War Board

“It paws fiercely, rejoicing in its strength, and charges into the fray.” – Job 39:21

I discussed one of my key players in my last post – my Prayer Box. Being thankful for what the Lord has given us, taking time to show our appreciation in a way. This, my friends, is my War Board. Although there is a current influx of many “War Room” quotes from the incredibly popular movie that came out a while back. I personally could not accommodate a “War Room” myself, our current living situation is too small, but of course, that doesn’t stop me from working something out. I used to have one where we at one of our previous houses, and had been kinda struggling since we moved into our most recent place. And then, one day, I came across this cork board that had been taken down from it’s previous job and was just sitting in a corner. Suddenly, I knew exactly what to do with it. Now, it is my “War Board”. My wall of encouraging scripture, and obvious strategic battle plans that I can easily refer to, a part of my house that I walk past regularly and look at. Reminding myself of key phrases and scripture to help me in our battle against Satan. Because I am a firm believer that we are in a battle, and if you think God has time to bless you, and be presently active in your life, then do not fool yourself into thinking that devil is not also presently active in your life.

1 Peter 5:8 tells us, to be sober and vigilant because our enemy lurks like a roaring lion waiting for someone to devour. And Ephesians 6:12 tells us that our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the powers of this dark world. We are lights of the Lord, and the devil wants to snuff out that light. And we need to be prepared for that. I alluded to, in one of my original posts, that last year, was the worst year of my life. Satan threw a lot at me last year. Its not very encouraging when you are venting to people about stuff happening in your life, and they gently tell you, “you remind me of Job.” If you are ever feeling sorry for yourself, read Job. If you haven’t read Job, read Job. That is an entire book confirming the fact that God and the devil are active in your life. But, that’s kinda what my life looked like. I had a family member buy me some over the counter anti-anxiety meds because they were concerned for the amount of stress happening in my life – also very encouraging :P. Because, the devil was actively attacking me, and please believe, he was pulling out all the stops. And then, the final event of last year happened, my dad died. Now, I believe that it was my father’s time, and that was God’s hand. It was time, and I do not begrudge that. But, I also believe that when my dad got to heaven, God told him, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.” – And, I have made my peace with all of that. But, here’s the deal, when that happened – after I finally shook off the fog and the shock and started getting back into my life – I had a completely different perspective. I started to realize that I was being attacked, that devil was trying to dissuade me from my faith, that I am a light, and that I am destined to do things for Christ and bring people to the faith and help them grow.

So, sometimes it’s God doing stuff, that isn’t necessarily bad, although it may seem like it at the time, but he’s really just moving things around to make new things, and sometimes it’s Satan actively attacking you, and we need to try to discern the differences. My “War Board” has helped me gain understanding, helped me grow, and continues to encourage me along my walk. There is power in having scripture on your walls, there is power in reading scripture in your prayers, in declaring scripture over your life, and you need to take an active stand to make that possible. You are what you eat, and if you are not eating the bread of life….. What are you eating? I know, we’re all busy, we’ve all crammed our lives so full of stuff, that we make all sorts of excuses as to why we don’t have time. But you need to make time. God and the devil are making time for you. I have a poem on my “War Board” that reminds me of this. The poem is called, “The Difference” by Aditya Pratap Nayak. I encourage you to look it up (I’m still researching how to give people credit without plagiarizing on here). It’s main theme is that you didn’t make time for God, and then wondered why your life was so hard and you didn’t get what you asked for….. Stop making excuses, start making time, and you will see the difference.

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Prayer Box

And always be Thankful!

So, we are to always be thankful.

Did you know there are over 50 references telling us to be thankful throughout the Bible? *This is just a quick guess-timate after a quick search* The one that always speaks to me is my “life verse” It’s my verse that every time I read it, it speaks to me. Every time I’m going through hard times, I turn to it, like a mantra. To me, it says everything there is about being a Christian. Colossians 3:12-15.

“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.” Colossians 3:12-15

I mean, look at it. God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved – he’s addressing you – put on all these good characteristics. Bear with each other and forgive as the Lord forgives – and how does the Lord forgive? Completely, wholly, forgiving everything – forgive others this way. And put on love – which binds all these things, because without love – what is the point? God is love, put on God, put on his love, live in it, combine all these things with that Godly love. And be at peace. The peace of Christ. The everlasting, eternal, supernatural peace. AND BE THANKFUL! This is like a superpower verse for me. It just revels in my soul. I just really needed to share that. I just love those verses ❤

