Life Lessons From A Beauty Queen

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I competed in beauty pageants from the age of 17 until I finally won Miss Texas USA in 2003 at the age of 21. Those years were some of the best times of my life filled with fun, fashion, fitness and amazing memories. I had no idea everything I would experience competing in beauty pageants or that I would have any success doing so. Besides all of the invaluable fashion and beauty secrets I learned for doing my hair and make-up and looking my best, I developed a foundation for working out and strength training that has helped me still love fitness today. Now that I am in my 30s and a wife and mother, I can look back at all my pageant and modeling experience with a big smile and a thankful heart! I can see the good fruits of my pageant days. Whatever your opinion may be about beauty pageants, I can tell you I learned some of the most valuable life lessons I have ever learned as a woman that continue to help me live a fulfilled life today.

Here are few I want to share with you:

HAVE A SERVANT’S HEART. If you read nothing else on this list, may this one life lesson I learned peak your interest in praying for God to renovate your heart if needed. Having a heart that desires to love and serve others doesn’t really sound like it goes hand-in-hand with being a beauty queen, but it absolutely does. I have always told other girls vying for the Miss Texas USA crown, “There’s a difference between WINNING Miss Texas USA and BEING Miss Texas USA.” Winning to me is the moment that it’s truly about you and celebrating you and being excited for you! But the rest of the year is mostly about using your crown to bring joy, excitement, inspiration, help, encouragement and whatever else “duty” calls for at the moment. When you look at it that way, the year becomes all the more exciting! I knew it was important to want to serve others when I won. It was such a fundamental reason why I wanted to win Miss Texas USA, but it hasn’t been until I look back on all those years that I realize the importance of having a heart that models our precious Lord; one full of humility, serving and loving others. Knowing the importance of this heart attitude is great, but it has taken me so much time to work through and grow in the area of selfishness.

For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love.
~Galatians 5:13 NLT

BE UNIQUELY YOU. When I finally won Miss Texas USA after competing five times, I still wasn’t sure if I was “enough” to be the prestigious beauty queen. Thankfully, God was in control and was orchestrating one of the most life-changing moments of my life just a month after winning. I entered into a relationship with Jesus that year. Oh Sweet Jesus, I needed to just surrender. All my looking for love in all the wrong places, looking for validation in too many faces, and finally I got “saved” as some would call it. That one decision changed my life! No, I didn’t change overnight. No, I didn’t just instantly become this secure, confident awesomely, bold young woman…BUT I started walking into better choices slowly and surely. I started taking notice of all the goodness that was in me, and not just an inventory of all the “crap” I had done. I was tapping the surface of what it really means to love and accept myself as I am, yet still growing more and more like Christ. It’s been a journey that I am still on, but the year I won was the start of seeing who God made me to be and the vision He has for my life.

But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.~2 Corinthians 3:18 NASB

BE CAREFUL WHERE YOU PLACE YOUR VALUE AND YOUR WORTH. Oh goodness! I spent over 10 years modeling and focusing on my appearance. The importance of my physical appearance so outweighed the importance of the “heart” work I needed Jesus to continue in me. I still love make-up, working out, beautiful clothes and jewelry…all things girl and glamorous. BUT…it wasn’t until I had my daughter Sophia that my little world started to crumble as I put weight on, got stretch marks and the modeling gigs were more and more scarce. It took a little while, and the weight came off, but after some time my perspective changed. My eyes opened, and I was tired of stressing out about what size I was wearing, and if I looked pretty or not based on someone else’s perspective! I had already won Miss Texas USA, yet I was still questioning if I was pretty enough, still? Seriously?!! Sometimes I just want to smack some sense into myself! We are so hard on ourselves as women, and I realized the extra pressure of staying “skinny” was stealing my joy. I also realized I was no longer finding enjoyment or passion in modeling, and I certainly was done putting my value and my worth solely into this one area. I had to make a decision that it was time to move on mentally as well, which has been the toughest part. I’ve had to renew my mind in the area of where my worth and value are really set. What does God say about my beauty? What does He say about my physical appearance? It was time to put the real work into making my heart beautiful too, and that’s been the journey I’m on.

