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There’s That Word Again…

I don’t know about you, but at the beginning of the year I take inventory of my life. Last year was good, but I had little focus and follow through. It seemed the success I had was haphazard, at best. Lucky me, I did fairly well in spite of myself, but there was something missing.
I’ve been thinking and praying a lot lately about having a theme word for 2016. I did this in 2014 and the word was DEEPER. That year, I went deeper in all areas of my life – my walk with the Lord became more resolute and He brought me to new places because of my commitment to going deeper.

Have you ever asked God for a word to set the tone for your year? It’s quite eye-opening. I chuckle at the fact that God has such different ideas about what needs to be accomplished than I do. I was inspired by Nikki’s choice of the word SIMPLICITY, because who DOESN’T need to pare down and remove all the distractions? Kristin’s choice of CONSISTENCY spoke volumes to me as well – I could use some consistency in my life.

I filled 3 pages with words I was hoping might inspire me to move beyond my sluggish vision for myself. They were all great words. Any one of them would have been appropriate. Perfect, even. Words like

MOMENTUM * FORWARD * EMPOWER * GROWTH * RESOLVE * ACTION * INTENTIONAL * CONSISTENT * SAVOR * IGNITE * COMMIT * FOCUS * DILIGENCE * SOAR * PERSISTENCE * YES * DISCIPLINE* BALANCE * BRAVE * RISK * PURPOSE

You get the idea.

But God doesn’t see what I see. So I asked Him to show me a word to adopt as my theme for 2016. On those 3 pages, I first highlighted all the words that jumped out at me, or “spoke” to me. Now I’m left with about 25 words. Funny thing, I had written the word Intentional about 4 times and highlighted it each time. But I still wasn’t convinced.

Now, instead of SEEING the word “intentional” periodically, I began HEARING it. I’m not kidding. It was everywhere. So much so that I chuckled at God’s sense of humor each time I heard the word. A couple weeks ago on a Saturday I attended a business training class where the speaker emphasized the need to be INTENTIONAL in our business. Emphasized is not even a strong enough word – she must have said it at least 20 times. The very next day, my pastor preached about beginning again in the new year. As he spoke about not settling for being comfortable, about how God has called us move out of our comfort so he can speak to us and through us. This requires being INTENTIONAL about how we use our time and resources. He added, “Don’t you dare set your agenda for the year. Give God the pen and let HIM write your plan.”

Okay, got it. My foray into being intentional needs to include hearing from God for each step.

In 2015  I neglected to choose a word and I was floundering. Busy without being productive. I felt a sense of disconnect between my calling and my reality. Nothing seemed to move forward. My year was okay, but certainly not great, and most certainly not fantastic. And not even close to being spectacular or even fabulous. I believe God has placed spectacular gifts inside of us, and it is up to us to use those gifts.

I want the best God has for me. So this year I know the word I need to focus on is INTENTIONAL. I know beyond a doubt that God has called me to great things, as I believe He has called each one of us. The key is, will we answer that call? Will we look toward intentional living so that we are effective for the gospel? Daily that word is before me, and daily I am taking steps to live a life of INTENTION.

I want the best God has for me. So this year I know the word I need to focus on is INTENTIONAL. (1)

 

Me? Called to Ministry? Nah.

Tami.Scripture.LaunchPhoto-1024x768
I come from a family of ministers.  My mom, my dad, a few aunts, uncles, cousins, my sister and my niece all professed to be “called” to the ministry at a young age.  Even my daughter spent 2014 traveling to 11 countries in 11 months to minister to others on the world stage of missions.

Me?  Nope. Not me.  If there’s one thing I’ve always known about myself, it’s that I was NOT called to be a minister.  Being called to the ministry was something that happened to other preacher’s kids at summer camp.  Not me.  Many of my friends and family in ministry know God put this call on their lives.  I never felt that way.  Never had that still, small voice telling me to leave my nets and follow Jesus into the unknown throes of ministry.

When I was a kid, being “called” to the ministry meant you HEARD the call, and ANSWERED that call by attending Bible college or seminary, getting ordained as a pastor and leading a group of adults or families or youth or a choir in the day to day living out of faith.  It was messy and challenging and involved being able to speak wisdom in front of a group of people.

I have to admit to being both envious of those who heard the call and relieved that I wasn’t one of them.  Being a PK (pastor’s kid), I’d heard my share of messy stories and really couldn’t fathom being the one who would help out someone in that kind of need.

I don’t think kids now have this dilemma.  If they grow up in a church, they are sent on missions trips out of the country or even in their own towns.  Feeding the hungry, clothing the homeless, bringing hope to the hopeless.  They are the hands and feet of Jesus.  They LOVE like Jesus did.  They don’t wait for a calling. They DO stuff.

