Earlier this year, our team gathered together to pray and decide on topics that we felt the Lord was putting before us to encourage, challenge, and strengthen women around the world this year through our blog, videos, and discussion on the Community. The topic of LEADERSHIP was brought to the table and immediately, two women came to mind... Pam Smith and Melanie Resendes. After talking with them and reading their thoughts on leadership, I (Lyndsay) was in tears. I needed to hear so much of this personally and I felt a big, fat confirmation that our choice in asking them to partner with us on the topic of leadership was 100% the Lord's influence and leading!
Pam and Melanie desperately love Jesus, their families, and the work God has put before them. While both are Boss Babes, each of them bring different strengths to their teams and have their own leadership style heavily influenced by Jesus and the leading of the Holy Spirit. We are so blessed to call them each a friend and have this conversation together today! I'll let them introduce themselves and we'll let's get this thing started...
Melanie and Pam, thank you both for letting us glean from your fields here on the blog. We've got some real nourishment, encouragement, and refreshment from you both today! We appreciate your candor, vulnerability, and wisdom. You both have some deep wells and we are so so grateful for you, your ministries, and all that God is doing in you, through you, and around you.
We'd love to continue this conversation with all of you beautiful women on the Community so head over there and let's chat!
Did God speak to you through this conversation today?
What is He showing you?
How can we support you or champion you to grow in leadership and obey Jesus more today than yesterday?
You are so loved,
Pretty & Wise Co.
Being a leader? What does that even mean?
Over the last year or so I believe God has been shifting and growing my perspective of leadership. Leadership not only in ministry and in the work place, but also, leadership within my own home.
You see for a very long time I thought that there were two different types of leaders. Leaders who were out front taking charge, you know the ones. The ones who always seem to have all the information and all the answers and direction. And then there were the more background style leaders. The leaders who make sure that no one gets left behind. This leader was perfectly described in a meme that went around a few years back that showed the formation of wolves and that the older and baby wolves were up front and set the pace and then the protectors and so on and so forth and then at the end of the pack were the Alpha leaders making sure everyone was protected and no one was left behind.
Those two styles were how I viewed good leaders. One was not better than the other, it was just that they each had their own redeeming qualities, if you will.
I read a statement recently that said, “Great leaders lead from the inside out.” And it challenged my view of leadership.
I feel like I hear the statement, "You can’t lead on empty," so much that it has almost become cliché. I hear it and I automatically agree with it, but in my mind I just go, "Yeah yeah I’m good though. No problems here. All is good in this neighborhood. (Insert winky face and two thumbs up.)" When, in reality, I’m just simply keeping everything from crumbling down.
Sometimes I don’t even realize it. I’m too close to see the damage that I have done as a leader due to me leaking my junk on those around me.
Faith does not deny a problem's existence, faith denies the problem a place of influence.
You see, being a leader has nothing to do with having our ducks all in a row or having the right answers and directions all the time. That is just unrealistic.
Even Jesus did not have all the answers to the demands of the people himself and he was fully God and fully man. He said in John 5:19 “I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself. He only does what he sees the Father doing. Whatever the Father does, the Son also does."
Jesus only took his cues from God.
When we look at Jesus, even most non-christians can agree that Jesus had some definite leadership qualities. Jesus led all kinds of people and he led well.
All throughout the gospels we see people following Jesus, even when he was trying to withdraw to his core group of people. I don’t know how many times I have read the phrase "they withdrew by themselves to a town… but the crowds learned and followed…" or something along those lines.
And still Jesus waited for his cues from the Father.
Even Jesus was not controlled by the demand of the people only by response to the Father.
Jesus knew the importance of not “leading on empty” better than anyone in the world. But what was it about Jesus that drew people in? That made him a Great leader in every season of his life? (Other than the obvious answer of Him being the Son of God…)
The Lord has been showing me that becoming a great leader is not linked to an experience or calling, rather it’s linked to the overflow we create around us. It’s linked to what we are leaking.
We leak on those we come into contact with… Good or bad.
We have to live a life filled with the Spirit of God in order to lead others into having that experience with the Father. A true right relationship with God.
It is not enough to lead having only had the corporate experience with God. We must first have that closed room, personal time with Jesus and Holy Spirit to effectively lead people in His presence whether we are at work, church, home or the grocery store.
In order to lead well, to lead the way that Jesus did doing only what the Father said, we must be first willing to sit with Jesus. We must be willing to surrender. We must be wiling to give our time to hear and see and know what God is wanting to do. We must surrender our embarrassment when it comes to the who, what, when, where, and why of what God is telling us to do.
When the crowds came to Jesus he did not say, "Ok give me a second I need to pray a long prayer to see what the Father wants to do."
