Saturday, October 27, 2012

My Women of Faith Story


I was invited to Women of Faith by my friend, Amy Kolln.  I was an easy sell because I had heard of Women of Faith and was one of those women who wanted to go but would find out too late…timing all wrong.  But not this time, I made it to Imagine, May 2011.

What an experience Women of Faith was for me! At the time, I was in a very fast paced job, trying to hold on to all my titles: be a good wife, mother, coping with a father with dementia and healing from a miscarriage just six months prior. I could go on, but I would sound ridiculous…because it was ridiculous and out of control!

It was such a comfort to sit in that seat and just be “toni.”  No title…just God’s daughter…that’s all.  No emails to read, voicemails to return, no reports due.  No peanut butter sandwiches, no coffee to make or schedules to keep…just me and God.

Speaker after speaker, I was encouraged.  I begin to imagine my life with God in control.  As a teenager in the faith, it is easy to think you know everything and to try and take control of your life without God’s help.  That weekend, I was quickly reminded of Matthew 11:28-29:

“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.”

It was at this Women of Faith event where I committed to give God all the things weighting me down in my life and just sit and learn from Him.  I prayed for a calmer life, with the most important things at the forefront. 

I was only a few weeks pregnant and was afraid to love this baby for the fear of losing again.  Angie Smith encouraged me to hope, to love and find strengthen in the name of Jesus.  It was Sheila Walsh who inspired me to cry out to the one who can save me, Jesus, and embrace His love.  Lisa Harper opened my eyes to loving when it hurts and situations are not always as they appear.  Luci Swindoll taught me to enjoy the Christian life.  The worship band allowed God’s spirit to be in my heart all weekend and I praised God in the weeks that followed with thanksgiving for how the weekend touched me. 

Truly because God answers prayers…no other reason, I made the decision to be a Women of Faith group leader with no clue what that would mean.  And today, I will tell you it means a lot.  Because of Women of Faith and the impression the organization has left on my heart, I am able to now stay at home with baby Natalie, while the boys are in school, go see my father without feeling guilty, love people like Jesus would love…and write.  A dream come true!  So thanks, Women of Faith for allowing God to use you, shape and mold you to do His work.  I am so proud to be a part of the team and win souls for Christ.

 

Women of Faith is a Christian-based live events organization.  Women of Faith events are produced by the world’s largest producer of inspirational events, Live Event Management Inc., a Thomas Nelson company based in Plano, Texas. Through authentic connection with audiences, humor, an atmosphere of encouragement and support, and our line-up of world-class talent including well-known Christian authors and performers, Women of Faith delivers life-changing messages via high-quality programs in cities across North America. 

Find out when Women of Faith is coming to your city : www.womenoffaith.com/events

Friday, June 1, 2012

Introducing Designing Life

Design is the way we arrange things to strengthen its structure and appearance.  I love our sunroom because of its southern exposure, the four large windows overlooking our backyard and I’ve positioned my favorite chair to view my children at play and enjoy the flowers.  The land developer and home builder knew after examining the lot, how my house should sit to reap the benefits of the land.  And I, the interior designer, added to their design by choosing the right window treatments, carpet, paint color and furniture.  So whether it’s the inside (structure) or outside (appearance), the elements of design still remain true.  They are line, shape, form, space, value, color and texture.  These elements we can arrange and use as tools to create a beautiful living space, a stunning dress or a masterpiece for our wall. No matter the kind of design, there is desired order.
Designing the Christian life is almost no different.  We can organize our lives in a certain way to strengthen our spiritual wellness.  But there is order.  Jesus told the Pharisees the importance of dealing with the matters of the heart first, and then the outward appearance would mimic the motives of the heart.  But the Pharisees were blind and continued to keep up with appearances when the inside of their hearts were filled with greed and self-indulgence. (Matthew 23: 25-26).
Designing the Christian life is powerful if we follow God’s design.  It takes us developing a deep relationship with Jesus, the Son of God, and understanding and using the elements He created, tools, to live whole and complete.  These tools structure our hearts; what’s on the inside.  The tools are faith, prayer, meditation, study, fasting and worship.  And just like in design, how we arrange the elements, create fundamentals making a beautiful soul.  The fundamentals are what appear when the tools are used effectively.  The fundamentals are confidence, contentment, connection, comprehension, clarity and control.
It sounds simple doesn’t it? Use God’s tools and live well. But you and I both know life is hard.  It is much easier to rely on ourselves, go through the motions and not give a single thought about how we are feeling or to the consequences our choices present.  Similar to the Pharisees the inside of our cup and dish are stuffed with idolatry and selfishness while the outside looks like we have it all together. 
God is good design. He made the heavens and the earth.  He created us. Every day, He desires our attention and inspires us.  He inspires us to know Him, love Him, have a relationship with Him and use the Christian elements to develop a strong, healthy spiritual life we can call our own. 
But today, we are busy, caught up in making a living, raising a family and chasing sleep.  Our relationship with God is only when we need help and the tools God has given us are on our shelf as we continue on the path of self-reliance.
This blog is designed for you and me to take a rest.  Pick up the Christian elements and get inspired.  All it takes is for us to ask ourselves one simple question: Do we have a relationship with God, through Christ, that can inspire us?  With the relationship established, He can inspire us and the toolbox is open with endless righteous ways to design our lives.

 toni