The Dream Team

Accomplishing a dream isn’t just about how we spend each day but also with whom we’re spending it.

Everyone needs a dream team. A team of people you dream with; a core community who encourages dreams into reality.

I believe who we surround our life with reflects what we believe about our own heart. Who they are, is who we will also become.

“He who walks with wise men will be wise.” Proverbs 13:20

It is okay to be selfish and hang around people who will make you better.

Pruning off relationships that are not adding to your life is essential to pushing through the problems and pressing into the promise.2015-03-04 15.20.09

It’s easy for my days to become unfocused, distracted, and wasted. Yet, I have responsibility to use my time wisely. So I hand-selected wisdom as accountability, while I hustle out the details of my dream.

Together, we expect breakthroughs and snafu’s. We climb the mountains side by side, and scout new horizons ahead.

2015-03-04 15.25.37We’re the high-five waiting after a cleared hurdle and a strong hand reaching out through the struggle. We speak sunrises into the storms and cast vision and victory into perceived defeat.

Everybody is dealing with something. There will be things that frustrate you, things you don’t understand.

We can’t see God’s best if our team is weak. Evaluate your inner circle and who you’re investing in. Get the right people in your life. Those seeds you sow will create the harvest you need that will not only take you out of the valley—It will lead you to a new level.

2015-03-04 15.30.41You need a crew to help you navigate uncharted territory. You need aviators to co-pilot the rise out of ruins.

When you have a great team, no matter where you are in life, no matter what comes against you, you won’t be alone. You will not be forgotten. The star of the team, God, remembers you. He never forgets the dreams He’s put on the inside.

Stack the deck of your dream team and prepare to soar into your destiny.

Posted in Here & Now | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The waterfall is still running

rushing water

Posted in Here & Now | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Update on A Cookie Cutter Choice

Snapped a shot of the man and his fan at my gym. 20150227_130722It wasn’t as awkward after all to get. He usually runs for an hour with that bungy strapped to his treadmill.

Also, you will notice the handy bowling ball bag laying on the floor just in front of the treadmill, with which he uses to carry in his personal fan. Just as I described it, right?

Now don’t you think a laptop to voice command write, while running, seems somewhat doable after seeing this? All I see are possibilities!

Posted in Here & Now | 1 Comment

A Cookie Cutter Choice

God’s commands aren’t as vague and gray as we like to think they are in the moments of contemplating compromise.

Stepping up to the treadmill, my body is aching from the 3/4 quart of ice cream I binged on last night. I regret the lack of brilliance in that decision now, but the Academy Awards were on! My lack of self control around sweets is a story for another day. However, because of my addiction, it also didn’t phase me a few months ago when a cookie company was “erroneously” charging my credit card nearly every day for spoonfuls of sugar. Back to this story though…

Some of the best thinking I do happens when I’m running. And for this, I wish they made treadmills with voice command so I could work out of the mind as I work out the flesh.

Side note here: the other day I watched a man carry in a bowling bag with a tabletop fan, that he plugged into the treadmill outlet and bung-ied to the front of the machine interface… in. the. gym! For an hour he ran like this and my only regret is that I don’t have the awkward photo I tried to snap of this happening. So this guy has me thinking possibilities of a laptop tied to the front of my machine could be a reality.

Today in mid-run, I began to daydream about the smoothie bar on the main level of the gym, which should be considered free with as much as some gym memberships cost (not naming names but just because it’s a nonprofit, doesn’t make it cheap, so I have learned).

Surely after that sweet potato pancake and eggs an hour earlier, I was not hungry for a smoothie. Yet, the thought was there and I could clearly see the hand-painted, wood plank sign hanging above the bar that read, “Christie’s”.

That name was resonating in my mind a bit because it sounded similar to that aforementioned cookie company I circled with over identity theft some weeks back. Seriously, I cannot believe someone was spending $5.60 daily on cookie calories! Sounds like a waste.

But in all fairness, I spend that much in smoothies almost daily, so I understand compulsive purchases.

Do you think…?

Nah, the likelihood of a cookie company owning a smoothie bar in a gym seems far stretched to me. But that is strange how the series of cookie charges showing on my statements were consistent with what I think I spend on smoothies.

Coincidence?

