Are you a current day Esther? {2}

You may read Part 1 here: {Part 1 of 3}

{Part 2 of 3}
2) She didn’t rush God’s plan; she walked in patience & obedience:
Esther 2:10-12, “Esther had not revealed her nationality and family background, because Mordecai had forbidden her to do so. Every day he walked back and forth near the courtyard of the harem to find out how Esther was and what was happening to her.  Before a young woman’s turn came to go in to King Xerxes, she had to complete twelve months of beauty treatments prescribed for the women, six months with oil of myrrh and six with perfumes and cosmetics.”
Zechariah 3:7, “This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘If you will walk in obedience to me and keep my requirements, then you will govern my house and have charge of my courts, and I will give you a place among these standing here.”
Being the planner that I am, having a goal clearly outlined, and a plan of action is very important to me.  Esther didn’t seem to have this problem. She was a woman who could “go with the flow” and simply walk in patience & obedience.  Had she gotten impatient with God’s timing, she could have messed everything up, which would have been catastrophic for the Jewish people. However, she stayed true to God & her people & patiently walked in obedience to Him.
3) She used her position of power for God’s glory & not her own gain:
Esther 2:21-22, “During the time Mordecai was sitting at the king’s gate, Bigthana and Teresh, two of the king’s officers who guarded the doorway, became angry and conspired to assassinate King Xerxes. But Mordecai found out about the plot and told Queen Esther, who in turn reported it to the king, giving credit to Mordecai.”
When given a position of power, human beings naturally struggle to maintain humility. However, in this case, Esther remained pure before God & simply used her budding position of power for God’s glory.   This was only the beginning of God using her voice…
4) She boldly took a stand, at the risk of her own death:
Esther 4:10-11, “Then she instructed him to say to Mordecai, All the king’s officials and the people of the royal provinces know that for any man or woman who approaches the king in the inner court without being summoned the king has but one law: that they be put to death unless the king extends the gold scepter to them and spares their lives. But thirty days have passed since I was called to go to the king.’”
Esther 4:15-16, “Then Esther sent this reply to Mordecai: “Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my attendants will fast as you do. When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish.”
Joshua 1:9, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
Please join me here for Part 3
Until Then,

Are you a current day Esther? {1}

{Part 1 of 3}
Regardless of ones views on homosexuality, the greater issue I have with the whole Phil Robertson/Duck Dynasty attack is the huge risk we have of losing our freedom of speech!  If we can’t see that, then we really need to wake up!
I often refer to my favorite political figure, Sarah Palin, as being a current day Esther; the reason I say this is because she, like Esther, has been called for such a time as this, to speak Truth to those willing to hear.  However, is she alone? How about you & me? Aren’t we too called for such a time as this?  Is it not our civil duty as Christians, to boldly stand up for the Word of God?
Esther 4:14, “For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?” 
I’d like to give a little history on Esther: she came from a family where she was cared for by her Uncle Mordecai because she lost both of her parents to death.  When King Xerxes ordered that “all the single ladies” be brought to the palace, Esther was no doubt afraid; after all she was Jewish. The opportunity she was given to be part of the King’s harem was a dream for most women, much less a Jewish woman.  Yet even in the midst of the glitz & glamour, when given the instructions by Uncle Mordecai that her voice was needed to save her people, she did not focus on the potential fame & fortune; she clung to her Lord & in doing so became the most influential voice in King Xerxes palace! How is that for power?
During a day and age when the media promotes right as wrong & wrong as right, all I can do is point to the Bible & get my direction from Christ.  Esther’s example ignites within me a fire of passion to stand up for what I believe & to unashamedly & boldly speak what God has placed on my heart.
The steps that I see Esther having taken back then, I will be presenting to you for life-application today, in a 3-part series.
1) She was afraid, but she didn’t let fear paralyze her:  
Psalm 27:3, “Though an army besiege me, my heart will not fear; though war break out against me, even then I will be confident.”
Isaiah 41:10, “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
I know, first hand, how it feels to walk into a situation with my knees shaking from the fear of rejection, or fear of backlash. However, I have also seen, first hand, that obedience to God in these situations yields far greater results than I could ever imagine: open doors where I didn’t see a door, softened hearts that were hardened like rocks and favor when I was despised.  Identifying the call, and walking in obedience, defuses fear & the author of fear {Satan}.  Allowing fear to paralyze us only hinders The Call that God has placed on our lives & delays His message and/or work.
Please join me here for Part 2.

