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Guest Blogger: Natalie Grant | Finding Him in the Hurricane

NATALIE GRANT!!!!

Those two words string together to make one of the most recognizable names in Christian music today. Natalie is not only talented and gifted, she is also authentic and genuine in her ministry. These characteristics makes this mother, wife and "real" woman so appealing to thousands of men and women the world over. 

I've watched her from afar as she has balanced her full personal life and ministry with grace and dignity and couldn't wait to read what she'd share as a guest blogger today. And, of course, she didn't disappoint. Her words are vulnerable and captivating.  . . just like her music. 

Just like her.

You'll want to read with a latte in one hand. . and a tissue in the other. Then, mark your calendar to download her newest CD that releases October 15th. The title cut called "Hurricane" is amazing!

 

After being told we would never conceive a child naturally, my husband and I began the long, hard road of fertility treatments. By the grace of God, we were blessed with a two-for-one miracle, and gave birth to twin daughters in 2007. So imagine our shock and awe, when 3 years later, after no medical treatments, we were pregnant again!

I still feel so ashamed to admit that this time I was not celebrating. This was the miracle I never asked for and I felt ill-equipped and not up to the task. Throw in the shame and guilt I was experiencing, knowing that my friends always said when they had a baby there was an instant “how-could-I-have-ever-thought-I-was-complete-without-you” love-connection that I wasn’t feeling. Instead, I felt the dark storm-clouds of depression closing in.

“You weren’t even supposed to be able to have children”, the voices would whisper.

“You are selfish and ungrateful”, the voices continued.

“Do you know how many women are begging for this kind-of miracle? You are a disgrace as a mother”, the voices kept on.

I listened to those voices, and struggled with post-partum depression for 18 months. Worsened by the fact that I was a Christian artist and had this idea I was supposed to have my life together, I struggled quietly and privately, believing the lie that if I gave voice to my pain, I would bring shame on my faith.

The storms continued. I found out my nephew was struggling with heroine addiction.

Heroine? Yes, heroine. My family was heart-broken, struggling, wrestling with tough questions and begging God for a miracle. A month after this discovery, my father was diagnosed with cancer. Yes, I was feeling pounded by the storms of life.

One morning I found myself in Matthew 14, reading a story I’ve known since childhood, but the Lord was so sweet to me that day as He allowed me to see it with different eyes. Jesus went to the hills to pray, but he insisted the disciples went ahead of him in a boat, and Jesus being Jesus, and knowing all, he knew a storm would come and the winds would beat against that boat the disciples were in, but he sent them anyway.

I imagine the disciples were afraid, as they were far out at sea and the storm continued to rage. Then they look up and there is a guy standing on the water. What? I would’ve hit the floor of that boat so fast. The Bible tells us that the disciples were terrified. Peter, doubting that it was in fact Jesus, asked the Lord to make him walk on the water.

Then Peter steps out of the boat. In verse 30, as Peter takes his eyes off of the Lord and begins to focus on the strong winds, he began to sink. Then the Bible says, “instantly, Jesus reached out his hand and caught him.” (verse 31) Notice that it doesn’t say instantly the storm stopped. No, the storm was still raging. But it says that Jesus didn’t hesitate to reach out his hand.

I had been so busy looking out at the crashing waves of my circumstances, consumed with looking out at my sea of difficulties. But Jesus was saying, “just look up. I’m reaching out my hand.” Reading this story from Matthew 14 reminded me that just because Jesus showed up at the boat, the storm didn’t stop. I had been begging God to calm the storms in my life, but He was trying to teach me that he would find me in the middle of them.

I love this quote from Gideon, by our friend Priscilla:

“God is more interested in changing your heart than He is your circumstances.”

God began to do a healing work in my heart that day. The depression didn’t immediately lift. The problems didn’t disappear. But I became more aware of the presence of the Almighty God, who wasn’t outside of my storm waiting for me to come to Him, but he was in the eye of the hurricane with me, carrying me as we walked through the storm together.

I wrote a song that day which simply says:

“Step out on the edge, Don’t be afraid of it And when you feel the rain, call His name He’ll find you in the hurricane.”