Then, it hit in the snap of a second. My face went from beat red running to a whiter shade of pale as I stopped stunned in my steps.

There are no coincidences.

I made a mistake! Oh no, I made a mistake!

Over weeks of conference calls and open investigations combing through evidence, the legal departments concluded someone swiped my card, but it wasn’t me. Nearly $100 was credited back to my account and the case was closed. I had won.

cookie cutterWinning in this life isn’t everything. In fact, compared to the paradoxical freedom in following God’s precepts, winning in this life is nothing.

Liberty is discovered through the will of God rather than our own desires. Sometimes we need to forfeit winnings here to gain earnings in heaven.

It is a cookie cutter choice to make. You’re either in the will of God or you’re not. You either trust Him or you don’t.

Trust me, the devil asked if I really wanted to go through the hassle of reopening a closed case. And he gave me four more chances to walk away with the money and my time in hand, as the bank, credit card, dispute department and fraud division all attempted to talk me out of the work unfolding from this decision.

There is nothing worth more than our love and desire to obey God.

Oh Lord, your reminders of how good you are just blow my mind and break my heart. You are so good to us. Help me to remember your goodness always and give me the strength to never trade it in for something less than the freedom You alone provide.

Posted in Here & Now | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Breaking through and not breaking down

When God has a breakthrough for us, the devil brings a breakdown. The more faith you live with, the more fear the enemy stirs up.

Essentially, the enemy releases resistance to hold you back, but God uses that resistance to strengthen the heart muscle for an increase. When you are met with push back, this is the time to push through the burn and work that faith muscle to exhaustion.

Hold out your hope! Rest is around the corner.

‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ says the Lord. ‘They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.’ Jeremiah 29:11 NLT

Exercise doesn’t evoke excitement from many people. But we push through to build endurance. We burn out muscles til tiny tears break into the deeper fibers of our strength, and repair themselves when we rest. This is what produces results! Here’s where we see the increase.

Here’s another truth about breakthroughs: You can’t live out today on yesterday’s faith.

As your strength increases, so must the weight of resistance and level of endurance. As you stretch those muscles to reach new goals today, it will require heavier lifting and longer distances to see the benefit and growth tomorrow.

Yesterday’s routines won’t work on what’s required of you today.

You may need the edge of additional experience or education. Perhaps it’s an increase in peace or  prayer. Maybe it’s more like-minded relationships or intentional living.

If you’re ready for the rise, it’s time to press into the pain and prepare for a gain.

Here’s a final story I want to share with you.

Last week, I woke up the morning of an important meeting that would circle the completion of a book I’m writing. Locking up my house before dawn even broke the horizon, I stood stunned in shock. It appeared as if a violent storm took place within the confines of my car. invitationsOpening the driver side door, I noticed a mess in my passenger seat; a scattering of invitations to church that once sat neatly in the console.

Is it strange my heart smiled with compassion at this?

It reminded me that God meets us all no matter where we’re at or how deep we’re in it. We could be making a mess of a situation and He’s there in it, reaching out to invite us back to Him.

Naturally, my hope is that one of these invitations to church made it into the burglar’s bag of my belongings and in this moment is nudging him/her from a nightstand. Not because I care about getting my stuff back (although the RayBans would be nice), but moreso that a hurting heart who felt there was nowhere else to turn that night would find Jesus is all he/she ever needed.

Maybe your heart is breaking over a lost dream or relationship… God is meeting you there. Maybe you are breaking through… He is on the other side waiting on you.

Lean into the resistance to see results. Whatever you’re facing, just remember a showdown with the devil is God’s opportunity to show off; He is the one and only, great I AM.

Posted in Here & Now, Reflection | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

90 days to love

Christmas could barely go on clearance before St. Valentine claimed every corner, clothing the shelves in his deep crimson and dark chocolates. My December decorations are still being dusted because I believe in buying lots of red and letting it roll over into February’s festivities. That’s efficiency!

This time of year gets me giddy. My cupid bow draws back and aims arrows at admiring, unsuspecting targets. I began praying for people to share God’s love with when my pastor challenged the church with a message that struck a string in my bow. He cited Acts 20:35, “it is more blessed to give than receive” and followed it up with an extreme example out of 2 Corinthians. Paul was trying to inspire the Corinthians to give to the Jerusalem church, so he shared a story about how the Christian Macedonians (a people group) lived in deep poverty and yet gave a massive gift.

