Monogrammed For Purpose!

According to astronomer, Simon Driver, “There are more stars in the sky than there are grains of sand on every beach and desert on Earth.  “Researched by an additional group of astronomers, there are “70 sextillion stars in the visible universe.”  That is 70 thousand million, million, million or 7 with 22 zeros behind it.   Needless to write, that is a lot of stars.

Even still, God “determines the number of the stars and calls them each by name.” –Psalm 147:4

Imagine that!  The creator of the universe not only placed the stars into existence and scattered them in space, but He also named them.  Every shooting star is named and recognized by God.

However, He didn’t stop there with the names.

God named Adam in the Garden of Eden; He then gave Adam the job of naming the animals, and also Eve, Adam’s wife.  Even the angel who visited Mary before Jesus’ birth had a name, Gabriel.

Obviously, if Jesus hosted a social gathering, name tags would be provided; names are important to God.

–Why?

For the same reason that we name what is important to us.

If we value it, we name it  –we write it, we type it, we monogram it.  “See, I have written your name on the palms of my hands;” –Isaiah 49:16

God values you, and He has given you multiple names.  You are:

  • A child of God –John 1:12
  • A friend of Jesus — John 15:15
  • Justified and Redeemed –Romans 3:24
  • No longer a slave to sin –Romans 6:6
  • Not condemned –Romans 8:1
  • Wise, Righteous, Sanctified, Redeemed — 1 Corinthians 1:30
  • Accepted — Romans 15:7
  • Chosen, Holy, Blameless before God — Ephesians 1:4
  • A fellow heir with Christ –Romans 8:17
  • Blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places — Ephesians 1:3

Friend, I would like to encourage you to daily speak these truths believing that you are who God says you are.  Please confess them until you memorize them, and then keep confessing as you add more.  Although this listing is a small sample of God’s names for you as a Christian, it’s still a great place to begin.  Since we live and respond to situations based on our core beliefs, it is important that we see ourselves as God sees us, through the names that He has given us.

Just as God knows the stars in your sky tonight, rest assured, He knows and loves you even more.

Blessings! –Michelle

What if? Imagine It, then Do It!

What fear is holding you back today?

I was sixteen-years-old when I spent a day at Triumph.  An eight-hour obstacle course, Triumph bonded teens from nearby schools as we relied on one another to complete the day’s events. The final challenge, Full Surrender, required each teen to climb to a 6 foot plank, wear a blindfold, and fall backwards into the arms of new friends.  Guys and girls, the teens ended the day surrendered, with the exception of one.

Yes, I am that one.

I could not get past my FEAR of falling.  Intellectually, I had no doubt that I would be caught; I even watched the football players land safely in the group’s arms.  However, I couldn’t overcome letting go.  My fear overshadowed my day’s success; I left feeling defeated.  I bartered my confidence for a few moments of avoidance; every success that day paled in comparison.

What about you?  Have you ever allowed fear to steal your success?  Perhaps, it was a time in your past or even a situation that you are dealing with currently.  Either way, fear (False Evidence Appearing Real) is a tool used by the enemy to keep you from your best life.  Unlike discernment, often misquoted as “good fear” which protects you from real harm, spiritual fear demands a surrender of your faith, and ultimately, your dreams.

Consider Moses, the man who feared his job promotion.  In a moment of rage that led to murder, 40-year-old Moses fled from Egyptian royalty to employment as a wilderness shepherd.  From the outside looking in, it appeared that he had been demoted.  However, God used a herd of sheep to train him for his next great position.  At the age of 80, much later than Moses had anticipated (I’m assuming), he got the call.  From a burning bush, God interviewed Moses; from a fearful heart, he gave the wrong answers:  “Who am I?”  “What shall I say?”  “What if they don’t believe me?”

To add insult to injury,

10 Moses said to the Lord, “Pardon your servant, Lord. I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue.”  The Lord said to him, “Who gave human beings their mouths? Who makes them deaf or mute? Who gives them sight or makes them blind? Is it not I, the Lord? 12 Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say.”13 But Moses said, “Pardon your servant, Lord. Please send someone else.”

