A Value Proposition

Never A Dull Moment – Week 4,Days 4 & 5

NADM Tears

Did you miss me yesterday?!  Whew!  Taking care of an injured kiddo is NO. JOKE. Especially when she is just enough like her Momma that she is stressed and worried about all manner of things that have no bearing on her actual reality.  Bless her heart… I have passed along the Martha gene.  Jesus, be a fence… as my good friend Mary Anne would say!

Today’s post is a perfect illustration of how God always knows better than I and has things firmly under control, even when I think they’re spinning wildly and commence fretting over them.  You guys know me well enough by now to know that not posting yesterday really upset me!  I didn’t even sit down to record a haggard looking video with Facebook LIVE… what a slacker!  Ugh.  I prayed and took deep breaths and had enough else to do to get through it relatively unscathed and then this morning, I sat down to my personal quiet time.  BOTH resources I use regularly wrapped up Days 4 and 5 in a perfect little bow.  One of them even focused on Revelation 21, the same text I referenced in “Tears!”  God whispered in my fretful little ear: “See?  Stop. Worrying. I was well aware that posting would not happen yesterday… it wasn’t meant to.”

[LONG deep breath]  That God… He’s something else, isn’t it He?

So… on to the combined post!  Here’s the thing, friends: “Loving God” and “tears” comes down to a value proposition: how do we know our worth?  Where are we seeking love?  Who or what are we expecting to dry our tears?  If our answers are ANYTHING or ANYONE other than Jesus Christ, we are going to be sorely disappointed.  And not just disappointed, but perfectly set up for the enemy to knock down.

Understanding and KNOWING that God loves us is crucial to our being able to love ourselves and others.  Think back to “Writing Down the Whispers” and “Daddy Do”… this world is FULL of distractions, disappointments, and ups and downs.  Without a deep recognition of God’s love for us, we just won’t make it victoriously.  We’ll probably trudge through.  We might make it with minimal scarring.  But our lives won’t be what God intended.

For this life to be what God intended, we have got to “know that we know” that we are loved and operate out of that love.  We have got to know that we are worthy because God SAID we are worthy: worth loving and seeking and sending His One & Only Son to die for.  We have got to KNOW that He knows us and sees us and is in control.  We’ve got to know that tears are not only a part of life, but OK too because God sees and care about every one.

Isn’t that the Good News?  God loving us so much that He came to wipe our tears with His own hands, to wash our feet, and take our sins and teach us to pray?  Isn’t the Good News that the Creator came and now knows exactly what it feels like to be the creation?  Isn’t it about God understanding us and saving us?  He has always cared so much about our tears that He bottles and records every one.  In Jesus, He came to experience and know our sorrows – to cry His own tears.  And even though we missed His first coming, one day, He will take our faces in His loving hands and gently wipe all of our tears from our cheeks.

Don’t let this life – don’t let Satan – steal what has been given to you.  Anchor yourself firmly in the love of God and the hope of Christ.  Pray everyday to know and understand a little bit more about the boundless love the Father has for you.  And when the tears come – as they always do – lift up your face to the One who made it and ask Him to wipe them away.  He is faithful and He will do it.

Much love, my friends.  I am sad that our daily journey is coming to a close.

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Writing Down the Whispers

Never A Dull Moment – Week 4, Day 2: Daddy Do

Sometimes I feel like I say the same things over and over again, but I always need to be reminded of how wide, how long, how high and how deep His love is for me. TimeHop (my favorite app!) was my reminder today! I wrote “Writing Down the Whispers” a year ago, but it fit so beautifully into our recent focus and with today’s reading that I decided to NOT overcomplicate things – YAY ME! LOL!

Today, my prayer is that you will KNOW down deep in the marrow of your bones that GOD LOVES YOU! He loved you before anyone who declares it to you verbally even knew of your existence. Jesus DIED for you before you were even a thought to anyone on this planet… because He loves you (Romans 5:8). Anytime we are moved to say “I love you, Lord” it is only because our Lord loved us first. I once heard Beth Moore (Bible teacher, speaker, lover of the Word) say that whenever she declares her love for her Father she says, “I love you too” because whatever prompted the love in her heart is an expression of God’s love for her. So true.

