Oh . . .I’d heard of her. Just like so many others, I’d sat along the sidelines of her family’s thriving ministry in Dallas, Texas and catch glimpses of this life maturing. Emerging. Becoming.
There she was – the vivacious young girl growing up before our eyes into a mother . . .then business woman . . .then writer . . .then media personality . . .and then . . .well, there’s more that remains to be seen. I’m sure of it.
She’s only in her mid-twenties and already she has helped thousands upon thousands of women find beauty and grace even in the disappointments in the lives.
And she should know.
She’s survived more in her two decades than some have in an entire lifetime. Her writings reveal the path she’s traveled. They are always personal and thoughtful – the kind that make you read almost as much between the lines as on them. A thread of vulnerability and openness always weaves its way into her books and teachings make her words drip with an endearing quality that draws people in.
All kinds of people.
Broken people like me.
Read. Enjoy. Then run to grab one of Sarah’s beautiful books. You’ll be glad you did.
I hate the silence. I hate the whispers that come when the distractions are gone and the fear sets in. I hate being in a room full of people and still feeling alone. I spend most days with my back against the wall. I love to fight. I’ve never been comfortable sitting back and letting life just happen to me.
I’ve fallen in love with the pressure to hold it together, but the silence always betrays me. The silence is where my doubt finds its strength and consumes me.
I need a distraction. A person, fling, project, drug, job, child, or friend... I need anything that will free me from this prison called quiet. I just need something to divert my attention from me. Because when I’m alone in my thoughts I calculate the improbability of my dreams becoming a reality. In the silence I pick myself apart searching for a list of all the things wrong with me. I relive all the things that hurt me. I’ve collectively spent hours thinking about the many reasons I don't deserve better. I call it bracing myself for the worst. I live for the moments when the noise comes and takes away the voices running a marathon in my head.
Afraid that if I can’t find a way to escape these thoughts they’ll overcome me. One day I’ll open my mouth to speak and my world will hear that the crack in my voice isn’t just nerves, it’s doubt. They’ll know that the silence is teaching me to not believe in me. They’ll understand why I need the microphone to drown out the voice of my fears, regret, and maybe even my truth.
How could I tell them that I’m as equally afraid as I am confident? How could I tell them that everyday is a battle? Some days I win and other days I willingly surrender to the voices and stifle my hope. It’s too hard to believe when the silence screams my greatest fears.
We spend years convincing children there is no boogeyman under the bed and fail to mention that he’s closer than he may appear. So many of us let the monsters reside safely in our heart scaring away any chance we have for rest...joy...and peace.
What if the silence isn’t about the voices? What if the only way to win is to do what we did as kids? Find peace in the face of fear.
In the Gulf of Alaska, for as far as the eye can see, there is nothing but mountains, trees, clouds, water, and silence. There weren’t any car horns, no blares from sirens, or people chattering. From my view on the ship all I could see was how beautiful life is when each piece finds its place and just...is.
I didn’t wonder how much more beautiful the land would be if the skyscrapers were touching the sky instead of the mountains. I never stopped to imagine pavement where the ocean was. I didn’t look at the trees and try to fix the color of its leaves. I didn’t try to fix what God created so that it could be what people were used to.
I made a pact with my fear long before I found my purpose. The pact insisted that I fix what the world said was wrong with me before I could be of any use. The day I realized that I was laying concrete over the ocean of my soul I made a new deal. I made a covenant with God that I would learn to seek His voice in the silence. And no matter what the people say I believe that I don’t have to look like what you’re used to, to still be used.
I’ve seen clouds tell the mountains secrets, water embrace the shore, and trees grow high enough to worship the heavens. I’ve heard the voices torment me in my head long enough.
The secret to muting the fear-filled silence when walking in His purpose for your life is trusting that God is stronger than your doubt. He may not have created you to be like the rest of the world, but it’s only because He expected that you would be strong enough to find peace, not fear, in the silence.
God, I’m tired of living up to the expectations of what people say. I want to remove the roadblocks that are keeping me from finding the beauty in my walk and the promise in my purpose. I’m tired of talking myself out of better. May the words from my mouth and thoughts in my mind be pleasing and acceptable in Your sight. All I want is for others to look at me and see You.
