And the Winner of the Living Proof Live Springfield IL Ticket Is…

preparationThanks to everyone who contributed to this month’s posts in the Preparation series, and thanks to everyone who joined the conversation by commenting and considering how God is preparing you.

The winner of the FREE Living Proof Live Springfield IL ticket is runnergirl4jesus. Email me at Susan@PurePurpose.org and let me know if you’ll be able to make the October event in Springfield. And here’s the added surprise: You will receive TWO free tickets! You can take a friend! Congratulations!

As we wrap up the Preparation series, please remember God is always preparing you.

Since we have been made right with God by our faith, we have peace with God. This happened through our Lord Jesus Christ,who through our faith has brought us into that blessing of God’s grace that we now enjoy. And we are happy because of the hope we have of sharing God’s glory. We also have joy with our troubles, because we know that these troubles produce patience. And patience produces character, and character produces hope.And this hope will never disappoint us, because God has poured out his love to fill our hearts. He gave us his love through the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to us. (Romans 5:1-5)


Preparation: Michelle’s Story

preparationHow is God using your today to prepare and purpose your tomorrow?

Today’s guest post is written by Michelle Beckmier…

 

Have you ever heard something that you’ve heard time and time again, only this time it was put into “wow, I get that” terms?

Recently, one of my friends painted a word picture suggesting that, instead of the focusing on the negatives like cost of fuel and what that fuel production costs the earth, that we instead try and imagine that God fills up just like the fuel does the car.

Moments later, I found myself at the gas station.

So, I tried it. I stood outside instead of sitting in the vehicle. As the gallons rose on the pump filling my van up with fuel, I imagined God doing the same in my life. Standing over me when it’s cold and uncomfortable, pouring into me. As the tank seemed full, I tried to squeeze just a little more into the already full tank. And that’s when my “wow, I get that” sunk in.

God fills us up with everything we need. But it’s up to us top it off by squeezing just a few more minutes of quiet time in each day. It’s up to us to add just a few more ounces of grace to a conversation. It’s up to us to squeeze in just a little more understanding to a situation that we know only God truly understands. What if we focused on filling up with his word. What if we trusted Him and not on others or stuff to fill us up to the top so full that we started to run over with His grace?

What if…?

(This is the final post in the Preparation series, intended to help you look for, notice, and acknowledge God working in your life. On Monday, I’ll give away a free ticket to the Living Proof Live with Beth Moore event in Springfield, IL, October 25-26, 2013. All you have to do to qualify for the free ticket drawing is to comment on one or more blog posts throughout this series. Check back Monday! (If you live too far away to attend the event, I have an alternate giveaway and will then pass along the ticket to someone else.)

Preparation: Rhonda’s Story

preparationHow is God using your today to prepare and purpose your tomorrow?

Today’s guest post is written by Rhonda James…

Am I qualified for this?

For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11

Why is it so hard to believe this statement? Maybe it’s because we want to be in control. Or could it that it’s easy to overlook how God has his hand in every aspect of our lives?

I know this can be true for me.

For six years I served as the women’s Ministry Leader at my church. I love helping women connect and encouraging them to grow in their relationship with Christ. I felt blessed to serve in this role and I knew that God had placed me there, but I wanted more. I wanted to make a difference. Who hasn’t said that before? I wanted to be able to reach more women, to help teach them and lift them up as leaders in women’s ministry, but I wasn’t sure I was qualified. Who was I to lead others? I prayed for years for God to make a way and give me a purpose.

In the fall of 2011, I was home recuperating from hand surgery, and I had reached a very low point. I was feeling sorry for myself and truly doubting my capabilities. I didn’t feel well, couldn’t use my right hand, and honestly wasn’t sure if I would fully regain use of my hand after recovery. Just then, the phone rang and the conversation that followed changed my life.

“Are you sure you want me? I’m just a volunteer ministry leader. I’m not sure that I am qualified to train women to start a ministry! Okay, well I look forward to meeting everyone! Thank you!”

What just happened? Can I do this? This is so cool! God is amazing! A million things seemed to run through my mind. I had just been asked to be a part of a team of women that travels to churches and trains and encourages women in their ministry. This is what I had always wanted. I would finally have a chance to help make a difference in women’s lives on a larger scale. Was this really happening? God heard my prayers and knew my hearts deepest desires. While I was leading a ministry and believing that I was just a woman volunteering her time He was preparing me for greater things. When I was at my lowest point and filled with self-doubt He heard my cry and had a plan for my life.

