In 2015 I stepped down from my position at TrainingAuthors.com because I felt like God was calling me back to ministry. I had helped build TrainingAuthors.com from the ground up, so it was really hard for me to do, and it took an entire year for me to really come to grips with it and surrender that decision completely to God. However, I am so glad that I did.
I have been working on getting back to the root of the ministry God called me to, discipling and encouraging Christian women and teen girls. I have been struggling with how best to do this online. Starting from scratch is never easy. But this week God knocked my socks off.
I received an e-mail on Sunday night from the owner of FindYourTrueBeauty.com, the ministry that published my first book in 2010. I knew God had called her to minister to a different group of people, and that ministry hadn’t been overly active for several years now, which is part of the reason I was so lost on how to move forward. But in her e-mail she wanted to know if I would be interested it taking over the ministry completely.
I was floored.
It’s exactly what God had placed in my heart. You know, one of those God sized dreams that you don’t think could ever really happen and you would never dream of actually asking for. I get teared up every time I think about it.
So, I am writing today today to tell you that I am officially the new owner/director of the ministry FindYourTrueBeauty.com. I am working hard on updating the website, our books, etc. And it will be a long process of getting everything up to speed, but I would love for you to check it out and let me know what you think.
It’s been a busy start to 2016. Despite my best efforts not to get in over my head or make commitments that will stress me out, I’ve done it anyway. Life has a tendency to run out of control. Thus, I have been learning a lot about surrendering to God and following His lead. I probably have a billion blog worthy topics stored up, but today, I have to tell you about something that is very prevalent in my life. In fact, it has the potential to be life changing, and regardless of whether or not it alters my life physically, the fear is wreaking havoc on my spiritual life.
My husband is having neck surgery in just over a week.
That might not sound major to you. It is a fairly common surgery. The doctor told him they do about 5 of these surgeries every week. But it’s pretty major to me.
I have to help my husband write a will. That’s major.
Let me back up for you for a moment.
Without giving you a crazy long medical background, my husbands shoulder has been hurting since last spring. Just before Thanksgiving, we found out that it is being caused by a bulging disc in his neck. After seeing a new doctor last week, we were told what my husband had already accepted: he needs surgery. There is absolutely no tissue around his spine.
I’m going to get candid with you for a moment here: This scares the living daylights out of me.
I know I have nothing to fear. I know God is in control. I know, without a shadow of a doubt, that no matter what happens, God’s got this. His timing is perfect, His ways are best, and He loves me.
But I am still struggling with this irrational fear.
And it is irrational to me, because I know better. Yet it’s there.
Yesterday at church I cried my eyes out as we sang Never Once, because it’s exactly what I needed. I know God is faithful, and even though I am scared, I know I am not alone. I can’t yet say that I have peace about this, but I walked out of the church feeling a whole lot lighter than when I walked in.
Then, when I called my mom to tell her what was going on, she volunteered to come stay with my kids while my husband was in the hospital. That was such a huge burden lifted off of me as I was still trying to sort out those details. It was just a reminder that I am not alone. I knew we could count on my mother-in-law and our church family, but there’s just something about having my mom here that makes it all easier for me, you know?
God is so good.
While I am still struggling, God is winning the battle in my heart. I feel it swinging His way, and I know I will be okay.
Have you ever struggled with fear as a Christian? I’d love to hear about your testimony in the comments!
Our lives have hit a change in season. For the past several years, I have worked as an author coach with Shelley Hitz at TrainingAuthors.com. In fact, I helped her build it from the ground up. Earlier this year, however, I decided to step down.
It wasn’t an easy decision, and I have spilled many tears over the past several months as I have grieved the loss of this part of my life. I have wrestled with this decision over and over again, but it was the right decision.
Our kids are growing fast, and I need to spend more time with them.
I am still wrestling with what that looks like. Just how far I am stepping back from my online work. Should I rebuild slowly on my own? Should I step back all together? Should I just keep plugging away until I figure it all out?
What it comes down to is that I really don’t have the answers yet. I have gone back and forth multiple times, and all I know is that it was the right decision. I may not know where I am or what’s ahead of me, but God does. And I can trust that His plan is perfect.
My theme for 2015 is “Called by Christ” – I don’t know what He is calling me to, but I totally trust Him. And as strange as it may sound, even though I don’t know where all of this is going, I know deep inside that I am going in the right direction.
