The Process of Self-Improvement: STEP 3

Step 3: Pray. Seek. Receive.

PSA: You don’t have to use fancy language in your prayers. They don’t need to be long and drawn out. You don’t need to talk to God like you’re addressing the Queen of England or the President or anything like that. He’s not going to ignore you for not being “formal enough.” Talk to God like you’re talking to a friend, your closest confidante. That’s exactly what He is!

Once I finally realized that, my prayer began to flow in a way I had never experienced. I used to struggle with prayer all the time. Often, I felt like I simply couldn’t pray. I didn’t know the words, and not in such a way that I needed the Spirit to intercede for me. I had this vision of God a huge king sitting on this massive throne that I was kneeling at the bottom of – a tiny ant at the foot of a giant. Let me tell you what: that vision is incredibly restrictive! Because of the way I viewed God, I couldn’t feel comfortable talking to Him. Only when I let go of that rigid, constricting vision of God did I discover how easily I can speak to my Father. My life hasn’t been the same since.

Pray without ceasing. I know that sounds like a daunting task, but it really isn’t as impossible as it seems. Did you know you can “text” with God? Praying isn’t about these big, long, fancy prayers you so often hear in church. You can pray in even the smallest moment in so many ways: thank Him for providing a close parking spot when it’s raining, thank Him for keeping you safe on your way home, ask Him to help you get through a tough day, or simply acknowledge the beauty of His creation. All it takes is a short, “Hey, God, I just wanted to say you’re awesome.” The important thing is to constantly maintain communication between you and the Father. Relationships don’t build in silence.

This is probably where I struggle the most. It is so easy to let life overtake everything. I don’t know how many times I’ve gotten so caught up in the stress and chaos of the day that I’ve woken up the next morning to realize I didn’t even speak to my Father once throughout the day. I’ll be the first to tell you that finding the time and making the effort to pray even in the tiniest of moments feels like work at first, but I will also be the first to tell you what an amazing difference keeping that open line of communication makes.

My days, even the worst of them, are so much easier to get through when I’ve spoken to God. My toughest moments are not as tough as they used to be because I’ve built a strong bond between my everyday life and the comfort and peace of Jesus. Once I took the time and made the effort to strengthen my day-to-day relationship with God, I found depending on God for the peace, strength, and comfort He has always promised became significantly easier. Now, where I used to constantly panic in the face of my anxieties, I breathe deeply and remember that all my anxieties are already in His hands; I have absolutely nothing to worry about.

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7 (NLT)

Seek God with all of you. Imagine you are in desperate need of a washing machine. You know your friend has one, but you never come over to use it or even bother to ask her if you can use her washer. Imagine that that friend all the while has been sitting next to you virtually yelling, “I have one for you, not just to use but to have! All you need to do is come get it!” And yet, you still don’t come. You just sit and complain about not having a washer and how badly you need one.

Well, that’s how it is with God when we need something but we don’t come to Him – and I don’t mean just saying, “God, I need this. Thanks,” and expecting that to be it. I mean putting forth the effort not only to voice your need to Him but to seek His help with all your heart. God doesn’t work half-heartedly, so we shouldn’t give Him half the attention or the effort. When we fully seek God and His will in our lives, beautiful and amazing things will happen. God has a fantastic plan for each and every one of our lives; we just need to seek Him to find them.

Receive whatever God has for you, even if it’s not what you expected. Prayer is not only about expressing our needs and our voices. It is a two-street of communication between God and us. That means in all our prayers we need to take time to listen for God’s response.

Have you ever someone talk at you instead of talking to you? You know how frustrating that feels? Well, when we forget to listen to God because we spend all our prayer time asking Him for things and telling Him everything that’s wrong with our lives, that’s exactly what we’re doing: talking at Him. I’m pretty sure He doesn’t appreciate it any more than you or I do. Remember to be quiet and listen during your prayers so that you can receive any word the Lord has for you.

We pray with expectation that God hears and answers our prayers. We must be careful not to restrict that expectation to mean we expect God to answer prayers exactly the way we want Him to answer them. Our will is not His will, and we should desire His will to be done above all else. Our greater is coming, but we cannot easily receive our greater if we decide we’d rather cling to the mediocre we can already grasp. The easy choice is rarely the best choice for us. In all things, pray for His will to rule over your own that you do not miss out on everything He has prepared for you.

God bless!

