The day my name changed to Nyna

Today my niece turns 13. THIRTEEN.

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Jessi Rae…It seems like just yesterday, I was racing to the hospital with your parents full of so much excitement at the thought of finally getting to meet you. Then you were born, and you were amazing…and you changed my Nyna that day. I wear that name with pride, because it means YOU’RE my niece and I’m your aunt and forever I’ll be here for you.

So on your thirteenth I want to share a few things with you.

1. Keep God first. You’ve already done a lot of great things in these first 13 years of your life, and I can only imagine what will come in the next 73 years to come (probably longer because you’re a Carreon and apparently we have some crazy good genes). Of all the advice I could give you, this is the most important: remember everything you accomplish is really from Him. Keep Him in front of you and just watch at how He clears the path to an amazing life.

2. You don’t have to be perfect. It’s okay to mess up. Take chances, have fun, try new things…and if you strike out looking, it’s okay. Keep trying. You’re going to make mistakes, what matters is that you get back up and keep trying. You don’t have to be perfect, you just have to try to be better today than you were yesterday.

3. Love other people. Like really love them. Treat them with respect whether they are the principal at your school, the one cleaning your table at the restaurant or the homeless person on the side of the road. Respect them, and when you do, they will not only see but feel that they are loved and matter.

4. You ARE beautiful. Since the day you are born, you’ve been gorgeous and so full of life. Don’t let anyone tell you anything differently. The magazines and tv will try to convince you that you have to look, dress and act a certain way. Those are lies. No ones hair is perfect everyday. No one. No one really looks like the girls on TV or in magazines or online. They all require more makeup and hairspray than anyone should ever wear. So, when the world tries to make you believe that it’s true, just smile and walk confidently knowing that YOU are beautiful.

5. Play like a girl and be proud of it! You have so much talent running through your veins. Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do something. You’ve practiced longer and worked harder. One day you’ll hang those cleats up, but never hang up that attitude that you can do anything…because you can!

6. SMILE. You have the most gorgeous smile. One that lights up your whole face. Smile, because when you do it makes everyone smile back at you.

7.  Mean girls suck. There I said it. They exist and will throughout the different stages of your life. Let me tell you now: what they say isn’t true and their opinion doesn’t really matter. When they roll their eyes or whisper to each other, walk with your head held high. They just want your reaction, don’t give it to them. When you see them tearing someone else down, smile at their person…let them know they have a friend and someone on their side.

8. Sticks and stones aren’t the only thing that hurt words do too. You have the ability to cut people down to their knees or build them up with the words you say. Chose the later. No one has ever regretted making someone feel better.

9. Tell people what they mean to you. it’s the only thing that doesn’t cost you anything, but means the world to the one hearing it.

10. Family is forever. We have a big, loud, crazy family. One thing I’ve learned is that they will always be there for me…and YOU. There will be moments when you’ll make a mistake, know this…they will never be disappointed in YOU, they may be disappointed in your choices, but NOT YOU. WE have your back. We want you to succeed.

11. Be present. That iPhone that you hold now, will fight for you attention for the rest of your life. Don’t let it win. Don’t miss out on experiencing life just to capture it. IMG_0734 copy

12. Laugh…a LOT. Few things are more enjoyable than laughing till your face and stomach hurt. Do this as often as you can and do it with your friends and family.

13. You are loved. I know, I know…I already said family is forever. What that means is, you will never go a day of your life, without being loved. We have loved you since the day you were born, actually long before that. Without you, our lives wouldn’t be the same. So everyday, when you wake up, know that you changed our world, and we LOVE you for it. I’m so proud of the amazing young woman you are becoming, and I love watching you grow.

Happy Birthday Jessi Rae.

love…

Nyna

Let’s Be Honest

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Have you ever been in a place where things just don’t make sense? Maybe you feel like has God has called you to do something but you feel under-qualified, inexperienced and like it’s just too big for you do. I’ve been there.

