#FireWorkPeople: Do What You Were Made To Do

#FireWorkPeople Doing What I Was Made To

I almost quit this week.

Monday night I called my best friend in tears, “I don’t think I’m strong enough to do this. Maybe I should just give up now.” Fear had crept in and I started to wonder if I really had what it takes to continue pursuing this dream, but fear is a liar.

The thing is– this blog, my writing, isn’t just some good idea I fell upon one day. I wasn’t bored looking for something to fill my time. I wasn’t looking for popularity. In reality, at the time I started this blog, I hadn’t even been dreaming.

But God.

Some of the most powerful portions of Scripture include a “But God” moment. A pivotal moment where there is no possible way for a victory to come unless God does a miracle. Everyone involved and everyone watching knows there can only be one explanation and it has to be bigger than themselves or their circumstances. It has to be God.

This blog is the result of a “But God” moment. I had been living life to the best of my ability– going to work every day and filling my evenings with a variety of ministry opportunities. All of them good things. Good things have a way of distracting us from the even greater things God has for us. Up until then that’s where my life was– it had plateaued at good and God had so much more in store for me.

People had been telling me to write for years. They saw greatness in me, but I had dismissed it. Not me, I thought, I couldn’t possibly do that. Those lies bound my hands and silenced my mouth for far too long.

Day in and day out, I’d suppress the desires of my heart– thinking that they were somehow selfish or wrong. I had forgotten along the way that it was God who had been the one to give me those desires in the first place. So, I tried to stifle the fire that was in my soul to write.

With time, as much as I tried to extinguish the flames, God continued to fan them. Finally, I gave in to the heat. “Alright. I’ll write,” I told God. A sideways grin formed on His face….or so I imagined.

So I began to write. And now I can’t NOT write. I feel compelled to do it with every ounce of my being. Yes, there are days where fear creeps in like it did this week. There are moments where the voices in my head tell me to just give up now. Those are the moments where I have to remind myself this is bigger than me.

It has been an amazing journey– one which I could have never imagined and this is just the beginning. There’s so much more in store. Not because I’ve got it all planned out, but because He’s writing the story. (I’m still hoping He adds in my partner for this adventure soon!)

What is it that you’ve felt like you should be doing, but have allowed fear to derail you? Don’t believe the lies that tell you that you can’t do it– you can. In fact, you’ve been made to do it. Now walk in it.

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Being Fire Tested

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“In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ…” (1 Peter 1:6-7, NKJV)

Some people I love are walking through hell right now. Friends facing painful divorces.  Friends dealing with infertility. Other friends struggling to make ends meet. Some are job hunting. Others on the search for a mate.

All of them have one thing in common, life hasn’t turned out the way they thought it would. I can relate. As many of you know from reading my blog, I haven’t been immune to life’s hardships and heartaches. This week alone, I’ve been fighting through anxiety–from the absolute bizarre (like I’m going to die because of a brain aneurysm) to the legitimate (How am I going to buy a new car when I dumped all of my savings into repairing it?). Actually, those were just the thoughts I had before 10AM this morning. Granted, I hadn’t had any coffee OR chocolate yet, but still.

Throughout this season, I’ve often uttered these words in a desperate prayer, “God, why are you doing this to me??” It wasn’t disrespectful, I was just trying to wrap my head around the constant struggles. Had I done something to piss Him off and this was my punishment? Maybe it was all those times I prayed with my eyes open. Or did it have something to do with that secret board I have on Pinterest that has hundreds of pictures of bearded men. Whatever it was, I wanted to fix it and fast.

The problem with that mindset of mine is that I was viewing the trials and tests as punishment instead of refining moments.

A few months back, I was talking with my dad who just so happens to be a very wise man. I was sharing with him some of the disappointments and struggles and he turned to me and said, “Holly, trials have the opportunity to produce GOLD in your life.”

Not everyone will produce gold, though. Some people will curse God and walk away. They’ll feel the flames and peace out on the purifying process because it hurts too much. We don’t get to choose when we come off the fire, but we do get to choose how we go through it. There’s no medium-well with God. He’s going to finish the good work He began in us (Phil. 1:6)….if we let Him.

Listen, I’m not belittling the fact that it hurts. I’ve spent countless nights with tears producing puddles on my pillows. It has felt, at times, like the heart in my chest was being ripped into a hundred tiny pieces. A long time ago, I told Jesus I’d give Him my life. In giving Him my life, it meant that I’d trust Him to do with it what He wanted. In the end, I simply trust the heart of God. I am confident He will use all of this for His GOOD, somehow.

