WE HAVE A BOOK!
My long awaited first book was recently released! Yes, you heard it right. But just in case you did not get the big news, my book, Nuggets from the Heart, is published and is now finding its way into the hearts and homes of lots of Nuggets lovers! My prayer all summer was that the book would be completed and in my hands by my birthday in late September. Well, God has a way of exceeding our expectations. The books arrived at my doorstep one day before my birthday on September 26th. It was a happy day and my family and I did some praising and celebrating. The book remains available for purchase on my website and is also available on Amazon. I thank all my Nuggets followers who have not only purchased a copy for themselves but for other people they know as well. If you have ever been blessed by the stories on this blog, I promise you the book will bring you even more inspiration. I hope you will consider gifting a copy of Nuggets from the Heart to someone you know who may need an extra bit of hope. The gift of encouragement is a beautiful thing to give.
As part of my book launch, I traveled to Chicago in October. I was blessed to have my dear friend, Terri, make the trip with me. Because we were bringing copies of my book, we decided to drive and make it a road trip. What a time we had as we shared testimony after testimony of what God has done in our lives. Even though the ten hour travel day was long, we both felt invigorated when we reached the hotel that first night.
I was scheduled to speak at churches to two women’s groups on two separate days. Some of you know I lived in Illinois for ten years before moving to Tennessee, so it was a very special reunion meeting up with old friends. I delivered two messages to the women. The first day, I shared a message on the “Power of One” to the group. I challenged them to tune into the voice of God and be available to be a conduit of his love to those he puts in their paths. I explained that we each have a story to tell and we need to share it. God takes us through our “stuff” so that when we come out on the other side of the storm we can in turn comfort others.
My message for the second day was related to going through the “Refiner’s Fire” and I shared the story of my healing from thyroid cancer. A number of women came up to me afterward and said the message was especially for them. I marveled at how each one quoted something different from my talk and took it as a personal word from God for the “fire” they were personally walking through at the time. The Word of God never returns void. It will accomplish what it is sent forth to do…every single time!
DIVINE APPOINTMENT at CRACKER BARREL!
Everyone we meet each day is going through something. We may not know what it is but if we are open to God’s leading, he will direct us to how we can help others. On the way to Chicago, Terri and I made a stop at a Cracker Barrel restaurant for lunch. While we were eating our lunch, a man and woman walked by us and sat at a table to our left. The woman was using a walking cane, and it was obvious each step she took was a painful effort. I noticed she was wearing a hospital band on her wrist. She and her husband sat in silence, and he was very preoccupied with his phone. When their meal arrived, the man dove into his food never looking up at the woman. I watched her slowly cut up her food into tiny pieces and then eat her meal in silence. The look on her face told me she was eating more out of necessity and not out of hunger. There was something about this precious soul that just tugged at my heart as I watched her. When Terri and I had finished our meal, I said to her, “Terri, I just can’t sit here a minute longer. I feel like God has told me three times since we sat here that I need to go and pray for that lady!” My friend smiled and said, “Well I guess you better get over there then. I will be in the gift shop when you are finished.”
I walked over to the table where the couple sat and carefully tapped the woman on her left shoulder. I did not want to startle her as I introduced myself. I explained that I felt God was telling me to pray for her and I wanted to know if I had her permission to do so. She looked up at me and smiled. She said she would very much like that. Her husband immediately excused himself from the table saying he was going to pay the bill. The woman told me her name was Ellen and that she was a Christian. She explained that she had been living with chronic pain in her back and ribs for years. She had undergone numerous surgeries and was scheduled for another one soon. Ellen had just come from the hospital for treatment to help with the pain. She told me that she was a grandmother and where she lived. She said her husband was struggling with his faith. I sat there with Ellen for about twenty minutes doing nothing more than listening to a portion of her story. I shared with her a part of my story and journey to healing. Then I took her hand and prayed for her. I prayed for healing, and I prayed for grace to endure her journey. We hugged. She thanked me, and we parted ways. I am still praying for Ellen. I know that if our paths never cross again on this earth, we will reunite someday in heaven and she will tell me the rest of her story.
So why am I sharing the details of this encounter with a woman named Ellen? Let me start by saying that I do not believe for one minute that our meeting was accidental nor was it by chance. You see before Terri and I ever started our road trip, we prayed. We asked God for Divine appointments. We availed ourselves to him and asked him to use us however he chose to touch lives along the way and during our entire trip. God likes that sort of prayer, and he is quick to answer. It is not easy to walk up to complete strangers and ask them if they need prayer. This is not the first time I have done this and each time it can be a little nerve-wracking. But I have learned to do those uncomfortable things because it is my desire to help others when an opportunity presents itself. If Ellen had not needed or wanted prayer, then I would have respected her decision. But thinking that I might have missed an opportunity to share some Jesus love with her because I was afraid to be embarrassed is something that I would have likely regretted.
MORE GOD ASSIGNMENTS
My encounter with Ellen was just one of the assignments God had for both Terri and me during this trip. While we were in the Chicago area we visited a very sick friend of mine named Lauren who was in the hospital. The doctors were at a loss over what treatment would help her and she had been through countless tests already. We had a lengthy visit with Lauren, talking to her, encouraging her, praying for her. When we said goodbye, even though her body was still very frail, her spirit was stronger. That was evident by the countenance of her face. She was finally released from the hospital after a lengthy stay and she continues to get stronger day by day. Lauren shared with me on the phone recently and said the day of our visit was a turning point for her. She shared that her faith was rekindled and her hope for healing was renewed.
