You be you!

There I sat, in the audience at a Christian Women’s conference, inspired and awed by the words of our speaker that night.  She was so knowledgeable of God’s word, so eloquent in her speech, and so passionate in her delivery.  I wanted to be just like her.

I was so impressed by her, that I found myself drawn to her as a person almost more than I heard her message.  I imagined what it would be like to be as wise as she was, and as polished.  I perceived that she had “it all together” in her personal life, that surely her life was picture perfect due to her closeness to God and her obvious personality.  How could it not be?

Everything that I admired in her, were the very things that I felt that I lacked. 

Maybe you can relate.  Maybe the situation is different for you, but you have felt that same way.  You have admired someone because of the character qualities that they possess.  Courage, boldness, eloquence, spiritual maturity, knowledge? Perhaps these are the very ones that you sense are not present in your own life.

It is true that it’s good to have people in our lives that inspire us and cause us to examine our character.  This helps us to grow in spiritual maturity. Let’s not forget that God has designed each of us differently to fulfill His purpose for us!

Romans 12:4-8 NIV puts it this way “For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.  We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.”

You will notice that Paul doesn’t state that we should all be good at all those things, but rather, that we should know what we are bent towards, and do that, to the best of our ability! 

Sunny San Diego!

Many years ago, I took a Spiritual Gifts Test.  The results showed me the areas of my life that I already had a passion or high level of interest in.  The areas that I was potentially gifted towards by God.  This was amazing to me!  I was able to shift my perspective from feelings of inadequacy and lacking, to the understanding that maybe the things that I already enjoyed were part of God’s purpose for my life!  For me, it was like the light turned on in a dark room!

To be clear, I am not saying that I was suddenly complete, or done growing spiritually.  Rather, it was kind of a newfound freedom, knowing that I could hone in on the specific passions and interests that were God honoring.  And that I could further develop THOSE, instead of only focusing on my short comings!

1 Corinthians 12:4-6 NLT puts it another way “There are different kinds of spiritual gifts, but the same Spirit is the source of them all. There are different kinds of service, but we serve the same Lord.  God works in different ways, but it is the same God who does the work in all of us.”

The cells in our body all work toward the same goal, regeneration and vitality.  But each organ, made up by those same cells, has a very different goal than all the other organs on the body.  But they all serve one purpose.  Our spiritual gifts may all be different, but they work together to serve one purpose in the body of Christ. That is to glorify God.

Here’s what I want you to consider; while we are flawed and imperfect, we each (as followers of Jesus, saved by His grace) have something to offer.  We each have been gifted by the Lord at the moment of salvation, with at least one spiritual gift.  What is yours?  What do you feel it could be, based on what drives or excites you?

Here is a list of potential gifts.  Give some thought to these.

Administration (details, organization)

Discernment (seeing truth or deception)

Evangelism (sharing your faith)

Exhortation (or encouragement)

Faith (confidence in God’s power, promises and presence)

Giving (financially)

Helps (the behind-the-scenes stuff)

Hospitality (serving others with joy, welcoming)

Knowledge (loving the study of the word)

Leadership (care and commitment to move people forward in their faith)

Mercy (empathy and compassion towards others)

Prophecy (or declaring God’s truths)

Serving (helping, ministering)

Teaching (effectively communicate the truths of the Bible to others)

Wisdom (similar to the gift of knowledge)

More than anything, what I want you to get from this post is this; You are valuable.  You have something to offer.  And instead of falling into the comparison trap, maybe spin that on its head and excel in what you are already passionate about or gifted toward!  Admiring qualities in others, like I admired the speaker, is excellent.  But have you considered what others might admire in you?

I always want to grow in my knowledge of God’s word. I desire to continually develop the areas of my life that need some correction. And I try to be aware of those around me and the example that they are to me.  But I don’t want to ignore my own God Given abilities!  Those areas where I can bring Him glory and honor as well as supporting those in my circle. 

Mission Beach, San Diego~

I am far from perfect; I have a long way to go to be complete, as He is complete.  But I do know that if I don’t acknowledge and appreciate the gifts and abilities that He has already given me to serve Him, I am missing out!  But that’s a blog for another day!

Progress over perfection.

Is this fresh news for you?  Maybe before this, you felt like you only needed to “fix yourself”?  Perhaps you didn’t understand why you get more excited about certain opportunities to serve, and not others.  Are your friends and contacts excited about opportunities that you are not?  This is most likely because, God has gifted you differently.  Celebrate that!  Develop that!  Embrace that God has created you lovingly and intentionally as you are. Your gifts are from Him!

And rest assured of this truth.

Philippians 1:6 “And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue His work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.”

My pastor said this just this morning, I hope you’ll take it to heart.  “You need to be the you-est you there is!” 

Father God, you are an incredible God, I praise Your name.  I am amazed by You!  Thank You for making me unique.  I want to grow in my understanding of You and Your word, and to develop the part of me that makes me unique for Your kingdom.  I ask You to show me how to be fully myself and yet still bring you glory.  Thank You for choosing me and using me! 