For the Lord sees not as man sees; for man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart. ~1 Samuel 16:7 AMP

EXERCISE. Yep, I put this on the list. I hope you know the importance of exercising, and please know I am coming from a place of love when I say this to you! Exercising is like a magic pill. It is so good for you physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. I’m not saying you have to exercise every day for an hour, but get out and take a walk for 20 minutes, stretch, or do something at home. I was blessed to have a trainer the entire year I was Miss Texas USA, and he was amazing! He taught me so much about working out, and he taught me the importance of making fitness a part of your life forever! I love working out now. Of course, I go through phases when I avoid the gym or even dread going, but I know they won’t last. I know the longer I am away, the harder it will be to get back into a routine so I go. I go even if it’s 30 minutes. I go even if I only get to hit a few machines and stretch because something happens to me the minute I walk out. I have a sense of accomplishment. I feel like I can say, CHECK! I love that feeling, and I am sure a lot of you do too. You may be missing it, but you can get back to working out at any time!! You will be amazed at all the other areas fitness positively affects your life!

You’ve all been to the stadium and seen the athlete’s race. Everyone runs; one wins. Run to win. All good athletes train hard. They do it for a gold medal that tarnishes and fades. You’re after one that’s gold eternally.

I don’t know about you, but I’m running hard for the finish line. I’m giving it everything I’ve got. No sloppy living for me! I’m staying alert and in top condition. I’m not going to get caught napping, telling everyone else all about it and then missing out myself. ~1 Corinthians 9:24-27 MSG

DON’T GIVE UP – PERSISTENCE MAKES WINNERS. It’s cheesy to say “winners” right? I know, but still if you will stick with a good thing for some time, you will get a good result!! Don’t give up!! God has been putting the scripture Galatians 6:9 in front of me for months now! It reads, “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” It took me 5 years to win Miss Texas USA! I went back to the same pageant 4 years in a row and didn’t win! That’s just torture for someone with no vision, no persistence, and no Jesus to back you up. Thankfully I had all of that and a bag of chips! I learned that when God tells you to do something, you can do it. Going through that experience helped me look back and see that I stuck to a goal, a vision, a purpose and a plan. It’s given me confidence, hope and trust in God. It’s been a reminder to me that being diligent with a goal, dream, plan or even a relationship could result in something even more amazing than we could have ever imagined!

“…for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill His good purpose.” ~ Philippians 2:13NIV

SAVOR THE MOMENTS. In this life we get no “take backs or do-overs.”
We must learn to enjoy the moments. I experienced the importance of this truth while competing to win Miss Texas USA, but I still have to remind myself of this daily. I know it sounds so cliché, “live in the moment,” but that’s why we must not just say these as “sayings”, but actually live them out mindfully each day. The minute I open my eyes in the morning I start thanking God for whatever comes to mind. I start praying I’ll have a good day, patience with the kids, get my stuff done…you know the drill. I learned to do this some time ago because I have chronic hives and I usually start itching when I wake up. My hives were at an all-time crazy, itchy peak during the year I was Miss Texas USA. I think it was a combination of anxiety, a weakened immune system and the pressure I put on myself to be at my best. I remember certain events (appearances is what we call them) when I would be meeting new people and expected to look like a dashing beauty, but my skin was covered in red itchy blotches. At the annual Miss Texas Teen Pageant where Miss Texas USA makes her debut, my hives were so bad I remember crying on the floor in my hotel room asking God to please take them away. My friend and my make-up artist airbrushed each visible one with make up just to help me feel better. I’ll never forget that day. I’ve learned that we have to see the fun in the everyday things, appreciate even the annoyances because they can bring about good or a lesson to be learned. We have to live in the moment, because if not, worry, dread, anxiety, impatience, fear and just lack of thankfulness will let moments meant to be savored pass you right on by!

“Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes. ~Matthew 6:34 MSG

So the next time you catch a beauty pageant on television please know that the ladies you are watching are picking up some mega life lessons and dealing with their own issues just like the rest of us. God can use every experience to teach us about Him, be more like Him, learn His ways for living and to reveal our unique purpose in this life. No more beauty pageants for me, but I’m thankful God made me a beauty queen and taught me that a worldly crown is just an accessory. Now I know He has made you and me the true crown of all His creation. How cool is that ladies?!?

~ Stephanie Wanic

Connect with Stephanie
God’s Beauty Secrets
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Gods-Beauty-Secrets/739896832688981
Follow @HisBeautySecrets on Twitter
@GodsBeautySecrets on Instagram

Stephanie has a heart to pray, encourage, inspire and beautify women through the transformational truths God has taught her and by the power of His Word.

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My Diet Is Making Me Sick!

