Community Blessings

Matthew 18:20  “For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”

My dear friend Jill Miller and I had the privilege of leading a half-day conference titled Choose: Life is about Choices. We gathered as a community of 45-50 women and the time was filled with worship, inspiration, reflection and new beginnings.

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As I reflect on the day and as I shared the Gitz ‘n Jo story of two sisters journey to Joy, I am reminded how important it is that we Choose to be in community with others.

But I don’t have to be without community. I don’t have to choose longing instead of living. Because we are gathered in His name, because we love and believe with hearts that love God more than ourselves, we are a community. A living, breathing community who has learned how to share our lives over any distance.

Jesus told us to do this life together, as a community. And because of Him, there are no boundaries.

There is only the common bond of belief and love.     ~Sara Gitz Frankl

When we are hurting, it is easy to hide and be alone. The answer to finding Peace and Joy is through our Heavenly Father and we find Him in the presence of others.

Choose to reach out and build community. You and only you can make the choice.

Remember you are loved!

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CHOOSE!

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“I made a decision a long time ago that I was going to choose joy. I even painted a big rectangle on my wall and printed it in big letters so I wouldn’t forget to make that choice every day. The major word in that rectangle isn’t joy… it’s CHOOSE. It’s looking around me when life is difficult and trading every complaint I have for something beautiful in my life that far outweighs it.”       ~Sara Frankl

I am so happy to be done with chemo and radiation! I am ready to move forward and continue the legacy that Sara began here.

The first nine months of 2017 were difficult and I had the opportunity to live in the space of Sara’s legacy a lot! The above quote from Sara is one that I focused on a number of times.

You see, it’s easy to thank God when He does what we want, but God doesn’t always do what we want. If we are expecting to be given a fair shake in life, we aren’t going to get it. God doesn’t “owe” us anything. God is God, so He knows what He is doing…we must trust His heart…always.

Even though we aren’t promised a “fair” life, God does promise us that we can get through the difficult times if we prepare our hearts. We prepare our hearts by spending time with Him and His word.

We must choose to live through the struggles by listening to God as He shows us how to use the difficulties to teach others. We must be open to what He is calling us to do with what we have learned.

Then we must express gratitude. Thank Him for all the beauty in life that far outweighs the difficulty.

This Saturday, November 11th, myself and speaker/singer/songwriter, Jill Miller will be hosting a CHOOSE Conference. I feel so blessed that God has opened the door for Jill and I to reach out and be a disciple to others. To share what God can do in our lives, if we choose to walk every journey with Him.

If you live in the Carroll, IA area, we would love to have you join us. If you don’t, we would love to have your support through prayer. My constant prayer is for an open mind, a humble heart and faithful feet to walk where He leads.

Remember…the butterfly is beautiful because of the struggle…

Choose Conference

 

 

Day 18 Be Intentional – The Present

I was reading an article by Helen Mallicent that said the following…

“I was regretting the past and fearing the future.  Suddenly my Lord was speaking. My name is I AM. He paused, I waited. He continued. When you live in the past with its mistakes and regrets it is hard. I AM not there. My name is not I was. When you live in the future with its problems and fears, it is hard. I AM not there. My name is not I will be. When you live in this moment it is not hard. I AM here. My name is—I AM.”

I think about how often my thoughts are either in the past or the future and it makes me realize how much time and energy I waste. I need to be intentional in living in the present moment.
“Even though we think of our goals as some future state to achieve, the real goal is always the life of this moment, this moment, this moment.”  ~ Charlotte Beck
Living in the moment is living in today, and not allowing yesterday or tomorrow to rob us of today’s joys. So often we are living in yesterday or tomorrow. That is exactly what Jesus taught us not to do.
Philippians 4:6-7 “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
When you are feeling anxious, be intentional in bringing your mind back to the present, it is there that you will find God. It is there that you will find His peace.
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Day 17 Be Intentional — Say Yes

One thing I have learned the last several years is that when I start asking God “why,” I begin to feel lost, uncertain, and distant from Him.

  • Why did dad lose his life from a bee sting?
  • Why did Sara have to live a life of so much pain?
  • Why did I get cancer?
  • Why….

The question why keeps us stuck, dwelling on the difficulty we are going through. It keeps us in a place of being a victim rather than a place of accountability.