In the midst of a severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. 2 Corinthians 8:2

Then my pastor pressed in with his question, When is the last time you gave as much as you were able?

Irrational generosity.

Setting aside fear of a financial repercussion, the next day I withdrew stacks of five dollar bills from my bank. Instead of offering “ones” every time someone had their hand out, I would round up and give them five.

Sometimes my heart does deceitful things, like wishing there wasn’t a homeless person in my path so I don’t have to dig for a dollar. I get wrapped up in my own inconvenience and lose sight of the blessing that is received when I give.

There’s one intersection I pass by every day where I can count on someone standing by with a cardboard sign or a bundle of newspapers trying to make a buck. With my mint mass of fives tucked deep in my purse, I offered a crisp bill to the man. His eyes stared intently as his words cut deep into my soul: Don’t think we don’t bless you ma’am, because we do. We bless you from the bottom of our hearts.

For hours my thoughts were disturbed. The Spirit was summoning me for more.

A dear friend mentioned he prepares bags of water and granola bars to hand out to the homeless versus cash. It’s a clever idea considering the cost savings to buy in bulk. While a box of granola bars may cost three dollars, for a coupon clipper and strategist like me, a variety bag of snacks and water wouldn’t be much more than four quarters.

Here’s the other thing though, I love how thoughtful this idea is. The time it takes to shop and prepare packages in advance to hand out means something to the heart. To me, it displays God’s love for us before we ever met. It moves my heart to know He was thinking of me before I laid eyes on Him. That’s the kind of love I want to pass on.

Irrational generosity.

20150125_154048During brunch on Saturday, I was sharing this idea with a girlfriend. She noted her own struggles with being generous and a desire to do something different. Before our plates were empty, we had upped the ante by placing a 90-day challenge on our generosity.

God, we are expecting you to show up in our lives even bigger than before during these next three months as we step out in faith to give like we’ve never given before.

Irrational generosity.

20150125_154901Valentine’s day is coming up, in case you needed another reminder. But it’s a perfect opportunity to share love with these unsuspecting homeless hands. So, we bought candy bars and sorted through stacks of valentine cards for inspiring words. Then we prayed for God’s message to write on the back.

20150125_183731To: A child chosen and loved, forgiven and set free by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Through Him, you are victorious!

From: The Name above all Names. Your Peace, Provider, and Constant Companion who is still on the throne. I AM, the one who is for you!

Packed in bottles of water, granola bars, peanuts, crackers, and the valentine is also an invitation to church.

My girlfriend and I have decreed to purposely pursue one person a day to share God’s love with. For 90 days, we will pass out these packages with expectation! After the three months, at least 180 hearts will be impacted by our irrational love and generosity.20150125_185754

Now that feels about right.

Irrational generosity.

I am journaling the journey and can’t wait to share with you!

Posted in Here & Now | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Perennial Prayers

Your deepest desires are for companionship and a noble purpose. We were woven with love, to give love and we’ve been clothed in armor to carry out a calling.

But are you masking your true passion behind a facade of good looking pursuits? The battle between head and heart is lifelong.

perennialprayersmaxPrime your purposes in perennial prayers in proximity to God’s promises.

God’s promises have no expiration date. He loves nothing more than to keep His promises, as He watches and waits for the moment to be called upon.

What are those promises?

You shall also decide and decree a thing, and it shall be established for you; and the light [of God’s favor] shall shine upon your ways. Job 22:28, AMP

And this is my covenant with them,” says the Lord. “My Spirit will not leave them, and neither will these words I have given you. They will be on your lips and on the lips of your children and your children’s children forever. I, the Lord, have spoken! Isaiah 59:21, NLT

For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor; no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless. Psalm 84:11, NIV

We doubt God because we doubt ourselves. His capacity to give is far more greater than our capacity to receive. He’s waiting to answer our prayers, keep His promises and perform His word. When we stand on His Word, He stands by His Word. So what are you waiting for?

Posted in Here & Now | Leave a comment

Discovering Joy in the Journey

What I love about the ring of a new year is the hope that’s swirling in anticipation of a do-over. All those leftover disappointments from last year hit the reset button.

