At 44, I welcomed my third (and final, hopefully! Lol) child! Ever since my husband and I learned we were expecting, I was over the moon. And once he arrived, it was love at first sight.
Austin joined his siblings, Christie (24 at the time) and Dallas (13 at the time). So I had some experience with little ones - although it had been a while. I was just so thankful God allowed me another opportunity to see the world through a child's eyes.
Boy, it's amazing how different you look at child-rearing when you're older. More patience. More grace. Did I mention more patience? Austin is now three – where does the time go? Truly. I can't count the number of times I thought: enjoy this moment, it will be over before you can blink. The moments when I would lay him down (sound asleep, mind you), only to have him snap those big brown eyes open and begin the 32nd round of crying. More rocking. Then the contorted climb out of the glider to tip-toe, gently laying the monkey down. Finally, silence!
As I watch him grow and learn – mastering one step before moving onto the next and most recently, to riding his "big boy bike"! – I'm reminded how patient our heavenly Father is with us. Through our screaming and crying as we learn and grow, He is always patient with us. He waits for us to join Him so we can enjoy the blessings he has for us.
Understanding what God had planned for me took me more time than I would like to admit. And I'm still learning! We are a stubborn people - forever trying to "make things happen". There is a saying: Let go and let God. It has proven to be true in my life.
Jeremiah 29:11 says God knows the plans He has for us. Plans to prosper and not hurt us. Plans to give us hope and a future.
The next couple of verses continue: "In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me. I will be found by you,” says the Lord. (vs. 12-13).
If we seek God, we will find Him. I see Him everyday when I look at the sweet faces of my children. I see Him in the wonder of a brand-new day. I trust that He wants to prosper me. Living daily in that trust requires FAITH – and a desire to surrender to His plans for us.
Making an intentional choice to walk with God has changed me. He has plans for my future. I seek to serve Him and share His hope with others. I was in my mid-thirties before I truly began "living" - not worried about tomorrow but living for each moment. It wasn't until a few years later than I began to understand my purpose. Encouraging women who are struggling with tough decisions or those who just need to know someone understands them and believes in them. I sure do thank God for His patience with me!
Are you ready to change your life? Are you ready to embrace the plans He has for you? It will not be easy - but it is simple. Make the choice today to seek Him. He created you for a purpose too!
Come see me as I embark on my new adventure: www.CultivateChangeCoaching.com.
I'd love to hear what God is doing in your life :)
And I'll keep you posted with occasional Austin updates as we discover God's plans for him!
Today is the first day of the rest of your life! Let us rejoice and be glad in it! (Psalm 118:24)
Last night I presented the Color Code to the ladies at my church (Englewood Christian Church here in Jacksonville). The Color Code is a personality assessment based on who God created you to be. Your innate personality. It is a fascinating topic to me as I'm a curious person and love people. This test identifies your Core Motive - what makes you tick.
I always thought I was a people-pleaser based on my childhood experiences and upbringing. Turns out God created me with a Core Motive of "Peace" (I'm a White - take the test to see what color you are!) It's my nature to operate from a motive of Peace. Can't we all just get along?! Lol
So I thought I'd share some pics of me over the years. Enjoy! xo
And be sure to check out my new business site: www.CultivateChangeCoaching.com and sign up to receive updates from me. I promise I won't be a stalker! hehe I will be talking about the Color Code periodically.
P.S. I'd love to know what color YOU are! Leave me a note in the comments below ;)
By His Grace,
This month Austin will be 2 1/2 years old and he just gave me the most precious gift. He said he loved me for the very first time!
He is learning so much, so quickly — I just want to start the record button and film every moment! (I do take way more pictures than I should. Praise the Lord for the person who created digital cameras!)
I absolutely adore this age. My baby is becoming independent. He is starting to use the potty like a big boy and learning the rules, what he can and can't do.
And talking. Forming sentences - "Dat my boo wobot" (translation: that's my blue robot) - and repeating words.
Our conversation went like this:
Me: Austin, say "I"
Me. Say "love"
Me: Now say "you"
Me: Austin, say "I love you Mommy"
Austin: "I ove ew Mommy"
Ok, say it with me friends... "Awwww..."! My heart melted. So precious are these days. I want to make time stand still — but of course I can't. He's going to grow up, learn more words, make decisions, explore this world. My job is to teach him the tools to make good choices, be safe and use his words wisely.
Our words are gifts. Just like the impact Austin's words had on me, our words affect others. We have all been wounded by words. A thoughtless comment can leave a lasting impression. And on the flip side, encouraging someone with a "great job" or a simple "thank you" can make their day!
Proverbs 16:24 tells us, "Kind words are like honey — sweet to the soul and healthy for the body."
That old saying — sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me — is so not true! Words can hurt. And words bring healing.
