Interview with Nicole Unice

When you hear Nicole Unice speak you will feel her passion for women, especially moms. She is truly a gift to the body of Christ with her love for teaching, helping all kinds of people connect with God and with one another. Today, she shares with us about fear, freedom, and how we are a gift to others when we allow ourselves to be vulnerable.

So grab a cup of coffee and tune in. We promise you will leave here feeling encouraged as you look at your day, today, differently.

It’ll be worth every minute, I promise!

IN THIS EPISODE

  • How scripture can resonate with us as we nurture children
  • As we get closer to the heart of God, we get free from our fear of rejection
  • The more we belong to Christ the less fear we have of belonging somewhere else
  • The gift of vulnerability
  • How much influence women have
  • Ask this question after reading your Social Media for a month
  • How to look at the day in front of you differently
  • Talks with us about her new book – Brave Enough

PERSPECTIVE

Be vulnerable enough to show your moments that you fail and how God continues to meet you.

LINKS AND RESOURCES MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE

NicoleUnice.com

GetBraveEnough.com

Brave Enough: Getting Over Our Fears, Flaws, and Failures to Live Bold and Free - Available on Amazon Now!

Facebook

Instagram

Twitter

ENCOURAGING VERSE

2 Timothy 1:7 “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”

FAVORITE TAKE AWAYS

"If we focus on what we don’t have and what we think we deserve, we will miss the great creative ways that God is reaching out to us every day."

Boldly pray, “God, I give you all of me. Will you give me all of You? My eyes are open to see your work.”

Interview with Jennifer Deshler

We met through mutual friends and since then she has been a blessing to my life. Jennifer Deshler is an encourager. She loves seeing other women succeed in life and flourish in their career.

I know you will love her story.  She is a single mom to a teenager and has been for 14 years.  She talks with us about leaving the corporate world to become an entrepreneur. How God has done some work on her own heart and the faith she has in Him.

You will love this strong, beautiful, Jesus-loving mom.

Get ready because she is going to preach!

IN THIS EPISODE

  • Teaching her daughter life experiences
  • How her choices resulted in opinions from others
  • Single parents rely on God a little differently
  • Being enough
  • Married moms help by speaking life into that single mom
  • The hardest part of being a single parent
  • The rewards in parenting
  • Watching your child thrive
  • How to stand on God’s Word
  • Be vulnerable in the hard moments

PERSPECTIVE

There are 10 million single parents. 80% of those are single moms.

RESOURCES MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE

Romans 8:28

Jeremiah 29:11

Deuteronomy 31:8

Jennifer’s Website

On Facebook

On Twitter

ENCOURAGING VERSE

2 Corinthians 6:18 “and I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to me, says the Lord Almighty.”

MY FAVORITE TAKE AWAY

No matter how unsure the future looks, God’s got it all mapped out – Jennifer Deshler

CONVERSATION

What part of the interview, if any, changed your perspective? Are you a single parent with a story? We would love to hear from you. Share with us what are the highs and lows?

When We Get Too Tired To Fix Things

fixthings
There comes a point when all inspirers long to be inspired. Where all encouragers need their own Barnabas while their own arms are getting too tired as cheerleaders. It’s a proven fact, and some of us don’t want to admit it: That even the most inspiring around us get tired.

We tend to go in fix-it mode.

As mothers, we put band-aids on cuts and bruises.

As wives, we pray for our spouses asking God to fix him, when instead we should be asking Him to fix us.

As a friend, we listen and encourage through life circumstances - one to another.

As a woman, we stand on the sidelines as a cheerleader with our pom-poms cheering other women as they play the game of life.

We fix things.

That’s our nature.

We want people to feel good.

Do good.

Be good.

Love good.

But what about you?

Who is fixing us?

Whose your Barnabas?

Or have we gotten too tired that we don’t even look for it anymore?

Then maybe we just don’t.

Maybe we just stop looking and just be still.

Still in His Holiness.

Still in His Presence.

It’s not about attending another event or conference or reading the next spiritual book that promises an encounter with God. {Mind you, these are all well and good. They provide excellent tools to learn and grow from} Where after awhile, we don’t leave changed or we forget what we just read. We become numb to those things because the encourager is still encouraging when she’s the one that needs encouragement.

Maybe God is just saying be still and know that I am God.

Christine Caine said it this weekend at IF:Gathering: God is not a God of what WAS. He’s the God of I AM.

She talked about moving from your past into the present. It was an incredible talk and if you would like to hear it, you can find it here.

What if we looked at this another way. What if we stopped, for just a moment, encouraging and just starting listening?

What if we quit looking for our Barnabas and instead go to the One that created Barnabas.

Be still and know that I AM God.

There is a Holiness in the stillness that longs to be taken a hold of from each one of us.  In His stillness we find joy and peace, but also encouragement and inspiration.

Rest in His stillness.

Rest knowing that He is the I AM that we long for.

Find your rest today because no one was made to hold the pom-poms up everyday.

Jesus, In your stillness, Lord, is where I want to be.  Help me to tune out the things around me and tune into Your things. May I seek your face daily. In my rest, Lord, may I continually be in Your Presence. May I walk day and night with conversation on my lips to you. You are my Encourager, my Inspirer, my Lord and my God. In Your Name I pray, Amen.

 

10 Books That Inspire Big Dreams in 2015

Book
With the Christmas season upon us, I wanted to prepare a resource for you these next few weeks of perfect gifts for Christian leaders, bloggers, writers, and creatives on your list. Some of these I have not read personally, but are on my gift list.

1. Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless Godby Francis Chan This is a great reminder to read every new year that it isn’t about our to-do list or the don’t in life, but asking ourselves – Am I loving God well? God is calling you to a passionate love relationship with Himself. Because the answer to religious complacency isn’t working harder at a list of do’s and don’ts--it’s falling in love with God. And once you encounter His love, as Francis Chan describes it, you will never be the same. Because when you’re wildly in love with someone, it changes everything.

