Lessons Learned from Other People’s Kids

I always thought people with kids had a one up on me. Every time I hear a sermon, a podcast, or just am talking with friends there is a cool analogy or lesson learned from a child. Sometimes I think, “man I got to get one of those, how many teachable lessons could I share then!” My friends have tried to talk some sense into me by telling me to enjoy being single and childless while I can because it gets harder, but man how much easier would it be to write a blog or a book with tiny humans giving you great source material??

Ok, ok maybe that isn’t a great reason to have kids or a reason at all. I know there are great things just waiting to happen to me so I can have a great life lesson to share…stay tuned to one called, “Lessons Learned While Running Downhill”. But kids are pretty great and I think one of the reason is we get to see glimpses of how God sees us in his role as Father/Mother and cares for us when we tangibly realize how we care and love our little people.

In the meantime I borrow other people’s kids for my lessons, when I’m not running downhill or something. Today for instance I watched my friend’s kids, Aubrey (3yrs) and Declan (llmo) while she volunteered at her eldest son’s school. I had a lot to do and a workout was high on the list so I decided I would take them on a hike. I would get a workout, they would get outside I saw wins in every direction. Then I got to the base of the mountain and thought good Lord what was I thinking I’m taking a 11mo old and a 3 yr, old hiking up a hill that it tiresome for me alone and I will have a backpack on my back and an 11mo old on my front so if something happens with the 3 yr old (who is accident prone by the way) I have no other place to put her!!! I was on a small internal freak out but I had now promised a hike and a hike they would get.

As we began our walk I began cheering Aubrey on. I told her how strong she was, said she was brave, she was courageous, I told her to watch where she was walking and take it slow when she was unsure of her step. I told her she was a warrior and that she could do this because she was big and awesome. Over and over again I repeated those words to her up the mountain.

hiking with AubsIn the beginning she had a couple tumbles and shed a few tears but she got up and kept going. As we were getting closer to the top I could tell she was tired and gave her the opportunity to go back down or keep going up. She looked at me with steely resolve and said, “I want to go to the top.” And with that she promptly got up off her rock and started again to go up the trail. When she got to the top instead of fatigue and frustration she was all smiles. I knew it wasn’t an easy climb for me much less a three year old but I could tell she felt accomplished.

All the way back down I kept repeating those words to her. You are strong, brave, courageous, you can do it,you are awesome. This time however, something had changed in her demeanor. It was if she believed every word that was being spoken and was acting accordingly. She took her steps with confidence and tried difficult parts on her own. Every once in awhile she would still ask to hold my hand, but she also had confidence in me that I would help her through safely. She knew she was brave, strong and courageous and because of that she had less fear. Don’t get me wrong she fell down a lot. I was worried at first and a couple of the falls I could tell hurt, but each time she got up with determination, dusted her hands off and kept going. Then when she fell she would start yelling “Weee!!!” as if each fall was fun. This I’m not going to lie went against everything I would do if I fell. She really was incredible.

at the top with aubs

Afterwards God reminded me of the importance of the words spoken to others. Asking if they were building each other up and speaking life and God-given identity to those around us.

Then he reminded me of the words he has spoken over me. Words that tell me I am strong and courageous in him, that the righteous are as bold as lions, that I am to be a lover of truth, that I am of a royal priesthood and a holy nation, a people chosen for his own possession, that he has good plans for me. Words that tell me I am beautiful and created purposefully, that he cares for me, that I am fruitful and not barren, full of joy and peace. Then he asked me if he had heard him lately speaking them, encouraging me, cheering me on.

I want to encourage you that God sees your every step. Today I watched Aubrey like a hawk. One she is not my child and I try to bring other people’s children back in one piece but more than that I didn’t want her to get hurt, but more than not wanting her to get hurt I wanted her to experience the joy of doing it, of climbing a mountain, of accomplishing something hard. So I reminded her of her identity, spoke to her who she was even if there were aspects she didn’t know about herself yet.