It can be so easy to believe that if God doesn’t answer our prayers the moment we think they should be then He must not want that for us, or that He doesn’t care. Nothing could be further from the truth! God has a plan for us. Each one of us has a purpose, whether big or small, we are important to Him. How cool is that!

My dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless. 1 Corinthians 15:58

How is God using your today to prepare and purpose your tomorrow?

RhondaRhonda serves as an Administrator at her church. She also has the privilege of serving with Group Publishing as a part of their Women’s Ministry Training Team. She lives on a small farm in Dexter, MI with her husband Dan and their two teenagers, Taylor and David. She loves to cook, garden, shop for purses, and writing on her blog  http://jamesfamilyfarm.weebly.com/

(The current Preparation series is intended to help you look for, notice, and acknowledge God working in your life. At the end of the month, I’ll give away a free ticket to the Living Proof Live with Beth Moore event in Springfield, IL, October 25-26, 2013. All you have to do to qualify for the free ticket drawing is to comment on one or more blog posts throughout the month of March. The ticket will be given away on April 1st (and it’s not an April Fools joke!). (If you live too far away to attend the event, I have an alternate giveaway and will then pass along the ticket to someone else.)

Preparation: Donna’s Story

preparationHow is God using your today to prepare and purpose your tomorrow?

Today’s guest post is written by Donna Bostick…

A Love Like His

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord.  “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 57:8-9)

It was late October 2008. My first missions trip to a third world country. Haiti bound. Approximately forty-five days after the hurricane. A team of fifteen. The goal to visit orphanages to love on the kids including dispensing of clothes, shoes, medicine, toys, colors, and of course candy to the kids.

The prayer of my heart – to love without hesitation. An easy task for most – right – not so much for me as we were told that some of the kids might have aids, some of the kids might have sores covering their little bodies, and some of the kids might have oozy eyes and noses. Not exactly something that I was looking forward to – not sure what I was expecting but the thought of contracting aids during a missions trip – not at the top of my bucket list.

It was mid-day when we landed in Port-au-Prince via an American Airlines 757. We then took a bus across town to a smaller airport and were loaded onto a tiny plane with 18 seats which was to fly us to Les Cayes located along the coast in southern Haiti. Upon landing, we were carted off to a white van, our mode of operation the rest of the trip.

As we bounced along the make shift once flooded roads, my hands began to sweat and my heart began to pound as we inched closer and closer to our first stop – our first orphanage. As I crawled my way out of the back seat, the kids swarmed us! I had no choice but to love without hesitation. They were crawling, hugging, tugging and loving on us like crazy! It was so amazing to experience the love of Jesus from these kids – kids that loved like Jesus.  And this scene played out for the next four days with each visit to a new and different orphanage.

“God does not ask of us that which does not ultimately benefit us. Regardless of what kind of change God asks of you, and no matter how difficult what He asks may seem, obedience to His voice will always result in blessing in the long run. That’s just the kind of God we serve. He wants to give us marvelous things and experiences that we perhaps never dreamed of, but first we have to let go of our own little world and begin to venture into His.” ~~ Shannon Ethridge

I read the above quote on the plane ride home from Haiti and it sums up the trip better than I ever could. You see, God did that for me – He gave me marvelous things and experiences in Haiti that I could have never dreamed of! He let me venture into His world. I was truly blessed beyond measure and comprehension.

I left Kansas City with the attitude of what I was going to do for the kids – I was the one with plans to love unconditionally – plans to love without strings – plans to love like Jesus – but God totally had something else in mind for me. It was not about what I could do for the kids – but was about what the kids and the team did for me.

I was on the receiving end of “agape” (unconditional) love – up close and personal from everyone that I touched, saw and hugged on the trip – from my friend’s 15 year old son to an 86 year old grandpa who had an orphanage built in memory of his wife to two little Haitian girls that stole my heart that I affectionately named Silly 1 and Silly 2. (Partly because all they did was giggle and laugh with me or at me plus the fact that French Creole is not my second language with English barely being my first.)

I experienced the love of Jesus in the flesh! I experienced unconditional love by orphans – children without homes, children without parents, children without families, children without clothes to call their own, and children without food. It was through these orphans that God taught me how to receive. God taught me how to open my heart, my mind and my life to what He wanted to teach me about His love. He taught me that His thoughts were so much higher than mine and that His ways were much higher than mine. I experienced Haiti as God saw fit for me to see Haiti. And trust me; it was a far better view through His eyes.

As I think about how God is preparing me for the Living Proof Live event, it’s all about Him transforming my heart into a heart like His – step by step – day by day – experience by experience with Haiti being one of those experiences. It’s all about Him drawing me closer to His heart as He chisels away making me more like Him. It’s my responsibility to “Be still, and know that [He is] God.” (Psalm 46:10).