Know you are loved, my friend. No matter what you are walking through. No matter how you feel… KNOW you are loved with an everlasting, perfect love. When you question it, simply say, “Daddy do! Yes, He does.” And whisper back, “I love you, too.”

Speechless Ministries

I never claimed or promised to be a prolific blogger.  In fact, my tagline in Living Real magazine SAYS “… sometimes blogger,” but almost a year is quite a long time in between posts.  Here’s the thing: life gets crazy.  Words get thought and forgotten.  I imagine lots of things and, heaven knows, I say plenty, but it doesn’t all get logged right here.  Today though, in my journaling with the Lord, I felt prompted to write – really to share with you – what HE spoke to my heart.  So, there’s nothing super special about this day except that maybe what God whispered to my heart needs to be whispered to yours as well…

O Lord, this day and these feelings.  It started out “weird” and has progressed to that “sad” and “lonely” place I sometimes go. I could point to many things that may be the cause, but none of them seem…

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Navigating the Rapids

Never A Dull Moment – Week 3, Day 5

Well, honestly, this whole journey has been a lot more about navigating the rapids as opposed to charting the course.  I decided from the beginning that when I was given an opportunity to speak or perform somewhere, I would take it as an invitation from God and simply say, “yes” unless there was some concrete reason to say “no.”

Aw… that quote makes it sound so nice.  LOL!  Some of you know how I got into this whole thing now called Speechless Ministries, but I am betting most don’t.  Shortly after Caleb was born, Mom and I went to a Women of Faith conference, where I was first introduced to dramatist and author, Nicole Johnson.  She was truly my inspiration to perform like I do today.  I loved her and I had never seen anything like what she did!  As I hemmed and hawed around her table, Mom grabbed a set of scripts she had for sale and stated, “I’m buying these for you.”  Well, thanks, Mom.  What the heck am I going to do with a bunch of scripts?

I am a “waste not, want not” girl and those scripts just tormented me, frankly!  When the women’s team at my church began planning a conference, I approached my lead coordinator and good friend with this very confident proposition: “So, listen.  I have these scripts and there’s this one monologue about motherhood and if you have time in the conference, I would be willing to perform it.”  Plowing on… “I mean, it won’t hurt my feelings if you don’t have time or it doesn’t fit your vision.  I mean, don’t feel obligated to LET me perform or anything.”

Geez.  That’s just the kind of person you want taking the stage at your event, right?!  Thank God Angie is a sweet, kind friend who also gets the job done.  She’s the type that when she says it, you can go ahead and check it off your list… because it’s handled; the perfect person to get some folks in line and make stuff happen!  She’s also the type that knows when her friend needs a boot to the bottom!

Are you crazy?  YES!  You’re going to perform the drama! – Angie

Oh, Lord Jesus, help me!  WHAT have I gotten myself into?!

I have never been so nervous in my life.  Like, throw up in the sanctuary, dying, not talking to anyone (THAT nervous?!  Yes.), “HOLY COW!  Why did Mom buy those stupid scripts!” NERVOUS!

But I did it!

And someone from another church saw it.

And then the phone rang.

And she wanted me to come do a drama at her church.

And I told her I would pray about it… and resolved in my heart that I would never call her back.

LOL!  For real.

I hung up the phone and glanced across the room at Kevin, my husband, who also could be categorized as the type of person who gets people in line and knows when they might need a boot to the bottom.

No ma’am.  I know you and you need to decide right now that when that phone rings you are going to take it as a call from God and just say “YES” because if you don’t, you’ll never go anywhere.  And the fact that you’ve been asked to go somewhere means that you ARE CALLED to do this. – Kevin

Gah.  Why does he have to be all up in my business with all his wisdom and stuff, pouncing right on me when I was planning to confidently ignore this invitation and conveniently forget to call Melanie back.  Fine.  I called her back and told her I would do it.  There was just one problem: I didn’t have “dramas.”  I had one drama!  I didn’t have a repertoire.  I had one… drama.