2.The Circle Maker: Praying Circles Around Your Biggest Dreams and Greatest Fearsby Mark Batterson After reading this book be ready to begin praying audacious prayers for the dreams you have for 2015. Mark does a great job helping us understand what happens when you pray for your family, finances, and your future.

3. The Pursuit of Godby A.W. Tozer I am an old school girl when it comes to Christian authors. I love the writings of Tozer because he writes in a way that has you aweing after the presence of God. Can’t wait to add this as part of my daily readings.

4. Jesus Prom: Life Gets Fun When You Love People Like God Doesby Jon Weece I want to Love better every year. I have this on my bookshelf and can’t wait to dive in and have an extravagant party that celebrates the very people Jesus died to love.

5. Live Original: How the Duck Commander Teen Keeps It Real and Stays True to Her Valuesby Sadie Robertson Most of you know we have two teenage daughters, 13 and 14 years old. They are asking for this book for Christmas. I am for anything a teen girl is willing to stay true to herself and her faith. Keep being the bright example, Sadie!

6. Devotions for a Healthier Youby Katie Farrell I will turn 42 in 2015 and for the last 2 years I have been able to maintain keeping the 30 lbs I lost off. Now I want to add more exercise, eating right and take care of the body God has given me. Can’t wait to add this to my devotions, plus, she’s a stinkin’ cutie!

7. Clout: Discover and Unleash Your God-Given Influenceby Jenni Catron, I have sat across the table with Jenni and let me just say her wisdom for helping others succeed is who she is. What Jenni has done has put her passion into words that only she can do. She weaves us through the process of our gifts, talents and passions as leaders, whether it be in ministry or business and the influence we have and are capable of.

8. Visioneering: God's Blueprint for Developing and Maintaining Visionby Andy Stanley Every new year Jose and I write our vision down (Habakkuk 2:2) for what we are asking God to do in the New Year. This is a must for those wanting a new vision for 2015. Andy Stanley leaves you with a clear mental picture of what could be, fueled by the conviction that it should be.

9. Good to Great in God's Eyes: 10 Practices Great Christians Have in Commonby Chip Ingram shows how Christians can honor God with the lives of great faith and excellent work. Believers become great in God's eyes by applying the 10 common characteristics of great Christians. Using Scripture, personal stories, and examples of Christians who left a lasting legacy, bestselling author Chip Ingram offers practical steps for becoming great in all areas of life, in spiritual growth, family, relationships, and career.

10. Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Usby Daniel H. Pink Often times we think money is our motivation to begin new things when ultimately things with no passion behind it will fail. Daniel discusses the secret to high performance and satisfaction-at work, at school, and at home—is the deeply human need to direct our own lives, to learn and create new things, and to do better by ourselves and our world.

So what are you reading? Would love to hear...

When The Masses Become The One: A Challenge To Women

Womens Conference
A friend in her twenties sent a text message telling me this Christian “thing” is too hard. How she struggles with control and faith in a God she is trying to understand. She asks questions like – “Why does God have us walk on a path we don’t even know where we are going?” or “It seems like God enjoys hurting us”. I call her; we talk, and walk through scripture while I silently pray for His Holy Spirit to utter every word out of my mouth. Another is pregnant with twins. Due to some complications, she is now in the hospital on bed rest hoping to keep her babies inside her for three more weeks as she celebrates carrying them for 31 so far. Visiting her at the hospital, I toted a bag of goodies to keep her busy and to encourage her as a mom as we’ve all been there. Her mom was there and between the three of us we will have mothered 10 children!

In that hospital room we celebrated. We celebrated every heartbeat and every ache and pain that goes along with it. In that room we're different generations gleaning from each other. Her mother encouraging me as I tell her my story of raising teenage girls in this world and how tough it is. We look at each other realizing how much harder it would be if we didn’t have God with us.

We were women and we were mothers, each of us celebrating life. One generation that has stood the test and now encouraging the other with her own teenagers. One mother of twins encouraging the other soon-to-be mother of twins as we celebrate another day in the womb. Celebrating these babies as they stay where they are suppose to - growing, and preparing for the journey that lies ahead. Lying down in a hospital bed we realize that God is still etching out every detail, every crease, and every hand print before she holds her precious twins.

Meeting a friend for coffee - both of us close in age. We talked about the incredible work these young Christian women are doing out in the world. Creating places where thousands of women can come together and hear a message from their peers of becoming brave in their journey or becoming a part of a cause greater than themselves. We discussed things like social media and women all over the world seeing lights and platforms that have huge followings.

And then we wonder about the one woman out there - the one out there daring enough to comment – What about me?

Titus 2
We challenged each other. We asked questions like - What does God have for us now? Have we made our mark? Have we finished our own race?

Asking ourselves one poignant question:

What if God just meant for us to mentor the one?

As my friend and I continued talking, we had the sweetest, young twenty-something come to our table and say, “I don’t want to be rude, but I’ve been listening to your conversation. Can I just say YES! Yes, I’m someone that is looking for the one to mentor me. Actually, there are so many of us that need an older woman in our life that I don’t think anyone realizes the need. Pouring into us, helping us, and guiding us. We want to learn from people like you. I don’t have a good relationship with my mom and even if I did, there are so many of us that struggle telling our mom’s what we are thinking or going through.”

As the conversation finished, we said thank you, exchanged phone numbers, and my friend and I looked at each other smiling upwards saying - Ok, God.

Ann Voskamp wrote a post last week on the very same day my friend and I met for coffee that torn us up and I looked up again and said - Ok, God.

Ann said things like:

  • And every day, with every word, we get to decide: Do we mar the world, or mark the world?
  • The extraordinary things happen nowhere else but in the everyday and today can always be the beginning
  • The most exquisite marks anyone makes with their life — are the marks done in secret.

You can read her post here.

It is more noble to give yourself completely to one individual than to labor diligently for … the masses.” Christ left the ninety-nine for the one. – Ann Voskamp

Yes!

Jesus did more with the one. He did more ministry with the Samaritan woman than any lights or stage would have done for her.

