Tag Archives: encouragement

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Here it is February 11...almost Valentine's Day and this is my first post of 2016. That should give you some indication of how life is going right about now....fast. Very, very fast. Juggling homeschool, housework, health, parenting, church responsibilities, kids' activities, and well, life in general tends to eat up a giant portion of the day (and sometimes the night)...every day. 

Oh, don't get me wrong...after a 16-month battle for my life, I'm soaking up every moment of actually living it. Still, a crazy and overwhelmed schedule tends to leave this type-A-deadline-driven, perfectionist feeling stressed, anxious, and terribly, terribly behind.

I am learning--yet again--that being is better than doing. That's a difficult lesson for this over-achiever. I like my lists. I like to check things off my lists. And I like my lists done before I go to bed.

Your type-A streak might not run as deep as mine, but I’m guessing you can relate to my feeling of being overwhelmed. Life is crazy. Life is hectic. Life happens at breakneck speed. But here's the crazy irony of it all: If we don't stop to simply be in God's presence, we'll never become who He intends us to be.

Be Still and Know That I am God...Compassion That Compels | www.thereisgrace.com

I'm privileged to be sharing the lessons I'm learning over at Compassion That Compels today. Won't you stop over there and join the conversation? And while you're there, check out the incredible ministry that Compassion That Compels provides for women battling cancer. Do you know someone who is facing cancer? Encourage them in their battle by sending them a Compassion Bag, or support the work of Compassion That Compels by shopping at one of their sponsors.

 

 

signature-1Like what you've read? Sign up in the sidebar to receive blog posts via e-mail and get a FREE printable of 10 Inspirational Scriptures. It's as easy as that! Don't forget to follow me on Twitter and Pinterest, too!

Plus: Read the full story of my journey through cancer to healing in Unshakable: Finding Faith to Weather the Storm. Available now at Amazon.

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It happened again this year...

Even though I said I wouldn't let it...

Even though I vowed, just last year, to kick crazy to the curb and remember the real reason for the Season this Christmas...

Then, just last week...I lost my ever-lovin' mind.

When You Need Peace This Christmas | thereisgrace.com

We were preparing to host out-of-town family for the holidays, and there was so. much. to. do. I don't remember what insignificant detail sent me into an emotional tailspin, but I do remember my wise and loving husband coming to the rescue (as he always does).

I rattled off the endless list of things still needing to be done, on top of the normal, everyday things like laundry and dishes, and homeschool. He let me rant, then he calmly said, "But we're not in a hospital recovering from surgery or chemotherapy." Then he lovingly sent me off to bed for a good night's rest, promising things would look better in the morning. And, of course, they did.

I woke up the next morning with renewed energy and a fresh perspective. Still, I had learned a valuable lesson. That simple statement from my husband was a gentle reminder of all God has done for us. God used those words to help me pause in the midst of a hectic season and realize a painful truth: It's easier for me to trust God with the big things--like cancer--than the normal, ordinary, everyday things.

But that's not what Christmas is about. Christ didn't come just for the big moments in life--the mountains that we face or the valleys we walk through. He came for the everyday moments.

Why else would He have been born in a manger, rather than a palace? Why would He come to ordinary people, not royalty? Why would He make His entrance on an average day, without pomp and fanfare?

[Joseph] went there (Bethlehem) with Mary to be listed. Mary was engaged to him. She was expecting a baby.  While Joseph and Mary were there, the time came for the child to be born.  She gave birth to her first baby. It was a boy. She wrapped him in large strips of cloth. Then she placed him in a manger. That’s because there was no guest room where they could stay. (Luke 2:4-7)

Why would heaven choose to first announce the Birth of the Christ to shepherds? Simple, ordinary shepherds?

There were shepherds living out in the fields nearby. It was night, and they were taking care of their sheep. An angel of the Lord appeared to them. And the glory of the Lord shone around them. They were terrified.  But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news. It will bring great joy for all the people.  Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you. He is the Messiah, the Lord.  (Luke 2:8-11)

Yes, there would be kings coming from the East to worship the Messiah. But the first who came? Shepherds. Because God is for everyone. On every day. In every situation.

