Gone Unnoticed Until Now

Written by Jodi Lybrand

woman standing near body of water

Walking is my preferred choice of exercise. I love walking the trails on my very wooded property. Many times it is a multi-tasked walk. When I am frustrated my walk is a bit more intense, it is my stress reliever.  Some days are pure worship, enjoying God’s creation. Other days it is filled with prayers and petitions. Away from phones, social media, chores, errands and all other distractions I can hear God’s voice most clearly.
On one recent walk, my attention was drawn to a large patch of green I had never seen before. Leaving the pathway to take a closer look, I discovered it was Surprise Lilies. These are flowers that grow grass-like leaves, these go away and months later  single stalks and flowers emerge. This group was about thick three feet square. They had to be growing for years! Why haven’t I seen them before. I must have passed by them hundreds of times!
Have you ever felt like these lilies? All your work, serving and sacrifice have gone unnoticed? Have you spent years honing your giftings but seemingly not using them to potential? Do you feel like you have  endlessly labored overlooked while others have their dreams fulfilled? Has your dream died?
Oh, my sweet friend this is not true! The great prophet, Isaiah felt the same way. Knowing he was called by God, he still thought his work was in vain. (Isaiah 49:1-4) In a similar  fashion Paul felt his labors among the Thessalonians may have been useless. (1 Thessalonians 3:5) You are in good company!

We all get tired from time to time. We are prone to discouragement. As the scripture states, Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but when dreams come true there is life and joy. (Proverbs 13:12 NLT)  Being stuck at the comma is challenging! Waiting is difficult. It is hard living in the in-between.

While we are waiting we need to learn not to compare ourselves with others.  It is a must! Jennie Allen tells us that “Comparison robs us of the joy of obedience.” We are all on different time tables with the Lord. Find your joy in what He has called you to do today.
Also during the wait share your dreams with someone who will encourage and remind you of God’s promises. Remember,Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. (Ecclesiastes 4:9)
My dear friend, I don’t know when your ‘now’ will come, when your special dream will be fulfilled but know this, God sees you. He knows your heart, He sees your efforts. He loves you. Don’t give up! Be encouraged with this truth from His word  ..stand your ground. And don’t hold back. Throw yourselves into the work of the Master, confident that nothing you do for me is a waste of time or effort(Corinthians 15:58 Message)
One last thought. Do you know what another name for those lilies is? Resurrection Lilies! I’ll just leave that one for you to reflect on!

 

JodiJodi Davis Lybrand is a lifelong resident of Shelby County. She is married and has raised two wonderful sons, has a beautiful daughter-in-law and 3 of the most adorable grandchildren ever!

Her favorites include playing with those awesome grand sweeties, enjoying long walks and sunsets, visiting with friends, old and new, painting and working on her bucket list!

A Bible teacher for 30 years, teaching preschool to senior adults (before she was one!) Jodi jests that she can teach you a Bible lesson in sixty seconds or sixty minutes! Most of all she loves to encourage people through the truths found in God’s holy word

When You Want What They Have

Written by Jackie Tinkler

 

“If I just diminish her somehow, look away, point out her flaws, tell others she’s really not that great, then just maybe and  not purposely, but secretly, I’ll build myself up and have the love I desire”  …Jackie Tinkler

adult back view beautiful bench

Women want to be amazing, we want to be told how wonderful, beautiful and worthy we are.   The problem is we don’t want anyone else to be too much more amazing than we are!   Why?  Because the back story is “no one loves me.”
Here is our narrative…
I feel something missing, something I truly need and desire.  I don’t really know what it is, but I see something SHE has and I think I need it. So I fix my eyes on HER and what she has (or I think she has) and what I really fear is that SHE will get the love I deserve and want.   So, I act out in my fears to get the love I want.  I now feel comforted and secure.  But, it doesn’t last because I need MORE the next day and the next. It’s impossible to keep me filled up.