Math has never really been my thing. I'm serious. I think that God skipped the line I was standing in when He passed out the "math" wires in the brain. I'm a firm believer that He's not one prone to oversight so he must have intentionally chose to leave my brain wires on the factory belt instead of fusing them in.
I'll have to ask Him about that later.
The fact remains, I have math issues. Always have. I have memories of school years filled with math arithmetic assignments I couldn't complete apart from a tutor breathing down my neck and algebra equations taunting me on tests. They would look up at me all sinister and wry - "We're smarter than you...and we know it. Don't even try it sista."
So, I obeyed. Stop trying. Completed the bare minimum requirement needed to get a diploma in college and then closed my textbook, never to return to it again.
Turns out, I'd grow up to be a home school mom. Shoot. That darn math is all up in my face again.
I'll admit that I'm so grateful to the sweet, young math-wiz from my local church that loves to hang out with my boys and teach them a thing or two a few times a week. So grateful for her I can barely stand it.
Like. For real. Every time she shows up at my door it's all I can do not to drop to my knees, kiss her feet and thank her profusely for saving me. . .from making my children hate math in the most horrible way.
Still, I help the boys with lessons here and there. Every time I can explain something to them successfully, I give myself a little, invisible pat on the back - We did it girl! And the other day, while discussing fractions and whole numbers, I realized something interesting - something that I'm sure I learned before but. . Well, you know. . .I just studied math to pass tests back then not to actually retain.
So anyway, here's what I learned - when a fraction is multiplied by a whole number it decreases the value of the whole number. The whole number doesn't grow in value, it lessens exponentially. Ok. . I know this is not rocket science but just keep reading anyway.
Multiplication is a mathematical operation that we normally think of in terms of growth. Multiply and watch the number get bigger - 3 apples x 5 children = 15 apples all together. But when a whole number is multiplied by a fraction the result is smaller - 3 x 2/3 = 2.
See? Smaller. Less.
Got me thinking. In relationships if you don't bring a whole person - a healthy, full, complete individual to the equation - you are actually doing the other party a disservice. Somehow instead of finding that your lives are growing and expanding, becoming richer and more full, you'll find them depleted and weakened, withered and dry.
So.. . I've got some question for you. Are you bringing wholeness or just a fraction to your current relationship? What is the person you are with bringing to it? How are they affecting you and how are you affecting them?
Here's to being a "whole number" kind of girl!
Oh, what a night!
This past Tuesday, the amazing team at First Baptist Dallas hosted 3,000 women for a time of fellowship that brought the house down! We began our AWAKEN gathering with an incredible worship experience led by Anthony Evans and Priscilla gave an awesome message as women leaned in with a heart full of expectancy to hear from God.
"Running out of ourselves is a prefix to running into Jesus."
During our prayer experience, women were awakened to the needs of others. Silent petitions in the form of prayer requests flooded the alter. It was such a beautiful sight to see sisters hand-in-hand interceding on behalf of one another.
Did you have the opportunity to take a “shipping tag” with a prayer request at the end of the night? For the next several days, remember to continue storming the gates of heaven with prayers on behalf of your sisters!
We've added a new element to our AWAKEN gathering called the Wide Awake Award! This award gives us an opportunity to honor a woman from the DFW area that has been diligently serving within her community. The winner of our first ever Wide Awake Award was a single mother named Pam. Pam has been a wonderful example of what being the "hands and feet of Jesus" looks like by sacrificially serving others even during her own time of need. She had no idea her friends nominated her for this award!! We were extremely honored to take the time to publicly applaud her self-less efforts and shower her with appreciation.
Sisters, you are fiercely loved...and you loved fiercely.
We had a chance to bless an amazing ministry called Reach4Hope that nurtures the inner city youth of Dallas. Women with a heart for our city overwhelmed this ministry in such a beautiful way! It was a great sight to see women coming through the doors with arms filled with donations for young people that might not have access to simple, yet needful things.