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I have a personal mantra. The general idea is: “Be a good example…or at the very least a cautionary tale.” So, it is with a good measure of trepidation that I tell you that lately, I’ve been that cautionary tale. I’ve been overeating. I am kind of embarrassed to speak that into cyber-space, but really only the truth will do in order to help others, right? If we feel isolated, alone and a freak because of the way we feel, we tend not to reach out to others for help. Who is safe, anyway? Who can we trust with our hearts, our secret thoughts…?
This goes back to the last couple of years. For me, here’s where it starts. I am hungry. That is my general default. But it’s not what you think. I wake up hungry. Always. So even though I’m hungry, and even though I live in a country where food is as plentiful as the air I breathe, I won’t satisfy my hunger for a couple of hours yet. For me, it’s not an actual “Oh, I got busy and just forgot to eat breakfast.” thing. It’s usually “When I get my husband and kids out the door, I’ll eat breakfast” kind of thing. Or “I can stick a load of laundry in before I sit down and eat” thing. I’ve decided I like to defer. You know why? Because it gives me a measure of control. I am captain of my own destiny. In a world marked by chaos and confusion, people having a say-so of my schedule and who, conversely, don’t want to cooperate with my plans, I.have.control. Read into this, perfectionism. It all boils down to perfectionism and control.
Let’s talk about my diet. What I have been eating is literally killing me. When I say I’m overeating, I’m not just talking about food. I am talking about something bigger: I “eat my feelings”. My friends and I have been batting this phrase around for a long time, so it’s familiar to me, but might not be to you. Bear with me – you’ll see what I mean. Because I decide to wait for breakfast, I will start snacking as I get the kids ready for school. I start off with a small bite of comparison. I look at the lunch I have packed for my kids and think to myself. Yikes. “Too many carbs” or “not organic fruit” or “this is too much sugar”, or whatever demon the latest nutritional news source is talking about. Comparison doesn’t taste good, but because I am hungry, I keep snacking. Then I realize, comparison left a bad taste in my mouth, so I decide to try and wipe out that taste with a different taste. So I unwrap some “resentment”, take a big bite and think “Well, I am doing the best I can with three teenagers who are about to eat me out of house and home!” I am currently feeding an athlete, a very healthy eater and one who, apparently, has a vegetable/fruit aversion and is probably throwing away that “not organic fruit” anyway. Oh! And because of our current culture of leaving reviews for everything and everyone that serves us, my children are not shy about critiquing my efforts. They honestly believe this helps me. What?!? Another bite of resentment. I notice that someone left the jar of “reproach” open, so before I replace the lid, I take a spoon, get a big bite and mumble under my breath: “You try doing this all school year and see what you come up with!” or “All I ever do is drive you places and go to the grocery store to buy food that you will either complain about or wipe out the first day!” So then, my efforts to love on them and serve them by feeding them healthy food becomes a battlefield. At this point, I know “mad” is hiding in the cookie jar for an extreme emergency, so I go over, look both ways, take off the lid and reach in. “Everyone in my house is so ungrateful! Why do I even bother? I’m just going to ______! (I fill in the blank with whatever heinous thing I can think of.) That will show them!” The kids leave for school, but I sit in my chair, with the cookie jar, and keep bingeing. This can last untold minutes or even hours unless something or someone interrupts me.
Perfectionists eat their feelings. Or starve their feelings. Or work their feelings. Or mask their feelings with spending, alcohol, smoking or any number of unhealthy lifestyle choices. I’m sure we are all thinking of our own way we deal. It doesn’t matter if you are a man or a woman or a mother or a father or don’t even have kids. Allowing your feelings to be the boss of you is not the way to go. Not if you desire life to the fullest. So this is/was, could possibly still resemble me some days. Let me show you the better way.
Take Two:
I wake up. I am hungry. There’s a song lingering in my mind. I make a mental note of the name and the artist because I’ll need it later. I stop before my feet hit the ground. I say a quick prayer to God thanking Him for the safety of the night and the peace of the moment that is “right now”. I pray that I don’t go borrowing trouble from the next thirty minutes or an hour or even later in the day. I just thank Him for right now. Because I know that Jesus and His Holy Spirit are there with me, as well, I say good morning to Them, too. I ask them to help me plan out my day and for favor to get the ultimately most important things done, whether or not that means my to-do list gets satisfied or not. Hear me: the most important things (to God) only, please. Let the other junk just fall off or go away entirely. I.release.control. I go find my phone. I look at my “Jesus Calling” devotional and find a few other Bible verses that apply. I then go find that song from earlier and start playing it loudly in the kitchen. Today it was Casting Crown’s “Just Be Held”. This is the message that Jesus was singing over me as I slept last night: “Stop holding on (to your control) and just (decide to) be held”. I drink some water, then say a quick “Thank You, Lord!” for the invention of coffee and start my morning. Immediately afterward, I make a healthy smoothie for the kids and take half for myself. Immediate mood enhancement! When they wake up, I can greet them with a smile on my face and in my heart. I can greet them with love that is now not just my own, but the Father’s.
I don’t have to stuff things down anymore. I am in overflow mode. You see, God longs to feed me every morning with His word and His love. He is still in the business of providing manna. Strength, love, help and hope…just enough for each day, yet always enough to fill me up and to overflow to others. Jesus longs to be invited to hold my hand and walk me through every situation of my day. He wants to give His play-by-play commentary of what is really happening in my life. Not in a condemning way, but in a loving, teaching, coaching way. In a “You’ll get ‘em next time, Tiger!” kind of way. This gives me confidence. Confidence in the fact that I am doing the best I can. Confidence that I have a heart lined up with God’s word and fueled by the Father’s love. Confidence in the grace and saving mercy of Jesus and the constant, caring presence of the Holy Spirit.
What about you? Is what you’ve been eating making you sick? Try a better diet. Not one where you have to be “perfect” in order to see results, but the one where you just show up with yourself and nothing else but God and things change. Show Him your diet journal and ask Him to help you.
~ Debbie Bouckley