What I truly need is to know the love of Christ, which has not filled my whole heart.  My identity is in something other than Him.  Now, I’m to compete and contend for the love I need and it’s exhausting.

Aren’t we fearful when we don’t feel loved? Doesn’t the scripture tell us that perfect love casts out fear?  To ease our pain, we tell ourselves a comforting story to make us feel better, one that convinces us that we need to one up or put someone else beneath us. The truth is, if we were rooted and grounded in the security and love of Christ, there is no competition because the Love of God knows no bounds and there is enough for all of us to feel full.  I know, it’s a hard realization, but we are in need of God’s far reaching marvelous love to fill our whole heart.  No more competing, no more jealousy, no more lack.

 

close up of padlocks hanging on heart shape

DON’T NEED WHAT YOU HAVE BECAUSE I ALREADY HAVE ALL I NEED

 

 

 

 

Let this scripture sink in…
Ephesians 3:17-18 ” Then, by constantly using your faith, the life of Christ will be released deep inside you and the resting place of his love will become the very source and root of your life.  Then you will be empowered to discover what every holy one experiences-the great magnitude of the astonishing love of Christ in all its dimensions.  How deeply intimate and far-reaching is his love! How enduring and inclusive it is! Endless love beyond measurement that transcends our understanding – this extravagant love pours into you until you are filled to overflowing with the fullness of God!”
Why would Paul make such a statement unless He truly experienced God’s love?
Dear friend, take heart…you are loved ENOUGH.  I would love it if today we released our whole hearts to God and asked him to fill it with a crazy love we can never understand…the only love that heals our hurt.  I promise, He will be the love of our lives!  Pray with me..
Father, release your empowering love to fill our hearts with hope. Let us not linger in this place of fear any longer.   Help us to be honest with ourselves and you as we no longer contend, compete, or fear for the gifts, talents, possessions, or beauty of others. We are built up secure and strong in your intimate love.  Where we feel lack, show us how strong and beautiful we really are! That one of  a kind girl!  You’ve given to us all the opportunity to comprehend “with all the saints what is the length and width, height and depth of your love. May that love grow deep in us as we feel more and more at home with ourselves and others.” 

 

IMG_3892Jackie Tinkler is the Co-Founder and Ministry Development Director of Something More and lives in Birmingham, Alabama. She has been ministering to women for 20 years as a Women’s Ministry Director, Counselor and Producer. She is co-writing a Women’s Small Group Study “Something Beautiful” and when not leading women to freedom can be found worshipping at Church of the Highlands, decorating her friends homes, enjoying time with her family and chocolate lab Nelson or sitting in the balcony at the Alabama Theatre.

 

 

God’s Plan for Our Children Isn’t Always Ours

Written by Nicole Collier

person having tea while working

Jeremiah 29:11

 For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.

In May of 2008 I became a mommy for the first time. I had never been one to dream of having children, but, after our wedding, it felt like the next thing to check off. During my pregnancy I had grand dreams for our first- born. Once we found out we were having a boy, those dreams included playing football and I was sure he would be a great defensive tackler. Maybe he would play guitar. I knew he would be all things boy: puppy dog tails, snails, mud, and all things dirt.
My dreams could not have been further from the truth. My son hated all things dirt. He would rather sit inside and play with toys than go outside. It was too hot, or too dirty. When it came time to sign him up for soccer he was not having any of it. “I don’t like it mommy, my legs hurt when I run,” he’d say. He would run up and down the field, though, just so he could enjoy the snacks after the game.
During all of this time my prayer for my child has always been, “Lord, let him shine your light, let him be kind, and a leader for you.” God began showing me that while the dreams of his growing up may have not been realized, my prayers were in fact being answered. He shines the light of Jesus to everyone he meets with his big smile. He is kind to the kids who need a friend, and even to the ones who don’t. He is a natural born leader, and will soon lead his very own small group for boys his age.
I realized one day that the dreams I had for him were not really dreams, as much as it was me wanting to have a do-over with my own childhood. That stung. I realized how unfair I had been to try to mold him into someone he was not.