Not only did Moses question God’s call on his life, but he insulted the talents that God had given him to get the job done.  Thankfully, and only with God’s help, he accepted the promotion and delivered the children of Israel from Egyptian bondage.  Imagine history if Moses had stayed in fear instead of faith.

Imagine history if you allow fear to keep you from God’s calling on your life. 

“Why are you afraid?” Jesus asks in Matthew 8:26.  Please look at the wisdom packaged in His question– Why?!  Jesus knows that there is no need to fear anything, and He prompts our hearts with “Why?” Although there is a debate over the number of times “Fear not” or “Do not be afraid” is in the Bible, the point is that Jesus said to not be afraid.  If He says it one time, it’s as good as one thousand times.

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”                            —2 Timothy 1:7

If we are acting in fear, then we are not living in faith.  “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.”  –Hebrews 11:6

To please God is to live each day in purpose.  We are to feel the fear, step from our comfort zones, and trust God with the results.  It is in faith that we see the results of what’s to come.  “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” –Hebrews 11:1  Fear is the enemy’s obstacle to keep us from the results of our faith.  We can’t hope for anything if we remain in fear.  Hoping is believing in the pictures that God has given us for our lives, the future that we see replaying in our thoughts.  Fear emotionally drains us, keeping us in avoidance mentality; faith energizes us, keeping us in God’s view of our future reality.

Are you in fear or faith today?  Choose faith!

What if today you take a step of faith?  Whether small or large, you step from your comfort zone and say either “Yes!” or “No!”  As you do, you cross into uncertain territory, not knowing what the result may become.  What if instead of listening to your critic’s voice, you take another step to finalize your new decision?  You can no longer turn back; you must go forward.  As you move ahead, you see glimpses of the hope that is placed inside you, the future that is anxiously waiting for you.  You take one step toward the person you were always meant to be, and then another, and then …  until–

You are no longer defined by your past, by the words and actions that you regret.  Your boundaries cease to exist, there are no titles chaining you to an image.  And all the stuff stealing your time– you see it for what it is– just stuff.

Today, you know who you are, whose you are.  A child of God, a difference maker; you are assigned to a mission.  Wherever you are led is your mission field.  You surrender to God’s call on your life, and your life will never be the same.  By the grace of God, you don’t want it to be.

Will you take the challenge today and Fully Surrender to your falling backwards moment?  As you do, may you remember the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson, ““What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.”

Blessings! –Michelle

Your Career Can Be Your Calling!

Would you be willing to take a salary of $1,000,000 per year, every year, until the age of 67, hypothetically, of course. You must work 50 hours per week with only 2 weeks off for vacation per year.

Does this sound like a commitment that you could easily make?

I can hear you shouting…. “Yes! Are you kidding, of course – Who wouldn’t?  Sign me up!”

Wait—There’s just one catch–

Imagine a career that you absolutely, positively NEVER would want to do.  It doesn’t fit your talents, your strengths; although, it may be a perfect match for someone else. To add insult to injury, imagine that it compromises your values, even your priorities.   In other words, this career meets your financial needs in exchange for your passions, your heart’s calling.

You must absolutely dread it for $1,000,000 per year! What career would this be FOR YOU?              (Note:  There is nothing wrong with this career choice; however, it feels wrong for you.) 

Would you still sign up? Why or why not?

Interestingly, many people have already signed up, and the salaries are far less.

According to the Society for Human Resource Professionals, “8 out of 10 employees are dissatisfied with their jobs; they are overworked, stressed out, fed up — and eager to quit their jobs once the economy picks up.”  They are experiencing career burnout, “exhaustion of physical or emotional strength or motivation usually as a result of prolonged stress or frustration.”  Burnout is often found when the combination of an employee’s giftedness overshadows the level of job expectation for a repetitive period of time.

This leaves one to question whether there is a difference between a job and a calling?  The answer is… Yes and No.  A Calling is the internal prompting of the Holy Spirit to surrender your talents, gifts, abilities through physical or mental effort that another may benefit.

A job can be your calling or it can finance it.