No. Jesus was prayed up long before the crowds ever arrived. He had already invited the Father into His day to day activities. He had spent the time sitting with the Father. And what the crowds were experiencing was simply the overflow of that time with the Father.
Have you ever being in a place where someone walks into the room and all of a sudden everything feels very exhausting, sad, or even angry? Or, or maybe the opposite, someone walks into the room and it feels like the party is just beginning? We call those people thermostats. They can change the “temperature” of the room. Whatever mood that person walks into the room with they leak on the other people in the room thus changing the mood of those in the room.
When we consistently are spending our time sitting with Jesus he begins to leak on us and we in turn get to leak on those around us. It’s in the overflow. That’s how Jesus led. That is what we should be aiming for in every area of our lives. Leading from the overflow.
We are all called to lead one way or another. Some in our work places and some in our homes. Regardless where we lead, how we lead is going to determine who we lead. So let’s lead well. Let’s strive to mirror the One who gave us everything,
My pastor (John Poundstone) has a saying that goes like this,
“Transformed minds transform people. Transformed people transform families and groups.
Transformed families and groups transform cities and transformed cities transform nations.”
Leading from the overflow.
Let’s be women who shake up our understanding of leadership and follow Father God’s leading first and always.
Love you ladies,
Daughter of the King!
WRitten By: Alexandria Brown
For more from Alexandria, visit her website at www.alexandriabrown.org.
Head over to the Community and join the conversation!
Leadership has been a regular topic of conversation between my father and I since I was about 8 years old. I remember sitting on his knee after a friend in the neighborhood treated me poorly and didn’t keep her word. I was in tears and instead of scooping me up, telling me it was going to be okay, and leaving it at that, my father scooped me up, talked me through how to make things right with her, and helped me learn that I can create boundaries and communicate to others what is acceptable in our relationship and what is not. These were some of my first conversations centered on leadership that I can remember. And they haven’t stopped since.
Anytime I hit a wall in a relationship - professionally or personally, anytime I run into an obstacle I don’t know how to overcome, anytime things get sticky or fragile and I can’t risk being too clumsy in my approach to solving a problem, I ALWAYS call my dad. I have avoided so many “fatal” errors in my life and my different leadership roles because I called my dad before I made a rash decision. I sought council instead of flying by the seat of my pants. I’ve saved myself so many headaches and have learned so many invaluable lessons in leadership… I’ve been a much better leader to people because I called my dad first.
Getting ready to write this article, I had a million leadership “lessons” I could have shared from my father’s wisdom. He’s been in leadership positions professionally for almost 40 years. He’s learned a lot and I’ve gleaned from that field time and time again. Initially, I figured I’d write something about, “How to deal with conflict resolution,” or “Team building,” and how those things factor into work AND home life… or something of that nature.
However, I felt the Lord pull me in a direction I really didn’t want to go, to be quite frank. But I realized that it was something I desperately needed to hear at one point in my life and maybe there are some of you that need to hear this right now. So here goes…
Leadership After Failure.
Have you ever been in a leadership position - in any capacity - and done something so spectacularly stupid that you almost (or did) burned your life to the ground?
“Where do I go from here?”
“God will never allow me to lead again.”
“How could He ever entrust other people to me again?”
“That’s it. Those dreams are gone now.”
“I threw away everything and there’s no getting it back.”
“Will anyone ever trust me again?”
“Should anyone ever trust me again?”
All those thoughts ran through my head on repeat several years ago after I had a metaphorical loose thread on a sweater that I kept tugging at and tugging at until the entire thing unraveled - my entire LIFE unraveled. I had a problem I should have handled differently. I should have sought help other places. I should have seen the signs. I should have reached out to the right people. Instead, I stayed hidden, dealt with it the way I wanted to, and ignored God while trying to do His work. I was trying to lead well in His name at home and at work all the while suffering and inadvertently inflicting more suffering upon myself and those around me.
I hit a wall. My world caught on fire - a fire that I started myself - and I was standing in the ashes of my own indiscretion, selfishness, and inept leadership.
Listen to me. I was getting out of the shower a few days after my spectacular failure and I was reeling in the aftermath of that failure when I heard the Lord say, “Did David lose his anointing after Bathsheba? Did I remove his crown? Did I take him from his throne? Did I choose a new king?”
I stood in that bathroom and cried. I couldn’t believe what the Lord was saying to me! How was he possibly so generous? I sinned against Him and others and, yet, He did not take away my anointing - the thing He purposed me for and set me aside to do. He did not remove my garment of praise and return to me a cloak of mourning. He still had a job for me. His will and purpose was not swayed by my sin. But why was that? How could He still hold me so dear? How did He not see me as despicable? Here’s what I think…
Because my spirit was broken and my heart contrite before Him.
I wasn’t blaming anyone else for my failure at this point. The whole world knew and there was no hiding anymore. I failed. I wasn’t hiding from Him any longer either. He was all I had to hold onto and I was hanging onto the hem of his cloak for dear life believing that just His nearness could make me whole again.
