Thursday, March 19, 2015

When All-of-a-Not-So-Suddenly Our Dreams Come True

A God-sized Dream Post

on Waiting



On Saturday, January 31, one of my deepest desires and greatest dreams came true. It’s the day we took Circles Of Faith offline and had our first Live event. It was perfect!

I am filled to overflowing with the goodness of the Lord.

Last month, I talked a little here about the journey to and through CirclesOfFaith.org. At times it has been hard to persevere. Thankfully, I work with a team who holds one another up and gives and receives encouragement as the need arises.

A few months ago, Wodline joined our team. She’s a wedding and event planner. We knew we wanted to have live in-person events, so we were grateful to have her on board. And she was ready to jump in. We started meeting, planning, praying together. We scouted out a few locations, weighed our options for food, worked out timing, and put together our agenda. We came up with a name we liked too – Women of Influence.


Our vision for Circles of Faith – Women of Influence was to:



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Sunday, February 1, 2015

Would You Consider Trading Your Resolutions in for One Word?

What's Your

One Word for the New Year? 





It’s not too late! If you haven’t made any resolutions and don’t plan on it, you might want to consider choosing One Word for the New Year instead. This is a word that acts like a compass, a reminder, an anchor for the unfolding year.
This is the fourth year I’ve chosen One Word for the New Year. Past One Words have included Now, Change, and God. I love the process of choosing the word and then being mindful of it the whole year through. It’s so simple and clear, void of the possibility of disappointment and failed resolutions.

This is the way I go about choosing my One Word…

In the busy days of the Christmas season, I start thinking, praying, seeking, asking, Lord, what is my One Word for the New Year? What word would you have me consider, carry, claim?

I know God will give me something when I make a little space for quiet, to listen.

As I mentioned, last year, my word was “God.”

It seemed like an awfully big word, maybe even a little audacious. But God is so good. He had something so simple for me. Simple, but not easy.

I had strayed a little from God, Himself. I was active in prayer groups, bible studies, and read devotionals. But God seemed to just want a little more of me. A little more quiet time together. Just me and Him.

How amazing is that? My eternal, creator of the Universe, Alpha and Omega Father God called me into a year of Him. 

He always calls me to Him. Oh He does. But I get lost, caught up in the shuffle of life. In the To Dos, the dreams, the plans, the goals. I get busy and I shift my focus away from God.
How can I do that? How can I ignore that still small voice, calling me to sit beside Him, welcoming me to come on in to His sanctuary? How can I stray from my center? My rock? My strength?
Well, I can and I do. Then I become off kilter. And God in His mercy always calls me back. He waits. He steadies me.

He proves to me over and over again that He never leaves. 

So I’m thankful for this past year of reminders that God desires to be Number 1 and I need Him to be Number 1. It wasn’t a blaring loud clanging booming voice, but a consistent little nudge. Come to me!
In the days before January 1, a few words made their way into my thoughts but they were fleeting. You know those thoughts, the ones that occur when we’re driving, or exercising…shower thoughts. I didn’t write them down but they returned on January 1 during our annual New Year’s gathering, the one where I meet family and friends to share our One Words.

The possibilities floating around up until that day included…
Risk
Burst
Push
Believe
Intentional

God made that One Word known to me. It was the One Word that I couldn’t get away from. PUSH.

So we’ll see what God has in mind for me in light of PUSH. I have some thoughts, but I don’t want to get ahead of myself. It was shortly after that that I came upon scripture that I believe will guide me further.

You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. Ephesians 4:22-24

Seems like God may be calling me to grow up a bit.

How about you? Have you chosen One Word? If you have and you’ve blogged about it, LinkUp with us below. If you haven’t, we’d love for you to share it with us in the comments. 

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Tuesday, January 13, 2015

What If You Give Up When You're Supposed to Keep Going?


The "What Ifs" of God-sized Dreams


My Circles of Faith Co-founder Kimberly and I have faced many challenges as we stepped out in faith, starting a website we felt called to…and thought we had a clear vision for.

We spent many months in the planning and seeking stages. We gathered and prayed, wrote and rewrote our mission and purpose statements, agonized over our logo and site design. Every visual, every word was intentional and prayed over.

Together Kimberly and I attended our first bloggers’ conference, gladly and maybe a little hesitantly handing out our new business cards with high hopes that by the time we launched our website, the groundwork was laid and success was certain.

We invested money, effort, hours, held a well-attended launch party with enthusiastic supportive attendees. We were full of anticipation and excitement as we forged ahead.

And then we launched. Yay!
We checked our subscriber numbers weekly. We added Facebook, Twitter, Instagram. We went from a team of two, to a team of six, to a team of 18. All the while, the numbers of subscribers, followers, likers were disappointing.

What was wrong? We wondered. Was this worth it? Did we not pray enough or do enough? Deep in the recesses of my heart, I wondered, Am I not good enough? 

Oh there were so many times we wanted to quit. One week, I was discouraged, wringing my hands and saying things like, “I just don’t know! I don’t feel like anyone cares. I don’t know how much longer I want to do this.” Kimberly encouraged me with a prayer, an idea, hope.