But me? I wasn’t called.  So I lived my life.  I raised my kids. I taught them to love Jesus.  I prayed for family members and friends. Even counseled a friend or two in a tough spot.  I gave a sandwich to a beggar on the street.  Gave a blanket to a cold homeless woman on a rainy night. Wait. What? That sounds suspiciously like ministry.

And so, at the ripe old age of fifty-something, I’m finally realizing I am called.  Called just like you are called.  In the trenches of real life.  It’s still messy and challenging, but doesn’t necessarily involve being able to speak in front of a group of people.

What it does involve is being available.  Teachable.  Willing to use your gifts to share the gospel.

Which brings us to today.  LifeWordsToday, to be exact. A blog my sister and our daughters started writing almost two years ago, with a few things written by my mom tossed in. We’ve now posted 157 times. Our readership is still quite low…or is it? We know God allows just the right eyes to read our words at the time they are needed. And that is enough.

About a month before we ever began discussing the idea for this blog, I came upon a scripture – Psalm 49:3  “My mouth will speak words of wisdom; the utterance from my heart will give understanding.”  I was compelled to write it on a card to keep in my Bible.  Next to the verse I wrote, “3/12/13 = from God = (?about what?)”

A calling, perhaps?

What’s your calling?

Your needs will be met through your giving…

“Your needs will be met through your giving.”

I first heard that phrase spoken by Nancy Alcorn, the founder of Mercy Ministries.  She was relaying her story – telling the details about how God pieced the puzzle together that would become such a powerful ministry to disenfranchised young women around the country. As a nonprofit organization, she had no reason to think they should give money to other ministries.  Why would they? Mercy was surviving on donations and they were precious few.

“Your needs will be met through your giving.” The words were clear. And so she gave. And Mercy Ministries gave. Yes, the nonprofit taking donations to survive donated off the top to other ministries.

And God answered. Needs were met. Not small needs, either – the millions of dollars kind of needs. Four rescue homes built in the United States, with others around the world. Lives transformed.

That phrase has stayed with me – I must’ve written it in my notes three times that day.

“Your needs will be met through your giving.”

“Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the LORD Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.”  Malachi 3:10

There it is. Right there in the scriptures. I’ve heard it much of my life, but have I tested the Lord?

No. Have you?

I’m testing. I recently started a new business with great promise. My business model, first and foremost, is to give right off the top of my earnings. Before my investment is paid off, before I begin to turn a profit. Right from the very first paycheck, I will give. Every month I will choose a different ministry and I will tell my customers they had a hand in providing for that ministry. I have a feeling I will be amazed at what God will do through that simple act of giving. Once you have a heart that gives, you notice the joy creeping in, the song welling up, the prayers being answered.

why-small-businesses-should-give-back

Think of it – he says he will “pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.” (!!!)

How big is your life now? Think bigger. God wants to fill you up with blessing. Notice it doesn’t say “money,” although that could certainly happen. It says BLESSING. Blessing, blessing, blessing – and SO MUCH BLESSING there won’t be room to store it!

Something tells me if more of us really believed those words, we would be testing, too.

But we don’t even have to believe – he says to TEST HIM. When you test someone on their statement, you are asking them to prove themselves.

Do it.

I double dog dare you.

One Word: Deeper

I’m a bit of a late bloomer on this, but I’ve been thinking for weeks about what my “word” for 2014 should be.  Apparently, this is a thing now.  Instead of New Year’s resolutions, people are encouraged by websites such as  OneWord365  and blog posts from my friend Corie Clark, to come up with a theme word for the year.
This word can be a goal you’d like to reach, a state of mind you’d like to achieve or just a revelation about where you’d like to live the story of your life in 2014.

The OneWord365 website says ~

“Forget New Year’s Resolutions. Scrap that long list of goals you won’t remember three weeks from now anyway.

Choose just one word.

One word that sums up who you want to be or how you want to live. One word that you can focus on every day, all year long.

It will take intentionality and commitment, but if you let it, your one word will shape not only your year, but also you. It will become the compass that directs your decisions and guides your steps.

Discover the big impact one word can make.

One word. 365 days. A changed life.”

Wow. A changed life? Sign me up! I could use some life-changing.

So, it’s March already.  Like I said, late bloomer.  If I’m going to choose one word I’d better get on with it.

I’ve been giving this a lot of thought and have discovered that if you’re a Christ-follower, you can’t just pull a word out of a hat and have it work. There’s a very big difference between the word or words I wanted to project into my year, and the word that describes what God wants me to do with my year.

For instance, when I first was challenged to come up with a theme word for 2014, I wrote a list of words I hoped would speak into my life.  You know, the name it and claim it mentality.  Words like, abundance, prosperity, plenty, bountiful, clarity, increase & thriving.  But I just couldn’t make them stick.

What I found, though, was a constant desire to go deeper.  Deeper into my spiritual walk.  Deeper into my relationships.  Deeper into my profession of voice acting. Deeper into life. Just. DEEPER.