I think God does the same thing, he watches over us every step of the way. I don’t think he likes seeing us get hurt, but he wants us to experience this gift of life we have even when it feels like we just fell hard on our backside into the dust. He wants us to embrace the tough climbs and shout out “Weeeeee!” at the top of our lungs when we fall and it hurts because we are living our lives with reckless abandon for him and for his good purposes. He wants to see us recover from those moments by dusting our hands off and putting our foot back on the path one step at a time. To grab his hand on the parts we are not sure of where we need his help to navigate the tricky areas where we are unsure of where to place our feet. He wants us to be able to take a moment when it feels like its too hard to go on and then choose to go onward because we know we can do this. He wants us to smile at the top after a tough, tiresome journey because we can see the bottom from where we came and more of the road to where we are going. So he rehearses those words over and over again…You are brave. You are strong. You are courageous. You can do this.

 

Jesus and Jones

Sundays are my favorite days. They are my favorite days because I get to go to my church and see my spiritual family. They are my favorite days because I get to worship my Savior and King. Often they are made better by social activities following church and other errands and activities conducive to a day off of rest and relaxation. Today I got to watch a great football game and watch most funny Super Bowl commercials (what was Nationwide thinking???), while eating delicious Super Bowl food and hanging with awesome people so that was exciting as well. Not to mention I live in the beautiful city of San Diego so that definitely helps my days off excel all the more.

Most of these facts are well known by others, but one of the other things that make Sundays my favorite day is my evening car ride. Every Sunday night I find an excuse to take a drive between 6pm and 9pm so that I can listen to the classic country station on KSON. These nights are special because they remind me of my roots and all the more of my Gramps who passed away back in 2009. I got to listen to a couple songs tonight, but had made plans already so after a couple songs I had to leave my car. Usually I try to spend more time, but sometimes life gets in the way.

After spending most of the evening with my friends watching The Blacklist and cuddling with my cute adopted niece and nephew, it was time to head home. After the classic country program there is a Bluegrass program on from 10pm-12am. While I do not hate bluegrass at all, listening to it at 10pm usually seems like a horrible idea. Peppy, twangy banjo accompanied by a thick country drawl does not generally seem awesome late in the evening peaceful music, but for some reason I decided to keep it on for the time being. A beautiful song about a mining accident called, “That’s What Makes the Bluegrass Blue,” came on and the singer’s voice intrigued me so I let it play. Afterwards they were interviewing the lead singer about their new album and shows in the area, but the song they played next by the band is what impacted me most deeply.

The song was called “Jesus and Jones” which was a tribute to the Possum himself. I grew up listening to George Jones and others of his peers which made this song so sweet. The song compares and contrasts Jesus and George Jones, but the kicker that brought tears to my eyes was this poignant line, “Amazing grace and his sweet sound, I was raised and live by it now for on the cross to a field of stone, I thank God for Jesus and Jones.”

What affected me most was the truth of this song to my life. I was raised very much by strong country values. While my family has never been practicing Christians, though at my request we did go to church from time to time. Sometimes I longed for the lives I saw my friends have who went to church with their families and studied the Bible together and enjoyed conversations of what God was doing in them. Though I used to long for another family I have come to realize all the more as an adult that it was the family values instilled in me very much by my dear Gramps that paved the way for my salvation and my strength of faith and character. My Gramps lived a rough life when he was younger. He may have not been the best father, my Granny (great-grandma) raised my dad and his siblings after their parents divorced and their mom left and he was often on the road trucking and definitely had his shares of battles with the bottle. Luckily, he married an awesome woman, the woman I know today as my Grandma, who is quite incredible and the rest seems to be history.

My Gramps with my Uncle Randy, Uncle Devon and my dad.

My Gramps with my Uncle Randy, Uncle Devon and my dad.     