Whew.  Thank God for those scripts Mom bought!

I picked another from Nicole’s repertoire, “Rocks” and the nerves started again.  Oh.  MY. WORD!  How did I get talked into this?!  What am I thinking?  Who’s going to watch Caleb?! What if someone else calls?!  I only have TWO dramas!  Throw up. Dying. Wailing and gnashing of teeth.

But I did it!

And I left that place and cried the whole way home.  And all could say to the Lord through my tears was, “Thank you… thank you… thank you” over and over again.  I may not be the best dramatist you will ever see or the greatest singer, most eloquent speaker or most insightful teacher, but standing on that stage I knew that I had been obedient.  I knew that no matter what had happened before or the moment after, for those 10 minutes on that stage, I was RIGHT in the center of God’s will for my life.  And you know what?  I would not trade that feeling – that blessing – for ANYTHING else in the world.

I am typing through tears as I think about it.  I was so scared, but I had determined that I would be obedient, that I would not miss out on anything God wanted to give me and He gave me more than I ever thought possible.

I just kept saying YES and 12 years later, I’m walking through my devotional book with you and have two speaking events coming up.  I don’t perform Nicole’s stuff very much anymore because I write my own dramas now.  How faithfully God ministered to my heart through that process is a blog for another day.  I’ve led conferences and shared a stage with Laura Story.  I have a repertoire now!  😉  God keeps planting desires in my heart.  He keeps allowing the phone to ring.  He just keeps opening doors and giving me the courage to walk through them.  And it is the coolest, best thing.  As much as I pray I’ve ministered to others, the way God has ministered to ME on this journey is the best part.

What rapids are staring you in the face today?  What have you ignored that you know in your heart is God’s call?  Don’t let fear rob you of the blessings that God is waiting to give.  Isaiah 48:18 says, “If only you had paid attention to my commands (if only you had been obedient), your peace would have been like a river (not a stagnant, still pond, but a raging river, able to handle the twists and turns and make it over the obstacles in the way) and your righteousness like the waves of the sea.

Don’t worry about charting the course, friends.  Just resolve to navigate the rapids with the One who spoke the river into being.  The journey is the best part.

God Does NOT Make Mistakes

Never A Dull Moment – Week 2, Day 6

I could go on and on about my kiddos and how much they have taught me and how much I love them and don’t even get me flipping through all the pictures that I could find and post to go along with this particular devotion.  Instead of all that, though, I have to highlight the most important thing:

God does NOT make mistakes.

When I brought my first-born home from the hospital my life changed in a million ways that I never even thought of.  (For the record, Mom tried to tell me about 700 thousand of them, but I wouldn’t listen… KIDS!)  The biggest issue I faced was wanting to be the “perfect” mother to this precious little squirm worm while simultaneously having no idea what I was doing.  As they say, “Babies don’t come with manuals!”  Or maybe that’s just my mom again? Anyway… a sweet friend gave me the one piece of parenting advice that actually matters. It is the only one that I purposely pass along to other mommas who are just trying to navigate the rapids of parenthood.  She said, “God gave you Caleb because YOU are the perfect mother for him. Period.” Wow. Whew.

Aside from the sweet story of my perfect babies – I’m a little biased! – THAT is the whole point of today’s reading.  No matter what it is in your life that has you questioning God’s wisdom in giving you the assignment, GOD DOES NOT MAKE MISTAKES.  Every single person, situation, issue, occurrence, moment, relationship, etc. etc. etc. is intended for your good and His glory.

He has you where you are by design.  Trust Him.  He hand-picked you for the life you are living because there’s good work for only you to do.  Remember that he makes wise choices and He always picks perfectly.

And, now, without further ado, the pictures!  You knew they were coming!!  LOL!

NADM My Perfect Babies4

Speaking, Listening, Trusting & Honoring

Never A Dull Moment – Week 2, Day 4

Speak Lord

If any story had a “rest of the story,” this selection certainly does.  The Sunday morning in the choir loft I recollect in today’s reading just happened to be my family’s last Sunday morning at the church I grew up in, the church I was married in and the church both of my babies first visited after their Momma determined they were old and hearty enough to leave home.  I was looking around, sure nothing important would be said – Ha! – willing my mind’s eye to memorize every color in the beautiful stained glass windows and every smile on the faces I’d known since I moved to SC.  We had been called away… “sent out on mission,” my Pastor had said.  Thank God He jolted me out of my nostalgic fog to hear the message He’d prepared just for me that morning.

