Source: Matt Stavros

Leading Doesn’t Make You Popular

Source: Matt Stavros

Source: Matt Stavros

We all have the capacity to be leaders, whether we realize it or not. 

I shrugged off this idea for a long time, but the Holy Spirit’s persistent voice kept saying this to me throughout my younger years:

You are a leader. Yes, you…

Do you believe that about yourself? Why or why not?

I know I didn’t. If I were meant to be some type of leader, I reasoned, then I should have dozens of followers. No followers – no leader. That’s the formula, right?

But all this time, I’ve been confusing popularity with leadership. To influence people (the essence of leadership), I thought one must be well-liked & accepted. Yet NOWHERE does God equate the two in Scripture. In fact, Jesus – the world’s best leader – was murdered by the people He was sent to lead!

I somehow missed that true leadership isn’t a person’s ability to bend to the crowd but their ability to rise above it & lead it in another direction, even in the face of opposition. This is what Jesus did, and that is why He still influences people today. What a portrait of a true leader!

Many of the “coolest” people I know – those on the cultural cutting-edge – seldom lead anyone anywhere. At best, they puppet the world around them. That isn’t leadership; that’s the path of least resistance.

Can they be counted on to deliver not-so-popular news, or introduce new ideas that may upset the status quo? Nope. Such people have their pulse firmly on the world’s wrist, but are unwilling to do anything to change it.

Contrast that with Jesus. He was a leader willing to go against the grain, to say or do what was completely genuine to Him – things that were possibly even unpopular – for a cause beyond Himself. 

Leaders risk their social status NOT for themselves, but for a higher purpose:

They aren’t trying to be difficult or different – they’re just seeking to make a difference. And they recognize that to make a difference, one must sometimes BE different!

They aren’t chasing fame & applause (which doesn’t last anyway) but truth & love & the One who made both.

They don’t just surround themselves with the “in crowd”. They see people for who they are, not through the lens of social status, and are willing to invest in those who are overlooked.

They encourage the best in others (and tend to bring it out).

They’re simply real & honest. Unhindered by popular opinion. Willing to speak out against things that should be opposed… for the sake of showing people a better way.

True leaders stand for something greater than themselves, and they do so even if it costs them. In fact, that’s when leaders shine most: When no one else is willing to say or do what needs to be said & done.

So let this truth settle in your heart today: You CAN be both a leader & “uncool”. In fact, it’s highly likely you’re a curious blend of both :) And that’s precisely why God chose you & I to lead.

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Five-Minute Friday: {A Writer’s Life}