My Gramps being silly with Grandma

My Gramps being silly with my Grandma

I am not sure when or what changed in his life, but something changed. He was the greatest man I ever knew. He taught me what it meant to be a woman of my word and he taught me that family is not just blood, but that you extend your family to those who need a family. I learned what it meant to work hard, regardless of title, glamor, money or lack thereof. I would like to think he taught me my tenacity and perseverance, but I honestly just think I inherited his traits of stubbornness as well as his hard head, possibly his pride too but I am not sure that is a strength. He taught me strength, but he showed me that knowing weakness is ok too. The list could go on and I’m lucky to continue to see these characteristics demonstrated in my dad and wonderful aunt and uncles.

gramps and me

My Gramps and me   

gramps and us girls

I miss those days driving in his pick-up truck listening to George, Hank, Merle, Conway, Waylon, Patsy and Loretta. Without knowing he was doing so my Gramps brought me closer to Jesus. I can still hear him singing, “Amazing Grace” and his favorite song, “The Old Rugged Cross”. Perhaps it is because it is February, the month he passed away now six years ago that this song created such an illicit emotional response. However, I think it was just another way of God speaking to me. Speaking to me again of his sovereignty and grace. He reminded me that while I honor and hope to model Christ in a different fashion when I have kids, that even then he placed me in a family full of love and devotion who would raise me knowing right and wrong, putting others before myself. Reminding me that He placed me purposefully and for that I am forever grateful.

That is why I too thank God for Jesus and Jones.

Transparency and Fighting Back

The past few weeks, I knew it was time to do the inevitable, but I put it off. Instead, I talked about eating healthier, the pitfalls of recovering after a surgery and trying to find something I loved as much as running, which I know could no longer do after removing a large piece of floating cartilage from my right knee. I made excuses and plans to do something about it. The other day I finally choked up the 42 dollars and change to re-enroll in WeightWatchers which had initially helped when I first lost weight, in fact between that and running I lost about 50 pounds. But tonight I knew it was time to see the toll the last 9 months had taken on my body and with fear and trepidation I stepped on the scale.

230.

The number made me want to vomit. Perhaps you are wondering what woman in her right mind would put her weight out there, especially THAT number. To be honest, as soon as I publish that I will probably join your sentiment and wonder “What have I done??” Right now though I can’t think about it because I know somewhere out there is another woman who is going through a struggle similar to mine and I happen to believe in supporting and encouraging fellow women. I believe in lifting each other up and not tearing each other down, whether skinny, average, or not.

To understand my number you must understand a little more about me and a little of my upbringing. I grew up to a wonderful family, a family that loves to cook and nourish people and a family that loves outdoor adventures, being active whether just walking to the park with my siblings or going out in our boat, camping, canoeing and backpacking, we did it all.

I was always a chubby kid, but I was also active. Our meals were well-rounded and my sisters and I grew up the same, they both stayed pretty lean and well I was always average or more.

IMG_1202

Me in probably 5/6th grade

My sisters and I in Hawaii in 2002

My sisters and I (right) in Hawaii in 2002

I lucked out though and had great parents that taught me I was not my shape, but my mind and self were much more important, and I became a Christian in 8th grade and shortly after realized my identity in Christ. All of which gave me self-confidence that normally heavier girls struggle with. I honestly didn’t for a long time. Through an early age I always did sports, as a kid I did gymnastics, soft ball, jazz dance and ballet, in junior high I did volleyball, basketball and track. I followed suit in high school doing track and swimming, both of which I participated in through year round clubs, which made me quite active yet even then I was heavier.

My sisters and I (left) doing gymnastics.

My sisters and I (left) doing gymnastics

Me ready for 10th or 11th grade dance.

Me ready for 10th or 11th grade dance.

Through all that I was able to get a scholarship to a D-1 university where I was able to throw hammer for Track and Field and have many other great experiences. After being a college athlete I gained weight because all of a sudden I was not doing two a days and doing rehab to prevent injuries from occurring. So I made a commitment to be the right person and fell in love with running and WeightWatchers (as I stated earlier) and lost 50 pounds and kept it off. I never was thin, but I felt fit, happy and healthy.

I was able to go back to school which was a dream come true, I had inspiring professors, though I had to work two jobs to maintain it, but I balanced it. I gained a little and then lost a little seesawing between where I wanted to be and then just out of reach, but honestly I did not really care.