Until then…


Don’t let life dim your Sparkle

I purposed in my heart a month ago to S L O W down, relax & enjoy the holidays, yet here I am a week away from Christmas & feeling stressed out.  Being the planner that I am, I can proudly say that I finished my Christmas shopping, most of it has arrived, and what hasn’t arrive will be here this week.  The only thing left for me to do is wrap the presents & enjoy the time with our family.

You’re probably wondering, “Why are you stressed out then?”  Well, it’s simple really, my life-plate is pretty full on a daily basis. I juggle a full-time job, run a ‘side’ business with my husband, part-time co-parent with my husband (split custody), care for our home & try to spread our time between our family, and friends. Throw all that in with later nights at work, trying to get into a new exercise routine, holiday parties, wanting to start my blog & any other last minute things that come up & well, ya here I am trying really hard not to stress out at Christmas!

Anyone else in the same boat as me? My heart longs for peace & calm this time of year. I turn my Christmas tunes on & try to keep myself in a “sparkly” mood… but life just has a way of sucking that sparkle right out!

I’m thinking that I’m not alone in these feelings {okay, kinda hoping that’s the case so I’m not ‘abnormal’ ha ha}.  If I’m not alone then let me share with you how I’m presently working through the stress I’m feeling.

I’m working on these areas in my life: 
1) Keeping my heart & mind centered on Christ!  Remembering that it is the Holy Spirit within me Who gives that sparkle, takes the pressure off me & my performance & rests it in His hands. {what a relief! I don’t actually have to ‘do’ more!} Allowing Him to shine through me brings sparkle to each & very moment of my day! Joshua 22:5 “But be very careful to keep the commandment and the law that Moses the servant of the Lord gave you: to love the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, to keep his commands, to hold fast to him and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul.”

2) Reminding myself of my goal this Christmas: Achieving peace & enjoying the season!  Proverbs 14:30 “A heart at peace gives life to the body…”

3) Stopping & regrouping when I am stressing out! My tendency is to work through the stress & check off the things on my to-do list. However, when I do this, I find myself getting snappy at the people I love the most… losing my sparkle!  I’m really trying to just STOP & think about what I’m doing. Doing this forces me to reevaluate my tasks & re-prioritize! Not everything has to be done right now simply because it’s on my list! This concept is a difficult one for me to embrace; I’m actively learning through this one!! Proverbs 15:1 A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”  Psalm 46:10 “Be still, and know that I am God;”

4)  Staying full of gratitude.  Choosing to focus on being grateful for God’s many blessings this past year forces me out of the stressed-out mindset!  Often times my stress comes from not feeling like I’m doing enough, giving enough, have enough or accommodating enough.  Maintaining an attitude of gratitude allows me to see the beauty in the midst of chaos.
1 Thessalonians 5:18 “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 

May the joy of the Lord be your strength today & always!

Sparkle on, friend!


Beauty in Chaos

As I mentioned in a previous post “The Dreaded ‘C’ Word: Cancer” one of the areas I’m working on in my life is finding beauty in chaos.  The wheels have been turning inside my head as I try to wrap my brain around this new concept for the Type-A personality that I am! {smile}  As I struggle within, I thought it would be nice to share with you my friend: my struggle & my learning.

The first verse that comes to mind when I say the words “Beauty in Chaos” is Isaiah 61:3:
“and provide for those who grieve in Zion— to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor”

It’s amazing to me actually, how God has the keen ability to take something so ugly it was burned to ashes, and still make it beautiful.  I think of Psalm 66:10-12:“For you, God, tested us; you refined us like silver. You brought us into prison and laid burdens on our backs. You let people ride over our heads; we went through fire and water, but you brought us to a place of abundance.”

Rarely, in Bible times, did God’s people achieve abundance, or the Promised land, without pain, suffering, hard work & lessons learned. What makes me think that I am any different? Learning to find Beauty in Chaos means that even in the midst of my valleys, my hardships, my pain & my frustration, God gives me the ability to reach out to Him & in looking at His face in these moments-I see absolute, perfect beauty. Job says, Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him; I will surely defend my ways to his face.” Job 13:14-16.  If anyone knew pain, this man did & yet he still chose to put his hope in God.