So, here I’m focusing on the Be Thankful part, because here’s the deal. As we’ve stated before, I really started on this journey, not too long ago, and this Prayer Box, has been a big player. With everything we are supposed to give Thanks. Thanks be to God. Our good, good Father. The giver of everything. And, sometimes, it’s hard for us to realize what all he is doing in our lives, when we’re not really taking the time to stop and be thankful. This prayer box has helped me do that. I personally, just cut these little hearts out of notebook paper and put them in there. I write a word or two, for an answered prayer. Like, “healing this person” or “someone’s job”. It doesn’t have to be this whole elaborate story, it’s just a quick note, acknowledging, that I prayed for something, and God answered me. A feasible record of him answering my prayers. Sometimes, I kinda save them up, I know he’s answered a few, so I write down a bunch at once. Either way, find a way to acknowledge what God has done for you. Take the time to give him Thanks. I mean, think about this too, if you don’t truly appreciate what you get, then, why would he be inclined to give you more? I’m not saying that he won’t or that it’s truly how it works, but if you think about it, when people are appreciative of your gifts, don’t you get excited about giving them more? Don’t you want to shower them with more? I really think that it helps grow your relationship with Him. Knowing all he’s doing for you, you personally, in your life, today. Also, how cool is it to be able to show others what your God has done for you? I love it. When it starts to get full, I open it up and put them into a scrapbook, and I can still look back at all the wonderful things he’s done for me. I’m so blessed.

The above picture is my actual prayer box. This idea just came to me at one point. My sister had given me this shadow box at one point, and although I didn’t know at the time what it would turn into, I gladly accepted. Then, it just chilled around my house for some time while I tried to figure out what I was going to do with it. One day, it came to me. I found a bunch of scriptures I liked, and put it around the border. Scriptures: John 7:38; Romans 15:13; Ephesians 3: 16-17; Mark 11:24; 1 Corinthians 13:2; Hebrews 11:1; 2 Corinthians 5:7; 1 Corinthians 16:13; and 1 Corinthians 2:5. The image in the middle is pretty heart that I found, printed out, and traced onto the inner sheet. Then, I just free-handed the words, “Pray Big” into the center. Then, the key part of this prayer box, is that it has a tiny slot near the top right before the border where the beginning of the open space is – it’s cut through to the back, so I can slide my answered prayers in like a piggy bank. This is so when I want to add an answered prayer to the box, I don’t have to disassemble it. If you’re feeling crafty – go ahead and try to make one, it’s not terribly difficult. But, either way, I do challenge you to find a real, feasible way to Thank God for what he does for you, some way for you to really take the time to Thank Him, for being the really incredible good, good Father that he is.

Digging Deeper

So, I’ve been thinking.  And, I would like to say that I didn’t get into this Wonderland of following the Holy Spirit by just waking up one Sunday and being like, “let’s do this.”  So, don’t get discouraged, or think that this isn’t somewhere you can get to, because I feel like everyone can get here.  Now, I will put a disclaimer that following the Holy Spirit might not look like the spoons and the cookies and anything else that ends up in here, but I will tell you, that you’ll know that it is the Holy Spirit.  You’ll know because you can feel it.  It’s something that’s not you, it’s a stirring deep within, a special feeling, it’s something you “can’t” explain *but you can because it’s the spirit, you may just not realize it right away.  Anyway.  Let’s back up, let’s get some background here.  

I grew up going to church.  Always.  My parents were fervent believers and avid church-goers, which in retro-spect is probably a big part of why my journey has gone the way it has, but I also don’t feel like my journey has been “special” necessarily, nor that just because your journey is different from mine that we can’t get to the same place.  So, back to going to church, I went, whether I liked it or not, I went.  Pretty much, unless I was on my deathbed, I went, because that’s what was expected.  And, I had some good friends there, but I wasn’t getting into the faith.  When I was about 9, an apocalyptic movie came out that convinced me that my fate was evident and I was going to die soon, so I got baptized and felt some stirring within, but still wasn’t too into all of this.  Time goes on, I’m continuing to go to church, and bible camp, and youth group, and, and, and, and….. I’m still not super into this.  God is good, yes, he loves me, Jesus died for my sins….. that’s nice.  And, time aches on, fast forward to my teenage years, and I am now going to church for show, to keep my parents happy and off my back – because if I were to stop going, the jig would be up.  Although, I’m at church, I’m not here.  I’m partying, I’m living my life, doing my thing, and going to church is a sham.  Then, finally, I’m 18, and I move out, and I have convinced myself that God is not real, and I’m not going to church, and I’m continuing to do my own thing, and my parents are heart-broken, but I personally don’t care too much, because that’s them and I’m me, and I’m not going to lie about it.  And, then, one day, God showed up.  And, I’ll never be the same.  ❤