It’s in our being still and abiding in His word that we begin to know who He is. By knowing His voice, we will hear it more clearly which in turn will prepare our hearts to receive Him and His teachings in and through Beth Moore and others that He will place in our paths as we journey toward His heart.

Father God, open our hearts to what you want to teach us along this journey to your heart. Give us ears to hear, eyes to see, and a desire to obey you. Transform our hearts along the way into hearts that desire you. Hearts and minds that desire to obey you and become more like you. Thank you for loving us and for calling us to follow you. In Jesus’name. Amen.

haiti grandpaHAITI DJhaiti blog 1How is God using your today to prepare and purpose your tomorrow?

(The current Preparation series is intended to help you look for, notice, and acknowledge God working in your life. At the end of the month, I’ll give away a free ticket to the Living Proof Live with Beth Moore event in Springfield, IL, October 25-26, 2013. All you have to do to qualify for the free ticket drawing is to comment on one or more blog posts throughout the month of March. The ticket will be given away on April 1st (and it’s not an April Fools joke!). (If you live too far away to attend the event, I have an alternate giveaway and will then pass along the ticket to someone else.)

Preparation: Dinah’s Story

preparationHow is God using your today to prepare and purpose your tomorrow?

Today’s guest post is written by Dinah Cook…

God called me to leave California and relocate to Raleigh, North Carolina, about eight years ago. I didn’t really understand why God asked me to leave everything that was comfortable for me and follow Him, but I was obedient and did what God placed on my heart to do. I left everything that was dear to me, and it was not an easy decision. I left my family, friends, and a global management job that I enjoyed. No one understood why I made the decision to leave, but I knew if God called me to relocate, then I had to do what He said. I was a single mom who was recently divorced and I was carrying a lot of hurt, but I was ready for a new change and determined to see what God had planned for me. After hearing from family, friends, co-workers, and my boss about why I shouldn’t leave for North Carolina, I stood firm on what God told me, and I trusted Him.

God confirmed to me the week before I had to get on a plane to North Carolina that I was in His will to relocate and that He had a ministry for me in North Carolina. He also told me that the journey would not be easy for me. I left my job, sold my house, and prepared for my transition with my son. When I arrived in North Carolina, I knew God went before me. God blessed me with a new home and lined up a global management position for me, which was a job that was created for me. My new company presented me with a job offer when I arrived at the Raleigh, NC airport.

God showed me when he provided employment that He is never late and always on time!

I found a church home for my son and I and decided to become a greeter, because it was safe ministry for me. I had been a greeter in California, because it was something I felt I could do even though I was timid. Even serving as a greeter stretched me.  I didn’t have enough confidence to do more in ministry. I later joined a small group, but I didn’t do more than just silently pray for the women that came into the sessions and observed the leaders of that ministry to learn. When I was asked to pray out loud for the women in the counseling sessions, I panicked and couldn’t do it. When I was asked to prepare some words of inspiration and discuss it for a few minutes in a counseling session, I again panicked and couldn’t do it. I knew if God wanted to use me in a greater way, He would have to chase away my insecurities. God later told me through a visiting Pastor that it was time for me to fly on wings like eagles and not stay hidden and afraid any longer.

I didn’t know exactly what God was saying to me but I knew He was about to push me forward in ministry.

After three years of serving in hospitality and sitting in counseling group sessions to silently pray, God showed me where He wanted me to serve. I was called to start and lead a women’s ministry called Girlfriends. I didn’t know what the Girlfriend ministry was, but I felt if God called me and chose me to lead, then He would help me to overcome my fears and chase away my insecurities. I jumped in to launch the women’s ministry and had the pleasure to see women’s lives changed.

God showed me that if He worked through me that I could do anything.

Through this ministry I was not only called to organize women’s ministry events at my local church, but I had the opportunity to help other women at other churches throughout North Carolina to launch their women’s ministries. I was blessed by God to speak at a few conferences about the Girlfriend’s women’s ministry, and I did it afraid but was excited that God was using me for His glory. God amazed me as He chose to use me, a woman so timid and who was too afraid to be out front. God saw something in me that He could use for His glory, When others didn’t believe I heard from God when He called me to leave California, God proved that I did hear Him and that He had a ministry for me.

In 2012, I was given the vision to launch a women’s ministry called Kingdom Mindset Women International and I launched a Christian life coach business for women, called Changing Your World Coaching International. I also held my first women’s conference under the new organizations that I founded.

I learned from this journey that when God chooses you, He will equip you.