Purposefully,

Shelli

Take me back to the beach please!

A better foundation

Well, we’re 10 days into the New Year.  How’s it going with those resolutions?

There’s something fresh about a new year that makes us want to declare “this is the year for me!  I’m going to do things differently!”  We tend to make plans about diet, exercise, spending habits and organization goals.  All worthy pursuits, to be sure.

@Watson Lake, Prescott AZ

One time, years ago, I needed to refresh my make-up supply.  Shopping for make-up can be a bit overwhelming!  And, as usual, I was in a bit of a hurry.    There are so many different brands, types, and shades of everything in the make-up isles!  I was in need of a new foundation that day.  But as I lingered in the isle surveying all my options, I realized I was out of time, and needed to get going.  So, I grabbed the same foundation that I had had before and thought to myself “I’ll try something new next time…I need to go.”

Later, at home, I applied my new foundation.  And to my disappointment, it was two shades darker than what I usually bought. Someone must have put this one back in the wrong place!  It was a little more “orangy” than my natural skin tone.  “Well,” I thought, “I paid good money for that, and I’ve already opened it, so I guess I’ll just have to make it work”.  I tried to adjust the other make up products, like my eye shadow and blush, to account for the foundation that wasn’t right.  But it really only got worse from there!  I ended up looking a bit like a circus clown with all the adjustments!

As long as my foundation was “off” it didn’t matter what I applied on top of it to try to make it better.  It was wasted effort. 

I thought about this recently as I pondered “New Years Resolutions”.  

As we give thought to what needs to change in our lives, we imagine that if we lost weight, or organized our home or stopped spending money frivolously, that everything would get better.  And while those kinds of adjustments are good, until we get our foundation right, they are really just wasted effort.

So, what kind of foundation am I talking about? 

Time with God.  Time in His word.  The foundation of our days which sets everything else in place properly. 

I have learned that when I want to prioritize the areas of my life, like finances, and health, it can be difficult to give each one the proper focus, the correct amount of attention.  I find myself thinking “Once I am more organized, (or healthy, or in control,) then I will be able to prioritize my time in God’s word”.  I assume that, when I have some of the other areas of my life “in control”, that making time to order my spiritual life will also fall into place.  That couldn’t be farther from the truth.

This was a a Happy Accident!

In Mathew 6:31-33, (the Sermon on the Mount) Jesus himself speaks to it this way; “So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ (Diet and exercise?) or ‘What shall we wear?’ (Spending habits and organization?) For the unbelievers run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.  But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”

Jesus was addressing our humanity and putting it into the proper perspective.  It is natural for us, as human beings, to think about what we’ll eat or drink (or how healthy, financially responsible, or organized we are).  Notice Jesus didn’t’ say that this was a bad thing.  But He just states that if we will “seek first His kingdom” that everything else will fall into place.  That we won’t have to worry about those things, because God knows we need them, and He will take care of us. 

Seeking first His kingdom, means prioritizing Him before other pursuits. 

This can mean reading your bible first thing in the morning.  In fact, that’s a great place to start.  What I do first with my day, sets the tone (if you will) for the rest of it.  I have learned to give God the “first fruits” of my day.  I have come to see that when I read His love letter to me each morning (the Bible), that it becomes the lens that I see the rest of my day through.  Everything else seems to fit into its proper place when I start there.   Time in God’s word becomes my foundation. 

So, that when I add in other pursuits, like health and my priorities, they are not out of balance.  I can see them clearly, through the lens of scripture. 

Again, in Matthew 7:24, Jesus says this; “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.”

Me, standing firmly on The Rock….metaphorically speaking!

If 2022 is going to be The Year, it starts today.  It starts with small steps and proper foundations.  Not lofty, giant goals that we may never achieve.  Rather than making a resolution, check your foundation.

Read your Bible.

Join a Bible study.

Get to church.

Seek first His kingdom, and everything else will fall into place!

Lord, I want my priorities to be in order.  There are so many areas of my life that I want to get in line with Your plan for me.   I acknowledge that if I will start by making Your word the foundation of everything else I desire, then You are there.  You will lead me in Your ways and give me all that I need.  Cause me to desire You above all else.  Be my firm foundation.

Purposefully,

Shelli

Reflections

Have you ever given thought to the question, “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?”? It’s somewhat of a daunting question really.  There are so many areas to consider within that one question.

Where will I be in 5 years with regard to my career?

My marriage?

My living situation?

My finances?

My relationships?

Not to mention that 5 years is such a VERY long time away.  I have a difficult time thinking much past the next 6 months, let alone 5 years.  My personality is not that of a detailed planner.  Details get lost on me; I am more of a Big Picture Girl.  So, the idea of trying to know where I want to be in the future or making a plan as to how to get there, stresses me out.

But I do believe that when it comes to my spiritual life, it’s more important to have a goal than a detailed plan.

Ultimately, my goal as a Christ follower is to become more like Jesus. 

So, what’s the problem?  Bob Goff said it best when he said this, “Our problem with following Jesus is, we’re trying to be a better version of us rather than a more accurate reflection of Him”.  I love the way Bob Goff gets real with it, brings it home, and leaves me thinking.