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Every Friday, a group of bloggers spends 5 unedited minutes writing on a new topic. This fun assignment – created by Lisa Jo Baker – helps us write free from worries about perfection or format. I love the idea & hope you enjoy this week’s theme (“Writer”) in all its rough glory! 

~~~

I’ve written since I was a small child – stories (both bloody & fun), poetry, pages & pages of journals – locked tight with Lisa Frank keys, cards & Valentine’s, daydreamed doodles.

Over & over again, I heard “You’re a great writer” – something I still don’t see. It’s as if God wanted this path for me, wanted me to explore Him through words – both mine & others. I can’t describe the discoveries I’ve had through the written word – mine & His, the joy I’ve had while creating sentences on paper, the sheer exuberance I’ve experienced when stepping into bookstores or receiving notebooks as a gift & new pencils every August.

Writing & me: it must’ve been fate. Yet in recent months, I’ve wondered what God’s greater purpose is for me here? Will my words change the world, or just change me? Will they go to the other corners of the earth, or are they meant to just touch next door?

I can’t know the future, but I know I must be obedient – I must heed this call to write. For, in God’s eyes, good or not, I am a writer.

“Beautiful words stir my heart.
I will recite a lovely poem about the king,
for my tongue is like the pen of a skillful poet.”

~Psalm 45

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Source: staffordlakay.blogspot.com

Tears in a Bottle

Source: staffordlakay.blogspot.com

Credit: staffordlakay.blogspot.com

Tears in a bottle.

For those times you were victimized.

For him cheating on you.

For the weeks & years they’ve taken you for granted, with hardly a care for your well-being.

For the lost job.

The lost pregnancy.

The lost dream.

As I re-connect with friends who have experienced betrayal & heartbreak in recent months, I have no other comfort for them than to say that God sees & hears all. He understands & collects our tears in a bottle.

You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in Your bottle. You have recorded each one in Your book. —Psalm 56:8

For reasons I can’t grasp tonight, our God allows our hearts to go through trials & to even be shattered.

No, it’s not fair. No, He’s not pleased with what happened to you. And no, He doesn’t call evil “good” – so neither should we.

What He does promise is to bring beauty from the ashes of our lives, tremendous beauty we can’t fathom.

He hasn’t forgotten. As His bottles fill up with our pain & confused tears, we can rest that He loves us… He’s with us… & He will heal us.

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. -Psalm 147:3

O LORD my God, I cried to You for help, and You healed me. -Psalm 30:2

I am the Lord who heals you. -Exodus 15:26

“I will give you back your health and heal your wounds,” says the Lord. -Jeremiah 30:17

He sent forth His word, and healed them, and delivered them from destruction. -Psalm 107:20

happy vday!

My Valentine’s Day Surprise!

happy vday!

Credit: Pinterest

In honor of one of my favorite holidays, I’m announcing today that I have a NEWLY-DESIGNED WEBSITE :) I redesigned it last weekend, tinkered with it, & finally went live yesterday. You guys are some of the first to know!! Hooray!

I plan to continue updating & adding new items, so keep watching to see how it evolves. I l-o-v-e the minimalist look & feel of this design. Thanks for checking it out! I hope you like the new changes :)

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Our Valentine’s Day

I hope y’all are having an awesome Valentine’s Day!!! We’re having more of a “Valentine’s Weekend” because of the busyness of this week. Here’s a little peek into what our celebration entailed (our 3rd as husband & wife):

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Lord I need You Matt Maher, Lord I need you song, worship song Matt Maher, Matt Maher

Lord, I Need You [Matt Maher]

Guys, this song has been echoing in my head for WEEKS. Without. Stopping! Yes, I love it, but after enough times I realize God must be giving me a hint here…

Sometimes, He seems to remind us of the perfect song, just when we need it. This is such a time. Enjoy (I highlighted my favorite parts).
~Summer

Lord, I Need You (Matt Maher)

Lord, I come, I confess
Bowing here, I find my rest
Without You, I fall apart
You’re the One that guides my heart

Lord, I need You, oh I need You
Every hour I need You
My one defense, my righteousness
Oh God, how I need You

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My Word for 2014: “Live”

Updated :)

{Please ignore the extreme case of “photog’s thumb” :) Ski lifts are tricky!}

Friends!

I know this post is super-dee-duper late. Sincere apologies for waiting 1.5 months to update this blog (if you noticed)! I was outta town for 3 weeks over the holidays & made an executive decision to leave my laptop behind & hang with real human beings (my family!). Very good decision.

I also started a new job [insert excitement here]! I’m working as a marketing & website contractor for a private school and feel very blessed to join them.

Lastly, I’ve had a persistent case of “Writer’s Doubt” ~ when I’ve questioned whether anyone reads or cares about my writing. I know, I know – sounds silly, but a little encouragement goes a long way for an unpaid writer like me :)

Now… onto celebrating this new year, shall we?

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Today is January 25th, and it’s a brand-spankin-new year!!! I have SO much anticipation about what 2014 will bring into our lives ~ many hopes & dreams. Do you? Starting with this awesome word of encouragement from some godly people in Illinois (they do exist lol, jk Yankee friends!): 2014 – A Year of Prophetic Alignment.

I’ve been watching some great big things already begin to happen around me (& to me!). Maybe God wants us to have a sense of expectation for what He’ll do this year. Mmm?!

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Out of Pain Comes Purpose

Creative Commons

Credit: Creative Commons, Chantel Baggley

Show me a man’s wounds, and I’ll show you his purpose. ~via Jimmy Evans

Do you believe your pain is preparing you for something greater?

My conviction is that we should not only believe this, but EXPECT it! Throughout Scripture (& history), God uses the hard edges of pain to etch out His future ministry for people…

God molded Joseph’s heart & character in a jail cell for 13 years. He taught this immature teenager how to be faithful in an unlikely place (as manager over Potiphar’s household & then the prison he lived in), which prepared Joseph to steward faithfully in a world torn by severe famine.

God molded David’s heart through King Saul’s sadistic & abusive behavior towards the shepherd boy. Young David learned how to lead (and NOT lead) & how to love his enemies by living under Saul’s poor, ungodly leadership (two lessons that served David time & time again as king!).

God’s molded my heart to encourage hurting people due to my darkest times – years when I was hard-pressed to find a close friend to help me through. I now have radar for people walking a similar journey & seek to lift them up however I can.

God’s likely doing a similar work in your life to bring joy – even passion – out of your difficulty. If we’ll be patient, we may just see Him reveal a glorious new purpose & vision through our trials.

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Credit: My handsome husband

Lead Yourself First

Credit: My handsome husband

Credit: My handsome husband :)

Many of us have good advice for the people around us.

If Janet would just _____, she’d feel better.

If Bill would stop _____, he may get a promotion!

I wish my son would _____. He’d be able to settle down with a nice girl & get his life together.

I’m sure the world would be a better, brighter place if people accepted our sage counsel (or if we accepted theirs!), but that often doesn’t happen.

Why is that?

Maybe because, in our hurry to help others live better lives, we forget to focus on our own {guilty}!

We can try to train our kids & “groom” our spouses, write self-help articles, and preach to friends, but if we aren’t living it ourselves, we will negate our message.

To put it simply: We must lead ourselves FIRST, or we risk majorly limiting our influence & our credibility. After all, who follows a fat man’s diet plan or a broke man’s financial advice?

We must live it in order to teach it.

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Credit: Creative Commons, Public Domain Photos

Soul Hunger: Can We Ever Be Satisfied?

Credit: Creative Commons, Public Domain Photos

Dandelion. Credit: Creative Commons, Public Domain Photos

A satisfied soul loathes the honeycomb, but to a hungry soul every bitter thing is sweet. ~Prov 27

I’ll never forget when I first heard this proverb. I was at ACU’s Leadership Summit, and a man named Mike Haley quoted it as he recounted the life God freed him from: 12 years of living a gay lifestyle.

Haley described his upbringing, the factors that drew him towards homosexuality, and the path he took. He spared few details & painted a vivid portrait of the life he explored to the fullest.

One point was clear: In Mike’s upbringing, he’d had a deep, gnawing “soul” hunger that wasn’t met at home. So at age 11, when an older man took special interest in him, Haley’s need for a caring father figure was finally met. He found love & acceptance for the first time, but the man’s impure intentions towards Haley introduced him to a lifestyle that would take over a decade for him to leave.

This “loving” relationship deeply damaged Haley. When he was 18, it finally ended but left this young man raw & seeking the wrong solutions. He entered the gay community but eventually found it didn’t fulfill him no matter how many relationships & sexual encounters he had.

At his core, Haley simply needed someone to care, but (like many of us) the more he pursued emptiness, the more trapped he felt in a sin cycle he couldn’t break free from. It was the only way he knew to soothe his soul, even if it was temporary & painful. {Ever been there?}

Haley’s story rocked my world.

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