On the cusp of such a huge change, sure of our decision and the Lord’s leading, but still emotional enough to wonder if we were really, really, sure… what a blessing to know that obedience does not mean always staying in the same place and doing the same thing you were called to at some point.  Obedience is never boring.  It does not mean staying comfortable or even stable.  Sometimes it means taking chances and getting REALLY uncomfortable.  Sometimes it means leaving what you love, knowing it will never be exactly quite the same again and being strangely at peace with the change you know is coming.  Sometimes it is sweet and special.  Sometimes it feel more like what I call “the BOOT of God” on your back shoving you out of your cushy little nest.

As many times as God calls you to act/speak/go on His behalf… that’s how many different feelings I guess you’ll have and ways the obedience will look.  In my estimation, only one thing is the same across the board: you’ll only know you’re being called if you’re listening and you’ll only be obedient if you’re listening carefully.  You’ll only reach your promised land if you trust God enough to honor Him… no matter how you feel, no matter how you did it yesterday, no matter what they all say.

O Lord Jesus, teach me to listen and to know when to strike the rock and when to simply speak to it.  Teach me to TRUST YOU and HONOR YOU even when it’s scary, when the crowd is getting on my last nerve, or I feel like I’ve been down this road before.  Lead me to the Promised Land.  Don’t let me miss a single adventure!  Speak, Lord.  Your servant is listening.

There Are No Mundane Tasks

Never A Dull Moment – Week 1, Your Turn to Talk

We made it: one whole week of journeying together, seeing God in the daily, being consistent (for me… sort of!) in our times with the Lord!  Don’t miss the key point wrapped up in that little parenthetical, my Friends.  We do not have to be perfect.  It is OK when things don’t go exactly as planned.  There are days when we are going to feel overwhelmed, but Isaiah 43:10 says we WON’T BE.  I have a business partner who says, “overwhelmed is a choice” and she’s right.

Did you keep going?  Did the Holy Spirit remind you of Himself?  Did you throw up a prayer as you were running out the door?  Are you reading this today?  Good for you!  Way to persevere!  Running the race looks gangly and awkward sometimes, but you just don’t stop.  There’s a reward waiting at the end AND there will be lots of awesome along the way!

So… your turn to talk.  The challenge for today is to consider the “mundane” tasks for which you are responsible and then open your eyes to see the blessings they represent.  I love looking at life this way.  After all, if we are created to do good works which God planned in advance for us to do (we were, see Ephesians 2:10) and if all our days are ordained (they are, see Psalm 139) then there are no mundane tasks, right?

Happy journaling!

Never A Dull Moment: Spending August with the Dramatic Daughter Herself

Hello Friends!  Those of you who follow my Facebook page know that we are walking through my devotional book, Never A Dull Moment: Conversations with a Dramatic Daughter of the King, this month.  The idea of walking through the devotional book hatched as a result of two things: First, I kept thinking about the stories I share in it.  They are all close to my heart and for some reason, God has been reminding me of them lately.  I personally wanted to read back through them to see what else God has taught me since I first wrote them down.  AND God has given me a platform to share the things that He brings to mind and puts on my heart.  Seems like what He’s teaching me is very often just thing He wants me to pass on… which leads me to the second reason we’re all here.

Over the last few weeks, several of you have reached out to me about your quiet times with the Lord.  We ARE busy people.  We DO have a lot on our plates and as much as we want to prioritize quiet time in our Father’s presence, it seems to be the first thing to slide.  So, my prayer is that this month together will help us establish consistency in our time with the Lord by providing an online community of people who will be traveling this road together.