Our walking path at Willow Lake

His statement made me consider my goal.  I was drawn to ponder my motivations.  I believe that, as human beings, we are all naturally, and to some extent, people pleasers.  Some of us struggle with it more than others, but to some degree, we all struggle with this.  It’s human to want people to like us.  It’s natural.  I would go as far as to say that it’s not even wrong.

However, in my thinking and consideration, I’ve come to understand that the goal should not be JUST to be admired, or ONLY to be liked for myself.  I desire to be liked and admired so that (and here’s the challenging part) I can have opportunity to more openly share with those in my circle, my story, my faith, and my purpose…

My purpose is this: to know Jesus and to make Him known.

In my flesh, and left to my own devices, I put ME first.  I take care of ME.  I want people to like ME.  I want people to think I’M neato.  I desire the admiration of others to make ME feel good.  I enjoy attention and recognition.  Innately, I am trying to become a better version of myself.

Thankfully though, I can also choose NOT to live in the flesh.  I can reframe my thought life and get my purpose in check with His spirit.   I can push toward becoming “a little more like Jesus, a little less like me”.  (Zack Williams song)

Psalm 25:5 says this; “Lead me by your truth and teach me, for you are the God who saves me.  All day long I put my hope in You.”

It’s interesting to me here that the Psalmist says “all day long…”  The implication is clear. You and I, as well as the psalmist, must continually (all day long) put our hope in God.  I have limitations, I have faults, I have misguided motives.  But when we choose to put our hope in the Only One who can give Living Water, when we follow Him, it is then that we know we are headed in the right direction.  Because then we are doing what is counter to our natural human tendencies.  On my own, I am selfish and inward focused. 

But with Jesus leading the way, I can follow His example of caring for and serving others.  I can better see when there is a change that I need to make, because I am looking to Him and asking Him to lead me and to teach me.  I am more apt to go the right way and make better decisions in my life because I am following His lead, and not looking for others to esteem me.  I am looking to please God, The One who matters.

A beautiful day at Willow Lake

“Be imitators of God as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”  Galatians 5:1-2.  Scripture says that we are to imitate God, to reflect Jesus.  To live a life of love that honors Jesus sacrifice.  Not one that draws attention to self.  When I consider the brevity of this life, I realize that any attention I get ends when my life does. 

But if I choose to live my life, giving glory to God and sharing the redemption that Jesus brings, that’s what will last. 

I am far more interested in my life mattering AFTER I’ve gone to be with Him than I am promoting myself here and now. 

But if I’m honest, the struggle is real.  Following Jesus doesn’t stop me from being human.  It doesn’t mean that I no longer desire to be liked, or esteemed, or admired.  But my desire is that if I am liked or admired, that I can sketch that piece of my humanity into the frame of influence. Perhaps, because I am liked, I have a voice and influence to share the hope that Jesus brings. 

I never tire of this lake!

When I think about where I want to be in 5 years, my desire is still to be following Jesus with all I’ve got.  To be a little further down the road of faith but walking even more closely with Him.  To be asking for His direction earnestly all day long. To intentionally place Him in the center of all my decisions and motives.  Because I know that when I do that, everything else will fall into place.  Every 5-year goal, every motive, and every path I walk on will be right where He wants to me to be. 

Spiritually.  Emotionally.  Relationally.

I no longer need to “figure it out”, I need to simply and completely put my hope in Him.  My responsibility is to do the things that bring me closer to Him.  Spending time in His word, lots of it.  Spending time in prayer.  Spending time actively pursuing my relationship with Him through worship, teaching and service.  Not in activities that make me look good, but in secret, where only He sees.  Places where He gets the attention, not me.

John 3:30 “He must become greater; I must become less.”

More of Jesus, less of me!

Lord, your word cuts me to the heart.  It shows me the parts of my life that need to be more inline with your heart.  Please take my life and make it yours.  Lead me and teach me.  And give me the courage to walk where you lead.  Continue to show me how I can be a better reflection of Jesus, not just a better version of myself.  I know that when I follow you, I am always heading the right way.  Today, tomorrow, and in 5 years. 

Purposefully,

Shelli

Handsome Hubs and I~

Taken Forward

Let me just tell you, God showed up at Thrive last month!

What a wonderful night we all had together at Thrive! We enjoyed some delicious, (mostly) handmade, Just For You Desserts. Next, we were enveloped by some incredible worship! And throughout the night we were challenged and inspired, hearing from different women as they spoke about faith, connections, challenges and growing spiritually.

Natually, there was spiritual opposition from the enemy, and we saw it played out many times in many different ways. It came for weeks ahead of the event and intensified throughout the week of Thrive. Each attack was designed to distract, discourage and steal our joy. But God always wins! Everytime. And even more so when we rally together and DECIDE to trust His plans and purposes!

The women in leadership for Thrive are amazing. One was taken out of comission the night before. She had spent months helping us plan and prepare for Thrive, and when sickness took her out, she stood in the gap for us all night! She prayed over our schedule and speakers. She knew where we were with regard to the program all night, and she prayed for all of us, and all of YOU.

