What do you want me to do for you?

Have you ever read the story of blind Bartimeaus in Mark 10?

46 Then they came to Jericho. As Jesus and his disciples, together with a large crowd, were leaving the city, a blind man, Bartimaeus (which means “son of Timaeus”), was sitting by the roadside begging. 47 When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” 48 Many rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” 49 Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.” So they called to the blind man, “Cheer up! On your feet! He’s calling you.” 50 Throwing his cloak aside, he jumped to his feet and came to Jesus. 51 “What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked him.  The blind man said, “Rabbi, I want to see.”  52 “Go,” said Jesus, “your faith has healed you.” Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus along the road.

I love this story.  I love how the blind man cried out to Jesus and Jesus responded with a simple question, What do you want me to do for you?

I think so often in my life, I spend all my energy telling the wrong people what I want.  I tell my husband I wish I was better at doing a certain thing.  I tell my friend I want to be a better mom.  Or I beat myself up, I need to do better, be better, act better.  Sure I pray and read my Bible, but do I ever stop and take time to tell God what I want Him to do in my life.

Jesus is the Healer.  The true miracle worker.  He stands before me and says, “Holly, what do you want me to do for you?”    Maybe God has not worked a miracle in my life simply because I have not taken the time to ask.

A few days ago I read this story then I grabbed my journal and just started to write, to pray, and ask God to do some things in my life and in my family’s life.  Later that evening, my husband mentioned one of the very things I had prayed about that morning.  It wasn’t a big thing, but it was confirmation to me.  Jesus hears my prayers and he answers them.

What do you want Him to do for you?


Pruning with a purpose

This weekend at church we wrapped up our series, The Power of Same.  What a life changing series for the people of our church.  I feel so ready to face 2015.

Our campus pastors preached a message called Trading Traditions.  It was really great.  I love it when we get to hear personally from the many godly men pastoring each of our campuses.

I was looking on my timehop app this morning and I saw this post I wrote 4 years ago on John 15.  As we wrap up our study on John 15, I thought this was so fitting.  So here is Pruning with a Purpose from 2011…

John 15:1-2 Says “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.”

My husband is always watching preachers on TV.  I am not sure who he had on the other day, I was in the next room and couldn’t see the screen, but I heard the preacher say something pretty interesting.  He said, the Father is always trimming.  He either cuts off a branch because it is not bearing fruit or He prunes it because He wants the branch to bear more fruit.

I don’t know anything about plants, except maybe how to kill them.  Honestly, I don’t know the difference between cutting off a branch and pruning it.  Both have to do with cutting.  Both seem painful.  Both make the plant smaller.  Pruning has always sounded so wrong to me.  I am supposed to cut off the bloom?  Surely not.  Here’s something I found about pruning roses on About.com…

Pruning a rose bush will encourage new growth and bloom, removes dead wood, improves air circulation, shapes the plan.

Here are some ways I think the Lord prunes me…
-He removes something from my life (a relationship, a possession, maybe a desire) and replaces it with something better.
-He forces me to have a difficult, confrontational, conversation in order to better the relationship.
-He allows me to face a difficult situation so that I turn to Him for guidance rather than depending on myself.
-He impresses on me a behavior I need to change or a habit I need to form in order to take me to the next level in my relationship with Him.

Rather than seeing pruning as punishment from God, I need to see it as an act of love to make me more beautiful in His sight and more effective in His kingdom.

Hope you are having a great week!

A peaceful heart during a hectic holiday

Isaiah 9:6 prophesied the birth of Jesus.

For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Have you ever felt like the Christmas season is anything but peaceful?  My holiday seasons often feel chaotic and hectic and busy, not peaceful.

The thing is, peacefulness is a state of mind, not necessarily present circumstance.  If I go into the Christmas season thinking I am supposed to feel like I am on a beach vacation, I am going to be sorely disappointed.  There are gifts to buy, parties to plan, cards to mail, dinners to attend.

