Change Isn’t Easy

It’s been a long time since I’ve blogged, too long actually. These past couple of months have been a whirlwind, to say the least, and the lessons and trials I’ve been going through are ones I feel most people learn later in life.

I’ve been hesitant and reserved in sharing what God has spoken into my life because honestly, I’m still processing daily what that looks like and what that means. Last Fall I was driving in my car on my way to campus, it was just like any other day, I had my Christian tunes playing in the background and “God of this City” by Chris Tomlin came on. Not thinking much of it suddenly this heaviness and boldness came over my heart and I was brought to sobbing and God spoke to me so clearly “you are going to be part of the change in this City.” Just like you are probably going “huh?” So was I in that moment.

I held onto that truth spoken to me with all that I have not knowing what that meant or where that would lead me at the time. Life continued on as normal and with a successful National Sales competition title that Fall I was blessed with sales job offers coming in throughout the U.S.

I knew in my heart this didn’t align with those bold words spoken to me and I was at a standstill. Come January, I was on LinkedIn and saw an opening for the Executive Director position for Downtown Kenosha Inc. I read through the job description and this sense of peace and purpose flooded my heart. I applied and eagerly awaited a response. The doubt and lies of the enemy flooded my mind….why would they pick you? You’re not even out of college? You’re 23 years old, how are you going to run a nonprofit?

The more these thoughts arose the deeper I anchored my soul to God’s promise. Shortly after, I got asked in for an interview. I cannot even begin to explain or fathom the peace that God placed in my heart throughout the entire process. Although I wasn’t extended an offer until April, the entire time I knew this was what God chose for me, this was going to be me “being part of that change.”

God has a sense of humor, you know that? I’m a complete optimist and it’s hard to catch me down, so naturally, when God placed in my heart “you are going to be part of the change” I automatically thought Woohoo! Change! How exciting! Yay God! Let’s do this!

My dear friends, how wrong I was. Change doesn’t come easy, it’s extremely painful, it doesn’t come with a guide book telling you what to do step-by-step, it has no remorse, and it surely doesn’t treat you kindly.

These past months have forced me to grow more than I’m comfortable with, it’s consumed every bit of my energy, time, and thoughts and in all honesty, I’m ashamed to say throughout this I’ve let my occupation affect my glorification.

God’s hand has been so evident in everything that’s been happening and I cannot help but point all praise back to him. I’m here to bring glory to God in my occupation, not allow my occupation to diminish my thanks to Him.

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:2

Lights, Camera & Action

Hello, my dear friends! Can you believe it is already December?! I looked at my planner today and saw “December 5th” and my heart sank a bit. I looked ahead and saw written for each day all the tasks I wish to accomplish, exams, and papers to be turned in and then this rush of panic came on saying ohnoitsdecemberandihaventstartedchristmasshopping. Yup, just like that, one jumbled line, zero pauses or breathes taken. Get. It. Together. Nicole. So, I proceeded to do what most of us do when we have a ton to do, I got right to it….pshhh, well no. I got into my fuzzy robe, threw on my baggy sweatpants, crawled into bed, piled myself with fuzzy blankies and scrolled through my Instagram. Good adult choice, Nicole. But as I was scrolling through my feed, a message from Steven Furtnick, whom I talked about in my last post, popped up. It was a short video clip of a sermon he did and I decided to listen, eagerly anticipating some truth bomb to just blow my mind and boy did I get it.

            “Our scenes are not our story.”

I couldn’t shake this one simple sentence out of my mind. I pondered it and spent my whole drive to school processing through what that means and what God wanted me to take from that. I don’t know about you but my brain can start racing a million miles per hour in just a short drive. I hope that this touches you as it touched me this morning.

I’m not sure about you, but I have no shortage of not-so-proud moments in my life; times I fall short of my own expectations, times I hurt those around me, times the things that come out of my mouth are far from life-giving words, and on and on it goes. I have found that for me it’s hard to let go of these “scenes” in my life. The enemy loves to remind me of those things by which I wish I was able to yell “cut” and have a redo moment, a fresh start, for that scene to not be seen by the general public. Do you feel that way too, my sisters in Christ?