Others on the leadership team stepped up when that team member was taken out, and they stepped in to fill her place. When women of God know that they are called to something, like Thrive, nothing scares them away. I saw nervous women become bold women. I saw already brave women, embrace and become empowered by the Lord. And I saw many women impacted for The Kingdom!

I can’t wait to see what the Lord has in store for Thrive 2022 on November 4th. I see Him moving hearts and changing lives already! I know that He used every single aspect of Thrive to connect women in their relationship with Him.

Whether or not you attended Thrive this year, my chalenge to you is the same. Keep Moving Forward with your relationship with Jesus. No matter where you are in your faith walk, young, old, or a “woman in the middle”, we aren’t finished. We have growing to do. Dig into scripture. Connect with a life group or bible study. Get yourself to church. Take that next step, no matter how small, and get going.

Keep Moving Forward.

Hebrews 6:1a “let us move beyond the elementary teachings about Christ and be taken forward to maturity…” It’s time to go from walking spiritually to running toward Jesus

!

Thrive 2021, taking the stage!
“Keep Moving Forward”
Conversations Of Faith with Laurie Schraml
I love this beautiful image of this young woman worshipping~
Just our awesome worship team practicing!
I can almost feel the presence of the Lord in this photo!
The Thrive Team gathering to pray before the event began~
Having some laughs with my friend!
The Team excited as it was almost time to begin!
Thrive Team (minus one) (missed you Lissa)

Plan now to attend Thrive Worship (for women only) on April 29th, and Thrive 2022 on November 4th! ~

@Grace Chruch 2010 S Hwy 89, Chino Valley Arizona~

Purposefully,

Shelli

Jesus Peace (It’s a thing)

Teenagers always think they know better than their parents, don’t they?

Have you ever had a conversation with one of your own that sounded something like;

“If you will study a little each night, the test will be so much easier”

“Why don’t you put those clothes away now so that you can find what you need later?”

“I’m not trying to stop you from having fun, but I know what’s out there…”

“I have some experience with that situation, let me help you…”

“I just want what’s best for you…”

But they often think that we, as parents, are “old fashioned” or out of touch.  And in some ways, I suppose that’s fair.  But it doesn’t change the fact that we have years and wisdom that they don’t.  It seems that no matter how hard we try, often they are just bent on doing things their own way.

It’s a good thing that we don’t do that with God, right?

I can almost see your eyes rolling back in your head right now!  I know you feel it, the sting of regret.  The pain of doing things your own way.  The remorse of how things should be different.

I’m certain that there is not one among us who doesn’t wish they had done things differently in certain places of our lives.  If only we had listened to the advice we received.  If only we hadn’t been so thick headed and stubborn.  Experience is heck of a teacher.  And the lessons we learned are still etched in our minds. 

We recount how much better things might have gone had we only listened.  We imagine the peace we might have if we had stopped when our conscience begged us to do so.  But, at the time, we were sure that it would be ok.  We were certain that we knew what was best for our own lives.  But in the aftermath of regret and strife, we just want to go back.  We want to go back to the time just before the wrong choice, and get a mulligan, a do over.

What we are really searching for, is peace.  Peace in our situation, peace with our family members or friends, peace with God. 

Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, holds that peace.   

Photo credit: Nicole Nealy ( I sense so much peace in this photo!)

Shortly before His crucifixion, in John 14, Jesus is teaching His disciples and attempting to prepare them for what is to come.  It is impossible to imagine how trying that time must have been for them.  They had followed Jesus everywhere for 3 years.  They had seen Him perform miracles and healings.  They had observed Him for years, doing only good things.  He never slipped up, never made a bad choice, and repeatedly loved those who opposed Him.  And now He was preparing to leave them soon. In John 14 we see some of the last conversations He would have with them. 

Often, the last words of a person, reveal their truest selves.  Here, Jesus was telling the disciples some of the most important things for them to know.  He must have known that they would reflect on His words after He was gone.  In John 14:23, Jesus says this “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching.  My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.  Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching.  These words you hear are not my own, they belong to the Father who sent me.”

I recognize that the word “obey” is not a popular word in 2021.  Here are some synonyms of obey, to help us:  Adhere to, accept, comply, embrace, live by, carry out.  Anyone who loves Jesus will embrace His teaching.  Anyone who does not love Jesus will not carry out His teaching.  They will simply do things their own way, like a stubborn teenager.  And like a teenager, they will eventually learn that their “Father” knows best.   

Sometimes the peace we desire in life comes through the absence of struggle.  And sometimes, it comes through the knowledge that, even though we struggle, our wrestling serves a higher purpose.

Photo credit: Nicole Nealy

Often, when we struggle in this life, we imagine that God enjoys it.  That surely His will has to be a difficult road.  That His plan for us is intentionally full of heartache and strife. 