No matter what seemingly insurmountable difficulties you are facing, stop looking out, and just look up. He’s reaching for you.

Natalie

All the Little Things

"Now. . .

"unto Him . . . 

"who is able to do . . .

"exceeding abundantly beyond . . .

". . . all . . ."

God helps me find things.

If it had just happened just once or twice, maybe I could explain it away as good fortune. (And of course I suppose it could have been avoided altogether if I wasn’t in such a steady habit of losing stuff.) But God knows this trait of mine and is patiently working on it in me. In the meanwhile, He understands who I am—and where I am in life—and so this has become like a standing joke between us.

My keys. My phone charger. Important papers.

He finds them for me.

One time I was dealing with a particularly maddening loss: a missing keepsake book where I’d been housing a bunch of photos from my children’s first months of life. This was before the days of Iphone photos, so these were real photographs—irreplaceable image. I kept it in my purse, whipping it out at a moment’s notice, holding unsuspecting strangers hostage to my family photos.

Somewhere, I had lost that thing.

I called every airline I’d flown, hotels I’d stayed in and churches where I’d been. It was nowhere to be found.

I’m sure you’ve had the feeling. You look through the same closets you’ve already torn out twice before. You run your fingers along the same stacks and piles where you know it can’t be, but maybe you overlooked it last time (although you know you couldn’t, but . . . )—maybe it’ll jog a new lead in your mind you haven’t thought of yet.

You’ve looked everywhere. “Please, God, where is it?”

Then, months into my search for the missing book, I happened upon Job 28:24 - “He looks to the ends of the earth and sees everything under the heavens”.

My heart skipped a beat.

Of course! Why should it surprise me that my Father, who “counts the number of the stars” and “gives names to all of them” (Ps. 147:4)— also owns the GPS coordinates to “everything under the heavens”? Everything. Even things that might be completely insignificant to someone else but mean a whole lot to me. Even things lost because of my own mistake. Even my boys’ little keepsake book.

And since you know where it is, Lord, would you be willing to show me?

That was my prayer.

That morning.

I went to the grocery store around 10 a.m., then came back home and put everything away in the kitchen. When I walked back into our bedroom . . .there it was. (I’m not making this up.) That missing book—the one I’d thought, for all I knew, might have been left lying at Gate 31B in the Sydney, Australia, airport— was sitting on my pillow.

Sitting. On. My. Pillow.

Like a little gift straight from glory.

A golden spotlight was resting on it, with little sparkles of dust twinkling in the glow. (Well, maybe that part was probably just in my mind), But the physical book itself . . . there it was!

After I’d gone to the store, Jerry was moving a big piece of furniture to retrieve something that had fallen underneath, and he saw my book, picked it up, and flipped it casually on the bed.

Not knowing it was a gift from God.

I must say, with the track record the Lord had already been building up with me over the years, I don’t know why I’d taken so long before going to Him for help. He has proven to me time and time again that He cares about the little things. My little things. Your little things. Things that others might find ridiculous but are very important to you.

For you, His personalized ministry may take another shape entirely, but the principle is still the same: He cares about the big things, the small things, and everything in between.

Everything.

All of it.

Is there any “little thing” you’ve considered too insignificant to bring to God?

Priscilla

The Awaken VIP List

It’s October! That’s makes me happy for many reasons – several of which are quite trite and superficial (think tall boots, comfy sweaters and cute scarves).

Others are a bit more substantial – like walks with my boys in cooler temperatures and an excuse to drive through Starbucks for a piping hot cup of the latest flavor of goodness they have dreamed up.

(Not sure that this counts as “substantial” but whatever.)

One of the reasons I’m MOST thrilled that October has arrived is that Awaken is on the 24th. Just a couple weeks away! There are already more than 1000 of us registered and making plans to come together for an evening that I hope will refresh your soul, connect you with others and inspire you to awaken to the things of the Lord in a brand new way.

Each time our ministry hosts an Awaken event, we like to treat several of you to a little VIP treatment. Honesty, in our book all of you are actually quite special and endearing to us. This is actually the reason we decided to start the Awaken gatherings in the first place – to see you face to face, bless you as much as we can and encourage you in the Lord and in life. But, FIVE OF YOU will be chosen to receive reserved seating, a special gift bag of books and resources from our ministry and (best of all for me) I’ll get the privilege of hugging your neck and sharing some food and fellowship with you before the event begins.