Imagine the scene the Baby Jesus caused in the quiet little town of Bethlehem...a young couple, bedded down in a stable for the night where she gives birth to their first son. Then, when things are just beginning to calm down, here came a whole herd of shepherds trapsing through town with their sheep (you don't think they left them in the fields do you?), searching for the newborn King.

I can only imagine what the new-to-motherhood Mary was thinking when a group of smelly roughians approached her and her baby. That's exactly the kind of chaos every new mother needs! But tucked into the midst of all the chaos of the scene is my favorite verse in the Christmas story:

Mary kept all these things like a secret treasure in her heart. She thought about them over and over. (Luke 2:19)

In the midst of the crazy and the chaos, Mary found peace and stillness in the presence of her baby...the Savior of the world.

So, even if the shopping is not yet done. Even if the house isn't quite clean. Even if the gifts aren't wrapped. Take a tip form Mary and snuggle up with a cup of coffee, gaze at the Christmas tree, treasure this precious Baby--Immanuel, God with us, and treasure all these things in your heart.

Wishing you and yours and blessed and restful Christmas!

 

 

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Plus: Read the full story of my journey through cancer to healing in Unshakable: Finding Faith to Weather the Storm. Available now at Amazon.

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The thing about being a first-born, type-A, chronic planner is that you tend to make plans...lots of plans. After awhile you might even get pretty good at it. In fact, you might become convinced that you can accomplish anything if you simply have the right plan.

As any good planner will tell you, nothing ruins a good plan like an unforeseen interruption, especially one beyond our control--a sick child, a flooded basement, a 45-minute detour due to road construction. Any number of things can throw your plans off track and send a type-A person like myself into near hysteria. Not a pretty picture, I assure you.

My life and plans were rudely interrupted with a single word: cancer.

I didn't plan for it.

I didn't want it.

And there was not much I could do about it.

I was shaken, and I needed Someone who would be unshakable.

Thankfully, I happen to know Someone whose plans are never interrupted. He's never caught off guard by my circumstances or worried about how a situation will turn out. In fact, He says things like:

I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for. (Jeremiah 29:11, The Message)

and...

I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you. (Psalm 32:8, NLT).

So, when my plans crumble in the face of unforeseen circumstances, I can be sure that God doesn't worry. He doesn't fret.

When I am anxious that God is not answering my prayer at the moment I expected Him to, or in the way I hoped He would, I can be confident that He doesn't need to rush or hurry.

I can rest knowing He has a plan...and it is unshakable!

When You Need #Unshakable Plans |www.NancyBackues.com

I am honored to be sharing part of my story today at Intentional by Grace. Won't you join me over there to discover How Cancer Gave Me Unshakable Faith?

signature-1Like what you've read? Sign up in the sidebar to receive blog posts via e-mail and get a FREE printable of 10 Inspirational Scriptures. It's as easy as that! Don't forget to follow me on Twitter and Pinterest, too!

Plus: Read the full story of my journey through cancer to healing in Unshakable: Finding Faith to Weather the Storm. Available now at Amazon.

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In case you've wondered about the radio silence around here lately, here's what's been going on...

Coming in May...Unshakable: Finding Faith to Weather the Storm

Yes, it is really happening! And it's getting close! (Final release date still to be determined.)

In the meantime, here's a sneak peek from the back cover:

When a cancer diagnosis rocked her faith to the core, Nancy Backues found herself fighting an even greater battle than her illness. She was also fighting for her faith.

In Unshakable: Finding Faith to Weather the Storm, Nancy shares openly about her struggle with fear and doubt and addresses the tough questions many of us ask in the midst of difficult circumstances. Questions like

  • Is God really good?
  • Does God really love me?
  • Is God big enough for my situation?
  • Is God even aware of what I’m going through?
  • How can any good come from my situation?