He will place the right people around you to encourage and help you, He will provide all the resources you need, He will be your personal coach, He will chase away your insecurities, He will remove the obstacles that try to hinder your purpose, and He will go ahead of you to pave the way for His purpose to come to pass. God amazes me, and I am in awe of Him. He is still teaching me and maturing me in women’s ministry, and I believe He is just getting started in how He will use me this year and beyond for His glory.

How is God using your today to prepare and purpose your tomorrow?

DinahCookYou can find out more about Dinah Cook at Changing Your World Coaching. Be sure to look out for Dinah Cook’s first book called Fixing a Broken Glass, testimonies from ordinary women who God has used to do the extraordinary. This book will include testimonies from 12 women that God has placed on Dinah’s heart to tell their stories.

(The current Preparation series is intended to help you look for, notice, and acknowledge God working in your life. At the end of the month, I’ll give away a free ticket to the Living Proof Live with Beth Moore event in Springfield, IL, October 25-26, 2013. All you have to do to qualify for the free ticket drawing is to comment on one or more blog posts throughout the month of March. The ticket will be given away on April 1st (and it’s not an April Fools joke!). (If you live too far away to attend the event, I have an alternate giveaway and will then pass along the ticket to someone else.)

Preparation: Sheila’s Story

preparationHow is God using your today to prepare and purpose your tomorrow?

Today’s guest post is written by Sheila…

I discovered a statement that I now have as my Facebook picture. It says “Sometimes we must be willing to let go of the life we have planned to have the life that is waiting for us.” I guess it goes hand in hand with the much quoted Jeremiah 29:11:

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

In the past I have just skimmed over that Scripture thinking it sounded nice and made me feel happy that God was giving me hope and a future. But now, after my life took a pretty hard blow, I can’t just skim over such life-giving words.

I didn’t grow up in a Christian family. As a child I was molested, physically and emotionally abused, immersed in a sex-addicted, drug-using family. I knew early on I didn’t want to be like anyone in my family, but I didn’t know how to get out of it. In the sixth grade, I went to live with my grandmother who provided a stable home, even though it was full of tremendous verbal abuse. During junior high, I met a girl who introduced me to Jesus and all the pieces came together for me. Here was what…WHO…I had been searching for.

Jesus was what was missing from my heart.

I desperately clung to him for the next 7 years while living with my grandmother. Through those years, despite immersing myself in Church and learning about Jesus, I struggled with depression to the point of attempting suicide. I couldn’t understand why God would allow me to be molested when I was just a child.

Why did He allow my mom and dad to abandon me?

Why didn’t He intervene in the abuse I faced with my grandmother?

I was a follower of Christ but still very broken and hurting, not seeing that God was walking with me and had a plan and a purpose for me….

In my life, God seems to use pain a lot to prepare me for the future. It’s one of those things that I can’t ignore and forces me to take action and change. I’m a firm believer in the Scriptures like “In this world you will have sorrow, but take heart, I have overcome the world!” Pain is part of life. Without it we would never change…I would never change. God allows the pain, and even at times has brought the pain into my life for that very purpose…to change me, to make me more like Him. I used to get greatly disturbed by this. It “pained” me to think a loving God would bring/allow pain into my life. I held a grudge against my own Creator as if He was out to get me. I couldn’t see that He allowed the pain for a purpose.

Fast forward to the present….I am a Christian mom, my husband a pastor, and I had all but abandoned that life I once lived. I worked hard to forget everything. I was being “good” now and “doing” so many things for God that I knew nothing really bad would happen. God had a plan to prosper me, right? I cannot say how many times I have heard/learned in church that if I just live good enough or work at the church hard enough, everything in my life will just” fall in place,” God will ” open the door if it’s His will,” or (fill in whatever other lie that has been told). I bought it, even though I wouldn’t have admitted it.

Then came the shocker: my husband admits to a moral failure. He quits his job, I have to start working, and we lose friends and feel completely alienated by the nature of his sin. He can’t find a job for months and during this time we are forced to talk to each other about his sin, our commitment to one another, and our faith. At first I wanted to give up, just be done with life in general. I was drowning in the messes others had made, much like when I was a child. Several friends e-mailed and said “If you and the kids need a place to stay, you are more than welcome here.” I know they were trying to be loving, but it hit me hard that they were giving up on my marriage and assumed I was too.

Was I? No, I most certainly was not.

It hadn’t even crossed my mind! If I had learned anything from my childhood, it was how to be strong and push through the pain–that the most important “things” in life are usually the hardest and worth fighting for. I looked over at my husband, and despite the pain in my heart, I loved him more than I did the day I married him.