We just want to spoil as many of you as we can! It’s our gift to you.

So, if you are planning to come to the Awaken event on October 24th at Fellowship Dallas, then please enter to be our VIP by doing the following things:

  1. Click HERE : http://www.goingbeyond.com/events/2013-10-24/awakenan-evening-priscilla-shirerSend it to at least one or more of your friends to invite them to gather with us on October 24th.
  2. Follow @AwakenDFW on twitter (if you are a twitter kind of gal).
  3. Leave a comment to this post telling us three things: 
    - Will this be your first Awaken event or have come befo
    re? If this is not your               first time, what has impacted you the most at previous gatherings? 
    - What is the name of the friend(s) you’ve sent the link to and invited to                     Awaken? 

    - What is your email address so we can contact you if you’ve won?

Thanks for playing along. We'll choose our winners on 10/18/13. I can’t wait to see ALL of you on the 24th. We are praying, planning and preparing for it to be an amazing time together.

You are fiercely loved,

P

Guest Blogger: Brad Lomenick Part 2 | 12 Keys to Authentic Leadership

Today, I'm so excited to be in Atlanta with 10K plus other folks for the amazing Catalyst event led by Brad Lomenick - our guest blogger for today. Actually, he's not quite a guest anymore since he was with us last friday as well for Part 1 of his posts on leadership.

So today, sit back and soak up these powerful tidbits from Brad that I know will enrich your life. You read and I'll tell Brad that you said hello and thanks for the blog :)

Enjoy,

Priscilla

 

Here are 12 points on the importance and practice of being Authentic as a leader. Authenticity rules. Some best practices I’ve found helpful:

1. Be real in all mediums. Digital age makes it easy to be inauthentic. Although we are always “on,” ultimately we can create a fake persona behind a profile on Facebook or a twitter account. It’s easy to live a secondary life and feel like we are someone we aren’t. Have to be authentic across the board.

2. Constantly turn the rocks over in your life and in your leadership. Uncover the areas that need to be made clean. Big things are at stake. It’s exhausting to not be the real you. It’s easier and less work to be who you really are.

3. The more successful you become, the less accessible you are. It’s reality. More people clamor for time with you, but it’s not possible to be available to everyone. Be wise and discerning, but also open to helping where you can. As Andy Stanley says “do for one what you wish you could do for many.”

4. Learn to open up. You can impress people more easily from a distance, so many leaders keep others at arms length. For example, we often prefer digital interaction to life-on-life exchanges. This insulates us and prevents others from uncovering our weaknesses and flaws. But it also reduces our ability to influence others.

5. Ask great questions. Great leaders I know solve problems and create solutions through the questions they ask. Questions many times reflect your values.

6. Invite direct reports to do a 360 degree review of you on a regular basis. It’s uncomfortable, but also helpful. As Rick Warren has said, “You can’t love people and influence them unless you are close to them. Up close means you can see my warts.”

7. Accept a better standard. The goal of every Christian is to become more like Christ, but often our standard becomes some “great” leader who we admire. When we exalt fellow influencers, we try to dress like them, talk like them, pray like them, tell jokes like them, and achieve like them, it’s dangerous. By emulating them we hope to someday become like them. This never works, and a painful side effect is that deep down we end up feeling like a cheap knock-off.

8. Be interested over interesting. Start with leaning into others and caring about them vs. only worrying about yourself.

9. Be accountable to those who know you best. Know your blind spots in your leadership. We all have areas of weakness. Know what they are and give your team, your family and your friends permission to call you on them. Are you comfortable enough in your leadership that those around you have the freedom to tell you the truth without repercussions?

10. Authentic leaders make more of those around them, and less about themselves. They are servant leaders and willing to be less in order for others to be more. Authentic leaders seek to serve and understand the power of putting others first. And great leaders attract great people to their team. Like attracts like.

