Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Tuesday Truths - Where Do You Find Your Worth?

“When the Lord saw that Leah was not loved, he opened her womb, but Rachel was barren. Leah became pregnant and gave birth to a son. She named him Reuben, for she said, “It is because the Lord has seen my misery. Surely my husband will love me now.

– Genesis 29: 31-32

Lately I’ve been reading about Jacob/Rachel/Leah - and I think my jaw has dropped quite a few times. I’ve read their story before, but never really grasped the amount of sin, jealousy, revenge, deceit, pride and lack of acceptance it held. And as you continue reading how it affected all the brothers and ensued generations of hatred. There is so much to learn from their situation, so I will be splitting it up and covering different topics today and the next couple weeks. Today, we are going to talk about Leah. My heart went out to Leah. I’m a huge sports fan and if I’m watching a game that my team isn’t playing in, I always cheer for the underdog. When reading this scripture, that’s what Leah felt like to me - the underdog of this story. How hurtful for her to experience not being wanted or chosen and it wasn’t even her doing. Her father gave her away to Jacob. A man that didn’t want her, a man that wanted her sister and made sure everyone knew it. Leah begged God to give her a child in hopes it would help Jacob fall in love with her. Heartbreaking, isn’t? Have you ever felt unwanted? I have. It’s not a good feeling. When I look at Leah and examine her life, I can’t help but notice that she looked to others for her self-worth and favor on her life. But God tells us in Proverbs 8:35, “For whoever finds me finds life and receives favor from the Lord.” Makes me pause and examine my life a bit. Where am I finding my worth? In my husband, kids, writing success, my home, who my friends are, what strengths I have to offer? How about you? Let’s backtrack a bit in Proverbs to 8:17-21, “I love those who love me, and those who seek me find me. With me are riches and honor, enduring wealth and prosperity. My fruit is better than fine gold; what I yield surpasses choice silver. I walk in the way of righteousness, along the paths of justice, bestowing wealth on those who love me and making their treasuries full.” A couple things I took from these verses. 1. Leah thought she needed a son to have worth and be accepted (notice she kept having children, but it never filled that gap, that longing to be accepted). But in God we find our riches, worth, and prosperity. God doesn’t love us because we have or haven’t done something. He simply loves us because WE ARE HIS. 2. God says that His fruit is better than fine gold. What God pours into us will always be enough. Always. We should never have to look beyond God to others or “positions” to fill any holes – God wants to make our treasuries full with the love of Him alone. The great thing about being a follower of Christ is that we are always wanted by the King. We never have to wonder. So on days when my heart is hurt and I try to grasp onto other things for my worth, I can rest in the joy that I am wanted and loved and in God I find where I belong!
Heavenly Father, you have created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well (Psalm 139: 13-14). Amen.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Tuesday Truths - The privilege of suffering!

“As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, ‘Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?’ ‘Neither this man nor his parents sinned,’ said Jesus, ‘but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life.’”

– John 9: 1-3

Suffering. We’ve all dealt with it. Some of us have just walked through it. Some are in the midst. Some days the pain is almost too much to bear. Some days it’s easy to lay it at Jesus’ feet. Our sufferings are not meant to make us weak, but to build us up, teach us, give us insight, strengthen our faith. Many times through my struggles I ask God – “Please don’t let me be the same at the end. Change me. Mold me. Strengthen me. And help me not to go through this and miss what you are trying to teach me!” Paul tells us in Romans 5:3-4, “Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.” Rewind back eight years ago and you wouldn’t recognize that Natalie! My second child, Brayden, had sleeping problems (and I use that phrase loosely) – I think it could be used as a means of torture.  For the first two years of his life, he was up screaming for hours almost every night. On top of that, my husband was gone on many trips (he’s a pilot). Then Brayden got infected with a very serious and life threatening disease. During which I had two very difficult miscarriages. All the while in the thick of my marriage falling apart and stressed over unending medical bills to pay. Seriously, you can’t make this stuff up. I was exhausted physically, mentally and emotionally. I had nothing left to give to my family, friends, and especially God. That was a very dark time for me and I often cringe when I walk down memory lane. But I stand as a witness that God refined me through that fire. I also stand serving a God that understands my pain. In Isaiah 53:3 it says, “He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.” Jesus understands physical pain. The loss of a loved one. The deep wound of rejection. I don’t know about you, but I never want to stand on the other side of my suffering and realize it was all in vain because I didn’t let God work IN and THROUGH me! Through Paul’s ministry he considered it a privilege to suffer for Christ. What better testimony can we give than our strengthened faith, trust in God, strong character, deeper compassion and the work of God in our lives.

Heavenly Father, today I’m really hurting. I feel alone and as if no one understands my struggles. But you do. As you comfort me Lord, help me to turn my eyes off of myself and on to you. Give me hope, when I feel hopeless. Speak your truth, when I believe the lies. Guide my life, when I feel lost. And take this broken heart and heal it. Amen.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Tuesday Truths...and a little of "It Takes A Church"

“The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.” -Proverbs 18:24

Back in February I had a one-of-a-kind experience. My husband and I, along with our pastor and some friends from church, filmed a reality TV show episode on the new show called, "It Takes A Church" on Game Show Network. Yes, you read that correctly. It still feels a little surreal even to write about it. During those days of filming, God had been pressing and speaking to me so passionately about being aware of the words I speak. For three days I had a microphone strapped to me – we referred to it as “My Holy Spirit” – but oh how true. Shouldn’t we all walk around with a constant reminder to be watchful of our words! It has been years since I’ve felt this submerged in “the world” by being with Hollywood crew and producers, trying to speak truth and life – and not making an idiot of myself on national television!! What a challenge and eye-opening experience! So take a minute and think about the people around you, your circumstances and your opportunities that can be affected by your words. Those hurting and in need a word of encouragement – “Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.” Proverbs 16:24. Or someone that needs to hear something God has placed on your heart – “A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver.” Proverbs 25-11. Maybe there is someone that needs or deserves your praise – “Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; someone else, and not your own lips.” Proverbs 27:2.  Then I think about the times my words have caused damage – “Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” Proverbs 12:18. Or when I am upset about something or with someone or one (or all) of my children – “When words are many, sin is not absent, but he who holds his tongue is wise.” Proverbs 10:19. What a great reminder that we have the power of life and death! How are you using your words today? Join me this week and let’s all strap the Holy Spirit to us as we use our words to bring life around us! Heavenly Father, you tell us in your word that the lips of the righteous know what is fitting – help me Lord to stay in tune with your Spirit so that I can acknowledge that very thing. Bring me so close to You that I know immediately what words to use and the words to hold back. Amen.

Our episode aired on June 12th, so for months I had been holding my breath, nervous on how they would edit and praying, “God, if I’m going to look like a fool, let me look like a fool in love with You!” We loved the episode – and I might be a bit biased, but I’m pretty sure my husband stole the show. I’m so happy that his humor shined through. Boy, I sure love that guy! Here are a few pictures with the cast, crew and producers from the show!


Saturday, May 17, 2014

It never gets old...

I still can't believe that my second book, A Rescued Hope, has been released! I tell ya what, this excitement, nausea that gets caught in my throat from the anticipation of wondering if people will like it, and the joy of once again reaching a dream ... never gets old! It's wonderful and I am so humbled that God would use me in such a fun and rewarding way.

The book has been out for a couple of weeks and reviews are starting to come in!! Here are a few...

"After reading "A Rescued Heart", I was super excited about getting my hands on the sequel, "A Rescued Hope", and it did not disappoint!!! I could NOT put it down!!!! I love getting to know some of the other characters while still getting to read about Matt and Ava! This book takes an unexpected twist that had my saying out loud, "Oh my word!!!!" This will be a re-read book just like the first one, and can't wait for the 3rd book already!" :)

"Loved this book! Very easy read. Gets you hooked in from the start. Love it when a book starts right in with the action. I can not wait for the next one to continue getting to know the characters."

"Loved it! Such a great story, I couldn't put it down! Enjoyed the first book too and can't wait for the 3rd book!"

"I read Natalie's 1st book, "A Rescued Heart" in three days. The sequel did not disappoint! It was so great to see where Matt & Ava were and to learn about some new characters, as well. There was love, action and adventure. Definitely some parts that had me on the edge of my seat! By the last page, I was ready for the 3rd book! I can't wait to see what happens next!!!"