Then came the series of unfortunate events. I hurt my knee unexplainably, had to have surgery and was told by my orthopedic surgeon and physical therapist that I would have to give up running, the thing that worked to keep me healthy and sane, the thing that had become an outlet and I had come to love. Then after receiving a small scholarship from my school, who believed in my undergrad work, my financial aid fell through and I was unable to return to school to finish the seven classes I had left to finish my degree. Then the unimaginable happened and I was a victim of a crime that left me psychologically, emotionally and spiritually impaired. Through all of this I had medical bills piling up and financially was overwhelmed.

So I went to work, came home and laid in bed, watched TV and slept, woke up and did it all again. I maintained some activity to maintain a front of health, all the while being seriously unhappy and hurt. I let myself be a victim shackled by what had happened to me, but it’s not ok to stay there.

God has done a lot of work in me up until now, around the middle of September things began to change both emotionally and spiritually, but now is the time to accept the freedom of responsibility for my physical health as well.

230.

It still shocks me a bit. I don’t feel that number, when I look in the mirror I don’t see that number, but I’m going to fight back against that number and the struggles that have played a part in it. I’m going to be transparent, if only to keep myself accountable but also hopefully to help encourage others who have felt beaten up by life and who want to take back their number and get a healthy reminder of who they truly are, in the eyes of their Father. We were created mind, body and spirit, I’m excited to work on all three holistically and to see what God does, through my obedience to put in the work and sacrifice to be my best me, not for others, but for Him.

What are some areas that you need to be transparent in? How can you fight back against a victim mentality to experience freedom in responsibility? I’d love to hear back from you!

Mirror, Mirror

“Then Moses said to the Lord, ‘O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither before nor since You have spoken to Your servant; but I am slow of speech and slow of tongue.’ So the Lord said to him, “Who has made man’s mouth? Or who makes the mute, the deaf, the seeing or the blind? Have not I, the Lord? Now therefore, go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall say.’ But he said, ‘O my Lord, please send by the hand of whomever else You may send.’ So the anger of the Lord was kindled against Moses…” Ex 4: 10-14

I’ve read and reread this scripture many times. One of my life verses is verse 12 because is says “Now go and I’ll speak through you”. It is a scripture that has always encouraged me but tonight it spoke to me differently. It actually grieved me and deeply challenged me.

Moses was dealing with an insecurity. His insecurity was in public speaking, he was not eloquent and stuttered out of nervousness. This is a fear that many people have and can relate to, but what about the other insecurities we carry. Are we insecure that we don’t have money to dress a certain way or live a certain lifestyle? Are we insecure that we don’t look the way we would like too? Is our hair too frizzy, too straight, too thin? Are we packing too much weight in the middle? Is our face too round? Are wenot as built and muscular as another guy? Are we not has far along in our careers as we had hoped?

Moses was not just insecure before he met the Lord, but after having met with the King of Kings Moses still carried his insecurities with him. He remained ineloquent both before and after meeting with the Lord. God didn’t notice this but Moses pointed it out about himself. Moses didn’t walk as who the Lord was calling him to be and who He saw him as, but Moses was looking at a mirror like we have all done, picking out his flaws.

girl at the mirror

God gently rebukes him and points Moses’ eyes back on the fact that God is his Creator and therefore knows him better than he knows himself. He knows his different facets and capabilities better than anyone else. Moses refused to listen to who God said he was and still continued to look at the mirror picking on his flaws.

Was Moses greatly used by God? Of course the first five books of the Bible tell us what he accomplished through God, but Moses settled for less and God let him. God was greatly angered by Moses’ refusal to see himself as God had called him and equipped him, but in His loving kindness he let Moses live looking through that mirror of insecurity. Instead he had Aaron be his mouthpiece, but it was not how he was intended to live. Later these insecurities would be what hindered him from seeing the promised land. Instead of speaking to the rock as God commanded he hit the rock. His insecurity prevented him from living a life in full obedience to God and because of it he got to see the promise but never got to enter it.