But the truth is, where there is obedience…sorry…compliance, there is peace.  Isn’t that what we always tried to get across to our teenagers?  “If you’ll just do things my way, if you’ll just listen, things will go so much easier for you!  I don’t want you to suffer, but I know things you don’t know!” 

Hmmm…

A few verses later in John 14:27, Jesus says this, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you.  I do not give as the world gives.  Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”

Jesus does not give as the world gives.  The world gives dissatisfaction, strife, rioting, anger, and selfishness. The world says YOLO, (you only live once).  The world says that no one is more important than yourself.  It says, “Do what makes you happy” and “You-do-you”.  But Jesus says that there is more to peace and contentment than self-seeking. Too much of just me, isn’t good for me. Whenever I have tried to find peace by only chasing down what makes me happy, I have only become more unhappy.   Jesus, in contrast, gives peace. He said it himself, “My peace I give you.”

I want Jesus Peace!  He had the kind of peace that slept in a tiny boat during a violent and horrendous storm at sea.  He had the kind of peace that didn’t panic when it was necessary to feed 5000 people in the middle of nowhere with virtually no supplies.  He had the kind of peace that didn’t run away in The Garden of Gethsemane when the enemy was fast approaching to demand His life.  Jesus Peace.

He had that peace because of His obedience…sorry…loving adherence to the will of His Father. 

It’s the same for you and me, sister.

I desire to do what God wants, even when it feels contrary to what I want or think.  Maybe even especially, when it feels contrary to what I want or think.  I know that God possesses wisdom and knows things that I do not.  He always has my best interest in His mind.  What He does in my life, He does for my own good, and for His glory.

Jesus wants us to trust Him above all else, and with trust comes peace.

Our peace, joy and purpose in this life, comes from embracing, carrying out and accepting that our heavenly Father knows best.  In John 14:15, Jesus puts it this way, “If you love me, you’ll obey my commandments.” 

Jesus Himself had peace in obeying the will of His Father.  Who am I to think it would be any different for me?

Jesus, obeying you feels hard sometimes.  It feels like I am losing myself.  But Lord, I know that this life is not all there is.  And I know that you want to prepare me for the life ahead and the life after this one.  My desire is to follow and embrace your teachings.  I invite you to speak to my heart loud and clear when I am trying to rush past you and do things my way.  I desire Jesus Peace in all I do.  Amen.

Photo credit: Nicole Nealy
The one and only, Nicole Nealy!

Pause

Hi friends!

Many of you are aware that Thrive is just 10 days away. As you can imagine, I’m up to my eyeballs with preparations! It’s exciting stuff!

Having said that, I’m needing to take a blog break until 11/22.

I’ll be able to focus and give the blog some time and attention once Thrive is past.

Until then, please pray for the team as we finalize details and put the finishing touches on so many things!

See you all again soon!

Purposefully,

Shelli

💜 November 12th 💜

It makes scents…

Isn’t it amazing how certain smells evoke strong memories? 

When I was a girl, I was fortunate to have my grandmother live right next door to our family.  She had a real wood burning fireplace in her living room (unlike the fake electric one I have now).  Often my cousins and I would sleep over at Grandma’s house.  On those chilly mornings when the weather had turned, she would have a fire going when we got up.  I can still remember the cozy warmth of her house and the joy filled memories I made there.  One of those memories is the smell of the fireplace burning, beckoning me to crawl out of bed, grab a blanket, and join her on the couch to sit by the fire.

Even now, when I smell a fireplace, or even a firepit, that scent takes me back.  It summons warm thoughts and memories.  The scent draws me back to memories of her love.

2 Corinthians 2:15 says “For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing.” 

I’ve been thinking a lot about this idea that we carry with us the pleasing aroma of Jesus to those who are being saved, as well as to those who are perishing. 

If you’ve ever spent time around a camping fire, you know that the smell of smoke stays on you until you come home and wash those clothes.  As you unpack the duffle from camping, you get a whiff of that smoke, and suddenly the memories of the campout come rushing back. Here in Second Corinthians, it’s the same idea.

Those around us, inside and outside of the faith, can “smell” us.  We carry with us the pleasing aroma of Jesus.  When Christ is in us, and we are following Him, His “scent” is on us.

Durango, Colorado (my photo)

This idea was played out for me for the first time when I was 16 years old.  There was a girl in my high school, who was just different.  Her family was much like mine.  She had a mom, a dad, and a brother at home.  She was my same age and grade.  We were both on the drill team for our high school.  She had some of the same friends and interests that I did.  But she “smelled” different.  There was something about her that I couldn’t quite put my finger on.

We started hanging out and eventually I asked her to sleep over at my house.  She said yes, that she would come and sleep over, if I would go to church with her the next morning.

There it was.  That was the beginning of my understanding more precisely what it was about her that was so different than me.  She had faith in God.  And though I had grown up with a good, loving, all American family, faith was not a part of our household.  And I wanted it.  I was drawn to her in a way that I didn’t understand then.

And because of her “scent”, her faith in Jesus, I was also drawn to Him.