The Lord can do a lot with that, sweet friend.
In the coming months, the Lord did an unbelievable and miraculous work in my life. He brought so much healing to me physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. He brought healing to my family and our future. Hope was set before us and we could see it clearly when our eyes were on Jesus because all of our hope was in Him. Leadership looked different for me for awhile. Things changed because of failure, that was true, but my purpose remained. My anointing retained. My calling the same. The Lord helped show me how to lead well after the fire. And a lot of conversations with my dad helped too.
All of us lead. Maybe at work, at home, or some other sphere. And I’m convinced we all start a fire in our leadership at some point. Maybe it’s a spectacular fire and you burn the whole forest down. Maybe it’s small and easy to stop the spread. Maybe your fire took out the entire west coast. Whatever your failure looks like - a spectacular one or a minor blunder - we all have to figure out leadership after the fire.
So what do you do after the fire? How do you lead well? Here’s a few things I’ve learned…
Leadership is difficult and can be scary. It forces us to grow, challenges us to mature, and leads us to places we sometimes don’t want to go, but, as Jesus lovers, leadership is a beautiful gift. It’s an avenue that grows us into His likeness. So press into it. And when failure comes, because it always does, remember this:
Failure is an event, not a person.
Failure does not define you, degrade you, or defeat you when you are in Christ Jesus.
“For My hand made all these things, thus all these things came into being,” declares the Lord. “But to this one I will look, to him who is humble and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at My word.” Isaiah 66:2
“The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; A broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.” Psalm 51:17
“For thus says the high and exalted One who lives forever, whose name is Holy, “I dwell on a high and holy place, and also with the contrite and lowly of spirit in order to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite.”
WRITTEN BY: LYNDSAY TERRY
Read more from Lyndsay @ www.lyndsayterry.com
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It's taken me a long time to sit down to write this month's article. If I'm being honest, the topic of leadership has had me feeling some kind of way these last few weeks.
I almost want to make sure you know up front that I am an unlikely sort of leader, which is sort of true, I guess.
Growing up, I was painfully shy and quiet. I preferred to follow and avoided standing out at all costs. And really, I still tend to be quiet and shy and I most definitely deep down inside prefer not to do anything that looks like stepping up and stepping out.
Oh yes, most assuredly I am an unlikely sort of leader, but in the Kingdom of God, I am in good company. How many instances in the Bible are there wherein God partners with the unlikeliest of characters? How many times do we read of God coming in and doing something so unexpected and remarkable?!
So this has got me thinking.. if the Kingdom of God sort of flips the switch on what's conventional and expected; if the very things that would normally disqualify or count us out according to the world are opportunities for God's grace and mercy and glory to shine all the brighter; if we see time and time again in the Word of God that our tendencies and weaknesses are the very places that His strength is manifested, could that mean that our perception of leadership could use a little aligning with these truths?
What if the key to leading is following? What if leading well actually looks like following hard after Jesus?
"My soul followeth hard after thee.." (Psalm 63:8)
When I think of a heart for the Lord's leading, I think of a passage of Scripture that absolutely changed my life. I think of Isaiah 6, when Isaiah encountered the Lord in all of His glory:
"..I saw the Lord seated on a high and lofty throne, and the hem of his robe filled the temple. Seraphim were standing above him.. And one called to another:
Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of Armies;
his glory fills the whole earth.
The foundations of the doorways shook at the sound of their voices, and the temple was filled with smoke." Isa. 6:1-4
Isaiah's response? "Woe is me for I am ruined because I am a man of unclean lips and live among a people of unclean lips, and because my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of Armies." Isa. 6:5
Isaiah stands in the presence of the King, absolutely awestruck as he is overcome by the glory of the Lord and his response is that he is not worthy, he is unclean- he cannot remain here.
"Then one of the seraphim flew to me, and in his hand was a glowing coal that he had taken from an altar with tongs. He touched my mouth with it and said, Now that this has touched your lips, your iniquity is removed and your sin is atoned for.
Then I heard the voice of the Lord asking:
Who will I send?
Who will go for us?
Here I am. Send me." Isa. 6:6-8
I am so struck by Isaiah's audacity. In one breath, he expresses the impurity of his lips and in the next, once he has been cleansed, he speaks to the King of Kings and pleads, "Send me." And the Lord commissions him to go and speak!
Oh, I pray my heart is always as willing as Isaiah's. I pray that I never lose sight of the majesty of King Jesus. I pray that in His presence, I am filled with wonder and reverence. I pray that in view of His holiness, I am wholly humbled and repentant. I pray that in light of Jesus' sacrifice on the cross wherein my sin was removed as far as the east is from the west, I am therefore emboldened to do what is the good, pleasing and perfect will of the Lord.
