Hi Friends! Happy 2K15!
I hope you and yours are safe, happy and healthy today (and hopefully not nursing too much of hangover–from food or drink).
This year I decided to join the #365daysoftruth reading plan (reading the entire Bible this year) with the She Reads Truth community. I’ve never read the entire Bible and felt today was a good day to start. I’ve got a lot to learn and fully admit that!
It is so amazing how God works; I’ve really felt it pressing on my heart and soul to be more of a sign that points to HIM and less of … Myself, if that makes sense. That sentiment has been a constant subject of prayer lately and I’ve been wondering exactly how I’m supposed to accomplish this.
Part of this morning’s reading on the 365 plan was John 1. Though I’ve read the book of John several times, the first chapter really struck me this morning.
Though John was a great man of God in and of himself, he always made it so clear that the world was waiting for someone far greater than him. He “was not the light; he was only a witness to the light (John 1:8, NLT).”
The whole chapter was the perfect place to start this journey that is the new year.
My favorite verse was John 1:23.
A voice shouting in the wilderness! That is our purpose… Not to conform to this world but to stand out and to give glory to Him.
Wow! John empowered me this morning and though I’m still not entirely sure what this means, I’ve got these words to push me closer to that end goal.
That’s all for today friends, have a great day!
It is January 5, 2018.
That feels strange to type.
As I write this, I am sitting at my dining room table, next to my diffuser, a snowy scene out the window. It is really stinking cold outside (6 degrees with a real feel of -18 degrees).
Today, I literally walked back and forth around my apartment and listened to the Bible App to get some steps in and catch up on my reading plan (I get motion sickness if I try to read and walk at the same time). I just don’t want to go outside. I’m conducting my first funeral service tomorrow and still have some prep to do on my message (Side note: This is also strange to type)…and I start a new class on Monday. It feels weird after taking a couple of months off.
A few days ago, I reflected on 2017. Today, we look ahead. Onward and upward, am I right?!
So, it’s 2018.
Ben and I are starting the year off feeling a bit more at home in our new city and we are making some plans and looking ahead to what God has in store.
Personally, I’m finally feeling like I am in a place to tackle some new challenges. I spent much of last year feeling hidden, stuck and a bit out of control. I am thankful for the growth that occurred but I spent a lot of time having doors slammed in my face (or at least it felt that way).
As I mentioned in my last post, something has shifted. I’m finally feeling God tell me to move. What does that means exactly? I’m not sure…. but I do know that our move and this new ministry position was part of it.
I go back and forth with New Year’s resolutions. Some years, I love them, others… I want nothing to do with them. This year, I’ve decided on a word for the year instead.
So, without further ado… My word for 2018 is Bloom…as in, bloom where I am planted.
I know that sounds like kind of a soft, flowery word (get it? ha!) but for me, it means to thrive, to grow and to push forward. It is getting back to the boldness that I haven’t felt in a long time.
Simply put, I’m tired of making excuses and I’m tired of apologizing. I’m tired of shrinking back. That’s not who God created me to be. This does NOT mean that I have to be the center of attention, and it doesn’t mean that I go into every situation with guns blazing, not by any means. I have learned to pick my battles (most of the time).
But it also means that I refuse to apologize for who I am. I refuse to “have to” explain or justify my decisions…and I refuse to apologize for being a woman called by God into ministry.
It’s not been easy to comes to grips with all of this. It’s been a very long and a very lonely road. But this time has also helped me figure out who my people are. It’s a short list but it’s solid.
If I have learned anything in the last year, it’s that I have to answer to God first. I’d love to say that I’ve always known this, but I think it needed to be reiterated (numerous times) over the last year. The thing is, if I feel the need to justify myself to someone, they probably aren’t going to change their mind, anyway…and that’s okay. It’s just not worth it. The people who really matter won’t need justification.
I learned this the hard way…and I spent a lot of time being offended and discouraged, but in the end, it’s made me more confident in who I am in Christ. That is what is really important. And as I continue to realize this, the less I feel the need to fight to prove myself. Instead, I’ve been okay to just… be.
And it means that I am finally ready to get back to what’s important… to blooming.
God has me here, in this exact place and at this exact time, for a reason. And I intend to use this time to do His work. To continue to grow and mature and to do something new for Him! I’m feeling that it’s time to get to work! I suspect the same can be said for each of us. At the end of the day, no matter what anyone else says, we matter and we have a purpose.
Paul lovingly writes to Timothy, in his second letter:
“Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:6-7, NKJV).
By shrinking back and worrying about what other people think, we aren’t using our gifts. Further, we aren’t doing God’s work and we are doing the people around us a disservice. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to look back and realize that I missed out on an opportunity for fear of offending someone.
