All Posts By

Caroline

Faith Leadership

Why Consistency is the Key to Breakthrough

July 3, 2018

For the last week I’ve had a thought running through my head. I’m not sure when it started, but from the minute I heard it I knew it was something I wanted to hold onto.

Because the whisper I heard was this,

Consistency is the means for breakthrough.

It struck me because of how challenging I find some days in this season. I can easily get overwhelmed by meeting the necessary demands of my day – things like keeping my kids fed, napped, and bathed – that so many other tasks get set to the side. Some of that is true and natural to my current season. But I am also recognizing that there are areas in my life that mandate my consistency for God’s breakthrough.

Sometimes God works suddenly and out of nowhere moves on our behalf, causing everything to change in an instance. It’s as quick and unexpected as a clap of thunder in the middle of a hot summer afternoon. There’s no warning to it and it totally jolts us by its entrance.

Those breakthroughs are certainly exciting, but they are also rare.

Most of the time God moves through our participation in the everyday and ordinary of life, where we actively engage with and remain consistent in what matters for the long-term.

Why is consistency so central to breakthrough? Because innate to it is partnership, the act of joining with God who is with us. To show up and continue doing so means we are committing ourselves as partners in the breakthrough. There’s something so beautiful in that. It’s not solely about God doing what he wants in us, but us joining with him in what he’s already up to.

As I see it, consistency is one way we say a loud, firm yes and amen to the promises of God in our lives. Just as God is an active God who is moving on our behalf, those promises are active too, being worked out as we keep moving forward. And so they require our activity in order to ignite their transformation — from promise extended to breakthrough experienced.

Tucked into the need of consistency for breakthrough is the question of whether we are willing to move, dig, and progress little-by-little because we have caught hold of the vision beyond how we feel or what we see.

When we have grasped the larger why, we become inspired in the mundane to keep showing up. The vision promotes and enables our consistency in the small and ordinary choices.

Ultimately the most compelling why is the one that is far greater than our individual lives or limits. They encompass the impossible of Heaven crashing down and working in our realms, unfolding a story of God’s move among his people. When we are anchored to a story bigger than us, we are propelled by a why greater than us. And that, I believe, is the most effective way to build consistency. God invites us to catch a vision of him moving in, through, and around us beyond any one of our lives alone.

These are the thoughts currently at the forefront of my mind. Not because I have mastered their execution but because I am discovering that there is an undeniable correlation between consistency and breakthrough. Commitment moves God. So does perseverance and doing the hidden work of sowing seeds far below the surface.

I am becoming convinced that to be prophetic people means to see and believe for what God will do in the years and seasons ahead by way of showing up in the small, ordinary, and consistent choices of today. When we catch the vision of what God will do, we find ourselves with no choice but to put action and momentum behind it. It’s the natural, innate response.

Because if we’re really confident that what he has promised he will do, we will choose to partner with him in it for all the days required until we taste and see.

So can we hold faith by being consistent in what matters even when we may feel like giving up, sitting down, or walking away? Are we so purposed, determined, and willing to see breakthrough that we will keep going today and tomorrow and for as many days ahead even if no one sees or we wonder how it ever could be?

Showing up consistently reflects deep partnership with God and confidence that in due time he will move. And yet, even if he doesn’t, we still play our part because partnership with him in greater depths and realities is the ultimate breakthrough we could possibly uncover.

Faith

The Decisions, Moments, and Choices that Matter Most (Part 2)

June 27, 2018

Last week I wrote about how what we do in the hidden times and seasons matters a lot. But I’ve felt challenged that there’s still more. Because it’s not only about what we do. It’s also about what we believe and rest in.

When Jesus delivered the Sermon on the Mount, over and over he repeated the same few words, “You’ve heard it said, but now I say.” He took the people deeper, challenged their paradigms even more, and turned their old system upside down in order to introduce them to a totally new way of doing life and kingdom.

When I think about who I am in the unseen places of my life, those words “but now I say…” pull me deeper. They remind me that not only are my actions important, but even more so are my beliefs.

Because it matters what you and I choose to believe, stand on, and hold faith for in the hidden place where no one sees or knows.

The question that uncovers this best is, what are the truths we rest in when it seems like everything is against us or nothing is happening for us or all the good stuff is taking place elsewhere?

So to consider what you and I choose to believe and rehearse over in our minds when we are faced with another friend who gets his or her long-awaited breakthrough, which also happens to be the same one we’re hoping for.

Or when we receive the letter that our funding didn’t come through, book isn’t going to be published, or dream job isn’t happening.

Or when we find ourselves feeling betrayed, rejected, or hurt by those we love most or highly esteem in our lives.

Or when someone speaks words over us that belittle our identity, passion, or calling.

These moments are critical ones. They force us to wrestle with and settle on the truths we are firmly holding to despite what we see or feel. The choice is as unseen as can be, and yet it determines everything about what flows from us.

Because in the tension we are offered the chance to hold to God’s goodness and elevate our thoughts to his truth. To bless, honor, and thank even with all that is before us or around us or not happening for us. To embrace God’s promise as greater than our circumstances and resolve he is faithful and working no matter the current moment.

None of this happens when things are going as planned, but when hopes are delayed, breakthrough is happening somewhere else or when we are feeling overwhelmingly tucked away by God. Because it is on that tense, hidden ground that what we choose to believe comes to the surface — and brings its fruit with it.

We are most ripe for breakthrough when we have sown seeds in faith and trust in God in the hidden place. When no one can see and no one knows, there we are offered the opportunity to bring forth life and goodness around us by the thoughts we think, truth we stand upon, and promises we recount.

So what reveals who we are and who we are becoming are not merely our unseen actions, but also our choices to trust, thank, bless, and honor even if it comes alongside tears, pain, or unanswered questions. This isn’t easy or flawless or without its mess, but it is holy nonetheless.

Because powerful partnership with God looks like choosing when no one knows or sees (or may not even care) to believe God is good, to carry a confidence beyond our comprehension, or to speak honor and blessing elsewhere. Those are the bold choices that make all the difference.

Faith

The Decisions, Moments, & Choices that Matter Most (Part 1)

June 19, 2018

As a mom of two littles I am acutely aware of two things in this season: demands are plentiful and time is limited.

Over and over again I have to surrender to the reality that I literally cannot do it all. I cannot meet every need or pursue every dream. All isn’t an option. While it’s a good place to be, and one that I am consistently resting (or being wrestled) back into, it’s also led me to ask the question,

What does it look like to steward well today and tomorrow? The demands and the dreams? The work and the vision?

I imagine a lot of you are there with me. You may be carrying this hope for the future, whether it is to build a company, a ministry, or a family, but today looks like showing up to the same job each day to pay bills. Or maybe you’re currently enrolling in semester after semester of school to one day step out into the professional field you know you’re made for. Or maybe you’re in a season like mine where you are spending your days at home while also carrying a desire to pursue a vocation sometime and somewhere ahead.

The balancing act of living today while also holding dreams for the future is a tricky one. And while I don’t have a complete answer to offer, I have landed on a strong conviction that keeps me going on those extra mundane or overly demanding days.

Because I am convinced that the key is to steward the unseen as brilliantly and faithfully as possible.

It’s easy to spout off the big picture when someone asks us what we sense ourselves called to — to tell of where we’re heading, what it will look like, how we imagine it will feel. While keeping the end game in mind enables us to head in the right direction, what determines if we’ll get there is the everyday stuff.

We can’t afford to forget that the small, daily choices make the greatest difference.

The decisions to show up, keep going, push past emotions and believe for what God will do matter, a lot. Because what keeps us partnering with the dreams God has given us are the unseen actions of our lives. It’s the secret place where eyes are off us that determines whether we are investing in those seeds planted deep within.

It’s the stuff like what you do in the early hours of the morning when the rest of the world is sleeping, the research you stay up late to do after the kids are asleep, or the schooling you squeeze into an already busy life. It may be unrecognized and overlooked, but it’s significant, holy work.

Because partnering with those God-given dreams of our lives looks like making daily choices to do the hard, hidden work to keep building momentum in the direction God is leading us.

David is a great example of this. Most of us can recount how he was called as a young boy to kill Goliath with the eyes of his people and his enemies upon him. With mere stones but in the strength of a powerful God, he brought down the giant. But what we often overlook is that he didn’t become a giant slayer when he killed Goliath. He became one when he was by himself, all alone in the fields conquering the lion and the bear with his bare hands (1 Samuel 17:32-37). His transformation in the hidden, secret place enabled him to publicly slay the giant.

The private actions and unseen decisions determine who we will become and where we will go.

So it is for all that God calls us to pursue — the small stuff matters. How we show up, believe, and move forward by those convictions when no one sees and no one knows matters. So does how we remain faithful and present in the necessary and hidden work of today. Because ultimately what forms us into the people who will carry what God will ask of us in the seasons to come is our choice to steward well what is before us right now.

*Stay tuned for more thoughts next week. Or if you don’t want to miss it, subscribe by email in the box to the right!

Life

3 Choices to Make When Life Doesn’t Look as You Imagined

June 12, 2018

Let’s be honest. For a lot of us life isn’t playing out the way thought it would.

Consider what you pictured life to look like when you were xx years old and most likely it is nothing as you imagined (and definitely for the better on many counts).

So you find yourself, like most of us, living in the tension of dreams unmet and hopes still delayed.

And in that place it can be tempting to swing one of two ways. The first is to decide you are powerless to change anything so you may as well ride life out as a passive pawn. You don’t do much pushing or wrestling, but a lot of letting things be and waiting for change to come when, how, and if it will.

Or you determine you will do everything possible to fix yourself out of the tension, essentially trying to force the intersection of your reality with dreams and desires. You may strive or hustle as hard as possible to change whatever hurts most right now in an effort to eject yourself out of pain or disappointment. Or you may abruptly change everything — job, location, and community — in hopes that a self-induced transition will bring breakthrough with it.

But there’s another choice available. To engage with our frustration, disappointment, or dissatisfaction with life as it is right now. To leverage it as a means to grow our character and become who we are created to be in the middle of the process.

Because the answer is not merely to disregard today or do all we can to fix our way out of it. But instead to be changed in the midst of it. To live in the tension of longings unrealized. To stay awake and alive where callings and dreams haven’t yet met reality. And there to move from needing to fix frustrations and disappointments to learning from them.

Because what isn’t is one of the most powerful teachers for us to grow and become right where we are.

And if we decide to remain in the tension of what is yet to be, there are 3 choices we can make:

1. To make peace with life as it is.

It’s a good practice for us to come to an honest (and frequent) place of making peace with today, especially when it is not everything we want it to be. A habit of gratitude mandates we look at what is before us, accept that it is not all we wish or want, and still receive it for what it is. I’m pretty convinced this is integral to maturity. Because to a certain extent, what frustrates us today is something we must simply get over by remaining thankful for what is — especially when it is not everything we desire it to be.

2. To realign ourselves.

When we take time to consider what is most dissatisfying, it uncovers areas of fear, control, or where we’re off course. So we must dig deeper into why we are so frustrated with where we find ourselves.

Are we anxious to move ahead because we are afraid we will be forgotten, overlooked, or bypassed?

Are we unwilling to allow God to unfold his process in his timing because we are determined to have things look a specific way?

Is God’s leading or nudging being overshadowed by what we (or others) think we should give our time, talents, or attention to?

Taking time to sit in the reality of what is and ask ourselves pointed questions reveals where we need to realign ourselves.

