April 25, 2016

God Dreams and Daring Desires - Acts 5:38-39

I am currently in the middle of reading the New York Times Bestseller Love Does, by Bob Goff. This book contains chapter after chapter of incredible life stories from Bob. He has compiled these stories into this book that now shows millions of others what happens when a person commits their way to God, dares to be fearless, and just has a go. 
I was thinking about my daring dream today as I put Bob's book down to chat with you for a bit. My heart was quickened to this verse. 
"For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God.”

I have a few bold dreams and daring desires in my heart that I am crazy enough to believe God planted there for purpose. I am willing to bet that if you are honest and vulnerable with yourself you would admit to having some of those as well. 
The thing about dreams and desires are that though the seed has been planted in our hearts, it often requires a great deal of work by our hands. Within this verse there are two types of people...those with hands that lack heart and those waiting on the God moment.
As we go about the work of seeing those dreams and desires manifest into reality, I pray that our hands never get disconnected from our hearts-our purpose. 
I believe many great God dreams and daring desires die as people strive to work harder, do more, and be better simply because they have detached their hands from their heart. They are still pursuing those very things God planted in their hearts with their hands they just can't remember why anymore. Or maybe their motive has changed. What was once for Kingdom gain is now for selfish fame. That which was once about seeing people encouraged and championed is now more about how many social media followers their encouraging post has.
Then there are the second group in the verse. Those whose hands and heart are still 110% connected, yet they seem to be at a standstill. They're at a "God better show up" kind of moment. To them I say - Keep going, keep pursuing, and keep believing! What do you have to loose? If it is from God no one will be able to stop it. And if not? What does it hurt to go down as a man or woman who never stopped pursuing the dream. I would much rather be the person who went down fighting than the one who never had the guts to try. 
What is your daring dream that you have lost the passion for or hit a brick wall with? Let this verse encourage you that if God needs to shut you down, He can and will, but what if this week's verse is your commissioning moment to try again, to push one last time {:not with all your might, but with His:}
Selah.
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April 20, 2016

My Singleness VISA - The Single Girl Diaries


The first time I came to Australia in 2011 it was to attend Colour Conference. I got to the airport with my Mama and her friend all ready to check in for our flight – in plenty of time might I add – when the less than chipper check-in madam asked for our VISA.

We could have all pulled out our plastic cards from our purses but that was hardly the VISA they were asking for. They were asking for the VISA that would allow us in to this Australian land and allow us to roam freely with the locals for a bit. But. we didn’t have one. Not only did we not have them, we did not even know we needed one.

Long story short, it was one of the only VISAs the airport actually issues and we got on the plane in the nick of time. {:Praise the Lord:}

One VISA I did not ask for yet somehow obtained would be my singleness VISA. This VISA grants me access to this to speak with, travel along side of , and explore with those of you here as well. And while we are here together, this VISA allows me to share my experiences you, shed some light on my ‘lessons learned’, and even winge at the less than glamorous moments of binge watching Friends while binge eating Ben & Jerrys.

If you are reading this, I am going to make the assumption that you too may be operating with this VISA. This VISA provides us with access into a world that others do not have. We have the opportunity to show others what it means to be a confident and Godly single woman. We have the opportunity to lead other younger single women in how this season can be done well, simply by living this season well. Our VISA grants us the opportunity to speak wisdom, life, and lessons learned into other singles when they have no desire to hear it from those using their marriage VISA.

A VISA is an opportunity to explore, to navigate a new or familiar territory that is not our home, and to seek out new adventure.  The great news for us single girls is that VISAs expire, and one day your singleness VISA will too. You will be issued a new VISA for a new land to explore and seek out adventure in called marriage. But, right now, you have a VISA of singleness in your hand. Why not create adventure and excitement in the land you are living in and bring a few other girls on the journey with you? Traveling is always better with a gal pal!

If this singleness VISA is a temporary gift, what are you going to do with it?

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April 18, 2016

Break the Mold...or Not - Galatians 1:10





Some people love to break the rules. I, however, love rules. I love structure. My housemates make fun of me because when I cook, I am one of those people that measure ever-y-thing. Just guessing and taking a 'shot in the dark' doesn't really work for me.

Similarly, there are some people who hate to be boxed in. They hate the idea of trying to fit into a mold. Once again, I am not one of those people. I really, really, really want to fit the mold.

