Repurposing your nest when your baby bird flies away! Guest Blogger : Kim Wilbanks

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Repurpose the empty nest of your home with a glorious new design for the future…

a repurposed heart

 The house is quiet, just me and the dog. I climb the stairs and enter her room through the French doors off the landing. I light her favorite candle and sit in the black-checkered IKEA chair under the window. The gray walls are soothing, tranquil. The crisp white trim and bed spread, refreshing. The antique furniture a reminder of years passed.

 A little less than a year ago, my baby girl left the nest.

She graduated from college, and as many college graduates do, she opted to stay in her new “hometown”. (I can’t imagine why a 20-something would want to stay in Birmingham, Alabama rather than return home to the booming metropolis of Lakeland, Florida). She did come home for a couple of weeks . . . to pack up the things she wanted in her new place (which is really an old place, a 100-year old house)!

While she was home, she helped me in a very profound way, which I don’t think she even realizes.

Her bedroom and the guest bedroom are side by side at one end of the upstairs hallway. The guest bedroom is long and narrow with 3 windows. It has always been a challenge for furniture placement and was basically in the same configuration for about twelve years. I was really wanting to change it up but couldn’t figure out how when the girl child came up with a brilliant idea! “Mom, why don’t we flip the rooms”? Of course! What a great idea!

The two of us proceeded to transform her childhood bedroom into one more sophisticated and appropriate for the young professional that she is. We decided that the palette would be gray and white with some coral accents. We painted over the turquoise walls that were base for her adolescent design. (The blue walls covered with white, puffy clouds had been painted over a few years earlier). We pulled the Bohemian beads off the facing of the built in shelves. A hundred photographs were taken down and put away. Some things were boxed up for a new space in Birmingham and some were left in the closet for later. The white and turquoise furniture of childhood was replaced with antique furniture . . . my in-law’s bedroom set from the 1940’s, my grandmother’s old cedar chest, my parents’ glass-front barrister cabinet. She came back in and added her touch, things that will always keep this her room, like the Penguin books sitting on a silver platter on the cedar chest, her Casablanca poster propped up on the shelf, a ballerina figurine from my childhood, the little red double decker bus from London and some dried hydrangeas we collected in North Carolina. (I added a picture of her and her love in a “vintage” frame. It makes me smile). It is still her room even though she doesn’t occupy it very often.

A little less than a year ago my daughter helped me re-decorate her bedroom in the only home she remembers. That is the apparent, the obvious. She may not realize it, but what she really did is gently help me to let go. I love her for that.

Repurposing her room helped me embrace the changes for her future- Maybe a few changes to your nest can help you too? 

Live Repurposed!

a repurposed heart

Do you support your friend’s ministry?

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Here is a little check list to find out if you support your friend’s ministry–

1.) Do you give your friend little tangible reminders of your support?

As I mentioned in my other post, my confidence was drooping before a big event and a friend drove some flowers to my doorstep. They encouraged me so much, that I put them in my car and took them to my upcoming event. It felt like I had a little reminder of how much my friend was standing beside me in prayer. Your tangible support could be a small piece of candy with a note or a text message with a picture. It doesn’t have to cost a lot, it just needs to be some way that you let them know you notice what they are doing for the Lord. Let’s face it- Ministry outside the comfort zone of your church family can be scary- Find a tiny way to say- GO FOR IT!

 

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2.) Do you help promote your friend’s ministry to others?

At the conference I had a book table and placed the flowers there to greet anyone who might want to talk! I loved hear ing all the responses from the ladies about the flowers. I proudly announced that my sweet friend gave these to me and I wanted to share them. It was an instant connection to the women meeting for me for the first time. They knew someone at home was supporting me and that says a lot. Do you ever post a wonderful comment on facebook about your friend’s ministry? Do you tweet her cool quotes? Do you talk about her to people who might have a connection? Do people around you know you stand to support your friend? Your praise and appreciation open the door for others to see your friend as a valuable ministry worth investing in. You are your friend’s living seal of approval. Wear her ministry with pride!

3.) Do you realize that your friendship has a vital role in the advancement of God’s kingdom?

At the conference, I was nervous but so much more confident with the prayer support of my dearest friends and the knowledge that they were” holding up my arms” in love. Many sent me text messages, prayed over the phone with me and sent me notes. Exodus 17:12-says When Moses’ hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up–one on one side, one on the other–so that his hands remained steady till sunset. When Moses grew weak, he had his friends help hold up his arms to ensure the victory of a battle that faced God’s people. In a spiritual way, when you support a friend in ministry you hold up her arms and help God’s kingdom advance through her efforts. Never underestimate the importance of critical friends around you in ministry. You may just be the Aaron sent in to help “hold up a friend” to win the battle for the souls of people.