Monday, November 4, 2013

Sleep is for the birds...

"When is the second book coming out?"
Can I just say how much I love this question!!! The goal is early next year, so I am working like a mad woman in my spare time to finish up my last few chapters in the second book. I have now entered the world of deadlines - and I love it. I had four years to write the first one...I have four months to write most of the second one. Holy pressure, Batman! For the first book I just wrote whenever I felt like it...now I have to make time in my schedule and plan writing days! One Saturday my hubby took our boys on an all day hiking trip and a friend took my little princess for the day, so I devoted my day to writing. The picture below shows where I parked my behind for the entire day and created over 4,000 words.
Despite feeling like I needed to make a chiropractic appointment, it was a great day and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I am LOVING the second book and have enjoyed watching my characters' relationships unfold as twists and turns keep them on edge all while they search for hope, direction and God's will for their lives!

Friday, October 11, 2013

The Beginning of Forever

I am a sucker for romance books and movies. One of my favorite parts is how the couple meet. I don't know why, I just do. My sister and I talk about this a lot when our husbands give us a hard time about watching said books and movies. "Why would you want to invest your time in this when you know they are going to get together in the end?" Sigh. It's.all.about.the.journey. Right, ladies? And that journey has to have a beginning, and I love how it all starts! In my book, A Rescued Heart, the main characters meet when Matt (a police officer) visits Ava's (a kindergarten teacher) class for professional day.
So I thought it would be fun to share how me and my husband met...
This picture is of us on January 1, 2002. The story has many bunny trails, so I will just sum it up. We met at church. I had been doing mission work in Ecuador and came home about mid-December. While I had been gone, Greg had started attending. After returning I had been asked to MC our annual talent show for New Year's Eve with a couple friends...and Greg. Notice the shirts? One of our skits was The Newlywed Show and we were the lovey-dovey couple (enter giggle here) I may or may not have worked my magic to make that happen. Anyway, we started spending  a lot of time together because he had become friends with my friends and with working on the skits, so by New Year's Eve, I was smitten. The dude was funny and got my humor. He had crazy-mad skills playing the keyboard. Super good looks (I still remember this picture and thinking "Oh my goodness, he has his arm around me. Sigh...). He had a solid, awesome family - strong faith - deep character and he loved Jesus! What more could a girl want:) So we started dating shortly after and I knew within two weeks of dating that I was going to marry him!!! At the end of July he proposed and we were married on February 7, 2003.
Here we are now, 10 years and 3 kids later, more in love than when we said "I do."

So now it's your turn! I would love to hear how you and the love of your life met!  Leave me your story in the comments.  Thanks!

Saturday, October 5, 2013

First Book Signing

I had my very first book signing on September 14th. Yes, as you take your mental field trip back to September, it was three weeks ago. I wish I could blame it on a volleyball tournament, life, deep cleaning my house, writing book #2 and a hip surgery...but I'm just horrible at blogging. Definitely room for improvement!

But being late posting doesn't take away from my great experience and the fun I had. Mummphy's Book Nook in the Concord Mall hosted my book signing. The owner was so nice, helpful and such an encourager. If you have a chance to check out his store, please do. He is a very nice man that deserves his business to be blessed!  A couple things from my day. I very much enjoyed talking with the people that walked by. I was surprised by how many people stopped and asked me questions about how I got published because they want to get a book published. One thing I would have done different and was a huge learning moment for me - I wish I had given a book away. One of the cleaning ladies walked by and was interested in my book, but it was too much for her. After she left, I was so upset at myself because I should have given her one. Maybe she needed a blessing that day, maybe she needed to read the words, maybe I needed the stretch in my walk with the Lord. Just a reminder to set our hearts and eyes on the Lord so that we don't miss any opportunities He puts in our path.

I had some fun visitors. Thanks to my family and friends that took the time to come see me. I really appreciate it. I also enjoyed my little princess above sitting with me. I mean, how could you turn away from that face?!?! My boys were also there, but too busy checking out the train near by to hang out with me.

Last, but not least. My hubby. My own personal Superman. Not only is he my biggest fan, but he goes out of his way to bless me. So while I was at the book signing, he cleaned the entire house, took care of the kids and brought them to see me. I always tell people its easy to write romance because I have a great example. Well - it really is true!