Anyway, we are retiring all of the products from the TrainingAuthors.com store this week, and everything is 75% off with the coupon code “CLOSEOUT”. So if you are an author, I highly recommend checking out our resources before they are gone here: http://www.paulandheatherhart.com/authors
You may or may not have heard of Beth Moore’s Siesta Scripture Memory Team, but I’m taking part in it this year and loving it. The basis behind it is that you memorize two verses a month (on the first and fifteenth). Psalm 118:17 is my second verse for this month, and while I know I’ve read the entire Bible, I don’t remember really seeing this verse before yesterday, but it has hit me hard.
“I shall not die, but I shall live, and recount the deeds of the Lord.”
~ Psalm 118:17
(ESV – emphasis mine)
This verse stirs me in a way I can barely express through words. Before Jesus, we were dead in our transgressions, separated from God, but because of Him, we shall live. He has given us a new life (Romans 6:4), and the old has passed away (2 Corinthians 5:17).
Because of Christ, we can live not only in eternity, but we can live a full life here on earth bringing glory to our Savior. We can share about His mighty works. And not only that, but He can live through us and in us through the person of the Holy Spirit.
John 10:10 says, “A thief comes to steal, kill, and destroy. But I (Jesus) came to give you life–life that is full and good.”
Jesus came to give us life. Not just air to breathe, but one where we actively live a life according to what He has called us to. Colossians 3:1 says, “You were raised from death with Christ. So live for what is in heaven, where Christ is sitting at the righthand of God.”
Jesus didn’t just give us life, He gave us something to live for.
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”
~ 2 Corinthians 5:17
I was reading through Philemon the other day and was astounded at Paul’s confidence that Philemon would honor his wishes. I kept thinking, if I were Philemon, would I be quick to forgive the runaway slave, or would I punish him more because he got one of my friends involved? (Not that I believe in slavery, but if I were wronged and the person who wronged me went to a friend, would I be quick to forgive?)
As I re-read the passage, I stopped at the verses where Paul thanks God for Philemon. He had reason to have confidence in Philemon, because he had heard about his love for God and all the saints. Those who love are quick to forgive. They hold no record of wrongs (1 Cor. 13:5).
But not all of us are like that.
Not all of us are quick to forgive, and often we do hold a record of wrongs.
Even with Paul’s confidence in Philemon, and the testimony of his love, I still find myself wondering how that story ended. How did Philemon receive Onesimus? Did he welcome him as a beloved brother in Christ? Did he send him back to Paul? Did he punish him for running away? We don’t know how the story ends, but it still speaks to my heart.
The overpowering question is, does it matter?
Does it matter how the story ends?
If Paul did the right thing, does it matter if Philemon was obedient. Obviously it would have mattered to Onesimus, but what if it wasn’t a person involved? Does the trustworthiness of someone else matter when it comes to doing the right thing?
Should we let our lack of trust in others keep us from offering help where we can?
Often times we justify not aiding others, because we don’t have faith in them as people. We doubt their sincerity or motives. Yet I’m convicted that the right thing is still the right thing, even if we don’t share the confidence Paul had in Philemon. Who knows, maybe our ability to love others could lead them to Christ.
And maybe, just maybe, Paul’s confidence wasn’t in Philemon at all, but in our great God.
Maybe it’s not about whether we trust people or not, but whether we believe God can use all things for His glory.
Will I still be tempted to doubt people? Probably. But it’s whether we allow that doubt to control our actions that matters.
For those of you who don’t know, my theme for 2015 is “Called by Christ.” I know God has called me to be His. I am His child, and I am more excited about serving Him than I have ever been. However, the biggest calling He has placed in my heart right now is the call to wait.
The call to remain where I am right now.
1 Corinthians 7:20 says, “Each person should remain in the situation they were in when God called them.”
Now, I don’t know if you have ever been excited about something, but sitting and doing nothing, isn’t exactly the easiest thing to do in that situation.
The sermon my pastor preached on Sunday was on the book of Jeremiah. How God had a plan to prosper His people, but not for 70 years after He told them about His plan. That’s a long time. I’m hoping above all hope that God doesn’t want me to wait 70 years before He reveals His plans for my ministry to me, I’d be over 100 years old! However, I know that His timing is perfect.
One thing I am thankful for is knowing His plan for my life.