Never A Dull Moment is all about finding God in the middle of daily “insanity.”  I hope that we develop a true HABIT of BEING STILL in His presence and SEEING HIM even in the midst of our crazy lives… especially in the midst of our crazy lives.  God is all about relationship.  He is not interested in you prettying up for Him.  He’s interested in being central as you walk the walk!  I’m so excited to be walking with you this month!  See you in the word!

Are You So Foolish?

I spent the first part of this morning like I always do: up, coffee, dressed, breakfast and carpool for Kid #1, call Kid #2 to say I’m on the way, breakfast and coffee for said Kid #2, carpool route 2 and home again.  I skipped my typical first moment in the Word in favor of one more “snooze” – ding #1… you’re off to a GREAT start, Joeli.  On the way home, my mind races through the day and I tell myself passionately: You are NOT doing ANYTHING until you have your quiet time and PRAY over this day!  WooHoo!  Go me!

Arrive home: the puppy is literally black up to all four of her “knees!”  I make my way to the backyard to determine the cause of this MESS that has also found its way onto my just swept floor.  There, I find my FAVORITE sunglasses, the ones I have searched for several times in the last 36 hours, TOTALLY destroyed by said puppy!  Ugh.  Then my phone dings and I get distracted for a few minutes.  I look at the clock and 30 minutes have flown by.  How. Does. This. HAPPEN?!

Ok!  That is IT!  NOTHING is stopping me from opening my Bible, hitting my knees and restarting this day!  WooHoo!  Go me!  LOL!

I open up Journey and what do my always amazed eyes see but God’s precious, right on time, message to me; one He has delivered many times before and surely will deliver many times more: “Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now going to be made complete by the flesh? (Gal. 3:3)”

Um… no Sir. … But “I am sure of this, that [You] who started a good work in [me] will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”

WooHoo!  GO. GOD!

[Deep breath!] Thank You, Father, for grace upon grace upon grace… upon grace, UPON GRACE!  Thank you for meeting me RIGHT where I am in ways that never cease to amaze me and make me smile.  I am loved by You.  You have provided for me and it feels really nice to know that ALL things are in Your hand, nothing is impossible FOR YOU and You do not expect me to finish this race in my own flesh.  WooHoo!  Go YOU! 

In Jesus’ sweet, faithful name… from the grateful heart of Your easily distracted, much loved Daughter.  Amen.

Writing Down the Whispers

I never claimed or promised to be a prolific blogger.  In fact, my tagline in Living Real magazine SAYS “… sometimes blogger,” but almost a year is quite a long time in between posts.  Here’s the thing: life gets crazy.  Words get thought and forgotten.  I imagine lots of things and, heaven knows, I say plenty, but it doesn’t all get logged right here.  Today though, in my journaling with the Lord, I felt prompted to write – really to share with you – what HE spoke to my heart.  So, there’s nothing super special about this day except that maybe what God whispered to my heart needs to be whispered to yours as well…

O Lord, this day and these feelings.  It started out “weird” and has progressed to that “sad” and “lonely” place I sometimes go. I could point to many things that may be the cause, but none of them seem to explain – completely – my sadness and this loneliness.  Thank you for your ever Presence and for the joy I know I have in You and will feel again… probably soon, if history repeats itself.  Thanks, God, for reminders to press on from all over the place – the radio, random Facebook posts, a friend’s wall art, and, of course, your very Word.

I know that when I pass though the waters – the deep spots in life, You are with me and when I pass through the rivers – the raging, stressful, unforeseeable, twisting times, they will not sweep over me.  I know that when I walk through the fire, I will not be burned.  And I know it is because YOU have paid my ransom and because no matter how sad or lonely life sometimes feels, I AM PRECIOUS. IN. YOUR. SIGHT.

I know that nothing can separate me from Your love: not trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger of sword… of course, not those things.  But NEITHER feelings of loneliness or sadness or a long TO DO List or piles of laundry or sassy kiddos or conflicts with the Hubs or chores or bills or work or ponderings or things I could have/should have/would have done differently.  NO.  NOTHING can separate me from You and from the love of Jesus.  In all these things, I am more than a conqueror because JESUS HIMSELF loves me.  For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons – the good nor the bad.  Neither the present nor the future – what I see right now nor what may lie around the next moment’s corner; nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all of creation will be able to separate me from the love of God that is mine in Christ Jesus my Lord.  And even though it is quiet and I can’t quite explain my tears this morning, that makes me feel better.  I little less lonely and a lot less sad. 