Shame on us for creating an environment for the masses and stamp it with Jesus Approved.

We have taken the Great Commission and created the Great Business Plan.

The one question I’ve been asking myself these last few days…

What happen to the Titus 2 Woman?

I love the New Living version of the Bible in these scriptures:

Similarly, teach the older women to live in a way that honors God. They must not slander others or be heavy drinkers. Instead, they should teach others what is good. These older women must train the younger women to love their husbands and their children, to live wisely and be pure, to work in their homes, to do good, and to be submissive to their husbands. Then they will not bring shame on the word of God. – Titus 2:3-5

Somehow we have forgotten this command.

I’m just as guilty.

We have a responsibility to not lose this generation. We, older women, must mentor the generation after us.

We must seek out the one.

Our nation is beginning to see half of all marriages end in divorce. We see more women leaving their brand new babies at fire station doorsteps because the responsibility of another is too hard. More women struggling to really know what submitting to our husbands looks like and what it means to be patient and to do good.

Titus 2 Woman
Titus Two
In the beginning of the internet world, if you read anything to do with Titus 2 and the Titus 2 woman it seemed as though your search found you with god-awful fonts and women clothed in dresses all the way up from their necks to their ankles. It was pink and purple and foo-foo and ugly. It told the world Titus 2 woman are good and sinless and conservative and puppets for their husbands and children.

So we became turned off, told ourselves we were unqualified.

For some, we have allowed Titus 2 women through a computer screen. We find our answers online or in print rather over a cup of coffee or on the playground with a human face before us. The internet has given us a luxury to not become truly involved in real-life community.

coffee with friends
So I challenge you to not allow another generation to be affected like this. We ARE Titus 2 women. We must get out there and get our hands dirty for the one - not just the masses.

We must not think about the next big thing or magazine or conference. We have enough of those.

God needs more of us to think about the one.

We need more women that are ready to go to the well and pour Living Water into the woman she sees there.

No lights, no speaker list, nothing. Just a well and a woman.

So what does this look like?

I don’t know.

Think about what you need or needed?

When you were overwhelmed with a messy house, kids everywhere and were sleep deprived, what did you need? You needed someone to bring you a meal, or help you clean your house, or take the kids for an afternoon.

When you were newly married and you wondered if this will last forever? You felt like you couldn’t tell anyone, especially your mom. You saw yourself as a failure and instead hid your deepest pains inside.

When you became a Christian in your twenties and wanted to continue going to parties with your friends and how hard it was to say no because you were trying do what is right? You longed for someone to come into your life and mentor you. Help you understand the Bible and what it meant to be a Christ-follower.

I love what Ann Voskamp said in her writing:

And the only way to ever leave beauty marks on the world is with bits of yourself.

We must be ready to be vulnerable.

This is what I believe God is longing for. Something that doesn’t bring us glory with the lights and masses of followers, but gives Him the glory because of the story He gave us to tell.

So, again I ask, what does this look like?

I don’t know.

Is it a movement?

I don’t know.

Is it a ministry?

I don’t know.

But I do know this; there is a world out there with people who are hurting.

People who are asking, what about me?

Where is my place in this world?

People who are hungry for someone to just listen to them. People who are longing for someone to look into their eyes and tell them they are valuable, are loved, and worth all the stars in the sky.

People who just want to hear that everything is going to be ok.

You just may be that one.

I Still Believe

Fifteen ladies gathered in a room last Tuesday to begin a study called Restless by Jennie Allen. Some of them completely unaware of the journey they are about to embark on. We started with a brief introduction of ourselves telling each other their name and how long they have been at Cornerstone Church - one of them beginning their third week as a visitor.

The room is filled with all ages from 18 to 52.

It seems as though a common bond is present – where do I take my life as it is and move forward into God’s purpose in my life?

Some of them stuck in their past.

Some of them not feeling worthy enough to pursue dreams.

Some have forgotten how to dream.

via Creative Commons
via Creative Commons

In the moments of sharing, it seems as a blanket of criticism covers them. It’s as though silent struggles were in that room crying out inside for a sense of hope, a sense of peace.

I love what the Bible says in Isaiah 10:27:

In that day their burden will be lifted from your shoulders, their yoke from your neck; the yoke will be broken because you have grown so fat. (NIV)

I still believe in something we don’t talk about in the Christian circuit anymore…

[Tweet "I still believe in a burden removing, yoke destroying power of God"]

This is what gets me excited the most - these ladies, these fifteen women that have come and made a commitment to want a change in their lives, that want to grow – they will begin to see the yoke of their struggles broken. Why? Because of the last part of that verse…because you have grown so fat!

Oh, I can’t wait until they get so fat, so sassy, in whom they are in Christ. How they will begin to see themselves how God sees them.

Sorry…I get excited when I know God is up to something!

Last week, I posed the question –

[Tweet "What is one thing Christians struggle with the most?"]

There was an incredible response with so many diverse answers. I’m hoping to touch on each one of them because I think it is something we all need to be talking about. Do you struggle with hope? Knowing Him? Needing Him? Trusting Him? Let’s talk about them.

If you struggle as a Christian in a certain area, I would love to hear about it.Let’s point each other to the One that can remove every burden and destroy every yoke as we learn from each others journey.

Friends continue to pray for these women that each of them would have a God-encounter that will set their feet on the path God has laid out for them. And pray for me that I simply be only a conduit of the Lord making way for Him.

Love.

Something I Haven't Done In A While

Tonight begins something I haven’t done in awhile. It’s time.

I’ll be teaching a new Life Group at our church using Jennie Allen’s curriculum from Restless the first 8 weeks and then the last 4 weeks will be doing something I myself am excited and nervous about. In those last 4 weeks, I really feel like God is wanting to take these ladies on a journey of finding themselves in who they are called to be and begin taking steps in that direction. My prayer is that God would use me to mentor and coach these women as they begin to weave the threads they find along their journeys.

