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Last Thursday night was AMAZING! The evening was dripping with the presence of God even before one note of worship was sung or one Bible verse read. Every woman seemed to be giddy with excitement as the sanctuary at Fellowship Dallas church filled to capacity. The air was alive and bursting with anticipation for what God would do.
Sisters gathered from all over Dallas Ft. Worth and surrounding areas. I met ladies from San Antonio, Tyler, Sherman and even Louisiana and Arkansas that had driven for several hours for our evening together. While Awaken was specifically dreamed up with the women of DFW in mind, I'm overjoyed when ladies completely ignore that fact and come anyway . . . no matter where they are from!
One of the most touching and powerful parts of our evening was the outpouring of the generosity. Only 1 week before the evening, I emailed all the registrants, asking them to bring one new toy with them that we can deliver to the Christmas trees of children in need all across the metroplex. I prayed and asked the Lord to soften women's hearts to participate.
. . .And participate they did!
Our sisters streamed into the church with their Bibles in one had and their gifts in the other. My three sons and a fantastic group of volunteers gathered the gifts and before we knew it the floor and table tops were filled to capacity and brimming over with goodies!
At the risk of sounding a tad hormonal, can I just say that I almost burst into tears when I saw the toys scattered everywhere.
Don't know what came over me but for some reason I was really moved to see God's women respond so enthusiastically to bless others.
Take a peek at just a "smidget" of what we gathered.
If you came to Awaken, I'd love to hear what the Lord did in your life. Is there something He whispered to your heart? Is there a prayer request that He answered? Is there a dream that He birthed?
Can't wait to hear from you!
PS. . Save the date! The next Awaken gathering is April 23, 2013! Details to come!
I’m so glad you’re with Jesus! I’m sure your eyes are dancing in wonder as you take in the beauty of the Savior you spent your life living for.
I’ll miss you.
I’ll miss you.
You impacted my life in such a seminal way at very critical stages on my journey. I am humbled that the Lord would have allowed the path of a young, insecure twenty-year-old girl to cross paths with a stalwart of faith like you and then put it in your heart to steward me along my way – as you did for so many others.
Do you remember the first time we met? I do. I was twenty-two and invited to teach the Monday morning Bible study at your company. Seeing you seated on the front row stunned me. You didn’t send your employees to devotions. You went with them.
Taught me the importance of keeping first things first.
Do you remember when you first met my husband? I do. I was twenty-three. You looked him squarely in the eyes, asked him a few tough questions and wouldn't let him get away from your gaze until he gave you satisfactory answers. You took his interest in me seriously.
Communicated to me the grave importance of selecting a life partner.
Do you remember my wedding dinner? I do. I was twenty-four and couldn’t believe that you would take the time out of your busy, influential career - where crowds numbering in the tens of thousands gather - to come and speak to my 200 reception guests about the commitment that marriage requires and the great pay off that it will yield.
Taught me that little things are almost always the most important things.
Do you remember when you asked me to teach your Sunday School class at Prestonwood Baptist Church? I do. I was twenty-seven and in disbelief that you’d want me to teach your beloved group, especially when you’d never had a guest speaker before. I felt ill-equipped and unprepared – no matter how much I studied. But, you gently pushed me forward into the limelight of church life, stuck a microphone in my hand and sat on the front row smiling in approval.
Showed me the importance and power of encouraging and affirming the next generation.
Do you remember when I spent a year paralyzed by fear? I do. I was thirty-two and you took my call, listened carefully to my concerns, and empathized with my anxiety. You weren’t rushed for time or pressed to move on with your day. You weren’t hurrying me to a conclusion or asking for a rain check on our conversation. Instead, you methodically asked me a series of questions that eventually unearthed the root of the issue. Then you pointed out the spiritual problem that was really behind my physical one. You led me to the Word and then to my knees and then you prayed me out of fear and commanded the fear out of me.
Showed me that one-on-one ministry should never be replaced by platforms, microphones and filled arenas.
Do you remember the last time that we spent time together? No. . . you wouldn’t. . . . but I will never forget.
It was just several months ago. Jerry and I sat down over a warm meal with you and “The Red Head” – Jean. You hugged us and smiled warmly but didn’t know our names. Your memories of us had faded into the sea of alheizmers that had robbed you of so many things. . . but not everything.
Gently, sweetly you spoke to us in jokes and riddles, making us laugh and asking us questions like someone would when meeting a brand new friend.
When you weren’t asking questions, you were repeating the same thing over and over.
The same sentence. The same point. The same story.
For 3 hours.