As Nancy’s story unfolds, she wrestles with these difficult questions, answers them with overwhelming evidence of God’s love and faithfulness, and takes readers on a journey to find faith that is unshakable.

 And here's what people are already saying about it!

Unshakable speaks to anyone going through a trial of any kind
and is full of so much truth  and heart and awesomeness!”
~Rosann Cunningham, author, UnEmployed Faith

Unshakable provides the blueprint for victory in every life storm.”
~Kristianne Stewart, founder, Compassion That Compels

"Unshakable is not a book that brings God into our story; it beautifully displays how
God brings us into His. I’m thankful that Nancy was willing to share her honest
discoveries in her darkest hours.” ~Heather Gilion Co-author, Dancing On My Ashes

"Anyone who argues the Bible isn't relevant for today needs to read Unshakable!"
~Kristen Feola, author, Spiritually Strong and The Ultimate Guide to the Daniel Fast

"Through Scripture and personal reflection, Nancy shows that it’s possible to feel
completely shaken by a difficult circumstance and yet to come through it to
find a faith that is unshakable...because of the God who is unshakable."
~Darcy Wiley, blogger, Message in a Mason Jar

I will be sure to announce the release date as soon as I have one. For now, stay tuned for ordering info and special deals! In fact, go ahead and enter your email on the sidebar so you don't miss any upcoming news!

 

signature-1Like what you've read? Sign up in the sidebar to receive blog posts via e-mail and get a FREE printable of 10 Inspirational Scriptures. It's as easy as that! Don't forget to follow me on Twitter and Pinterest, too!

Plus: Read the full story of my journey through cancer to healing in Unshakable: Finding Faith to Weather the Storm. Available now at Amazon.

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For as long as I can remember, there has been a piece of paper held to the front of my grandma's fridge by a magnet.

On this simple piece of notebook paper, scrawled in my grandma's handwriting, are two simple statements of great wisdom. I've read these statements many times over the years (usually as I snuck "just one more" bite of homemade cookie dough.)

When I was younger, I didn't give much thought to the words. Now that I'm a Mom, these simple statements have taken on new meaning. I don't know where they come from...if Grandma read them or heard them somewhere, or if God just dropped them into her heart one day. Because that's the sort of thing He does for my grandma.

I have watched her live these words for decades. And if I can remember these truths and learn to live them out, too, then maybe I can give my kids the love my grandma has so freely given for so long.

I don't know who (besides my grandma) to credit these great truths, but I pray they will encourage you:

Grandma's Wisdom {printable}...true then, truer now | thereisgrace.com

Grandma's Wisdom {two printables} | thereisgrace.com

Go ahead...print them out. I bet they'd look nice on your fridge.

 

signature-1Like what you've read? Sign up in the sidebar to receive blog posts via e-mail and get a FREE printable of 10 Inspirational Scriptures. It's as easy as that! Don't forget to follow me on Twitter and Pinterest, too!

Plus: Read the full story of my journey through cancer to healing in Unshakable: Finding Faith to Weather the Storm. Available now at Amazon.

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Three different people--in separate conversations-- last weekend told me they loved my hair. Three hair compliments in a 48-hour period is a major score for any woman, but for someone who spent months "putting on" her hair , those three statements were like gold.

What's funny is, I'm loving my hair these days, too. And not just because it's my hair (although that is a plus). I'm loving the short 'do...which is surprising, because thanks to a terrible Dorothy Hamill haircut in the eighth grade, I've been a long-hair girl most of my adult life.

Hair-over-it

Except for The Hair Catastrophe (as it came to be known) in my mid-20s...

I went in for a trim. What I got, instead, was a complete style makeover...and not a very good one. I don't remember exactly what it looked like, but I do remember standing in front of the mirror, staring in horror at my reflection. I also remember my roommate walking in with a look of concerned terror and asking, “What happened?!” The events that followed are a bit fuzzy, but they may have included tears and a few "sick" days off work.