Talk about being the hands and feet of Jesus!! Reach4Hope had to cart everything away in a Uhaul truck. a UHAUL truck! We don’t want you to stop there though. Visit their site here to see how you, along with your friends and family, can become more involved with this amazing ministry throughout the year.
Are you already anticipating the next AWAKEN event like we are? Save the date and mark you calendars for Tuesday, October 21st, when we meet for our next AWAKEN in the beautiful Prestonwood Baptist Church (Plano campus). We don't want you to miss it! This will be another amazing night of fellowship, worship, teaching and encouragement. Begin spreading the news! Tell your family, girlfriends and co-workers about this special night, October 21st. As always, this event is free but registration will be required.
This past weekend was INCREDIBLE! I was so amazed by God's grace and favor to a gathering of 50,000 women across the world. If you tuned into the simulcast, then you can probably join me in testifying to the great time we had in prayer, worship and the Word.
Remember to continue to pray for the request you took home from the event. There is another sister somewhere whose miracle is in your hands. Pray boldly for her and for her need. Our committment was to cover it for 7 days (from last Friday to this) but you are welcome to pray for the request as long as you'd like. I've honestly had a few that we collected at an event several years ago. They've been on my nightstand ever since.
The requests that were texted in during our simulcast are RIGHT HERE. Please look through this list, choose a few requests and offer them up to the Lord. My team and I are holding each of them in our hearts and minds each day.
I also wanted to take time to share the words to the prayer that we spoke over each other at the end of the simulcast. Many of you have tweeted me asking for it. I'm so glad that it encouraged you and I can't wait to pass it on to you. While these words are not exact, they sure are pretty close!
PRAYER. . . God is preparing you . . . so surrender the process . . .God is taking you through. SEPARATE yourself, then watch Him SUSTAIN you, then SHIELD you, and then SURPRISE you. Even when the going gets tough, always make the choice to PRAY IT ANYWAY. Then don’t let pride stop you.
GO THERE ANYWAY.
It’s time to move on – from water to oil. . from the natural to the supernatural. God Spirit is alive and ever increasing in you.
May you see His grace and blessing and goodness alive and expanding in you from this day forward. IN Jesus Name, AMEN.
Now, tell me which point from Elijah's story most spoke to YOU?
Can't wait to hear from you!
This week, I get to do one of my favorite things OF ALL TIME - gather with 3000 of my closest friends for AWAKEN! I'm looking so forward to seeing all of you who have registered to come to this unique, free, evening event that is open to all but specifically dreamed up for women of my hometown - Dallas/Ft. Worth!
While our goal is to BLESS YOU. . . an huge part of our purpose is to BLESS OTHERS!!!!
This time, we're focusing on Reach4Hope – an amazing ministry that is nurturing the inner city youth of Dallas. Young people who might not have access to simple yet needful things like homework assistance, hygiene products, clean clothing or ample food supply are finding safe refuge, Christian influence and mentoring through this ministry.
Together, we can help.
Bring these items with you to Awaken:
1. School supplies: pencils, backpacks, lined paper, crayons, markers
2. Hygiene products: soaps, toothpastes, toothbrushes
Be as generous as you possibly can and remember, no donation is too small. Whether you are coming to Awaken or not, this ministry is worth looking into. Please visit them here. You’ll be glad you did! They are fantastic people with a passionate ministry.
I’m going straight to Costco to buy my donations in bulk and then I’ll meet you at First Baptist Dallas on April 8th!
If you registered your friends for Awaken, please forward this blog post to them so that they’ll know about our plan, ok?
OK . . .TIME FOR ROLL CALL! If you are coming to Awaken leave your name, the area of town you're coming from and what you are looking forward to most about the gathering!
Can't wait to see you!
P.S…In case you are wondering, registration is now closed for this event. But please plan to join us on October 21st for our next gathering at Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano!!!
We have come to the end of our Resolution For Women Podcasts. It's been such a joy and challenge to walk through these resolutions with you these past 7 weeks. We’ve discussed topics that have challenged us to dig deep and really face the tougher issues that aid us in reflecting our full purpose and potential. These resolutions involve discipline and self-sacrifice, but can be accomplished as we allow the Word of God to nurture us and the Spirit of God to empower us.