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Two things that make me nervous, who am I to help them when I don’t even have my own life figured out and making myself vulnerable! I can tell you what I've dreamed, what I envision for my life, but I hesitate like others not feeling adequate enough, qualified enough, or even worthy. Yet, I don’t think we truly ever figure this thing called “life” out. We may never understand why we live in the neighborhood we live in or the place of work we go to every week. We may never understand why we get sick or why the finances seem to fall short at times. But, I know that if I ask God to order my steps, if I allow Him to be Lord over my life, He will put me in places I never thought of or imagined. He will have me sitting across breakfast tables hearing women that are struggling in their marriage wondering what to do next or talking on the phone to someone with tears in their voice that says, “I can’t take it anymore”.

I’m not going to pretend to have all the answers because I don’t. I look at myself and see imperfection just like others. I find myself staying more humble these days as it seems my voice has been taken to those that need encouragement, empowerment and hope - one person at a time.

I need you to do something for me friends.

I need you to pray for these women.

 

sunset-hair

Some I know, some I've never met before. Pray that God will begin to show them His palm print in each of them. That they would allow the Holy Spirit to guide and direct their paths each week. That these women would become more than they ever imagined going out before they came in.

Lastly, pray for me.

Pray that every word, every syllable, would point to Christ. That God would freely take over each meeting as He sees fit. Pray that He gives me an ear to hear, a mind to perceive and a heart to believe in His word and in these women.

Love you BIG!

Turning 40 plus 1: Yes, I will

Ha! That’s me. I turned 40 plus one on Sunday! Just in case you need a reminder that is four decades plus one year.

I know, I know, I don’t look past 32 (*wink*), but I’ve had a long-time friend tell me that I seem to always be looking better as I get older. Wait..what??

Side bar – So what did I look like before?

Turning 41
oh, yeah….no words!!

Ironically, we are heading out as I am writing this to a friend’s 40th birthday dinner. It seems there are a group of us either turning 40 or 41 this year - 73’ and 74’ were awesome year’s friends!

Can I get honest?

Last year I hated turning 40! I didn’t like it. I wanted to believe I was still 35, not 40. 40 meant I was getting old. 40 meant I was closer to 50. 40 meant I was possibly through half of my existence.

older1
I hate admitting that I had a hard time with turning 40. Other 40 year olds I know accepted turning 40 much more gracefully than I did. Looking back, it seems a little selfish of me, given that growing older is an opportunity not everybody gets – and this hard truth has hit closer to home in recent years than I’d like.

But now that I’m 41, I think I’ve finally gotten the “I hate turning 40″ pity party out of my system. Listen, I’m still not crazy about the fact that I’ll never ever go back to my 20s or 30s. And, frankly, I’m a little confused about where those decades went? I’d trade a month’s supply of wrinkle cream for another night of watching the Flock of Seagulls or Depeche Mode at Knott’s Berry Farm! (and all the spiritual-people went oohhh!!) I finally have some appreciation for what this new decade I’m in has to offer.

So, for what it’s worth, there are some things about turning 40 (or in my case 41) that are pretty awesome and you learn to appreciate those times a friend calls you and asks you what is wrong? You are not yourself. She tries to be nice about it, but I remember texting her and saying, “I think you just told me to get my “you-know-what” together, put a smile on and be happy for goodness-sake, life isn’t that bad!”

So...here are 5 things that will make turning 41 even sweeter.

1. Giving advice comes easy but only if others ask for it. At 41, the School of Hard Knocks qualifies you for at least a Bachelor’s degree in Advice Giving, right? (The Masters comes at 60!) This isn’t to say I have all the answers, far from it. But at 41, you’ve had enough experience to understand there’s actually very little in life that isn’t, at least, survivable. Sure, there have been events in my life that have changed me, like my dad passing away just before I turned 40. But at 41, I will still get up each day and put one foot in each pant leg like everyone else. At 41 chances are you’ve seen close friends or even yourself go through it (illness, divorce, layoffs, bankruptcies, etc.) and live to tell about it. When you hear someone say “Time heals all wounds” you realize it isn’t a cliché but that it really does take A LOT of time.

older2
2. You know who your true friends are. Gosh, this has been a freeing one for me. At 41, that fuzzy line that existed in your 20s and 30s between ‘friends’ and ‘acquaintances’ can be drawn with laser precision. By now, you’ve weeded out the “I’ll be your friend because I need something from you” friend and the “surface” friends. And, truthfully, I’ve probably been weeded out too. At 41, you understand that it is perfectly normal to have a social circle of which only a handful are really your true friends. You might not have as many friends as you did in your 20s or 30s (and, no, Facebook is not your radar of pure friendships!), but there’s comfort in finally understanding who your true friends are. True friends don’t care if you’ve had a bad day, if you’ve been incognito for months, if your house is a mess. They are the ones who pick up the phone and ask you what’s wrong or like you just the way you are, no matter how imperfect you may be.

older3
3. You finally accept who you are. At 41, you no longer need acceptance from others to feel good about yourself. You start to feel comfortable in your own shoes. You no longer feel the need to be someone that you’re not, inside or out. Keeping up with every fashion trend, diet, or the Jones’ (which I think I learned at 35) you find as a simple waste of time. So forgive me if you see me in my capris or some comfy Timberline boot cut pants with flip-flops today instead of skinny jeans, see me makeup-less, or if I haven’t ombre-ed my hair or painted my nails or maybe gained 10 of the last 30lbs I lost (I’ll eat salads next week after my birthday cake). At 41, I’m OK with being me.