Through his time off, we dug into Scripture like we were spiritually starving, being sustained spiritually and emotionally by God’s promises. I had never before felt like the Bible was so relevant. Everything was jumping out at me. All the things we had “preached” to others, we had to accept into our own lives. Messages of God’s abundant grace, His mercy, faithfulness, and mostly, His forgiveness, we embraced fully…feeling as if our lives depended on it. My husband and I were sharing and praying constantly. The emotional and spiritual intimacy that had lacked in our lives, God was, and is, slowly building.

A few days after my husband’s confession, we walked into a church, broken, weeping, and feeling alone. For weeks no one approached us or even noticed us. God spoke volumes through the message and the music, though, enough that we kept going back. Because of this experience, we are seeing that in the church, and everywhere, people are hurting, dying inside and have no one to walk with them through it. God has grabbed our hearts and shown us what it is, how scary it is, for someone who is so broken to walk into a church. We don’t know what He has in store yet, but our hearts are aching for those people that need to hear the message of Jesus without judgment or condemnation.

I can’t explain how I started having a fear of having no faith at all, before our life -changing event, a fear that I would do nothing of importance for God in this life. Now, because we had to rely solely on God, His grace and forgiveness, I have a peace and security I never had before, knowing God is before us and behind us with His plan. God asked us the question, “If everything is stripped away from you (or there is a possibility of if), is MY love enough, am I enough?” We had to truly examine our hearts and dig into God’s Word to see that YES, He truly is enough, no matter what.

My faith and that of my husband is being renewed day by day. Even though our world crumbled, our faith was rebuilt. My husband is now a “regular” person working a normal job, and when I see Jeremiah 29:11, I truly see hope and that we will have a future because of Jesus and his amazing grace…maybe not a future of financial stability and a comfortable home, but a future with faith that cannot be shaken, a strong marriage based on true gut-wrenching love, honesty, and forgiveness, and a peace knowing our loving God is restoring our lives, not taking them away.

“For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. But if we have hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.” (Romans 8:24-25)

So, How God is using my today to prepare and purpose my tomorrow? I truly don’t know. I am completely open to His will and done with my own. If He wants me to  remain a stay-at-home mama to my kiddos, I will. If the biggest thing He ever calls me to do is forgive and love my husband, I feel blessed to have that opportunity. God’s plans and purposes exceed anything I could dream or imagine. Through the pain we have endured, He has shown me deep-seated joy, a peace in which I truly feel the presence of God walking with me through the struggles, and a love for His people that I never thought would come. I don’t want to go back to the way we were “before.”

 

How is God using your today to prepare and purpose your tomorrow?

(The current Preparation series is intended to help you look for, notice, and acknowledge God working in your life. At the end of the month, I’ll give away a free ticket to the Living Proof Live with Beth Moore event in Springfield, IL, October 25-26, 2013. All you have to do to qualify for the free ticket drawing is to comment on one or more blog posts throughout the month of March. The ticket will be given away on April 1st (and it’s not an April Fools joke!). (If you live too far away to attend the event, I have an alternate giveaway and will then pass along the ticket to someone else.)

Preparation: Kimberly’s Story

preparationHow is God using your today to prepare and purpose your tomorrow?

Today’s guest post is written by Kimberly Price…

My youngest daughter is nine years old, soon to be ten, and I’m constantly telling her that she should not be discouraged by what she sees as failure or not “measuring up.” I remind her that she is a work in progress and that God will use everything she has learned about herself and use it for his Glory!

How often I need that reminder! I’ve been blessed with a variety of positions and responsibilities I’ve had, both in and outside of ministry. I’ve made lifelong friendships. I’ve learned new things. And I’ve been asked to step out of my comfort zone more often than not.

KimPriceI believe that through all of my experience, God is continually preparing me for what comes next! I may not see the “big” picture but he does. I, like my daughter, have to tell myself that I’m a work in progress. I have much more to learn and many more lives to love. I can never be finished…until I am face to face with God, and he tells me I’ve done my last job.

How excited I will be when I know I’ve finished the race that was set before me! It’s certainly been an interesting journey so far!

How is God using your today to prepare and purpose your tomorrow?

(The current Preparation series is intended to help you look for, notice, and acknowledge God working in your life. At the end of the month, I’ll give away a free ticket to the Living Proof Live with Beth Moore event in Springfield, IL, October 25-26, 2013. All you have to do to qualify for the free ticket drawing is to comment on one or more blog posts throughout the month of March. The ticket will be given away on April 1st (and it’s not an April Fools joke!). (If you live too far away to attend the event, I have an alternate giveaway and will then pass along the ticket to someone else.)