It’s uplifting to be around people who believe they can begin again.

However, by the time this post is published, statistics say one in four people will have already abandoned their mission for the year. And unfortunately, these numbers show it will be the same goal that’s been spoken and broken at least ten different times now.

Over the years, I’ve picked numbers and words, scarier dreams and SMART goals. Some are successful, while others get tangled up in small setbacks before Spring. Interestingly enough, 60% of all new year’s resolutions will be dumped by June.

Has this already happened to you?

Perhaps you started the year flying high on your hopes that these coming weeks would be your best ones yet, but no sooner had the party favors been put away, your goals plateaued leaving you on autopilot for a repeat of last year.

The devil is constantly trying to run us off the promised land God has for us.

Pastor Steven Furtick with Elevation Church says this, “resolve cannot change what routine created. In other words, the faith to step out is worthless without the faithfulness to stick it out.”

Powerful. Let those words marinate in your mind awhile. It took me a couple days to soak this in.

journey to get thereThere are so many nuggets to draw out in Mr. Furtick’s sentences, but what it says to me in this moment is that reaching a goal is less about the final destination and more about the journey to get there.

New mantra: To rejoice in established routines I walk out today as they develop the faithful habits I need for the following months. This will lead to the goals I plan to conquer that eventually fulfill the dreams God has for my future.

If the mind isn’t satisfied and celebrating in the incremental advances in the moment, we will lose sight of why this goal is tangible and meaningful today.

The end is only a conclusion to the story; the real adventure is in the peaks and valleys. If we’re not grateful for where we are, we won’t appreciate goals when we reach them.

Beware! The devil is constantly trying to run us off the promised land God has for us. There is no room for regret in a life full of God’s good things, so turn over these stones of setbacks and allow them to become the wisdom you need for tomorrow.

Jerry Jenkins, author of nearly 200 books and most notably known for writing “The Left Behind” series and Billy Graham’s autobiography, has a great take on goals and success.

My father had long counseled me that the popularity of goal setting as a means to success was good only to the extent of the definition of success. “Be the best you can be at what you’ve been called to do,” he said. “And you’ll be more of a success than the person who is the best in the world at it but is not working to his potential.”

So my aim became to obey and let the results fall where they may.”

Remind yourself that God’s promises will come to pass and you have been gifted to carry them out. Give yourself permission to try again, and then pick up that God-given assignment and start, no matter what month we’re in. Drop the pressure to perform and be confident that you already have what it takes to carry out His work. Give Him your best and the rest will be blessed.

Posted in Here & Now | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Cultivating Calm Among the Christmas Chaos

Whoooosh!

A cold breeze blows by and bites the skin with a bitter, rushing reminder; it’s the season of cluttered calendars followed by scrambling steps just trying to keep up.

There’s a stream of shoppers scurrying with frantic concern to check off a list that is only growing longer.

The inbox and mailbox multiplies with messages by the minute; invites, greetings and the lure to splurge on one last spending spree.

Anything slow-moving or stopping is a buoy to weave around.

Pressing the peddle just to keep up, this speed increases now by the second, beyond limits that are warning to slow down; signs of a sneeze and sniffle, or worse, the numbing compassion for an unshaved man sitting on the corner with his newspapers in hand trying to make a dollar for the day.

There are no seconds to spare to silence a restless soul.

The beats of my heart tick with urgency to cross off a competing list for attention, and tock with a wrestling soul caught up in distracting demands. My prayers grow heavy and deep; the tears wet with sorrow that I’m not just living in the world anymore, but have become the world.

O Lord, my heart is not lifted up; my eyes are not raised too high; I do not occupy myself with things too great and too marvelous for me. But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child is my soul within me. O Israel, hope in the Lord from this time forth and forevermore. Psalm 131:1

How can we cultivate a calm, quiet, peaceful soul that lives at rest in the swirl of insanity that encompasses Christmas? King David figured it out.

  • Make peace the desire of your heart.

When life gets busy, it’s easy for our emotions to get trapped in a timetable tornado plotted out in people, parties, and plans. Recognize the hurricane of hurry and ask yourself, How is my soul? Am I at rest? Do I have peace? Is there a quiet heart here? Earnestly pray for this peace.

  • Worship where you are.