Older4
4. Do what you enjoy. At 41, you have the wisdom to finally start living your dreams. When you are in your 20s and 30s, time seems infinite. So you feel totally OK with doing meaningless things or spending it doing things that don’t really make you happy. After all, there’s always sooner or later. It’s easy to put your dreams and passions off to the side or on the back burner to focus on a career or a family in your 20s. But, at 41, you begin to realize that sooner is now later and the days are fleeting. Time really does fly. Why waste it doing something that makes you unhappy? I understand that the mortgage needs to get paid, but that doesn’t mean you can’t take that calligraphy class you’ve been excited about, train for that half marathon you’ve been wanting to do, or make all 60 pie recipes from “A Year of Pies: A Seasonal Tour of Home Baked Pies” in a year because learning how to make the most beautiful pie crust is a feat in and of itself.

older5
5. You know what’s important. At 41, you begin to finally realize that the most important thing on this earth is the eyes that stare at you every day - your family. At 41, there are no more babies to wipe bottoms for or sit on the carpet and play with. The intentionality to them and for them has changed. Although Savannah Guthrie has changed that for some women in their 40s wanting a child! Congrats! At 41, you see purpose in your life. Purpose is different than passion. Purpose is seeing your kids and saying to yourself, “I want to try and do the best job I can do as a mother, because if I fail at this, I fail them.” (Probably just me)

At 41, you realize too that none of this would be possible without Jesus and the true, raw, and real relationship you have with Him. That He takes your imperfect and causes it to be a blessing. He takes your stupidity of your 20s and 30s and says, “Yep, that, see that, I’m going to take it and use it for My good.” I could be a mentor that might have all the answers, have the truest of friends, accept myself for who I am or do what I’m passionate about, but will never want to walk a day in my life without the One who provides the answers when He makes a way where there seemed to be no way. The One who is the only friend I need but gives me favor to love others also. The One who accepts me because He made me and the One who gives me the desires of my heart. Nothing about turning 41 brings me more gratefulness than a God who truly has been there all these 41 years. He knows every step I’ve taken thus far, every decision I’ve made and I wouldn’t change a thing.

Maybe you just turned 40 or 41; do you have anything that needs to be added to this list?

Point Them to the Answer, Not the Circumstance

bibleThere are days where I wonder if it’s worth blogging anymore.

The blogosphere has changed in the last four years when I started this blog.  Everyday my inbox is full of blog posts that I have subscribed to read their daily posts.  Unfortunately, a lot of them have shut their blogs down to spend their time doing other things. Part of me wonders if their story was finished or felt as though no one cared about their story.

When I started this blog I titled it “Michelle Sarabia”.  A few posts into writing, I knew this wasn’t about my story but His story.  The best, most famous, Author out there.  I committed this blog to writing His story.  Words that would pierce hearts just like Peter did in Acts 2.  Where words would change lives in an instant or keep the reader coming back for more because his heart needed to hear more.

More inspiration, more truth, more love, more Jesus.

It seems as though that all that blogs are about now is the bloggers story.  The story of cleaning, cooking, organizing, conferences, life circumstances being written all “in the name of Jesus”.

Can I ask a question….when does the piercing of the reader’s heart take place?

When the title of my blog was changed to Beyond Brave, I was out to lunch with a friend and I was telling her that I wanted to change the title of my blog to Brave.  As we talked about our stories and all that God has brought us through.  She looked at me and said what about calling it “Beyond Brave”.  I loved it because it was in moments like this, when having lunch with a friend and sharing some of your deepest yearnings for God.  Sharing each other’s hearts of lives being changed all because of Jesus.  Thus the subheading “When ordinary moments take extraordinary Faith”.  We left there feeling inspired, encouraged and excited in what God was going to do next in our lives.

Four years later, I find myself with such an aching for how our stories have affected His story.  See Jesus died on the cross for you and for me and the cool thing is He rose again.  Jesus told stories.  Two thousand years later His stories are still being used.  I’m afraid our own stories have hidden the true story and the Storyteller.

Just like my lunch with my friend, I want you to leave my blog feeling inspired and encouraged.  I want you to feel challenged to be better even as I challenge myself.  I don’t want any of my circumstances or situations to over shadow what God is doing in them. My hope is that I point you to the One who is the True Author and Finisher of your faith (Hebrews 12:2).

I don’t want to ever feel when I write and you read that you may think, “all she talks about is Jesus”. Sorry, but this isn’t high school and I’m not here to win a popularity contest.  I’m here to write words like David was in song.  I’m here leaving a digital footprint like Paul was when he challenged those to follow Christ.  I’m here to show love from my laptop to all over the world.

Bloggers continue to share your stories but let’s go back to the basics.

  • Pray and ask God what He wants you to write about for today’s blog post, each day.
  • Lead them to Christ not to your circumstance
  • Let your readers see this Amazing God we have fallen in love with.  Let them know why we love Him.
  • Lastly, point every story we tell back to Christ.

Remember this; He is the Author and Finisher of our faith.  He writes the once upon a time and happily ever after. It’s up to us what we write inside the pages of our books.

Hebrews 12:1-3 The Message Translation

Do you see what this means—all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we’d better get on with it. Strip down, start running—and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!

Discover the I AM in You - Tami Heim

This week has been an amazing time here on Beyond Brave.  A friend of mine left a comment that said “You sound so at peace in these posts.” She’s right.

The last few weeks I have been on this journey with God.  Just feeling His amazing Love and wrapped in His Holy Spirit knowing that I’m at peace with where God has me and trusting Him and only Him to what He has ahead for me.

Some of this incite of who I am and what God created me for came from my dear mentor and friend Tami Heim.  She did a session at the Blissdom Conference this year called – Branding YOU: The Journey from the Inside Out. I'm excited to say she'll be speaking at She Inc. in June!! Woo Hoo!!

She’s been sweet enough to allow me to share some of this framework with you.  I encourage you to come back if it becomes a little overwhelming and break this down in bite-size pieces.  I promise you you won’t be disappointed.

Core Value Worksheet

Strengths Reference Guide

Part One – The Journey from the Inside Out

Identify Your Core Values

Develop a list of core values that represents what is more important to you and then rank them in order of priority. Use Core Value worksheet.

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List Your Strengths

Identify four or five of your greatest strengths. Strengths are those talents assessed using formal measuring tools, have been acknowledged or affirmed by others who know you well, or describe a state of being which gives you the most energy.  See Strengths reference guide.