We were so glad you did because it’s exactly what this thirty-seven-year-old woman needed to hear. Every recapped statement was another layer of reinforcement – cementing the message into my heart.
Every sentence revealed what had been in your heart for your entire life – the deep stuff that floats to the surface when all the clutter and minutia have been cleared away. These were the things that made you who you were. These were the things that really mattered to you and brought a smile to your beautifully, weathered face.
Your wife. Your children. Your grandchildren.
These were the things you spoke about . . . over and over and over again.
You've taught me what it means to come to the end and look back with a grin on a life well lived.
Thank you Mr. Ziglar. You’ve taught me well.
I’ll check on “The Red Head” for you and keep your beautiful family in my prayers. They’ll miss you most of all.
And then, I’ll look forward to seeing you. . . when I get there.
Awaken. Christmas. Our office is a-BUZZ with Christmas wrapping paper, bows, and copies of schedules and handouts for Awaken women. The mix is hilarious. And tiring. And exciting!
We are 1 day out from our 2nd ever Awaken. And as we've been praying for the women about to jump in their cars and vans and head to Fellowship Dallas, I've been thinking about the different stories that make up an Awaken event. So many folks are walking in, full of love and good cheer. Life is hard, but not unbeatable. Life is fun sometimes. For other folks, there is just this cloak of defeat and weariness that wears them into the building. They've usually been drug into the building by a well-intentioned friend or sister...or even their own conscience saying, "you should go!" Their eyes remain glossed over...their mouths silent, though moving...their hearts, broken.
No matter where you are on this spectrum...in between it all...on the brink of despair...in the prime of your life, there is only ONE position that He desires from us: On our knees. He sees the ones who crawl in on hands and knees, begging for just a drop of God's Word to touch their craving mouths. He brings His Presence to their broken world. To our broken world. To my broken world. He wants to show up in our world and heal our brokenness. If you're going or not going to Awaken, it matters not for this one...He wants your thirst for Him to increase! Like David in Psalm 63, He wants to hear us cry: "Oh God You are my God. My soul thirsts for You. My body longs for You. In a dry and weary land where there is no water....because Your love is better than life, my lips will praise You."
So. Why do we praise? Why do we position ourselves on our knees, craving Him? Because at the end of the day, HIS LOVE IS BETTER THAN LIFE. I'm banking my very life on this today girls. And I'm planning on being the first to crawl into that packed sanctuary on Thursday night, just desperately thirsty for a sip from our Father's well. Bring it ON Father! We love YOU!!
See ya soon...you are FIERCELY loved today!
I hope you all had a fun long weekend and that you got a little rest somewhere between all the conversations, cooking, cleaning and shopping. I, for the first time, went shopping on Black Friday and I'm not quite sure that I will ever do it again =) I definitely got some amazing things for super cheap, but I'm too weak to handle the long lines.
Thank you to all of you who entered our Awaken contest last week. So excited to announce our randomly seected VIP winners are:
Yay! We cannot wait to meet the three of you! Please email us at email@example.com so that we can connect and give you all the details you need for Thursday night.
We hope to see all of our local blogger friends this Thursday! I can imagine we all could use some good corporate worship, prayer and time in the Word in the midst of the holidays and many things approaching us in the next month.
See you back here on Wednesday!
For Awaken Details: click here
From our gang to yours . . .
We love you all so much!
Grandma's 60 year old cornbread dressing recipe . . . hailing from East Texas, it's a family favorite and required at all Thanksgiving Dinners
Sweet Potato Casserole - not the kind with the marshmallows, although I understand I'm knocking out half of my audience here, but the kind with the oats, brown sugar, tons of butter, and pecans crusted on top of that sweet gooey goodness
Fresh cranberry dressing, tart and a perfect compliment for my mom's turkey
My little sister, who always tries to get out of doing dishes, acts sassy to all the big sisters and eats most of the feast without gaining a single pound. Gees! To be 17 years old again
The family dog, Scottie, who will sit quietly and patiently, not begging, knowing that scraps will be coming his way
The family hike where we look for deer, cross streams, and act like we are the Pilgrims from long ago
And . . . the fat and sassy bellies Thanksgiving evening, due to copious amounts of leftovers
What are a few of your favorite things?
Are you coming to Awaken? If so, we are choosing a few of you to be our VIP for the night. Watch the video below to find out how . . .
( https://vimeo.com/53635814 )
We can't wait to meet you!
Leave a comment with your name, email and tell us what you are most excited about for the Holidays? Winners will be chosen and announced November 26 on the blog.