The next week, she was discouraged. And it was my turn to hold her up, speak words of faith, prayers of promise. We continued along this downward path for some time.

Then as we faced the New Year last year, we decided we would stop giving power to our thoughts of discouragement. Instead we would commit to the next year and keep on praying, asking for God’s guidance and discernment every step of the way. The moments of doubt didn’t disappear, but they dimmed.

We had others come alongside us from time to time, too. One team member lent her strategic skills. Another shared her heart for nonprofits and varied media outlets. Another said more than once, “You two are too much in each other’s heads,” offering to help us open our circle wider. And another team member came with her willingness to help us with events. All of them came bearing gifts of themselves…and their faith, hope, and love when we needed a boost.

Now we are preparing for our first LIVE event, Women of Influence sponsored by Circles of Faith. This was always part of the vision. To take what we were doing online – Sharing stories to grow in Faith, do Life together, gather and build Community – and connect in-person.

The time, the people, the place has lined up perfectly. We put out the invitation and had a growing waiting list within a couple of days. It seems all our prayers and efforts have not been for naught. God was at work all along, doing His thing, moving hearts, sowing seeds, preparing the way. And we anticipate this event will be the first of many.

What if we had given up after the disappointments of year one?

What if we had given into hopeless, faithless words and thoughts?

What if we went our own way, instead of pressing on, following God’s path?

What if we had closed down instead of opened up to the words of encouragement and support from our friends?

Well, Circles of Faith would be gone…and there would be no gathering of Women of Influence. Women who will enter into fellowship, build bridges, share stories, and break bread together.

What if you close down, turn away, entertain doubt, give up when you’re supposed to keep going?


What won’t happen?


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Saturday, January 3, 2015

Grandma's Daily Bread



Grandma’s Daily Bread

I am the bread of life. The one who comes to me will never go hungry, and the one who believes in me will never be thirsty.  John 6:35

While St. Patrick’s Day 2012 is behind us, the whole month of March is Irish American Heritage Month. So if you haven’t had some Irish Soda Bread yet, try Grandma Daly’s Bread. Recipe below.

I baked my bread and prepared our traditional Corned Beef feast a few days after St. Pat’s this year. And I’ve continued to think about my beloved Grandma Daly.

I was struck by what really was Grandma’s Daily Bread. She feasted on God’s Good News every day. This was in fact her daily bread, this was her sustenance. And it provided her with plenty, though she had very little.

Grandma emigrated from Ireland when she was about 20 years old. She left part of her family behind on the farm as she ventured out on a ship, likely a rough and crowded voyage, to meet other family members living in Bayonne, New Jersey and New York City. There was an Irish Wake when she left, which meant that family and friends gathered to say goodbye, to mourn the leaving of the young girl, knowing they would probably never see her again. And they didn’t, most of them, including her mother. Grandma would never step foot on the soil of the Emerald Isle again.

Grandma had a hard life. She married and was only able to have one child, my father Charlie. Oh how she loved Dad! Grandma lost her husband when Dad was only 13. Grandpa had lost his job through the devastation of the Depression and never worked again. So Grandma’s financial state forced her to sell her home and move into a couple of rooms with my father in the back of a doctor’s office. Grandma was an Irish washerwoman, scrubbing homes for the wealthy. Eventually, when Dad was grown and on his own, she became a nanny for a doctor’s family. When she could no longer perform these duties, she moved in with us for seven sacred years.

I can see her now…She would sit in the sun porch in a big buffalo plaid cushioned chair, rosaries entwined in her gnarled hands, crippled with arthritis. Her glasses were thick and didn’t improve her failing sight much. She relied on a cane to walk, disabled from a shin bone broken in two places that never healed. She was in physical pain for many years.

There she would sit, day after day, listening to Billy Graham and Norman Vincent Peale on her little AM Transistor radio. She fed on testimonies of faith and words of encouragement that streamed from that little plastic box. She meditated on God and His goodness every day of her life. She had long lists of prayer requests, which she prayed through daily. Pretty much everyone who entered my home would want a few minutes with Grandma, to share a heartfelt prayer request, knowing she would pray. It was now her life’s work.

Though she had nothing of material value, she was one of the richest, most grateful people I’ve ever known. And we, her descendents, have received the treasure she passed on, more valuable than gold. We inherited the gift of Grandma’s faith, the legacy of being thankful in all things (or at least trying to be), the belief that in prayer there is divine power, and we learned through her example that there is no greater daily bread than the Bread of Life, Jesus Christ.

Thanks Grandma. Happy St. Patrick’s Day.

Grandma Daly’s Irish Soda Bread
Ingredients
4 Cups Flour ( I used 2 cups wheat and 2 cups white)
½ Cup Sugar
1 Stick Butter or Margarine
1 Tsp. Baking Powder
Raisins to your liking
Optional: 1 Tbsp. of Caraway Seeds
Mix above ingredients in one bowl.

1 Egg
1 Tsp. Baking Soda
1 1/3 Cup Buttermilk
Mix above 3 ingredients in separate bowl. Add 2 bowls of ingredients together. Knead. Place dough in a hand-shaped round in the middle of a greased cookie sheet. Bake 1 hour at 350. Serve piping hot from the oven. Butter and jam is unnecessary but delish!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Today I'm Thinking About My Fellow Mamas...