I remember Sara saying that for all she knew, when she was a spirit in heaven before she was born, God showed her the life He had planned for her. She imagined looking at the good, the bad, and how both affected the people around her. She wanted to think that she saw it all and said yes.  Yes, she would take all of the bad with all of the good and serve a purpose.

When she saw it that way,  the question of why things happen was irrelevant. If she said “yes,” it was because God saw a purpose in her life and how it would unfold in a greater plan. What more of a reason do we need than that?

So, instead of asking why, we can be accountable for living the life that God has planned for us if we ask what and how. What needs to be done? How can I contribute?

When I was diagnosed with cancer, the automatic first question that came to my mind was, why? Why is this happening? Why me? Why… I was stuck and feeling like a victim of circumstance. I had to be intentional in asking what God needs me to do? How can I serve? When I asked those questions, I also began seeking His will. I felt more empowered. I had a purpose to fulfill.

I challenge you when you are feeling stuck, or like a victim of circumstance, be intentional in asking what God needs from you? How can you serve?

Be intentional in saying yes to Him.

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Day 16 Be Intentional – Life Goals

In my last post, I said that we are spiritual beings here to live out a human existence. As human beings, I think it is safe to say that most of us make goals for our lives. Typically those goals have to do with our career, our family, our retirement, etc. Goals that have to do with our human existence and things that we want to do with our lives.

How many of us have made goals about who we want to be…Goals that have to do with our spiritual lives? When Sara no longer had a career, she was stepping closer and closer to being homebound, she had no husband or children or potential for her life to change. Sara had to figure out who she wanted to be, outside of the ways most of us define our lives.

It was during that transition that Sara wrote a list of Life Goals. Goals that had nothing to do with what she could “do” or “accomplish.” They were goals of how she wanted to live in her spirit.

It’s a list we all should sit down and make… the list that comes to fruition when you strip away all the world has to offer and uses to define us.

Here’s what Sara came up with.

Life Goals:

  1. To not be ashamed to stand before God.
  2. To fulfill God’s plan by living the best life I can with what I am given.
  3. To be aware and present in every moment.
  4. To love what I have and not yearn for what I lack.
  5. To spread the Joy, not the fear.
  6. To be intentional in all things.

As each of us prepares for the birth of Christ and for 2018, let’s be intentional in looking past all the resolutions and dig deeper?

What would your Life Goals – those never-changing staples in the core of your spirit – look like?

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Day 13 Be Intentional – Life Purpose

We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience.                                        ~Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

My dad was one of those individuals that when he really believed in something, he put his all into it. He ran across the above statement and talked about it a lot.

We are not human beings striving to be Spiritual because we are already Spiritual Beings. We existed in spiritual form before we were born into this physical world.

Think about this for a minute. Does it change how you think about your life purpose?  Imagine if we all went about our lives remembering the core of who we are… a Spirit born in the image of Christ… who is sent here to fulfill a purpose before going back home.

In some of my earlier posts, I talked about Sara living a life of it’s not about me, it’s about who He needs me to be for a community of people. When we make this life about us, we are making this life about our human existence, not our spiritual existence.

As I was thinking about this, it made me realize that the things I often focus on, relate to my human existence. My job, my health, my finances, my home…

Sara reminds me that “what I have is a mission. A purpose. I am here to live the best life I can with what I have been given. I am here to live out this human existence as a spiritual being… a servant to God and His people… before I head back home to Him.”

I am here to fulfill His purpose for me, and to keep my eyes open so I don’t miss it…and that is your purpose too. Don’t miss it!

Take some time to think about what God has given you. What has God blessed you with? If it’s from God, it’s part of your mission and purpose. Your purpose is to use those blessing to serve God and others.

Be intentional in paying attention to your mission and purpose…as a spiritual being, not a human being.

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Day 12 Be Intentional – The Dash

When I think about living intentionally, I think about both my dad and Sara. After losing them in 2010 and 2011, being intentional has been a focus for me. We only have one shot at this life and “no one knows that day or hour, not the angels in the heaven, nor the son, but only the Father.” Matthew 24:36

Have you ever heard the poem “The Dash?”

On our tombstone, it will have the day we are born and the day we die, with a dash in between. The dash in between represents the opportunities we have to live the life that God has intended for us to live.

Opportunities that require intention.

Being intentional is about paying attention to the nudge in our spirit and the whispers that cross our mind. The one that tells us to connect with someone and tell them you care or give them a word of encouragement.

Sara taught us “when you come in contact with someone, you either leave them feeling better about themselves or worse, but you never leave them unaffected.” God calls us to “love others as He has loved us,” so be intentional when you come in contact with others.