As the woman of the house, I set the tone.  If I am stressed, everyone else will be.  I can choose to create a peaceful atmosphere. I have the power to ruin a dinner before it even starts if I am fussing and stressing in my preparation.

And while I cannot control the mood and the attitude of those around me, I can control my own.  I love how Romans puts it, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone” (Rom 12:18).   I can let the Prince of Peace rule in my heart.  I can determine that I will keep my perspective straight when things get crazy.   Colossians 3:15 “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.”

And the secret is found in that last verse… and be thankful.

When my house is dirty
When gifts need to be purchased
When my Christmas card needs to be mailed out
When presents need to be wrapped
When meals need to be prepared
When decorations need to be hung
When I feel overcommitted

I will be thankful for the people in my life.  I will be thankful for the resources I do have.  I will be thankful I can help others.  I will be thankful that I get to live in a country where I can worship freely.  I can be thankful for the heated home I get to decorate and the car I drive to run my errands.  I will be thankful for Jesus, my Prince of Peace who always pours out grace on my the moment I need Him the most.

I will choose to have a peaceful heart, even when my holiday is hectic.


Extraordinary courage in my ordinary day

When I was studying to be a teacher we learned about integration, taking a topic and teaching it through all the subjects.  So maybe you are learning about Africa in Social Studies, you might read a novel that takes place there for Language Arts, and study the animals that live there for science etc…  Have you ever noticed that God uses the same technique in our lives? We are in a series at church about every day bravery, and it feels like God affirms and echoes these teachings all around me.

I was reading Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest the other day.  He was talking about how it is not necessarily difficult to follow God in the big things, but rather in the small things.  He pointed out that Peter had the faith and the courage to easily jump out of the boat and follow Christ on the water, but when it came time to stand with him on dry land, when Jesus went to the cross, Peter followed at a distance.  Chambers went on to say we must learn to have extraordinary courage in our ordinary lives.

It got me thinking, what ordinary thing can I do  in an extraordinary way?

Is there someone I need to treat with kindness?

Is there a mundane task I can do with joy?

Is there a child I need to have patience with?

Is there a family member I need to forgive again?

How is my attitude towards the responsibilities I have been giving?

Am I grateful for the blessings I have been given?

My family will not be impressed if I minister to crowds on stage but cannot be patient and loving with them at home.  I want to have the courage to do the small things well, remembering that Jesus said if I am faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones (Luke 16:10).

Becoming an Uncomplicated Woman part 5

Today is the last of this 5 part blog series.  We have been discussing 5 characteristics of an uncomplicated woman. Over the past four weeks, we have learned that an uncomplicated woman is complex, not complicatedpoised, not perfect, calm in the midst of chaos,and in a high stress situation but she is not a high drama woman.  Today I want to give you the 5th and final characteristic, I’m in a fight but I am fortified.

Before we get into this point, I want to make sure I clarify that an uncomplicated woman is not unemotional.  Experiencing emotions is one of the most beautiful characteristics of womanhood.  We love deeply, we hurt deeply, we feel deeply.  So while an uncomplicated woman is emotional, she is not controlled by her emotions.  She knows when to have a conversation and who to have it with.  A woman who is constantly controlled by her emotions eventually cannot be trusted.

That being said, we are all in a fight.  The battles may come and go, the enemy may shift his strategy, but we are always fighting.  Fighting for our marriages to stay strong, fighting to raise godly children, fighting for our health, fighting for our own spiritual growth.

A woman who is in a fight must be fortified.  She must be ready for the fight.  When I think of the word, fortified, I don’t think of military strategy.  I think of breast milk.  Sorry to any male readers out there.  Fortified breast milk is breast milk that has had formula added to it in order to increase the amount of calories your baby receives.  Have you fortified yourself with the Word of God?

Look again at Jeremiah 17:7-8 “But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord,
whose confidence is in him.  They will be like a tree planted by the water
 that sends out its roots by the stream.
 It does not fear when heat comes;
its leaves are always green.
 It has no worries in a year of drought
and never fails to bear fruit.”