When I chose his life verse of Jeremiah 29:11, I did not understand at the time the impact and reminder it would have on myself. The reminder that no matter what our dreams may be for our sons and daughters, God has the final plan in place. He will protect them, and they will flourish under God’s plan.

These days I am enjoying this time in the transition between preteen to teenager years. I am watching him navigate the social world of fifth grade, as hard as it may be. He is as steadfast and true to who he was created to be now, as he was at four years old refusing to run during a soccer game.
Let us not be afraid for our children to be their own person. Let us trust the one who made them! He has the perfect plan for their life.
IMG_6550
Nicole Collier grew up in Montgomery, AL. She now lives in Shelby County with her husband, Matthew, and 2 boys, Ethan and Russell. She is a lover of all things creative, including photography and music. She and her family are involved with The Just People Project non-profit ministry serving the homeless throughout the city of Birmingham.

My Deliverer

Written by Jodi Davis Lybrand

adult back view beautiful bench

Your tormentors have said to you,

“Fall prostrate that we may walk over you”

And you made your back like the ground,

like a street to be walked over.

But the Lord your God says:

“I will rescue and redeem you

out of the hands of your enemies.

Though many gather against you

to gloat over you, to make your situation appear hopeless.

They do not now my plans for you,

plans not to harm you but to give you hope and a future,

to restore the years the locusts have eaten.

They do not understand my plans

to gather them to the threshing floor,

to place your foot on their necks.

Do not be afraid!

Do not be discouraged!

Be strong and courageous!

This is what the Lord will do to all the enemies you are going to fight.

I will make your feet like the feet of a deer.

Rise and thresh, O, Daughter of Zion!

I will give you horns of iron,

I will give you hoofs of bronze!

You will have My strength and My power,

to overcome all your enemies.

Praise be to my God!

He trains me for battle,

He gives me His shield of victory!

The Lord lives! Praise be to my Rock!

Exalted be God my Savior!

It is He who saves me from my enemies.

Therefore I praise you with my whole heart!

Thank you for your unfailing love and mercy!

Deliver me according to your promise.

( Isaiah 51:21, Micah 4:10-13, Joel 2:25, Joshua 10:24, 25, Psalm 18:33-35, Psalm 119:11 NIV)

JodiJodi Davis Lybrand is a lifelong resident of Shelby County. She is married and has raised two wonderful sons, has a beautiful daughter-in-law and 3 of the most adorable grandchildren ever!

Her favorites include playing with those awesome grand sweeties, enjoying long walks and sunsets, visiting with friends, old and new, painting and working on her bucket list!

A Bible teacher for 30 years, teaching preschool to senior adults (before she was one!) Jodi jests that she can teach you a Bible lesson in sixty seconds or sixty minutes! Most of all she loves to encourage people through the truths found in God’s holy word.

What MORE Do We Need? Part 3

woman-overloading-with-shopping-bag

Written by Jennifer Morrow
SOMETIMES LESS OF SOME THING IS REALLY MORE OF WHAT WE NEED.
SOMETIMES HAVING LESS OF SOME THING LEADS TO AN OPEN DOOR FOR MORE OF SOMETHING BETTER.

There is a struggle within our hearts and minds that we all face daily in order to really experience the MORE that truly fulfills.  This is the something that is MORE BETTER – okay, not proper grammar, but it works to make this point.  THE MORE THAT TRULY FULFILLS does not derail or kill the heartfelt desires that God has placed within each of us for His purpose and glory.  WHY?  Because the God who knows us infinitely better than we know ourselves and knew us while we were yet in our Mother’s womb, created us to desire, to hope for something better, and that something is more than we can often imagine or think in our finite minds.