The problem exists when your job that is financing your calling consumes your life that you can’t begin to focus on your calling.  If your job is your calling, then you should experience great fulfillment in knowing that your giftedness is making life better for others.  However, a calling should never compromise your priorities as it aligns with God‘s word.  If your “calling” steals your time from God and family, then it’s not God’s plan; it’s yours.  In addition, God has purposed different callings for different seasons in your life– “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven.” –Ecclesiastes 3:1

The good news is that as we walk daily with Christ, He takes responsibility for our destination, our careers.  Wherever we are, there He is.  If He wants us somewhere other than here, He will move us there.  In the process, He is preparing us in the jobs where we currently work.  To illustrate this point well, let us remember Joseph, the future prince of Egypt.  He began his training betrayed by his family, sold as a slave, imprisoned for righteousness.  In each situation, he sought to serve others with his talents.  Even when he had the position to hurt those who caused his grief, he still chose to respond in love– “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives” —Genesis 50:20. 

Through his story, we learn that wherever we are, God is in control.  If He hasn’t moved us, He’s growing us.  Rather than abandon what God has started, we need to find creative ways to exercise our talents in the soil where He has planted us.  Ultimately, the goal is to share our talents wherever God leads us, and in doing so, we will hear the Lord speak, “Well done, good and faithful servant!  You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things.  Come and share your master’s happiness!” —Matthew 25:23

Blessings!  –Michelle

Chocolate-Covered Cupid, Anyone?

The little plump guy has come to visit, and love is in the air.  Can you feel it?

Chocolate-covered kindness laced in morsels of endearing words– today, we suddenly need to express our love for each other.

According to the National Confectioners’ Association, 36 million and counting heart-shaped boxes are sweeping past the conveyor belt in stores across America.  In addition, 200 million love-scented roses will be delivered to those expecting some holiday aroma.  Symbols of love bought with the dollar; cupid’s arrow strikes, and big businesses grow taller.

Who is this Cupid behind the check-out counter?

Unlike our modern description, a commercialized cherub spreading love through Hershey’s and 1-800-Flowers, historical Cupid had some behavior issues.  Believed to be an instigator, a trouble maker, Cupid not only inspired love, but he also caused hatred among friends. This explains the rare museum paintings depicting the two arrow quivers that he carries, one for each purpose.

Unlike the mythological Cupid, whose purpose was for good and evil,

—the enemy that we face is real, and he seeks only to “steal, kill, and destroy.” –John 10:10

Satan wants to steal your future, kill your dreams, and destroy your peace Not only does the enemy have a plan and purpose for your life, but rest assured, Jesus does too, “I come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” –John 10:10.

Did you notice that John 10:10 starts with the enemy’s plan to destroy your life, but it ends with God‘s rescue?

Friend, even and especially as Christians, your purpose is under attack.  Yes, God does have a plan and purpose for your life, and He will complete that which He started in His plan.  However, your individual part is a decision.  Yes, God does work out our decisions for His ultimate plan, but we are given free will for the choices that we make.

As Christians, even we can miss our purpose if we choose.  Are we still Christians?  Absolutely. Can we still be forgiven?  Of course!   However, we can miss the best that God intended with the choices that we make.  The Bible reminds us, “Be alert and of sober mind.  Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” –1Peter 5:8  The goal is awareness.  Knowing that there is an enemy who seeks to destroy our purposes will cause us to reexamine the decisions that we make.

You can exert boldness in your decisions knowing that “greater is He who is in you than He who is in the world.” —1 John 4:4

By doing so, you can create a world that reflects Valentine’s Day every day of the year.

Blessings! –Michelle

If not Now, When?

A paintbrush is to Picasso as an airplane is to Earhart; a golf ball is to Tiger as an Apple is to Steve; a staff is to Moses as you are to Jesus.  Removing the tool alters history.  To even imagine the golf ball with Moses or the airplane with Picasso is ridiculous.  The same is true with you and your tool.

What is your tool?

As a graphic artist designs layouts with Photoshop, God paints his eternal canvas with pictures of you. Every detail of your brushed image is the result of His grand imagination. He is the artist, and you are His masterpiece. “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” –Ephesians 2:10

In God’s art gallery, your canvas is brightly illuminated for all to see. Unlike a Picasso or a Monet that simply remains the same once the piece is complete, you are a living work-of-art. With each moment spent in the Lord’s presence, your form changes to resemble that of your creator.  As you change, others change with you.