How many of us have chosen to live looking at the mirror picking at ourselves instead of holding up the words God has spoken over us? How many of us daily put ourselves down with self talk? How many of us are defined by our insecurities instead of our God given identity? I can honestly raise my hand, but tonight I break the mirror of who I think I am.

Moses never got to lead his people into the promised land because he could not leave behind his insecurities. That cannot be us, it cannot be me. We are leading a generation of kids that are being defined by media, by other’s opinions, by a mirror that was placed in front of them by the generation ahead of them. We must break the mirrors that we allow to define ourselves so that we can break the ones that are in front of our young people and lead them effectively into the promises that God has for them and for us.

Break the mirror.

Alayna

Instructions in Dialogue: Positioning Yourself Before the Lord

“I will stand my watch and set myself on the rampart, And watch to see what he will say to me, And what I will answer when I am corrected.” Habukkuk 2:1

God is so gracious that when we call he answers. In this portion of scripture Habukkuk as questioned God on how he can use a cruel army to solve a problem from within God’s people? For us this question could be more of how are you planning to use that horrible disease to your benefit. How God are you going to use a divorce to heal others? How are you going to use past addiction, sin and shame so that it shows your goodness, love and grace. It is an age old question of why and how God chooses to work the way in which he does. What I have learned most from this scripture is not necessarily from the question that is asked but in how Habukkuk positions himself to receive an answer.

I will stand my watch.

I have a picture of a soldier standing their watch. Standing at attention, ready. Unwavering and unmoving until an order has been passed down. I think of the British soldiers with the funny red hats at Buckingham palace that stand motionless for hours. They are unrelenting and will not be distracted by anyone from their purpose in standing guard. The watchman that is spoken of in Ezekiel is always in my mind as well. They were in charge of warning their city from seeing things before others could see them and communicating that down the line. If they turned their back, went to sleep, or got caught up in something else they could miss someone important coming into the city or even an oncoming attack. Are you at attention or distracted by other else they? Are you really waiting for an answer or just passing time?

Set myself on the rampart.

A rampart was a raised mound or wall that surrounded a stronghold or fort. It is away from the dwelling and lifted up. Where we position ourselves is just as important as how we position ourselves to hear from God? Habukkuk put himself in a place where he had the most clear view, uncluttered by obstacles and obstructions. Lifted up from the noise and hustle bustle of the city so that he had the ability to meet with God as directly as possible. Being set apart comes to mind at this phrase. We are in the world but not of it. If the watchman is in the city they do not have a clear view of what is taking place, but it is distorted and obstructed by other things that have been introduced into their vantage point. Where as in the rampart they are set up within the city but above it so their view is more clear and to the better advantage of those within the city. How do we do this to more clearly hear from God? To me worship does this. It focuses myself on God and who he is and in that I find myself lifted up and with a clearer perspective. Also finding a place away to pray and meet with God.

Watch to see what he will say to me.

Habukkuk fully expected God to speak back. He didn’t say “what he might say to me” “or what I hope he would say to me” but knew with full confidence that God WILL speak to me.  I apparently am smitten by what God says in Revelation to each of the 7 churches, “He that has an ear to hear let him hear what the Spirit of the Lord is saying.” God is constantly speaking, more often than not we are not hearing because we have not come expecting to hear from the Lord. Sometimes because we don’t have a burning bush or a booming voice coming from heaven or a literal stroll through the village with Jesus I think we lose some of that expectation for his voice. What is encouraging to me is that throughout the Bible God shows up to people in many different creative ways. Do not come expecting God to speak in the same way as someone else may have heard from him, instead come expecting to hear with an openness for God to have his way. When we come to God in watchfulness and prayer come expecting him to show up and do not be so impatient as not to linger until he does. Don’t settle for a monologue when God wants a dialogue.

And what I will answer when I am corrected.