Ephesians 5:1-2 “Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”

You and I are called to walk with Jesus, to follow His example.  To be like Him.  It is a tall order to be sure, but He left us with the Holy Spirit, who also lives in us.  And it is that same spirit that produces the lingering scent of Jesus in us. 

When Jesus comes into our hearts and lives, we are changed.  Some parts of us change immediately, and others take longer.  But we are changed.  And from that moment on, we begin to “smell” differently.

Like the soft scent of our favorite perfume, we leave behind the aroma of Jesus as we go.

On the train from Durango to Silverton Colorado

My hearts desire is that the aroma of Jesus that follows me as I go, attracts others to the Savior.  Because, just as perfumes can smell differently on the different people who wear them, the scent of Jesus can be attractive, or pungent. 

Are my actions, thoughts, and words pleasant?  Do they draw people to Him with the soft scent?  Or am I too much like the world to be a pleasing aroma?  Am I different at all? 

As we continually grow, and allow Jesus to change us on the inside, that change will show on the outside too.  We have hope, we have life!  Like a fragrant perfume, I want to radiate the aroma of Jesus and let His scent trail behind me as I go. 

And my prayer is that that scent will linger in the air and draw people to Him. 

What scent are you leaving behind?

Jesus, I am drawn to You and to Your love.  I am so grateful for all that You are.  You have given everything for me, and I want to share that love with those in my circle.  Help me to give off the pleasing aroma of Your love.  I want to bring You honor by living in a way that “smells” good to others.  Amen.

Purposefully,

Shelli

Maybe it’s just me…

I am about to ask a question, and I can almost feel the hands going up as I do. 

Who, beside me, struggles to have a healthy and consistent prayer life?

Bam.  There it is.

Honesty.

Imperfection.

Truth.

Recently I started to hear God speak to my heart about prayer. 

I pray often.  I talk to God in conversation throughout the day all the time.  I speak those S.O.S. prayers as needed, on a regular basis.  I pray before my meals, giving thanks.  My hubby and I pause to pray together for those in need in our circle.  I typically pray after I read the word, and before I start my day.

But what I don’t do consistently enough, is stop and commit secluded regular time to prayer.  I don’t journal my prayers very often.  I don’t sit for an extended amount of time on a daily basis with hands folded and eyes closed. 

But that’s what I am supposed to do to be a successful pray-er, right?

And what about the KIND of prayers I pray?  Are they the right kind?  Am I saying it right?  Do I balance my prayers out between asking Him to change things in my life and thanking Him for all He has already done?  Does God even listen? Does prayer even change things? Or am I wasting my time? 

I know a lot of us think those thoughts, even though we don’t voice them out loud.  Not to a friend, not in bible study groups, and not to our spiritual leaders.  But they are there, in our hearts and minds.  (I see those hands again!)

I think it’s possible that we complicate prayer to much.  So much so, that when we aren’t sure we are doing it right, we just don’t do it at all. I don’t have all the answers for you when it comes to prayer.  I already told you that I struggle with “doing prayer right”.  So today we are going to talk openly and honestly about prayer. This isn’t a post about “3 simple steps to a better prayer life”. Or a neat and tidy “A, B, Cs of prayer”. 

Instead, today is a “just do it” kind of post.  No right, wrong or otherwise.  Some simple suggestions to get you going. 

The Animas River, Durango Colorado

If you are like most of us, it’s easy to ask God to fix things.  Asking God is the easy part of prayer.  His Word reminds us that we need Him.  That He desires to draw near to us and to guide us.  God does want us to come to Him with our requests. 

Jeremiah 29:12 makes that clear.  “Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.”

Philippians 4:6 says this; “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need and thank him for all he has done.”

Ever since the fall of mankind (Genesis 3), we have been living in a broken world.  The world we are experiencing currently is not the world that God designed.  And because of that, we struggle.  We hurt.  We have relationship issues.  We have physical and mental health issues. There is tension and strife in all of humanity.  The list goes on.

But God says in Matthew 11:28, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”  God instructs us to come to Him.  That means that He wants to hear from us.  He wants to help us.  He wants us to acknowledge our needs and struggles. 

But did you catch the rest of Philippians 4:6? “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need and thank him for all he has done.”

Ahhhh…..

There’s the missing piece. 

So often, we ask God for his help to right all the situations in our lives that are wrong.  And that’s good!  We need to do that.  But…how often do we remember to stop and thank Him for all the things He has already done?  In my own experience, the answer is not often enough.

Let’s remember that much of the life we are living currently, is because of the prayers we prayed in the past. 

When I begin to thank God for His works in my life, I begin to see all that I already have because of His love.  It’s possible that I could remain in a prayer of thankfulness for a very long time.  Most likely, even longer than I could pray about all that needs to change.

But the key is balance.

Balancing requests with gratitude.  When I thank God for all that He has already done, I am more aware of His goodness and provision.  And when I do that, I am more likely to approach my time of asking with respect and humbleness than with a demanding attitude. 

God has done so much for me.  He owes me nothing but has already given me all I need.  I owe Him everything but have very little to give back in comparison with all I have been given.  Praying prayers of thankfulness may be the best starting place to developing a meaningful prayer life.

