Sunday, November 23, 2014

Farewell For Now

It's hitting me.  Really hitting me.  Right now.  As I sit in my daughter's empty room, tears begin to stream down my face.  I don't know why I try not to cry.  I am happy and sad and thrilled and pained all at once.  I am awed and aching.

We are moving.

As I trolled Instagram one day I saw this quote by Heather Lindsey:

Jonathon and I have been praying about a number of things from financial peace to growth in our marriage, strength and patience as parents.  Most importantly we pray for God's will to be done in our lives.  We pray that our passions will be in line with HIS word and HIS will.  We pray that He will bless us so that we can be a blessing.  We pray that He will trust us to do His work.

Well, as I said, "We are moving."  LOL  I am over the moon about the opportunities before us.  What does God have on the agenda.  How is He going to strengthen us, sow into us, and where will He send us?

I am saddened however, because wowza wowza wowza has God blessed us in this place.  I came out here kicking and screaming.  Cried most of the first month we were here.  Now I'm so sad to leave.  God blessed our marriage.  With no family or friends we had to lean on each other.  We had to grow or let go.  God has blessed us relationally.  We have the BEST friends, who I now consider family.  Seriously.  THE BEST!  God has blessed us financially.  We were led to Financial Peace University.  We have learned to communicate about money.  We are on a budget.  We're not rich...YET.  Ha Ha!  I'm claiming it!  Why?  Not only do I want to be a blessing with my time and energy, I want to be a blessing financially.  If I'm worried about paying the light bill, it's hard to focus on blessing someone with God's money.

So, when I read this quote by Christine Caine today:


It was the soft prodding I needed to focus on the future.  God moves us through many seasons.  My time here is done.  God planted some seeds while we have been here.  The seeds took root and have the crops are ready to be harvested.  It's time for a new season.  New seeds.

I know that true friendships will last a lifetime.  True lessons will continue to be cultivated.  And my one true heavenly Father will always remain... faithfully committed to seeking me as I seek Him, preparing me for my purpose, and inspiring me to love as He loves, give as He gives.

I do not know all facets of my purpose, but I do know that I am called to share.  I am called to pray.


I will go as far as God leads me.  I must.  We must.

Always Striving,

Joce





Tuesday, November 4, 2014

My Refuge & My Fortress

This morning I was all prepared to publish my second post on budgeting.  Before I published however, I checked my email.  Bam!  I was hit with another email describing the attack of the enemy on a family.  I wept and cried out to God.  Lately I have received a lot of prayer requests.  Families under attack - marriages, children, finances.

First, let me say that when I receive a prayer request I pray.  I pray and intercede.  Prayer is a serious weapon used to defeat the enemy, bring comfort and joy to the heart, and invite peace into the chaos.

When I attended Redeeming Love Family Church in Fayetteville, NC I learned how to pray with power and authority.  I learned how to pray the Word of God.  Power!  In order to pray God's Word, you have to know God's Word.  It has to be etched on your heart.  Pastor McKinney taught on this often.  In addition, during every service at Redeeming Love Family Church we decreed and declared Psalm 91.  Not one verse, the whole chapter.  I will admit that I was intimidated when I realized I was to commit the entire chapter to memory.  Then I thought of all the songs I have committed to memory.  Surely, I could commit one chapter of God's Word to memory.  And so I did.  I felt a change in my prayers.  I felt like they were a true weapon of war.



I'm not saying that every prayer has to be long and filled with scripture.  Sometimes you just don't have words.  Sometimes, "Jesus, help!" is all you can manage.  There is nothing wrong with that, but at some point you need to mature beyond "Now I lay me" and "God is great, God is good".  You need to pray God's Word.  You need to pray intentionally.

Lately, I have been heavy in prayer and praise.  I would love for you to join me in decreeing and declaring Psalm 91.  (Take a peek at Psalm 92 as well.  Great stuff!)

I have also been listening to the following songs:

Oceans - Hillsong UNITED
Moving Forward - Israel Houghton
Hallelujah - CeCe Winans
Waging War  - CeCe Winans
Victory - Tye Tribbett

Join me in prayer and praise.  Let's keep the enemy under our feet!

Always Striving,

Joce

P.S.  I'd love to know what scriptures are you currently declaring?
What songs are you meditating on?  :-)

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Mommy Moments




Oh, How I love my two sweet children!  :-)  Here are two great moments that I just have to share.