11. Actively Build a Support Network- Beware of CEO disease, the temptation to surround yourself with people who only tell you what you want to hear. Keep honest people in your life so that you can stay grounded in the reality of your experiences. Don’t ever think you’ve arrived. Don’t take yourself so seriously. You’re not a big deal. Seriously. I don’t care who you are. Humility is way more attractive than arrogance.

12. Be who you are. Authenticity requires true honesty, self awareness and a selfless approach to leading. One of the challenges in organizations today is actually creating space for leaders to admit and share their challenges. We need to create community where you can talk about the things you are dealing with without getting arrows in the back. Be willing to share your struggles. Create and find environments where we can deal with things and be honest and real.

Go. Dream Again.

Do you have any dreams or plans you once pursued but now keep safely tucked away? 

Most often I get excited about the possibilities but then I start to consider my reality: all of my everyday distractions, detours and past failures…. and many times I just want to give up.

Most of our dreams are like building plans that undergo undergo several revisions: our promises gets stuck and we start to believe the lie thats says there is something wrong with it or it just won't work, it's not important, or we are incapable ...  but that is exactly the time to keep pushing forward. Sometimes that frustration is just the friction we need to look from our past inconveniences to the new direction God is inspiring.

• Let yourself dream. What would you do if everything was an option? Grab a notebook and write everything down that comes to mind. Choose to eliminate negative thoughts, actions or words that might be holding you back and revisit a promise that may have fallen to the wayside.

• Pray about your dream. Is it God-inspired or motivated solely by you and your plans? Let God alter your dreams so He can give you His.

• Dig deeper into the presence of God. Study His word, declare it and make it yours, so you can respond when He says ‘GO. 

• Be Intentional: What steps do you need to take to accomplish that thing that fires you up? Formulate a plan and stick to it.

God is able and will always provide the provision for what He has called us to, but we must practically prepare for it! Is there a dream or plan that you have laid aside but are encouraged and inspired to go after once again? Tell us about it!

~AshleyM.

The "God Is Able" Give-a-way!

I like books.

I just do. I like all kinds - fiction, non-fiction, light-hearted and funny or deep and thought-provoking. This penchant for books is kind of curious (and hard to believe) for my family because my older sister Chrystal has always been the bookworm in our clan. When we were growing up, she'd have a book in her hand no matter where we were or what we were doing. I have very clear memories of my parents forcing her to close a book "because the family is having dinner together now and it's rude to read at the table" or because "whether or not you like the minister's message you cannot read during it".

It was hysterical.

I, on the other hand, would have rather been doing something more physical - like talking. So I talked myself into trouble just as frequently as Chrystal "read" herself into it. But now, I've joined her in the love of books - writing them and reading them.

Miracles do happen, I tell ya!

Which is why I love passing on books and resources to you that I hope will be a blessing in your life.

Today I'd love to give away 10 copies of God is Able. Sound good to you?

Here's how you enter to win:

  • Leave a comment telling us if you are more like my sister or me? Have always loved reading? Have had to grow into it? Or would you still prefer a book on tape any day of the week?
  • Include your email address in your comment.
  • Tweet or facebook a link to this giveaway so that others will be invited to enter (and to help you exercise your generosity and selflessness muscles. . he he he)

We'll email 10 winners on Monday, October 7!

Bless you today!

Priscilla

Guest Blogger: Brad Lomenick Part 1 | Make Time for Margin

Have you heard of the Catalyst Movement.

No? Where have you been? :)

It is one of the fastest growing and most influential gatherings for young leaders in the world. I have so enjoyed my partnership with them and their leader Brad Lomenick. This guy is amazing. He is a passionate follower of Christ who equips, inspires, and releases the next generation of Christian leaders to serve Christ effectively.

Next week, I'll be traveling to Atlanta to speak at this year's conference and I thought this would be the perfect time for you to meet Brad and hear from him on his area of expertise: Leadership. This is Part 1 of 2. Next Friday, right here on our blog, Brad will graciously share more.

I can't wait cause this is GOOD STUFF.

And I can't wait to get to Atlanta next week. You coming? Hope so!

I'll see you there!

Priscilla

Margin is a powerful concept. It creates opportunities.

For businesses, margin is one of your top priorities.

Margin in business creates profits.

Margin in family creates memories.

Margin in our personal finances creates generosity.