Durango Colorado (my trip last week)

See, the thing about prayer is this; Just do it!  Don’t worry about if it is right or wrong, just start.  Talk to God.  Don’t complicate it by trying to be perfect at it.  The more you pray, the easier you will find the conversation becomes.  Prayer is not so much about the words we say, as the heart we bring.  Psalm 145:18 tells us “The LORD is near to all who call on Him, to all who call on Him in truth”.  He just wants to hear from us, for us to acknowledge our need for Him.  To desire His guidance and love.  To pause from all of our activity and “doing”, to spend some time with Him.

After all, isn’t that how we develop relationships?  By spending time together?  By open communication?  Through sharing and through listening?

As I have worked to develop my relationship with the Lord, I have grown.  He has shown me, over time, those areas of my life that need tweaking.  Recently, that area has been prayer.  And now that I ‘m aware of that, I can’t help but want to improve it.  Not so that God will love me more, but so that I can love Him more.

Maybe, like me, you have a prayer life, but you’re feeling like maybe it’s time to dive a little deeper with it.  Maybe how you have been praying is good, but your heart is telling you that there’s more.  Maybe, you’ve already been thinking those thoughts, and now you are reading this blog post about prayer.  It’s not a coincidence, it’s God.

Here is a super simple pattern for prayer to get you going.

Praise Him: For who He is and all He has done.  Creator, sustainer, all mighty, all knowing, all powerful, gracious and loving Father.

Thank Him: There is so much to thank Him for.  For love, and life.  For His provision.  For the ways that He has answered previous prayers.  For healthy relationships.  For happy times.  For His presence in our lives.  And on and on.

Tell Him what you need, where you are struggling:  Relationships.  Health issues. Financial strains.  Obedience to His word. 

Sister, I encourage you to pray.  It will change your heart.  It will bring you peace and purpose.  No matter how you do it, do it.  God hears you and He desires to draw you closer to Him through prayer.

“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” 

Take that step.

“Father, I need You.  I admit that I often neglect You.  That I sometimes ask of You more than I thank or praise You.  But I want to change that now.  Remind me to pray, draw me to Yourself through communication with You.  Give me the desire that I sometimes struggle with, to spend time with You in prayer.  Your love for me is greater than I can think or imagine.  Having dialog with You is a privilege.  Help me not to take that for granted.  Amen.” 

Purposefully,

Shelli

Molas Lake, Colordao (and the Handsome Hubs)

THRIVE!

Local friends!  I hope that you will join me in anticipation of this year’s Thrive! 

Thrive will take place on Friday, November12th at 6:30 PM.  We will gather at Grace Church in Chino Valley Arizona, for an evening dedicated to Connections, Confections (or desserts), Worship and Soul Talk for women of faith!

You will experience a beautiful and delightful array of individual and mini “just for you” desserts.  Next, we will gather in worship with some of your favorite current and contemporary worship music.  You will hear from Jenda Ballard as she shares with us what is happening with her ongoing battle with cancer, in a section called “What If, What Is, and What’s Next”.  This year will also include a new segment called Conversations of Faith.  This year’s Conversations of Faith will include a visit from Laurie Schraml.  She and I will share about the unusual way that the Lord brought us together 6 years ago, and how He continues to connect us in a friendship of faith and honesty.  I am excited to share my message with you too, called Keep Moving Forward!

The roots of Thrive grew deep in the midst of 2020, during the pandemic.  At that time in my life, I began to wonder if what I was doing with my life was enough.  I questioned if the way I spent my time was all that God had for me, or was there more?  I loved my job, the ministries that my hubby and I shared in at church, and I loved my social life.  But, when the world “shut down”, I found myself at home with more time on my hands than I knew what to do with.  Sounds like a dream come true, right?  It was for a while, until it wasn’t.  During that time, I really felt God speaking to me and pulling me into something bigger than myself.  It took much time, prayer, seeking Him and conversations with those who love and know me best, before I understood what that “thing” was.  And that “thing”, became the beginning Thrive!      

Since then, many more ministries have begun to grow out of Thrive, the event.  When you attend you will hear more about those exciting opportunities! 

We are also excited to announce that this year we will have some beautiful and amazing merchandise for you to purchase!  Many of these items will be available to pre-order during registration.  We have beautiful Thrive T-shirts in a wide selection of sizes.  We also have a gorgeous canvass Thrive Tote Bag!  You may purchase them individually or together at a discount.  There will be many more items for sale at the Merchandise Table at Thrive, BUT those items will remain a surprise until that night!  Let me just tell you, I am over the moon excited about them!  Purple is the theme color for Thrive, the color of royalty in scripture.  When we belong to Him, we are royalty, daughters of The King! 

You will not want to miss this special evening of Connections, Confections, and Soul Talks.  Buy your ticket now, and while you’re at it, invite a friend!  A fun and meaningful night like this is better shared with a friend!  Tickets are $20 and can be purchased online at cvgrace.com under the events tab.  Seats are going fast, so don’t wait!

Hurry to cvgrace.com to claim your spot now! 