I think I’m there more often than I like to admit.

Knowing that God has something BIG in store, and yet questioning how in the world this is going to happen.

I find myself there and in those moments the frustration of it all becomes so real to me.

I find myself like Moses was here…

Moses said to God, “Look, you tell me, ‘Lead this people,’ but you don’t let me know whom you’re going to send with me. You tell me, ‘I know you well and you are special to me.’ If I am so special to you, let me in on your plans. That way, I will continue being special to you. Don’t forget, this is your people, your responsibility.” – Exodus 33:12-13

Just recently I was in the place. Feeling like God has called me to do something big…feeling like I don’t know how it’s going to happen…and asking God to give me something. A sneak peek…a peep hole…something to let me see what He has planned.

I do what we all do. We ask God, then we ask our friends. I was there at that place.

Asking and talking to friends and family about my situation. In face I had gotten to the place where I told a friend “I just wish someone would tell me what to do!” Thank God, He has given me such wise friends, because their response was simple but truth filled. She responded like this:

Someone will tell you what to do, and it will be God. Just seek Him for His peace in the decision making.

Sometimes we just need someone to come along side us and remind us what we already know.

What I’m most grateful for is that in the midst of our frustration, questioning  and doubt, God is big enough to handle all our questions. He’s big enough for that. In fact I think that’s a good place to be…1) realizing that unless God steps in, we can’t do this on our own and 2) close enough to God to be comfortable having this kind of conversation.

If you’re in a place of feeling overwhelmed and under-qualifed to accomplish the very thing God has called you do, take some time and talk Him about it…

it’s better that way.

Anticipation

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What is “my daily fix”

My Daily Fix is a look at what God is speaking to me in my quiet time.

7-10 Moses used to take the Tent and set it up outside the camp, some distance away. He called it the Tent of Meeting. Anyone who sought God would go to the Tent of Meeting outside the camp. It went like this: When Moses would go to the Tent, all the people would stand at attention; each man would take his position at the entrance to his tent with his eyes on Moses until he entered the Tent; whenever Moses entered the Tent, the Pillar of Cloud descended to the entrance to the Tent and God spoke with Moses. All the people would see the Pillar of Cloud at the entrance to the Tent, stand at attention, and then bow down in worship, each man at the entrance to his tent. 11 And God spoke with Moses face-to-face, as neighbors speak to one another. When he would return to the camp, his attendant, the young man Joshua, stayed—he didn’t leave the Tent.
Exodus 33:7-11

I love that when Moses went into the tent, people would stand at attention. Those that were following under his leadership anticipated that when Moses entered into the tent, that he would have an encounter with God. They expected him to hear from God.

I often wonder in the moments that God speaks to me, do I hear from Him because it is in those times that I am anticipating to hear from Him? Is it because I’ve quieted myself long enough to hear another voice besides my own? I don’t think there’s a formula to hearing God speak. BUT what I do know is that Moses had a closeness with God. A closeness that allowed them to speak “as neighbors speak to one another.”

I grew up in small-town, America (AKA College Station). It was normal for me to be playing outside and as cars would pass by, drivers would wave a friendly hello to which they would see me stop playing just long enough to wave back to them.

You see this was normal.

What I’m learning is that it’s normal to anticipate God to speak to us. It’s normal to anticipate his response to the longing of our hearts, when it’s to speak to Him.

Our prayer should be that we would gain a confidence –– like moses, like those that followed him had –– to know that when we set out to meet with God that we’ll be able to speak with Him as neighbors speak to one another.

So today, set aside some time today. Ask Him some questions and see if He doesn’t answer.

When He speaks it’s always better that way.

What’s Been Brewing?