Now I know what you’re thinking… how can we love people if we end up offending them? But that’s just it! It’s high time that we speak truth and we fan into flame our gifts BECAUSE we love others! Again, it’s that idea of picking our battles. What are you wiling to let slide and what are you willing to fight for?
This doesn’t mean that we do more. And it doesn’t mean that we say more. It doesn’t even mean that we go full force into battle every day.
Instead, it means that we obey.
We choose to follow Christ. Every single day. One of my favorite quotes sums it up perfectly. “You go where you’re sent and you stay where you’re put and you give what you’ve got” (Jill Briscoe). And in doing that, God is going to work in us and through us. Even if we don’t see it right away. Even if we never see it…we choose to obey. We keep going and we follow through.
That is what Bloom means to me. It’s the follow through.
So, that’s what 2018 is-The year to bloom. What’s in store remains to be seen…but I’m okay with that. The best is yet to come!
Let’s chat! What does “Bloom” mean to you? Do you have any big plans for 2018? Word of the Year or Resolutions?
Oh hey, it is January 2017. And nine months have passed since my last blog post…My bad. I suppose I should do one of those 2016 recap posts. So grab a cup of coffee because this is going to be a long one….
If I am being completely honest, 2016 was tough. I had gone into the year feeling that I had finally gained some solid footing in most areas of my life and work, only to have that stripped away. A lot of things happened last year and I still find myself asking God, “Why?” I have been hesitant to write…. I have not known what to say and frankly, it is kind of embarrassing. Aren’t I supposed to have my stuff together? Am I allowed to share my mess in this little corner of the internet? But I am feeling God push me to do so, and here we are.
2016 held a lot of hurt, doubt and frustration.
Two close friends quietly disappeared from my life and I am not sure if I will ever get an exact answer as to why…regardless, it hurt. It still hurts, even months later. As I processed (and some days, still process) these losses, I cannot help but wonder if it is me.
Am I a terrible person? Did I do something wrong? Or did we just outgrow each other? Is it because of my faith? Do I have a terribly irritating personality flaw? As much as I hate to say it, I may never know. That unknown is the most difficult part. I find it creeping into my other relationships and as a result I hold people at arm’s length, wondering if I am too much of a burden or a hindrance. This is something I have to continually give to God and trust that He knows what is best. As you can imagine, it is easier said than done.
As I come to terms with this, I realize that God is using this to draw me closer, forcing me to rely completely on Him. Again, this is hard. A lot of pre-conceived notions have been stripped away and at times I feel raw, like Eve, standing completely naked in front of Him. And yet… He is so good! He simply takes me as I am and asks only that I follow Him.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30, NIV).
Even after all this time, it is so hard for me to grasp this. Grace. I am so flawed, and yet, He loves me anyway. My prayer is that as a minister–as a human being–I would be able to give even a small portion of that grace to those I interact with. And this cannot be done apart from God.
2016 was also a time that I was able to grieve an event that occurred several years ago. At the time, I thought it had no effect on me but for whatever reason, it came to the forefront last year and I finally dealt with it. It was hard. Harder than I ever would have guessed. But I like to believe it has made me a far more compassionate person and it is something God is using to refine me.
Work is an area in which I have always felt confident, but working in ministry is different. This year held so many changes and un-answered questions. So many questions. Life does not make sense…and sometimes that really sucks. In my line of work, we see the best of people, but we also see the worst. We see amazing God-things happen, but we also see terrible things happen to good people. A lot will simply not make sense this side of eternity. And for the sake of being transparent, some days this burden is not easy to carry. I do not like to broadcast it, but I am a very sensitive person. I have BIG feelings, always have. Dealing with people as intimately as I do, this makes things messy. When I see someone hurting, I hurt for them. And it is hard to talk about–who do you talk to???
Still, God is there. Patiently waiting for me to come to Him. Whispering, “Be still, and know” (Psalm 46:10 NKJV). And again, I am completely overwhelmed by His grace, that we can bring absolutely anything to Him.
“Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16 NKJV).
It still takes my breath away.
It would be unfair to mention a portion of the bad without mentioning some of the good. And there was a lot of good!
While there were many hard days in 2016, I was never alone (even if I felt that way). Ben was–and is–a huge blessing to me and I could not imagine doing this life with anyone else. We celebrated five years of marriage last year and while each year holds unique challenges, I like to think we came out even stronger than before. I have never met someone so patient and understanding. He has taken on my ministry–a task he didn’t choose!–without batting an eyelash. Frankly, I don’t give him enough credit for this. I would not be able to do what I do without his support.
