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2017 Ain’t Over Yet!

Let me tell you, my 2017 was HARD! But you know what? It’s okay. I’m not running from it. A young lady in the store said to me, “I can’t wait for the year to be over!” Is that your sentiment too? Y’all, 2017 ain’t over yet. If your year was hard, I want you to rejoice and celebrate because you are here. You are an overcomer. You still stand. So while we are still in 2017, give God a shout of PRAISE that you made it!

 

Have you seen them? My social media feeds have been FULL of them; all the promises that 2018 claims to hold.

 

It’s Your Year

 

Strong, Healthier, Wiser

 

The Year You Finally Go For It

 

The Year You Say Yes To More Happiness, Friends, and Love

 

Your Year To Sparkle

 

[bctt tweet=”Cute memes filled with sparkle, shine and happy don’t always translate into days filled with peace, progress, productivity and joy.” username=”inspiredfully”] And while the start of a new year may be a welcomed invitation for a do over, it can also induce fear, anxiety and failure. So let me tell you right now, I am praying for you. I pray you aren’t feeling pressured with the end of 2017 chomping at the bit. Yes, the close of the year is fast approaching. In fact, including today there are just 4 days left in this year. If the thought of that makes your pulse quicken, PAUSE. Take a few deep, cleansing breaths. Remember that the Lord created the world and every thing in it in a mere six days. So here’s the plan for FINISHING 2017 In 3 Easy Steps.

 

Step 1: No Condemnation

 

Conviction is from God. Condemnation is from the devil. The enemy of your soul wants you to accept his lies as truth. He wants to sow seeds of doubt, discouragement and dissolution. But God wants HIS truth to liberate you. And the TRUTH says, Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death (Romans 8:1-2).

 

Step 2: Focused Reflection

 

Grab a pen and spend a few quiet moments of focused reflection. One of the hallmarks of successful people is to review their year. So let’s close out 2017 by gaining insight through purposeful reflection. Then use that wisdom as a springboard for launching into 2018. Did you have ONE WORD for 2017? Reflect on how that word manifested this year. Then answer the following questions:

 

What great accomplishment did God perform through me this year?

 

What new thing did I learn this year?

 

What one thing would I have done differently?

 

What was my biggest challenge?

 

What caught me by surprise this year?

 

What was my biggest lesson learned?

 

In what ways did I grow emotionally and spiritually?

 

How am I different this year than last year?

 

For what am I most grateful for this year?

 

What was one key relationship from this year?

 

What is one thing from this year that I need to let go of?

 

 

So what if you find this year did not go as planned? Well, you’ve had an opportunity then for scripture to come alive in your life. The Word says a man’s heart plans his way but it is the Lord that directs his steps (Proverbs 16:9). Remember, no condemnation. Celebrate the successes you did have. You made it this far and that is evidence enough that a miracle has taken place. You are a walking, talking miracle.

 

Step 3: Prayer

 

How sweet it is to commune with God in prayer. As you pour your heart out to God, He will pour into you. As you reflect on 2017, thank Him. Thank Him that you lived to see another year. Thank Him specifically for the myriad of ways he provided for you in 2017. Thank Him for protecting you in 2017. Thank Him for prospering you. Thank Him for being your healer, redeemer and way maker all year long. Ask Him for insight, revelation, and direction. Ask Him for the discipline, courage and fortitude to carry out what He whispers to your heart.

 

Set your heart on making these last few days of the year count BIG. And you know what? I know that you can do it. You will not look at these last four days and be overwhelmed. You will not use these last four days to condemn yourself for whatever happened the other 361 days of 2017. Through focused reflection and prayer you will be firmly established to conclude this year in a way that honors God and honors yourself. You WILL have a strong finish to your 2017. It ain’t over yet!

 

As always, it is my prayer that you’ve been Inspired To Live Fully!

 

Happy to connect with these friends sharing the Good News Mommy Moments, Purposeful Faith, Chasing Community, Salt & Light, Grace & Truth, Faith N Friends

 

(First appeared on Inspired Life December 28, 2016 but revised and updated)

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The Dream of You: A candid chat with Jo Saxton

You ever have God do a 1-2 on you? I’m talking about a time you walked into something expecting one thing, to have Him completely turn it around and do another?