Boom, God does it again. I came to this and was like “ouch God.” Habukkuk used another definite set of words not what I might say when God maybe will correct me, but what I will say when God does correct me. We need to know how we will answer when we are corrected. Here is the tough but true fact: We will get corrected whether by a friend, boss, coworker, leader, pastor or by God directly and God will use all of the above to bring that correction. How will we answer when that correction comes? I have been corrected unexpectedly before and it can be hard to swallow. You are shocked, caught off guard and even can get defensive or angry. Instead Habukkuk thought about how he would respond when God’s correction came and how he would answer him in that time. I’ve taken to doing this in my daily life. I pray that God would help me respond with humility, meekness and graciousness. The hardest thing to control sometimes is our pride and most of the time it comes out in our attitude. If we could decide ahead of time how to respond when we get spanked by God the correction becomes easier to bear. It’s like spankings, when you know they are coming and prepare yourself they are not that bad, it is only when they are unexpected do they have the greater pain and shock value. How will you answer when you are corrected?

Because Habukkuk positioned himself at attention, set apart, expecting an answer and ready to respond, he was able to hear more clearly from the Lord and receive vision in a way that was relevant and plain so that many people could understand it. Even today we read it his vision and receive from it. I believe that God wants to speak to each and every one of this children on a regular basis and through those dialogues worlds would be turned upside down and Jesus’ name would become famous. Creative ideas, arts, businesses and world changing leaders would arise simply because we knew how to receive from God. What does God want to communicate to you today that will leave a legacy for generations to come and how will you position yourself to receive that vision when it comes?

Live Your Life Extraordinary,

Alayna

More That Just a Four Letter….

“I did not send the prophets, yet they ran; I did not speak to them, yet they prophesied. But if they had stood in my council, then they would have proclaimed my words to my people, and they would have turned them from their evil way, and from the evil of their deeds…Let the prophet who has a dream tell the dream, but let him who has my word speak my word faithfully. What has straw in common with wheat? declares the Lord. Is not my word like fire, declares the Lord, and like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces?” Jeremiah 23:21-22,28-29

Tonight as I read this my heart was troubled and convicted. This chapter begins with talking about the Righteous Branch that is going to restore his remnant causing fruitfulness and multiplication. Most readers would stop there. It has a positive heading, who wouldn’t want to read about the Righteous Branch and all the good that he brings. The next header though is not so appealing “Lying Prophets”…”and I think I’ll skip that one today” is most of our natural reactions. After all I’m not a prophet, no one I know is a prophet. If I am not a prophet then surely I cannot be caught lying so obviously this part of the Bible is not for me. Maybe I’m the only “not-as-spiritual-as-the-rest” person out there but sometimes it feels hard to read something that we don’t see as pertaining to us or that isn’t going to give us a pat on the back.

I met a harsh reality tonight and I hope you too face it. This scripture pertains to us more than we know and despite our perception, also declares truth powerfully mixed with hope. Simply defined a prophet is someone who declares a message from God to people, a person who speaks for God. Mark 16:15 says, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole of creation.” This was not speaking to those in an office of apostle but to all the disciples. Paul even declares later that we should pray for spiritual gifts especially that we might prophesy, that we might speak the good news to people.

What follows next should then prick our ears and cause us to lean in that we may learn:

“I did not send the prophets, yet they ran.”

I think of all the times I’ve jumped the gun and did something in my timing. How often has a battle been fought on our own strength? How often have you fought a battle that wasn’t yours to fight? How long are you going to rush into battle without the game plan? Sun Tzu said it this way, “Victorious warriors win first then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek the win.” This could be summed up by the idiom, “think before you act” though I feel it can be more rightly stated as “seek the Lord before you act.” Why are you running? What is the purpose in your running? Has the Lord asked you to run? 

“I did not speak to them, yet they prophesied.”

Our words, hold power. The Word is powerful it is living and active and sharper than any double edged sword. James tells us that our tongue holds the power of life and death. Matthew tells us that we will be held accountable for every idle word. What have we spoken that God did not speak.  Our words should reflect the Word. They should reflect his truth, principles, love and character. What have we declared that is not of God? What are the words that He never spoke but that we breathed our fickle life into that were never meant to have bones raised to life and sinews put on? Issues that are now walking and talking but not God ordained. 

“But if they had stood in my council, then they would have proclaimed my words to my people, and they would have turned them from their evil way.” 

