How God Gets Our Attention

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Discovering God's Plan

The month of May just zoomed by, as I was crazy busy with adjusting to summer vacation with the kids at home, my part-time job, and everything that goes along with that.

Honestly, I’ve been doing a whole lot of “looking in my house.”

How God Gets Our Attention

Thinking over the last six weeks or so—as I take a step back from the busyness of life—I see some clear markers of what God has placed under my nose to get my attention:

  1. I’ve been presented with several different freelancing/contract work opportunities that offer some exciting, long-term benefits.
  2. I’ve been “cut loose” of some responsibilities that had previously demanded a lot of my time (which would have hampered time I could spend on #1).
  3. My husband has some exciting things going on right now with his work.
  4. God continues to feed my soul, as we worship at a new church hearing awesome weekly messages, many of which have focused on the same ideas I put forth here: God has a unique purpose for you as part of his bigger story.

I also believe that God continues to prune and chip away at the peripheral things that don’t matter, in order to make room for the things that do. Of course, these things that he prunes include sin, but sometimes they also include “good” things.

It’s hard to say goodbye to things that are good but have become idols: relationships, comfort, predictability, smooth sailing.

Another thing I’m trying to learn is the difference between things that I enjoy and am interested in, and the things to which God is calling me. This is hard. Super-hard.

For example:

  • I’ve always enjoyed school and learning, and I’m a terrific student. I thought I’d be a great teacher.
  • I’m a terrible classroom teacher.

I love the whole world of Internet marketing and social media strategy. I keep trying to wiggle my way into these business endeavors, but I can’t quite find my niche. Right now, I’m trying to decide if I just need to persevere or if God is trying to turn me around. I think I’d be a great niche blog site owner—with a targeted “product” to promote and sell—but I’ve been trying to discover what that may be, examining everything from pantyhose to door knobs.

Nothing’s really working out. Nothing is presenting itself as viable. Nothing excites to the point of I can’t imagine myself NOT doing it. And the last thing I want to do is “force” myself into a business endeavor—committing time, money, and resources—when I don’t see or sense a clear affirmation of what I’m doing.

For now? I wait. I continue to turn over and move the rocks that God places in front of me. Maybe I’ll find something underneath one someday soon.

But if not, I do know one thing: casting aside the rocks in my path just clears more space for me to pursue God. A clean path to Christ guarantees a greater access to him.

And God’s plans for me far exceed anything I could imagine or pursue myself.

God’s plans for me far exceed anything I could imagine or pursue myself.

Photo Credit: CountryDreaming via Compfight cc

Competition Is Irrelevant When You Follow Your Passion

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Competition is irrelevant | God's passions, purpose for life, blogging, competition

I’ve had a blog (albeit, in several different forms) since 2008. I’m amazed by a couple of things when I look around at other moms with successful money-making blogs.

  1. Some of these bloggers have been online and working for a shorter amount of time than I.
  2. There are a dang lot of women bloggers, but it seems like there’s always room for more.

So what that means to me is this:

Don’t worry about “the competition” and work your tail off.

Regardless of your area of expertise …

If God’s calling you to something, it means that the competition is irrelevant.
Faithfully following his call, your message will be unique enough that it won’t get lost and it will reach those that need it most.

We must believe this, friends. It’s the “partner” message to the primary one of “look in your house” to find your priorities, passions, and provision.

Let’s consider this idea—something I’ve wanted to do forever: write and sell an ebook.

But I have to tell you that part of delay in actually doing it has been wrapped up in my thought patterns. I have a tendency to think that my efforts would be in vain: No one would benefit from anything I’d have to say. Would my ebook be unique enough to stand out against an already-full market?

Let’s interrupt those thoughts, though, and turn them around. What if I were to approach it this way: God has given me a unique set of experiences, skills, and passions. God has created a passion in my heart to write an ebook. If God wants me to write an eBook then nothing else matters.

It’s a lot more fun to go through life wondering, God, what will you have me tackle today? What awesome thing that seems difficult or awkward will you have me achieve?

So, look in your house to see what’s there, follow your passion, and then shrug off everything else that hinders you.

Photo Credit: Johan Larsson via Compfight cc

Mission Field or Mopping Floors? Following God’s Call

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I think most of us have an idea that God’s call is usually only valid if it involves foreign countries where you’re scared to drink the water and have to get a dozen vaccinations before you board a plane.

But you know what?

I believe that God’s perfect call for you is doing exactly what you’re doing where you are doing it.

Is that being a stay at home mom? Is that cutting hair? Is that running a corporation?