I have found that those ugly scenes, although far from my favorite, are my valleys, my low moments, which in turn have led to endurance, growth, and wisdom. As hard as it is, we have to be grateful for these valley scenes because they are our growing scenes. Can I get an amen? In James 1:2-4 we are reminded to “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” Don’t get me wrong, when these scenes happen in my life I’m usually not jumping for joy in that particular moment about what is happening. Nope. Not at all. I have to consciously remind myself that this trial is in front of me for a reason, there is a reason for this scene.

So, how do we prepare for these scenes when they come? I was reading my bible earlier this week, and this simple verse from Psalms stuck out to me. It reads, “You give him blessings forever, you cheer him with joy in your presence. For the king relies on the Lord; through the faithful love of the Most High he is not shaken.” (Psalm 21:6-7) Now although this seems elementary, I’m going to define the term rely here for you. It means to depend on with full trust or confidence, and to be dependent on.

I don’t know about you my dear friend, but I am a fan of independence. I like doing my own thing, my own way, when I want to do it. But this is not where this scripture points us. If we don’t want to be shaken by these tough scenes in our life, we need to RELY fully on the Most High. Not with just the areas that we will allow Him but with our full being, every aspect of our life. This is where we will find abundant blessings, when we are walking hand in hand with our creator where just our presence brings Him joy.

We are sinful by nature and our Father knows this; not only does He know this but he lavishes us with a grace so astounding that He sees those yucky scenes and still loves us the same! That baffles me, the amount of patience and love He has for me seems so unreal. In 1 John 1:9 we read, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” So although we have these yuck scenes, the truth is this: those scenes are not our story.

   My dear friends, there is more to my story, there is more to your story then those scenes. I am a daughter of Christ, a fiancé, a friend, a student, a unique person with special gifts and talents, an entrepreneur, a believer, a dreamer, a lover of all people (most days), and well loved by my heavenly Father. Now, that, that’s my story. God is writing my story each and every day while flooding the pages with splatters of grace everywhere.

Now, not only did God fill my heart to write all of this, but he challenged me with this simple truth too. How easy is it for us to quickly judge someone else based off of a bad scene? I’ll be the first to admit it, I’m guilty. That cashier at the store who was super unfriendly and attitude-y with me… yup, she’s mean. Or that mom losing her cool with her kids at the store… she’s not doing so hot. That guy riding the butt of my car, what a little….yup, you get the picture.

But…..what if that was me? Would I want to be judged off of that scene? Isn’t there much more to me than that scene? ABSOLUTELY! So why are we so quick to judge? I want to leave you with that thought today my friends, let us reflect on how we can be more grace-filled not only in handling our own hard to watch scenes but with our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ around us as well. Lord, let us be overflowing in your grace so that I may see my life scenes and the scenes of those around me through a Christ –like lens. Amen.

“Our scenes are not our story.”

The Enemy’s Lies: How to Stop Satan’s Lies Over Your Life

Alright, I’m going to have a moment of realness with you all (deep breath in, exhale). I haven’t blogged in a few weeks now and to be honest these past couple weeks have been challenging to me in so many ways. The stresses of life have been tugging on my heart and my usual flowing ideas of what the spirit is leading me to write about have been drown out by the demands of the every day mundane. I feel the enemy has been preying on me more than usual, trying to feed me the lies I’ve worked so hard to declare truth over and I can’t help but ask myself, why?

I began to reflect on the past couple of weeks and what was making me feel that I am unusable, not good enough, too much, not enough….it all had a common denominator. My mind, my thoughts, which directly effected how I felt. The mind and what we allow it to declare over us is a POWERFUL tool and one I have learned the enemy loves to use. We must learn to recognize what lies the enemy is feeding us so that we can have a plan of attack ready for when they creep into our mind and try to dampen our spirit. What better way to attack the enemy than with the truth of God?

My fiancé and I, awhile back in our bible group, read a book I highly recommend called “Crash the Chatterbox” by Steven Furtick. In this book, he sheds light on how the lies of insecurity, fear, condemnation and discouragement keep us from realizing our God given potential. Seriously, the truth spoken in this book is unreal! Having control over your thoughts may just be the most powerful tool you can have as a Christian. Studies have shown that we have 50,000-70,000 thoughts per day. This means between 35 and 48 thoughts per minute, per person. The enemy is smart you guys. Do you really think these thoughts aren’t placed there for a reason? Satan is a life-stealer and joy-stealer. If he can stop you and I from fulfilling our God given purpose why wouldn’t he? This is why it is VITAL that we can recognize these lies.