WHAT APPEARS LESS THAN DESIRABLE TO MANY IN A CULTURE CONSUMED WITH SELF-FULFILLMENT, IS USUALLY WHAT LEADS TO MORE FULFILLMENT IN THE END.
HOW OFTEN DO WE SETTLE FOR SO MUCH LESS THAN GOD DESIRES FOR US? 
C. S. Lewis, the great British lay theologian and writer/creator of The Chronicles of Narnia and other eloquent works of literature, has a powerful quote regarding our desires.  This quote is taken from the book entitled, The Weight of Glory:
“It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half hearted creatures … like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.” 
Here’s something MORE to remember:
  • You were lovingly created by God who knows you and knows the very number of the hairs on your head.
  • You were uniquely created by God and no one else even has your same fingerprints!  Amazing!
  • You were created to be loved by God and to be in a love relationship with Your Father God.
BEING LOVED, KNOWN AND VALUED BY OUR CREATOR, AND KNOWING OUR PURPOSE, FULFILLS WAY BEYOND EXPERIENCING MORE TEMPORARY PLEASURES. 
Here’s something MORE to consider:

The next time one of your old desires for MORE leads you to carry out an old habit that continues to leave you empty, unfulfilled, and not so happy or glad, but maybe even sad(?), how about trying MORE of at least one of these new choices today my friend?

  • Spending MORE time in God’s Book and a little less time on Facebook? 
  • Spending MORE time bringing all your needs, fears, and specific requests to God while also being thankful for God’s goodness and faithfulness in your life? 
  • Spending a little MORE time actually getting together with friends who are traveling the same journey of faith for encouragement and support? You know that small group and church community thing works really well. 
  • Spending MORE time praising and thanking God over complaining?
  • Spending MORE time worshiping over worrying?

OLD HABITS DON’T DIE EASILY.  WHEN WE HAVE SPENT YEARS SEEKING TO FILL OUR DESIRE FOR MORE THROUGH OTHER PEOPLE, PLACES AND THINGS, WE SHOULD NOT EXPECT EVEN JUST A 21-DAY PRACTICE TO BREAK US FREE FROM EVERY OLD HABIT.  THERE IS A REASON THE BIBLE SPEAKS OF STRONGHOLDS – THEY HAVE A STRONG HOLD IN OUR HEARTS AND IN OUR DAILY LIVES.  

WE HAVE TO ESTABLISH A NEW PATTERN.  

EACH TIME OUR SOULS BEGIN TO CRY OUT FOR MORE OF THAT OLD HABIT OR THING THAT LEAVES US STILL UNFULFILLED AND WANTING MORE, WE HAVE TO CHOOSE THE MORE and BETTER OPTION GOD OFFERS US.  THIS WILL LEAD TO OUR ONLY STRONGHOLD BEING GOD.

LORD, FILL US WITH MORE OF YOUR SPIRIT, MORE OF YOUR LOVE, JOY AND PEACE.
 THIS IS THE MORE WE ALL NEED!
PSALM 4:7-8 THE MESSAGE
WHY IS EVERYONE HUNGRY FOR MORE?
“MORE, MORE” THEY SAY.
“MORE, MORE.”  I HAVE GOD’S MORE-THAN-ENOUGH,
MORE JOY IN ONE ORDINARY DAY
THAN THEY GET IN ALL THEIR SHOPPING SPREES.  
AT DAY’S END, I’M READY FOR SOUND SLEEP,
FOR YOU, GOD, HAVE PUT MY LIFE BACK TOGETHER.

 

Still, beyond all our unfulfilled desires, hopes and dreams, there is still MORE to come and the MORE that awaits us at our final destination is truly abundantly beyond and MORE than we can ask think or even imagine. 

Heaven will be so much “MORE BETTER” – Amen!