I want to Dig Deeper.

Feel Deeper.

Look Deeper.

Go Deeper.

Deeper.OneWord365.2014

Deeper.  The word strikes fear in the hearts of many men and women I know.  They are content to scratch the surface of their lives and never go deeper.  But I am not content with that – I have a  hunger to learn more, see more, reach more, do more.  And when I do, I have a feeling there’s no going back.  Deep cries out to deep.

To go even deeper.

Me? Called to Ministry? Nah.

Tami.Scripture.LaunchPhoto
I come from a family of ministers.  My mom, my dad, a few aunts, uncles, cousins, my sister and my niece all professed to be “called” to the ministry at a young age.  Even my daughter is leaving soon for a year to minister to others on the world stage of missions.

Me?  Nope. Not me.  If there’s one thing I’ve always known about myself, it’s that I was NOT called to be a minister.  Being called to the ministry was something that happened to other preacher’s kids at summer camp.  Not me.  Many of my friends and family in ministry know God put this call on their lives.  I never felt that way.  Never had that still, small voice telling me to leave my nets and follow Jesus into the unknown throes of ministry.

When I was a kid, being “called” to the ministry meant you HEARD the call, and ANSWERED that call by attending Bible college or seminary, getting ordained as a pastor and leading a group of adults or families or youth or a choir in the day to day living out of faith.  It was messy and challenging and involved being able to speak wisdom in front of a group of people.

I have to admit to being both envious of those who heard the call and relieved that I wasn’t one of them.  Being a PK (pastor’s kid), I’d heard my share of messy stories and really couldn’t fathom being the one who would help out someone in that kind of need.

I don’t think kids now have this dilemma.  If they grow up in a church, they are sent on missions trips out of the country or even in their own towns.  Feeding the hungry, clothing the homeless, bringing hope to the hopeless.  They are the hands and feet of Jesus.  They LOVE like Jesus did.  They don’t wait for a calling. They DO stuff.

But me? I wasn’t called.  So I lived my life.  I raised my kids. I taught them to love Jesus.  I prayed for family members and friends. Even counseled a friend or two in a tough spot.  I gave a sandwich to a beggar on the street.  Gave a blanket to a cold homeless woman on a rainy night. Wait. What? That sounds suspiciously like ministry.

And so, at the ripe old age of fifty-something, I’m finally realizing I am called.  Called just like you are called.  In the trenches of real life.  It’s still messy and challenging, but doesn’t necessarily involve being able to speak in front of a group of people.  (Can I get an Amen?)

What it does involve is being available.  Teachable.  Willing to use your gifts to share the gospel.

Which brings us to today.  LifeWordsToday, to be exact.  The blog launched in 2013 by myself, my sister and our daughters.

About a month before we ever began discussing the idea for this blog, I came upon a scripture – Psalm 49:3  “My mouth will speak words of wisdom; the utterance from my heart will give understanding.”  I was compelled to write it on a card to keep in my Bible.  Next to the verse I wrote, “3/12/13 = from God = (?about what?)”

A calling, perhaps?

What’s your calling?

(This post first appeared in LifeWords Today on 10/02/2013)

What if this is goodbye?

March 27, 2012I kissed my son goodbye this morning before leaving for work.  And the day before that.  And the day before that, too.  For more than a month now.  Yes, my 6’4″ almost 21 year old adult son gets a kiss on the forehead from his momma every morning.  And he hears that I love him.  And I hear that he loves me back.  And that makes my heart smile.

I have some friends who would give anything to be in my shoes right now, even for a day.  They are moms who will never have the privilege of shedding happy tears at their sons wedding, who will not warn him when he gleefully tosses her grandchild a little too high in the air, who will not marvel how her son handles the joys and struggles of manhood.

For these moms who have lost a precious son, there are no more days to treasure.  Only the days they have already stored up in their hearts and will remember for the rest of their lives.  When someone close to you endures this kind of indescribable pain, it tends to knock you into reality.  What if? What if I am called upon to walk this road someday?  What if I become that mom? THAT mom.  The one who has suddenly, tragically and without warning received notice that her son or daughter has died.  It is unthinkable.  But the unthinkable happens sometimes.

I had two friends lose their adult sons within 3 days of each other a few weeks ago, which sent me reeling into mourning their losses.  It doesn’t matter that one died as a result of a tragic accident and one died at his own hand.  Neither mom saw it coming.  Neither mom got to say goodbye. Neither mom was prepared.  But they both shared something profound.  An unwavering faith in a God Who KNOWS.  A God Who knows their pain, Who sees their sorrow, and Who meets them in their darkest moments and is able to bring something equally unfathomable: light to their darkness and hope to their hurting hearts.  Life is forever changed, and the days ahead will be so very hard.  But God knows, and He heals.  He is our Hope.