Give them a smile and a hello. Acknowledge them, don’t ignore them. Don’t miss an opportunity to tell those you care about that you love them. Don’t wait until next time, because next time may be too late. We are here to represent Him…to represent His message of love. And don’t wait until tomorrow because tomorrow may never come.

If we are still here, then we have a job to do. Let’s be intentional in making sure we live it for Him.

 

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My Heavenly Angels…

 

 

 

Day 11 Be Intentional – Gratitude

Choose an attitude of gratitude…

Attitude is defined as “a settled way of thinking or feeling about someone or something, typically one that is reflected in a person’s behavior.”

Gratitude is defined as “the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return the kindness.”

Unfortunately, in life, we do have to be intentional in choosing an attitude of gratitude. It is too easy to focus on all the negative events that are going on in this world. The negative is the focus of the news and conversations we hear.

In times like this, it is difficult to offer praise and thanks. When we are faced with health issues, the loss of loved ones, losing our home or job. We hear about the tragedies that happen because of hurricanes and fires. We are unhappy with the decisions that our government leaders are making. It is during times like this that we feel like God has let us down. We assume He is distant because He feels far away.  This is when we have to be intentional in making a choice.

We can either choose to let the negative thoughts and events get us down, or we can choose to have an attitude of gratitude.

We have so much to be grateful for in this life.  In the midst of hardship and pressures, we need to be intentional to pause and give thanks for all that God has done, and continues to do in our lives. When we make a choice to pause and give thanks, it will make a lasting difference in our lives.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

When we are intentional and choose every day to focus on all the good that God has done in our life, we realize that no matter what we face, He is with us and He will never leave us.

Remember, His plans for us are good and He is working all things together for our good. Because of this, we can choose an attitude of gratitude.

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Day 10 Be Intentional — Be Still

Psalm 46:10 “Be still and know that I am God.”

Be still…it seems counter-intuitive to be still, especially when we are struggling or have a lot to do. I think many of us can agree and have said many times, the phrases… “Time goes by too fast.” “Life is too busy.”

We don’t feel like we have time to be still.

During cancer treatment, my life did slow down from the busy of my typical days because I couldn’t do many of the things that made my life busy. The problem was, the business of my mind didn’t go away.

The first four chemo treatments were the hardest. There were days I literally felt like I was going to lose my mind. My head kept saying I can not do this anymore. It was during those times that I had to still my mind.

Know that I am God…Knowing is acknowledging. Once we are still, we must then acknowledge God. God is all knowing, all powerful, and present everywhere. Once we acknowledge Him, we can be still. Acknowledging God also means we trust Him.

When we trust God, we can surrender ourselves to Him and His plan. God not only knows our past and our present, He also knows our future. If we trust Him, we can also trust His perfect plan.

When we are still, acknowledge, and surrendered to God, we also will find peace even when life hurts.

I laid in bed not knowing if I could continue this journey. How I made it through those times, was by closing my eyes, breathing deep and repeating over and over again…

Be still and know that I am God.

Be still and know that I am.

Be still and know.

Be still.

Be.

When you are feeling like you can’t go on, or feeling like life is passing you by, I ask you to be intentional. Be intentional in being still.

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Day 9 Be Intentional – Community

John 13:34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”

Sara’s perspective about Community….

“God never expected us to do things on our own in this life. That’s why He gave us the greatest commandment to love one another… not a command to love and rely solely on ourselves.

God believed in community living, and as an example, He created a community in and of Himself. He is the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit because one being in and of itself is not enough to produce real life, total thought, and complete love.

That thought right there is such a relief to me… understanding that it’s not about me creating my best life… it’s about me living the best life God needs me to for a community of people.”       ~Sara Frankl

God didn’t intend for us to live in isolation. He intended for us to want and need others. We are our best when we are experiencing life’s highs and lows with others. Being in community with others is encouraging. It provides an opportunity to be around others that are at different stages of their faith journey. It provides an opportunity to give and to learn.

I could not have walked this journey with cancer alone. I have been surrounded by a community of people who provided me with prayer, love, support, and encouragement. Each of you filled my heart and soul when I needed it most. There aren’t words that can describe the gratefulness in my heart.

Psalm 133:1 “How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!”

When we are intentional about building community, we are not only pleasing God, we find Joy!

You each helped me find joy, even when life hurt!

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