Margin in our friendships creates significance and impact.

Margin in our lives overall creates options. Options to pursue dreams, think, pray, relax, meditate, process, grow and ultimately live life more fully.

As leaders, it is important that we create moments of margin for ourselves. Time to dream, time to laugh, time to retreat- on a regular basis, daily, weekly, monthly, yearly. Even if it is 5 minutes during the day to think, walk, pray, or simply relax. Margin gives us energy and renewed momentum and enthusiasm. And it is equally important to allow for margin in the culture of your team, and margin for your individual team members. Even something as simple as a funny story shared with the team, or a stop by someone else’s office to catch up and say hi, or a quick review of pictures or great memories from something earlier in the year.

Margin is one of the hardest things for most leaders I know to actually create and implement. I am no exception. I struggle with creating margin. One of those leadership attributes that you wake up wanting to pursue and always realize at the end of the day you missed it.

Lack of margin makes us tense, creates stress and pushes for quick decisions. Lack of margin leads to stale and unhealthy relationships, and drives us towards the most available options at the time, but many times not the best. Lack of margin makes for rushed projects, for forced creativity, and for strategy that only thinks of the short term gains, not the long term opportunities.

Margin is the fuel for responding to the unexpected, and the option we all need for being more focused, intentional, life-giving and less stressed.

Make Time for Margin.

Beyond, Beyond

I’ve been wearing this little necklace for three years now. Some kind and generous women, who had them made for their own Bible study group, brought one to me at a conference. I fell in love with it at first sight and new it would be a staple in my wardrobe. Not only because I’m a sucker for cute jewelry but because the inscription has become one of my favorite Biblical principles of all time.

Beyond, Beyond

It’s a lesson learned from one of my favorite Bible verses - Ephesians 3:20-21. When Paul started assembling the words, he could barely find the right verbiage to communicate the grandness of God’s power. See him sitting there, his reedy pen poised in one hand over the parchment, the other hand pressed to his forehead, scanning his knowledge for every available word in the Greek language to get his point across. Maybe he tried one and then another. Writer’s block. No one word was good enough, not when standing alone all by itself. Even the most extravagant word couldn’t encapsulate all that he was trying to communicate. So it would need to be several words strung together then. Big words. Meaty words. Ordinary words just didn’t quite cut it. You can almost hear Paul tripping all over himself trying to explain the unexplainable.

Hyperekperissou hyper

And it’s that tiny prefix - that Paul tacked on twice in this phrase – that made all the difference in the world. Look back and see if you can catch a glimpse of it in the Greek.

Hyper.

Let’s stop and think for a minute about what “hyper” can do.

Hyper can turn ordinary car headlight bulbs into hyper-white headlight bulbs, the kind that blind you in your rearview mirror and make you wish the car behind you would either hurry up and turn off or just pull around you.

It can turn normally active children into hyperactive children. And turn their mothers into ranting, raving lunatics. Or so I’ve heard. I couldn’t say for sure.

(Ahem.)

It can take the natural extension of your knee or elbow and hyperextend it, until you’re having to get an x-ray, a protective cast, and a few morning sessions of physical therapy.

So whenever “hyper” finds its way onto a word, it makes the original word bigger and grander, faster and stronger, deeper and more multi-dimensional than it was before. Takes it to a whole new level. Beyond.

Or – if you use it twice like Paul did – Beyond, Beyond. Way past what you would have already consider way past.

That is what God can do – not just what you hope He will and not just beyond what you pray He might. He can do beyond your beyond. Which is why I wear this pendant around my neck . . and why I finally decided that it would be neat to create one for you to wear around yours if you’d like to. (view in store)

This little piece will be a constant reminder of God’s capacity to do amazing things in your life every single day. And, as you read God is Able, my hope is that you’ll find both the book and this little pendant to be an encouragement in your life.

You are fiercely loved,

Priscilla

This tree and me.

 

I couldn't help but notice this one little tree when we were outside last week, all orange in a sea of green and much smaller than anything around it. It reminded me of the Charlie Brown Christmas Tree - fall edition.

I could see a little of myself in the tree. As I noticed his obvious differences from those around him, I was encouraged by what the Lord showed me.