POTTY IN TRAINING:

A couple months back Jace comes running into the kitchen saying, "Mommy, I poop!  I poop, Mom!"
"Alright, Jace.  Give me a minute.  I need to finish dinner and then I will change your diaper."
"Mom, I poop!"
"Jace, I realize this.  I can smell you stinking."
"Stinking?"
"Yes, this is why you need to poop in the potty."
"Okay, Mom.  Poop in the potty."  He starts humming a random tune.  "Mom, I poop!  You change diaper?"
"Yes, ok."  We walk upstairs to get a new diaper and such.  "Hold still Jace.  I can't change your diaper with you jumping up and down."
"Ok, Mom.  Mom, I see?  I see poopy?"
"Really?  It's poop, Jace.  Nothing special."
"Mom, I see?"  He says again.  So, I show him the poop.  "Ooooh!  Cocoa beans?  Cocoa beans, Mom?"
"Ummmm!  No, I don't think those would be considered cocoa beans."  I am dying laughing.
"Ha! Ha!  Mom, it's cocoa beans!"

PANCAKES FOR ALL:

Displaying 20141023_093119.jpgI just got back from a business trip last night, so this morning I am responding to some emails.  Jace is sitting in his seat eating pancakes and Kobi is playing on the carpet.  I can see them over the top of the computer, but I sort of got in a zone.  Anyway, when I look up, Jace is out of his seat strumming Jonathon's guitar and Kobi is munching on Jace's pancakes that have been placed on the floor.

Hmmmmmnnn...  LOLOLOLOL  All I could do was laugh.  My six month old is eating pancakes.  I said, "Jace, Kobi can't eat pancakes."  He looks up from what he is doing and replies, "Ok, Mom.  Don't worry."

Thank you, Jace.

Always Striving,

Joce


Monday, October 20, 2014

I Don't Budget Because I'm Broke, I Budget Because I'm Brilliant!


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I'm admitting it.  Jonathon and I have not always been smart with our money.  In fact, there have been times when we were down right stupid.  There it is in black and white.

Now that it's out there, let's talk about what we are doing to fix stupid.  Two words: DAVE RAMSEY.  Although I read Dave Ramsey's The Total Money Makeover many years ago, I have seriously fallen off the wagon.  But because God loves me so much, and desires I have peace in every area of my life He brought it back to my remembrance.

Hello! Hello! Hello!

The last few months have been a whirlwind of learning and revelations, tears, pain, joy, and amazement at God's love for us.  There have been so many times I wanted to blog about this journey but have not had the words.  And honestly I didn't worry too much about it because whenever God really wants me to write, He presses a message on my heart that I have to get out!  I love Him :-)

So what's been going on?  Well, Jonathon and I are doing a Total Money Makeover!  Yes.  I know finances can be a very touchy subject.  Nobody wants to talk about how much money they make or what they do with their money exactly, but everybody is okay with pretending like everything is always peachy.  Let's be real.  Most people struggle at one time or another.  There is nothing wrong with admitting this.


A series of things that Jonathon and I really wanted, fell through.  We were devastated.  This is often the place where God can begin to work and rebuild...if you let Him.

****Background***  
Before Jon and I got married I managed my money.  I created an Excel spreadsheet with my expenses and diligently tracked my bank account.  I payed my tithes and focused on paying off debt.  I still had fun and traveled, but I planned.  

After Jon and I got married I tossed all fiscal responsibility on Jon.  I thought, "He's the man.  The head of the household.  He is in charge of the finances.  I hate numbers.  I don't want to look at another spreadsheet or track another bank account."
******

Five years ago I checked out.  Now God is telling me it is time to check back in if I want Him to bless us.  There wasn't a message written across the sky.  God revealed Himself to me in a number of ways.  It started with the 31 Proverbs in 31 days challenge.  There are so many scriptures in Proverbs about handling money wisely - being slave to the lender.

I told Jonathon that God was pricking my heart in this area.  I asked if he would read The Total money Makeover with me.  He agreed.  We got off to a slow start.  BUT GOD.  We gained more traction after my accountability partner texted me about Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University (FPU) being offered at a local church.  We signed up and it has been a true blessing!  I will talk about FPU in a later blog post.

What I do want to share in this post is the importance of budgeting.  Creating a written budget has been so freeing.  So many people say, "If I create a budget I won't be able to do the things I want to do."  On the contrary.  If you create a budget you can do the things you want, with peace of mind knowing that you have the money to do it.  As Dave says, "You are telling your money where to go instead of looking up at the end of the month and wondering where it went."

Dave Ramsey's Quick-Start Budget.

Budgeting is nice because it has helped us to see where we over spend each month.  I am putting a very basic budget below.  Visit www.daveramsey.com for other great budgets.