Here I am, Lord. Send me. I am willing.
Could it be that as we seek after the Father's heart, as His desires become our own, that we begin to overflow into our spheres of influence? Could it be that the more closely we follow Jesus, the more He is magnified and therefore His glory is the driving force behind any and all leadership we have the honor and privilege of partnering with Him in?
What if our leadership simply looks like, "Come and see"? Come and see this Jesus, come and see all He has done. Come; see and believe! Taste and see for yourselves!
Lord, let us be so ruined, so undone by Your sovereignty, that we can't help but lead others to pursue You. Let our hearts be gladly given to Your will, no matter the cost.
Written By: Olivia Caldwell
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Leadership: You won’t be searching long before you find a book, article, or expert on it. But what does the Bible say about it? It says a lot when it comes to specific leadership of elders and deacons, but we are not all in those categories. I want to look at 2 Timothy 2:15. It says “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.”
This verse comes in the midst of Timothy warning the readers about quarreling, irreverent babble, and false teachings.
I believe that this verse can tell us a lot about Godly leadership on all levels. Let’s dive in to see what I mean.
“Do your best…”
I don’t think that Godly leadership is perfection. Anyone who has ever set foot into a church will know this. There are opinions and speculations that sometimes go astray from where they should. But we aren’t told to be perfect. Or even near perfect. We are told DO YOUR BEST. This means thinking before we speak, find out what the Bible says about it before we act, consider others, and then do your best.
“...present yourself to God as one approved…”
As a leader, we need to remember that we are leading under God’s approval. He is the one that is the ultimate leader of leaders. When we are leading - whether it be just our children or a group of ladies, or a worship service for a huge group - we must put ourselves under God’s authority. We need to present ourselves to him and get HIS approval before we seek to lead others.
“...a worker who has no need to be ashamed…”
Leaders sometimes have to be ready to lead by example. We have to be willing to get into the trenches with everyone else and do what needs to be done. If we are doing this, we aren’t seeking approval or title or some throne or pedestal to be placed on. Again, we are presenting ourselves to God first. If we do this, we should never be ashamed of the work we are doing to glorify Him.
“...rightly handling the word of truth.”
This is the big one. If we aren’t handling (read Teaching and Living) the word of truth correctly, then we don’t need to be a leader. Ouch. That was harsh, I know. But when it comes to God’s word and leading people you have to be sure (as sure as possible) that you are doing the right thing. This means that as leaders we have to be in God’s word more often, praying more often, and keeping our ears open to what God is telling us as OUR leader. Leading others astray through false teaching is a very serious offense in God’s eyes.
As we lead our families (and possibly other women), I hope we all seek His approval. There can be no other approval more sweet than knowing we are leading others rightfully closer to Christ and salvation.
Written By: Angie Reese
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Focus. As I sit here contemplating this word, the brain fog sets in, and my weary eyes begin to blur the words together on the page. After looking at definitions and synonyms for this word...after reading verse after verse, my mind fractures into countless rabbit trails. Oh, the irony!
Focus is a word that is both a noun and a verb. We may focus on something to "bring it into view" as it becomes the "central point of attention", bringing both verb and noun together. (See what I did there? No? Well, you see I took the two definitions...oh well, never mind).
Focusing on this word brings to mind the One-Word Challenge. I have participated in doing a One Word Challenge for many years now. Some people call it by a different name. But the idea is to pick one word to focus on for the entire year...usually sometime in late December. Many who choose to do the one-word challenge look for a word that sums up who they want to be or how they want to live.
I, however, tend to look at it a little differently than most. Picking a word and becoming that word is not my goal. Instead, I choose to begin praying each year in December that God would show me the word HE wants me to focus on. This was not a New Year's resolution but a year-long one-word journey. As I focused on the word throughout the next year, God would reveal to me the things He wanted me to learn in relation to that word, creating a change in my heart and my life.
This One Word thing takes discipline and focus. Interestingly enough, FOCUS was my word in 2014. So, I went back through my journal in search of an entry on the word, and even looked to see if I had written a blog post about it thinking it would be helpful now that I was writing about it again. There was not one post on the blog, nor anything further in my journal about the word beyond the entry in December stating that it was my to be my word for 2014. Apparently, and I might add ironically, I had lost my focus. Perhaps I need to refocus on the word in 2021.
Oh but wait...that same year I had chosen a verse to go along with my One Word.
It was my life-verse, Matthew 6:33.
But seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well.
There it was. This verse "brought into view" the "central point of attention"...the very One I was to focus on. I went back through and looked at the articles I had written on my blog that year and I could see it...everything I had written was focused on bringing glory to God...seeking His righteousness and advancing His kingdom in my writing. Maybe I didn't lose my focus after all...because the point was that I was not to meditate on the word focus, I was to focus on the Word...His Word.