If you want to be that oak tree and not that orchid (see part 1), you have to have roots that go deep and wide.  Did you notice how Jeremiah said the tree sent out its roots?  I have to be honest here.  Some days, I am more concerned with spreading my branches than I am about spreading my roots.

I did a little research on roots.  Did you know that in most cases, a tree’s branches can only be as wide as its roots are underground?  And in some instances a tree’s roots can extend 10x the length of its branches.  I can only be as strong as my roots are underneath me.  When the fight comes, when the storm comes, if I am fortified, I will still be standing.  Focus on your roots, not your branches! When you focus on the parts of you that no one sees, the parts of you that every sees will bear so much fruit!

When you are fortified, you are better under pressure because you get to prove how wide and how deep your roots are in Christ.  I must learn to fortify myself with the Word of God.  I cannot depend on the my pastor or my husband or my friends to strengthen me, they can encourage me but they cannot strengthen me.  I have to strengthen myself consistently.  I cannot stop growing.  To stop growing is to start dying.

So to put some practical feet to this, here are 5 ways you can fortify your faith…

  1. I keep my perspective straight.  Yes, my children have a stomach bug and they are puking everywhere, but they are not terminally ill.  We will get over this.
  2. I remain grateful.  Psalm 103, Praise the Lord oh my soul and forget not all His benefits! When I start to feel my mood spiral out of control, I stop and focus on the things I am grateful for.
  3. I regard others as more important than myself.  Philippians 2:3.  I will respond like Jesus, even if the other person is not.
  4. I make my requests to God.  A woman who is uncomplicated is most effective when she keeps her request before God.  This does not mean I do not seek counsel from the wise people in my life who know me.  I simply make my requests to God first.  Philippians 4:6-7 Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.  If I would just bring my request to God – think of the peace it could bring to my life!
  5. I play my part.  I am wife to Steven Furtick, mom to Elijah, Graham and Abbey, pastor’s wife of Elevation Church.  I cannot go around comparing my children to yours, my husband to yours, my calling to yours.  I will embrace the season I am in right now and I will enjoy it.

I hope this series has been helpful for you.  My goal in writing these posts was not to overwhelm you or make you feel bad about all the times you have been that complicated woman.  I want to encourage you that awareness is the first step to change.  Sometimes just realizing that I am being complicated in the moment helps me to not repeat my mistake the next time.

My prayer is that we would be a generation of strong, godly women.  That we would grow to become pillars of strength for our children, our friends, our husbands.  That we would be examples of faith that works when the storms come.  Oaks of righteousness.

Becoming an Uncomplicated Woman part 4

In this 5 part blog series, we are discussing 5 characteristics of an uncomplicated woman. Over the past three weeks, we have learned that an uncomplicated woman is complex, not complicatedpoised, not perfect, and calm in the midst of chaos. Today I want to give you the 4th characteristic, I may be in a high stress situation, but I am not a high drama woman.  

Last week we talked about knowing yourself and your family so that you can avoid chaotic situations.  But what about situations that are unavoidable but still stressful?  Part of becoming an uncomplicated woman is learning how to identify when a high stress situation is coming your way so that you can be prepared for it.  Moving, a death in the family, caring for a chronically ill family member, caring for a special needs child, being pregnant or having a new baby, are all super high stress situations that we may face.

Can I handle these situations?  Or will I cry and complain to everyone in my life about them. I have a friend who has a child with special needs and a child with a severe illness.  She never complains.  She never even talks about her kids issues unless you ask her about them.  She is such a beautiful picture of a strength and dignity to me.

What about a stressful day?  Can I rise to the challenge of motherhood (a task that I prayed for to begin with!)?  Can I laugh at a tough day?  Can I throw a birthday party or have people over for dinner without making my family miserable all day long as I prepare for guests?  I am cringing as I write this because I have done this so many times.