This happened to me when I picked up a copy of The Dream of You by author, speaker and leader Jo Saxton. I went into the book thinking, “Oh this will be a nice read” and I left the book changed. I left the book with my identity renewed. I left the book with a NEW NAME!

So imagine my delight when I was offered the opportunity to interview this powerful woman of God. I have been following Jo for some time. Can I be honest with ya’ll though and tell you what first drew me to her….ok lean in and let me whisper it to you…Here it is…I was overcome with emotion to see her brown face being prominently displayed with authority, grace and power in an arena where there few. I rejoiced that she was in this place of influence to break barriers and to build bridges because indeed we are one family in the body of Christ. Since then I’ve just grown to love her. She shares the gospel in a way that is funny, candid and approachable. So without further ado, let’s hear from Jo as we talk about her new book, The Dream of You.

Jo, I’m so excited to be holding a copy of The Dream of You in my hands. Tell us, what prompted you to write this book?

When I spoke at conferences or in coaching sessions I met many women wrestling in their faith. They loved God, they sought to be faithful, but they could never get past their past. Or they were confused about who they were and their place in a rapidly changing world. A number of women felt they had lost their voice, some felt they never had it to lose. They were stuck and God has so much more for them! I wanted to put something into people’s hands that showed them that God can rewrite our stories. I want to help them rediscover God’s dream for their lives and His vision for their purpose, so they can live in freedom.

Break it down for us…What does “The Dream of You” mean?

The Dream of You is God’s vision for your identity and purpose. It’s about how God made you, your personality, your gifts and celebrates them. It’s about the voice and the contribution he’s given you to share in your world.

When I got my copy and read the back cover, it asked a poignant question.  It said are you ready? In the tiny phrase was packed so much. What keeps women from being ready to embrace their authentic God identity?

I think our life experiences and relationships have a profound impact on our lives. We grow up surrounded by definitions and expectations on what makes us valuable as women, on our potential and purpose. We’re told how we need to look, and how we should think, what we should do with our lives. Even our wider culture has multiple (and often conflicting) opinions about our womanhood. All these leave an imprint on us. It’s hard to embrace what God says about you when the voices for your culture, relationships and experiences are so loud.

How does the view we hold of ourselves impact our relationships?

We human beings never live beyond what we believe about ourselves, so the view we have has a critical role in how we live, including our relationships. So for example if we believe we are inadequate and unworthy of love, it can affect us in a number of ways. We feel that love has to be earned, so work harder, try harder, do more  – and yet still feel insecure. In addition – we might also not recognize when we are being mistreated or taken advantage of, because we accept the treatment think we deserve. So it’s vital we embrace our God defined worth and value!

What would you say are some major issues, or “Giants” as you refer to them in the book that distort our God identity? 

Comparison is one of the giants we’ll need to learn to slay in every season of our lives. We compare our bodies, our families, our talents. Comparison towers over us, intimidating us, making us feel small and that our God given design is somehow insufficient for life.

The experience known in popular culture The Impostor Syndrome  (where regardless of how qualified and experienced you are in work or life you feel like a fake about to be exposed and ridiculed) is a huge giant we need to slay. God did not get it wrong when He made us. He is not embarrassed by our gifts or good qualities – he created them! But these distortions have the power to hold us back and wreak havoc over our identity and purpose.

Can you share with us a time when you did not embrace the dream of you?

I was single throughout my twenties when my friends were getting married and starting families. I’d bought the lie that my value was determined by my marital status,  and it had an erosive effect on my heart. I was defined by disappointment. It took a long time to embrace God’s dream for my life because I wanted someone else’s!

In the book you talk a lot about names and knowing your name. So tell us what’s in a name.

In the Bible a name often spoke of someone’s, character, their personality and potential. It might be a comment on a person’s relationship with God.  All in all, a given name declared a person’s identity and it was definitive. Today, our birth names certainly define us, but I’ve seen that other labels or names we’re given- “The strong one”, the rebel, the good girl, the fat one, the ugly duckling’ can shape us too. It’s essential that we exchange these old names for the name God speaks over every inch of our lives.