Taste and see that the LORD is good! How blessed is the person who trusts in Him! ~ Psalm 34:8 ISV

May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer. ~Psalm 19:14 NIV

Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you. ~Ephesians 4:31-32 NLT

The Path to Destiny

Great blog! Enjoy!

Flourish

clouds on sunset over field with barleyIn life we can allow others to determine who we are. We place our identity in our job title, in the pages of a magazine or in society’s unrealistic expectations. If our identity is in something shakable, we will live an emotionally turmoiled life.

We were made in the image of the King of the Universe. God created us for love, family and relationship. As we come to God by accepting Jesus Christ in our life, we receive His right standing; we exchange our identity as a sinner separated from God, for His identity as a righteous child of God.

Our behavior never earned this new identity in Christ so our behavior can’t change our new identity in Christ. Now when we come to God in prayer we don’t have to worry about Him being mad at us because of things we’ve done. We can come boldly to the throne…

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Fast And Furious

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Today I asked God a simple question.

What do you want to Be for me right now that You couldn’t be before?

Of course, me the secret journal keeper (since I could pick up a pencil and form letters) diligently started writing down all my thoughts. The good, the bad and the ugly. It was several pages. When I used to teach a third grade language arts class, I called it a “quick write”. You write down any thoughts that are swirling around in your mind that you are thinking as fast as you can without stopping. Then you sort through your words and pull out your main thoughts or topics. These topics are used to formulate an essay or rough draft.
We ladies are good at this!! Have you ever heard yourself say, “I said ALL that to say this!”.
So I wrote down all this to discover CONFIDENCE as my main word.
Light bulb moment!! 🔨🔨
That’s what God wants to be for me “now” at this time of my life.

I will be your CONFIDENCE.

I looked up all the Bible verses with the word confidence in it. I wrote them all out. Thankfully, we can google these things now and not have to take days looking through the old concordance. Fast and furious I went and copy paste I did.

Bible Verses About Confidence

“It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man.
It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in princes.”
Psalm 118:8-9 (NKJV)

“For the LORD will be your confidence,
And will keep your foot from being caught.”
Proverbs 3:26 (NKJV)

“In the fear of the LORD there is strong confidence,
And His children will have a place of refuge.”
Proverbs 14:26 (NKJV)

“For we are the circumcision, who worship God in the Spirit,
rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh,
though I also might have confidence in the flesh.
If anyone else thinks he may have confidence in the flesh, I more so:”
Philippians 3:3-4 (NKJV)

“Now this is the confidence that we have in Him,
that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.”
1 John 5:14 (NKJV)

“Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us,
we have confidence toward God.”
1 John 3:21 (NKJV)

“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of
what we do not see.”
Hebrew 11:1 (NIV)

“For you have been my hope, O Sovereign LORD,
my confidence since my youth.”
Psalms 71:5 (NIV)

“Don’t put your confidence in powerful people;
there is no help for you there.”
Psalm 146:3 (NLT)

“Oh, the joys of those who trust the Lord,
who have no confidence in the proud or in those who worship idols.”
Psalm 40:4 (NLT)

“Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall”
1 Corinthians 10:12 (KJV)

That’s too much for my little brain to soak up so I gravitated to the one verse that spoke to me first while reading and copying the verses down.