I may be overloaded, but I am not going to let myself become overwhelmed. Here’s what I try and do (obviously not right every time) when I find myself in a high stress situation…

  1. Anticipate a high stress situation.  Ex: We are having a dinner party and invited 2 families over.
  2. Mentally prepare myself… “I am going to straighten the house but it is going to get messy.  The kids are going to mess up the play room.  My floors are going to get dirty.  This is ok.  We will have a good time.”
  3. I have the freak out moments in my head.  I just don’t let them come out of my mouth, or in my attitude.
  4. I ask for help.  Whether it is getting my kids to help clean up before company comes over, or asking a friend to help me throw a baby shower instead of doing it all by myself.
I want to be like that Proverbs 31 woman, “She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future.” (31:25)
Next week is the last point and it is my favorite… I am in a fight but I am fortified.




Becoming an Uncomplicated Woman part 3

In this blog we are discussing 5 characteristics of an uncomplicated woman.  Over the past two weeks, we have learned that an uncomplicated woman is complex, not complicated, and poised, not perfect.  Today I want to give you the 3rd characteristic, I am calm in the midst of chaos.

An uncomplicated woman knows that when chaos arrives, she can either add to the chaos and prolong it or she can remain calm and keep the situation from blowing out of proportion. I have a goal to become calm when I see my husband or children getting upset. I am still working on this and certainly do not get it right every time (or very often for that matter).  But I know that I have the power to deescalate a situation and I am trying to learn how to put this power into practice.

How do I bring calm to a chaotic situation?  Well, first is there a way I can avoid it altogether? I have know myself and my children and what my family can handle.  I must learn how to think ahead and think through situations realistically so that possibly, I can avoid a chaotic situation.  This means I understand and accept what stage of life I am in.  If I have young (napping age) children, I am not going to attend a birthday lunch that starts at 1pm.  If I am an 8 hours of sleep a night kind of woman, I know that I cannot stay up past midnight if I want to be effective at my job the next day.  Learning how to subvert chaos means saying learning how no to something that sounds like fun but will have me in a heap that evening or the next day.

But when I do find myself in a chaotic situation, I have to keep my head.  I have to rise above and coach myself…

This situation is really not that bad.
I will not feel like this forever.
I can handle this.
I am a strong woman.
I am bigger than this.
I do not have to win this argument.

And most importantly, I am not alone!  Isaiah 43:2 says

When you pass through the waters, 
I will be with you; 
and when you pass through the rivers,
 they will not sweep over you.
 When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; 
the flames will not set you ablaze.

I can be calm in the midst of chaos because I know that no matter how difficult my situation may seem, I am promised that I do not have to handle it alone.

Next week, part 4… I may be in a high stress situation but I am not a high drama woman!

Becoming an Uncomplicated Woman part 2

In this blog we are discussing 5 characteristics of an uncomplicated woman.  Last week we said, I am complex, not complicated.  Today I want to give you the 2nd characteristic, I am poised, not perfect.

We all know that drama works great in movies and books, but in real life, it simply exhausts the people around you.  A poised woman learns how to push past her emotions in the heat of the moment.  And she knows when and where it is appropriate to release them.  It is not that a poised woman doesn’t have emotions, she is simply in control of them.  When a complicated situation occurs, a poised woman goes first to God, then to the appropriate people.

A good question to ask yourself is, can I deal with a little tiff without telling everyone in my life?  I do not want my spouse or my friends to dread picking up the phone when they see my name on their caller id.  I do not want the people in my life (my boss, my husband, my coworkers, my friends) to be afraid to give me bad news or ask me to change something in my life.

I love this verse, Proverbs 31:11-12, Her husband can trust her, and she will greatly enrich his life.  She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life.”  I want my husband, my children, my friends to trust me.  I want to enrich the lives of everyone around me, not drain them.

This is not to say that I don’t have bad days, or difficult seasons, but I am like that tree in Jeremiah 17:8, “It does not fear when heat comes; 
its leaves are always green.
 It has no worries in a year of drought 
and never fails to bear fruit.”  It is not that heat and drought and storms don’t happen to the tree, they just don’t have any long term effects on the tree’s ability to bear fruit.