Wow! My brain is tired from all the wordplay. But I kind of love it when the rabbit trail takes me back to His Word and to the gentle way He leads me. I'm so thankful that He is patient enough to lead me into a new understanding of this word...albeit 6 years in the making.
WRITTEN BY: GAY IDLE
For more from Gay, head to her website: www.gayidle.com
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Focus… how does such a little word have so much power over where we go?
We live in a fairly rural area and so we like to take the kids on the back roads every once in a while and let them take the wheel. They are both young and so it is still so exciting for them to get unbuckled and hop in daddy’s lap so that they can drive the car. My daughter will drive very slowly and she is focused. She sees the road and she knows where she is going and she is going to get us there. My son… well let me give you some back story.
You see, my son is a great driver when it comes to driving his little 6v pickup truck power wheels around the backyard. He weaves in and out of any objects that are in the way and never hits anything (unless of course it's on purpose. Boys, right?) He stops and backs up like an expert driver, but when he gets behind the wheel of one of our vehicles things change.
He is no longer focused on the road he is driving on or where he is going, actually when he’s driving one of our cars he is focused on anything but the road or safety. LOL Which makes it a very winding and bumpy ride. His focus is not where we all know it should be. His focus is on the buttons in the car. His focus is on that bush or tree that we passed 10 feet ago or how the clouds look in the sky.
He is so confident that daddy is going to correct and steer that he never really bothers to think about where or how we will be getting to our destination.
I think that sometimes I get like that in my walk with God, in my role as a Proverbs 31 woman, wife, mother, friend. I get so focused on distractions and the things that need to be done I forget why I was doing them in the first place. I let the things around me take my attention away from what I am actually supposed to be doing.
I haven’t lost focus, I have shifted it. I have shifted my focus from God’s plans to the distractions along the way. And let me tell you, it has brought stress and exhaustion and no peace. But then in just a moment, Holy Spirit brings a sweet reminder to focus my eyes back on the Peace Giver, the One who knows all my days before there was even one (Psalm 139:16.)
Shift our focus. Such a simple statement can alter the outcome of any circumstance or situation that we are in. And with the right help (Holy Spirit=Helper) it is just that simple.
I have learned that the shifting for me is the simple part, and it takes a conscious effort to KEEP my focus there.
Philippians 4:8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-think about such things.
It’s not always easy, but it is simple.
The next verse the writer tells us to “…put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.”
Start doing that. It takes conscious effort. It takes persistence. We are not always going to get it right, but we have to work it.
I had a vocal coach that pounded in my head, “Practice doesn’t make perfect, it makes permanent.” Let’s practice focusing on those things mentioned in Philippians till they become permanent.
Holy Spirit, I ask that you show us today how we can better focus on You and Your plan for our life today in every aspect whether it be in our relationship with Father God, at home, in our marriage/children, friendships, our workplace or any other area of our life. Draw our attention to those things spoken about in Philippians. Help us to practice lifting our eyes to You and drawing nearer. Guide us in focusing on the things that lead us into who You have called each and every one of us to be. Help us to set aside any and all distractions today and come ready to be the “more than conquerors” (Romans 8:37) You have called us to be in Your precious name Jesus, Amen.
WRITTEN BY: ALEXANDRIA BROWN
For more from Alexandria, visit her website at www.alexandriabrown.org.
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As quickly as our lives have slowed down, so many of us have somehow found a way to busy ourselves again, filling our days with non-stop information, interactions, noise, and to-do lists.
FOCUS seems a hard thing to discipline ourselves to do when everything moves at the speed of light and the entire wealth of information the world has to offer is one google search away. We've been conditioned to want instant gratification and accept nothing less than "right now". Our attention spans have shortened drastically. Is reading more than an short article or the max amount of characters in a tweet a challenge for you sometimes? I practically fall asleep every time I attempt to read a regular book!
FOCUS feels distant and BLURRY feels more realistic. Can you relate?
It's hard to be a Mary in a world built for Marthas! But, sis, we were made to put aside the day's work for a time - it will be there when we are done - and sit at the feet of Jesus. We were made to give him our whole hearts, our whole minds, and our whole attention everyday. Have you taken the time to do that yet?
We aren't looking to drop some wisdom on you today - we are looking to point you to the Giver of all wisdom. Today, we are hoping to give you space to FOCUS on Jesus through some scripture for reflection, worship music for soaking, and a prayer to pray today.
Top 40 Worship (August 2020)
SCRIPTURES FOR MEDITATION
1 Corinthians 10:31
MEDITATION PRAYER (Rebecca Barlow Jordan)
Lord, quiet my heart and still my soul as I wait on you during these moments alone. I recognize you as a holy and majestic God - one who deserves great praise and glory. All of creation testifies to your awesome and unique works. There is no one like you, no other god worthy of honor.