So, here I am, about 23-24, and I haven’t been to church for several years (except for Christmas & Easter – as a gift for my parents who practically have to beg me to attend).  And, suddenly, one day, one of my friends is hanging out, and starts asking me about the Bible, and church, and… excuse me? Um, ok, I kind of answer his questions, but I’m also asking myself, “Why me? What about me would make you want to ask?” Hmm, Ok, whatever.  Literally days later, another person who wasn’t present for the original conversation, starts asking similar questions, again, I kinda answer, but I also don’t believe this business (at least not really – maybe….).  I think to myself, BiZarre? Now, again, mere days later, someone on the street stops me and asks if they can pray for me, something is weighing on my life.  WHAT IS HAPPENING?!?!?!  I continue to shrug it off, kind of, not really, I’m panicking on the inside. Where is all of this coming from? Then, my son says to me one night (he’s 3) he would like to “Church” his food.  “Excuse me?” “Mom, church our food.” “Church? What do you mean, church?” “Church” and he makes the praying motion with his hands.  I FREAK OUT. I can only think of one place this could be coming from, I call my parents. Did you do this? Are you trying to use my kid to get me to come back to church? No, my parents assure me, and I know, deep down that they wouldn’t do this.  And, I also know, that only I know that all this other stuff has been happening, all these other signs.  After getting off the phone, I stood there in my kitchen, and look to the sky, and say, “Ok God, no more signs, please, I’m good.” This was a slow beginning to where I’m at today, to where I truly decided that Jesus is the Christ, and I do believe, and I’m a vessel to move with the Holy Spirit.  Over 6 years ago, we began the journey that got us here, and quite a few things happened between now and then.  And, I’m sure as we go along here, we’ll get to everything in between.  God bless you, I hope this inspires, I hope it helps, I hope you know that you are not alone, and you too can feel the Spirit within you, and that he wants YOU, and care about YOU, and you are wholly important to him.  That’s why you’re here.  

Spoons (part 2)

This may seem a little crazy, but you gave me the spoons, so maybe not…

Spoons continued.  Please know, we are within hours of sharing the spoons with the lady who’s going to share them with her niece.  I’m trying to get back to work, and I kind of have another lady in my head, because you know – ladies bible study – sharing with ladies… right? Wrong. So wrong. 😛

So, I get a phone call, from a higher up (like higher than my boss.)  Hey, Stephanie, please bring me blah, blah, blah, work stuff.  Ok.  *Please note here, I absolutely love my job, love the people I work with – whole separate story, but just cannot emphasize that enough, I love my job and the company I work for* So, Ok, bring you stuff you need for a meeting – check. But, as soon as I put the phone down, the Holy Spirit goes – Hey, give him a spoon. And, I’m like, No – that’s crazy.  I like my job, and he’s a big boss, and I’ll get fired.  And, the Holy Spirit is like, Give him a spoon…. And, I’m like, aw man.  Here we go.  Now, in these following moments, I’m walking around grabbing the materials requested to bring him, and I’m “rationalizing” in my mind, “Well, maybe that’s why I have my second job right now, is because I’m going to get fired.  It’s going to be OK, you know, I have a good church, and a good support system, and God won’t let me fall, and I’m supposed to share these spoons, and … I’m going to get fired.  Well, maybe I won’t get fired til Monday….” On and on it went.  But, I packed up the little spoons, and I wrote a little note, stating I’m in a bible study, and I’m supposed to share these to share my faith, and Jesus loves you – essentially.  And, I go to the office, and I drop off the stuff, and I bolt (because he’s in meetings – so at least I don’t have to see him face-to-face).  I’m no sooner back at my desk when the phone rings.  Are you kidding me? I answer. 

“Hey”                                                                                                                                                 “Um, hi there.  Well, thanks for running that stuff right over for me.”                              “Oh yeah, no problem.”                                                                                                                       “Well, I’m really calling about the other gift you left on my desk.”                                           *My brain says: Of course you are… “Oh yeah, sure.”                                                                  “That’s really thoughtful of you, I really appreciate it.”   *I’m now absolutely, 210% floored.  Excuse me, what? I was slack-jawed on my end of the line. 

This was just the beginning of a at least 5 minute conversation, where we just briefly touch on my ladies bible study and what denomination I am, and then this happened.