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Part Two – Being You

In this section, we were to list priorities and goals and the impact success in achieving these would have on others.

Two of mine were:

Goal: Amazing Wife Impact: Loving and Lasting Marriage

Goal: Kids that are on fire for God Impact: Generational Heritage and Godly Legacy

Then we were to construct an “I AM” statement.  Who you are, what you do, and how it impacts others. Make this a blend of your strengths and core value selections.

Here is mine:

“I AM a passionate wife and mother who desires to be authentic and effective. I desire to encourage those around me through humility, gratitude and kindness.”

Your own Being You Worksheet

Part Three: The Merger of Your Reality and Their Perception

Behaviors follow thinking. Extraordinary behaviors follow extraordinary thinking. You choose. The consistency of what you do will work to align your reality with the perception the world has of you. List specific behaviors that reinforce and reflect your stand.

Here are mine.

Personal

1.  Loving

2.  Grace

3.  Time

4.  Life in the present

5.  Excellence

Professional

1.  110%

2.  Excellence

3.  Trusting

4.  Integrity

5.  Reliable

Digital

1.  Lead

2.  Inspire

3.  Motivate

4.  Encourage

5.  Follower

Don't forget to leave me a comment letting me know what your I AM is.  

See you next week!

 

5 Ways to Equip Christian Women for Leadership

Yesterday we talked about the sacrifices working moms make and the work I am currently doing that I shyed away from telling anyone publicly for a year!! Which brings me to a new venture that will begin this month…She Inc!

Can I just tell you I am excited about this!  For almost 10 years I was with a ministry that brought hope and encouragement to young Christian moms.  When you left a meeting, you felt inspired to be the best mom you could be only wanting to come back for more.

The goal is to create that with She Inc.  Reaching out to the working woman.  Whether that is at a corporate level or the work at home mom yet we all have a common bond and that is Jesus.

The Vision of She Inc. is:

For women who are uniquely positioned for influence and leadership. Our goal is to connect business women at monthly lunch events to inspire and encourage their vision and purpose in the workplace.

To support one another personally, develop our leadership potential professionally, and learn to implement biblical wisdom in the workplace spiritually.

The lineup is going to be amazing for these luncheons such as Alli Worthington, Tami Heim, Sami Cone and more!  These women that will be speaking will leave you feeling encouraged and motivated to be all that God has called you to be.

The excitement is contagious!

I asked my friend Jenni Catron to write and give us some bullet points of 5 Ways to Equip Christian Women for Leadership.  She is a talented speaker and writer.  Follow her blog at Leading in Shades of Gray.

Don't forget to indulge me and leave a comment.

5 Ways to Equip Christian Women for Leadership by Jenni Catron

  1. Encourage them. We all need a pat on the back and a few kind words to keep us going.
  2. Coach them. Give specific and direct feedback. Too often we mistake feedback as a negative thing. Constructive criticism delivered with kindness is gold!
  3. Affirm them. Insecurity can rock the best of us. When you see a leader operating in their giftedness, don’t assume she knows it. Tell her.
  4. Listen to them. Listen for their fears, concerns hopes and dreams.
  5. Pray for them. It is an incredible gift to know that someone cares about you enough to pray for you!

Blissdom 2012 Keynote Jon Acuff

It was a great time at Blissdom this weekend. Jon Acuff was one of my top 3 speakers and as one of the keynote speakers. The first time I heard him was at the MOPS 2011 Convention in Nashville and can I just say...he is polished! He owns his talk and really impressed on me to continue to change the way I do Social Media.

Here are some highlights:

  • Never compare your beginning to someone else's middle.
  • Little things change big dreams.
  • Make time for the things that matter.
  • Do things that matter.
  • Four words for parents - hang up and arrive
  • Social Media never sleeps
  • Let me be your kids not your content
  • Kids don't believe in later but right now

What are some things you have learned along the way when it comes to Social Media?

A New Direction

I was looking when the last time I wrote here....January 9th! Ouch! The last few weeks I've been praying and asking God for direction. Direction on this space.

Seeking Him on what He wants this blog to look like.

Some things in my life have changed.  One of the biggest changes have been me going back to work.  We had me go back to work in March of last year thinking that it was going to be temporary.  But reality hit us and realized that although we know that God is and will always be our Provider, the stress and worry to make ends meet was not worth me staying home while the kids were in school.

Long story short, God has given me an amazing job.  One thing I always did was stay current with the market when it came to my experience in Marketing and PR while I was a stay-at-home mom.  I now work for a golf course and development as the Director of Marketing and make a salary that one would think doesn't reflect a mom that stayed at home for 13 years.

Here is what I need from you...I need your prayers. Prayer for clarity.  I still want to write and publish "that book" for moms.  I still will be speaking to women and encourage leaders to be all that God has called them to be (thankful for a boss that allows me to do this things still). I guess at the end of the day, I want to do everything with purpose and God's direction.  I want to make an impact for however long or short God has me in front of people speaking, writing or ministering.

But for now I will sit in His extravagant love!

 

 

 

My Last 2011 Post - Talents and Abilities

No that’s not what I want to say. Delete.

God, give me the words.

Blink.

Blink.

Blink.

Nothing.

God, please give me the words to write. Lord, I want to tell my readers how much I love and appreciate them.  That this year they have been the one’s inspiring me.

Michelle, they are not yours, they are mine.

I know Lord.

Blink.

Blink.

(Close the laptop)

Hannah (10 year old) walks in the room. Talking in an English accent, “May I take your order?” Her and her sister, Gabby (11) just got done making homemade (and I mean their own recipe creation) cupcakes. Hannah will make you laugh in her acting abilities and can sing amazingly, but she hides behind her shyness.  I began telling her how I was tired of seeing her not use the talents God has given her.  That the talents and abilities God gave her were given to her to use. That no one else has those gifts.  I went on telling her, “Do you realize God gave them to you? He gave you something that others don’t have? We can’t let them go to waste.

(Open the laptop)

Blink.