You also discuss a want for daddy. Can you share a bit on how knowing whose we are impacts how we see ourselves?

When my kids are facing a tough time at school, one of the things I’ll say is “remember you’re a Saxton”. It’s a shorthand way of summarizing who we are as a family – our values.  Being a Saxton means we look out for the marginalized kid in class, it means we work hard but that trying our best is enough. It means we have fun and are a bit goofy. Its means that we are fearfully and wonderfully made; and so are the people around us. It means we advocate for ourselves and that we serve and follow Jesus. It also means that we are not alone, we belong and are part of something bigger. When we know whose we are, it indicates who we are, are values and what we are living for. And it’s a reminder that we are not alone; we belong.

I’m a women’s ministry leader so can you talk to the women in leadership for a minute. How is our ability to lead effectively impacted if we do not have an accurate vision of ourselves?

I’ve noticed that for women in leadership one of our biggest battles is in the mind. If we don’t have an accurate vision of ourselves, it will drastically limit our leadership. We second guess our dreams and visions, we minimize our ideas. We fear our leadership passion and goals – just in case we’re too proud. What kingdom dreams remain unleashed because we’ve felt too insecure to run with them? NGO’s that haven’t been started. Community initiatives that never began, businesses that didn’t start. Conversations that would heal our families that remained unspoken. What are we missing out on?

Another thing that happens is that we fail to set boundaries and we exhaust ourselves and resent our tiredness. Then we feel ashamed of our resentment. We work hard to make amends, failing to set boundaries and the cycle starts again….

We live, love and lead from the inside out. So we need to be aware of what is happening on the inside – (our heart and minds) because it will shape how we lead.

Once we’ve come into alignment with the dream of who God says we are, how do we keep from sliding back into the mold of our old broken identity?

It can take a lot of work to break the old molds!

Since it’s God’s dream – it’s important to keep investing in your relationship with God.  Pray about these things, find verses from the Bible that speak to who God says you are and digest them daily, spend time in worship, spend time in Christian community.

Next, I would suggest you surround yourself with life giving people – the kind of people who will encourage your True identity, who will celebrate your real voice and purpose with you. You need people who will speak the truth in love to you when you are holding tightly onto lies. Build those kinds of relationships.

For some of the things we are dealing with we might need some professional help. Don’t be afraid or ashamed to visit a doctor if you are struggling in your mental health with anxiety or depression. Arrange to see a qualified therapist or counselor if there are issues to unpack that need specific attention. This is not a sign of failure – it’s one of COURAGE!

And for those of us aware that aligning with God’s dream impacts our calling and purpose, begin to dream with Him, but also begin to take practical steps. Talk to friends about what you can do to live into your purpose more fully, and be accountable for those steps you plan to take.

Any final thoughts for the people…

It’s not too late for a new beginning. God is making all things new, and that includes you. Your history, your story is not beyond the reach of his love and transformative power. Your broken identities are not too much for the Cross. Yes it may take time to live a new way when the old was has defined you for years, but it’s worth it. Let go of your broken identities, and live the life you were made for.

Whoo! Thanks Jo, that was awesome. I’m inspired to walk in my God given identity and to pursue my purpose with passion.

So friends, go ahead and pre-order your copy TODAY by CLICKING HERE. I KNOW this book has the power to transform your life. I’m excited to journey with you as you unpack The Dream of You so let’s keep the conversation going. Share your thoughts with me in the comments below.

As always it is my prayer that you’ve been Inspired To Live Fully!

Jo Saxton is an author, speaker, leadership coach, church planter and visionary, who empowers women, challenges societal stereotypes and helps people discover who they truly are, by seeing themselves the way God sees them. 

Born to Nigerian parents and raised in London, Jo brings a multi-cultural and international perspective to leadership. She has served on staff in multiple churches in the United Kingdom and the United States. Jo is currently the Chair of the Board for 3DM, a non-profit organization that equips churches in discipleship and mission, on the advisory board for Today’s Christian Woman, and co-hosts the popular podcast Lead Stories: Tales of Leadership in Life with Steph O’Brien.

