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.


“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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No, no…and no.

Alright, I’m going to drop a knowledge bomb on you guys, ready? A study was done on how many times an average toddler hears the word “no” a day, and the number came out to be 400 times a day. SERIOUSLY! At first I was completely shocked by this number and thought that can’t be! That is until I began to think about my young self, and let me tell you, if you were anything like me as a child I’m sure my number was hovering more around the 600 mark. I have the home videos to prove it, peeps! I was always a wild&free spirit, dancing, creating, and pretending but of course testing the limits at the same time. Being the oldest I was used to having the attention solely on me, that is until my brother came along and took some of my 4-year-old spotlight. (I mean shouldn’t he know better?! 😉 )

So I imagine my daily “no’s” being something like this…”NO”, Nicole you cannot put lipstick on your brother, “NO”, I cannot videotape your dance party all day long, and “NO”, you cannot wear your princess costume to preschool (but Mooomm). I think you all get the picture. (Lord have mercy on me the day I have my own kids)

I think one thing we all struggle with is the art of accepting (and appreciating) a good ol’ “no”. It seems that the older we get, the more we take these “no’s” personally. “No’s” aren’t always meant to harm us, in fact, I dare to say that “no’s” can be a pivotal moment that can help us reach our best yes. We must keep our eyes and hearts open to discerning an opportunity versus our God-given purpose. There is a difference. Understanding and knowing that difference leads us in the direction of our best yes, helping us to cope with the “no’s” along the way.

When I was pursuing Nursing I saw a job posting from the university I attended for a Peer Health Educator position. What a great opportunity I thought, it’s on campus, fair pay, flexible hours, it relates to my major, and I would get to mentor to my peers, something I have always enjoyed. Best of all, I could pick what my “focus” area would be and I was so excited when I saw health & nutrition as an option! How perfect?! I had recently gotten my personal training certification and couldn’t see how I wouldn’t be a good fit for this position.

I showed up to the interview ready to rock this guys socks off, and let me tell you, I most definitely did until he said, “So, I see that you are interested in the health and nutrition focus, but I wanted to see if you would be willing to flex to sexual health if needed. As Peer Health Educators you help put together sex week on campus.” (for those who don’t know ,this is a common thing for public university campuses, they make a whole week out of handing out free condoms, having “sex” talks and much more.) He looked at me for a response, I took a deep breath and said, “If at all possible, I would prefer to stay with the health and nutrition focus, my faith is something that is important to me, and what you just spoke of is something I wouldn’t be comfortable doing.”

I wish you all would’ve been there to see it because it was the most EPIC “NO” expression I’ve ever received. I could just imagine what was going through his mind. “No”, you aren’t hired. “No”, I don’t want to hear anything else you have to say. “No”, you aren’t what we are looking for. He politely wrapped up our interview not long after my “politically incorrect” remark and I walked out of that interview confident that I was going to receive a big fat “NO”. Sure enough, I got a call a week later, saying just that. (of course in a more polite way, but you get the picture). The beautiful thing is this was one of the first “no’s” I was PROUD of, like I was fist-bumping myself, rock on Jesus girl!

This is why it is crucial as Disciples of Christ to learn to embrace the “no’s” this world throws at us because I believe a lot of the “no’s” we receive are for doing things exactly the way Christ envisions. In John 15:18 we are able to remind ourselves “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first.” The world we live in today lives so far away from the truth of Christ. It is a place of greed, hate, sin, immorality and darkness. And you know what we are called to be in spite of all of this? LIGHT.

“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.  In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven”-Matthew 5:14-16.

So although, the man’s face didn’t light up with my response, God’s did. I didn’t allow this fallen opportunity diminish my God-given purpose. By being graced with that “no”, it allowed God to reveal to me His best yes for my life. I was presented not long after with a job position as an OB Tech, which at the time was a dream come true for me since I wanted to be a Labor and Delivery Nurse. There I learned how to assist in C-sections, what it looks like to be with someone in their most vulnerable moments, and I got to see the most precious gift of all, life enter into this world. Not only that, but with the blessing of third shift I got to go in the nursery and hold the newborns. I would sit sometimes for an hour at a time just in awe of God’s beauty, their tiny nails, their soft skin, their gentle coos, as they took in this new world. Each time I held a baby I would sit with them and gently sway back and forth in the rocking chair praying over them. In my mind I prayed that God may keep them safe, that they may grow up and know their worth, that they may be disciples of Christ and that God’s hand would be so evident in their life.

My dear friends, how beautiful a “no” can be.