We’ve discussed being satisfied and authentic in our daily walk; and living a life of integrity and being a blessing to those that around us. We've also talked about fulfilling our husband and loving our children. These 7 resolutions are just a few taken from The Resolution For Women book. Missed a resolution or need to revisit one in particular? Click here.
Now, I’d love to hear from you!
- Which of the seven resolutions have been the most challenging for you?
- Which one have you made the most progress in?
- What changes have you seen in your life as you've moved forward with resolve?
Go ahead, post a comment below and feel free to encourage another sister as well.
God is calling you to a new season. And even though our 7 weeks of resolution are over, I encourage you to continue making each resolution a part of your everyday life.
So blessed to do life with you. You are fiercely loved!
Every now and then I find myself in a setting where I'm surrounded by particularly smart people.
I'm never quite sure how it happens.
Like last month, when I was asked to join a panel with four other women. We were perched on stools in front of 10,000 women. It was fun. But, I'll admit that there were several points when the topic turned to indepth theological issues that completely baffled me. I just sat there nodding and smiling and trying to look . . .well. . smart.
Not sure it worked. I'm pretty sure my response to one particular topic gave me away. Everyone - and I do mean everyone . . .like. . in the whole world - looked my way just in time to see me shrug my shoulders and say, "I have no idea".
Thankfully, everyone was gracious and just moved on.
Dr. Caroline Leaf is smart. Being in the presence of this brilliant neuro-scientist is worth the drive (or flight) to get there. Every time I've heard her speak or have read a chapter of one of her books, I come away puzzled - not because I can't understand what she's talking about but because I can.
This woman travels the world showing regular folks, like you and me, how the brain, science and the Bible intersect. She breaks down deeply scientific topics about the brain into bite size pieces that any brain (even ours) can digest. Then she hands you Scripture and shows you how to put them to work to reformat and renew your thinking.
She's a gift to the world. If you don't know her yet, it'll do your brain good to make her acquaintance.
So glad she's with us today.
Like an expert chef, we can choose to put only tasty thoughts (Philippians 4:8) and feelings into our cells. Perhaps when we recognize that putting toxic thoughts into our brains is like putting poison into our pasta, we will understand why God exhorts us to control our thought life; putting healthy thoughts into our minds is akin to that dash of fresh basil on top of the simmering bed of rich, luscious lasagna. Moment by moment, each and every day, as we think, choose and wire thoughts into our brains, we are poisoning or strengthening our immune system, body and mind, which will, whether we want it to or not, have an impact on our spiritual development!
The fact of the matter is that when we meditate on good things, and not on toxic, poisonous things, we increase the gamma waves in our brains, which means we increase our attention, memory and learning capacities. Research has shown that with healthy thinking we build up portions of our brain that produce happiness, just as healthy, fresh ingredients can make a pasta so much more delicious. Moreover, science also shows that meditating on good things, like what the bible teaches or a good classic, improves moods in a far superior way than antidepressants, and with no poisonous side effects! In truth, when it comes to aging, research has shown that older people with healthy attitudes and NOT toxic poisonous ones lived seven and a half years longer! Now that is my kind of pasta!
Additionally, the thoughts we put into our brains have powerful genetic effects on the production of healing proteins in our bodies, just as the ingredients we use in a pasta dish will affect our health. What you think, feel, and believe constantly changes the genetic expression and chemical composition of your body on a moment-by-moment basis. High stress levels – the result of poisonous toxic thoughts- suck biochemical resources away from cell repair and kill brain cells, as would a dish of poisonous, bitter pasta. With over 1400 chemical reactions and more than thirty hormones shifting chaotically in response to toxic thinking, what was good can become really, really bad–a poisonous concoction, indeed!
The expert chef understands that he can control the quality and ingredients of his food, and he understands that what he makes will not just affect himself but those individuals who are relying on his expertise, and are looking forward to a good meal. The same can be applied to our brains: when you begin to understand that with every feeling and thought you are performing epigenetic and genetic engineering on your DNA, you realize you actually have a degree of leverage over your mental and physical health that can make a critical difference to your life…and the lives of those around you.