I cried when I read this card today sent by the ladies from my first women’s conference:

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Is your confidence wilted?

Wilted

 

I stared through tears at the flowers on my coffee table in the room where I go to meet God each morning…The weeks events were hard and not what I expected. The flowers seemed to represent my wilted confidence and my drooping hope for the future. As my head drooped too, I muttered a prayer,” God, I feel so sad- just like these drooping flowers”

Of all things, I am leading a women’s conference this week and I was feeling ill-equipted to lead anyone at the moment.”Wilted Flower Woman” can’t lead anyone at the moment, including herself!

Ministry is hard like that on people who are getting ready to share what is in their heart. It seems like the week before each talk or presentation I am faced with difficult situations that seem to rattle my self-confidence and stir up feelings of self-doubt and fear. “

As I was about to enter into another difficult conversation and confront a painful relationship,( gulp)My tendency is stuff my negative emotions inside because I am afraid of confrontation!  My door bell rang. Who in the world is coming over now? Unsuspectedly, I looked at my front door step and found a fresh bouquet of flowers. Shocked, It took my mind a minute to understand what was going on? Flowers? It is March, not Valentines Day, so it couldn’t be from my husband? I reached for the flowers as I saw the delivery person scampering quickly into their car. Suddenly, I realized the delivery person looked quite familiar….yes, I know this girl…..

She jumped out of her car and laughed, ” You answered the door so quickly and I couldn’t run fast enough.”

“She” was a precious friend who drove over  to give me flowers with a card that told me how much God loves me, not even knowing about my drooping roses in my prayer room.

I gave her the biggest hug and ran back in the house feeling refreshed. My sadness turned into joy as I realized the truth of my wilted flower prayer:

If the God of the universe has the power to hear me tell Him I feel like a wilted flower and send a friend to bring me fresh ones, then He is able to help me work through my painful relationships.

This display of His power wrapped my heart in the renewal of my confidence that it is God’s work alive and active in me and not my own! It is His faithfulness in me that will speak to women at the conference.

He can refresh my communication skills to give me words of love and not condemnation

He can take away the fear that makes me want to run from difficult conversations

He can send me people to love me even when I feel unloved

He can make a message come alive with His spirit even when I feel like a mess!

Maybe you need some fresh flowers today to remind you that your God can and will be with you to perk up your joy?

I am sending you a picture of the ones my friend gave me, so I can be the friend to you that says,

Philippians 1:6(GNT)

And so I am sure that God, who began this good work in you, will carry it on until it is finished on the Day of Christ Jesus.

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When the flower of my faith dies…

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What to do when you loose the image of beauty in your family ?

Don’t you hate it when the beauty of your family seems lost in a moment of unexpected turmoil?

Car rides are typically NOT a good time for me. Some of my worst moments as a mother have been driving in my flesh! ( pun intended) Did I mention that I have anxiety in car rides when my husband’s driving feels like I am in a race car on the Indy 500? Our ” no electronics” car ride policy seems like a death sentence as I want to numb out everyones minds on video gaming and movie watching. Instead, there are occasional arguments, followed by fart wars and serious irritable bowel syndrome! Someone is bound to loose their temper and it makes me feel like I was just hit with a big POW! Yes, our most difficult family discussions end up in cars.

At other times, it’s not a car ride but an emotional ride of hurt and pain caused by a person that I love. I want to love this person but I see areas of distance and pulling away. I see a lack of faith and trust. I see behaviors that I don’t like and want to change but I can’t. This emotional roller coaster causes me to feel discouraged and suddenly I focus on all that is wrong with my little centerpiece of beauty.

It seems like we are just a bunch of fading flowers.

POW!

 The centerpiece of beauty for mothers is the family they have helped to create. At times, we can experience a POW as mothers in the arrangement of our family.

 In this case, a POW stands for a Person Outta Whack!

This person is causing the centerpiece of beauty in our hearts to appear wilted! Typically this POW, or person outta whack, can be a child that is not behaving, a husband that seems unloving or a family member that is causing us stress. We can begin to think judgmental thoughts about our selves and the other person!

Judgmental thoughts are filled with words like,  you should, could, always and never !!!!

A POW  feels out of your control! 