 

Other References:  Jeremiah 29:11, 31:3; Psalm 18:2, 119:1-2, 139; Matthew 10:30; Acts 1:14; Ephesians 2:10; Ephesians 3:20-21; Philippians 4:6; 1 Peter 5:7
IMG_3712By God’s amazing grace, I am a covenant daughter, a wife, a mother of 2 adult children and a son-in-love. I love God’s Word and I love studying it, teaching it, and listening to others teach and preach. I also love to laugh, dance, pray and worship – so I am sort of a rare bird.
My problems and my pain have always pressed me to pray, pen and pursue God’s presence in worship, not necessarily in that order. After the murder of my beloved brother, God turned my mourning into dancing for Him, which led to a ministry through dance over the past 20 plus years, including being the founder of Destiny Dance and Restoration Arts Dance. Since 2012, I have had the privilege of teaching dance at a Christ centered non-profit dance studio.
Writing, like prayer, worship and dancing, is a release of what is deep within my spirit. I also love fashion, festive parties, family gatherings, concerts and plays, reading several books at one time, cheering on the Crimson Tide, and traveling.
I am a member of Church of the Highlands, where, since 2004, I have been blessed to serve in the areas of prayer, outreach, leading small groups, coaching, and Women’s and Freedom ministry teams. I began practicing writing in 2009 on a Restoration Arts blog and in 2015, I started another blog at http://www.ponderit.org. I am experiencing a true restoration of joy despite all of the ups and downs of life.
I now even call myself “Joyful Jenny,” and I choose to laugh a LOT and uncontrollably at times! My heart’s motivation is to share what has helped me to live in love, joy, and freedom no matter what life throws our way. Having encountered the brokenness and pain as a result of my own childhood, family alcoholism and mental illness, tragic loss and grief, and a prodigal son’s journey, I empathize with other hurting hearts.
My prayer is that you will experience more of God’s love and joy and the intimate fellowship of His Holy Spirit. In His presence is fullness of JOY! Psalm 16:11

A Girl and Her Sword

Written by Jodi Lybrand

One of my top five favorite movies of all time are the Lord of the Rings Trilogy. I just love the character Eowyn. Talk about a girl and her sword!

As she prepares to lead her people to a safe place, she lifts her sword and takes a few practice moves with it first. She turns and locks swords with the “yet to be revealed” king. His observation? “ You have some skill with a blade.” Then, she swiftly disarms him!

I admit I’m a bit obsessed with swords. I would love to train as these actors did for this movie. Until that happens, as a Christian, I am to wield a different sword.

…take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God  (Ephesians 6:17b NLT).            The call is to take God’s truths and turn back what attacks us.

The Bible also tells us, God’s word is alive, you see! It’s powerful, and it’s sharper than any double-edged sword (Hebrews 4:12a NTE)                                                                          We have been given the greatest weapon needed for victory!

There will never be any fiercer battles than the battles we are faced with in the spiritual realm. The battles to defeat fear, depression, addictions, battles to protect our families, battles to see the lost saved, battles to hold on to truth, our joy and hope, battles to change hearts and defeat division, hatred and bigotry.

My question is, “Where is your sword?”

Is it hidden away, rusting? Go, find it!

Is it on display, cared for & shiny, but useless?  Put it back into action!

Is it only a device used occasionally? Always keep it near!

Or is it in your hand, ready to fight and defend?

Girl, raise your sword!  

Take a few practice moves!

Are you weak? Declare, The Sovereign Lord is my strength! ( Habakkuk 3:19 NLT)

Have you lost your way? Say out loud, My own ears will hear him. This is the way you should go.. (Isaiah 30:21 NLT)

Whatever your battle is, there will be a powerful word sword to use! All you need to do is become more familiar with God’s word, the Bible. Read it. Meditate on it. Study it. Ask others to help.

O, Daughters of the Most High King, disarm the enemy who is trying to conquer you!

The war is all around us, the call is to all believers, not just a select few. The enemy is relentless, be more relentless! A girl and her sword is a force to be reckoned with!