Do you want a quiet Christmas spirit? The starting place is to get into position. To find sanity and clarity for his soul, King David set the world aside and worshipped the majesty of God.

His hand quiets the restless heart. His breath calms an aching spirit. He is the sure and steadfast anchor in swirling soul, a hope that can pierce the innermost place. His arms of peace wrap around every pain and rein in the racing thoughts.

In His warm embrace, find a place with no agenda. Of all things in the universe, you are the object of His obsession and designed to crave time with the Maker. This is where contentment is kept. When we abandon the world’s fractured appointments and embrace His calm and quiet spirit, the companionship of our Creator quenches this thirst for rest and frees an enslaved soul.how to cultivate a quiet soul

  • Relinquish control.

I have a tendency in the midst of my turmoil to take matters into my own hands. I struggle with the pressure of pride, It’s up to me. I’ve got to do something about this. I’m going to get it done. I’ve got to work it out. I’ve got to handle it. I’ve got to take care of it.

The only safe and sane place to be is in surrender, yielding all control, ambitions, dreams and desires to a God who stitched your soul and is still seated on the throne over creation. God, I trust that you have my best interest in mind. This is peaceful, healthy living on the inside.

Realize you’re not in control. You’re not in charge and ultimately, you’re not dictating your days. God has numbered the days. I may make my plans but the Lord directs my steps. Release the stress of trying to control the uncontrollable.

  • Keep Christ the center focus.

Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, as it goes well with your soul. 3 John 1:2

We did not earn God’s love, we were born into it. This relationship with God is not on worth, it’s by birth. Like a child in its mother’s arms, my soul is calm and quiet because I am content in who God is and the royal family image I am sewn in.

Sometimes the unsettling of a soul comes from living out of other people’s perception of who you should be, how your hours should be spent or even, how you want to be perceived by peers. But the truth is we cannot occupy ourselves with everything that offers itself to us. We are stewards of our own soul. We must set limits and lines to cultivate the calm and quiet soul.

Heavenly Father, Almighty God… You are my desire in the midst of all the craziness surrounding Christmas. Cradle this soul as a weaned child within me, where we can experience and enjoy the embrace of a Father as I tackle the traffic, run my errands, and finish these last few days of work. When the demands increase and the noise gets louder, I ask for this collision with Christ in my soul to change the world instead of it changing me.

I pray for profound peace, the calm that quiets the soul during this season of my life. Spark a fire of unshakable joy in this space carved out for my resting soul. Infuse clarity and sanity in this place. Help me to engage hurting hearts and not get caught up in looking for a good time. My heart is steadfast and sold out for your people. Remind me often this holiday season to remain committed to connecting others with You, God. My desire for the broken soul is that your love be glorified in the leaning of a listening ear. May I live from the genuine, and authentic spirit, devoted to the design You dreamed of. I just want you, God. Only You, Jesus.  

Posted in Here & Now, Reflection | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Risky Right Thing

“In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing. The next best thing is the wrong thing and the worst thing you can do is nothing.” That’s from Theodore Roosevelt.

Have you ever heard Roosevelt’s story before He moved into the White House?

His bride died after giving birth to their daughter… just hours after his mother, who lived in the same house, died of typhoid fever.

Historians say Roosevelt wrote a large ‘X’ over February 14, 1884 in his diary and then penned, “The light has gone out of my life.”

Though this pain wore at his heart for a season, I think it may have actually fueled his strength to persevere in unexpected circumstances.

Twelve years later, in 1898, Roosevelt was elected governor, and in 1900 vice president, and then upon McKinley’s assassination in 1901, at forty-two years old Theodore Roosevelt became the youngest president of the United States.

Be encouraged in your struggles and pain today that God has given you the ability to overcome. Do something with the choice you have. And if your decision brings even more hardship, step back and start again.

riskyThe more mistakes you make means the more chances you took. A life of chances is what creates courage to carry out success.

Take chances in your career.

Get ridiculously risky with love.

Embrace vulnerability and expose the raw truth.

Strength for future favor can come from your circumstance if you press through the pain and persevere.

Allow the unexpected to fuel a life without regrets. Do something.

May the Lord direct your hearts into God’s love and Christ’s perseverance. 2 Thessalonians 3:5

…because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. James 1:3

Posted in Here & Now, Musings | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments