God’s Not Finished with You Yet!…

Do the thing you fear, and the death of fear is certain Ralph Waldo Emerson

Sometimes in life, we experience brokenness that impacts us so greatly, we feel as if we are finished. The life we once dreamed about is gone, and now our life is never going to come close to all we desired. It may be a result of a physical struggle, an emotional battle or a change in your life that you never saw coming, and now you find yourself discouraged and struggling to make sense of where you are right now.

I experienced a life-changing brokenness when I least expected it. I was happily married to a handsome man who was my first love, first hand hold and my beloved husband. We had three little baby boys together, and I felt like I was living out my dream of being a wife and a mother. Then one day, I kissed my husband goodbye and told him I loved him as he was leaving for work, only to receive a phone call several hours later that my healthy, 30-year-old husband suddenly died as his heart went out of rhythm. I remember so clearly sitting there in that hospital hallway, trying my best to grasp the magnitude of the devastating news that had been given to me. But in a way that was beyond my own strength, I found myself saying, “The Lord gives and takes away, He is so good.” I instantly became a widow at the age of 25, with three precious boys under the age of three, walking a road I could have never imagined. My dreams and my reality shifted in a moment, taking the breath out of me. I found myself asking God to give me the strength to make it minute by minute, even when I couldn’t see the road He had in front of me. As I waited, I held on with everything I had to the hope that God was greater than my grief.

In the months following my husband’s death, I often found myself in the middle of night trying to soothe my newborn baby, as I claimed the hope from God’s word over my family – but it wasn’t easy by any means. I still remember the way my tears of brokenness and grief would fall on his sweet little cheeks. Honestly, there were moments when I felt finished, that life as the happy full of life woman I used to be was gone forever. How could I dream again, when the person who was in those dreams was gone? I remember crying out to God one night saying, God what do you have for me? How can I still have life ahead of me after this? Jesus whispered in my heart, “Hold on, there is joy ahead. I am not finished with you yet.” As I began to press into the truth of God’s word and His mighty promises of Hope, He began to heal my broken heart through His precious presence, and showed me even though I didn’t understand it, He was using this pain for His purpose, if I would just hold on.

I watched as God started to do what He promised. He kept writing my story – not putting me to the side saying you are finished, but saying “You are part of a story that is bigger than yourself and I will bring it to pass, just keep obeying me.” He cared so much for me and precious little fatherless boys, and He kept writing our story with an overwhelming amount of grace. He heard our cries for Him and He truly became enough for us. It was not Jesus plus something, but just Jesus. He brought us through the places of being so worn out from grief to a place of life and hope. He began to do a good work in me.

I started a new chapter in my life, one filled with healing. I began to see in very real ways that God was not done with my family yet, and I continued to hold on to that truth. I decided that I could either stay treading in the waters of tragedy, or I could start swimming for the shore of triumph. And it was in that time that I stopped searching for the WHY and started looking for the WHAT that God had for me here. The “WHAT do you want me to do with this?” question became me plea to God to use this story that I never asked for to bring Him glory, because it was too painful to be wasted. It was during that shift in perspective that God began opening doors to encourage others who felt like God was done with them, and that their stories were over because of the pain they were drowning in.

As I was reaching out to one family in particular, another widower with two small children was encouraging the same family with the truth of God’s word. God started to show me His plan, and He began writing a new chapter in my life. Here was another person who could have been consumed by their circumstances, but was choosing life even when faced with the tragedy of death. God began to write a love story that was precious and filled with much joy – an answer to prayers I hadn’t even prayed, but a physical example of God being a great Author, and one who writes the best stories if only we surrender to Him. It may not be a story we imagined, but it will be one that shows He is always at work, even when we don’t see or feel it.

Two families marked by pain, 5 children, all with one parent in heaven and one on earth. Their stories didn’t stop at pain, but instead were joined together when sorrow and joy collided. As a result, the Brooker Bunch was formed. We still have chapters in our lives marked with sorrow and hardship, but we also have them penned in grace and mercy. God didn’t give up on us when we’re at our lowest. He had a purpose for our lives and we had to trust when we couldn’t see.

If you are reading this right now, you are living and breathing. That means that God has a purpose for YOU, and your story is still being written. God is not done with you. Your life is not over, and God sees and cares about all you are facing – even the hidden things. Your story is not complete, so don’t give up when it’s only half written. I remember so many times, my boys would ask me why they couldn’t go to heaven right then. I would look them in their bright blue eyes and tell them, “Jesus isn’t finished with you yet.” God’s word tells us to run this race with endurance and to keep our eyes and hope fixed on Jesus the whole way. The same is true of you and me. God is not through with YOU. He has a plan and it is good. Keep taking the next breath and believing in His truth that gives life to your weary heart. Keep holding onto hope even when it hurts. Keep trusting that He is at work behind the scenes in your life, even when you can’t see or feel it. His stories are always good – even when they are not always easy or comfortable. He is the good God, and the best story writer. You will see His goodness in the land of the living, because He is the life-giver. God’s not done with you yet.

Today’s inspiring story was written by Brittany Price Brooker and is shared from the following website: https://www.liveoriginal.com/blog/2017/gods-not-done-with-you-yet


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Faith and Overcoming Fear

The Future is as bright as your faith Thomas S. Monson

Fear is Soft and Smooth

Marina was extremely afraid of the dark. When the lights went out, everything and every shadow appeared to her as the most terrible of monsters. Her parents explained to her, everyday and with great patience, that these things were not monsters. Marina understood her parents, but she could not stop feeling an awful fear whenever it was dark.

One day her Aunt Valerie came to visit. Valerie was an incredible woman. She was famous for her courage, and for having gone on many journeys of adventure, some of which had been made into books and movies. Marina wanted to conquer her fear of the dark, so she asked her Aunt how she became so brave, and whether she had ever been frightened.

“A great many times, Marina,” answered her Aunt, “I remember when I was small and I was terribly afraid of the dark. I couldn’t stay in the dark for even a moment”.

Marina became very excited. How was it possible that someone so courageous could have been afraid of the dark?

“I’ll tell you a secret, Marina. It was some blind children who taught me how to be brave. They can’t see, so if they had never discovered the secret of how not to be afraid of the dark, they would have been forever frightened”.
“It’s true!” said Marina, intrigued, “Can you tell me that secret?”
“Of course! The secret is to change your eyes. Since blind children can’t see, their hands are their eyes. All you have to do to conquer your fear is what they do. Shut the eyes of your face and open the eyes of your hands. Let’s make a deal: tonight, when you go to bed and put out the light, if anything makes you afraid, close your eyes, carefully get out of bed, and try to see what it is that’s making you scared. But do it using your hands as eyes… and tomorrow tell me how you’re getting on with the fear”.

Marina accepted, but she was rather worried. She knew she would need to be brave to close her eyes and go and touch whatever it was that was frightening her; but she was willing to try because she was already too old for this. When her parents took her to bed, she herself put out the light. After a little while, she felt afraid of one of the shadows in the bedroom. Following the advice of Aunt Valerie, she closed the eyes of her face and opened the eyes of her hands. And, summoning up all her courage, she went over to touch that mysterious shadow…

The next morning Marina came running into the kitchen, a big smile on her face, and a song on her lips. “The monster is so soft and smooth!…” she cried,
“It’s my teddy bear!”

Story written by Pedro Pablo Sacristán and shared from the following website: https://freestoriesforkids.com/children/stories-and-tales/fear-soft-and-smooth

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Overcoming Fear…

Your Largest Fear Carries Your Greatest Growth

I believe that fear is an issue that holds many people back from accomplishing – or even trying to accomplish their dreams and those visions they feel in their heart. I love the video below by Brendan Burchard. I hope you will take the time to watch it today. Be inspired! Be the amazing individual you are meant to be! Take the first step today to overcome any fear you have that is holding you back from being your highest self!

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If You Want Something You’ve Never Had…Trying New Things

As we look at the new year approaching, is there something that you’ve always wanted to do but were too afraid? Are you afraid of trying new things? Thomas Jefferson was amazing at trying new things and our country can be grateful for all that he learned and for the boxes he stepped outside of!

Remember that the definition of insane is “Doing the same thing over and over and expecting to get a different result”. Using that definition, are you practicing some insanity? What would you do if you could do anything? Are you willing to try new things? Is there something you would love to do but you are too afraid?

For me, that “too afraid” thing is singing in front of others. I enjoy public speaking but public singing feels like a death sentence to me. I don’t even like to sing in front of family members. What does that tell you? It tells me that I need to improve in that area and work on that in the coming months.

In the last several years, I have found myself learning new things almost every day. I love learning new things! I love that once I learn something or gain a new skill – I get to keep it! You may not know this – but our spirits never forget anything. So, I may forget a fact I learned but once I return to heaven, everything I learned will accompany me! (One of those things I learned during my near death experience.)

I find that bit of truth heartwarming and inspiring. In fact, it makes me want to learn, learn, and then learn some more!

I share today’s story because I think it does a terrific job of getting us to think about the limitations we put on ourselves. I hope as you enjoy it you will think about the limitations you may be putting on yourself!:

Stepping into the Arena

Once upon a time I stood up in front of people and made a fool out of myself.

I’m not sure how else to put it.

I acted (badly) in plays, I sang some especially mediocre ‘specials’ with my sister in church. I performed about one thousand skits, many of which were not even a little bit funny. I did an entire season of Improv Duets with a partner that turned every single sketch into a rap session.

Right now I want to die that you even know that.

But there’s more. I once participated in a month long series of group mimes, most of which I never understood, all directed by a man who was certifiably insane.

Dear Lord, save me.

Then I came to my senses.

I gained a little something I like to call discretion.

At some point in my twenties, I discovered and pounced upon this proverb.

Even a fool is thought wise if he holds his tongue.

Wisdom has always been attractive to me, so if quiet = wise, or even the appearance of being wise, well, that seemed like a no-brainer to me.

Embracing the fact that God created me as an introvert has been one of the greatest gifts of becoming an adult. In great contrast to my adolescent attempts to command the attention of a room, it is now a rare occasion that I am the one talking when there are more than ten people gathered, and for the most part that has been a good thing. I would even say that it has been a gift.

Blogging has allowed me to use my long kept habit of journaling to meter my words out into the world in a way that I am way more comfortable with than public speaking, and that has also been a gift.

But something happened in the taming of the ridiculous performer I once was. In exchange for the quiet (and wisdom) that I so cherish, I lost the ability to be willing to be thought a fool. To laugh at myself. And more specifically, to take risks that involve being in front of people.

A few years ago, I started to do a little bit of yoga teacher training and I was caught off guard by how I had lost the ability to speak in front of people. I had been quiet for so long that it was like I had to re-train myself to hear my own voice.

It was super uncomfortable, like middle school speech class all over again.

I had to find that girl who didn’t mind riding an exercise bike in front of an audience as part of a comedy sketch. Where was she? I needed her. Or a more Zen form of her.

One of things Anne Lamott says about growth is this,

Put something on your calendar that you’re scared to do.

I love that. Just schedule it. Write it down in pen on your calendar and then you have to do it, right?

I’ve tried a few new things this year. A long walk in May. And another longer one coming up in September. Then there was that whole move to another country.

But also, I’m speaking in front of people again.

I’m going to lead some workshops this summer, at BlogStock next week and then again in September for Arkansas Women Bloggers. They will be touchy-feely Finding Your Bliss type workshops. So yeah, that should be fun.

I’m also going to speak about StoryLiving in Arkansas in September. What even is that? I hear you asking. Well, I’m not exactly sure yet, but I am going to find out. Because I am committed. I’m flying home to Arkansas courtesy of a wonderful sponsor, to talk about it. And to see old friends and meet new ones in a conference full of my favorite kind of people, Southern Women.

So there it is. I’m committed to something new. It’s on the calendar. And I’m pretty sure I’m going to make a fool of myself all over again.

As I get ready for my first season of leading workshops and I don’t feel quite ready, I’m reminded of something wonderful I heard Brene Brown say,

It is tempting to stand outside the arena your whole life and think I am going to go in there when I’m bullet-proof and perfect and kick some ass.

But then we’ll never go in and even if we did get to that point and go in, bullet proof and perfect is not want the audience wants or needs anyway.

Cheers to not being perfect, but showing up anyway!

Story shared from the following website: http://www.alisonchino.com/2014/08/03/a-story-about-trying-something-new/

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Dare to Make Your Dreams Become a Reality…

hope-is-the-only-thing-stronger-than-fear-lonely-1784160I am a huge Disney fan. I love the daring,  the creativity and the persistence demonstrated by Walt Disney. Can you imagine a world without Disney? What a positive legacy he left behind for each of us to enjoy! What a world he created because he was willing to dare to make his dreams a reality!

I love Disney not because I believe that he was infallible but because he exercised hope and dared to dream and he followed his heart. Following our heart is way more important than most people realize!

As we finish the week, I hope you will enjoy the following story!:

Think, Believe, Dream and Dare

An eight-year-old boy approached an old man in front of a wishing well, looked up into his eyes, and asked: “I understand you’re a very wise man. I’d like to know the secret of life.”

The old man looked down at the youngster and replied: “I’ve thought a lot in my lifetime, and the secret can be summed up in four words.

The first is think. Think about the values you wish to live your life by.

The second is believe. Believe in yourself based on the thinking you’ve done about the values you’re going to live your life by.

The third is dream. Dream about the things that can be, based on your belief in yourself and the values you’re going to live by.

The last is dare. Dare to make your dreams become reality, based on your belief in yourself and your values.”

And with that, Walter E. Disney said to the little boy, “Think, Believe, Dream, and Dare.”

~ Author Unknown ~

(Shared from http://www.lifeofhope.com/think_believe_dream_dare.htm)


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