I won’t pretend to know the extent of your pain. I’m not here to tell you things are going to get easier. I won’t give you empty sympathy.

All I can give you is this simple encouragement: stay on the fire. Allow Him to refine you. I promise you, you’re going to be gold. You don’t see it now, but He does.

My Modern Day Miracles

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One Sunday after church, I decided to stop by a store to check the Clearance racks for some items friends mentioned needing. Girls, you know how those conversations go: “Hey, next time you’re out, will you see if you can find such-and-such for cheap?” It’s like a fun scavenger hunt to find the best deal. My mom has taught me well. She’s perfected this game, knowing what days certain stores do their discounts and where they’re located in the store. She could teach classes. She’s a pro.

This particular Sunday, I was feeling down. Getting dressed for church that morning, nothing seemed to fit right. My bed held the clothing casualties from my rapid search for something to wear. It was awful. Knowing I’d never be pleased, I decided on the last outfit I had tried on and resigned myself to the fact that it would just have to do.

While I was at the store, I decided to quickly browse the new dresses that had come in for the new season. I love dresses. There’s something about a dress cut in at all the right places that makes you feel feminine and beautiful without trying too hard. That’s the beauty of dresses– one piece and “Voila!” you’re ready to go!

There’s one dress that I’ve been searching for that I hadn’t found yet. I’d been looking for a dress that had lacy half sleeves. I saw one on Pinterest and had the image stuck in my head. Every time I was at the store I’d look for one like it. I hadn’t found it. Until that day.

It immediately caught my attention. There it was– the perfect dress– hanging on the wall. Everything I had wanted. Everything except for the price. Also like my mother, I’m an immediate check-the-tag shopper and never buy anything full price. Buying something at full price is a luxury that I cannot afford. And this dress would safely be filed under the “could not afford” category. The only dresses that I had spent that kind of money on was bridesmaid dresses.

But it was so lovely. So, like a little girl, I decided to play dress up. I knew I couldn’t buy the dress, but I could at least try it on and enjoy it for a few minutes.

Part of me hoped it wouldn’t fit or that it would look horrible on me. Sometimes that happens. You see something that looks amazing on a hanger, but you try it on and you’re sure that a brown bag would look more flattering.

If there are guys still reading this–please, stay with me. There’s something here for you, I promise.

I tried it on and it was….perfect. I loved it. The green of the dress made the color of my eyes stand out. The lace sleeves were the exact length they should be, which is usually a problem for my 5′ tall frame. It cut in at the smallest part of my waist–win! I examined myself in the full length mirror and I didn’t feel disgusted. So, I snapped a few pictures because that’s what we do now, right?

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As I put the dress back on the hanger and then back on the rack I thought to myself again: “It’s just so lovely.”

At home, I was sharing with a few girlfriends about the dress and how beautiful I felt in it. I showed them my mirror selfie and they agreed that it was indeed the perfect color and cut and that I looked amazing in it. One friend in particular, saw the picture and immediately knew she needed to buy me that dress. I told her that I didn’t expect her to do that– to spend that type of money on me– for a dress! But she said, God laid it on her heart to do it and who am I to refuse such an offer!

This past year, I’ve seen some huge unexpected expenses come in– from my emergency 6-day hospital visit this time last year or the car maintenance that drained my savings account this month so I could get it to pass the New York State inspection. It seemed like the moment I got over one mountain, I’d take a giant sigh of relief and there’d be a new issue to deal with.

This past year, I’ve also seen the many ways God was taking care of me– from free laundry detergent, free pie, free dish soap, car bills paid, free flowers, a free laptop and now a dress. A dress I don’t NEED, but that I wanted.

God isn’t just concerned about your NEEDS, but He cares about your desires. Even the unspoken desires. Even the things you haven’t dared to tell anyone you wanted. I don’t know about you, but that’s a beautifully humbling thought.

Sometimes, we have this idea that we are lost in the multitudes, but then God does this amazing miracle and our eyes are open to the fact that He hasn’t been blind to our yearnings. Maybe that’s how the woman with the issue of blood felt (Luke 8:43-48). There was a multitude of people surrounding Jesus. It was loud and chaotic. And there she was an outcast of the Jewish society because of her ailment. She was hoping to stay unnoticed, not asking for prayer, but just simply touching His garment and then heading on her way.