Him speaking, “Well, I’d like to share this article with you about some stuff that’s happened to me.  I’d fallen away from the faith for a while, and then a lot of really miraculous stuff happened, and I just have this little article that someone else wrote about my experiences, and this may seem a little crazy, but you gave me the spoons, so maybe not.  Would you mind if I shared with you?” “Oh absolutely!!”  So – disclaimer – now I’m thinking, an article – like newspaper article, like little blip of a whatever, but that’s cool, I’m excited, this’ll be neat, and look at God show up, how incredible?! Like, I’m already ecstatic, and I can’t wait for his e-mail to come through. 

Um, people, this was a four-page magazine article about him having visions/dreams (while he is fallen away from the faith), waking up in the dead of night, with inexplicable dreams and then he’s given a word.  A word that will take him to Bosnia…. where these dreams come true….  and he assures me that the stuff that has happened since then is even more miraculous… WHAT?!?! 

Because I shared a chocolate spoon people! Because I listened to the Holy Spirit nudge me to talk to him. To her. To them. To GO!! To GO where you are.  We have since discussed that he and his wife are trying to write a book and get it published, and I just so happen to know some people who’ve published some books…. ?!?! 

The Holy Spirit moves, and lives, and if you’ll let him, LIVE IN YOU!! & And Through you! And you too will have and experience the incredibleness that is God. ❤

Spoons (part 1)

Go & Spread the Gospel

Ladies bible study, next chapter.  Can I just say, for a book that was supposed to be light – and more like an appetizer, we are digging deep and taking a bite out of our faith here.  *Little background noise here, there is a lot happening in all of our lives since this bible study has begun, and all of this is just building, and everyone has been doing a lot of growing.  
We finally get to the end of the 3rd chapter of this book, and it’s spoon time. We decide to melt some chocolate and make these little spoons, that again, like the cookies, we’re supposed to share with people.  This time though, I have no idea who I’m supposed to be sharing with, so they just kind of sit there, on my vanity, where I pray, hanging out for a few days, and to be honest, I forget about them for a minute.  Fast forward to Friday morning, my son is getting ready for school, and I’m taking a minute to pray for the day.  I put my hand down, and “Oh yeah, the spoons.” Well, I better bring them with me because otherwise, I don’t know who else I’m going to give them to.  One lady I know’s name pops into my head.  Oh, I bet she would appreciate one, I don’t really know her that well, but sure.  So, I get to work, and I make an impromptu oragami box to put them in, and bring them up to her office.  And for the lack of anything better to say when she looks at me standing in her doorway, “Hi. Good morning, I, um, have a gift for you.” And practically drop the box on her desk.  I had a put a little note in there, stating something to the effect of “God bless you” and have a wonderful holiday.  And, she is just overwhelmed!  She begins to cry a little, and hugs me, and just thanks me over and over.  We have a little discussion about our faith, and how I got to giving her little chocolate spoons this morning. And, it’s all very incredible.  And she says to me, that tomorrow morning her niece is coming over for coffee, and she’s going to save her spoons and share the gospel with her then.  WOW! How incredible. I’m on cloud nine. These spoons are amazing, and God is amazing. And, until an hour ago, I had no idea who I was going to share the spoons with.  *And, this is just one of the spoon testimonies.  – spoons – to be continued.  ❤

Cookies

Sharing the Love of Jesus Christ

Fast forward to months later, and here the Bible study starts to bring forth some fruit – or more appropriately cookies… Chocolate chip cookies to be exact.  
So, when our bible study started, first of all, we dug in deep.  Most of the ladies present were fairly well versed in the Lord, had seen him in our lives, etc.  Therefore, we all felt pretty comfortable that it would be ok to just jump into a hardcore bible study entailing the Armor of God.  Which, was incredible, and for the most part what a lot of us needed.   But, when we really started getting our feet wet, getting the rhythm of being in a bible study down, and finally got through this hardcore meat-and-potatoes bible study.  We all decided that maybe the next study would need to be an appetizer, or a dessert, and as the quasi-leader-ish person of this study, I did my homework on getting some promising books for the next study, and as a joke, wrote down a book that had “chocolate” in the title.  This book is supposed to be a totally light-hearted fun filled study for a wide-variety of groups, and it really has been, but to bring us to where we are now.  It has recipes in it, and every couple of bible study evenings, we make some of these items together as a group.  But, part of the catch with these is that, you’re not just supposed to eat these yourself, you are supposed to share them.  Share them with non-believers or believers, or whatever.  They’re conversation starters, and oh how God has blessed that.  Conversation starters they are.
So, our first real recipe that we’re supposed to be making is cookies…  The most amazing little chocolate chip cookies you’ve ever eaten.  Now, go out and share them.  Now, I don’t know about you, but I’m not a very outspoken person when it comes to my faith, or at least, I wasn’t.  So, now I have two small bags of 6 cookies each, and I’m supposed to share these with a scripture, to encourage someone… Great. 
Now, for the weeks leading up to this, I had started be-friending a lady at work a little bit.  And, we were really getting on good terms, and life was going great, the whole fast-friends business. Loving it!  So, of course, the Holy Spirit says, share the cookies with her.   And, I’m like, “But, I like her, and I don’t want to scare her off.” And, then, I was reminded of my Bible Study, the bible study that has led us here.  The bible study that the cookies came from.  And here, the Lord is nudging me to give her the cookies.  And so, I did.  She was overwhelmed.  She was touched. It began conversations of the fact that she had been wanting to go back to church, but how, and fears of religion, and, and, and….
And, all these conversations I never would have had, had I not shared the cookies. Had I not moved with the Spirit, to reach out, to someone who I had absolutely no idea ever went to church, let alone had been feeling the tug of the spirit to come back.  And, we have since only grown stronger, and I have only continued to encourage her in her faith, and thanked God for the incredible experience and opportunity.  *Small disclaimer, the other cookies that I shared have not brought fruit that I know of, but maybe that will be a story for a later day.  