Yes, it's just hair. And yes, it does grow back, but if you've ever been on the receiving end of an over-zealous stylist, you know in that moment all you feel is panic--a dreadful feeling of I’m going to look like this until it grows out, and there’s nothing I can do about it! I have been there, my friend. I have been. there.

I had another, similar, experience just a few years ago. It wasn't nearly as devastating as the first, but it was almost as painful. I asked for "a little shorter"  and got several inches shorter. Instantly, that same feeling of dread came rushing back. When I looked in the mirror, all I could see was my 20-something-year-old self and that devastating haircut from a decade before.

Thoughts of my hair consumed me the rest of the day. Do I like it this short? Is it really cute? Or just weird? Can I pull off hair this short? I was convinced my thick, natural curl combined with the short cut made me look like a giant Q-Tip walking around!

That evening I was still reeling from the haircut and feeling very self-conscious when I ran into a friend. She had obviously been crying. She smiled at me weakly and said through her tears, "I like your hair." Well, score one for my hair cut, I guess. But I couldn't fully enjoy the victory. I knew why my friend was crying, and it had nothing to do with haircuts.

Her family was going through a terrible trial...one I wouldn't wish on anyone, and I knew her tears were related to their situation. After my encounter with her, I began to think of my other friends who were facing overwhelming circumstances: one was still looking for a job after several months, one had lost a 9-month-old to a rare illness, one had been trying to sell a home for almost a year, one was facing surgery in just a few weeks, one had a sister battling a difficult form of cancer, one was in the middle of an unthinkable legal battle, and the list went on. I had been entirely consumed with my little world and my own insecurities, I hadn’t stopped to think about the needs of those around me.

In the previous weeks, I had spent hours talking with, listening to, and praying for these same friends and their situations. But that day it had been all about me. My hair and my situation had literally consumed my thoughts and energy.

It reminded me of how my children can sometimes be so completely consumed with their own problems they become oblivious to anything going on around them. How many times have I been in the middle of doing something for them (making dinner, doing laundry, etc.) only to have them come to me with a fresh list of demands, “Mom, I need you to…” “Where is my…” “Can you…” “He won’t let me…”

We tolerate, even expect, such selfishness from children, because self-absorption is a sign of immaturity. Children have to be taught to become aware of, and compassionate toward, those around them. It’s not often a trait they find on their own (although we’re so thankful when they do!).

Unfortunately, it’s also a sign of immaturity in me. When will I learn life is not really about me? There are times when we need to focus on our own needs--for health, for restoration, for healing of relationships. But when God brings us through those situations, we need to remember to turn our attention to others. When your biggest stress is a haircut gone awry, you're in a pretty good place; you have time and energy to spend on someone else.

God, in His grace, will help us to look beyond ourselves, our needs, our daily “emergencies,” and find needs in others. When we do that, He can use us to demonstrate His love and meet the needs of those who are hurting.

Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand. (Philippians 2:4, The Message)

This thing called life is about more than my wants, my insecurities, and my to-do list. God has designed us to do life together--helping each other, carrying one another's burdens, and learning to serve one another in love. That’s what makes this thing called life worth it. That’s what God's grace in action looks like. I pray that one of these days I’ll finally get over myself (and my hair) and remember that!

How can you show God's love by helping someone in your life?

 

 

signature-1Like what you've read? Sign up in the sidebar to receive blog posts via e-mail and get a FREE printable of 10 Inspirational Scriptures. It's as easy as that! Don't forget to follow me on Twitter and Pinterest, too!

Plus: Read the full story of my journey through cancer to healing in Unshakable: Finding Faith to Weather the Storm. Available now at Amazon.

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No, I'm not single. Let's just get that out of the way. I'm happily married with two children...but before you leave, let me explain...

