of life.  God used me, to hold her hands, to provide the shirt off my back, and to let her know she was going to be ok, whether I believed it or not.

 

One of the toughest days of my life.  I still struggle with what I saw and how I felt.  But what I can’t get over is the sense of peace, knowing that in this woman’s final moments, she saw the true love of Jesus Christ.

 

It comes down to this, some great moments happen when you recognize God’s voice in your life, it’s truly life changing, however, the greatest moments happen when you bring the heart of God to someone else.

I Have A Plan… Do You Trust Me? ~God

I Have A Plan… Do You Trust Me? ~God

 

Trust in the Lord with ALL of your heart
At ALL times and in ALL things
For it is by your trust His guidance gracefully moves
A selfless task, sought by many, conquered by few

Worry, doubt, and fear, speak most loudly when it’s time
And here in worldly thoughts is where hesitations pause action
Even for a moment, God’s Will is put on hold
To acknowledge the contrary before any movement is made

You don’t see the prosperity or blessings poured freely
They’re held back by the dam your insecurities have built
Not on purpose, not by desire, brick by brick the wall will rise
Keeping the safer road lit, never aware of the cost

These moments add up with each passing day
As you attempt to play God and fail with each try
It’s your soul’s knowing Spirit that mourns all that is lost
The possibilities that could have been; denying His plan

To trust the unseen, the unknown, and unpopular
Seems crazy to those hiding in fear all around you
So you sit and you question all these realistic scenarios
Ironically walking in hand with the creator of our universe

Surely, His blessings and love overwhelm comprehension
If anyone can be trusted it’s the God of forever
Why blindly follow the steps of those gone prior
With a heart half full; abundance locked behind what’s lacking

A life isn’t true until trust is surrendered
With everything that is in you and all that you have
For the fear is a lie, only hurting your self
Security is what you seek, while security is what’s lost

If completely you trust the more completely you’ll thrive
In all that you do, you have, and you hold, that level of trust determines your life
So jump into the water, no matter how rough
Through trust you will soar and go further than ever

Knowing God’s love looks into eternity
It’s time to break down the wall and let trust flow freely
Each moment that’s lost with a toe on dry land,
Is a missed opportunity for your soul and the Kingdom

Ask any soldier that’s taken the leap
And they’ll tell you the worth of those life changing steps
You’ll never look back once you trust with your all
For it is only through Jesus love and life will abound
~Amy Swanson

trust

Here Goes Nothing (or everything?)

Here Goes Nothing (or everything?)

1405441209640-WP_20140715_005R1

Not my first blog.  But, life.  Life happened.

So here I am, ready to try again… to share that life with you.  Past and present.

Because, I can =)

But mostly because I’ve learned a lot, and through it all, have an increasing desire to reach out and share with those around me.

Who Am I?

My name is Amy.  At first glance, I’m a wife, of 10 years, and a mom of 3, ages 14, 8 and 7 mos. (again, that’s life, folks).

Yes, I will be the parent of a teenager for 21, continuous years.

TWENTY ONE.

That alone should provide enough material to fill a blog 😉

20170418_194919
My World

As if that’s not enough, I can’t picture a home without pets!  I’m such an animal lover; currently pet parent of 2 cats, a turtle I “rescued” in the 5th grade (And by rescue I mean trapped in a butter tub and snuck home on the bus, 25 years ago), and a voluptuous Mini Pig named Sweet Tea Charlotte or “Sweets”.  She’s our house pig, AKA a fury, 150lbs, toddler.

They keep me busy*.

*(exhausted and frustrated)

Most days look like this…

20170516_114011
The Glam Life

Writing is a newer form of expression, for me.  I also cook (for business and pleasure), crochet, and am generally a creative/crafty person.  You can see more of that, if we connect, on Facebook or Instagram or Pinterest.

There’s something about writing though, that I’ve held off on.  Creating a new recipe or pattern, with yarn, or sharing someone else’s ideas, doesn’t warrant the same vulnerability or judgement as written word.

One thing I’ve recently learned, however, is a confidence to speak my mind.  And I have a lot to say! So the time for courage, has arrived.

FB_IMG_1492653399860

I’m here, today, opening up, beyond the superficial introduction.  Because we all know, life is more complicated than that!  And goodness, what good is a blog without some juicy details. =)

And boy, am I looking forward to getting these thoughts and stories out of my head!  Even if its at a slower pace, due to the neediness that surrounds me.

What’s to Come

I will be using this space to ultimately write about Wellness.  Of Mind, Body, and Soul.

Could I pick a broader topic??  Not likely.  But, I’m putting myself out there, to help those who are struggling.

Because I’ve been there.

For me, life has been a tug of war between being well and finding the right balance between physical, mental and spiritual health.

Balance being the key word, and also the biggest struggle.

Over the years, I had gone from one extreme to the other, in each of these areas.  Usually only focusing on one at a time and wondering why the other areas were falling apart.

It wasn’t working.  Instead I was continually frustrated and lacking.

Can you relate to being sick and tired of being sick and tired??

It’s only recently I realized just how much each of these areas matter in creating Wellness.  All of them, working together.

So now it is my mission to help you be well, through health, vitality and contentment.

My Story

It was about 3 years ago (2014), when I was given a wake-up call.  Ultimately, I was stripped of my mental and physical health, and left spinning out of control.  (There will be more on that bit, in future posts.)

I had a choice to make.  Sink or swim.

As I was bounced around the choppy waters, trying to make sense of what my life had become, it was through nourishing my soul’s health, that literally saved my life and gave me my sanity and physical health back.

You see, I decided to grab ahold of the only flotation device I could reach. The life saver, I learned had been there all along… God.

Hope I didn’t lose you, there.  I expect that some of you reading this may be questioning my credibility at this point.  You may even be thinking, oh great, she’s one of THOSE people.

Well, whether you believe in God, or not, I plan on writing a lot about how my life has completely changed, for the better, because of the spiritual journey I’ve been on.  And frankly, how getting my soul “healthy” has allowed every other part of my life to fall into place.

Coming from a life of chronic depression, anxiety, and broken relationships, lead to the heavy emotions of self doubt and worthlessness, as well as a number of years lost to substance abuse, and even more years in therapy.  The transformation I’ve experienced is nothing short of miraculous.

For the first time, ever, I’m feeling good about life, and myself.

I want the same for YOU.

Is everything rainbows and unicorns?? Oh goodness, no.  Far from it.

Life isn’t easy, despite what social media portrays.  I believe life is messy, for all of us.

After all, we’re just a planet of imperfect people, doing the best we know how.  And lets face it, some only know ugly.  Unfortunately, I don’t think there is any way around that.  It’s a broken world, we live in.

I’m here to say, it’s time to learn better, so we can do better.  Lets stop making things more difficult than they have to be and start acting on what we do control.

Things like our thoughts and environment, is a good place to start.

Imagine feeling better, looking better, living better.  What could that do for you?

Thank You

For now, I will be using my messy life, as a means, to share a message.  A message of hope, health, perseverance, and fulfillment.  Also a message of familiarity, for anyone else finding themselves in the middle of a mess.

Through my mess, I have been blessed.  Even though it hasn’t been an easy road, I hope to share what I’ve learned and am learning along the way.  Thank you, for joining me on my journey.

I hope that my stories of faith, family and lifestyle are a blessing to you.

FB_IMG_1494508408907
Me