A sought-after speaker, Jo has spoken at colleges/universities, churches and acclaimed national conferences including: Q, IF: Conference, Catalyst and faith-based gatherings across the U.S., U.K. and Australia. Notably, Jo Saxton has also been featured at the esteemed National Day of Prayer.

Her message challenges listeners to:

  • Engage in missional living and discipleship.
  • Empower women to lean into their leadership and influence.
  • Equip leaders to lead from the inside out and reframe their vision and purpose.

Jo is the author of two well-received books; More than Enchanting: Breaking Through Barriers to Influence Your World, and High Heels and Holiness: The Smart Girl’s Guide to Living Life Well. More than Enchanting discusses the central role of women in the church and society and High Heels and Holiness is a discipleship guide for young adult women. 

On January 23, 2018, Jo will release her much-anticipated new book The Dream of You: Let Go of Broken Identities and Live the Life You Were Made For through publisher WaterBrook & Multnomah (imprints of Penguin Random House). The book aims to help readers confront their past, break through stifling perceptions, and live authentically.Jo and her husband, Chris, live in Minneapolis with their two daughters.

Reject The Orphan Spirit

“You know my name. You know my name. You know my name. And oh how you tell me that I am your own. “ ~Tasha Cobbs Leonard

 

This refrain played over and over and over in my head. I recently attended a prayer brunch hosted by Sha’Meca Oliver of Pneuma Breathe Ministries and while there the singers flowed right into this song and it gripped my heart and hasn’t let me go since.

 

It just continues to stir what’s been in my heart for weeks.

 

He knows my name because I share His name. Because I believe in Him, I have received His name and have become His own child.

 

See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! 1 John 3:1

 

Can ya’ll give a shout of praise right there with me? Not only does He know MY name but He knows YOURS too! And not only that but He calls you His own.

 

He’s your Daddy and He loves you with an everlasting love.

 

“WHO’S YOUR DADDY?”

 

[bctt tweet=”Your Daddy is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords and as such YOU are royalty.” username=”inspiredfully”]

You’ve been adopted.

 

REJECT THE ORPHAN SPIRIT

 

You are no orphan. Remember…you’ve been adopted.

 

And in this adoption you are no Cinderella. You have all rights, love, privilege and access.  You are an heir to a rich inheritance. From our natural parents we can inherit debt. We can inherit a family history of poor health and even inherit addictions.

 

When we don’t have an accurate vision of who we are and the inheritance we lay claim to we may pine after what others have. We may inadvertently turn into Mean Girl like Cinderella’s step sisters, holding malice in our hearts for our sisters. We may covet what they have. If we don’t have an accurate vision of who we are we don’t even approach our Daddy right. We come to him as an orphan. We pray orphan type, edited, small prayers. Get this in your spirit, we are NOT orphans, we are heirs.

 

[bctt tweet=”Do not pray orphan prayers.” username=”inspiredfully”]

 

For He chose us in Him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in His sight. In love He predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with His pleasure and will. Ephesians 1:4-5

 

Praise be to God that as daughters of the King and joint heirs with Jesus we inherit the keys to the Kingdom. As daughters of the King we are entitled to all the benefits and blessings therein.

 

You are not an orphan

You are a daughter of the King

You are a joint heir with Jesus

You are LOVED

 

Receive this truth.

 

Pray with me….

 

Abba,

I belong to you. Father thank you for loving me with an everlasting love. Thank you for being my Daddy, for adopting me, for knowing me by name and for calling me your own. You’ve given me a most beautiful inheritance. I am called a child of God. I am your daughter and your spirit has been sent to my heart. I am led by the spirit and my spirit bears witness that I am your own. I am a joint heir with Jesus and walk in the truth of who you say I am. May I always operate from the position of power and authority you’ve granted me.

 

As always, it is my prayer that you’ve been Inspired To Live Fully!

 

Happy to connect with these friends sharing the Good News Mommy Moments, Purposeful Faith, Chasing Community, Salt & Light, Grace & Truth, Faith N Friends