REMEMBER:

You are doing your best and a person in your family can still have a problem.

Stop  allowing judgmental thoughts about the person to change the image of your family and start praying!  

You can't control a POW in life but you can change your perspective into a WOW Click To Tweet!

Expect a WOW! 

It’s time to shift the focus from the flowers and gaze at the one who created them!

HE is the only one who can bring a wilted flower back to life again. Only He can restore you with the living water that will help you find the strength to change your focal point in life.

Hebrews 12:2  Now stay focused on Jesus, who designed and perfected our faith. He endured the cross and ignored the shame of that death because He focused on the joy that was set before Him; and now He is seated beside God on the throne, a place of honor. ( The Voice) 

The only way to change a POW to a WOW is prayer Click To Tweet!

Here is a prayer to find your focus again in the form of a first person prayer from the Lord based on scripture reminders.

My Child,

I see you mourning the losses,  hurting again in your heart. I care so deeply for you and I hold each tear you cry as precious. I see the reality of the situation and the way you desire to avoid the pain. You must learn to shift your focus to me. I will provide for you in the deepest parts but you can not continue to look to people for your needs.

Shift your focus

Remember that I am doing a new thing in your life- I have the plan to make your life complete Is 43:19

Shift your focus

You are not a pleaser of men but a pleaser of me Galatians 1:10

Shift your focus

You are making eternal progress do not be concerned with temporary gains- 2 Corinthians 4:18

Shift your focus

You have a heart that desires true riches in my kingdom and not earthy rewards Mathew 6:34

Shift your focus

I am your Father in heaven and I will protect you Matthew 6 :25-34

Shift your focus and see the truth of my love for you today !

 

Guest Blogger Mike Nimer: Are you really saved? Can you pass this faith test?

A theologian was once walking in a prominent city and was approached by a stranger who ostensibly was a Christian. He asked him, “Are you saved” to which the theologian replied, “Saved from what?”

His response seems rather condescending, but his motive was to try and ascertain whether or not this zealous witness understood the true nature of salvation, or was just parroting what he had been taught.

If someone were to ask you to define salvation, what would you say?

Most Christians would say it means to be saved from the penalty of sin (hell), which is correct (Romans 6:23). However, it also means to be saved daily from the power of sin (Phil. 2:12), and to one day be saved from the presence of sin (Romans 8:22-25).

Many in the American church claim they have been saved. Professions of faith are as common now as they were during the ministry of Christ (John 8:31). However, Jesus and the Apostles did not always accept everyone’s profession as necessarily genuine (John 2:23-24).

In fact, Jesus declared that he will one day expose those whose professions are spurious. Many will say to him on judgment day, “Lord” “Lord” and he will say to them, “depart from me I never knew you” (Matt 7:21-23).

So, this raises the question as to how one can know for sure he or she is a Christian. To say it another way, how can one have the assurance that they possess genuine saving faith?

Although we are saved by faith alone and not works (Titus 3:3-5; Ephesians 2:8-9), works do give evidence that one is saved. Martin Luther said, “We are saved by faith alone, but it’s not the faith that is alone.”

In the book of I John, the Apostle John gives several tests or works that can help determine if one possesses genuine saving faith.

Take the tests and see if you pass them

1. THE OBEDIENCE TEST

John says genuine believers will walk in a lifestyle of righteousness or obedience (I John 1:5-6; 3:7-9). The pattern of our life will be holiness and a desire to honor God. This does not mean we will be perfect (I John 2:1-2); not does it mean that true believers cannot have periods of barrenness or commit egregious sin (II Samuel 11; I Cor. 3:1-3; II Peter 2:7-8). However if one professes to be saved, but lives in an unbroken pattern of sin, without conviction, that individual may not be saved (Galatians 5:19-21).

Ask yourself: Do I see the fruit of righteousness or obedience in my life?

2. THE LOVE TEST

John says another fruit of genuine saving faith is a love for others (I John 2:9-11; 4:7;19-21). At salvation God sheds his love in our hearts (Romans 5:5) so that we now have the capacity to love as God loves. This love, however, must be cultivated on a daily basis (I Thessalonians 4:9-10). If a person says they are saved, but they hate others or remain in a lifestyle of unforgiveness or bitterness, their salvation may not be credible. Again, this does not mean we love perfectly or never struggle with anger, but a true believer will manifest the love of God.

Ask yourself: Do I see the fruit of love in my life?

