Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Walking Confidently into Your Calling

Friends, I'm sharing the message my friend, Sara Bunting, shared this past Friday at our Shoulder to Shoulder event.  

God has truly blessed me with her friendship - we've known each other for over 15 years and I can truly tell you that she is just as beautiful on the inside as she is on the outside.

Her heart for people, women especially, is genuine...
Her prayer is that women would know the love God has for them and for them to know, no matter where they are in life, they are not alone.
She, too, believes that we are better together and encourages us to stand shoulder to shoulder to close the gaps between us!

She is the wife to our lead pastor, Mark, mother to 5, but most importantly, a daughter of the King!!!

I have personally had the privilege of watching her step into her calling over the past year and I am one proud friend!!!  

Please show her some love!!!

For those who missed Ladies Night last Friday, here is the testimony I intended to share (but if you were there—you know that there was a change of plans) I wanted to share it today....

I was a blonde-haired, blue eyed, shy little girl, too little to understand what it meant to move from our home in Charlotte, NC to a new home to prepare to go into missions. When my parents would talk about it, it just sounded like a fun adventure! Little did I know that between the ages of 5-14 we would move over 9 times.
I spent my elementary and middle school years in a country called, Papua New Guinea. You are probably wondering where in the world is that? It is an island located just north of Australia in the southwestern Pacific Ocean. It is a third-world country and the economy is very underdeveloped. The majority of the people live in huts, without electricity and farm the land.
My family moved to PNG to be support missionaries to the tribal missionaries. We lived in a fenced community called Numonohi which housed 50-60 families which provided a school, store, medical clinic, print shop, among other things. It was a tight knit community and being as young as I was when we arrived, at the age of 7, I embraced it fully as HOME. We had prepared for so long that it felt as if I had finally arrived at what would be my forever home.

So, when my parents told me that God was calling us back to the U.S. in the year of 1998 at the age of 14—I was devastated. Funny enough, the U.S. was no longer the place that was familiar—it was quite foreign to me. We moved to Hebron, MD in August of 1998, knowing very little about the area, knowing no one here and leaving a lot of our earthly belongings behind—it was a pure step of faith.
It was a tough journey for me “finding my place” “fitting in” in this new place in the Fall of my freshman year. I worked hard to be open to CHANGE, but it wasn’t easy. I was guarded, hurt and felt very alone. It wasn’t until my sophomore year that I began to press into Jesus and trust Him again and things began to change.

With all of the moving and changes in my early years, in my adult years I have struggled with CHANGE. I despise stepping out of what is comfortable because I did so much of it early on in my life. I love the FAMILIAR, the BUBBLE, CONSISTENCY AND PREDICTABILITY are my best friends. 
Any change that God has called me to in my adult life has challenged my security—it has made me believe that I am not enough. I am just a girl. What do I have to offer? Lacking confidence, putting up walls and feeling very insecure.

Two years ago, the Lord was nudging me out of my comfort zone to lead the women of Emmanuel, to start this women’s ministry—Shoulder to Shoulder. Shoulder to Shoulder is based on Zephaniah 3:9 “I will purify the lips of the peoples, so that all of them may call on the name of the Lord and serve Him Shoulder to Shoulder.” I have been called to bring the women of Emmanuel together—to close the gaps between us so that we can encourage and build each other up—providing support and accountability—so that we can serve the women in our community together. I fought the pull for a good six months before I was willing to entertain God’s call.

When God calls—the enemy is threatened. It’s as if a red flag has gone up and you are now on the enemy’s radar because he fears who you will be in the hands of God.
1 Peter 5:8 says, “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”
He loves to be loud and cause chaos, and as the “father of lies” he begins to tell you all that you are not—trying to silence the call of God on our lives. He knows my triggers—he knows I hate change and if he can get into my mind and bring attention to my areas of weakness—he has the potential to immobilize me.