God you are amazing.  I’ve been questioning this space called Beyond Brave. But this is not my blog Lord, it’s yours.  Its yours to use me in.  The talents and abilities God you have given me, I need to make sure they don’t go to waste.  So Lord I ask you what does that look like in 2012? What do you want me to create for You in this space? What audience is there Lord? Sometimes I feel as though I am the only one in this big space.  But I know I am not alone because You are here.  You are the inspiration that pours in the space.  You are the encouragement that flows from one sentence to the next.  You are what this blog is to be. I am just your conduit, your vessel to use.

Lord, before the year is over show me what you want this space to be.  Where you want to take this to. As I question my own abilities Lord, give me the courage I need and the confidence I lack with each word that is typed and every paragraph that is formed.  I ask you God to guide my steps, direct them.  Show me Lord what it will look like for 2012. You know how many things have changed and the new seasons you have me in.  But I am faithful in knowing that “all things work together for those that love Him and are called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

My prayer is the same for you. That in your own “space” God has you in, that His love and encouragement wrap around you these next few days of the year.  As we enter 2012, you will be inspired to go BIG for God.

By the way, the cupcakes were actually really good.

See you next year.

My Favorite Bloggers for 2011

Those of us blog readers love great blog posts. I particularly love blogs that inspire and encourage me in my spiritual journey {I guess that’s why I like writing in this genre so much}

But those of us that write our own blogs, I have a question. Who do you wish you could be more like in your writing?

Or maybe you’re a speaker. Who can you sit and listen to for hours?

Thursday I will talk about who my favorite speakers are. But for now…

Here are my favorite Bloggers for 2011:

Michael Hyatt - To go from CEO of Thomas Nelson to an outstanding speaker and writer has been an amazing accomplishment. I wonder what 2012 holds for him?

Seth Godin - The man is pure genius when it comes to branding, marketing or just dealing with people.  I wonder what would happen if he converted some of his posts in a "biblical" perspective.

Ruth Schwenk and The Better Mom - She's a living testimony to what happens when you hear from God and act in obedience to the plan God gives you.

Christine Caine - Her posts are inspiring, encouraging and truly honest to living a "God-filled" life. Don't be surprised if she makes my favorite speaker list.

Rachelle Gardner - She's a publishing agent that is one gifted blog writer.  The wisdom and knowledge that she has is amazing and her inspiration that she wants everyone to see in themselves speaks through each one.

Sarah Mae - This girl is a Rockstar! I just love reading her blogs and rejoicing with her in all that God is doing.  To see where she's come from to this now amazing women hosting an incredible Relevant conference, writing and now speaking! Love it!

Chris Spradlin - This guy writes black and white parenting posts.  There is no gray area for him and for that I am grateful. He is a straight and to the point, honest writer who loves this parenting thing and wants all us parents to raise our kids differently from what society tells us.

Aunt Ruthie and Sugar Pie Farmhouse - She just makes me feel warm and fuzzy after reading her weekly blog post. She is what I want to be like as a homemaker. She instills a love for food, family and faith in each of her writings.

Tami Heim and Toni Birdsong with @stickyJesus - These girls know their Social Media stuff.  Take it from me not only are they great bloggers but amazing women too!

Who are your favorite bloggers?

Thankful for Mentors

Hebrews 10:24-25 - And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another. I am thankful for mentors.

A little over a year ago I reached out to a Twitter friend that I knew lived close by. I was always intrigued by her tweets and knew she had a wisdom that women like myself could glean from. So I reached out to her in a private message and asked if she would be interested in having coffee sometime. She agreed and as they say…the rest is history.

She is now a mentor to me, an inspirer and my friend. She has poured into me more than one can ever imagine.  Helping me understand what this “speaking and writing thing” is all about. She encourages me when I don’t know what to do, where to go or just don’t want to continue, with her words and experience.  She has seen so many succeed and so many fail, yet she only sees the best in others and wants others to see the best in themselves.

For you, Tami Heim, I am thankful.

One year ago I was introduced to a charismatic, fun-lover of life woman that seemed to always have a smile and loved seeing God in the every day. We would talk at certain events we participated about our homes, our lives, our ministries.  But she was different. She wanted to help me succeed in what God has called me to do even at times when I was unsure myself. I remember the first time we went to lunch. I was struggling with this blogging thing and wasn’t sure which direction to go.  In my mind I wanted to go left, when my heart wanted to go right.  Her expertise…branding and Beyond Brave was born. It’s always funny how God brings people in your life when you need them.  Although my background is in Marketing, branding yourself is sometimes the hardest thing to do with each thought critiqued to the fullest extent.

But for you, Toni Birdsong, I am thankful.

In those moments of sitting with these women, I always said, because they took the time for me, poured into me their wisdom and knowledge, I would do the same for others someday. A few weeks ago our Pastor talked about the importance of having mentors in our lives; to have “like-minded” people pouring into us.  That we need to seek out those that can inspire us to do great things.  Within 24 hours, I had 4 women send me Facebook messages to “sit and have coffee”.

Hhhhmmm…doesn’t that sound familiar?

Do you have a mentor(s) that encourages, inspires and pours into you?

Are You Soaking or Pouring?

“Mentoring is a brain to pick, a shoulder to cry on, and a kick in the pants.” Richard Tyre This past weekend I was thinking about mentors that are in my life and how important it is to have mentors.  I have a mentor for my writing and speaking, a spiritual mentor and my spiritual authority or Pastor.

I did a little research and found these definitions for Mentoring:

  • “It is a dynamic relationship of trust in which one person enables another to maximize the grace of God in his/her life and service.” — John Mallison
  • “Mentoring is a relationship through which one person empowers another by sharing God-given resources.” — Robert Clinton
  • “An agreed-upon exchange between two men/women, a more experienced man/woman and a less experienced man/woman, developing the less experienced to his maximum potential in Christ and empowering him with abilities to meet a need, achieve a goal, or to grow through a situation.” — Murray and Owen.