I have quieted my soul before you, Father, and You, as always, have heard and answered my deepest need… even though I can’t quite articulate it.  I have put my trust in You and lift my soul up to You.  And You, in Your faithfulness and righteousness, have come to my relief to bring me word of Your unfailing love, to teach me, and to lead me on level ground.  In Your unfailing love, You silence my enemies… even my own faltering inner voice… and destroy all my foes.

You are God.  I, Your girl, look to You.  And, as always, You never disappoint.  Thank You, Jesus!  You have done great things!  I am filled with joy and I am surely not alone.

Arm in Arm with the Lord

As He often does, God has been weaving a theme into my life over the course of the last few weeks. I am a Type A, “make the plan, work the plan, check the plan off the list” kind of girl and there are many times that my desire for control and perfection sabotage my walk with the Lord. I get so frustrated with my imperfections that I forget God is well aware of the sin in this girl He calls daughter. And in my frustration, my default can be to give up or feel like an entire day is “wasted” because of one missed step. In my desire to be perfect or nothing, I forget about grace and I grow deaf to the whisper of the Holy Spirit. I forget that life is a journey WITH God. He doesn’t save us and send us on our way. He walks WITH us. This week was so busy and so full of opportunities for me to fall, but God (I so love that phrase!) has repeated over and over again that my job is to follow His lead and allow Him to make and execute the plan in His time.

My online Bible study of Esther landed on week four and the most quoted verse from the book, Esther 4:14. Like Esther, I can’t let fear or worry or my inability to control the outcome keep me from what God has chosen for me. We are indeed living each moment of our lives “for such a time as this.” Even Mordecai simply trusted that that deliverance his people needed would come from somewhere or someone else if Esther did not speak to the king on their behalf. The phrase “who knows” is supremely rich. Mordecai didn’t pretend to know how it would all work out, but he knew it would because he trusted in Sovereign God. And in verse 16, Esther completely surrendered control to God: “If I perish, perish.”

Esther reminded me of Joel 2:14 and Daniel 3:15-18. The prophet said that repentance may bring a relenting from the Lord – who knows? Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego knew that God was able to save them from the fiery furnace, but declared that even if He didn’t (who knows?), they would not serve an idol, but would bow only to God Himself. Week Two, Day Three of Beth Moore’s Children of the Light, “A Theology of Walking,” reminded me that this life is a journey of ups and downs, victorious parades, seasons of crawling, sprints, beautiful strides and lots of stumbling, less-than-graceful moments. The merciful grace of God, however, ensures that the Believer is always held by God’s righteous right hand (Is. 41:10). What is it that God requires? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with my God (Micah 6:8); to keep in step with the Spirit (Gal. 5:25); to press on (Phil. 3:13-14); to know that LIFE, with all its peaks and valleys, is meant to make us look more like Jesus.

When we follow after God, we will know peace like a river and righteousness like the waves of the sea (Is. 448:18). Our peace won’t be like the motionless, stagnant waters of a pond, but the twisting, turning waters of a river, flowing over rocks and rolling over rapids. Our righteousness won’t be automatic and look like perfection, but it will ebb and flow consistently and surely – because it comes from Jesus alone. I found myself, once again answering the question Paul asked the Galatians: “Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard? Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort (Gal. 3:2-3)?”

Over and over again God has been showing me that it is OK to not know and just trust – it is BEST, in fact. I can almost never really control the outcomes of my situations and circumstances, but I CAN walk with God and trust HIM with the outcome. I can stop trying to “win” my own favor with God by observing the law and remember that it was won for me on the cross. And that is BEST because as tightly as I grasp everything and every person and every situation, what I REALLY want, in my heart of hearts to simply walk with God: to know Him and to experience Him and not miss what He is doing. And as far as “the plan” goes… ultimately the one I want is the one God has in mind anyway.

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