Many times in my life I look around and it is easy to feel a little lonely; like the tree, a little set apart. I have found that when following the call of Christ, the path is in fact narrow and there are few that choose to walk it Matthew 7:13-14.

As a "twenty-something" in today's world, I find that my peers and I share many common concerns. We often pressure ourselves to fight for our careers. We worry about obtaining as much wealth as we can. We feel the pressure to use our relationships to network with those around us and we can easily get focused on perfecting our image. While these things, in of themselves, are not evil they often work against my primary goal of being a Servant of God.

Because my heart is to follow Christ and I am committed to serving Him in whatever I do, I often look a little different. It's not so much about the color of my "leaves" but more about my willingness to stand set apart. It can be hard to find deep friendships when you are going against the grain of your generation. Satan commonly tells me because I am different something is wrong with me.

I love this quote from God is Able:

That little tree was just doing what it was designed for, right where it was. I'm encouraged that even though I look a little different and at times the walk can be lonely, I am to grow right where I am. And instead of being self-conscious of my flaws embrace them for evidence of Christ working in me.

I realized this week that just like the vibrant orange caused me to stop and stare at the little tree, the very thing that makes me set apart, and sometimes lonely, is also the thing that causes people to be drawn to Christ in me.

Be encouraged this week,

Green

Guest Blogger: Mandisa | Mr. Right, Meet Mrs. Wrong

Guest Blogger Intro from Going Beyond on Vimeo.

*I'm so excited for you to get a chance to hear from Mandisa! Remember to comment below to enter to win a signed copy of her new CD, Overcomer (winners will be selected September 25). On the album she wrote a song to her future husband called "Praying For You" and this post gives you a little of the background! You can watch the music video on the bottom, Enjoy!

Priscilla

My friend Lisa Harper sometimes jokes that her future husband is lost and refuses to ask for directions! I'm convinced that my husband-to-be is hangin’ out with hers, and that they are aimlessly wandering around Nashville looking for us! LOL!

I used to pine away for marriage so much that I was missing many of the wonderful blessings associated with being single: my loving relationship with my bed (whom I have named "Rufus"...don't judge me), being able to commit my time and money to whatever ministries, organizations, or people I desire, the freedom of whisking away on last minute trips on a whim, and most importantly, spending as much time with Jesus as I want!

While I am fully enjoying my single life, I was recently convicted by a sermon by one of my favorite preachers, Andy Stanley. In "The New Rules of Love, Sex, and Dating" part 1, Andy taught that rather than looking for "Mr. Right", try focusing on becoming "Mrs. Right". I've been very diligent in praying for my future husband (Psalm 112 is my go-to prayer guide for him). It's kind of laughable that I had been so focused on making sure that he was the man God created him to be that I hadn't given much thought to becoming the woman God created ME to be! After all, when I meet the man of my dreams, I certainly don't want to be the woman of his nightmares!

So like Andy suggested, I am pursuing being a 1 Corinthians 13 kind of woman. I pray verses 4-7 often and ask God's Holy Spirit to help me recognize opportunities to grow in these areas:

  • Lord, teach me to be patient and kind.
  • Help me to resist being envious or boastful.
  • Convict me when I brag or strut about.
  • May I detest being arrogant, rude, crude, indecent, self-absorbed, or easily upset.
  • By the power of Your Spirit, keep me from tallying wrongs or celebrating injustice; rather, may I always delight in truth.
  • Grant me the supernatural ability to put up with anything and everything that comes along.
  • Like You, Jesus, teach me to trust, hope, and endure no matter what.
  • Finally Father, I commit to your words in 1 Corinthians 13:13, "But now faith, hope, and love remain; these three virtues must characterize our lives. The greatest of these is love."

I believe that God has placed the desire in my heart for marriage one day. I don't know when that day will be, but I do know that God is completely trustworthy and knows what is best for each of His children. While I continue living my single and full life with contentment, I will pray for my future husband and pursue being molded and shaped in the image of Jesus daily. And when “Mr. Right-For-Me” finally stops to ask for directions and God leads him my way, may he find “Mrs. Right-For-Him”!

And all the single ladies said, AMEN!

Mandisa

 

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