I want to focus on You, Lord, and to shut out all the distractions of the world. For these next few moments, it's just you and me, God. You are Spirit, but you are a God who knows us so intimately. I like to imagine you as literally sitting here beside me, because of your promise that you are Emmanuel - always "with us."
As I think about the truths in your Word, may the meditation of my heart be sweet and honoring to you. I am not trying to clear out my mind. I simply want to empty me of self and fill me with your Holy Spirit.
I long for your presence, Lord. Narrow my thoughts to include only those things that are honorable, truthful, beautiful, pure, and praiseworthy. I ask for your wisdom to apply these truths to my life morning, noon, and night - literally all through the day. For you are worthy to be praised all the time.
I remember your great faithfulness in the past and am so grateful that you shower fresh mercy and grace on me each morning. I rehearse your goodness through answered prayer and personal reminders to me daily of your love for me. Even when I feel alone or distant from you, you draw me back into your presence when I purposely slow down and draw close to you. I treasure your Word and want to chew on the truths you reveal to me today. As I pull apart each piece and relect on every principle and word of instruction, I'm asking you to guide me and teach me what you want me to know.
Is there a promise here for me to remember? Is there an action I need to take or a sin to forsake? Is there more for me to understand about your character? Help me to personalize your message to my heart today. Your Word is powerful. I celebrate the strength and wisdom you will give me as I learn to honor and glorify you more.
I need you and love you, Lord. And I ask you to speak through your Word and in these quiet moments together. Whisper or shout into my spirit, whichever you want, and whatever I need the most. But most of all, just receive my praise as I focus my thoughts only on you. I'm listening and anticipating as I read and meditate on your beautiful Word.
In Jesus' name, Amen.
Sisters, we want to encourage you to join us on the Community today. We'll be there ready to hear what God is sharing with you as you focus and turn your ears and eyes on Him today. What is He teaching you? Where is He leading you? What is He showing you?
How can we partner with you as you passionately pursue Him today?
Y’all. When I was scheduled to write on the topic of “focus”… I should probably just spend time telling you all the things that focus ISN’T. All the things that mess with your focus. All the ways to lose focus. Because, let me tell you, I am no expert in this area.
In September 2017 my life was a wreck. My husband and I were working hard at rebuilding our marriage into something beautiful after we had just about run it into the ground, I was trying to rebuild my relationship with Jesus after I had spent too much time neglecting it and running from Him, we were trying to make new friends in a new place, a new home, and a new church. September 2017 was kind of a mess and yet, that is the place and time the Lord spoke so clearly to me: “Write.”
Excuse me… come again? “Write.” I was in the middle of a staff meeting at my new job. We were in the middle of prayer and I heard the Lord as clear as a bell, “Write.” I remember thinking, “about what?” And immediately the Lord said, “Full portion God.”
He gave me the name… of a book. My book.
I tried to shake that thought out of my head right away. I was the worst candidate to write a book on anything, especially concerning spiritual things. Don’t get me wrong, I am a deeply spiritual person, but I was a deeply messed up person at the time and I knew God must have been confused for a minute there because I could have sworn he told me to write a book about Him. But He really did tell me to write and I couldn’t ignore it. We were praying and as soon as I heard “full portion God” I pulled out my pen and paper and started furiously scribbling all of the thoughts flooding into my mind. I still have the notes from that moment. The Lord just pricked my spirit and my mind took off running like my life depended on it. I went home and, in secret, began to write.
I didn’t tell anyone because I was embarrassed. I was a colossal screw-up. Who did I think I was to write a book for the Lord? I was not smart enough or good enough or holy enough or experienced enough or any other kind of "enough" there was to be. It just wasn’t me and I knew it and so did everyone else. So I couldn’t tell a soul. Too many people knew my history and I couldn’t face the ridicule that would spew out over me if anyone knew I was writing a book. So I wrote in secret for a couple months. Here and there, whenever inspiration would strike, I would grab my laptop and write.
In January 2018 my husband and I were just beginning to teach a class at our church on the gift of prophecy when we found out we were pregnant with our third child. We could not have been more ecstatic and grateful and hope-filled. We wanted to have a baby and we could not believe how easily it happened this time around as it had been a struggle before. Just two days after we found out we were pregnant, I woke up to spotting and fear. The day progressed and things just got worse. There was no stopping it. We were losing our child we had only loved for two days. The baby we had already been dreaming of holding and kissing and loving was slipping away and I could do nothing but watch and wait and groan in pain, both physically and emotionally - the greatest pain my heart could know.
About a week later, I knew I needed to get back to this prophetic class with my husband. I needed to be immersed in the presence of God and actively listening to his voice and direction. I was scared someone would say “I’m sorry for your loss” or “how are you doing?” and I would lose it, but I went anyway. I just needed it and I couldn’t explain how or why, but I knew I did.