This is what he says—
“You are just a girl—who is going to listen to you—no one will catch your vision for this ministry.”
“You can’t even manage the 5 kids you have, how will you be able to lead the women of this church, you are not enough.”

The enemy is good at telling us all that we are not—so if we are ever going to walk out in what God is calling us to do—we have to stop believing the lies of all that we are not and trust the God who is!!!
It brings us to a place of SURRENDER—we have to come to the end of ourselves and say, “God, here I am—all that I am—all that I am not—my weaknesses and my brokenness.” When we lay it bare before Him—then there is room for God to fill us—fill us with love, grace, truth, a new name, a new identity. He replaces all that we are not with all that He is.

2 Corinthians 12:9 says, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”
It is in admitting our weakness (the not enough/all that we are not) and giving it to God that we can receive His power at work in us.

In John 6, we read of the miracle performed with a little boy’s lunch—Jesus was teaching and healing people that day and a large crowd had gathered to hear him. After teaching most of the day, the people were getting hungry. Jesus asked, “where should we buy bread for these people?” Philip responds, “we will never have enough money to feed these people.” Andrew speaks up and says a young boy has offered his lunch—5 small loaves and 2 small fish. His small lunch for a very big need.

Can I ask you—what is God asking from you that you continue to withhold from Him because you feel what you have to offer is not enough?
You are looking at yourself and all that you have to offer—just doesn’t measure up to what God’s called you to do.

But, what Jesus does next—He takes the boy’s small, insignificant lunch—gives thanks and performs a miracle by providing more that enough food for over 5,000 people!!!

When God calls,we usually look to self first and see that we are not enough for the task at hand—but if we would learn to look to God first—we would see that His resources are limitless! And as His daughters we have complete access to them!
It’s never about the little we have—it’s always about the potential of what our little can become in the hands of our God!

So, we have to come to the place where—when distracted by the enemy’s schemes—when we begin to believe the lies that we will never measure up, we will never be enough—we say “Do you know who my Daddy is?”
When we know our Father and what He says about us—we can walk confidently into what He has called us to do!!!

Beth Moore says, “we are going to have to let truth scream louder to our souls than the lies that have infected us.”

“You are not enough”— “Christ came to make us enough”— he makes us whole and fills all of our gaps!
Colossians 2:10 “you have been given FULLNESS in Christ who is the head over every power and authority.”

You don’t know enough”—“I will provide all that you need” (Philippians 4:19)

“You won’t ever measure up because of what you have done.”—“your past does not define you! God is writing a new story—you have a new name!”
2 Corinthians 5:17 “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a NEW CREATION; the old has gone, the new has come.”

“I can’t do this alone”—“you are not alone!”
Isaiah 41:10 “Do not fear for I AM WITH YOU, do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

“Who am I? What do I have to offer?”—“you are my child—fully known and set apart for a purpose that only you can fulfill.”
Jeremiah 1:5. “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”

It’s only by the grace of God that I can walk in all that He has called me to be—a wife to Mark, a mom to my 5 children and the leader of Shoulder to Shoulder Women’s Ministry. 

Let’s walk in the confidence of who we are in Christ and let His truth scream louder than the lies!!! 
I am enough!

This is the declaration that Sara wrote for our Shoulder to Shoulder women:
Read this over and over until you believe who God says YOU are.  And then declare it over another woman in your life and remind her of who God says she is!!!

Saturday, October 6, 2018

Lies vs Truth

I have the honor of being on the leadership team for Shoulder to Shoulder, the women's ministry at our church, Emmanuel Wesleyan!  We had our 3rd event last evening and I'm still in awe of just how GOOD God is and how when you come expecting, He always delivers and THEN some!!!

This photo doesn't even capture all the women there - but what it shows is what we continuously pray for - women of all ages, colors, and background standing shoulder to shoulder worshiping together, supporting each other, coming together to encourage and build each other up!  

Sara, our fearless leader, asked me a bit ago if I would be willing to speak, to share a little of my heart...and my initial response was, "ME?!?"  Because if there is one thing Jenny Harsin hates to do it's public speaking...and public speaking in front of a room full of women?!?  Ummmmm...can we just say intimidating?!?  But I knew she asked me for a reason and I needed to follow through, BUT did giver her the heads up that she may very well regret asking me!  

As I sat down to write out what God was laying on my heart, it was this thought that kept coming to mind:  God says tell them who I am...and it's The I AM who tells me who I am, who WE are!!  Imagine my surprise when just last week as we were going over last minute details for order of service I noticed the songs I was going to be speaking between were "Who You Say I Am" and "You Say!" 

ok, God.  
I hear you!  

And here is proof that I followed through!

I don't know how I managed to actually get up on that stage, in front of ALL those ladies, but I did it!  

And even if I feel like I made no sense whatsoever, I had several ladies come up to me afterwards just thanking me for my transparency and asked if it was recorded (it was not) I thought I would share on here!  Maybe someone else needs to hear these words, too!  

We ARE better together, friends!!!  And sometimes that means TOTALLY stepping out of your comfort zone.  So, pretend you are sitting in the audience!


3lbs 3 ½ ounces 17 inches.
I started out small. 

Twin B!

This a fun fact in case you didn’t already know it about me – yes, I have a twin sister -
Twin “A” known as Melanie to most, Mello to me!
She was 5lbs 10 ½ ounces and 20 inches.

Even from the start, I was set apart.
I didn’t quite measure up. 

One doctor deemed me as “failure to thrive,” but I sure proved him wrong!

My mom shared this picture of Mello the nurses put on my incubator with a note reminding me I needed to eat so I could grow.  While she was able to come home, I stayed until I was 6 weeks and 1 day old – I had to reach 5lbs until I could be released. 

So – here I was, tiny but mighty AND finally home! 

While I was still the smaller one - I was the leader.  I was the encourager.  It was me showing my "bigger" sis what to do!

Fast forward to 4 years old and I’m still not “catching up” to my twin.

That’s when my pediatrician knew something wasn’t quite right and I actually ended up being a patient at John Hopkins Hospital…and spent many years in the Pediatric Endocrine Unit.  I was diagnosed with Renal Tubular Acidosis – a kidney dysfunction - and spent years under observation; test, scans, lab work, and medication.  It was at the age 13 – I was released as a patient once again.

This time not expected to grow anymore; I was officially told I had reached my full height.
 4ft 9 ½ in.

Just keeping it real – I round that UP to 4’ 10.

And here is what I remember:
I remember it being no real big deal.
This is me.
And it’s all good.

And then high school came.
And I just continued to get in where I fit in.
Which was with everyone!

I became a Christian at a young age and it’s just always been part of who I am.
I never tried to hide it or pretend to be someone other than me – I was known for what I believed in and everyone just accepted me as me.

I was even voted homecoming princess in 9th and 10th grade!

But High School also became a time where I started being called out for my size – remember … I have a twin and aren’t twins supposed to be the same?!  I was constantly being measured up to her size – she’s 5’ 6 by the way. However, we also have an older sister, Amy, who was a senior when we came in as a freshman…and she and her friends would step in when someone wanted to make fun of me for my size. 

I had (still have) a friend, Tan – she was as big as I was small and I think she felt it was her job to be my bodyguard.  From elementary school even to this day – I have no doubt that if Tan knew someone had anything to say about me – she would take it up with them!

And I had an army of drummer brothers – they didn’t let anyone mess with me!  That’s right - - - another fun fact – I LOVE marching bands!  My freshman year I was a “pom girl” and because of my size, I was right in the front leading off.  And just keeping it real – Jenny doesn’t do cold so those outfits just weren’t working for me.  So sophomore year I decided I wanted to go a different route – I was going to be IN the band because those uniforms were warmer and I could layer up underneath … and  since I was already in the percussion section I was able to join the drumline – and I played the “bells” … ummm yeah - those things are HEAVY and in case you forgot, Jenny still didn’t do cold.  So you can imagine that was a whole lot of fun for me…minus the fun! 

I had this support system in school, that while they recognized my size, they just loved “me” and were not going to let anyone treat me different because I didn’t meet the “standard or average.” 
Whatever that is anyway….
And I just let my little light shine!

But you see – what had happened was…life!!!  
Here we are, current day – 37 years old  - - - and I’m here to tell you that as much as we may try to get in where we fit in – the enemy fights even harder.

BUT - he’s trying to get in where he for sure doesn’t fit in.

And sometimes, that little light just might not shine as bright as it once had.

For me, as I’ve gotten older, there is a constant battle I have with those voices in my head – you know what I’m talking about, right??
If we would take a minute to be completely transparent, I think everyone can admit they have them.

And I don’t know what yours are telling you – but mine come to tell me that:
I’ll never measure up.
That my size will always be the 1st thing people notice about me.
That I’ll never be recognized as a wife, much less a mother. 
That my voice is small and no one needs to, or let’s be honest, wants to hear what I have to say.

These voices, these lies are overwhelming at times.  
And something I have to constantly keep in check.

As I was preparing for this message, I actually sent a text to a few of my friends asking what their first impression of me was.

None of their answers had anything to do with my size.
True story.

But after sharing their answers they each asked Why?
So I told them I was going to be speaking on the lies I allow the enemy to throw at me and my size is a constant one I have to keep in check.  And where they each said that’s something they obviously “noticed” – it’s not what comes to mind when they think of me.

But yet it’s still something I battle.
Crazy how that works right?!?

Especially when it comes to being a wife and a mom, an employee…

Sometimes, it’s just seeing a photo and it being in my face that I just don’t look like the wife or mom.

Sometimes, it’s a pity party for one when I’m in the kids department…shopping for myself.

Sidenote: We have 2 girls, Ryleigh (14) who is 5’ 3 and Tatum (10) who is 5’ 1.
They obviously get their height from their mama!!

But most of the times – it’s the words.
It’s the questions.

It’s others thinking that I am another of Phil’s daughters and the awkward silence when I say nope, I’m the wife.

It’s having to speak over an intercom and have calls come flooding in asking when they started letting kids work there or who was playing with helium.

Confidence is silent.
Insecurities are loud.

Can anyone relate?
The voices you hear may not be the same ones coming at me – but you hear them the same…am I right?!

We have a choice, friends!
We can choose to give power to those voices or we can learn to tune out the enemy and only seek out the voice of God.

God spends a lot of time in the Bible telling us who we are.
It’s almost like he knew we were going to doubt ourselves.
Women especially.

I am here to remind you tonight that it is His voice that speaks truth!
That’s worth repeating - - - It is God’s voice that speaks truth.

The devil is a liar. 
And the voice he whispers in our head is just that – a lie.

And if we listen long enough to those voices about who we should be, we grow deaf to the beauty of who we already are.  We stop listening to the voice of God.

If we listen long enough to those lies, the enemy knows he can isolate us.  
He can intimidate us. 

A favorite scripture of mine is 2 Corinthians 10:5 - We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

Did you catch that?!?
We have to take EVERY thought captive and make it obedient to Christ. 
We need to have us some “come to Jesus” meetings!!!

God’s voice is written down in truth and His words remind us over and over and over when the lies come flooding in. 

John 15:15 – I am called Friend
1 Thessalonians 1:4 – I am called Chosen
Ephesians 2:10 – I am called His handiwork – created to do good works
Matthew 5: 14 – I am called the LIGHT of the world
Galatians 3:26 – I am called Child of God
John 8:36 – I am called FREE
Psalm 139:14 – I am called fearfully and wonderfully made

If you’re like me – stop thinking about what you think others see in you. 
We need to work on being less image conscious…and if anything, be most concerned with whether or not others see Jesus in us!!!