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The first month of January is almost over, and if you’re like me –– you’re probably already behind on whatever “resolution” you made for the year. You’re probably not as skinny as you hoped to be, you haven’t saved as much money as you planned and you’re probably behind on your one-year-Bible-reading-plan. (Not that I’ve ever started the year with those kind of goals…)

This year, I started the year different. I didn’t want to read chunks of the Bible for information, I wanted to soak…no, to saturate in the verses…I wanted to allow time for God to give insight. My goal isn’t to know the Bible, my goal is to the know the author. When my goal changed, so did my heart with it. For weeks now, I’ve been reading the same chapter over and over and each day God has shown me something new that I have been missing. Over the next few days on here, I’m going to be sharing with you what I have been learning.

But, for today let’s just start with reading  a portion of Exodus 33

7-10Moses used to take the Tent and set it up outside the camp, some distance away. He called it the Tent of Meeting. Anyone who sought God would go to the Tent of Meeting outside the camp. It went like this: When Moses would go to the Tent, all the people would stand at attention; each man would take his position at the entrance to his tent with his eyes on Moses until he entered the Tent; whenever Moses entered the Tent, the Pillar of Cloud descended to the entrance to the Tent and God spoke with Moses. All the people would see the Pillar of Cloud at the entrance to the Tent, stand at attention, and then bow down in worship, each man at the entrance to his tent. 11 And God spoke with Moses face-to-face, as neighbors speak to one another. When he would return to the camp, his attendant, the young man Joshua, stayed—he didn’t leave the Tent. 12-13 Moses said to God, “Look, you tell me, ‘Lead this people,’ but you don’t let me know whom you’re going to send with me. You tell me, ‘I know you well and you are special to me.’ If I am so special to you, let me in on your plans. That way, I will continue being special to you. Don’t forget, this is your people, your responsibility.” 14 God said, “My presence will go with you. I’ll see the journey to the end.” 15-16 Moses said, “If your presence doesn’t take the lead here, call this trip off right now. How else will it be known that you’re with me in this, with me and your people? Are you traveling with us or not? How else will we know that we’re special, I and your people, among all other people on this planet Earth?” 17 God said to Moses: “All right. Just as you say; this also I will do, for I know you well and you are special to me. I know you by name.” 18 Moses said, “Please. Let me see your Glory.” 19 God said, “I will make my Goodness pass right in front of you; I’ll call out the name, God, right before you. I’ll treat well whomever I want to treat well and I’ll be kind to whomever I want to be kind.” 20 God continued, “But you may not see my face. No one can see me and live.” 21-23 God said, “Look, here is a place right beside me. Put yourself on this rock. When my Glory passes by, I’ll put you in the cleft of the rock and cover you with my hand until I’ve passed by. Then I’ll take my hand away and you’ll see my back. But you won’t see my face.”

I don’t know what stuck out to you when you read this…but I can’t wait to share with you what God has speaking to me through this. —more on that tomorrow.

Pray. Vote. Pray

Tonight, there are two men that are on the eve of one of the biggest days of the lives. One Republican. One Democrat. One has been here before. One has not.

Both are just Men. Men with families. Men with wives. Wives who have had to read things in papers and online about how their husbands are horrible people and shouldn’t be president. Men who’s children look up to them. Children who have had to see their hero-of-a-father torn apart in commercials on T.V.

You see today they are just two men. Tomorrow they will still be two men. So here’s what I propose. Tonight we pray for these two men. That they would experience the love of a God who loves them with so much more than they will ever fully understand. A God who doesn’t care about party lines but cares about their soul. Tonight let’s pray for their wives and children. That they would find peace as this character war, that we call campaigning, takes place. Let’s pray for their running mates. Pray for the man you will vote for, and pray for the one you aren’t. Pray.

Tomorrow, vote. Go to the polls and vote your values. Vote for the man who you feel will represent the God-given convictions. Vote.

Then after you vote. Pray. 

Because you see, while tomorrow the votes are counted and a winner is announced. Both men will need our prayers. One will win. One will not. One will be President. One will not. Despite these things…they will both still just be men. Men with wives and children. Men that regardless of if they are leading the United States of America, they are still the leaders of their home. I don’t know any man who wouldn’t want extra prayers for God’s anointing on them as they lead their homes.