I’m working on these areas in my life:
1) Remembering where I am, why I’m here & Who placed me here. Doing this allows me to put things into perspective, set my priorities straight & focus on the things God’s called me to do right here, right now.  Serving the people I love the most, with love & kindness, shutting out the lies of the enemy & pressing forward, not looking back.  Philippians 3:14 “I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”

2) When I get overwhelmed with the chaos around me, reminding myself that I’m in the Refiners fire & that it is here that I will learn & grow the most. Realizing this empowers me to tap into the power of the Holy Spirit & not rely on my own strength or understanding.  Proverbs 3:5 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;”  It keeps me focused on my innate need for Christ & my inability to handle the chaos without Him.

Will you find beauty in chaos with me? For some of you, you’re gifted with the ability to do this naturally & from you I am learning! {smile}  Thank you for your example & if you have any words of wisdom, I am listening.

Have a beautifully chaotic day friend! ♥


The Dreaded “C” word: Cancer

I’ve been mulling over this post for several days now. My heart wants to go there, but my head does not. It’s not a  pretty place, it’s an awkward & painful place, yet at the same time it’s a beautiful place-if I choose to look at it that way.

I still remember the day, as if it were yesterday: April 3, 2012. I was at work & it was around 3/3:30pm when my cellphone rings. I look at it & feel slightly annoyed because it’s my dad calling me & well, ‘he knows I’m at work right now, why wouldn’t he call later?!’ is the ugly of what I thought to myself. Since that day I could kick myself for feeling that way, but hey-it’s real, it’s ugly & it’s not something I’m proud of, but it happened!  Because I was at work, I didn’t answer my phone, so it beeps telling me I have a new voice mail from my dad.  I waited until I was leaving work to listen to the message. My dad’s voice sounded strained… different… and he asked me to call him when I could. This was weird. My dad never calls me, (we live 30 minutes away-so we see each other more than we talk on the phone).  I pulled up his number on my phone & dialed through blue-tooth… he answers & the conversation goes something like this: “Hi Baby, how are you, how was your day?”  I respond & then he proceeds, “Well, I have some bad news. Your mom and I felt you should be the first to know.” At this point my heart literally falls to the ground & starts racing… “I’ve been diagnosed with Stage III Lung Cancer” Wow! Talk about a life-changing moment!! My head starts racing, I start asking a million questions-what can they do, what will they do, what will he do, what can I do!?

In the weeks that followed, I happily took several days off work just so I could be with him & my mom for the doctor visits, asking questions, getting answers & just trying to support both of them & spend time together during this painful time.  The doctors basically told him with treatment he only had a 20% survival rate.  The treatment would last 6 months & if it didn’t kill him, it would make him very sick.  Ultimately he would never, ever feel as good as he felt right now. Wow! Doesn’t that sound promising & encouraging?{not!}

The next several months came with a lot of pain, frustration, anger & even times of confusion for all of us.  It was a very hard road. My mom and I never once told him what we felt or hoped he should do.  He did ask us, “should I do the treatment?” but neither of us believed we could make that decision for him. This was truly the most personal decision a person could face. All we could tell him is that we loved him & would wholeheartedly support him with whatever decision he made.  Being the amazing provider and protector that he’s always been, it was no surprise to us that his biggest concern was becoming a burden to us, and ultimately leaving us.

After getting all the facts, thinking about it & praying about it, my dad chose what I truly believe to be the best option for him. When he called to talk with me about his decision, he shared this verse:

“Then David said to Gad, “I am in great distress. Let us now fall into the hand of the LORD for His mercies are great, but do not let me fall into the hand of man.”” 2 Samuel 24:14 NAS
How could I disagree with that!? It was crystal clear to me: The man who had taught me the Word of God & who had always told me to seek God first. The man who agonized over truths God revealed to him in His word, yet pressed forward, often alone because of his understandings… This man, had yet again heard from God on the matter & was at peace within.  He would rather fall into the hands of God, than into the hands of men.  How could I be anything but understanding & supportive?  Wanna know a secret?? I kid you not, it’s been easy to support him with this decision, because I wholeheartedly agree with him.
While cancer is a very ugly thing & has taken people from my life who I love dearly, I have learned so much through my dad’s life example. From the get-go his diagnosis has taught me so much about God’s love, His mercy, His unwavering Truth & His ability to work in ways we don’t always understand. I may be small, but my God is big & it’s because of that Truth that I can write you today.
It’s been 20 months since my dad’s diagnosis & let me tell you, he is healthier today than he was back then! He took it upon himself to start eating & drinking healthier (thanks to my amazing Mom!), as well as getting exercise & just ENJOYING life! He rests when his body wants rest, but he LIVES the rest of the time!  Oh don’t get me wrong, he gets the blues sometimes when he starts thinking about the reality of the cancer {who wouldn’t?}, but overall, his disposition is one of LIVING the life God’s blessed him with TODAY.
Through my dad’s life example I am coming to see life differently.
We are never promised more than this very moment, right here, right now, yet somehow we so easily forget that & start planning our days, night, weeks, months & years way ahead of time.  Is it not our biggest responsibility to live for TODAY? “I know that there is nothing better for men than to be happy and do good while they live.” Ecclesiastes 3:12 NIV
“So I saw that there is nothing better for a man than to enjoy his work, because that is his lot. For who can bring him to see what will happen after him?” Ecclesiastes 3:22 NIV

If we say we love God & we are walking in His ways, then how can we truly ever doubt that our lives are in His hands? He made us! He breathed life into us! What makes us think that the Creator of life would possibly cut our lives short of what He’s called us to do? Don’t get me wrong, I realize there’s some very deep theological opinions on this topic, but I’m not going there! {ha ha!}  For me, realizing that man really doesn’t have any control over life or death-was a freeing & healing thing for me.  Being able to understand that regardless of my dad’s diagnosis, God would take him when He wanted to & not a moment sooner.  I’m still not entirely convinced that my dad will actually die of cancer.  No, I’m not in denial-I realize he has cancer, I just mean that I don’t believe the cancer is what will take him; I believe God will take him.  Basically what I’m trying to say is, a diagnosis or a doctor cannot overstep my God, He really is the Man in Charge! {smile}
This past year has been very trying as we all try to cope, in our own ways, with my dad’s cancer. I am choosing to allow it to mold & shape me into the woman God wants me to be.
I’m working on these areas in my life: 
1) Focus more on loving people for who they are: flaws & all. After all, I’m as flawed as anybody & always hope for love & acceptance from others, so how can I not give it?  “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”John 13:34 NIV
2) Living each moment to the fullest. Planning a little less & LIVING a lot more. {easier said than done for the Type-A planner in me! ha ha what can I say, I’m a work in progress!} “Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring forth.”Proverbs 27:1 NIV
3)  Trusting God with the big and small of my life.  This can sound really contrite, but it’s not meant that way. I’m a planner! No, seriously, I’m a planner! I like to know what is going on in my life for the next year. I like structure, organization, predictability & security.  Flying by the seat of my pants, “winging” it, waiting till the last minute, not knowing, these are all very new & scary, unfamiliar things for me.  A very, very dear mommy-friend of mine, shared a phrase with me about raising kids that has been life changing.  When talking about being a mother & having a career she said, “you learn to find beauty in the chaos”.  Um hell-O, how does a Type-A person do this? I mean, chaos? Really? How in the world do I find beauty in that, it’s chaos?? {smile} but I am learning what she means. It’s not simply about the chaos, it’s about finding the beauty in this very moment, every single day. I don’t need to have it all figured out, God already does. I don’t have to embrace chaos & unorganized mess, but I do have to embrace the tender moments that are within those messy moments. Embracing the people I love the most-caring for them and cherishing the moments I have with them, even if the moment includes some chaos!
“Are not two sparrows sold for a penny ? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.” Matthew 10:29-31 NIV
“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”I Peter 5:7 NIV
“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;”Proverbs 3:5 NIV

In focusing on trusting God in ALL things, and believing His Word, I’m learning that He really does have everything under control. If he numbers the hairs on my head & cares for the sparrows, how much more does he care for me & will provide for all my needs?

I hope that in sharing my heart with you, you may be encouraged in your own journey. Feel free to leave comments below, I’d love to hear from you! 🙂