When you “bring your thoughts into captivity to Christ Jesus” and “choose life”, you intervene consciously with positive emotions, thoughts and prayers. Besides making you feel good, these healthy “ingredients” benefit your body, modulating your gene expression towards a better life, mentally, physically and spiritually. This peak is different for everyone and we shouldn’t compare ourselves. Random life situations and events are generally beyond our control, but we can control our reactions, which are thoughts, to these situations. So, no matter how sick or how many problems we currently have, we have the ability to CHOOSE our thoughts with their embedded feelings, and select those that support peak mental, spiritual and physical vitality.
Bon appétit, and remember: no more poison in the pasta!
love noun /lev/
an intense feeling of deep affection
a feeling of warm personal attachment, as for a parent or child
Initial thoughts about having children typically conjures up fantasies of cute little clothes, play dates, and quiet, cooing moments in the dim light of their bedrooms. So it can be a harsh reality for mothers to realize that their main priority as parents is not to share laughs and Oreos with their kids but to shepherd them. A parent's job is to lead their children with intentionality, guiding them toward becoming men and women of distinction, filled with integrity, girded with responsibility, and firmly rooted in a love for and honor of God.
With the birth of each of my children, I become more and more aware of the incredible mixture of responsibility and privilege involved in raising these boys. In the midst of long, tiring days and frequently even longer nights, seeing my efforts through the lens of eternal ramifications began to change my perspective. These little men, after all, are my chief way of reproducing God’s image on earth, proliferating the agenda of the Father Himself through little human beings who will hopefully become leaders of their own homes one day.
Our sons and daughters are to be like “arrows…in the hand of a mighty man” (Psalm 127:4 KJV) – sharpened, directed, and sent forth into the world to accomplish the tasks for which they were divinely created. This won't just happen on it's own. It will require the loving, dilligence of a mother . . .who has made a resolution.
This week's resolution:
I will demonstrate to my children how to love God with all their hearts, minds, and strength, and will train them to respect authority and live responsibly.
No matter how challenging or how discouraging this resolution may cause you to feel or how many years you think you’ve already wasted, now is a good time to start. Whether you have toddlers or teenages, your resolution to be the kind of parent who is purposeful and dilligent will be worth it.
Questions to ponder as you listen to the podcast below:
- How can you creatively live your Christian life openly before you children?
- This question is for everyone, but single mom, you especially: Who are some people who can help walk alongside you in this highly challenging resolution?
- If you are not a parent, consider your own upbringing.If your parents were overly indulgent, how did this affect you? What if they were too strict?
Enjoy the podcast below. You can also listen to previous podcasts here.
If there is one word I could use to describe Holly Wagner it would be "hope-filled" (I guess that's two words). A wife, mom, pastor, teacher, author and cancer survivor, Holly has chosen a life of hopeful anticipation firmly rooted in her God and in His abundant love.
Just one encounter with her and you'll know it's true. Her smile lights up a room like the Christmas Tree in Rockerfella Plaza. Her cheerful spirit is contagious and brings joy to any and everyone she encounters. Namely me. Not just once but over and over again.
The encouragement that she and her husband, Phillip, offer to thousands through their ministry is a beautiful sight to behold. As they co-pastor the Oasis Church in Los Angeles and parent two young adult children (one of whom just walked down a wedding aisle last month) they never cease to be bold in their faith, vulnerable with their story and generous in their grace toward others.
Holly has written several books and made many memorable television appearances. And, whether on a platform in front of a listening audience or one-on-one over a cappacino, you'll love this great woman of faith.
Enjoy her guest blog post today. It'll fill you up with the hope and resillience you need to look forward and move on.
Love this God-chick and you will too.
Eight and a half years ago I was diagnosed with breast cancer. There were moments of fear, and hopelessness. The more I learned, the more I wondered if I had what it would take to get healthy. Could I handle the treatment? Could I make the necessary changes?