JodiJodi Davis Lybrand is a lifelong resident of Shelby County. She is married and has raised two wonderful sons, has a beautiful daughter-in-law and 3 of the most adorable grandchildren ever!

Her favorites include playing with those awesome grand sweeties, enjoying long walks and sunsets, visiting with friends, old and new, painting and working on her bucket list!

A Bible teacher for 30 years, teaching preschool to senior adults (before she was one!) Jodi jests that she can teach you a Bible lesson in sixty seconds or sixty minutes! Most of all she loves to encourage people through the truths found in God’s holy word.

Sometimes You Have to Log Out

Written by Nicole Collier

access adult blur business

Could I do it? Did I want to do it? Uninstalling Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter was harder than I would have liked to admit.

When my church began the New Year with a 21 Days of Prayer and Fasting, I rolled my eyes.  Here we go. Everyone posted about how they were going to log off to draw closer to God. It felt almost cliche’. I could have given up something simple, but in my spirit I knew I had to let go of social media. It had taken over my life and I knew it. I didn’t want to admit it.

Each morning, my routine included checking notifications, scoping out who had posted Instagram pictures while I was asleep, and reading tweets of the latest political hot take. What I did not realize at the time, was how much this was taking away from my time with God. His voice was being drowned out by the rabbit hole of Facebook videos. We’ve all been down that hole. You click on one video of a recipe and end up watching dogs say, ” I love you.” His voice was being replaced with anxiety from words on the phone screen. To be transparent, it also had me a little more narcissistic than I wanted to be. I was living for the red heart or the thumbs up instead of living for the love of Jesus. I HAD to post that selfie. Please do not misunderstand me.  Selfies are wonderful.  Sometimes we are just feeling like we want to post a selfie- POST IT GIRLFRIEND!

However, I knew in my heart this was not my intention, I craved the likes. I was looking for the validation of my feed than resting in who I am in God’s word.

The first few days it was hard, but as the days went on I found it easier to pick up my morning devotion instead of my phone. I found it easier to have a short conversation with my husband before the kids were up. I found it easier to have a conversation with God. Ouch, this realization hurt.

During the time away from social media I was able to read two books. In 21 DAYS! My idea that I never had time to read, a pastime I love, was not true. The truth is, I could not give up the scroll to enjoy simple things like reading.

During this time of fasting I did have these four realizations.

  1. Not every thought I have needs to be put on the internet. It is OK to keep opinions to one’s self. Rarely will we change the opinion of another with a post. Change tends to happen in the context of real relationships.
  2. It is so much more fun to catch up with friends in person. It helps us connect to each other better. We can hug each other, and we can hear the excitement or the disappointment in each other’s voice.
  3. My anxiety levels were considerably down when I was not able to allow comparison to steal my joy. You cannot compare yourself to what you cannot see. The Jones’ were living their life, and I was living mine. I enjoyed staying in “my own lane.”
  4. Above everything else, I grew deeper in a relationship with Jesus. I felt peace within my soul that had been missing.

While, yes, I am now back on social media, I have begun taking measures to ensure I don’t let it overtake my life. I have an app that tells me how much time I spend on each app daily. And, I do see the irony of an app that tells you how much time you use apps. This does keep me accountable. I do not visit Facebook, my biggest time consumer, through the app with a simple click. I use the internet where I have to login each time. It sounds odd, but sometimes it does force me to think, “Do I really need to go through this login process?”

I make plans. Yes, I live my life. If I am busy living my life, I do not have the time to worry with my online life.

I think it’s important for us to occasionally take a break to realign our heart and mind. Do you think you could? What are some things you do to ensure you are not spending life online more than enjoying the life we were given?

IMG_6550Nicole Collier grew up in Montgomery, AL. She now lives in Shelby County with her husband, Matthew, and 2 boys, Ethan and Russell. She is a lover of all things creative, including photography and music. She and her family are involved with The Just People Project non-profit ministry serving the homeless throughout the city of Birmingham.

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