When I came to Australia to attend college, God quickly decided to address my issue of people pleasing mold fitting. I learned that if there was a mold, I didn't just want to fit it. I wanted to fit it perfectly! I pretty much desired to be all things to all people {:How Christian of me right? – WRONG:}.

You need me to be meek, quiet, reserved, doesn't-have-an-opinion Amber? No problem. I can do that for you.

And you? You need me to be loud, energetic, life-of-the-party Amber? Done.

It took awhile, but the phrase I had heard from the platform many times before, "life for an audience of one," was beginning to drop from my head to my heart.

It has just been a recent revelation God has revealed to me that my desire to fit the mold isn’t as bad as I once thought it was…just misguided.

The desire to fit the mold is actually purposeful and strategic on God’s end. He created me from a perfect mold, yet, instead of aiming to fit and fill out the mold God created me from I was aiming to fit and fill out the world’s mold of perfection.

I believe with all my heart, that before I was created and knit together in my mother’s womb that all my days had been calculated and thought through. And as I was being knit together, my Father knew the personality type, body type, skill set, and quirks that I would need to fulfill everything that He had in for me, for all of my days. So, He made a mold and called it Amber Miller.

Sadly, for years I despised this mold because she didn’t have the sweet, quiet, ‘doormat’ type of personality I though she should have or the long lean legs the magazines showed. But I am not sweet and quiet because He needs someone with a little sass for His Kingdom’s sake and I do not have long lean legs because, well that’s mostly because I am short and I like ice cream – but I digress. You get the point though right?

We can seek the approval of the world in their relentless, never-ending, pursuit of unachievable perfection or we can seek the approval of God by going ‘all in’ to fill out the mold He has designed and purposed for us. The choice is yours, but one will lead to striving and a downward mental spiral that will leave you with mounds of self-loathing, self-hating, and self-degrading thoughts while the other will leave you with a satisfaction that cannot fully be expressed in words.

So I am not going to end this post and just ask which you want – the choice should be obvious. Instead, I am going to ask: What one thing you are going to do about it today?
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April 14, 2016

GUYS, I Think My Scale is Broken



Before my Monday morning coffee, before my Jesus time, before I can even manage to utter a word to a sole in my house, I crawl out of the bed and head to the bathroom for my weekly weigh in. And guess what...MY SCALE IS BROKEN!!!

I have put my tooshie on that scale week after week and that blessed red needle just isn't moving! Not up, not down, not anywhere. I am half convinced that I could put a 5 pound bag of sugar on the thing and it would still say the same number as when I get on.

Now, I only weigh myself once a week because, as I have told you, I have a bit of an obsessive personality. Once a week is enough to keep me on track but not too much to leave me obsessing. That really has nothing to do with my broken scale. I just thought I would throw that out there...moving on.

I am eating well, I am running and exercising consistently, I am drinking water, I am sleeping and yet that red needle refuses to budge.  Each Monday I get on that scale and stare at that same number - I have a choice. I can give up. I can make excuses. Or, I can say a quick "thank you, Jesus" that the needle at least didn't go any further to the right.

Not seeing the number on the scale move at all {:especially after I have told you all about Operation 30:} could cause me to give up and reach for the next jar of Nutella, and the struggle is all too real my friends. But I can't give up because this isn't a fad for me. It didn't take me 3 months to get out of shape so it certainly is going to take more than 3 months for me to get in great shape. I am not dedicated to a number. I am dedicated to a process and a lifestyle. It also makes it easier to not give up when you identity isn't in that number either, but that is another post for another day.

I could also make excuses. I could make excuses that I sit in class all the time and most days I have 12-13 hour days filled with work, class, ministry, and catchups with people. I could make excuses that I have health issues I am battling that make it more difficult to loose weight. I could blame it on the fact that my housemates are all twigs and eat a diet of Starbursts and Apple Pie and one girl can only have so much self-control. I can make excuses all day and some of them are pretty legitimate, but excuses don't create change...but a new mindset will.

Before I set foot on that scale I remind myself that if that number is going to cause me to feel defeated or going to cause me to feel less I am not stepping on the scale. I am not less of a person or more of a person because of where that red needle lands. My identity is secure and locked up in Christ alone. However, I am committed to a journey, regardless of this stupid scale because my body is the only place I will live forever.

So be encouraged - pick your health motto, and simply refuse to quit. One of the best feelings in the world is proving to yourself you can!
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April 13, 2016

3 Dating Myths Christians Should Kiss Goodbye

I had a my Single Girl Diaries post all ready to go for you today. But, yesterday in class a friend of mine and I got to talking about relationships and the struggle to date in the atmosphere we find ourselves in - church.

He shared this article with me and it says everything I would want to tell you...only a lot better and more eloquently.

So here it is...if you check it out, I promise it will not disappoint.

3 Dating Myths Christians Need to Kiss Goodbye

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April 11, 2016

Let Go - Verse of the Week


It was a sunny day. Summer was drawing to a close. As the sun scorched down on my perfectly thought-through outfit choice, I found my 21 year old self outside, with 5 other adults, and in charge of 120+ 5 and 6 year olds. It was my first day as a teacher.

We were out at recess and this particular day, I was the teacher designated to watch out for all the little ones on the monkey bars. This job would also be known by many of you as "low man on the totem pole shift".  This happened to be the piece of equipment where the most band-aids were necessary and the most "keep you hands to yourself," and "stop pushing" comments were spoken.

While I stood at the monkey bars, I watched students anxiously wait their turn as they stood in a line 20-30 kids long. Fiver year old after five year old would climb the three rung ladder to lay hold of that first monkey bar. Then, without fail there was a pause. A pause of anticipation and fear. A pause of "can I really do this?" Some would climb back down in defeat and fear while others would push of the ladder into the adventure.

This week's verse reminds me a lot of those sweet little ones on the monkey bars. We see the adventure  others are having as they "swing" through life on the monkey bars of purpose and calling with Jesus. So, we get in line with anticipation and excitement. Then, it is our turn to take a swing. We stand on the top rung of the ladder. We place of nervously sweat palms around the first monkey bar ready to swing, but we can't decide if we will push off the ladder into the unknown adventure ahead or rather if the security and predictability of what we already know {:our comfort zone:} is a better option.

The tension between pushing out into what could be great with uncertainty and staying where we are where everything is completely certain.

I find myself in that place quite often these days. But there are a few lesson's I learned from my recess duty days of monkey bars that apply quit perfectly to this verse.

1) If You Decide to Swing, He Will Hold You

I never forced one of my students to swing, but if they decided they were committing to the monkey bar path ahead only to realize they were not actually strong enough to do so, I would wrap my arms around their waist and bear the majority of their weight so they could go the distance.

How true is this of the very nature of Jesus? He invites us, never forces us, into adventures that lie ahead. The invitation to allow our feet to leave the security of what we have already seen and know and to swing into the great unknown. Often, those adventures require more of us than we have to give. Yet, when we commit to the adventure, fear and all, we find that in our weakness and inability to complete the adventure alone that we have a Jesus who wraps His arms around us and bears our weight along the way.

2) There is Encouragement for the Journey

Relentlessly, about halfway across the journey {:even though my arms were still tightly wrapped around their waist:} they would become tiered and weary. They would look down and realize that if they were to fall, it would hurt. It was in the middle that I would softly speak encouragement into their little ears: "You are doing so good, buddy! Keep going." "Wow, sweetie! Look how far you have come. You are so strong."

It is always that halfway point that strikes fear in us isn't it? We realize the end isn't all that close, but neither is where we came from. We feel stranded in the middle of our "swing". We aren't sure we have the energy to move forward, but it would take just as much energy to go back. And down? Well, that would really hurt.

It is in that place that, if we listen, we hear encouragement from the Father: "Don't look down. You are doing so well. I am proud of you!" "Keep going. You have got this, because I've got you!"

Just like my students did as I whispered encouragement, we realize that we can keep going when we hear His words because although we may have forgotten, His arms are still wrapped tightly around our waist.

3) Our "Swing" will Inspire the Next "Swing"

I loved watching the dances of victory and the smiles of satisfaction the students would display after climbing down the ladder at the other end of the monkey bars. Most of the students would then run back to the end of the line to try again. While they were waiting, they would share with a friend in line how they did it and encouraged them that they could do it too.

When we finish our swing across the monkey bars, our story is to inspire the "swing" of those around us...and ourselves. It is our story of triumph and victory for others to take the plunge into the new thing and away from the old and comfortable through Jesus. And, it is our triumphant story to remind ourselves of when we go to the next set of monkey bars ,that is a little bit higher and a little bit scarier, that we can do it again because He has called us to it. We have the triumphs of our first swing to stand on.

What is God calling you to 'Let Go' of so you can lay hold of the new adventure and "swing" that lies ahead?