Income $$$
Income $$$
Expenses
Expenses
Tithes
10% of income before taxes
Tithes
10% of income before taxes
YOU (Savings)
5 - 10% of your income before taxes
YOU (Savings)
5 - 10% of your income before taxes
Housing
Housing
Gas/Electric
Water
Food
Food
Fuel
Fuel
Cable
Internet
Cell Phone
Car Payment
Student Loans
Credit Cards
FUN Money
FUN Money
Cousins Wedding
The wedding is in three months.  Start saving a $$ from each paycheck.






















As I said, this is a very basic budget that assumes you get paid twice a month and pay different expenses with each pay check.

I will say that after three months of budgeting Jonathon and I have changed up our Excel spreadsheet a few times.  We are applying the principles from Financial Peace to our specific income situation.

Give it a try!

Always Striving,

Joce

P.S.  I'd love to hear about your budgeting experiences, testimonies, stumbling blocks, Financial Peace.

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Monday, October 13, 2014

Renewal

"Our marriage has been so successful because the wedding day went off without a hitch!"  said NO ONE EVER!

I've been thinking about this a lot lately.  Over the five years that Jonathon and I have been married, we have watched many other couples get married.  Many of these couples have asked for advice about marriage, few have asked for advice about the wedding.  Why is it then, that people put so much emphasis on this one day?  Please hear my heart.  The wedding day is very important because you publicly declare your love and commitment to each other.  The wedding day is important because it gives couples an opportunity to celebrate their love and commitment with family and close friends.  Past that however, the wedding day is simply just that, ONE day.  After you say goodbye to the guests, put away the wedding dress and drop the tux off, you are left with the rest of your life together.  Yet, for this one day, people are willing to end friendships, cause rifts in families, and spend way too much money.  

As I have told you all before, Jonathon and I had a rocky start to our marriage, post wedding.  Did I tell you about the journey to the wedding day?  (PAUSE to scroll previous blog posts)  Well, it looks like I have yet to share.  Haha!

As you already know, Jonathon and I eloped a year before the wedding day.  We went to the Justice of the Peace and got married without telling anyone.  We didn't tell our parents, siblings, or best friends.  We thought it was romantic to run off and get married, but this was not the plan God had for our married life.  God did want us to get married, but he did not want it to be a secret.  God wanted our marriage to be a testimony to HIS love and faithfulness.  But, woo!  The story does not end there.  If you know God, He is all about redeeming time if YOU will allow Him.

Two months into our secret marriage we were both so convicted to tell our family and friends that it was eating away at us.  Jonathon said I would literally beat him up in my sleep.  LOL  I was subconsciously expressing my rage.  Well, enough become enough and we decided to tell our families.  As you would suspect this did not go well.  Our siblings were pretty much okay with it; Happy that we were happy.  Our parents were devastated!

Let me interject the thoughts of my selfish mind here: I knew the parents would be upset, but can't they just be happy for us?  I mean really, I'm married to Jonathon and he is married to me.  Everyone keeps saying, "How could you do this to us?"  "How could you do this to your parents?"  Ummmm...not quite sure what I did to them.  Pretty sure it's my life.

JESUS BE A FENCE around this little girl talking and thinking out the side of her neck!

Two revelations have changed my mind about the thoughts I previously had.
1) When you get married, the center is Christ, husband, and wife.  Around the center, covering you in prayer, offering support, advice (sometimes unwarranted and unwanted (LOL)), and loving you deep are your two families.  As long as you are married, your families will be joined.  Don't break up families over the wedding.  You will need them.  TRUST.

2) I am now a mother of two beautiful children.  My oldest can refuse me a good night kiss and my heart breaks.  How much more did our parents' hearts break when they learned that they had missed one of the most important moments in our lives.  Our parents had raised us, prayed for us, and prayed for our future spouses.  Yes, you are to leave and cleave, but you are NOT to injure.

But my God, my God He is good!  The story does not end there.

So why still have a wedding?  You are already married.  You lied to everyone.  You lied.  Over the course of the next 7.5 months, feelings continued to be bruised.  Shade was thrown on both sides because hurt people, hurt people.  Ideas about floral arrangements, venues, dresses, colors, members of the wedding party, and on and on.  Hurt, hurt, hurt.  Exclusion.  Isolation.  

On the wedding day things began to break.  Relief.  Finally, we had made it to the day.  My uncle shared a beautiful message about forgiveness, renewal, and love.  LOVE at the center.  Jesus at the center.

After the wedding day.  Slowly, slowly, slowly we began to heal.  Four years after the wedding, I believe we are all at a place of true, complete healing.  The journey was not without bumps and thumps.  Jon and I felt increased pressure to share everything.  We had to learn to walk the fine line.  God has redeemed our time.  God has given His glory to our story.  He has used us to speak into the lives of other young couples.  God has allowed us to be able to pray for other couples in a very unique way.

God I thank you for your love and faithfulness.

In parting, I want to encourage you to focus on what is most important when you are getting married.  As much as we would like the wedding to be all about us, it simple is not.  It is not worth destroying relationships with your family or in-laws for the sake of your vision of perfection.  Listen for the still, quiet voice of God.  How does He desire to get the glory on this special day?  Whose heart is He going to touch because of your obedience?  Whose heart will He touch because of this display of love?


Always Striving,

Joce

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Proverbs 25:4 - A Thing of Beauty


Proverbs 25:4 states, "Take the impurities out of silver and the artist can produce a thing of beauty." (GNB)


Displaying image.jpgReading this I am reminded of a comment made by one of my colleagues.  She said, "You can make beauty out of a hot mess!"

I am so thankful today because God sees my value.  God is making beauty out of my hot mess! He has surrounded me with some pretty amazing people to help remove some of my impurities. Father God, you are SO amazing!

Always Striving,
Joce


Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Sleeping With My Anger

After an unresolved argument with my husband, I stomped up the stairs and picked up my journal and Bible.  First, I wrote in my journal:
The Word says that you shouldn't go to sleep mad.  Well, Lord I'm mad.  I wanted to resolve the issue at hand, but Jonathon says he needs time to think.  He doesn't want to say things he'll regret.  That's all well and good, but now I'm going to bed upset!  How is that fair?  

"Okay, I need to go ahead and read my chapter from Proverbs," I told myself.  "Lord, I need a word right now."  I normally look up scripture on my phone and jot down notes electronically, but today I pulled out the old paper and binding.



Hahaha!  Now, because God is who He is, and because I do believe He enjoys helping me to become a better woman and wife in Him, I'm sure He chuckled and said, "Oh, Jocelynn.  My precious child." while watching the Holy Spirit direct me to a page in the Bible.  I kind of thumbed through it until I saw Proverbs at the top of the page.  I opened up the Bible to see a devotional entitled, "Let's Stop Bickering".  Does it get any plainer.  Actually, yes.  As I read through to the bottom of the devotional, I started to question my motives.  I told myself that I went downstairs to talk to Jonathon because we had not really talked all day, but is that really why I went down there?  I felt the tension between us.  If I was truly just trying to talk, why had I come at him with just a hint of hostility in my tone, arms folded, face set to a frown?  The end of the devotional states,



"Proverbs 17:19 says, 'Whoever loves a quarrel loves sin.'  Proverbs 19:13 warns, 'A quarrelsome wife is like the constant dripping of a leaky roof.'  And Proverbs 17:14 states, 'Starting a quarrel is like breaching a dam.'  Constant arguing unleashes a flood of trouble, beginning with spouting words that you may regret.  'Proverbs 21:9 says it's 'Better to live on a corner of the roof than share a house with a quarrelsome wife.'"      -Nancy Kennedy
Tap, tap, tap on the door of conviction in my heart.  "Excuse me, Holy Spirit.  Are you saying I am a quarrelsome wife?  Oh, no.  Not me.  What?!"  I really had to take pause.  My mind stopped working.  I was shocked, but reading this did make me question my motives for going to "talk" to Jonathon.  Was I starting a quarrel?  Hmmmn...probably yes.  LOL

Although I did still go to bed upset, well ... maybe I was more salty at the revelation, I had a new perspective.  I learned that while you shouldn't go to bed angry, you also need to be smart.  I have known Jonathon for 5 years.  He has always been the thinker.  He always needs time to process, everything.  So, why would I go downstairs to "talk" at 10:30 pm?  Clearly I was not using wisdom.  I also was not being respectful of his needs.  Yes, I was upset, but it would have been better to pray and ask God to work on my heart through the night, give me the right words to say, remove my attitude and replace it with true concern and a desire to resolve the issue, open my ears, girdle my tongue, and give me a heart to receive.  The next day we could have discussed the issue at a reasonable hour, Jonathon would have had time to think over the issues and gather his thoughts, allowing us to resolve the issue well before bedtime.

I am so thankful that God loves me enough to work on my heart.  I thank Him for the Proverbs reading challenge.  It is amazing how God works to reveal things in your life, your heart.  His plans are so much greater than ours.  I love it.  I am being blessed, blessed, blessed by this experience.  The lessons I am learning are invaluable.  I am so thankful.  Bursting with love.

Always Striving,

Joce