To register for Awaken and to find out more details click here
Can you believe that this time next week we will have had all the turkey and pie that we could possibly consume, feeling stuffed to the brim and hopefully spending time with our family or close friends? Thanksgiving is here, you guys, and I'm so excited!
Believe it or not, I'm hosting my whole family for Thanksgiving this year. Me, the youngest and only single sibling in the family, has somehow coaxed everyone into coming to Dallas. Eight adults, six children under the age of seven and one dog in my little home. What was I thinking?? More importantly, what are THEY thinking?? Having the single gal in charge of all the cooking could be disastrous. Buuuut, I'm up for the challenge! (Don't worry, my mom will be here by Wednesday and you better believe she will come to my rescue with her magical cooking skills)
Last night a huge group of friends from church got together to share a meal together, worship and had the opportunity to be thankful for and celebrate all that God has done in each one of our lives this past year. It was amazing to look into each one of their faces and think about where we all were this time ast year and how much God has done for all of us since then. We've had tons of marriage celebrations, people coming to know the Lord for the very first time, others set free from addictions, a woman healed of cancer . . . the list goes on and on.
I was so grateful for this sweet moment. I know that all of us have the intention over some point of the Thanksgiving holiday to pause and be grateful for the many things we are greatful for. But I'm so glad that last night was a catapult for me to already start preparing my heart and mind for what approaches us next week.
I'm AMAZED by God's faithfulness to me personally this year, and I REALLY want to give Him the honor due to Him in a way that perhaps I never have before. I don't know what it will be or how that will look, but I thought perhaps today, through this quick read, you might be encouraged to start thinking about and celebrating the woman you are today because of God's merciless and ever so faithful love for you these past few years.
I can just imagine all of us pouring out our gratefulnes to God this year like we never have before and heaven responding with shouts of joy and celebration . . . then . . . we can watch and see what He will do next! I'm excited!
Bless you all today!
I haven't had a burger in nearly five years. Not by choice, I tell ya, not by choice. They used to be my most favorite food. The more greasy and salty the more I'd enjoy every single stinkin' bite of the sandwich. It was my go-to comfort food.
But then, I got pregnant with Jude and everything changed. It wasn't even a gradual change that I could get used to over time. It was quick, immediate and nearly permanent.
I was only 8 weeks pregnant when Jerry and I sat down for lunch across the table from some friends to tell them the big news. While Jerry and Barry each dove into their own entrees, Joanne and I ordered and shared one HUGE, juicy burger melting with gooey cheese and stacked high with bacon, grilled onions, mayonaise, tomatoes, lettuce and a buttery toasted bun. Half for her. Half for me.
I was in heaven. . . but only for a little while.
Later that afternoon, my stomach went from feeling slightly uneasy to being in full revolt against the beef it was being forced to digest. For four long days, it sat heavily on my stomach causing pain and discomfort that had me swearing off burgers forever.
And since then, I've not had one bite of one single beef burger. Too afraid of the possible consequences, I've opted for chicken sandwiches when I get the craving for something between a bun.
Until last night.
My brother and I came home late from a Bible study with my two hungry sons in tow. Their uncle pulled into a fast food restaurant (as uncles do) and ordered them a couple meals this momma would never usually allow. But, this was one of those unusual nights when a mundane school day had turned into a night out for the boys so I let them enjoy it.
And, enjoy it, they did.
The car was pungent with that all too familiar "fast-food" smell and before I knew it my mouth was watering like Niagra Falls.
I wanted a bite.
I took a bite.
And, all at once, the memories of salt, grease, cheese, bacon . . ..and beef came flooding back into my mind. It tasted like heaven had exploded in my mouth.
So. . .I took another bite...
And drove home with a smile on my face.
Can't promise that I'll do it often but I sure am glad I did it last night.
Do something unusual and fun today, ok?
PS. . . no tummy ache today :)
When I was in college I read a book called “Good to Great”. Have you heard of it? As a friend of mine was telling me her recent job-hunt story, I kept thinking about that book. Mary had been laid-off from a decent-paying good job in graphic design. She had quickly picked up a little contract work and then wisely sat back and took a breather before making any other moves....she was en route, albeit, in a very elegant and unorthodox manner. And today Mary has landed a dream job that is in line with her passions and calling, all while seamlessly integrated into her healthy local-church community. In what seems like an effortless way, Mary made choices and operated out of a healthy place that took her from good to great to BEST...moreso, GOD’s best.