In Mark 5:1-20, after Jesus releases the demons from the possessed man, the man is restored. He has, literally, been transformed into a new creation. Jesus has saved the man, and he’s overflowing with gratitude and joy.

mission.field.graphicWhat is the man’s first instinct?

To go “on the mission field.” He asks Jesus if he can go with him—becoming part of his ministry team (verse 18), if you will.

But how does Jesus reply?

No.

Jesus tells the man that the best thing for him to do is to go back to where he came from, telling others there of what Jesus did for him. In effect, Jesus is telling the man to live among the people as a new man: show them what a changed life looks like. Live and love them with the passion, zeal, and joy that only Christ can create in you.

God gives each of us our own little spheres of influence—our own families, communities, and hometowns. Our own workplaces, neighborhoods, and school zones.

It’s no accident you are right where you are. And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him” (Acts 17:26-27, ESV).

Are you passionately living out God’s call exactly where he has placed you? Are you always returning to your community after an “experience” with Jesus and telling them of his love for you?

Service in the mission field is not the only work to which God calls his people.

Do You Know God’s Call for Your Life?

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“I sensed God was calling me to the mission field.”

“We really felt God was not calling us to leave just yet. We felt there was more work to be done.”

“I’ve always felt called into teaching.”

Have you heard people say these types of things when they’ve been discussing their life’s plans or work? Maybe you’ve said those things yourself because you have a clear idea of  “God’s calling” on your life; I hope you do!

I’ve got to tell you that mine has been rather muddy for most of my life. Lately, more and more of God’s call is coming into focus for me and my family, though, and I can tell you what’s helped us to better figure out where to go from here.

How You Can Determine God’s Callingfile0001525508692

1. Look in your house. Really. Walk through the rooms and halls of your house. What do you see? For so many of us, we choose to ignore the very callings that stare us in the face. Family, work, skills, gifts—all of these things show up in our daily lives, if only we’d recognize them for what they are: God’s nudge to say, “Hey! This is the way I’ve equipped you; get to work using what I’ve given you.” Pantry full of food and pots and pans? You may be missing God’s call to begin a meals on wheels ministry, a catering business, or to become a nutrition counselor.

2. Embrace your passion. What has God put you on the planet to do? What has God gifted you to do that only you can do? Now—go do it.

3. Seek the person of Christ. One of the most transformational aspects of Jesus is that he did not simply embody good, wholesome characteristics like kindness or truth, as you and I may do. No. Jesus IS goodness, truth, love, kindness, self-control, and more. When we are hidden in him, our relationship is more than mental ascent. We possess what he possesses. We have access to the Father and his power through Christ! Stop and think about that. We have access to resurrection power.

4. Get yourself out of the way. Believe that his way is far better than anything you can do on your own. Now, move over!

5. Accept and celebrate that this life is temporary. We are just passing through. God’s calling—whether it’s exciting, boring, dangerous, or mundane—is not for your comfort, your success, or your fame. God’s calling is to advance his kingdom and impact others’ lives. Period.

6. While you may live out several callings at once and many throughout a lifetime, you are always required to abide by one above all others. Your highest calling is to be an instrument of God, doing his work.

 

Mom, Are You One of the 62%?

Infographic: New MomsI recently read an article that featured all sorts of stats about mothers, expenses, and employment. (Image courtesy of: CreditDonkey)

When our first child was born in 2003, we were in a comfortable financial situation—no debt, healthy monthly cash flow, and a cushy emergency fund/savings account. I had always wanted to be home full-time with my kids, eventually pursuing part-time freelance writing work. It all seemed more than manageable.

We were fine living on my husband’s salary and my meager few thousand dollars a year.

That was until the twins were born in 2005.

I don’t have to tell you that with twins, everything is double: more diapers, more onesies, more gear. We had tons of help (with finances and resources), but we quickly blew through our stash of cash and (unfortunately) piled on the credit card debt.

We’ve been digging out of that the last few years, as we’ve both increased our incomes. But now, we’re facing the preteen/teen years with out-of-control appetites, $100 athletic shoes, and orthodontics.

Kids are expensive. (Sigh.)

As a mom, I know you’ve got to be facing the same types of challenges in your own family. According to the article I read:

  • the average cost of raising a child to the age of 17, is $235,000
  • of working moms, 74% work full-time, 26% work part-time
  • of working moms, 62% prefer to work part-time, 37% prefer to work full-time

I find these numbers interesting. If I’m interpreting them correctly, there’s a whole lot of working moms working full-time who would prefer to be working part-time.

I’m here to tell you that it can happen for you. I wholeheartedly believe that when you tap into your God-given passions, your priorities will come into focus. As you work your priorities, the provision appears.