My husband and I started dating when we were 27 and got married when we were 30. That means I spent roughly 12-15 years of Valentine's Days single. (Technically, I spent almost 30 Valentine's Days single, but those last 12-15 were the hardest.)

single-on-valentines-day

Believe me when I tell you I know a thing or two about being single. As a general rule, I wasn't sad or depressed. I lived a full life--I had a lot of friends and a healthy social life. But there was something about Valentine's Day that seemed to bring me down, no matter how content I was with my life.

While the rest of the world is expressing their love to their most important person, you can't help feeling even more alone when you're single. Somewhere, deep down, you really are happy for all the happy couples in the world. Still, it's not an easy day when you're not one of them. I get it.

As an old married woman now, I think I have a little perspective to offer. So if I could sit down with each of my single friends over coffee and share my "big sister" advice with you, here's what I would say:

1. You are loved.

Remember this: Alone does not mean unloved.

Just because you're the only one who doesn't get roses at work or a card in the mail, it doesn't mean no one loves you. You probably know this already, but you've somehow managed to forget it in the midst of all the greeting card and jewelry commercials.

There are people around you who love you...parents, siblings, friends, family. They may be focused on their own relationships right now, but that doesn't mean they love you any less. They're just distracted. You need to know that.

And just in case you can't think of anyone who loves you, let me give you a hint...

What marvelous love the Father has extended to us! Just look at it—we’re called children of God! That’s who we really are. (1 John 3:1, The Message)

2. God has a plan.

I can see your eyes rolling now. Because, yes, that's what I did at age 25 when someone said those words to me. It seemed so trite at the time, when I was "so old" and still single. Trust me...it's not trite. It's not cliché. It's true.

God sees you exactly where you are. He loves you exactly how you are. And He has a plan for you.

I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for. (Jeremiah 29:11, The Message)

I don't know if His plan includes marriage. I don't know if it includes a relationship (and yes, I know how scary that sounds right now). But I know this: His plan is the best. And just because you're not in a relationship right now doesn't mean you'll never be. And, hear this: it doesn't mean there's anything wrong with you!

3. Have fun.

This might seem a little difficult this Valentine's Day weekend when you're afraid to venture into public for fear of puking at the sight of another red heart balloon. But you can invite some girlfriends over to watch a movie (maybe not a romance) or play games. I guarantee you're not the only one without plans this weekend!

Here's the bigger idea: Instead of pining away or growing anxious about your singleness, make the most of your time. Further your education. Volunteer. Take up a hobby. Grow your interests. Press in to know God more.

In the 10 years I was a single adult, I was able to complete my education, gain valuable work experience (that's when I seriously took up writing), lead a ministry team, participate in numerous missions trips, and travel to places like Alaska and Paris. I love my life now, but trust me when I say there are no plans to visit Paris anytime soon! 😉

I’ve learned by now to be quite content whatever my circumstances. I’m just as happy with little as with much, with much as with little. I’ve found the recipe for being happy whether full or hungry, hands full or hands empty. Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am. (Philippians 4:11, 12 The Message)

This is where I would set down my coffee cup, lean in close, and hope you really hear me when I say, Your story doesn't begin when you get married; you're writing your story now.

Yes, dear sister, dream about your future mate. And definitely pray for him. But don't forget to live your life now. God not only has a plan for your future; He has  plan for your present.

Make the most of every opportunity. (Colossians 4:5)

Married friends, what did I miss? Any other advice you'd offer?

 

signature-1Like what you've read? Sign up in the sidebar to receive blog posts via e-mail and get a FREE printable of 10 Inspirational Scriptures. It's as easy as that! Don't forget to follow me on Twitter and Pinterest, too!

Plus: Read the full story of my journey through cancer to healing in Unshakable: Finding Faith to Weather the Storm. Available now at Amazon.

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I love hearing stories of God's grace in the lives of others. I love it even more when it's someone I've watched walk through the pain and into a deeper understanding of the grace God gives us. I'm honored to have one of those special people sharing here today.

I first met Christy when she was my sister's roommate in college. Years later, I would work alongside her in a ministry office. I had no idea the pain that was hiding behind her beautiful (and consistent) smile every day. Christy's story reveals a pain I know so many have faced, and I'm thankful she's sharing her it here today...