3. To reignite with fresh conviction to become right where we are. When stewarded well, the tension can fuel us with passion again. Because we can resolve that even still it is worth it for us to stay and believe that here God will move. We change and become when we refuse to allow frustrations to detract us from faithfully stewarding today or from believing for what God will do ahead. Pressure causes us to grow. Tension forces us to strengthen. So frustration can refocus and reignite us to give ourselves to what matters most.

The ultimate choice we can make is to decide that no matter when, how, or if we see those dreams come to be in our lives, we keep engaging. We keep believing and growing right where we are. Because the possibility for what God can do in and through us is worth the present tension, and it requires us to live well what is today.

Right here and right now is where we can tap into a faith that is not determined by what we see with our eyes or how we feel in the moment, but by God who is with us in all of it.

Faith

The Quickest Way to Turn Around Even the Hardest of Days

June 4, 2018

Recently I was driving around town with my two kiddos and could feel myself slipping into a funk. This one had been lingering for the last few days and the pull felt extra strong that morning.

At this point in life I’m pretty aware that if I don’t do something about it quickly, my whole perception will become ridiculously distorted with illusions and misconceptions about reality. I may be troubled by something specific, but if I don’t purposefully get moving toward a better place in my thoughts I’ll start convincing myself that everything is wrong, nothing is right, and all is hopeless. I tend to swing from one extreme to the other fairly easily.

So on those days I do what I know works best, quickest, and most effectively. I stop repeating what is wrong or what I am burdened by, I take my eyes off what isn’t, and I simply say thank you.

My friend Allison taught this to me years ago. She called it the “thankful game,” in which she would rapidly begin listing off everything she could thank God for in a given moment. It was particularly effective during our long half-marathon runs. As tired as we were, with miles still ahead of us, our whole mindset shifted the minute we reminded ourselves how thankful we were that we even could run, that we had healthy bodies, paved roads, and shoes on our feet. The minute we remembered what was, what wasn’t didn’t seem so all-pervasive (or dire).

So in the middle of my funk last week I looked at my two-year-old daughter in the rearview mirror and told her we were going to start thanking God for all he’d given us that day. I began by thanking him for the car we were driving, the Bible study we were about to attend, and my healthy kiddos sitting in the backseat. Eloise then reminded me that we were also thankful for carseats (heck yes!) and her buddy Beckett’s mom, which made me smile.

Instantly things shifted. I wasn’t dwelling on what wasn’t going as I wanted, but instead remembering all that has been given and all that is so good around me. The practice took seconds and it immediately moved my eyes from lack to abundance, from unmet expectations to lavished gifts in my life.

And those two words made all the difference.

I’ve never forgotten the way a close pastor has always put it for me. Over and over I’ve come to him in different seasons with tears running down my face because of my disappointment or sadness over something I was walking through, wrestling with, or struggling to find peace in.

And over and over again he has responded with the words, “But we are thankful.”

Yes life is hard, but we are thankful.

Yes that’s a serious loss, but we are thankful.

Yes that’s unfair, unfortunate, or seemingly impossible, but we are still thankful.

Thankfulness isn’t attached to circumstances, which is exactly why it’s so powerful. Because ultimately thankfulness flows from deep within us, out of our awareness that all is a gift anyway. For all that is, all that isn’t, and all that we haven’t yet seen, even still we can be thankful.

Paul, writing to a new community arising in faith, told them to “thank God no matter what happens” (1 Thess 5:18).

Not only because we can and because we should, but because it changes everything. Each day shifts the minute we say thank you. Every conversation, relationship, worry – it all changes when we stop and remember again all that is good, all that is gifted, and all that God has done.

So how are you today? What’s weighing on you or worrying you? Instead of giving more thoughts and emotions to what isn’t, what if you stop, remember again how God has come through in the past, and start spouting off all that you are grateful for in the present?

Because fresh faith and fuel for today is found by pausing, lifting our eyes off our problems, and saying again those words powerfully detached from present circumstances or emotions. Thank you.

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