It is so important to have mentors in your life no matter where you are in your Christian walk or how long you’ve been serving Christ.  We need to continue sharpening our iron.

As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another. – Proverbs 27:17

Not only do we need to continue sharpening ours, we need to sharpen others too.  We need to be that Titus 2 woman for others also.

Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God. – Titus 2:3-5

I want to give you two things you need when you are mentoring others:

  1. Be Purposeful
  2. Be Available

So today I want you to either find a mentor or be a mentor to someone.  I promise you it will please you to see God working in their lives and in ours too.

Are you a mentor to someone? Are you looking for one?

I Have Missed You Too

So I guess with all the Facebook, Twitter and private messages asking where I have been, it’s time that I give you an answer. It’s nothing dramatic or life changing; just that life has gotten a little busier.

My life is my kids. My husband and I make such a great team parenting these 4 amazing kids that God has entrusted to us. Right now we are in the midst of softball season for our girls and taking the boys to tennis lessons. Also, getting ready for the school year to end (and my freedom too!!).

Not only do my kids keep me busy but God’s been doing some amazing things too. As most of you know I’m the MOPS Coach (Council Coordinator) for the Middle Tennessee area. We are growing groups like crazy out here. In the next few weeks, the MOPS year will be winding down and some last minute speaking engagements have come up that I’ve had to prepare for. Also, Convention will be here in Nashville this year and God has been opening doors with some opportunities that have come my way. Hope to share with you soon.

But God hasn’t stopped there. I also get to work with an amazing woman assisting her in the Women’s Ministry at our church. Our church has over 4,000 members and am thanking God for this incredible privilege to serve our church and this amazing, incredible, courageous woman (Can you tell I’m excited to serve her :-)).

There you go. In a nutshell this is where I’ve been. You might be asking where does blogging fit into all this Michelle? It just will. See, for me, blogging is writing and writing is blogging. Where else can I go and share what God is showing me through these extraordinary moments? Where else can I truly write those Beyond Brave moments? Or talk about a Wednesday Wisdom where God walked me through some ordinary moments that did take extraordinary faith? Right here…with you.

I ask for your forgiveness and grace. I have missed you too!

See you tomorrow and let’s talk about this Royal Wedding!!

I'm Afraid of What I Will Become

Have you thought about your Thank You letter yet? What you’re going to write down as plans and visions for yourself? I have, and to be honest it’s a little scary. Scary in that I ask myself am I thinking to big? Am I thinking to small? Am I really capable? This is where God wants us. Putting our faith, hope and trust in Him.

I remember preaching my first message at the age of 18 to our home church in Riverside, California.  I had one year of Oral Roberts University under my belt and was so honored to speak that night. The message was about “Having a Heart like David”. What I will always carry with me is the many lives at that alter that made new and renewed relationships with Jesus Christ.

Over 20 years later, I’m still speaking about this incredible God that I serve and love.  The last three, I have been doing this consistently and along the way have had more unimaginable engagements and friendships on this journey.  But can I get honest with you for a moment?

I’m afraid of what I will become.

Do I believe that I can speak to large crowds? Yes. But when I think about it, it’s as though I feel pride and shame. See, it’s not the fear of speaking to them; it’s the fear of what I would become. I have seen so many Pastors and Evangelists time after time, pulpit after pulpit, message after message, speak truth and impart hope into others yet to only become prideful and gloat in their own “glory”.

I don’t want that. Because it’s not about me, it’s about Him.

It’s about the lost, the broken, the hurting.

It’s about the lives that need and want to be changed.

It’s teaching men and women to become what they were meant for yet trusting Him in the process.

I want to guide women into the direction of their calling and gifting. But, how can I do that when I struggle with my own uncertainty?

I don’t want to take any more steps that I know that God is not directing. I don’t want to take any more steps that are only going to pull me further away to what God has called me to do.

That is where faith comes in.

Steve Furtick in his book Sun Stand Still said it this way, “You can hope, but it’s in the faith that things happen.”

Two verses I want to leave with you today:

Hebrews 11:1 (NIV) - "Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see."

Hebrews 11:6 (NIV) - "And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him."

Do you struggle with uncertainty?

The Final Chapter of @stickyJesus Read-Along

For my final post for our @stickyJesus read-along, I would talk about what this book has done for me. @stickyJesus opened my eyes to a whole new digital world.  I was what @stickyJesus calls caught in the “land of shiny things”. @stickyJesus reminded me that’s it’s not about the shiny things, but the light (the message) that is shown. @stickyJesus is not a cry to disconnect from those shiny things that have our attention but to create a message, a light that is sticky.  On Twitter we call that #LiveSticky.

So here is where I have made some changes in my digital world since reading @stickyJesus:

Facebook - I no longer only leave statuses about my day or where I’m eating. I also include statuses on a scripture or a piece of devotion that hit my Spirit.  I want to leave my friends with something encouraging and inspiring for that day that hopefully impacts them.  My goal is to create a sticky status that leads them to the Cross.

Twitter - I want to continue gleaning information from those that I follow and do the same for those following me.  Twitter is what I call the “information highway”. Information comes at the speed of light in 140 characters or less and if you’re in ministry, some of the wisdom I have received from a simple tweet has been empowering.

Blogging – This is where I have seen the most impact since applying @stickyJesus.  My posts have changed from writing about date nights or a recipe I found, to creating content that impacts a life to see the light in the message that turns them to Christ.  I have received messages like this or this and it brings my eyes looking up to Him.  Thanking Him for the message he gave Tami Heim and Toni Birdsong; @stickyJesus changed how I do Social Media.

The last point I want to make is this – no matter how many friends you have on Facebook, no matter how many followers you have on Twitter or how many comments you have on each of your blog posts, create a message that sticks.  Create content that is God-inspired. Create something that changes a life or renews a relationship towards Him.  Create disciples.

"Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."  Matthew 28:19-20 NIV

May I be so bold to say this…this is not a game, this is a mission field.

How has @stickyJesus changed the way you do Social Media?