Walking the path of heartache can be full of dark days, but, when offered to God, the beauty born in that darkness has divine purpose | thereisgrace.com

My first marriage was the most painful experience of my life but it’s also where I learned the depths of God’s love and healing. Because of that, I open my heart and let others see where I have traveled.

I married a man I met at Bible College and embarked on what I thought would be my dreams come true. Within the first year, I began to see signs of addiction but I didn’t have the life skills to truly recognize the red flags. So, I just kept thinking things would get back to normal.

By the third year, he was someone I didn’t know – from alcohol to drugs to pornography to gambling to unexplained absences and I had no idea what to do. I hid. I cried. I prayed. I stuffed those emotions that were desperate to get out.

Day after day, I prayed and clung to God in a way I never thought possible. Yet, there was no change and I was stuck relationally. I was a married woman living the life of a very single woman – spiritually, emotionally, physically and financially.

I went through years of heartbreak, disappointment and deception caused by the one man who swore to protect, cherish and love me. He broke every promise he ever made and, in the process, he broke my heart. I didn’t know the damage that was being done at the time because I was just trying to survive.

After seven years of this cycle, something clicked inside me and I decided it was time to leave. So, I moved back home and he went to a program called Teen Challenge.

During that year and a half he was in Teen Challenge, I started dealing with my pain and emotions. While working through the disappointment my life had become, I found that God still had many dreams He wanted to bring to pass. I went back to college to finish my associate’s degree. I began to blossom into me – a stronger me. It was the beginning of my independence and finding the woman God created.

After completing Teen Challenge, he did well for a few months but then relapsed. After ten years of marriage and no real change, I could no longer keep walking this road. I felt a release to move on without him.

I filed for divorce and moved to Missouri to finish my bachelor’s degree. It was really hard to leave my family and friends who had become my comfort and support system, but I knew it was time for the next season of my life.

Today, I stand on the other side of that whole experience a different person. I have met and married my soul mate – a word I could never truly use before. While I have other battles to face, my life is full and my heart is whole. Those years of brokenness not only gave me perspective, but I also learned some key lessons.

The enemy’s plan is to snuff out life, especially when it’s painful, but God’s plan is to grow beauty and purpose from pain. Walking the path of heartache can be full of dark days, but, when offered to God, the beauty born in that darkness has divine purpose. God grew me into a woman that solely depends on Him and has used my story to minister to others in a way it never could have had I not gone through that painful time.

The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life. (John 10:10)

When I was entangled in heartache, it was so easy to stop living, but God didn’t create me to just exist. Living through pain takes courage but it doesn’t have to be in my own strength. On the days I didn’t want to do life, I found that God’s sustaining strength was perfected in me through my weakness.

Each time He said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. (2 Corinthians 12:19)

I could look back on those years and see them as wasted, but God doesn’t waste pain. In fact, He specializes in bringing the spectacular from pain. God has redeemed beyond what I lost in my first marriage and He has used my suffering to bring others to His healing hand.

You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people. (Genesis 50:20)

Christy is a city girl from Oklahoma who has converted to country living in Missouri with her husband, Dave. She enjoys a good cup of coffee, chocolate chip cookies and deep conversation. Christy blogs about her life experiences and how she walks out her faith in every season. Visit her at In the Making.

signature-1Like what you've read? Sign up in the sidebar to receive blog posts via e-mail and get a FREE printable of 10 Inspirational Scriptures. It's as easy as that! Don't forget to follow me on Twitter and Pinterest, too!

Plus: Read the full story of my journey through cancer to healing in Unshakable: Finding Faith to Weather the Storm. Available now at Amazon.

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There's nothing quite like a girls' weekend, am I right ladies? We all love our families, but there's something about being with people who don't need you to cut their meat or sign another permission slip. And it's all the better when those people are some of your dearest girlfriends...girls who share similar interests and with whom you can just be you... not mom, not homemaker, not chief cook and bottle washer...just a girl in cute shoes and a carefree smile.