I won’t be trying out 1,000 new things this year, or striving for something and failing, because I know that I am right where God wants me to be.
I have security in that.
I think part of the reason He is calling me to stay where I am is because I’m not ready for more. I have been struggling to balance my current workload, family life, and ministry goals for a while now. The end of 2014 was rough for me. And while I thought cutting back was the answer, God has prompted me that what I really need to do is sink into Him.
He can’t use me for great things if I don’t rely on Him and trust His calling and will.
So for now, He has called me to stay. Not to step back, not move forward, but to stay right where I am, and lean into Him.
“He says to the snow, ‘Fall on the earth,’ and to the rain shower, ‘Be a mighty downpour.'” — Job 37:6
“And God said, ‘This is the sign of the covenant I am making between me and you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all generations to come: I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth. Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind. Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life. Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth.'” — Genesis 9:12-16
“I will send you rain in its season, and the ground will yield its crops and the trees of the field their fruit.” — Leviticus 26:4
“The waters saw you, God, the waters saw you and writhed; the very depths were convulsed. The clouds poured down water, the heavens resounded with thunder; your arrows flashed back and forth. Your thunder was heard in the whirlwind, your lightning lit up the world; the earth trembled and quaked. Your path led through the sea, your way through the mighty waters, though your footprints were not seen.” — Psalm 77:16-19
“…then I will send rain on your land in its season, both autumn and spring rains, so that you may gather in your grain, new wine and oil.” — Deuteronomy 11:14
“The LORD will open the heavens, the storehouse of his bounty, to send rain on your land in season and to bless all the work of your hands. You will lend to many nations but will borrow from none.” — Deuteronomy 28:12
“Let my teaching fall like rain and my words descend like dew, like showers on new grass, like abundant rain on tender plants.” — Deuteronomy 32:2
“…he is like the light of morning at sunrise on a cloudless morning, like the brightness after rain that brings the grass from the earth.” — 2 Samuel 23:4
“He bestows rain on the earth; he sends water upon the countryside.” — Job 5:10
“They waited for me as for showers and drank in my words as the spring rain.” — Job 29:23
“He draws up the drops of water, which distill as rain to the streams;” — Job 36:27
“What is the way to the place where the lightning is dispersed, or the place where the east winds are scattered over the earth? Who cuts a channel for the torrents of rain, and a path for the thunderstorm, to water a land where no man lives, a desert with no one in it, to satisfy a desolate wasteland and make it sprout with grass? Does the rain have a father? Who fathers the drops of dew?” — Job 38:24-28
“God understands the way to it and he alone knows where it dwells, for he views the ends of the earth and sees everything under the heavens. When he established the force of the wind and measured out the waters, when he made a decree for the rain and a path for the thunderstorm…” — Job 28:23-26
“He will be like rain falling on a mown field, like showers watering the earth.” — Psalm 72:6
“He makes clouds rise from the ends of the earth; he sends lightning with the rain and brings out the wind from his storehouses.” — Psalm 135:7
“He covers the sky with clouds; he supplies the earth with rain and makes grass grow on the hills.” — Psalm 147:8
“He will also send you rain for the seed you sow in the ground, and the food that comes from the land will be rich and plentiful. In that day your cattle will graze in broad meadows.” — Isaiah 30:23
“You heavens above, rain down righteousness; let the clouds shower it down. Let the earth open wide, let salvation spring up, let righteousness grow with it; I, the LORD, have created it.” — Isaiah 45:8
“But God made the earth by his power; he founded the world by his wisdom and stretched out the heavens by his understanding. When he thunders, the waters in the heavens roar; he makes clouds rise from the ends of the earth. He sends lightning with the rain and brings out the wind from his storehouses.” — Jeremiah 10:12-13 (also Jeremiah 51:16)
“Do any of the worthless idols of the nations bring rain? Do the skies themselves send down showers? No, it is you, O LORD our God. Therefore our hope is in you, for you are the one who does all this.” — Jeremiah 14:22
“Like the appearance of a rainbow in the clouds on a rainy day, so was the radiance around him. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD.” — Ezekiel 1:28