The Process of Self-Improvement: Learning to Lead By Example
The Process of Self-Improvement: STEP 1
The Process of Self-Improvement: STEP 2

The Process of Self-Improvement: STEP 2

Step 2: Spend time in His presence and ONLY His presence every day.

This is a BIGGIE. You can only go so far in a relationship if you never spend time with each other, so take a break from your crazy life and look to the one who has allowed you to experience another day, another minute, another breath.

Get rid of the distractions.

Turn off your phone.

Close out Facebook/Twitter/Tumblr/etc. – any website that will steal your focus. Turn off your computer completely if you need to.

Remove everything that will keep you from giving all your attention to God.

Set a minimum time.

I usually try to spend at least an hour focusing on nothing but Him, but I will never spend less than 30 minutes. Sometimes I get so lost in His glory that what feels like 30 minutes turns out to be closer to 2 hours. Let the Spirit move in you.

Welcome His Spirit into your space.

Yes, He’s already there because He is always with you, but taking the extra step to specifically welcome His Spirit into your space is an intimate invitation for worship, rest, and communication. It is a way to open yourself up in preparation for what God has for you in that moment. I do it as a way to focus myself on what I’m doing and as a way to say, “God, I’m all yours.”

Have a plan to get you started, but don’t be surprised if that plan goes right out the window when the Spirit starts moving.

I like to start my time with prayer to bring in my focus and to open my heart to God’s guidance and desire initially, but after that I like to use a devotional unless God immediately leads me in a different direction. Lately, I’ve been working through The Message//REMIX: Solo. Every now and then God completely sidetracks me from my plan, and that’s perfectly alright with me. Truly, those are the best moments. There is nothing so sweet as completely surrendering to God’s will.

Keep a Bible Journal.

Your journal can be in whatever form works best for you. I’ve used a regular college-ruled notebook, a binder, a composition book, graph paper, a small spiral notebook, and (finally) a moleskin sketchbook. I just began this most recent journal about two months ago, and it is one of the best things I’ve ever done. I’m taking an entirely new direction in my journaling after I discovered the art of Bible journaling. I’ve always doodled my thoughts, but it had never occurred to me that I could so perfectly incorporate that concept into my faith journey.

This is a journal entry that was inspired by Day 5 of The Message// Remix: Solo.

This is a journal entry that was inspired by Day 5 of The Message// Remix: Solo.

That’s why I finally chose the moleskin sketchbook as the perfect canvas on which to document my walk with God. It fits perfectly in my purse or my Bible case, it’s nicely bound, it lies flat, it has an elastic band to hold it closed, and it has no lines which leaves the layout of each page completely up to my imagination and the leading of God.

I actually ordered a journaling bible to work in alongside my journal when the

Spirit really moves me on a verse. I’ve always been so particular about what marks I put in my Bible, but having a Bible that is specifically for my doodle-like notes that really identify what stands out to me takes that particular weight off my shoulders. Without that weight, my journaling flows, and I am far more comfortable in my exploration of the Word.

Be persistent.

“Old habits die hard,” and new habits don’t come alive much easier. Don’t give up because you forgot to take time one, two, even three days – or weeks or months. It’s never too late to try again. The important thing is to keep doing it. Every time you do it, it’ll get easier, it’ll become more natural, and then you’ll find you can’t wait to spend that time with God and nothing else.

Once you begin to rest daily in the arms of the Father, your life will never be the same.

God bless!

The Process of Self-Improvement: Learning to Lead By Example
The Process of Self-Improvement: STEP 1
The Process of Self-Improvement: STEP 3

The Process of Self-Improvement: STEP 1

Step 1: Wake up early.

I have to be at work by 7:45am. Considering how long it takes me to get ready and how much I love my sleep, I rarely had time to do anything but get ready in the mornings. I never took the time to just focus on God, and my life suffered for it. I was only making it that much more difficult to have the best day possible because I wasn’t dedicating my day to the only one who deserves all of my time.

Now, I’m trying to be awake by 5:30am every day, if not before. It gives me an hour not only to fix a real breakfast and truly enjoy it but also to spend reading and resting in the presence of the Lord. I find those early morning hours to be freeing and incredibly peaceful. The rush of the day hasn’t begun yet, and I feel I can truly rest in His presence before trying to face the chaos of my everyday world. (Trust me – when you spend 8 hours every weekday running around with up to 16 two-year-olds, you enjoy every extra moment of rest and peace you can get!) There’s no better way I can imagine beginning my days than with my devotional, my Bible, and my journal, with my God leading my hand and my heart every step of the way.