That first evening back, the Lord gave a friend of mine a prophetic word that he didn’t understand, but oh my gracious, I knew exactly what God was saying…
“I see a blank sheet of white lined paper. And it’s coming into focus, the way you would focus the lens on a projector. Laser-like focus,” he said. I about jumped out of my chair when he said, “laser-like focus.” He had no idea the Lord had told me to write. And I knew the Lord was saying, “I gave you an assignment. You better set your sights on your paper with a laser-like focus to obey me.”
It was not the message I had expected or even hoped to hear that evening. I wanted to be scooped up and held. I wanted to hear “Your baby is here in my arms,” or “You’ll be pregnant again in [fill in the month here].” I wanted to hear about my baby or the hopes of another child… not about this book. And yet, the Lord was speaking to me about the book, not the baby.
Listen to me, sweet friend. Sometimes the Lord is going to speak to you about the book when you are focused on the baby. Your heart and mind and soul may be wrapped up in the baby because that is where the trauma is, that is where the heartache is, that is were the wounding is. But friend, that may not be where His focus is. And I know that can hurt to hear because we want the Lord to be focused on the things WE are focused on. But that is just not how it works. His thoughts are above our own. His ways are above ours. He is on a whole different level.
After January 2018, I lost focus. My eyes were locked on our baby. My eyes were locked on my pain. My eyes were flooded with loss. My focus shifted from God’s calling to just surviving one day to the next. And it went on like this for almost a year.
December 2018, just a week before Christmas, I found out we were pregnant again. I was so scared, so excited, so anxious, and so hopeful all at once. My focus shifted once again from survival, to planning and building a future for our expanding family.
The spring of 2019, I began a discipleship group with 5 other ladies… the nitty-gritty kind that forces you do deal with all of your junk and get right with Jesus. Well… I got right with Jesus, okay? With the encouragement (and harassment - ahem - I mean accountability) of my discipleship group, I started to write again. I was reminded of the calling the Lord gave me in 2017 and the prophetic word from a year before in 2018. The Lord had told me to do something and I had allowed my vision to get hijacked by everything happening all around me. I had allowed my focus to blur, to shift, to change, to move from the book to the baby.
This time was so different. A year previous, I had given up on writing because of the heartbreaking loss of a child and now here I was writing while carrying a new life inside of me. A new life breathed into this child and a new life breathed into me and this book. It was a strange sense of coming full-circle and quite literally rewriting my painful past into something more beautiful now.
My daughter, Abigail Rose, was born in August 2019. After she was born, I wrote here and there, but things really slowed down. I was focused on the baby again instead of the book. However, at the beginning on 2020, I asked the Lord for a word for the year - something to help direct my attention to what He has for me - and I heard, “focus.” I knew it was primarily about the book. I had promised the Lord I would finish he first-draft by May. And you know what? I did. The first draft is completed and I feel more completed. I know it’s not done, there’s more to do, but I feel a spiritual milestone in this place. A monument to a new level of spiritual maturity has been built by the hands of long-suffering and continued obedience.
This is a long story to bring you to this point…
What is your “book”?
What is the thing God has called you to do? Maybe it’s changing careers, maybe it’s homeschooling your kids, maybe it’s starting a non-profit, maybe it’s writing a book, maybe it’s sharing Jesus with your neighbor. Whatever it is, name it - out loud. Don’t let yourself keep it a secret anymore. Own it and call it out and get some accountability. You need people to account for your ability when things pull you down or the devil is being his liar self telling you all the ways you are the wrong girl for the job. You need people in your corner cheering you on, telling you the truth about yourself, poking and prodding you to complete your metaphorical “book” and obey the Lord.
What is your “baby”?
What is pulling your focus away from the thing God has called/commanded/asked/told you to do? It’s not always wrong to acknowledge the baby in the room. For me, of course I needed to mourn. Of course my heart and mind and focus was pulled toward this baby and the pain we were experiencing. And that is not wrong. But what I believe God wanted for me during all of that was to continue to chase after the book. To continue to obey, even through the pain, even through the tears, even though the heartache because the act of obedience is what ushers in healing and comfort and peace. The baby and the book don’t need to compete.
How can you obey right now?
Focus simply boils down to obedience. When we obey the Lord in the small things, it keeps our eyes focused in His direction and we can more easily and fluidly move in sync with His Spirit. If I had just kept my eyes focused on Jesus during that painful period of loss, if I had just looked for ways to obey Him in the small things, I believe I would not have lost sight of the book. I would have experienced more peace when I felt so much turmoil and more strength when I felt so weak.