What is your passion?  (What is it that you already do or would do without a paycheck?)  What is easy and effortless for you?  Then do it~  and invest in your tool to complete it.  If not now, when?  Remember, as you invest in your talents, you are also investing in others.

In “A Moveable Feast,” Hemingway describes F. Scott Fitzgerald‘s writing talent as follows:

“His talent was as natural as the pattern that was made by the dust on a butterfly’s wings.  At one time he understood it no more than the butterfly did, and he did not know when it was brushed or marred.”

Friend, you do not need to understand your talent; you simply need to exercise it.  You are God’s tool to change this world for better, and He has equipped you with your own set of talents to get the job done.  Will you commit today to 1 action that requires you to do “that which is natural to you” for the good of others?  In doing so, you will fulfill your purpose today.

Blessings! –Michelle

Letters from Heaven… Return to Sender!

Have you heard the news?

As of August, the United States Postal Service will no longer deliver mail on Saturdays.

The 1775 idea that began with Benjamin Franklin as its first Postmaster General evolved into the Pony Express in 1860.  By 1873, Americans were sending their first post cards within a city’s range, and by 1913, parcel post began.  In only 240 years, the ability to send a message has transformed from months, to days, to seconds.

Interestingly, my daughter who happens to be a “Digital Native” (generation born with technology as the norm), received a pink, hand-written card from her grandmother just this week.  Unlike e-mail and Instagram that allows for quick messaging, a hand-written letter cements a thought, a memory that can’t be deleted. Perhaps, that is why I keep every letter and card that I receive.  At any moment, I can revisit the past through the influential words from another’s pen, allowing me to see the reasons for choices that I have made.

As of August, does it matter if a letter arrives one day later?  How about 73 years late?–  Does it really make any difference?

(In the shocking story below, a letter is delivered 73 years late by the postal service, and it makes a significant difference!) —

Stockton, July 23 (THAINDIAN NEWS) A letter, which was written by a nun in the 1930’s, has finally been delivered after being in transit for 73 years. However, the intended recipient of the letter would not get to read the contents of the letter, as she is no more. She died last year.

The letter was written by a San Francisco nun to ‘Miss Marie Fergone’ and was delivered at the Women’s Center of San Joaquin County at 620 North San Joaquin Street in Stockton. 70 years ago this very address used to be the location of a convent. When the Women’s Center director – Joelle Gomez opened the letter, she was surprised to realize that the letter was dated December 23, 1937.

In the letter, the San Francisco nun has written to Marie, that she hopes that she would become a nun. However, the family of Marie revealed that Marie didn’t become a nun and instead she married and raised a family.”  (Reprinted)

There are times when even our best choices are not God‘s best for us as Proverbs 16:9 affirms:  “In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps.”  The good news is that the same God who was in control in 1937 directing “Miss” Marie Fergone’s letter is still in control of our lives today.

Perhaps, I should send an e-mail to her family reminding them how blessed they eternally are; then again, maybe I’ll write a letter.

Blessings! –Michelle

Will you Dare To Be Different?

As I was driving past the front of the most breathtaking houses, ones surrounded with immaculate landscaping and manicured lawns, I noticed a back road that took an immediate exit from the neighborhood.

Surprisingly, exposed only to those drivers who take the street behind the houses, over-grown, unkept back yards were hiding from the front yard traffic.  However, with the exception of a single house, the beautiful homes looked completely different from the front view than the back view.

What does God see when He looks into our “back yards?”

Perhaps, the owner of the house whose front and back yards were the same was thinking of this verse:

“Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.” –Hebrews 4:13

Are there any parts of our lives that we need to surrender, any lifestyle choices that we need to reconsider?  When the Lord searches our hearts, does He find the outside appearance to be the same as the inside?

As 1 John 1:9 states, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous to forgive us the sins, and to cleanse us of all unrighteousness.” 

Blessings! –Michelle