I cannot wait to see you there!

Passionately and purposefully,

Shelli

Here are some photos from last year!

Yummy right?
Worth the calories!

These were bomb!

Over the top.

I remember back when I had infants.  There were so may happy and fun days!  Those days usually came on the same days when I was exhausted and emotionally spent.  But maybe that’s just me?

I loved it when they were finally ready to start solid foods!  I giggled, making airplane noises as I spoon fed them!   And I remember wiping their little chins as mushy baby food from the jar slid down just about everywhere except into their mouths!  Thank goodness for baby bibs!

One of my babies was a very picky eater.  When babies first start on solid foods, they typically eat fruits.  But not this girl, she only wanted veggies!  It was so unusual.  And not just any vegetables, she ate only three different ones: carrots, sweet potatoes and squash.  These three foods had one thing in common, they are all orange in color. 

At first this was fine by me; I was thrilled that she was eating solids from a spoon.  But over time, I became aware of an unhealthy balance.  She turned orange, just like her foods.  I wish I was kidding.  All my kids are fair, blonde-haired, blue-eyed children.  But as she continued to consume only orange foods, she turned Oopma Loompa orange!  Her blonde hair had an orange/reddish tint to it.  Her skin looked slightly orangey and tanned.   And the topper was the end of her cute little nose looked as though she had mushy squash sitting right on it!  One time in the grocery store, a stranger stopped me to tell me that my baby had food on her nose!  Sigh.

At that point I had to wean her off her favorite foods and onto more balanced choices.  She fought me, of course.  She wanted her favorites, her choices.  She wasn’t able to understand that what she loved and ate exclusively wasn’t good for her.  I had to keep forcing her to eat what I knew was best for her.  It was a battle for a while, but in time, she leveled out and her skin and hair color returned to normal.  Whew!

I often wonder about the choices we make as Christians.  Are we spending too much of our time, consuming things are innately good for us, but at a level that is actually harmful?

I know, I’m obsessed with clouds~~~

You and I have choices every single day as to how we use our time.  And I think mostly, we make good choices.  We spend time caring for ourselves and our families.  We entertain others.  We have coffee dates with our girlfriends.  We serve at church.  We scroll faith-based sites on Instagram.  We keep up with our friends via Facebook and other social media sites.  We relax in the evenings and enjoy our favorite shows. 

But are we out of balance?

To much of a good thing is not a good thing.  I know you have heard that phrase before.  It’s a pretty accurate and deep statement actually.  Just like my daughter eating her veggies.  Veggies are good for us, no one would dispute that.  But too many veggies and suddenly your nose is orange, and you are out of balance!

1 Corinthians 10:23 says this, “You say, “I am allowed to do anything”—but not everything is good for you. You say, “I am allowed to do anything”—but not everything is beneficial.”  How we choose to use our time is completely up to us.  But are we over doing it in any areas? 

All the options that I listed above are good ways to use our time.  They are certainly not harmful things.  But if we are unaware that we’ve become unbalanced in the use of our time, then those options have become less than good for us.  They may not be beneficial.

Caring for ourselves and our families is good, until it is done in excess.  Are we obsessing about our image, or the image of our children?  Hosting or entertaining is showing hospitality and is good, until it’s done in excess, leaving us physically drained and emotionally exhausted.  Are we enjoying a healthy catch-up coffee date with our BFF, or are we consistently avoiding other responsibilities?  Are we serving at church from a right heart, or are we using it as an opportunity to be seen?  And so on and so on.  Anything done in excess has the potential to do harm.  Anything.

Romans 12:2 reminds us “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.”

I’m right there with you sister.  I wrestle constantly with using my time correctly.  And, in reality, I’ll never get everything “right” in this life.  But I do want Him to transform me and change the way I think.  I want His plan to be my purpose.  I want Him to direct my thinking right into line with His thinking so that I can better understand His will for me.  How I use my time has a lot to say about those priorities.  I may not always get it right, but I want to make that my goal. 

I encourage you to take a good look at what might be unbalanced in your life.  Are you willing? Are you brave? When you and I seek to honor God with our lives, He gets excited.  He has plans for us that we don’t even know about yet!  He wants to show us those plans, but until we are willing to let Him use our time His way, He waits.  He loves us immeasurably and has our best interest always at the center of His plan.  So, if we ask Him to reveal to us our mis-apportioned priorities, He will.  Honestly, the first thing or two that come to mind when you ask Him to show you, are the areas where He has something different and better in mind for you.  The truth is you probably already know what they are.  

Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”  God’s plans for us could never be bad for us.  He is a holy and loving God.  We just get scared to lose control.

There are so many good things we can (and should) participate in and prioritize in this life.  But as we do them, we should strive for balance, and yearn for His leading. 

All I’m saying is, don’t let your nose turn orange.

Lord, Help me to use the precious gift of time in the best way that I can. Help me to be aware of when “my nose is turning orange” and I am out of balance. Show me where I need to readjust my responsibilities to stay healthy and in the ceneter of your plan for my life. Amen.

Purposefully,

Shelli