Friend, obedience sharpens our vision to more clearly see the life God has intended us to live with the unique gifts, passions, callings, and purpose each of us possess. So if focus is a struggle for you, just look for one way to obey the Lord today. Just start there. He’ll bring it all into focus as you just commit to the next step of obedience in front of you.
Written by: Lyndsay TERRY
Read more from Lyndsay @ www.lyndsayterry.com
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My husband needed clean underwear this morning.
Like, really needed clean underwear.
He waited for our dryer, set on 'speed dry', for one pair to be dry enough to stand wearing while I sat and thought of all of the times I could have bothered to throw clothes into the washing machine before early this morning and I prayed for those underwear to miraculously dry like five minutes ago.
We both sat on edge because this is not how we wanted this morning to go. Today, after over 10 days on a ventilator, his dad is going to be taken off of sedation and extubated.
With his dad being in such delicate health after an extremely difficult year, we all have been so concerned. Today could go any number of directions. And with all of his phone calls, hospital visits and everyday responsibilities lately, I certainly could have made sure this basic need was met to help him with all he is carrying.
PS- I might have been successful at my quick fix if I had taken the other clothing out of the dryer and left the one pair of boxers in to dry on their own. Hindsight, right?
He called me on his way to the hospital and brought this to the attention of my tired ol' brain. And he said, "You know, I feel like this dryer situation is what we as the church need to do. We need to throw everything OUT except for Jesus."
Y'all, this is super convicting to me because gracious, how this very thing has been on my heart. My goodness, how the Lord has been refining me and drawing me nearer to His heart in this season.
And yet, I've found myself filling up on the things of this world instead, like He's not enough for me.
I have felt incredibly uncomfortable (telling my husband dramatically when he asks how I'm doing, "Oh, you know, just dying... to my flesh.") and turned from that discomfort to all of the THINGS going on in the world.. which doesn't even make sense, especially if you've checked out the news lately or caught up on the controversies of the week.
Instead of being faithful with the things right in front of me, like laundry for my loved ones, I often chose numbing out on social media and even got a little too caught up in current events. Instead of running to the arms of my Father and instead of sitting with the One who is able to empathize with my weakness, I often just traded His presence and His healing balm for lesser, "easier" things. These things have just served to clutter up the "dryer" of my life. As a result, my heart may feel heavy and overwhelmed and the voice of the Lord seems to be drowned out underneath it all.
Doesn't Matthew 11:28-30 say to come to Jesus, all of His weary and burdened children, and He will give us rest? Doesn't He say that His yoke is easy and His burden is light and that He is gentle?
Isn't He the Lover of our souls, King of our hearts, the only One able to satisfy? Isn't the Word filled with promises to us from our Jesus??
So, where is our focus? And why is it so often not on Jesus?
Later on this morning, laundry in the washing machine and many, many more loads lined up for their turn through the wash, I put my phone down to walk outside and take care of our birds (chickens, turkeys and ducks- and a whole lot of mess!). Once they've been watered- the water-attacking dog, too- I begin to water the garden. It's a little sad looking because of all of the trees in the yard, but we have several squash plants that are growing well and a very large pumpkin vine we are super proud of, especially considering that it came from our compost bin after carving pumpkins last fall.
As I water, I inspect the vines for any new growth. Our squash climb the fence as they grow and the vines have these little tendrils that look young and delicate, but they are what is holding the entire plant upright. And the plants that have grown past the fence have tendrils growing out near the tops, reaching for something to grasp onto.
The thing about these tendrils that fascinates me is that they wrap themselves around the fence post until they look like curly-q's. They're not going anywhere. And the ones that are reaching? You can bet that once they find another part of the fence, they'll do the same thing and will not let go.
I'm standing in the garden, thinking about focus and distractions and fixing our eyes on Christ and I just think to myself, "I think these squash plants are showing me how to pray."
The thing is, my own will to lay down worldly things and to focus in on Christ will only take me so far. But I know that if I ask God to help me, to transform and renew my mind, and for the desires of my heart to be aligned with His heart, He is faithful to do so. I believe He delights in doing so, because He sees our hearts and our struggles and our shortcomings and when we see them and recognize our dependence on Him, that's an invitation for the Lord to come in and do a work that only He can do. His power in our weakness is always a beautiful, beautiful thing.
And so we can pray to be loosed from anything other than a firm foundation to hold us up on.
We can pray that the Lord will lead us into all Truth and that we will cling to Him and His Word and His presence in such a way that no one or no thing can easily remove or unwrap us from Him.
We can pray that when we've come to the end of ourselves and we are reaching and grasping for Him, that He will see our outstretched hands as beautiful longings for Him and Him alone to sustain us.
And we can thank Him that as long as we keep praying and asking and seeking, we can rest assured that He will be there.
Our unshakeable, immovable, unchanging God.
WRITTEN BY: OLIVIA CALDWELLHead over to the Community to join in the conversation!
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