3. THE DOCTRINAL TEST

John says genuine believers have a biblically sound view of Christ and of salvation. The Gnostics, which serves as the backdrop of I John, had a distorted Christology and a skewed understanding of salvation. They believed that Christ was not human and salvation was achieved through a secret knowledge.                  (I John 4:1-3; 5:6-8). If one denies the humanity of Christ, and by way of extension his Deity, that person is not a genuine believer (I John 4:1-3; II John). Furthermore, if one denies salvation is by faith alone in Christ, they are unregenerate despite their profession (I John 5:9-13)

Ask yourself: Do I have a proper view of Christ who is the God/man and of salvation?

Although God is the only one who can ultimately judge the genuineness of one’s faith, these tests help provide a guide to give one the assurance of their salvation.

BIO

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Mike Nimer is the Senior Pastor of Trinity Christian Chapel in Sewell, NJ (tcchapel.com)

He is originally from Miami, Fla. and graduated from Columbia Biblical Seminary in South Carolina

He has pastored churches in Miami and in South Carolina.

He can be heard daily on Hope FM 90.5

He is married to Lara and has three lovely daughters: Kaitlyn, Ashley and Amber.

 

How to Repurpose Car time with kids by Guest Author Angel Sims!

“Are we there yet???” This question oozed from the back seat on every road trip we ever took.  Eventually, my husband had the brilliant idea that each child could only ask that question so many times per trip, depending upon how long the ride would be.  The creativity of our children tickled our funny bone as our tiny tots tapped into their inner lawyer voices.  “How much further, how many more miles, what is our estimated time of arrival?”  The questions became more articulate as the years progressed until we decided to answer every question with a chuckle and say, “Five more minutes,” no matter how far we still had to go.

In a recent Subaru commercial a doting mom claims, “This is where she grew up” speaking of the backseat of her car.  It’s a fact of our face-paced lives, whether it’s a long family road trip or a day filled with soccer fields, ballet studios, or dentist appointments… we spend time in our cars with our children.

When I was a kid, the only entertainment was starring out the window while pointing my finger like a laser beam deciding which tree or car to spare from being vaporized by my imaginary power.  Now, our kids have games, movies, music, at the tips of their tiny fingers and even head phones to keep the goofy sounds in check.  It’s easy and lets be honest sometimes a huge blessing to have our little one content and a few moments of peace as we drive.  Here comes the BUT…… let’s rethink and repurpose the opportunity.

Both of my children received Christ as their Savior after a car-ride conversation.  Each time they initiated with a question like, “How do I get Jesus?”  When I began to sense the importance of the moment I pulled off the road to give my full attention and answer their beautiful question.  I will totally admit this was during the pre-cellphone days (whew that’s hard to even imagine,) so I was never even tempted to chat as we drove… my kids had my attention.

Stats show the average American spends 600 hours per year driving, if even half of that is spent with our children in toe, that’s a lot of time.  Here are a few ideas to get the ball rolling:

 

1)    When emergency sirens scream in the distance, pray out loud with your kids that God would send His Angels ahead to minister to those in need.

2)    Bring along some gummy worms and tell your kids about being “fishers of men” (Mt. 4:19.)

3)    Talk about the oddness of a duck billed platypus… ask your kids if they could create any animal what would it look like, what would it eat, what noises would it make, where would it live?  Talk about the amazing creativity of God.  You could even throw in some animal crackers!

4)    Download and listen to Adventures in Odyssey by Focus on the Family (this was a huge hit for our whole family.)

5)    Ask your kids what character traits they look for in a friend.

6)    Take along some Goldfish and tell you kids about “the fish and the gold coin” (Mt. 17:27,) or the “boy’s fish and the feeding 5000” (Lk. 9:10-17.)

7)    Sing a long with worship music!!!

8)    Look for license plate tags from other states, describe how different the terrain and climate might be from your home.  Think about how a child might have different needs in times of crisis.

 

Let’s reclaim and repurpose a little of our drive time and watch the seeds of faith grow!

Angel is a mother of two children and an adjunct professor at SouthEastern University in Lakeland, Fl. She is currently writing a book on how to bring parents back to the primary role of spiritual leadership with their  children.

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Go after that dream!