But Jesus noticed.

The moment she touched Him, He knew it. The Bible says, He felt the power leave His body and she was immediately healed. He looked at the crowd and asked who it was that touched him. His disciples laughed– “Uhhhh, errybody, Jesus. Don’t you see them pushing and shoving and trying to be close to you?” He wouldn’t let it go.

I’m sure the woman didn’t want to be pointed out, but I can only imagine how hard her heart must have been beating. How intense the encounter had been for her. How real. I wonder if He looked her in the eyes with a knowing glance and if it was in that look that she felt the comfort to come forward and admit it was her who touched Him. No longer just another bystander in the crowd, but a receptor of a miracle.

I don’t know your needs and wants, friend. I haven’t heard the whispered longings of your heart, but He has. And those whispers, those prayers have not fallen on deaf ears. God notices you. Even more than that, He loves you. Deeply. Intimately. Knowingly.

He shows us His love in so many ways– as a reminder that He’s aware. That He is very much present.

As I shared this story with a friend over lunch this week she said, “It sounds like God is just bringing you closer to Himself.” And that’s what all of this boils down to. Every gift. Every blessing. Every encouragement. Every struggle. Yes, every pain, has been there to bring me close to His heart.

He’s there– I’ve just got to reach out and grab Him.

Lies We Believe About Singleness & Book GIVEAWAY

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Singleness is hard.

The struggle takes place in our mind with the same question on repeat, “Why am I single?” I have this list I’ve started with reasons that could try and explain why I’m 30 and still single. Most of them are just silly. For example, I’m still single because I don’t make my bed every morning or because frequently I’ll start a conversation with, “Ya know what I heard on the NPR today?”

There are some reasons floating around in this head of mine, though, that are a lot less funny. Like maybe I’m not beautiful enough for a man to love me or maybe I’m too much of a mess. I mean, there’s got to be a reason and I’m assuming that must mean there’s a problem with me.

When I think these thoughts– these lies– I text a friend for encouragement or open up my Bible and start inserting Truth into my mind to combat those lies.

And reading Allison Flexer’s book, Truth, Lies, and the Single Woman is the perfect mix of those two things. It’s like I’m sitting down with a close friend over a cup of coffee and she’s listening to me spout off the things I’ve been thinking about concerning my singleness. She hears the hurt, the loneliness, and the lies. The lies that tell me that I’m unlovable and unworthy of love. The lies that tell me that I need to settle because if I don’t I’ll die alone. The lies that tell me that life is in some kind of circling pattern until I get married.

Like any good friend, Allison reminds me where my value truly comes from– that it’s not wrapped up in a man (even a bearded, flannel-wearing man). In her book, she discusses 10 common lies that we can struggle with in singleness. Each chapter brings the Truth to the lie and backs it up with Scripture. We all need reminders of the Truth found in her book.

A WORD FROM ALLISON: I started writing Truth, Lies, and the Single Woman when I was 33 years old and very much single. Having just quit my corporate job, I was dealing with a lot of emotions regarding self-worth and my identity. As I wrote, God began to reveal lies I believed and the negative effect that deception had on my life. As I filled my life with God’s healing truth, I wanted to share it with other single women. I’m so passionate about single women believing they are valuable and loved and beautiful. For all of the single women reading this: There is nothing wrong with you. Your marital status doesn’t define your value nor does it make you second class. God delights in you, and He’s the one who can satisfy your deep longings to be fully known and loved.

GIVEWAY ALERT  And because I’ve been encouraged by this book and the truths found inside: I’d like to give you a copy. Well, not all of you, but ONE lucky person. In order to be entered into the random drawing, please share this blog post on FB (there’s that super easy share button at the bottom of the post) and then leave me a comment below. That part is important, because if you win I’ll need to know how to contact you! The drawing will take place on Wednesday, Oct. 15th, 2014!

If you’d like more information on Allison, please check out her bio below.

flexerAllison K. Flexer is an author, speaker, and blogger who is passionate about communicating the love of God to others. Her first book, Truth, Lies, and the Single Woman (Beacon Hill Press), tells the story of her single journey and gives practical steps for letting go of the lies that destroy the joy and confidence of unmarried women. Allison was also a contributing writer for Fulfilled: The NIV Devotional Bible for the Single Woman. You can connect with Allison on her website at www.allisonflexer.com or on Twitter: @allisonkflex.