The Bible Study

For maybe you were born for a moment such as this.

So, about 6 months after my dad died, it’s morning time.  I’m getting ready for work, I’ve been praying (I was now back to really praying – praying for this person, these problems, etc.) And secretly, praying for a Bible Study.  Oh Lord, give me a Bible Study, give me some people to help me grow.  I had been praying for this for a couple years, off and on.  Sometimes, thinking I’d found one, but scheduling would make it so I couldn’t go, one thing or the other, etc. But here, on this frosty April morning, as I’m walking out to my car, had just finished praying, getting ready to start my car and let it warm up for a few before I head off to work, and I hear it, clear as day. “Why don’t you start a Bible Study?” I stopped dead in my tracks. I felt like someone had just knocked the wind out of me. “Me? A bible study? That’s crazy….” And, then, “Well, maybe not so crazy.  I have a couple Christian friends…. Maybe they would like to be a part of it.”  Now, conveniently, for the only time that I can recall, I was going to see both of them, independently, the next day.  So, I posed it to both of them, and they were both ecstatic.  They would love one.  Then, I told my mother about it in church the following Sunday, I’m starting a bible study, and my mom wanted to join.  Alright, let’s do it!!  So, we did.  Now, because of all of this, I had resolved myself, that when the Holy Spirit tells me to do something, I do it.  The bible study, was just the beginning.   

Here we go

from small beginnings…

I have felt compelled to start a blog.  It really started with us having money problems lately, and as I’m searching through the wild world of the internet and the billions of pages of how we did this and cut corners here and everything else, everyone is suggesting blogging.  Which, I personally, don’t think is going to make money.  But I have been on this incredible journey this past year, that when I feel the Spirit of the Lord tell me to do something.  I do it.  It has taken me to some amazing people and fantastic places, and I feel that all of that, has been preparing me for this?  For this very moment.  To talk to you.  To tell you how I got here, and so you can be with me, as we go from here, and hopefully will inspire you to “go”.  
So, let’s start with how I got prepared to get here.  Last year was the most terrible year of my life.  I could probably make a whole blog about how terrible last year was, but I’m not going to since I do not wish to dwell in the past – but the part I will tell you, is this, the absolute worst part of last year, was when my dad died.  To be honest, everything else that happened was made infinitely insignificant compared to that.  Now, I spent the next several months, intermittently going to church, starting to try to pray on a regular basis again, just kind of going through motions.  Then, it finally started really going again.  I really started getting back to being present in my life.  Started praying on a regular basis again, going to church – every Sunday, getting together with other Christians, and this has made all the difference.  

The Journey Begins

Hey there.  Little info about me here.  I’m a mom of one kid, I have lived in South Dakota most of my life but have done my fair share of travelling.  I’m married and although I grew up in the church, I have only recently come back to the faith in more recent years.  I have dug in deep with my love for Christ and I am starting this blog to reach out and and encourage others in their faith, sharing the faith, and sharing some of my testimonies of how God is working in my life so that you may be encouraged that he work in yours.  I’ve never been a professional writer, speaker, or anything of the sort.  I’m just a mom with a deep love for God, hoping to help you also find that deep love and dig deeper in your faith.  Because, it’s not about us, it’s about God, and that’s still an understatement. 

So keep at your work, this faith and love rooted in Christ, exactly as I set it out for you.  It’s as sound as the day you first heard it from me.  Guard this previous thing placed in your custody by the Holy Spirit who works in us. -2 Timothy 1:13

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