Quit living as if the purpose of life is to arrive safely at death. Grab life by the mane. Set God-sized goals. Pursue God-ordained passions. Go after a dream that is destined to fail without divine intervention. Keep asking questions. Keep making mistakes. Keep seeking God. Stop pointing out problems and become part of the solution. Stop repeating the past and start creating the future. Stop playing it safe and start taking risks. Accumulate experiences. Consider the lilies. Enjoy the journey. Find every excuse you can to celebrate everything you can. Live like today is the first day and last day of your life. Don’t let what’s wrong with you keep you from worshipping what’s right with God. Burn sinful bridges. Blaze new trails. Criticize by creating. Worry less about what people think and more about what God thinks. Don’t try to be who you’re not. Be yourself. Laugh at yourself. Quit holding out. Quit holding back. Quit running away.                                             

Chase the lion.
From Mark Batterson, author of With a Lion in a Pit on a Snowy Day and Lead Pastor of National City Church in Washington, DC.

Would you like to publish a story for Guidepost?

BJ_Taylor_02This week at Florida Christian Writers Conference, I met an amazing author named BJTaylor!

She is a writer for Guidepost Magazine. This is a contest year for their magazine,so they are  looking for stories that offer hope to millions of people. She has written a few books of her own listed below.

If you purchase one of her books, she is willing to give you a free critique of your story through her website- bjtayloronline.com I

After buying her book, contact her through her website with proof of purchase and let her know I sent you. Start sharing your story of hope with others!

Share this opportunity with as many people as you can,

but don’t forget to let her know you found out about this on traceylynnrussell.com to ensure she knows where you found her.

Live Repurposed! Tracey

CHARLIE BEAR
What a Headstrong Rescue Dog
Taught Me about Life, Love, and Second Chances

A captivating pet story by B.J. Taylor,
available in both print and e-book format
on Amazon and Barnes & Noble,
April 2012 (published by Inspiring Voices).

An intimate look at the first year in the life of a dog nearly labeled “unadoptable” and how this adorable munchkin sheds his headstrong ways, becomes a loving member of a family, and ultimately changes three lives forever.

NOW AVAILABLE!!
      

Praise for CHARLIE BEAR:   “What a gift and privilege it is to witness the adorable Charlie Bear morph from an unwanted, issue-ladened orphan to a beloved, human rescuer under the loving care of B.J Taylor and her family. What a fabulous story—and I know stories!”  Jennifer Quasha, co-author of
Chicken Soup for the Soul: My Dog’s Life and My Cat’s Life


“An endearingly straightforward tale of a dog and the love he inspires.”
Ptolemy Tompkins, author of The Divine Life of Animals 
Contributing Editor, Guideposts; Senior Contributing Editor, Angels on Earth  


“As a lifelong advocate for the humane treatment of animals—and the founder/owner of A Place To Bark, a no-kill, foster and adoption rescue non-profit—I wholeheartedly support the mission and spirit of B.J. Taylor and her CHARLIE BEAR.    I have known all types of pets; yet the headstrong ones like Charlie, which B.J. depicts so accurately and engagingly, have always seemed to capture my heart. And the fact that Charlie inspires so much love—and ultimately turns the tables and rescues ‘his’ humans!—makes this book a must-read for dog lovers across the globe!”

Bernie Berlin, Founder, A Place To Bark

SUNNY SIDE UP: INSIRING STORIES FORDOG & CAT LOVERS
The compassionate, personal style of popular speaker and author B.J. Taylor inspires thousands of readers through her writing for Guideposts magazine, Chicken Soup for the Soul, and her well-known blog Taylor’s Tips. In Sunny Side Up: Inspiring Stories for Dog & Cat Lovers, B.J. offers up-close and personal stories of the love we have for our furry friends and the love they give us in return. 
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SUNNY SIDE UP: INSPIRING STORIES FOR TOUGH TIMES
The compassionate, personal style of popular speaker and author B.J. Taylor inspires thousands of readers through her writing for Guideposts magazine, Chicken Soup for the Soul, and her well-known blog Taylor’s Tips. In Sunny Side Up: Inspiring Stories for Tough Times, B.J. offers up-close and personal stories that provide you with encouragement and hope.
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SUNNY SIDE UP: INSIRING STORIES FOR WOMEN
The compassionate, personal style of popular speaker and author B.J. Taylor inspires thousands of readers through her writing for Guideposts magazine, Chicken Soup for the Soul, and her well-known blog Taylor’s Tips. In Sunny Side Up: Inspiring Stories for Women, B.J. offers her own personal stories to provide you with encouragement and hope. B.J. believes that behind the clouds there is always the sun. You’ll discover how she has conquered her fears with courage and strength. Return again and again to Sunny Side Up for inspiration, motivation, empowerment, and healing.
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