I remembered one verse but now it became alive to me. I put on my super sonic revelatory glasses and read the verse in a new way.

“Now this is the confidence that we have in Him,
that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.”
1 John 5:14 (NKJV)

I looked up the dictionary’s meaning of the word confidence. That can shed even more light on the meaning.
Confidence:
Noun 1. confidence – freedom from doubt; belief in yourself and your abilities; “his assurance in his superiority did not make him popular”; “after that failure he lost his confidence”; “she spoke with authority”
Synonyms: assurance, self-assurance, self-confidence, sureness, authority
2. confidence – a feeling of trust (in someone or something); “I have confidence in our team”; “confidence is always borrowed, never owned”
Antonyms:
diffidence, self-distrust, self-doubt – lack of self-confidence
3. confidence – a state of confident hopefulness that events will be favorable; “public confidence in the economy”
4. confidence – a trustful relationship; “he took me into his confidence”; “he betrayed their trust”
Synonyms: trust
5. confidence – a secret that is confided or entrusted to another; “everyone trusted him with their confidences”; “the priest could not reveal her confidences”

I copy and pasted all the definitions. One meaning might speak to you over another meaning.

So I ask yet another question:
What does that mean God that you want to be my confidence?

This is my quick write: Fast and furious as if God were chit chatting with me.

I want you to stop relying on your strength and confidence in yourself to have the right attitude or position towards your fears. I am reminding you that I am your confidence and only Me!!! You can fully trust Me and anticipate that I am capable of handling the situations you are so faithfully bringing to my attention. I have favorable outcomes in store for you. Trust Me Fully and replace your Fears with Faith. Circumcise the flesh and start to agree with me in the Spirit. Count it all joy when trials and persecutions come your way. This can only be done through Me. Let’s anticipate together the great plans and the destiny I have for your children. I have confided in you a revelation that you can receive if you are only willing to take it and believe that I am who I say that I am.

“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen”(Heb.11:1).

You may not see it now, but let’s call those things as if they are!!

Yours Truly,
Your Confidence❤️

“Now this is the confidence that we have in Him,
that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.”
1 John 5:14 (NKJV)

Here you have it folks!!
God answered my questions without any hesitation!!’
Fast and Furious

Light On,
Kelley Allison
John1:4-5

Anchor

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These days Anchor’s are all the rave. We have anchor’s on jewelry, clothes, and even on shoes. I love all the anchors every where. They are a great little fashion statement.
The Anchor I like to rave about that will never go out of style, is Jesus! The Anchor of my Soul! When we are anchored up with Him we won’t be caught adrift drifting out into the stormy choppy seas. In every season and every sorrow, we can withstand it all because He is there.

This weeks #SongSunday is Anchor, off the album You Make Me Brave by Bethel Music featuring Leah Mari Valenzuela

Lyrics:

In every season
In every change
You are near
In every sorrow
You are my strength
You are near
A peace in the storm
Your voice I will follow
In weakness I rise
Remembering You hold my world
I’m holding on to hope
I’m holding on to grace
I’m fully letting go
I’m surrendered to Your ways
The anchor for my soul
Father You will never change
I love You, I love You
My great Redeemer
My constant Friend
You are near
My faithful Father
You took me in
You are near
I will remember
Your promise forever
My Strength, my Defender
I can count on You
You are my Savior
My Hope and my Shelter
Your love is forever
I can count on You

May we always remember all His amazing promises. Even when the fashion trend has come and gone, we can Always count on Him! He will remain, He is the Anchor of our soul, and He will never change.

XXOO Michelle Bollom

Stop Tooting

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Boo yah
Yeah Baby
Whose Yo Daddy
Happy Dance
High Five
Fist Pump

We all do it- we all say and do those things. It is fun to celebrate an achievement, a good word, favor, a milestone, or a great accomplishments in our lives.

Those examples above are fun and silly ways we like to toot our own horns.

Tooting is not so much fun though when it never stops. It then crosses over into bragging.

I remember my kiddos when they were younger. My son would brag that he won at a game and his twin sister would get so furious and tell him she did not want to play with him anymore because he brags too much. Occasionally she would snark back “No One likes a bragger” ( I still can picture her crazy beautiful curls blowing and her little booty swaying side to side with her hands on her hips as she stomped away)

It may be cute for a four year old to brag and annoy their sister but for us adults, it is not so cute. It also keeps us from genuinely connecting with people.