As you read this scripture I hope the Lord causes your heart to break, just as mine has been broken as I write this now. If we would only spend time in his presence. Stand in his council, hear his voice, take in the glory of His might and be still. When was the last time you have stood in his council? When was the last time you waited on His word, not interjecting and speaking for Him as we often tend to do, but really waiting on the Lord to reveal himself? I ask these difficult questions of the collective we because the Lord has asked them of me and I have come up wanting.

If we would only get this right. We would proclaim His words to His people. And He would turn people’s hearts away from wickedness to his righteousness. If we would only get out of our own way, wait on the Lord submitting our lives to Him fully then he would use us fully. God knows us. I love what the verses go on to say in 23 and 24. God knows us, we cannot hide ourselves from him and he is not a God that is afar. He sees us and knows our intentions more perfectly that we ourselves make sense of. He sees our actions and hears our Words and I imagine him laughing at us maybe like he did at Moses as he was leading the people across the Red Sea. If you don’t know the story, Moses was giving this amazing evocative rallying speech when God shows up and basically tells him to shut up because he did not want a speech but for Moses to do that which the Lord had already showed him. We cannot then just stand in God’s presence, in his council, but we must then do what he asks and say what he has spoken.

“Let the prophet who has a dream speak the dream, but let him who has my word speak my word faithfully.”

God has chosen to use us. He has chosen to send us out as prophets to our generations and those to come, to speak his Word faithfully and to live it out powerfully. From this we are to not shy away. We cannot change the past but we can pioneer our future. God has given us the privilege to speak his Word and to see people turn from a life of death and walk in a life of abundance. We must listen to the warning, take note, seek the Lord and be obedient to his call. Speak the word faithfully. Let that sink in….Speak the Word faithfully.

Verses 35 and 37 leave us with a reminder to hear from the Lord but also gives us responsibility to one another, “Thus shall you say, every one to his neighbor and every one to his brother, ‘What has the Lord answered?’ or ‘What has the Lord spoken?’…Thus you shall say to the prophet, ‘What has the Lord answered you?’ or ‘What has the Lord spoken?'”

I was reminded by a dear friend and a woman I much admire of what I hope to leave you with also. We must take care not to fall into the class of the lying prophet, however, we each as part of the body of Christ have a responsibility to hear from the Lord and communicate what He is speaking. Whether that is through the written word, sharing with a friend who needs encouragement or edification and even communicating what God is speaking individually to you. Too often we stop those words off before they can escape our lips. If we would only be faithful to speak them out and give breath to them, they would then be filled with life and power. Revelation tells us, “He that has an ear let him hear what the Spirit of the Lord is saying.” God is always speaking, it is up to us as believers to open up our ears to hear and once we have heard, after standing in His council, with wisdom communicating with others that which He has spoken.

My prayer is that we would realize that we are saved, called and sent out to proclaim His word. Spend time in his presence and you will know Him in a greater way and gain confidence to speak what He has already spoken.

Live Your Life Extraordinary,

Alayna

Limited Views and Empty Tombs

A few years ago I posted a blog called Home, it was after I had moved to San Diego, we were just getting ready to launch the church and it was my first Christmas away from family. It was the first time I realized that home was no longer with my mom or dad or in Washington, Idaho or another placed I had lived but it was now in San Diego. Home was a place I was, it was San Diego, it was on my own and it was a strange, but new and wonderful feeling. 

Today was a similar but different discovery. I have always had adopted family. It drove my mom crazy I am sure when i was younger. Pretty sure I was gone more than I was ever home. I practically lived with the Gundersens. Katie was my best friend in school and I lived there pretty much, I would be at their house into the wee hours of the morning and sometimes wouldn’t leave, I called her mom, Mom and it was just norrmal. 