“Black Lives Matter”


I know this is obvious. Of course black lives matter. All life matters. But today I stood on a snowy cold corner in my multiracial town of Montclair, NJ, and held this sign.

Why? Because I felt called to take a stand for all my friends, particularly my friends who are raising black sons and who fear for their children’s livesnot because these young men have done anything wrong, but these mama-friends know their kids are at risk simply because of the color of their skin.

Just one stat from the NAACP…
African Americans are incarcerated at nearly six times the rate of whites.

This is so unlike me to join a rally. I don’t like controversy. I’m a peacemaker. I always have been. I don’t like trouble. “I’m a lover, not a fighter.” I’ll speak with you directlyand you’ll know what I believe. You’ll know that I believe all people are God’s people, dearly loved, created in His image. And I’ll pray, oh yes, I’ll pray a lot, I’ll pray with boldness, I’ll pray with faith, I’ll take a stand in prayer.

But, in my 56 years, I have never felt led to rally publicly for anything. (Maybe I should’ve by now, but that’s another topic.)

My daughter, a bright-eyed bushy haired college student, speaks out for justice for all. And I’m proud of her, but she scares me. Will she go too far with speaking up? Will someone hate her for her love, for her passion, for her unwillingness to sit still and stand by quiet when she sees, feels, senses, experiences injustice? I pray for her protection. I don’t want her to ruffle feathers. But I guess human dignity is worth ruffling a few feathers.

And hers was the voice I heard this morning, this very gray icy morning.

“Some of the kids from the high school are holding a rally today…”

“Really? Because of Ferguson?”

She nodded.

Well let’s go!”

She was surprised. She knows this is not like me. She knows I’d gladly sit home and pray while she stands on that corner, joining others signs and voices raised,

“Black Lives Matter!”

“Hands Up! Don’t Shoot!”

But today I joined this little group of mostly kids who stood out there in freezing rain. And I was encouraged by the many who beeped their horns in support. I was touched by the young teenager who asked what we were doing, and grabbed a sign to join us.

I know there is a lot of controversy surrounding the death of Mike Brown. Lots of discussions. Lots of violenceand way too much hate on all sides of the issue. There were a couple of hate mongers who passed by our rally tooI won’t dignify their words by repeating them.

But I also know a young man with promise is dead.

And that’s not okayon any day.


Monday, November 24, 2014

Maybe Your "To-Do" Today is Wait!

How to Trust God in the Waiting


My husband and I are in a state of transition. We’re “on the other side of something” to quote singer Sara Groves. We’re on the other side of raising our kids, of the big 5-0, let’s face itwe’re on the other side of life.

It’s one of those seasons when things are a bit uncertain. It’s not a terrible time, though I confess I do have to fight worry. Because there are more questions than answers. Questions like…
  •        Should we move, now that the kids are grown? And since that’s a probable…
  •        Where should we move? To a home nearby? A bigger move? To an apartment?            Another house?
  •        What will Chris do when he finishes his dissertation?
  •        Am I concentrating on the work that I’m called to? Is there something else?
  •        What’s our five-year plan? Our10-year plan?
  •        What are the things I/we want to experience, see, concentrate onWhat’s on                my/our bucket list?

And what does all this have to do with God-sized Dreams?

Well, when life seems a bit up in the air…my dreams seem a bit up in the air, too.

My God-sized Dreams are tied in to my practical, logical life. At least to some degree. I mean, sure, there are definitely elements of my God-sized dreams that are out of the realm of completely doable by me…otherwise they wouldn’t be God-sized, right?

So what’s a dreaming girl to do in the midst of uncertainty? <==Tweet This

This week Sarah Young’s devotional Jesus Calling spoke to me,

“When you don’t know what to do, wait while I open the way before you.”

Oooohhhhh…I see…WAIT!

I don’t know about you, but I’m not so good at waiting. I don’t want to wait. It makes me uneasy, impatient. Like the child I once was squirming in the backseat, I’m whining calling out to God, “When are we going to get there?”

I’m also wondering if God is on this? Is He really there in my details? Does He really care? Did I miss something…will I miss something in the waiting?

But that instruction…to wait while He opens the way before us. That’s the key. God has things to do…divine orchestration…lessons…the best instead of just plain good…in that waiting. Those things may have nothing or everything to do with me.

Regardless, I can trust God with my future. I can trust God with my questions. I can trust God with my very life. Because I…no, we have His Word. <===Tweet This

So in the waiting, we can trust and believe:

1. He’s got this and He’s got good things in store!
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28

2. He’s with us and will give us rest!
The Lord says, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” Psalm 29:11

3.   He will equip us to do His will!

Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen. Hebrews 13:20-21

So if you, like me, are in the midst of the toss and turn of questions, and doubts, fear, worry are threatening to drown you…Let’s wait. Let’s trust. Let’s hand over our lives and allow God to really take the wheel, and let’s enjoy the journey.

How can I pray for you?

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