You plus 10

What do you want your life to look like in 10 years? Who do you want to become?

My husband and I have been asking ourselves these questions thanks to Bob Goff. If you’re not familiar with Bob, he is full of life, wisdom, and whimsy. During one of his messages, he spoke about asking these two important questions in order to inform our current decisions.

I recently made the decision to leave my corporate job to pursue a different, non-traditional path. I have a passion for writing and for women’s ministry, and have always dreamed of becoming an author. I did not take the decision to quit my job lightly, but felt God consistently nudging me to make a move. I’ve worked in sales and marketing for 10 years now, why would I leave something so safe? What are people going to think? What if I don’t have what it takes?  But I couldn’t deny the promptings of the Holy Spirit. It was as though I was elbow to elbow with him, and every day he nudged a little more.

Have you ever felt these nudges? It’s so easy to ignore them isn’t it? We like to play it safe, especially when it comes to our careers. But what if there’s more for you? What if what makes you glad and the talents God has gifted you with are meant to intersect?

I haven’t met Mandy + 10 yet, but I hope she’s cooler than ever, full of life, and fabulously brave. I hope she’s stronger in her faith. I hope she’s written a book or two and that she’s gained a fabulous community along the way. I hope her marriage is thriving; filled with unconditional love and joy. I hope she can look back on her decisions with a heart of gratitude. Most of all, I hope her maker is proud of her.

So, in any area of your life, whether its your career, relationships, health, and more, what do you want your life to look like in 10 years? Who do you want to become?

When we Sit, we Forfeit

“I need to tell you something.”

He had my full attention. As I stood in the middle of a hot, humid gym, I looked into the dark brown eyes of a friend. He nervously wiped the beads of sweat from his forehead, and slowly began to speak.

“Mandy, the Lord has been nudging me all day to remind you of something. I didn’t want to listen, but I told Him that if I saw you today, I’d tell you. The Lord wants me to remind you that He lives inside of you. You have joy in your heart.”

My eyes began to tear up as I let his kind words of truth sink in. His heartfelt obedience was a clear reflection of the words we read in James.

“But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves.” James 1:22 (NLT)

I don’t know why doing what God says can be so challenging at times. We fight, wrestle, and run until we think we’ve escaped what God is calling us to do. We negotiate. We overthink. We believe that if we sit on something long enough it will eventually go away. Like pushing down an air-filled beach ball in a pool of water, over time, the ball resurfaces.

But here’s what I’m learning to embrace: when we sit, we forfeit.

When we sit on a nudge or command and choose to push down the promptings God places on our hearts, we forfeit stepping toward a God-ordained opportunity. If my friend would have walked away from what the Lord was placing on his heart that day, he would have forfeited an opportunity to remind me of who I am in Christ. I would have missed out on receiving a gift of godly encouragement.

What I love about God, is that even when we choose to forfeit, He doesn’t stop offering opportunities to keep trying. He’s not a one-and-done type of Father; He’s a redeeming Father. Opportunities resurface, and whether we boldly run with them or not, He waits with open arms filled with forgiveness, mercy, and grace.

As you begin your day today, and every day, know that chasing God-ordained opportunities beats forfeiting. You may be the precise vessel God wants to use to start a church, grow a business or simply encourage someone. God, in all of His goodness, will help you where He leads you. Your influence has impact.

You Are Who You Invest Your Time In

“You are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with.”
Jim Rohn

Prior to moving to Nashville, the act of investing money was something I thought about doing when I was a “grown up.” Spending was much easier than investing, and candidly, it still is. I saved, and made deposits here and there, but I didn’t create a solid plan for my future. I casually thought, I’ll deal with investing later because I have plenty of time. I’m young! The problem with dealing with it later, is later comes sooner than we think. How we spend and invest our money at any age matters when it comes to our future.

The same is true with our time. Who we invest in, and who we spend our time with matters when it comes to our faith.

When I read about Jesus’ life on earth, I’m reminded of how he intentionally loved and invested in his 12 apostles. He spent time with countless people, showed love to everyone, and engaged with people left and right. However, he focused in on his 12. I love how Jesus chose men from various political backgrounds, geographies and trades to be in his innermost circle. They were all different, but had the shared value of knowing Jesus was the real deal.

What I also love about Jesus, is he didn’t lose sight of investing time in his Father even with the weight of humanity on his shoulders. He dedicated time to pray in solitude so he could better invest in his 12. Jesus disconnected to better connect. Our closest relationships can look like this too.

Investing in our fruitful friendships reflects the way Jesus loved and still loves; without an agenda, with pure intentions, undistracted, with an unlimited amount of compassion, forgiveness, grace and humility. It’s making a promise and keeping it. It’s going through life, including the hard stuff, together. It’s small, regular deposits into the relationship, even if it’s just a text message, cup of coffee, or phone call.

The return on our faithful, relational investments comes in the form of a deeper faith, companionship, eternal hope, and joy. These are our long-term, lasting dividends. God created us for his glory and for each other; side by side, facing the cross together.

Spending time with people is not a bad thing. However, I think it’s the difference between creating temporary, socially fulfilling relationships, and deeply connected, long-lasting relationships. Like money, our time investments are what prepares us for the future we want to have. Our careless spending is what can get us in trouble!

Here are some helpful reflection questions we can ask ourselves:

  • Do I share the same values as the people I am investing time in?
  • Would I ask any of the friends I am investing in for advice?
  • Am I investing time in someone because I want to be socially accepted, or because I genuinely love and care for them?
  • Am I spending time with a group of friends out of convenience?
  • Am I investing time in people out of a fear of being alone?
  • Are my 5 closest friends raising my average or lowering it?
  • Am I raising someone else’s average?
  • Do the people I spend the most time with encourage me in my faith?