“Let us acknowledge the LORD; let us press on to acknowledge him. As surely as the sun rises, he will appear; he will come to us like the winter rains, like the spring rains that water the earth.” — Hosea 6:3
“Be glad, O people of Zion, rejoice in the LORD your God, for he has given you the autumn rains in righteousness. He sends you abundant showers, both autumn and spring rains, as before.” — Joel 2:23
“Ask the LORD for rain in the springtime; it is the LORD who makes the storm clouds. He gives showers of rain to men, and plants of the field to everyone.” — Zechariah 10:1
“But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” — Matthew 5:44-45
“Yet he has not left himself without testimony: He has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons; he provides you with plenty of food and fills your hearts with joy.” — Acts 14:17
“Land that drinks in the rain often falling on it and that produces a crop useful to those for whom it is farmed receives the blessing of God.” — Hebrews 6:7
“The voice of the LORD is over the waters; the God of glory thunders, the LORD thunders over the mighty waters.” — Psalm 29:3
“Then they cried out to the LORD in their trouble, and he brought them out of their distress. He stilled the storm to a whisper; the waves of the sea were hushed. They were glad when it grew calm, and he guided them to their desired haven.” — Psalm 107:28-30
“You have been a refuge for the poor, a refuge for the needy in his distress, a shelter from the storm and a shade from the heat.” — Isaiah 25:4
“He got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waters; the storm subsided, and all was calm. ‘Where is your faith?’ he asked his disciples. In fear and amazement they asked one another, ‘Who is this? He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey him.'” — Luke 8:25
“You drench its furrows and level its ridges; you soften it with showers and bless its crops.” — Psalm 65:10
“I will bless them and the places surrounding my hill. I will send down showers in season; there will be showers of blessing.” — Ezekiel 34:26
“The remnant of Jacob will be in the midst of many peoples like dew from the LORD, like showers on the grass, which do not wait for man or linger for mankind.” — Micah 5:7
Job 36:26 – Job 37
26 How great is God—beyond our understanding!
The number of his years is past finding out.
27 “He draws up the drops of water,
which distill as rain to the streams;
28 the clouds pour down their moisture
and abundant showers fall on mankind.
29 Who can understand how he spreads out the clouds,
how he thunders from his pavilion?
30 See how he scatters his lightning about him,
bathing the depths of the sea.
31 This is the way he governs the nations
and provides food in abundance.
32 He fills his hands with lightning
and commands it to strike its mark.
33 His thunder announces the coming storm;
even the cattle make known its approach.
Job 37:1 “At this my heart pounds
and leaps from its place.
2 Listen! Listen to the roar of his voice,
to the rumbling that comes from his mouth.
3 He unleashes his lightning beneath the whole heaven
and sends it to the ends of the earth.
4 After that comes the sound of his roar;
he thunders with his majestic voice.
When his voice resounds,
he holds nothing back.
5 God’s voice thunders in marvelous ways;
he does great things beyond our understanding.
6 He says to the snow, ‘Fall on the earth,’
and to the rain shower, ‘Be a mighty downpour.’
7 So that all men he has made may know his work,
he stops every man from his labor.
8 The animals take cover;
they remain in their dens.
9 The tempest comes out from its chamber,
the cold from the driving winds.
10 The breath of God produces ice,
and the broad waters become frozen.
11 He loads the clouds with moisture;
he scatters his lightning through them.
12 At his direction they swirl around
over the face of the whole earth
to do whatever he commands them.
13 He brings the clouds to punish men,
or to water his earth and show his love.
14 “Listen to this, Job;
stop and consider God’s wonders.
15 Do you know how God controls the clouds
and makes his lightning flash?
16 Do you know how the clouds hang poised,
those wonders of him who is perfect in knowledge?
17 You who swelter in your clothes
when the land lies hushed under the south wind,
18 can you join him in spreading out the skies,
hard as a mirror of cast bronze?
19 “Tell us what we should say to him;
we cannot draw up our case because of our darkness.
20 Should he be told that I want to speak?
Would any man ask to be swallowed up?
21 Now no one can look at the sun,
bright as it is in the skies
after the wind has swept them clean.
22 Out of the north he comes in golden splendor;
God comes in awesome majesty.
23 The Almighty is beyond our reach and exalted in power;
in his justice and great righteousness, he does not oppress.
24 Therefore, men revere him,
for does he not have regard for all the wise in heart?”
What are your favorite Scriptures for a rainy day?
“But Jesus called the children to him and said, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.”