I had the chance to do just that a couple of weeks ago. I spent three days with a few girlfriends (over 7,000 girlfriends, to be exact) at the Designed for Life Conference. It was an amazing time of worship, laughter, fun treats, and challenging messages. If you've never experienced a dynamic women's conference, here's why you should consider coming to Designed for Life next year:

7 Reasons You need to attend the Designed for Life conference | thereisgrace.com

Girl time: I promise you won't have to wipe anyone's nose or watch any Nick Jr. You can spend your whole time talking about frivolous things like shoes and handbags or dive into the deep end and discuss the deeper meanings of life.

The Boutique: Seriously, I'm not even a hard-core shopper, and I love the boutique! So much fun stuff...and you can shop as long as you want without having to take someone to the bathroom!

Fun Surprises: Pre-service games and giveaways to special gifts and parting treats. You'll be thrilled and treasured all at the same time. If gifts is your love language, do NOT miss this conference!

designed-for-life-2
Special thanks to my friends for letting me hijack their cute pic! 😉

Connection: Whether you come with a group or by yourself, you'll find unexpected friendships born and established friendships grow deeper. If you end up coming alone, don't worry, there's The Meeting Place where you can connect with other girls. Who knows, you might just make a lifelong friend!

Amazing worship: From the first note, worship at DFL is full-on. There's no "building up to the final session." The DFL worship team comes to worship from the get-go. If you're not ready to jump in at first, don't worry, you will be soon!

Challenging speakers: Chris Caine, Priscilla Shirer, Charlotte Gambill...these are the powerhouse women who brought God's Word to the conference this year. They are world-renown, quality teachers of the Word. And they did not disappoint. Check out the speakers for next year's conference...you don't want to miss it.

God moments: There's something about getting away from the normal routine of life and setting aside time to focus on God and all that He has for you. Yes, God speaks to us in our everyday moments, but I believe it's in those moments we truly set aside for Him that He can do even greater things in us. That's what DFL is all about.

Each session this year felt like the message was specifically targeted to me, personally, and my situation. And I talked to so many other girls who felt the same way. Only God could do that, and that's ultimately what makes DFL a conference worth coming to...God shows up and meets you where you are.

I realize a big conference isn't everyone's "thing." If that's you, I understand. But I want to encourage you to not let your personal preference keep you from all that God has for you. You will be a better woman, wife, mother, employee, and friend when you go back home. Because no one can encounter God for three days straight and not leave changed.

DFL Recap - 2015 Promo from James River Church on Vimeo.

Check out what's in store for DFL 2015.

Alright, DFL sisters...these were only 7 reasons. What are your favorite reasons for coming to DFL? What was your favorite DFL memory? Let me hear from you!

 

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Plus: Read the full story of my journey through cancer to healing in Unshakable: Finding Faith to Weather the Storm. Available now at Amazon.

Don't let the title fool you...I have never been Miss American anything! Today, I am honored to welcome my good friend Casey Gibbons of Realife Casey.

I first met Casey more than 15 years ago when she began attending the youth ministry where I volunteered. As I got to know Casey over the next few years, a great friendship blossomed and grew. We have spent hours talking about ministry and writing, sharing motherhood woes and triumphs,  and walking through personal and physical challenges together. Now, we have the privilege of watching our children grow in friendship (a blessing to this Mama, for sure!).

As a wife, mom to 6, writer, ministry leader, and blogger, Casey is one of those "how does she do it all?" women. But she's the first to tell you she relies heavily on grace (and admit sometimes it doesn't all get done!) She remains as beautiful on the inside as she is on the outside, and she has graciously allowed me to share this post (from June 2013) about her experience as Miss American Teen. Please welcome, my  friend Casey Gibbons:

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As a former pageant girl, you can imagine my excitement when I turned on the TV last night to check the weather only to find that the Miss USA competition was just begininng! It was perfect timing. My husband was already in bed so I didn't have to turn it off due to immodesty and my five little girls were in bed so I didn't have to have a two hour training session on finding confidence aside from how a person looks. It was just me and the tv.