Poise is not perfection, it’s strength under pressure.  I want to be like that tree that is poised to stand up under what ever pressure may come my way.  Becoming an uncomplicated woman means learning to be poised in the midst of an emotional situation.

Next week I will give you part 3- I am calm in the midst of chaos.

Becoming an Uncomplicated Woman (pt1)

This past Thursday all the female staff and spouses of Elevation gathered together.  We had a wonderful time.  We laughed together, learned together and served together.

I shared a message about Becoming an Uncomplicated Woman that has been stirring in my heart for a few months.  In a culture that puts so much emphasis on social media, appearances, and keeping up with each other, how can we fight the temptation to be needy and dramatic?

We all know a complicated woman.  You know, she is unpredictable and inconsistent.  Being in her  life means you have to have special knowledge of all her difficult ways.  But even then, you can never be sure of how she will react.  The only thing you can be sure of is that she will have a dramatic reaction.

But what about the times when I am complicated?  How does this affect those around me?  How can we become pillars of strength for the people in our lives?

Over the next few weeks I want to give you 5 characteristics of an uncomplicated woman.  Here is the first one…

I am complex, not complicated.

A complex woman has many depths.  One guy put it this way, “A complex person is like an iPod.  That is to say that they are consistent, straightforward, and user friendly while also being rather sophisticated… They are understanding, forgiving, in short, mature.”

A complex woman is like an oak tree.  A complicated woman is like an orchid.  Both are beautiful plants.  An oak tree is a picture of strength and beauty.  An orchid is a picture of fragility and beauty.  An orchid must be coddled.  It cannot be too hot or too cold.  It cannot have too much water.  Its leaves do not like to get wet. An orchid needs constant special attention.

Look at what Jeremiah 17:7-8 has to say about a tree (oak I like to think :))

“But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord,
    whose confidence is in him.
They will be like a tree planted by the water
    that sends out its roots by the stream.
It does not fear when heat comes;
    its leaves are always green.
It has no worries in a year of drought
    and never fails to bear fruit.”

I want my husband, my coworkers, my friends to consider me a strong woman – she can handle business, she’s not always freaking out.  She runs deep.  She has experienced some difficult situations but she seems to handle them with such grace.

Are you complex or complicated?  How do I make those closest to me feel when they see my name on their caller id?  Or maybe the better questions is, in what area of my life do I complicate things?  Because I can turn complicated really quick.

The good news is that sometimes the first step to change is simply being aware of myself.  Knowing that I complicated a situation will help me not do the same next time.

Next week I’ll share point 2: I am poised but not perfect.

*Thanks to Pastor Kevin Gerald – he preached a message several months ago that originally inspired my thoughts about this.

For all the people pleasers out there…

Are you a people pleaser?  I am.  We all are to some extent, and of course, we all go through seasons where we seem to get stuck in a rut of caring too much of what others think about us.

Look at these verses in Psalm 34

4 I sought the Lord, and he answered me;
    he delivered me from all my fears
5 Those who look to him are radiant;
    their faces are never covered with shame.

When my focus is on seeking the Lord, He delivers me of my fear of letting others down.  My face does not have to be covered in shame because I can be confident that I am following His commands for my life.

I am not saying we shouldn’t seek the advice of the godly authorities the Lord has put in our lives.  But I am saying we should seek the Lord first in every situation.  If I go around wondering if this will hurt that person’s feelings, or if this person will be happy with me, I am putting the cart before the horse.

Here’s another way of looking at it, I can only seek to please God but I can try to bless others.  And when I seek God, will show me how I can bless others.

I want all those in my life to be happy.  And I want them to be happy with me.  But not to the detriment of me not being able to obey the calling God has placed on my life because I am running around trying to keep everyone happy.

Matthew 6:33 pretty much sums it up

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

Spend your energy pleasing God and let him take care of the way others feel about you.