~ Luke 18:16
I was listening to the radio this morning after dropping my children off at school. The show hosts were talking about someone who’s have a rough go of it, and asked if we knew anyone that seemed to be getting hit with a lot. My first thought was of one of the ladies here in town (her whole family, really). Her son lost his home in a house fire two weeks ago. Her daughter has cancer and is suppose to go in for surgery this week or next. And her grandchildren (her daughters 3 kids) were in a car wreck last weekend. The funeral for their 8 year old little girl is today.
And then I thought Bethany. I use to babysit her when she was a spunky little 4 year old. She was diagnosed with brain cancer in 2012 – just a sophomore in high school. Her tumor (who she jokingly named “Phillip”) is inoperable. She’s already outlived her life expectancy, but had to stop taking the medicine that helped keep it contained. I found out on Friday that it’s spread. A lot. There’s nothing the doctors can do for her. And I remembered that Bethany has always been a miracle child. The doctors told her mom and dad that she would be born with autism. That they would be better off having an abortion. Bethany doesn’t have autism – but even if she did, she’d still be wonderful in every way. Doctor’s don’t know everything.
Then I thought of another of my friends. Her 2 year old daughter was recently diagnosed with brain cancer. Her tumor was operable. They got a lot of it, but she’s still going through chemo. Her fight isn’t over – it’s just beginning.
And then I realized, that all three of these tragedies involve children. Which brought me to Jesus’ words in Luke 18, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these” (v. 16). I don’t know that I’ll ever read that verse again without thinking of the message our pastor preached this past Sunday. He walked us through Scriptures that showed why he believed that the 8 year old little girl I mentioned in the beginning of this post is in heaven with God today. She hadn’t outright accepted Christ as her Savior. But she did come to church every Wednesday night, Bible in hand, and she asked questions. She was hungry for more of Christ, even thought she didn’t fully grasp the scope of the Gospel from what he could tell.
We all sin and fall short the glory of God, even little children. But Jesus welcomes children with open arms. They might not understand everything God has done for them yet, but they don’t reject it either. It’s hard to lose a child – or even think there is a possibility of it. Yet we can know that Jesus is waiting with open arms.
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace.
In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
~ John 16:33
I’d like to close this post by asking you to pray. Pray for this family that is going through so much. Pray for Bethany and this other little two year old girl that are fighting brain cancer. I don’t know God’s plans. But I know Jesus is waiting with open arms. Bethany already knows and loves Christ. The two year old girl I mentioned is part of a Christian family and their faith is what’s getting them through. Jesus is carrying them. But they all still need prayers (the girls and all three families). Prayers for strength. Prayers for healing (both physical and emotional). And prayers for the non-believers in their lives who don’t have hope through these trials. Prayers for peace.
If you’re in a spot where life seems to be throwing more at you then you can handle, here are a few books that I recommend:
Proverbs 16 is one of my favorite passages in the Bible. As someone who is self-employed it’s a great reminder for me each and every day. When I was reading through it this morning, verses 6 & 7 really stood out to me. Here’s what they say:
“Through love and faithfulness sin is atoned for; through the fear of the Lord a man avoids evil.
When a man’s ways are pleasing to the Lord, he makes even his enemies live at peace with him.”
I added some notes in my Bible just to clarify the passage in my mind. Here’s what I have:
“Through love and faithfulness (the sacrifice of Christ) sin is atoned for; through the fear (loving respect) of the Lord a man avoids evil (sin). When a man’s ways are pleasing to the Lord, he (God) makes even his enemies live at peace with him.”
That’s the gospel.
Through the love of Christ our sin against God is forgiven and we are able to live at peace with Him for all eternity.
In my Monday morning ladies’ Bible study group, we’ve been working our way through the beatitudes, and this week we were on verse 9 (blessed are the peacemakers) so this reminder of the gospel came at a perfect time for me.
We just finished talking about how the key to true peace is trust in God. It’s obeying His commands and living to please Him. In other words, when we lovingly respect God, we find peace. When we trust and obey, He fills us with the peace that surpasses all understanding and we are able to inspire peace in others wherever we go – even with our enemies.
Peace isn’t about our surroundings. It’s about our relationship with the Creator of the world. When we are right with Him, He gives us peace and we can trust Him to take care of everything else. And what a blessing that is.
Before you go, the women’s ministry leader at our church shared the following article on blessings with us on Facebook, and I wanted to pass it on to you. It’s certainly worth reading: The One Thing Christians Need to Stop Saying