Then I adopted the Hicks family. It helped that whenever I went over to visit Rhonda would feed me cinnamon rolls or some sort of delicious pancake. Not to mention they went to my church and were spiritually family to me and played a big role, though I am not sure they now how big, in my Christian walk. Bob would sometimes have work conferences in Vegas and when I was going to school there he took me out to dinner and treated me like his own daughter and I was blown away by how awesome God was to have given me awesome people such as themselves. In fact Rhonda is facing a Goliath right now and I am confident that she is going to cut off it’s head because she was the one that showed me that being stubborn, hardheaded and tenacious can be a good thing too.

The list could go on and on. 

And while I’ve always had adopted families that I grafted myself into, they have always been in my mind just that, adopted. They were not my family just one I was temporarily a part of. This weekend I realized I had found my family. 

God is so faithful.

I have been going through a process of contentment in my life. I always thought I’d be one place by this age in life and I wasn’t. I thought I would have a spouse a family of my own, a place of my own, having my career in ministry. I will not sugar coat it but I have struggled with disappointment and frustration from time to time wondering why that has not happened for me. I’ve gone over trying to be the right one, delighting myself in the Lord and all the other things they say to do, I cook, I clean, I love the Lord, I’m adventurous and caring etc. I’ve worked on my weaknesses and though I’m not perfect I’ve tried to be the best version of myself possible, yet nothing I thought would have happened has come to fruition. I have definitely learned contentment though it is for sure a process that you have to contend for day to day, but I’ve learned to be ok with it. 

Then today it hit me. I have all those things but I was looking at with too small of perspective. 

I have a husband. Hosea 2:16,18-20 says, “And in that day, declares the Lord, you will call me ‘My Husband,’ and no longer will you call me ‘My Baal,'(my master)…and I will make you lie down in safety. And I will betroth you to me forever. I will beroth you to me in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love and in mercy. i will betroth you to me in faithfulness. And you shall know the Lord.” Yes it is not the expected but it is truth and honestly he is far greater and good and faithful than any natural form of a husband could be. Do I still believe and hope God will bless me with a spouse to do life with? Absolutely but the One is already here.

I have a family. Not just adopted family but MY family. Tonight as we gathered round to sing to Mel for her birthday I looked around and was so blessed and proud of these people I share life with. Brandon made a comment on how we were their family in San Diego and I got a little watery eyed because this was just as true for me as it was for them. Yes my blood related family is amazing and I am sooooo blessed by them. I have the best sisters parents and extended familiy but if there is one thing that my Gramps left me with is that family is not just flesh and blood and we are to be family to those that don’t have it. I’m am so overwhelmed with love by my spiritual family that God has blessed me with. I am friend, sister and auntie to wonderful people and if this is it then God has still blessed me extravagantly. Over and over again in scriptures it calls us brothers and sisters and children of God, yet how often do we actually take this to heart?

I have a ministry, it is a ministry of service, of encouragement and support. Of doing what is necessary regardless of title, recognition or position. It’s not glamorous and it is not a career in our since of the word, but it is my calling. I do not often know logistics and I often get frustrated with where I am at with where I feel I am supposed to be but each day I walk it out one foot in front of the next. I give all that I have every time I get the chance with whatever I am given and for now that is enough. I’ve struggled recently with feeling I have to prove myself and not wanting to let others down. There has been numerous times I’ve gone home from something in tears because of fear of having disappointed or let down someone or not being able to do more. Slowly I am coming to realize that what is in my hand is enough as long as I use it. Yes I will always want to do more but Christ does not ask for what I don’t have he asks for what I do. As long as I use what I have and make myself available for him he will continue to use me and that is enough.

“And as they were frightened adn bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, ‘Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen…'” Luke 24:5-6

The women went to the tomb of Jesus because there perspective was limited to what they could see in front of them. What a great reminder of how so often we look for things in the wrong perspectives. We believe things should be in a specific place in a specific time, but we are small minded beings, we struggle with our own limited perspective. Jesus had even told them beforehand where He would be but they were unable to comprehend what that would look like. We too know in part what God has spoken but sometimes we need a little help changing our vantage point.

In what areas have you been disappointed or discouraged that you feel God is wanting to change your perspective in? What are some ways that you get new perspective when you feel you’ve reached an empty tomb or a dead end?

Live Life Extraordinary,

Alayna