It’s not hard to get started in your pursuit of the opportunity that you can turn into a successful home-based business. I’ll let you in on a little secret: God has left clues for you everywhere.

Just look around! What has God placed in your heart that motivates you? What do you love to do? How has he already given you the skills, passions, objects, and equipment to move forward to follow his call?

Maybe you love children and find them running in and out of your house all summer long. What about beginning a day camp or starting a kids’ birthday party business?

Maybe you have a great eye and love taking photos. Take a few classes and offer family photo sessions initially for low cost or free in exchange for the experience, referrals, and to build your portfolio.

Are you unhappy with your work situation? Would you like to have your own money-making business but aren’t sure how to begin?

Start by looking in your house because there you will find your passions, priorities, and provision.

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If you want to know more about discovering a home-based business that’s perfect for you, download my free ebook that walks you through the process and offers you 65 business ideas you can start right away!

Interview With Alyssa Avant, Author of FaithLeaps

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Today I have the great pleasure of being the host on Day 7 of the Virtual Blog Tour for FaithLeaps: The Christian Mom’s Guide to Passion, Purpose and Profits by author Alyssa Avant. On the last stop of the tour, Alyssa visited Rosann Cunningham’s blog at Christian Supermom.

Below is the great interview I did with Alyssa about FaithLeaps.

Why did you write this book? Alyssa

ALYSSA: I was inspired to write this book several years ago, as I was attempting to navigate the overwhelming journey of working from home.  I had taken a “leap of faith” and quit my part time job and really needed to make an income from home.

Through trial and error, I found my way, but wished I would have had a guide or friend to help me along the way. There is also the issue of passion and purpose, which ultimately is what this book is about.  Yes I talk about working from home and ways to do that, but a stronger theme throughout this book is finding one’s passion and purpose and ultimately profiting from it (not necessarily financially).

What are the two or three main ideas you hope readers take away from FaithLeaps

ALYSSA: There are several main ideas that I hope readers will take away from FaithLeaps.  One of those is that we are all created by God with a God-given passion and purpose.  It is important, I believe, for us to identify and explore that passion and purpose.  Secondly,  I hope that readers will take away from this book that God enables us and can work through us to help us to accomplish our dreams and desires.

[Read more...]

Just Tearin’ Down My House—as Usual (The Wise Woman Builds Her House)

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wise woman scripture Prov 14.1

One of the Bible verses that stays with me through thick and thin and good times and bad is this one:

The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down.

—Proverbs 14:1 (NIV)

I think I like it because it’s appropriately convicting, yet practical as it offers concrete instruction.
What does it assume? It assumes several things:
  • a woman’s sphere of influence is her house (household)
  • a woman can act foolishly or wisely
  • a woman’s work, tone, words, and countenance are important to her home and family
  • a woman’s actions will strengthen or destroy
I’m not trying to make any blanket statements about where or how a woman chooses to work. Whether you are working outside the home full-time or part-time, working a business at home, working full-time as a stay at home mom, or doing any combination of the above, you have a profound and primary influence on your house.

Discerning God’s Call for Your Life

No—I don’t have a “special word from the Lord.” I don’t have a glimpse into the future.

But I do have some experience with questioning, soul-searching, wondering, asking, and praying.

After spending four decades on this planet, I’ve come to believe that finding God’s call is not a singular goal to attain. Rather, it’s a journey and an unfolding process from God to you as your sanctification progresses.

I’ve been thinking lately about the biblical truth that what God calls you to do, he will equip you to do. This passage in Hebrews sums it up:

Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.
—Hebrews 13:20-21 (ESV, my emphasis)

We most often hear this sentiment cited in those situations where someone has been called to a seemingly insurmountable task. The person feels called by God to do something yet also feels ill-prepared for the assignment.

But take another look at the verse. God will equip us with everything good. Why? So that we may do his will. How do we determine his will? By looking at our equipment, of course.

Why would God give such equipment to someone if he never intended nor planned for its use? Would you give a bread maker to a family whose every member is allergic to wheat?

My question to you is: How has he already equipped you? How is he preparing you? What has he entrusted to your care and stewardship?

Remember the Parable of the Talents? The man gives talents to his three servants and he leaves. Two of the servants invested their talents and received more talents. They saw a return on their efforts, and the man commended them. The third servant, however, hid his talents in the ground. The Scripture says the man cast that servant into the darkness.

What has God given to you? How will you “spend” it, invest it, grow it, use it?
What’s the best way to glorify God with what you’ve got in your house right now?

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