It still amazes me the people God has placed in our paths and the friendships we have formed; People who have encouraged and supported us, but also told us when we need to rethink something. Sometimes, it is difficult to be honest and I am glad to do life with people who love us enough to tell the truth, even if it may be unpleasant. This last year, I desperately needed that. I had so many insecurities come to the forefront, things that I had not thought about for years, and I needed a lot of loving (and sometimes brutal) truth. I have learned that we cannot go through this life alone. We need people to hold us accountable and sometimes, to pull us along. We’ve had the opportunity to experience adventure, heartbreak, worship, prayer, tears and pure joy with this group. I am so grateful for each one of them.
“I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:3-6 NIV).
It was also a huge blessing to help with the baptism of some of the teens I work with. Making a public declaration of Christ is reason to celebrate! These teens continue to challenge me and surprise me. I am encouraged by the wisdom and the love for God some of them possess at such a young age. It is incredibly humbling to have the opportunity to be a part of their faith journey. This is something that I do not take lightly and while it is not for the faint of heart, God has shown me amazing things through these kids.
2016 was also the year that I was granted my first district license in the church of the Nazarene and I was able to preach my first sermon. I still cannot believe that I am in this position. Looking back on my life, I never would have guessed that I would be here. This only could have happened through God’s grace. Again this is not an easy task, but I have found joy in the small things; hearing answers to prayer, seeing people come to Christ and spending time, sharing burdens and celebrating the small victories with hurting people.
This is hard work. Some days it is downright overwhelming, but still I am blessed. And I am looking forward with hope.
“Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15:13 NKJV).
Cheers to 2017!
Hey Y’all! Happy New Year! I totally started writing this post
last week last year but I put it aside for a few days…. Last year In December 2014, I wrote a post outlining my goals for 2015. There were three (marathon number 2, coaching certification and cleaning up my diet).
Not gonna lie, reading this post now makes me laugh! I have only partly accomplished one thing on the list. Just ONE (half)!
While a normal person would look at this as a major failure, I am giving myself a bit of grace this year. Am I letting myself off the hook too easily? Probably… but I am okay with that.
I was dissatisfied with myself
last year in 2014. I was stressed to the max, ready to snap at any moment!
This year… I don’t really feel that way…at least not as much. Am I perfect? Heavens NO! Of course not! But I have made some progress. While I am still striving to make improvements and I still have stress, I’m not obsessing over it and I am enjoying this chapter and what God has planned.
One of the major changes of 2015 was on the work front. I am in a job that I love. Is it easy? No. Absolutely not. But I know this is where I need to be. This is where God wants me, a place where I have to fully rely on Him.
A hard part of my work is that it requires me to work on Sundays. Unfortunately, this means no racing on Sundays….and all of the local(ish) half marathons and marathons take place on Sundays (except one…which I was and will indefinitely be unable to attend due to another work conflict).
As a result, not only did I NOT accomplish marathon number 2, but I also did not do ANY races this year. Not a single one! I realized this the other day… am I little bummed out about this? Yes, but it’s not the end of the world.
Another change that 2015 brought was going back to school. I started taking classes for my minister’s license in August. This means that a typical day (while classes are in session) starts around 7 am and goes until 2 am, when I finally finish my homework. I’m still working on my schedule and how to fit in regular life activities (including exercise and dinner!
While finding my footing with a new job, classes and the many changes that occurred (and are still) with our head pastor’s death, I had many days where I was just trying to hang on… But even in that, I am amazed at the work that God accomplished. I haven’t written about this (on the blog) very much, and I am not entirely certain that I will, but it’s been a very good year. Tough… but good.
Will I ever get that run coaching certification? I think so. I get updates about upcoming courses and I would still like to take the certification course, but my reason for wanting it is a bit different than it was last year. I guess I will let that one roll over to 2016.
2015 was also a year of friendship.
This afternoon, I sat around my kitchen table with five other women for our monthly book club. As we laughed together, I realized how lucky I am to call them friends. When I started the book club, I never knew how much of an impact it would have on me. When I was first approached about working at my church back in February, I sent an email and with the click of the send button, I knew that I had (at least) 12 people praying for me, asking God to give me direction, even though they didn’t know the details.
When our pastor was sick, and eventually passed away, Ben and I knew that we had friends we could grieve with and walk through this chapter with. We’ve been blessed to have support in many areas of our life and are glad to offer our support to the people in our life.
Ben and I have an ongoing group text with our friend’s Ben and Ashley. There are many times throughout the week when these texts will absolutely crack me up… but we can also send out a group “Hey, can we pray about XYZ together in the next few minutes?” It’s comforting, knowing that we have friendships where this is a normal occurrence. God is so good!