Anyone who knows me well knows I am always taking notes. I’m old school like that and there is no shame in my game. Being this old school soul that I am, I wrote notes when going through this book. You guys, the same lies that were debilitating my God given purpose then, are the same lies that I noticed were dampening my spirit now! The enemy knows how to hit you where it hurts, but you know what? Our God is so good and so loving and He knew this spiritual warfare would take place so he gave us this beautiful blessing to help us shun the enemy’s lies. Scripture.

I encourage each and every one of you to physically write down the lies the enemy feeds you daily. Trust me you aren’t alone on this, I will begin with my list my dear friend:

The enemy tells me:

1) I fail God on a regular basis, why pursue him if I am a failure?

2) If I’ve felt God supernaturally in the past and I don’t now, has He forgotten about me?

3) But if everyone else is doing it, how bad can it be?

4) God didn’t give me the gift to lead others to Christ, I’ll let others do that.

5) My physical body, no matter how hard I try it will never be good enough.

6) I am not “useable” in the kingdom of Christ.

7) Why even pursue that dream? You will never make it.

Phew, I hope you all don’t think I’m crazy! Now for the fun part…your turn! We might be dealing with the same lies, or our lies being fed to us might differ, but now I want you to write down in a big fat sharpie next to each one “LIE” because that is exactly what each one is. Just calling it how I see it!

Next, for each lie, I want you write down “God says I am.” This is your opportunity to determine your plan of attack. This is where the spiritual battle takes place. My brothers and sisters in Christ, this is the shield that will protect us from the enemy the next time his lies creep in. Next to each lie, find a battling scripture to shut that lie down.

God says I am:

1) Romans 8:28, Galatians 5:16

2) Isaiah 41:10

3) Isaiah 5:20

4) 2 Corinthians 12:9-10, John 15:16, Matthew 5:13-16

5) Psalm 139:14

6) Isaiah 43:4, Jeremiah 29:11, Psalm 138:8

7) Matthew 6:33, 2 Chronicles 15:7, Proverbs 3:6, Proverbs 16:3

These are ones I have found that personally speak to my soul when these lies creep in. I encourage you, my dear friends in Christ, to prepare for your own personal spiritual battle by diving into the word, allowing Christ to speak truth over your battles.

So in practice, it would look a little something like this. I’m at the gym working out and I find that the longer I look in the mirror, the more I find wrong with myself. My arms look flabby, my legs are too thick, and girl don’t even get me started on those calves. On and on it goes. I recognize that this is the enemy because our loving perfect creator would never call His creation any of the above. I know it is a lie. I remind myself of Psalm 139:14 “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” The enemy says I am full of gross imperfections, that is a lie, God says I am wonderfully made. It doesn’t say, “everything besides Nicole’s flabby arms are wonderfully made.” NO! It says every bit of my being is fearfully and wonderfully made. I am at peace.

When I can truly recognize the lies, I can stop the enemy dead in his tracks, allowing my eyes and path to be set on my God given purpose that cannot be shaken. Regardless of my circumstances, the way I am feeling, the barriers I set upon myself, my self-doubts, they are not stopping the plans He has made. Repeat after me, nothing will stop the plans you have made Lord.

“Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.  Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” Ephesians 6:11-17

My dear friends, I pray that this has made you realize you are not alone, that we are strong enough to end these lies, that Jesus has spoken truth over each and everyone of us, that we may see ourselves through Christ-like lens. Beautiful daughter of Christ, you are enough, you are valuable, in fact-you are priceless, although you may stumble Christ catches you each time in his abundant grace and love, you are smart, you are an heir to the kingdom, and the enemy will not defeat you, my dear.

THE VOICE YOU BELIEVE WILL DETERMINE THE FUTURE YOU EXPERIENCE.

“And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:32

Click on the link to download my free template to track the enemy’s lies and God’s truth He declares over you. God-says-I-am

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