I believe bragging is rooted in pride issues. Sometimes the feelings of being inadequate or out of control in some area of our life we will overcompensate for the inadequate parts by pretending to have it better than we usually do in other areas.

People can be addicted to approval and recognition. So they embellish the facts making things seem better than they are trying to gain approval or be recognized.

Bragging is also fueled with embellishing.

Like those fish stories where that 4lb bass turns into an 8lb bass by the time it gets told so many times.

The stories usually get bigger and bigger and the bragger usually can’t keep their stories straight.

Embellishing, Fibs and White Lies, it doesn’t matter what you call it, you can’t dress up a lie, in the end it is still a lie.

I love Mark Twain’s advice:

If you tell the truth you don’t have to remember anything. ~Mark Twain

When people brag and embellish they aren’t really living a true authentic life, they are usually living a lie. Operating in a false self.

In the Bible Paul tells us in Ephesians-

So stop telling lies. Let us tell our neighbors the truth, for we are all parts of the same body. – Ephesians 4:25 NLT

In Romans he warns-

3 Because of the privilege and authority God has given me, I give each of you this warning: Don’t think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us. 4 Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function, 5 so it is with Christ’s body. We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other.

He goes on to tell us about the different giftings-

6 In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well. So if God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out with as much faith as God has given you. 7 If your gift is serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, teach well. 8 If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging. If it is giving, give generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously. And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly.

Romans 12:3-8NLT

And here Paul tells us-

Live in harmony with each other. Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don’t think you know it all!
~Romans 12:16 NLT

Paul is simply saying:

We should not be telling lies (embellishing) to impress
Tell the truth
stop tooting our own horns and bragging so much
Don’t be too proud
don’t think you know it all
We are all One Body!
We are all different, unique and special to God.
We all have different Gifts that are needed to be the One Body. Life is not a competition.
Be True

We leave no room to love and connect with people if we are always trying to impress people.

Let’s save our breath by putting down the horns- stop tooting and start genuinely connecting by living a true restored life!

XXOO Michelle Bollom

“Free to Forgive” by Johnette Cruz

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Today we kick off our #FeatureFriday series. We will be sharing some amazing people with you each Friday. Enjoy!

For years I’ve unknowingly held on to things so buried that they became part of my inner being. With every year and every season that has passed, those things festered and grew so deep that all of it was bound to come spewing out. I’ve dealt with a lot of situations from my past that I’m sure many women face daily: abuse, addiction, depression, anxiety, health problems, betrayal, abandonment and resentment issues….yup I can say it, I was a hot mess.

I was saved at the age of 23 and started to turn my life around, and things were looking great. I got married, God blessed us with a miracle of a son and my professional life was striving ahead; but all in the while my personal life was falling apart.

In 2011, I began working with a ministry based out of where I live and we do women’s conferences call the Finally Free Women’s Conference. I attended my first one as the “host” and to experience it myself. Our conferences are all about life transformation. We want to see women coming in one way, and leaving completely different, and let me tell you that I was no exception.

That day was the beginning of my freedom journey. I recognized the things from the past that I was holding on to, burdens that I was carrying that were never intended for me to carry. During the conference we hand out stones, and you name them-claim them, and then give them up to God to handle them. I think that day I had at least a bag of stones, all with different names! Through our gifted speaker Kim Tabor and team, God made me aware of all my past hurt that I had so eloquently hidden from everyone.

Galatians 5:1 “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery”

I left the conference a changed person, feeling like I could take on the world and handle everything the way God wanted me to…but oh how very easy it is for Satan to crawl back in, get comfortable, make his home again and tell you different.

1 Peter 5:8 “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour”

Fast forward to 2014. Earlier this year, I experienced a season of life where I had to face some really tough decisions head on. This specific situation was the catalyst to my breakdown. Satan knew exactly what to do, how to hurt me to the deepest part of my soul. It’s like he took my heart stabbed and stomped on it, ripped it into shreds intending it to never be repaired again. Those stones that I thought I left at the altar back in 2011 were facing me dead on, and they were no longer stones- they were huge boulders and I couldn’t get rid of them this time.

I was completely broken, utterly empty and in despair. Now that I look back on it, God NEEDED my soul to be shattered; He had to strip me down of everything so that He could reshape and mold me for Him and His purpose. For a series of months I went into intense Christian counseling to have someone guide me through this traumatic time- you see you need to dig deep, and get the ugly out so that God can fill you with things of Him. When you’re filled with hate, anger, resentment, and pride there is no room for God to fill you with His goodness. It was a process, but I finally began my new journey to freedom and healing.