Maybe 5:30 is a little too early for you, but I highly suggest that you try to get up a little early each day so that you can breathe in the glory of God.

God bless!

The Process of Self-Improvement: Learning to Lead By Example
The Process of Self-Improvement: STEP 2
The Process of Self-Improvement: STEP 3

The Process of Self-Improvement: Learning to Lead by Example

Good mornings start with a good breakfast and an even better cup of tea before the sun’s even come up. Better mornings start with quiet time with the Father and a renewed spirit of joy and peace.

I’m trying to start a new routine to better my days. I want to strive daily to make my life better – to improve myself in such a way that improves the lives of others because the only way I can even begin to be a light to those around me is to take the time and make the effort to cultivate that light in myself. The journey to leadership begins where I begin, and I want my beginning to be in the one who began it all: God.

So, how have I been going about this “self-improvement” with The Father?

Well, for me, it’s a four-step process, which I will be taking you through over the next week. STEP 1 will be posted bright and early tomorrow morning!

God bless!

The Process of Self-Improvement: STEP 1
The Process of Self-Improvement: STEP 2
The Process of Self-Improvement: STEP 3

God is Great, Even When the Road is Dark.

Y’all, God is just SO good. I’m wrapped palpably in His presence right now. He’s doing some great things in my life. I don’t know where I’m heading, but I know I have a trustworthy guide to lead me to my new destination. There’s a quote by E. L. Doctorow that says, “It’s like driving a car at night. You never see further than your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.” That’s kind of how it is with God. We can’t see the whole plan, but we can see enough to take the next step. All we have to do is trust our road, which is the path God has laid out for us. It’s when we stop following the road that we start wrecking.

I pray guidance and clarity over each and every one of you that you will be able to see the path ahead of you, that you will pay attention when God reveals to you with his light like Moses paid attention to the burning bush. I pray peace and trust into your spirit that you will have no doubt in your steps, even though you can’t see far ahead of you. But, most of all, I pray courage into your hearts that you will keep going when the path gets steep, when the path gets bumpy, and when there are so many twists and turns you think you must be lost. He’s got you! So long as you hold onto Him and keep your eye on His light and His road for you, you will not ever be lost.

God bless!

Breakthrough Challenge #2: Favorite Verse

My favorite verse is 2 Corinthians 12:9. 2 Cortinthians 12:9
Good gave me this verse a couple of years ago when I was going through one of the toughest times, and its been my verse ever since. This verse verse is a constant reminder that everything I do is by God’s power alone. It reminds me that even (read: especially!) in the times I feel weakest, He is strong. Those life tests and trials are building my testimony and feeding His purpose for my life. Whenever life is trying to knock me down, I remember, “In my weakness…” and my true strength returns.
‪#‎NCBreakthrough2015‬ #‎BreakthroughMovement

What does BREAKTHROUGH mean to me?

This was the question of the night from last week’s weekly devotion. Everyone who shared their answer on the call had fantastic and inspiring answers. I’d like to share mine with you:

To me breakthrough means…

Overcoming: Breaking into:
Fear Freedom
Self-consciousness Joy
Doubt Confidence
Lack of self-worth Strength
Loneliness Protection
Heartbreak Love
Anxiety Peace

Reaching my breakthrough took time and work. For the most part, I didn’t overcome all of these things with one swift movement of God. He worked slowly on me for some of them. That’s the funny thing about breakthroughs: everyone’s (and every one) is different. God may instantly deliver you from what you’re struggling to break through in one miraculous moment, or he may work piece-by-piece, chipping away at the chains holding you down or the walls holding you in. It all depends on what’s best for you.

I’ve had a few of those worked-in-an-instant breakthroughs, but then I squandered my joy when I stopped working in my breakthrough. I took for granted what God had done in me and didn’t change what I as doing that led to the chains and walls to begin with, so I found myself trapped again. That’s why my breakthroughs usually take slow steps of effort to reach that final “I’m free!” moment. I’ve needed the focus of working on myself to fully appreciate the wonders of what he’s doing in my life.