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April 6, 2016

The Art of Abiding...Even in the Single Season - The Single Girl Diaries



"I am the vine; you are the branches. If you abide in me and I in you,  you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing" - John 15:5

Over Colour Conference, a massive women's conference my church hosts, I had a fresh revelation of this verse {:which also happened to be this week's verse:}. It is one I knew well and possibly had committed to memory even without writing it on a notecard and reading it everyday - as I am in the habit of doing to commit more scripture to memory.

It was a verse I knew well, but one that lacked genuine meaning in my own heart. It was simply a verse.Yet,  over the conference that verse gained roots and meaning in my heart. 

I had a revelation in "the art of abiding" if you will. God has spoken to many areas of my life through this verse in the past few weeks, but one of those areas is singleness - as you may have guessed since this is {:hello!:} obviously The Single Girl Diaries.

In life there are many season we find ourselves in where we seem to need to build a house instead of merely pitching a tent, as we had hoped. Seasons we are in that we thought would be brief, yet have ended up months, years, even decades longer than we expected. 

In 2010 I made a commitment to myself, and to God, that I would no longer eat chocolate until the day I got married - instead I would pray for my husband in those moments where everyone else is enjoying that melt-in-your-mouth goodness. It was a great idea at the time...I just had no idea how long I would have to live my life chocolate-less. It was a commitment I was expecting to have to uphold for two or three years max...not 6 and counting! {:A girl needs her chocolate, Jesus!:}

As I was sitting and tossing over this verse in my mind I realized that in this single season, though it may be years longer than I had anticipated, I am learning the art of abiding. One day, I will need that same art in my marriage. 

It was yet again, in that moment of quiet time with my Father, that He confirmed that no lesson learned in the waiting season is ever found lacking or without a cause. One day I will be married, and the same way I have learned to abide in my Father is the same way I will abide in my marriage - in the slow seasons, in the struggle, in the less than fairytale moments. I will abide in my marriage because I will abide in Him, my Father, and through Him he will give me strength and courage to abide in even the most difficult of moments and seasons. 

I don't know why you or I are in this season longer than we anticipated, but I do know that one day we will be better wives if we simply learn the art of abiding. 

So maybe today we take a break from the complaining and the ice cream pity party and just simply commit that this day, instead, we will simply learn to abide - because one day we will need this skill in our marriage as well.



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April 4, 2016

John 15:5 - Verse of the Week


abide:: to stay or live somewhere; to remain or continue.

I was in a worship session recently that was like none other that I have experienced. A group of well-known worship leaders were leading us in a song called "Good, Good Father".  I had heard this song before, and loved it, but something about this song, in this moment stirred my heart. Then, it was Holy Spirit's words that he whispered to my soul that caused me to come completely undone.

"You forgot that I am good."

I believe I have shared with you that Holy Spirit does not normally talk to me with words like 'sweet girl', 'baby' and 'lovely' because I am more of a straight shooter. I prefer to just be told what I need to hear - skip the fluff. 

But this time, it was different. It was a soft voice {:not an audible one, just one I could sense deeply in my spirit - this is usually how Holy Spirit speaks:} and a voice that almost sounded on the verge of tears as He spoke.

                                                         "You forgot that I am good."

In all of my do-ing - my desire to steward well the things he has put in my hands; building my character into a person worthy of the future He has for me; juggling work, ministry and school well; making sure I am reading the Word, praying, and reading books to equip myself - I forgot who He is. I forgot the very essence of His character while I was trying to improve mine.

In all the stuff, I forgot that He was good. I was undone, and am even having a hard time keeping from the ugly, uncontrollable, can't-see-my computer-screen cry as I type. I know it sounds so simplistic and basic, but I simply forgot to abide in him. 

When you live in him - when He is the place you take shelter, when He is the place you remain - you can't help but to know He is good. What place do you know better than the one you live? 

And when you know He is good, then from there you can do everything else.

You might expect me to tell you that I realized I had to stop do-ing, but that is not true. I still believe I am meant to do all of those things. They are all good things, but in doing the good things I forgot the one who good gets its definition. Now, I just do them from a different place. 

I have learned to study and work and pray from a place of knowing that He is good and because He is good I don't have to worry about the days when I can't do it all or get it all right. I just simply abide in Him and know that He is good in every season. It is from that place, it is from that posture - posture of abiding - that I have the strength to actually do and be. 

Have you forgotten to abide? Have you too, forgotten He is good? He is so, so good friend and he loves you so much. Take a few minutes to listen to this song, not singing, but allowing the message and the truth of His goodness sink into your heart in a new way.


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