To be honest, 2015 was a huge blur! There are a few moments that stand out, but honestly, I have no idea how it is already January 2016!
I had no idea what was in store when I wrote this post last January….but I hope that I don’t lose that boldness and that desire to speak life!
I’m looking forward expectantly, wondering what God has planned for us.
Cheers to 2016!
Let’s chat! Favorite moment in 2015? Did you accomplish all of your goals?
Today’s #elf4health challenge is to list six things I love about myself.
I always have a hard time complimenting myself, even though I’m a relatively confident person and have been for most of my life. I don’t what it is, but whenever someone compliments me on something—whether it be an ability or physical attribute–I’ve always brushed it off, while simultaneously putting myself down. How silly is that?
Recently I’ve made a conscious effort to simply say, “thank you.” And that’s it.
Needless to say, this list (even though there was a similar challenge last year), has taken a bit of thought, but, here we go!
Six Things I Genuinely Love About Myself:
- The ability to rock red lipstick. I’m not one of those women who wears a lot of makeup…in fact, most days I barely brush my hair. It’s not that I don’t like taking care of myself, it’s just that I don’t focus on my looks very often. But, when I do take the time to get dressed up and put some makeup on, I love to make a statement. Red is one of my favorite colors and I love wearing red lipstick because it makes me feel confident, bold and classy at the same time.
- My legs. They’ve carried me through a marathon. They keep going when my brain is ready to give up. My legs aren’t perfect, but they’re strong and they’re perfect for me.
- My (obnoxious) laugh. One of my best friends always teases me about my laugh. Mostly because when we get together, we spend about 95% of the time laughing out loud—cackling! Cackling that probably causes dogs around the neighborhood to go into a barking frenzy…but I wouldn’t trade it. It not only announces my presence, but it also shows that I’m happy and that I have a sense of humor (and don’t take myself too seriously).
- My voice. I don’t share this with many people, but when I was a little kid, I had to take speech classes. I could understand what people were saying to me perfectly, but I was unable to articulate my thoughts. I knew what I wanted to say, but I’d trip over my words and just couldn’t get it out. I only went to speech therapy for a few short years (up until and for part of Kindergarten), but I’ll never forget that time. Because of my early struggles with communication, I’ve learned to use my words well. It’s one of the reasons that I love writing–and started blogging. It’s also one of the reasons that I don’t really get nervous in front of large groups-I’m just happy that people can understand me! I guess you could say that once I learned how to speak well, I never stopped!
- My Singing Voices one thing that I am sure I do well is sing. I work hard to learn new songs, harmonies and techniques. Some of my fondest memories are associated with choir/a cappella practices or just singing with my sister. I’m part of the praise and worship team at my church (if you’d asked me 4 or 5 years ago if I would be doing this, I probably would have burst out laughing)… it overwhelms me when people come up and tell me that something I sang really spoke to them or touched them. I’m not a perfect Christian, but one of my favorite ways to connect with Him is through song…and having that come across to others is a wonderful thing.
- My Faith. I’ve always believed in God. However, having that personal relationship with Him is still relatively new… but it’s gotten me through a lot…and it’s changed me for the better.
So there you have it…there’s my list…. What are some of your favorite things about yourself?
Welcome to Noelle’s Notebook!
I’m Noelle… a God Chaser, runner, food enthusiast, lover of life and my hubby.
I live in a small town on Lake Champlain in SUPER Upstate NY with my amazing husband, Farmer Ben.
We are passionate about living well and having balance.
You’ll see me discuss my faith, every day happenings, food (the preparation and consumption of), a lot of running and things that Farmer Ben and I do for fun. And you will definitely get too much information along the way…
Some of my favorite posts:
Why “Noelle’s Notebook?”
Remember those black and white composition notebooks you used as a journal in elementary school? That’s the inspiration behind the name. I still write my deepest thoughts in one of those notebooks, except now it’s red and white and I use blue ink instead of a pencil.
Just like those little journals, “Noelle’s Notebook” is place where I write about EVERYTHING!
More about Noelle:
In March of 2015, I left my safe, reliable (and frankly, boring) job to start a new adventure. It was completely unexpected, totally a God thing, and one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I’m currently coordinating the youth and outreach programs at my church and start ministry classes in August! It’s been a wild ride, complete with unexpected complications and tragedy, but God is faithful and he’s making me better with each day!
Have any questions or want to say “Hi?” Contact me at email@example.com
Want more of my musings?
Follow me on Twitter and Instagram: @noellesnotebook