Another friend of mine, Elise, was planning to attend the second day of the meetings. She struggles with a sleeping disorder and has to endure many sleepless nights. Elise had set several alarms to wake up in time to attend the meeting. Unfortunately, she never heard any of the alarms and ended up sleeping through them because she had such a poor night’s sleep. When she finally woke up, she realized she would not make it to the meeting. Determined to spend some time with me, Elise came anyway and we went to lunch after my talk was over. God still had a plan. Terri and I sat with Elise for two and half hours at the restaurant. Elise shared her struggles and some of the difficult things she was going through. At one point as she was talking, I felt that God wanted me to ask her about forgiving someone in her life. Bingo! That was a key that was needed to unlock a big answer. We ministered to her and shared what God’s Word says about forgiving others. Then I shared with her my personal testimony of finding freedom through forgiveness. (That story is in Chapter 23 of my Nuggets from the Heart book. It was one of the more difficult stories to write.) Elise listened intently. We prayed for her before she had to leave and she thanked us over and over again for taking the time to help her get back on track in her faith walk.
After each meeting on both days, I wanted to avail myself to meet and talk with the women. Many of them wanted me to sign their copy of my book, which gave me the opportunity to encourage them personally. As each one came up, they shared a bit of their heart with me. They asked me to keep them in prayer. These ladies found a spot in my heart and I continue to lift them up each time the Holy Spirit brings them to my mind.
In Isaiah 6, God poses a question. “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” (Isaiah 6:8) In that same verse, the prophet Isaiah immediately responds with the words, “Here am I. Send me.”
In order to truly appreciate Isaiah’s quick reply, we need to look back at the previous seven verses. This man is woefully bemoaning the fact that he is a man with “unclean lips” and lives among people with the same issue. (v 5) Yet, in spite of his wretched condition, Isaiah has just experienced seeing a vision of the Lord “high and exalted, seated on a throne; and the train of his robe filled the temple.” (v1)
In verse 6, Isaiah states that an angel comes to him and takes a hot coal from the altar and places it on his lips with this decree: “See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.” This encounter may just have been what this doubtful prophet needed at that moment to timidly raise his hand towards heaven and avail himself to God for his divine purpose.
Allow me to present this thought to you. Had we been there to witness this moment for Isaiah, I cannot help but wonder if he would have added these words as well: “Lord I am not the prettiest, cleanest, or most perfect vessel. I have messed up a lot. I have a lot of cracks. But if you can use me and my brokenness to reach people for you..then here I am. I raise my hand and ask you to send me!”
The reason this question comes to my mind is that I know for a fact I have uttered those same words to God more than once. Can I be honest here? I mess up every single day. I do and say things I know I should not. I fail to do and say things I know I should. I speak when I should listen and run ahead full steam when I should be still and wait on the Lord. I am a cracked pot and some of those cracks seem beyond repair. But in spite of all this, I truly love God from the deepest part of my heart. I know he loves me for reasons I cannot even begin to fully comprehend. And so each day in some feeble way I choose to timidly raise my hand and say, “Here am I Lord. Send me. If there is anything in me that can be used for your glory and your Kingdom, then I will be the one to go.”
DONT JUST WRITE IT OUT…SPEAK IT OUT!
When I lived in Missouri and in Illinois, one of the things I was involved in was public speaking. I ministered to women through inspirational messages for various church events. Several months back during the summer, I felt a nudge from the Lord to step out in a bigger way in my ministry. My book was entering the final phases of completion and its publication was quickly approaching. As much as I enjoy writing I felt like the Lord wanted me to reenter the speaking aspect of this ministry. I am not sure what exactly that will look like or what it will entail. But I have said yes to God on this. I have said I will go as he opens up the doors he wants me to walk through to accomplish this. I recently added a Speaking Page to my website. As my faithful Nuggets followers, I invite you to peek at it and then feel free to share this information with those you know who may be in search of a speaker for a women’s church event. I believe I have a story to share and I believe God wants to use my story to make a difference one person, one meeting, and one Nugget at a time.
WILL YOU GO?
Now my friends, what about you? What’s your story? I know you have one. I believe it is as beautiful and unique as you are. More important, I believe there is an audience God has picked out just for you. You may or may not be called to write a book. You may or may not be called to speak in front of a crowd. Only you and God know what sharing your story looks like for you. He has placed you within a circle of people that only you will be able to influence. Whether he calls you to speak in the boardroom or the classroom, at your toddler’s play date or while teaching a small group Bible lesson, or maybe just chatting with a friend over a cup of coffee…the opportunity to share is there.
Friends, I challenge you today just as I did the women I spoke to in Illinois. You can make a difference in someone’s life. You hold that “power of one” if you allow God to show you just how he wants to use you. There is a tremendous harvest of souls ready for the taking at this very hour. There is a multitude of lost, hurting people in the valley of indecision. There are countless individuals who will not enter the walls of a church to hear the Gospel message. But they just may be willing to listen to you and to me. Are we will willing to be one of those laborers sent to the harvest fields we have been assigned to? Are we willing to be the “living-breathing-walking-talking” Gospel message as we share our story with those who cross our path each day?
Today, the Father is asking an important question. Who can he send? Don’t worry or fret about your weaknesses or inabilities. His strength is more than sufficient and he is more than able to make up for our lack of ability! So take that step of faith. Dare to raise your hand and your voice to heaven as you answer his call and say. “Here am I. Send me.”
PS: I am cheering you on! If you don’t mind, would you share a bit of your heart in the comment section? I would love to know what God is saying to you about how he wants to use you. It would be my privilege to pray for you for his direction in your life.