One day a few months ago I had enough. I literally yelled and cried out to God, “This is it! I rebuke Satan and he will never win, I cannot live like this!” So I ran outside to a pond near my house and grabbed 4 stones- each representing something, and I chucked them as far as I could throw them. I HAD to let them go. The negative feelings were producing nothing but a hateful and angry person and my coldness was permeating everywhere I went.

Through my freedom journey, I have learned that there is POWER in letting go, there is a SUPERNATURAL POWER in forgiving. I have a close friend in our ministry who shares her story in our conferences and the one thing that has stuck with me throughout our travels is one of her sayings: “I choose what I dwell on” and oh my goodness how true is that! Is it hard to move forward and not “choose” anger over happiness? Absolutely! But if you choose to do that you will not be living the life God has promised for you! God has so much more in store for us than we will ever know, but the love, forgiveness and grace that he has given us should be given to others- we are called to do that, so why not extend that same love to the people who have hurt us the most?

Ladies- if you are dealing with some hurt in your life and you haven’t let go of it yet and decided to forgive, may I ask why? What are you afraid of? You are missing out on God’s unending love! Do I still have my bad days? Of course! Do I still have pain and hurt? Yes! BUT- I now look at it differently, the anger is gone, and instead of my past irrational decisions to act out negatively I CHOOSE to go directly to God, seek counsel and most importantly pray. One of the hardest things we women will ever have to face is to forgive- it can be done, but not alone. You must give all to God and HE will make all things new, wipe every tear, and bring light into your heart that was dead and dark.

Isaiah 43:18 Forget the former things, do not dwell on the past

Ezekiel 36:26 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.

For more details on the Finally Free Women’s Conference, book, CD and Bible Study, go to http://www.finallyfreeconference.org

Johnette Cruz is a multimedia professional who has always had a love for music, worship and a talent for connecting people to Christ. Johnette is the Communications Director at Mount Pleasant Christian Church located in Greenwood Indiana and Midday Personality Radio Host for Shine.FM. She also works with Tabor Ministries and is involved in the Finally Free Women’s Conference and Stripped Free; an outreach ministry.

Connect with Johnette:
http://www.facebook/mediacruz
Twitter: @Cruzza
Instagram: @jcruzza

Mad Libs Perfected

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I tried something new this week when I was came to the end of my rope. I was frustrated and complaining nonstop to God about my bothersome situation. I was finished and told God I was ready for my starting point. At what place are we going to start to see where we are going to finish?
I asked Him to give me a Bible verse! That would be my “starting place”.
Immediately I thought of Psalm 87. I had no idea what Psalm 87 would say. I do this often. Ask and ye shall receive, seek and he shall find deal. I just believe that He will give me a verse when I ask. I looked it up. My eyes wondered above to chapter 86. God knows your thoughts before you even think them. So He knew I would start reading their first. (I read magazines from the back forward… So He knows what He is working with in me.)
That became my starting point.
Psalm 86:11-13
I took those that I had concerns with and inserted their names in place of the personal pronouns.
Wha la!!!! Mad Libs all over!!!

“Now do it again and put your name in the blanks.” My second direction.
I did this several times with different versions.
I had formulated a new way of looking at my obstacle and put a finish to my worries and frustration.
I chose to take God’s Word and allow that to be my next move.
I felt better and now had a game plan for the next time that worrisome thought came knocking on my door.
Be ready, because it will come a knocking again.
Take your Mad Libs and turn them into Glad Libs!!
Punch!!!
You are learning to change the dialogue of your finish.

Glad Libs
Fill in the blanks with the proper nouns of concern.

Psalm 86:11-17Living Bible (TLB)

11 Tell _______where you want _____to go and ____will go there. May every fiber of ____being unite in reverence to your name. 12 With all ______heart ____will praise you. _____will give glory to your name forever, 13 for you love ______so much! You are constantly so kind! You have rescued ______from deepest hell.

Psalm 86:11-17Living Bible (TLB)

11 Tell me where you want me to go and I will go there. May every fiber of my being unite in reverence to your name. 12 With all my heart I will praise you. I will give glory to your name forever, 13 for you love me so much! You are constantly so kind! You have rescued me from deepest hell.