We have a choice with what we say, but sometimes we speak without thinking. Unintentionally hurting someone's feelings or regretting saying "yes" so quickly! We often don't realize the gift of a kind word. Saying something nice may seem so minor from our perspective, but it could be just what the other person needed to hear.
Today I encourage you to memorize Ephesians 4:29: 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.
And remember this, "the tongue has the power of life and death." (Proverbs 18:21)
Give the gift of life today!
Everything was packed and loaded in the trunk. Did I forget anything? No. At least I hoped not! I climbed into my rented Toyota and backed out of the driveway while the butterflies danced in my tummy. Finally! After many weeks of anticipation and preparation, I was on my way to Charlotte, North Carolina to spend 3 days with like-minded women at the She Speaks Conference, hosted by Proverbs 31 Ministries.
Let me begin my telling you this was my 3rd conference. God planted the seed for me to share my story through speaking and writing back in 2006. I attended my first She Speaks Conference that year and was completely changed. So this was what I was called to do! At that point I didn't understand how, but I certainly understood why. God uses our stories to share His story. I was totally on board. I was on the Speaking track that first year and learned so much . The 2nd conference was in '09 and I signed up for the Writing track.
Fast forward to this year where I attended a combination of Writing and Speaking sessions filled with encouraging, educational and inspired "content." I was filled to overflowing with information and have the notebooks to prove it! The speakers were absolutely amazing. God was definitely "in the house" :)
But it was the women I met this year that truly touched my heart. Or rather it was how God was working through the women that moved me.
The email came a week or so ago from the director of the conference and said something like: During the conference, you should network, mingle and get to know your fellow attendees. (sidenote: I've actually tried to locate that email to no avail, so perhaps it was my subconscious I heard!)
Regardless, this became my M.O. — reaching out to women who asked questions during the sessions (specifically questions I wanted to ask but didn't!), introducing myself to the girls sitting next to me and basically making it a point to say hello and encourage others. It turns out I was the one blessed by the contacts I made.
Now you'd think there would be some envy or at least a glimpse of that green-eyed monster at an event hosting 600+ women who have ALL been called by God to share His message! Quite the contrary. I experienced such an example of Jesus living IN these women and working through them. It was extraordinary — and a testimony to the power of God's grace and love.
There's room at the table for everyone.
This message was shared during the first day of classes by Emily P. Freeman (author of Grace for the Good Girl) — and became my mantra for the entire weekend. There's room for her. And for her. And that one over there. And room for me too.
God has called me to share His story through mine. He calls each of us – as Christians – to be His ambassadors of Christ. God can use each of us as well. Our stories are as personal and unique as we are.
His story of hope, grace and forgiveness is the "message" — we are the messengers.
"I am in chains now, still preaching this message as God’s ambassador. So pray that I will keep on speaking boldly for him, as I should." (Ephesians 6:20)
My prayer is that every attendee at this year's She Speaks Conference was encouraged and inspired by the women they had the good fortune to meet. I know I was blessed — and have made lifelong connections. I'm already ready for next year!
I've been re-inspired to write and speak and share the story of Jesus — through my story.
There's room at the table for me too.
_2012 - a new year. A time for reflection and a time for purpose.
Time for setting goals for the future (I don’t like saying ‘resolutions!’) and reflecting on the past. And while it’s easy for most of us to reflect, it’s not so easy to make those goals. Personally, I struggle with that dirty ‘P’ word: procrastination. I imagine a lot of us do.
Why is it so hard to begin? I make a ton of plans in my head and visualizing has never been a problem. I can ‘see’ how I’d look 20 lbs. thinner. And I can picture speaking to women’s weekend retreats and Bible classes. It’s the ‘DOING’ that trips me up. Have you been there? Do you struggle with starting a project or beginning something new?
__For me, starting something new is a challenge because I have to step out of my comfort zone. Making specific changes (goals and plans) requires me to change – another dirty word! Instead of looking at change as scary or uncomfortable, my ‘goal’ (!) is to look at change as opportunity. Opportunity to make a difference in the world. Well, in my little section of the world anyway. Beginning with my family and my friends. And eventually – in God’s time - reaching women who could be inspired by my faith journey.
So as another year begins, I am determined to make the changes necessary to realize my goals. My fear now is that I will be reflecting on 2012 in 12 months and be in the same place I am today! Totally unacceptable... and definitely uncomfortable.
Setting goals is like putting wings on your dreams. Specifying my goals in writing will help me stay focused and make them seem real and actually attainable. This is going to require discipline (ugh! Another one of those words) and ‘on purpose’ choices. Our choices should move us toward our goals, not away from them.
I'm a big fan of 'to do' lists. Mostly because of how I feel when I check off an item on that list. That sense of accomplishment. Do you get the same feeling? I am committed to making smaller, mini-goals that will help me accomplish my bigger ‘opportunity’ – and I have now put it in writing!
I am excited about writing down my smaller goals to support the bigger picture. Writing this blog is the first step to one of them: encouraging women.
Now about those 20 lbs…