Life can be richly fulfilling, full of hope, and inspiring when we invest in the right people along the way. Ultimately, Jesus invested in all of us when he died on the cross for our sins. He is the perfect example of a loving investor on earth, as well as in Heaven.

1st and 10

Do you ever wonder why certain people can go through horrific tragedies, devastating loss, and long periods of time with no good news with a smile on their face? How do they do it, right?

I think the answer is found in gratitude.

In 2017, Kevin Queen became the lead pastor of Cross Point Church in Nashville, Tennessee. One of the first messages he preached was about the importance of expressing gratitude, and he offered a practical way to grow in our joy regardless of circumstances. His practice is called the 1st and 10. It’s beginning each day by writing down 10 things you are grateful for. We flourish when we are grateful. If we don’t express gratitude, it doesn’t exist!

In the same way we practice eating healthy, working out, or writing, we can practice saying thanks to God. There’s always something to be grateful for even when we don’t feel grateful. Starting each day with a thankful heart sets us up for a day (or at least a morning!) filled with humility and joy. And who doesn’t want more joy, right?

Here are a few ideas to get you started on your 1st and 10:

  • Health
  • Family
  • Friends
  • Your Spouse
  • Your Story
  • Your Gifts
  • Music
  • Sunshine
  • Coffee
  • A Delicious Meal
  • Your Pet
  • Encouraging Words from a Friend
  • An Unexpected Compliment

In the words of A.W. Tozer, “Gratitude is an offering precious in the sight of God, and it is one that the poorest of us can make and be not poorer but richer for having made it.” So, what are you grateful for today?

Prioritizing Rest in a Busy World

Disconnect. Recharge. Slow down. Focus on being present.

If you’re like me, these are lines you’ve heard from well-meaning friends, authors, speakers, and influencers more times than you can count. I typically acknowledge them, but politely move on to the next activity on my to-do list. Who has time to slow down? We have a laundry list of things that need to get done, right? But after years of half-heartedly giving rest the time it deserves; it finally has my full attention.

We’ve all looked into the eyes of tired friends who have let their lives and schedules get the best of them. I ache for them. I ache because I know the struggle of feeling like you have nothing left to give at the end of a long day. I know what it feels like to lose sight of your purpose. I ache because nobody wants to dig themselves into a hole of emotional, spiritual, and physical depletion, but I think we arrive at this destination more times than we’d like to voice.

Several months ago, my husband and I spent time in a secluded treehouse just outside of Charleston. There was no Wi-Fi, spotty cell phone service and no TV. To some of you, this sounds like a nightmare! For us, it was a peaceful, welcomed dream. I went into our treehouse experience knowing the tech-free details, but had no idea how much God was going to teach me through them.

The silence, stillness, and rest were medicinal; healing my heart and mind in ways I didn’t realize needed healing. My eyes were opened to my deep need for more regular, undistracted down time in everyday life. After entirely too many years of rushing from one activity to the next, I finally understand the richness and power found in prioritizing rest. It’s sacred.

I realize our day to day life requires more from us than just resting – not every day is spent in a treehouse with no Wi-Fi. I get that. But what if little by little, 5 minutes at a time, we begin to prioritize stillness? What if we schedule rest in the same way we schedule working out, going out to dinner or seeing a movie? What if God desperately wants to grow us through stillness?

If we can muster up the courage to give rest our full attention, we will save ourselves the pain of having to climb out of the physical, emotional, and spiritual holes we dig. Stillness has a way of bubbling up fears, but it also has the power to breed clarity and centeredness in spite of our fears. We are broken, but we are loved. For every fear that bubbles up, God has a pointed truth to pop it.

Jesus bravely restored in stillness with the weight of humanity on his shoulders. My hope in sharing this is to encourage you to bravely restore too. I pray you have the courage to prioritize rest in a culture that is always on. Most importantly, I pray that through your brave moments of stillness, you remember your purpose and return to it often.

 

3 Ways to Lead College Students Well

Did you know that over half of the number of students entering into college will walk away from their faith? Yes, you read that correctly. Over 50%. That statistic breaks my heart and ignites a spark of motivation too. You and I have the power to lower that number! If you’re involved in college ministry, or you’re interested in jumping in, here are a few big ideas I believe will help us lead well.

  1. Show up consistently.

The easiest way to build connection and trust with college students is to simply show up for them consistently. Offer to take a student to lunch, coffee, or simply check in via text to see how their week is going. Invite them to church or your church’s college ministry, yes, but if a student is hesitant to come, that’s okay. Through prayer and consistency, God will move. You may be the first stepping stone in a student’s long faith journey – don’t give up!

  1. Show up with care.

I once heard a college student say, “I’m not a Christian. The Bible is 3,000 years old. How can I believe in something that old?”

Many times, students are incredibly misinformed about Christianity. They think faith is about a book, not a person. They think Christians are loud converters who hold up signs at public events and yell through megaphones. Some students have horrifying pasts, parents who neglected them, or have heavy tragedies to process. They don’t believe God can love them or that he’s even real.

It’s our job to show up with care – to show them that Jesus was gentle and humble in heart. Students don’t need another friend; they need a guide they can relate to. Be as authentic as possible. Validate their feelings and questions, and kindly equip them with truth.

  1. Show up for yourself.

For some students, you may be their closest example of what a Christ-follower looks like. No pressure, right? It’s a gift, but also a heavy responsibility and honor. If you’re consistently pouring out love to students without taking care of yourself, you’ll likely face burn out. Show up for yourself by prioritizing faith in your own life, and allow others to walk alongside you. You can’t pour from an empty cup!

Andy Stanley once asked, “What is the faith of the next generation worth?”  and after a short pause, he answered, “everything.”