Light On,
Kelley Allison
John1:4-5

Bad Gardener

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Yard of the Month? Uh – no. I don’t think so! I am a bad gardener. I have a brown thumb. Things die, inexplicably, under my care. It’s not that I don’t love flowers. I do! I love to look at trees, pretty bushes, and really enjoy the smell of a forest. I know that plants swap my carbon dioxide for life-giving oxygen. I am all in, okay? But. And it’s a big one (which, ironically, I DO know how to grow), that is just not where my talents lie. Or maybe it’s that my “talents lie”. They lure me with the siren song of every garden center I drive by. It’s the lure of pansies and mums in the fall, snap dragons in the spring. And in the summer, who doesn’t love beautiful geraniums (which my neighbor was previously convinced was an “un-killable” plant)? I just wish I had a dollar for every time my husband looked at the back of my car filled with plants, shook his head in resignation and helped me unload.
I like the look of flowers. I’m a good designer. I just don’t want to be in charge of how they get into the flower bed and, consequently, stay alive. All this being said, God engineered a pretty funny situation for me a few weeks ago. After my husband was diagnosed with a severe allergy to grass, weeds and pretty much all the stuff you would find in our yard, I now find myself the owner/manager of the yard responsibility. Not cool! “YIKES! God! You know I’m not good at this!” He laughs when I freak out sometimes and holds up His index finger in the universal “Wait for it…” sign.
So Saturday found me in our flower beds raking, pulling weeds and in general cutting back things that were starting to scare our neighbors. It was a beautiful day and I even had a happy attitude. Good music in the earphones? Check. Bottle of water? Check. Was I stalling? Check. After a stern pep talk to myself, I began trimming bushes. “Please, Lord, don’t let me bald these things!” Minutes passed. I backed up to admire my handiwork and WHACK! I ran into a half-hidden, dead, jumbled mess of what used to be some kind of bush which had been cut down to the ground. I know what you’re thinking, but I really don’t think I can take the credit for this one. I’m new to this, remember? After rubbing the scratch on my ankle, I gave it a wide berth and resumed my work. Trying to stay in one section (ok, yes, I was bored), I switched to raking. Anyway, I stepped back to admire my handiwork once more and WHACK! You got it. Same mass of dead root thing. I was so busy doing my own thing that I forgot it was there. Only this time, I was ready. I got my hand-held snipper-thingy and cut as much of it away as I could. There! That ought to fix it. No way I’m getting scratched again. Five minutes later? BAM! Yep. You guessed it. I tripped over it this time and just caught myself before I went face down in the leaf pile. Not nearly as romantic as it sounds when it’s 85 degrees and humid. Grrrr! The more I looked at that thing, the more I was convinced that there was no other recourse than to pull it out by the roots, completely. That being done, though, I realized that with a big open hole in my vicinity, I was very likely to hurt myself AGAIN on it. I needed to dig the thing up, throw it away and cover the hole completely…or, wait a minute! I could plant something else there! I think my husband is shaking his head again…
And so it is with sin, Grasshopper. At first, it was half-hidden. It was not even on my radar. One minute I was doing my own thing and WHACK! It drew first blood. I knew it was there and its potential power to hurt me, but I took the lazy way out and decided just to keep an eye on it. Circle around it. The next time it “attacked”, I trimmed it down, got rid of most of it and thought I had dealt with it but WHACK! There it was again. With sin, as with dead plants and weeds, you have to uproot them. Nothing good will ever grow there as long as you have a dead thing as a place holder. If you want life-giving, beauty, you have to get rid of that dead, ugly thing taking up space. But even better than digging it up and filling the hole with dirt? Plant a beautiful thing there in its place. Ask God to help you do the heavy lifting. He’s a Master Gardener. He knows how deep you’ll need to dig to get all the roots. He knows what work you will need to do to prepare the soil. He will gladly trade out that ugly, hurt-sustaining sin with His love, His peace, His continual presence to guide you. He will grow beauty in the place where you never expected it…And just like me with my brown thumb, I’m no good left on my own. I need the help of Someone who knows about gardening. As long as I stay close to my friend, the Master Gardener, I learn a little more each day, until one day, people are driving by my house, looking at the yard…not laughing at the crazy lady hopping around in her flower bed, holding her leg. Sigh!

Warning: Off-topic moment approaching: Wow. By the way, for those of you moms who want to grasp that ever-elusive feeling of accomplishment you can’t get from driving kids around, I highly recommend raking. Effort=immediate reward, for sure! There is instant, tangible proof you can point to of what you have spent your time on. Sorry! That sounds like another post for another day…

~ Debbie Bouckley