I want to confidently say, “Use me, God!”
Just as I am, right where I am. 
But willing to constantly be molded to “grow” into what he has called ME to do!  (see what I did there?!?  I may have physically stopped growing years ago, but will ALWAYS be growing spiritually! )

And I want to encourage you to have that same attitude.
Because here’s the deal - You had a purpose before anyone had an opinion!!!

YOU were made ON purpose FOR a purpose!!

Stop comparing yourself to what others are doing or achieving.
There is no competition. 

It is a privilege to do what God has entrusted me to do.
And you need to know that He has entrusted you as well, my friends!
He has given you a purpose that only YOU can fulfill!
Do NOT let the voices tell you you are not good enough because I am here to tell you that if can use me – He can use You!

One size does NOT fit all, BUT Jesus fits ALL sizes!

In closing, I want to leave you with three thoughts.  
Three areas I want to encourage you to work on if you are struggling with the idea of “Who am I, God?!”

1 - Surround Yourself – at home, at work, at church, your friends

We are not meant to go through life alone – we really are better together!!!

While we may not get to choose WHAT we go through in life, we can choose WHO we go through it with!

I have a husband who loves me.  ME!!  He is always telling me he wouldn’t change one thing.  He absolutely HATES it when I get on my tippy toes for a hug or kiss – he will actually put his hands on my shoulders and push me down…He is constantly building up what I tend to want to tear down.

At work –Find ways to make your space reflect YOU!  Mine is bright and filled with the things I love the most.  

I spend more waking hours at work than I do at home during the week so I need to be able to look up and see the reminders of who I am and why I do what I do.  I have pictures and scriptures and notes of encouragement everywhere!!!  And I keep worship cds that I’ll put in and once my headphones get on, my work friends know I might just burst out in song at anytime…this is NOT a good thing.  You all may be thinking by this point that speaking isn’t my thing, but for sure – singing isn’t one of my things either!

At church – I want to encourage you to find some way to get involved!  Get involved with serving, with Adopt a Block, or with a small group!  We are SO thankful you are a part of Shoulder to Shoulder, but true relationships are built on a smaller level!  Get in where you fit in and make some new friends!

And with your support system – your friendships – you really need to be seeking those friends in your life who are like minded.  Who are seeking Jesus right along with you and will keep you accountable to walk out your purpose! This is not to say you cannot have friends who are not Christians, but your closest friends should truly be the ones who will speak truth to you at all times.  Those who will walk with you in the good times and the not so good times.

2 - Shine –  If you’ve taken nothing else away, I want you to remember this quote – The lanterns are different but the light is the same!

God has created each of us as a unique masterpiece! Yes, it’s true - - - we come in ALL shapes, sizes, and color and yet we have ALL been given a light within us to shine!
A light to shine to the world!

Can you imagine what it would look like for 200+ women from EWC shining their lights?  What that would look like in our homes, in our workplace, in our city?!

There may be times you feel like a nightlight and there may be times you are feeling like a floodlight – no matter where you are in your journey, I want you to start shining the light that reflects all the goodness of Jesus!

3 - Speak Life -

Read His words over and over. 
Sing His words over and over.
Speak His words over and over. 

No breath is ever wasted when you speak about the goodness of the Lord.  

When the enemy throws his lies your way – tell him, nope not today!  When you fill your head with good things your mouth will follow. 

God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM!” This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I AM has sent me to you.’”

God says tell them “I am!”
And it’s the “I am” who tells me who I AM –
Tells us who we are…

We ARE a FRIEND of God!
We ARE HIS Handiwork, created to do good works!
We ARE the LIGHT of the world!
We ARE a CHILD of God!
We ARE Strong AND Courageous! 
We ARE able to do ALL things through Christ who strengthens us!
We ARE Fearfully and wonderfully made!

And God - I believe what you say of me!!!


Friends, I hope you realize there are people in your life who truly are there to help carry the load - to stand shoulder to shoulder with you!  Sometimes, those people may not come packaged how you expect, but God uses us all!!!