1. She made choices from her calling rather than out of desperation.
It would have been easy to just take the first job that came her way. She had bills looming and no promise of a paycheck to take care of those bills in the future. But with a little savings tucked under her wing and a bit of contract work here and there, the Lord allowed her to really sit back and ask those uber-important questions of: What do I LOVE doing? What am I good at? What jazzes me? What would I do even if I weren’t being paid? Stepping back, she discovered she was really energized by being a light in a lost world. She is a phenomenal graphic artist. She loves a family-type environment more than the cut-throat of the average white-collar world. So when a local church offered her a position, she prayed about it and then respectfully turned it down. It didn’t meet the criteria she had laid out as part of her genetic makeup, as a part of her calling.
Mary knew what kind of position would keep her in that “best” place, long-term. But when that position didn’t show up right away, she could have easily taken the myriad of job options that were popping up around her. Instead, she allowed the different opportunities to teach her more about herself...more about what she was called to do. The clearest example I can think of in my life is my dating life. I am single with a hoppin‘ social life. I meet new folks all the time. I live with 4 girls and there are occasions when one of us just has a little pity-party regarding our marital status. To be honest, it happens less than you think. We’ve become this fun little nucleus of hodge-podge family and don’t really have TIME to think of our ring finger’s need of bling. But we also have this unspoken pact that passes between us all: we want God’s man for our lives, not OUR man for our lives. So we go on occasional dates...just like we engage in missions and the local church. Because we KNOW that He has a plan and that He is actively bringing it to pass (Proverbs says He will accomplish what concerns us) then we make decisions about our time based on His call on our lives...not on us huntin’ down a man. We could easily go to a different party every night of the week...and probably be married within a year. But we don’t want a good or a great man, we want God’s BEST man for our lives.
2. She focused on the necessity rather than the urgency.
Mary had looming bills to pay. Girl’s gotta’ eat! But she knew, long-term, she needed a place that allowed her to work out of her calling. It was necessary for her created self that she operate out of a place of purpose. When her talent met her passions and opportunities, she met her calling. She met her best.
Speaking of eating, our bodies have opposing forces, don’t they? Our tongues crave our friend’s Ben & Jerry. Our body’s re-energize on fuel of spinach and apples. And our staff would insist I add “lean protein” to that list. When I’m tired and hungry, Ben & Jerry make some pretty convincing, urgent calls. But if I stop and remember my Mom’s admonitions from childhood, I put the spoon away, back away from the freezer and dig into a heaping bowl of greens, feeding the actual cells of my body what the NEED. When I focus on what my body NEEDS, the urgent call of the processed-food wild seems to muffle. I get a healthy, productive body for my choice.
3. She trusted Him.
Mary didn’t walk around crying “Oh woe is me! I don’t have a job! Have you SEEN this economy?!” She stepped in and did what she could. She sent out applications. She networked. And then she released it. She hung out with her community. She took advantage of her now-loose schedule and had picnics at the lake, took long bike-rides and discovered new hobbies. She just breathed in peace in the place He had landed her. When Mary could have been stressed (and don’t get me wrong, she had a few moments), she went to the Lord and released it back to Him.
When I first moved back from overseas, I was desperate for community. If someone even LOOKED like they were going to invite me to an event, I was IN. It didn’t matter that I was tired from a work trip or desperately needed to spend some time with the Lord or would have to shift a visit to Grandmother til the next day. I needed friends. And what I received from those harried hangouts was exactly what I did not want: weary soul and no heart-connections made with friends. I was operating out of a place of desperation and just took the first thing that happened along, rather than waiting on His BEST. I wasn’t trusting in God to supply that need. I saw a lack and set about trying to fill that lack...and failed. Miserably.
When I had these moments, I discovered a little ritual that helped me align my heart back with where The Lord was speaking. First, I’d go to bed listening to worship music. Something about my soul marinating in praise of Him all night opened my ears a little wider to hearing His Voice the next day. Second, I’d awaken and say, “You are Good. You are my Dad. You can do anything in the world. And You have me in this place today. I believe You want the best for me. THAT MEANS THIS DAY IS YOUR BEST FOR ME. Help me to see it as such. I trust You. I trust YOU!” Let me tell you, my bedroom rug is worn from rockin’ on it and saying this little prayer. I find myself going back and saying this so many times...believing He has His best in action for me today.
So this begs the question: How are YOU going from good to great to BEST today? How can you incorporate Mary’s BEST decision making into your life today? Don't you think some of these statements can be used to describe you? YOU make decisions out of calling and necessity today...all while trusting God. "Beautiful!" as my sister Priscilla would say!
Here’s to His BEST for your life TODAY!