Now, will my breakthroughs always work that way? Not necessarily. It all depends on what God sees in me and what he wants to do for me for my good and for HIS purpose. Every blessing I’ve ever received has been so I could work in line with HIS will. As soon as I start focusing more on what I want to do and not what HE wants me to do, I’m in trouble.

God knows what he’s doing. He knows what works for me, and he knows what will work for you. All we need to do is keep our eyes on him and follow his will above our own. As soon as he’s your focus, amazing things will start happening – I guarantee it!

Now, what does BREAKTHROUGH mean to you?

God bless!

Who Am I in Christ?

I am a daughter.

I am a seeker of souls.

I am a child still learning how to fully depend on my always dependable, always faithful, always present father – my Protector, my Leader, El Shaddai.

I am an imperfect person constantly humbling myself before my ruler who is forever thankful for the forgiving love of my Father.

I am an OVERCOMER of fear and life’s distractions who will no longer allow the business of my everyday world suffocate my walk in my faith and my calling.

I am a FIGHTER for my soul, a WARRIOR who will not give up, will not give in, will not surrender when the world tries to knock me down and knock me out. I will NOT be KO’d!

I will renew my identity as a writer of words to reach, teach, and motivate a generation of souls to follow Christ as I revive the calling my God placed on my life.

This is MY breakthrough.pj442try5pn169p-cropped

Have you found your breakthrough?
Share yours in the comments or on Facebook or Twitter!
Tags: #breakthroughmovement #NCbreakthrough2015

God bless!

Kicking Off My Journey: Why this blog?

This is my first post, and what better way to begin this new blog journey than with my inspiration to start this blog to begin with?

Every year, I work the NC Church of God of Prophecy youth camp in High Point. This year, however, I couldn’t get time of work to spend a week (or 5) at my second home in the summer. Not being there didn’t keep me from experiencing some of the amazing things that happened there, though. This year’s theme was “BREAKTHROUGH,” and there is no better way to describe what happened each week of camp this year. I read testimony after testimony about the amazing things God did and how changed people were from campers, workers, leaders, and directors.

The last week of the camping season this year was Senior High, which consists of youth ages 15 to college. Those attending were experiencing breakthrough after breakthrough throughout the week, and several of them decided that they did not want those breakthroughs to end when the week did, so they created the This is Our Breakthrough, a Breakthrough Movement geared towards uplifting and encouraging our generation to walk strongly in their faith. It functions as an all-inclusive support group for anyone who needs a Christian family and wants to pursue the greatness God has prepared for them.

That’s where I come in. My best friend from camp is one of the three who began the movement, and she, knowing how passionate I am for supporting our youth, invited me to join the movement, and I promptly accepted. Well, this past week or so they’ve been doing a “Breakthrough Challenge”:

The Breakthrough Challenge:
1. Make a status stating your name.
2. Telling us something good about yourself.
Ex; Katy is an amazing woman of God.
3. Then drop a selfie underneath.
Hashtag ‪#‎BreakthroughMovement‬ & ‪#‎NCBreakthrough2015‬

Naturally, I wrote mine and posted it, but I felt it needed to be more than a Facebook status, so it became a blog post on my broader, separately personal blog. Then, I participated in a devotional call with the group (10 or so people on one call is an interesting phenomenon.), and the question of the night was “What does ‘breakthrough’ mean to you?” That question has stuck with me, and when I realized my answer meant actively pursuing my calling, I knew a blog would be the best vehicle for me to use.

I’ve blogged some before, both as a personal endeavor and as a leader of a group that has since retired. I’ve missed having the platform I did with the group blogs because I knew people from all over were reading the posts and receiving something from them. In those few short months, I was actively pursuing my calling, and it felt great!

Unfortunately, due to a few team issues and members being lead in another direction, that group project ended, and the blogging platform went silent. The blogs still exist, but when the team behind the group they represent doesn’t, writing new posts just never felt right, so I stopped, and, then, slowly, all of my writing stopped.

It’s not that my desire to write stopped, but I no longer knew what to write. I’d be lying if I claimed my spiritual journey has been perfect and straight these last several months because it hasn’t been; it’s been messy, crooked, and overgrown – with people, things, and all kinds of distractions – and all that mess certainly messed with my ability to share God’s words.

Not anymore.

With this blog and this first post, I am reviving a journey into my calling that I began over a year ago, and I’d be incredibly blessed if you’d follow me as I make my way on this peculiar journey that is my walk with God.

God bless!