There were times when my marriage just seemed to be in a hopeless place. We seemed to be so disconnected; we were just too different, and Philip was not changing. (No matter how hard I tried to make that happen!) My needs weren’t being met, and as I looked into the future I was discouraged.
And honestly, there have been moments in parenting when hopelessness crept in. When they were really young, I wasn’t sure I had enough time in the day! And then as they grew up, I really wondered if I had what it took to raise them to love God and fulfill their purpose. When they made mistakes, I took the failures personally (very bad idea, btw!) and felt hopeless.
In each of those three situations I moved from feeling hopeless to being determined to have a life brimming over with hope. There was no magic pill I swallowed. It was a decision. I found Bible verses that related to each situation and spoke them out loud…lots of times. I spoke them until my feelings were no longer in control. It didn’t happen overnight…but it did happen!
Romans 15:13 (MSG)
May the God of green hope fill you up with joy, fill you up with peace, so that your believing lives, filled with the life-giving energy of the Holy Spirit, will brim over with hope!
As we build our lives, we have to determine to be hope-filled. God builds our destiny in the same way buildings are built. It takes time. It doesn’t go from steel frame to finished building in one day.
And perhaps Jeremiah 29:11 is the blueprint for our lives.
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.
One of the dictionary definitions of hope is: to look forward to with desire and reasonable confidence.
What are you expecting?
How do you talk about your future?
How do you talk about your husband?
How do you talk about the desires of your heart?
What are you hoping for?
Hebrews 11:1 (NKJV)
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
Hope has to do with what is unseen. Hope is the happy anticipation of what we don’t have right now.
Hope is not a feeling.
Hope is a decision.
Remember we are building our lives, and hope is an essential building block!!
It was about five weeks before my wedding day, and I was on cloud 9. A dear friend invited me out for a pre-wedding lunch. I arrived with an empty stomach and a full heart to celebrate. Except, her mood was not as festive as I’d been expecting. I could tell that she’d come to talk about something far more serious that flowers and bridesmaid dresses.
"Are you sure this is what you want to do?"
"Huh?" I was startled.
She knew my future husband well. They were great friends and she thought he’d be a wonderful husband for me. To top it off, she was convinced that Jerry and I genuinely loved each other. So, it wasn't that she didn't like him.
It’s just that she…was married.
Not miserably so. Just realistically so. She was no longer blinded by butterflies and wistful illusion of romantic splendor.
She wanted me to hear the truth. The success of this new partnership was going to require a firm resolution. I couldn’t go into marriage thinking only about how much he was going to do for me. I also needed to think about how I would serve him, esteem him, build him up, and honor him. Was I ready to give the time and energy, the emotional effort and attention that would be required to keep myself contented and my husband satisfied even when I didn’t feel like it?
Even when I thought that he didn’t deserve it?
I've been married for nearly 15 years now so, I am well aware of how daunting a challenge it might be for you to take me up on this resolution regarding marriage. No way am I pretending this is a piece of wedding cake (pun intended :). But the fact remains, fulfilling your spouse is an admirable, biblical aspiration worth striving to achieve no matter what state you may find yourself and your marriage in today.
I, like you, am on a journey – still learning and growing as I experience daily life with my own husband. And yet observation and personal testimony are teaching me that this resolution will often result in good things for your relationship.
Here's our resolution:
I will be faithful to my husband and honor him in my conduct and conversation in order to bring glory to the name of the Lord. I will aspire to be a suitable partner for him to help him reach his God-given potential.
Listen to today's podcast and ponder these questions:
Would you say you have accepted the responsibilities marriage has required, or resisted them?
- List some of your husband’s characteristics that you wish would change but likely will not. Now write down the way YOU can change to adapt to your husband’s characteristics if these attributes are never altered.
- “A wise woman builds her home, but a foolish woman tears it down with her own hands” (Proverbs 14:1). What are some practical ways you can begin to “build your house”?
- If your friends were to describe your husband, based solely on your comments and conversations about him, what would their depiction be? Thanks for making resolutions with me.
Such an honor to do life with you.
Enjoy the podcast below. You can also listen to previous podcasts here.