Although pageants are much different than when I participated, a flash of memory lane rushed through my body. It was 15 years ago that I was crowned Miss American Teen 1998 in Orlando, FL. It was a dream come true for my 18 yr old world. After months of hard work preparation and competition, God allowed me to win the national title. Yes, I cried. My family cheered. My hometown celebrated. My school friends went fan crazy. And I spent the next year going all over the country speaking, helping causes, serving communities, and living it up best I could.

Without boring most of you, all I can say about my pageant experiences was that I had the time of my life. My whole family participated with all the excitement. For us, it was making memories and doing something together. And I learned how to handle myself in public speaking and formal settings. I was challenged in my ability to lead in the community and in my school with grades and participation. My body was held accountable and my mind was sharpened during those days. In addition, I made a ton of friends and was able to share Christ to hundreds of girls.

Fast forward to now. As my eyes are glazed over thinking about my time "conquering the world" with a young in-shape body, glamorous clothes, fancy food, high-rise hotels, personal makeup and hair artists, talent shows and fame, I am keenly aware of my current state of being.

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My body has given birth to five children, my clothes are worn out Pj's, my food tonight is animal crackers and yogurt served in a Veggie Tales bowl, my housing arrangement is a low-rise that smells like rotten eggs from the soaking pan days old, my hair hasn't been washed in four days, I haven't worn an ounce of makeup for over two weeks, my talent consists of rocking my coughing toddler back to sleep, and I am now famous among needy EGR (extra grace required) teenage girls who are texting me even though we just got home from being together for a week.

Yes, life is different now. But I am writing today with good news! There is a verse Paul wrote in Philippians 4 that challenges me.

I don't have a sense of needing anything personally. I have learned by now to be quite content whatever my circumstances. I am just as happy with little as with much, with much as with little. I have found the recipe for being happy whether full or hungry, hands full or hands empty. Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am. (Philippians 4:11-13, The Message)

There is such a strength in being content in all circumstances. Although I had wonderful memories from my pageant days, I can be content in the current stage of life! My joy and satisfaction comes from the Lord, not in how outward things are going for me. As I sit here looking and feeling completely different than 15 years ago, I am still full of joy at the place God has me. This doesn't make sense in natural thinking but it's true! As long as you are where God wants you to be doing what He wants you to do then you will be okay!

Don't fret friends! Don't look to your past accomplishments and wishful thinking for the "old days". God has a plan for you TODAY in the workplace, the home, the school, the church, the store, on vacation, and anywhere else you find yourself! You may be have different circumstances but God is with you! Because of the joy that can only come by God's grace, I am loving my life and you can too! There is no need to wait for things to "be like they used to be" so we can be happy again. Life changes. Things happen. We have a promise from the Lord that He is with us and will give us all we need to face life as it is, today!

So, I don't know about you but I am embracing my place in the world I now live in. I am not 18 and I am not a pageant girl. But what I am is a woman who is content is all cirmcumstances at all times as the Lord gives me strength.

I praise Him for the past, lean on Him in the present and look with anticipation for the future! And my prayer is that you will too.

caseyCasey is author of A Girl's Life with God and well-known speaker to girls of all ages. She has been married to her best friend, Scotty, for 14 years. They have five daughters, ages 12, 10, 9, 7, and 4, and they welcomed their first son this summer!  Casey blogs about motherhood, ministry, home education, and life in general at Realife Casey!

signature-1Like what you've read? Sign up in the sidebar to receive blog posts via e-mail and get a FREE printable of 10 Inspirational Scriptures. It's as easy as that! Don't forget to follow me on Twitter and Pinterest, too!

Plus: Read the full story of my journey through cancer to healing in Unshakable: Finding Faith to Weather the Storm. Available now at Amazon.