So tonight, tomorrow and the day after… Let’s Vote. Pray. Vote. And maybe people will remember the Church, us Christians, not for fighting for one party or another. Not for arguing with one another about who we should vote for. But maybe, just maybe we will be remembered for the fact that despite differences we could join together and pray for both of these men…it’s better that way.

Freedom…will you join me?

I have spent the last two weekends in Freedom Training for a new ministry that will be launching this Wednesday at Faith Assembly Church. In these sessions, we began to unpack freedom. Not what freedom means…but what freedom is. Freedom isn’t a “place” that we get to, it’s a lifestyle we choose. It’s daily believing that I am who God says I am, and not what the world, what my family, what my friends, not even who I say I am.

“Freedom is not the absence of SOMETHING, it’s the presence of SOMEONE” -Bob Hamp, Gateway Church

These trainings were just the start to a realization that I, like you, need freedom. And not the traditional idea of removing what was constraining you, but freedom of knowing I hear nothing else but the voice of God.

You see Friends, I went into this training thinking I was going to learn how to help others, and what I learned was that we are ALL on a journey. A daily trek of choosing to Hear God’s voice over the worlds, of deciding that we will believe who He says we are, and in that we will find TRUE freedom.

This Wednesday, at 7pm, “The Five” will launch. These are the five core classes to freedom. I believe and am praying with everything that is within me that if you’ll join me in attending this classes our lives will be changed.

Because you see friends, Nothing is worse than being held captive and not knowing that you are being held. Nothing is more liberating than the day you go from prisoner to freedom. Nothing is more breathtaking than the moment you realize you are not a victim but you are a victor.

I don’t know about you, but I’m ready to live FREE…it’s better that way. will you join me?

Manifesto

to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort  all who morn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion–to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called ‘Oaks of Righteousness’, a planting of the Lord for the display of HIS splendor. – Isaiah 61:2-3 (NIV)

I am reminded of a statement I read in Jesus Calling, by Sarah Young. It said “I have chosen you less for your strengths than for your weaknesses, which amplify your need for Me.” I find this to be true in so many ways. If we all take a minute and look at our lives, I’m sure we can find countless moments of when Christ has stepped into our moments of filth and replaced it with beauty, when we were hopeless and He brought in Hope, moments of worthlessness and He reminded us we had value. There are times when in the midst of our weakest hour, Christ has stepped in and given strength and courage instead of fear and weakness.

The verse immediately preceding this one opens with, “The spirit of the sovereign Lord is upon me, because He has anointed me to…” This is setting the stage for what would be the manifesto of Christ. A manifesto is a written statement declaring publicly the intentions and motives of its issuer, and this manifesto was given straight from the Father to Jesus. He was sent here to fulfill this and it is through this that we have all been offered a life of “instead.”

Here is where the rubber hits the road. While this is Christ’s manifesto…we too have been called to love.

“By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” – John 13:35

“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God.
Everyone who 
loves has been born of God and knows God.”
– 1 John 4:7

How many times do you or I walk past people that are lonely, different, dirty, rude or “socially unacceptable” and pay them absolutely zero attention? We are all guilty of turning our heads to the beggar on the street or pretending not to notice them with their signs. It is easy to go about our daily routine without stopping to offer them the love of Christ instead of the “you don’t matter” of this world.

During this time that we’ve shut our selves out to the voices of the media, let’s all take some time and ask God, “show me the nameless and faceless I’ve walked past day in and day out. Show me how I can offer them the “instead” they need. Lord remind me of where I was and how you made me who I am instead of who I was headed to be. God, infuse in me this manifesto and let me be a person of the instead.”

I fully believe that if we can begin to offer the “instead” to the world, at the end of the day we will all be called Oaks of Righteousness and the amazing display will do nothing less than show off HIS splendor. …It’s better this way.