Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Wednesday Wisdom Tip: It’s Not What It Seems

 

There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death.” Proverbs 14:12 (NIV)

 

Is that bleating?

Yes, bleating, as in a noise coming from a very small animal. What in the world? I have no idea what that is, but I’m late! Trying to put the strange noise out of my mind, I kept heading toward my car. But try as I might, my heart wouldn’t let me ignore the sad sound, no matter how late it was going to make me.

 

Turning in the opposite direction, I made my way closer to the tiny cry. There, next to our backyard gate, stood the tiniest of fawns. This precious little thing couldn’t have been more than a couple of hours old, as it barely stood on shaking legs. On the other side of the fence stood the object of the baby’s sorrow – his mother. Separated by the fence, they were trapped. He couldn’t get to her and she had no way of getting him out of our backyard.

 

This wasn’t the first time a little one has been born in our yard. I believe deer spot the cool shade of our woods, maybe notice the water nearby and decide our property is the perfect place to have their little one. But our property is not as it seems. When her baby is born and the deer hops back over the fence, her fawn is trapped, alone and without the care and protection of mother. Our yard may appear safe and peaceful to an adult animal, but to an infant it is anything but.

 

This little guy was trapped in our backyard. How could a place that looks so safe be such a danger?

This little guy was trapped in our backyard. How could a place that looks so safe be such a danger?

(This is the first fawn Madi and I found two weeks ago trapped in our backyard.)

How many times I have unknowingly jumped into a situation I deemed safe only to get caught where I should not have been? Entering benign conversations, my speech takes a wrong turn and I find myself gossiping. Bored or stressed, I make my way to my pantry only to indulge in foods that harm rather than help my body. Wanting to guide my child, I speak words meant to bring discernment, but instead bring damage.

 

In Proverbs 14:12,  the Bible tells us, “There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death.” (Proverbs 14:12, NIV). Sometimes, we can feel like we’re doing the right thing, like the mother deer, when in fact, we’re heading in a wrong direction. How can we know what is right?

 

Jesus promised us in John 15:13, “But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.” (NIV)

 

When Jesus left this earth, He sent the Holy Spirit to be our guide. We need Him. We need His guidance to make wise choices and not become trapped by sin that hurts us and damages our relationship with Jesus. The Holy Spirit is with us, available all day long, with the wisdom we need to live the rich and satisfying life Jesus wants for us. Our part is to listen for His direction.

 

After making a few phone calls to animal experts, I was instructed to pick up the fawn and lift him over the gate to safety. He didn’t struggle as I gently lifted him from the ground and delivered him back to his mother. I am so thankful that in my life, as I listen to the Holy Spirit, He too, lifts me up and helps deliver me out of the traps I get myself in.

When Sin Traps

 

Holy Spirit, I invite You today, to guide and instruct me. Help me not simply choose what seems best to me, but teach me to listen for your guidance so I can make wise choices. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

Just for the fun of it…here is a video of Madi and I trying to get one of the fawns to go out the gate on his own!

Lynn

Monday, June 29, 2015

Magnetic Winner!

Thank you so much to each one of you who shared words of encouragement for Madi! I know they have empowered her to keep writing!

The winner of Magnetic: Becoming the Girl He Wants from Friday’s post is: Stacy who posted on June 26, 2015 at 9:36 am . Just send me your full name and address, Stacy, and I’ll get it sent right out to you!

Madi will start posting next Monday. Thank you again for sharing with those girls in your life who need to know they are not alone in their pursuit of Jesus!

Lynn

Friday, June 26, 2015

From My Girl to Your Girl: Day #5 – The Power of Consistency

Day 5 of 5 | The Power of Consistency | From My Girl To Yours | #youandyourgirl series {June 2015} by Lynn & Madi Cowell

 

by Madi Cowell 

There isn’t a single time when I’m listening to ‘I Love You Lord’ by Elevation Worship, when my heart doesn’t drop and my eyes don’t well up with tears. I keep trying to figure out why this song gets me so emotional. I finally have realized why. The lyrics in the bridge say, “a love that will not let me go, my soul will rest in you alone.” Another song by my church has a lyric that says, “You have always been, You will always be.” So strong and so valuable, they explain the power of consistency.

I know the thing that has hurt me the most in my relationships with people is inconsistency. We are all human. Romans 3:23 says, “for all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.”

It is so easy for our hearts to be completely wrapped up in people, especially when it comes to how much they care about us; our hearts can end up disappointed more than enough of the time. We can start to correlate all our value in how much attention we are receiving from the ones we love. People just don’t have what it takes to be that unshakable rock for us every single day; not a boy, father, mother, sister, best friend, coach, or teacher. They’re all human. Just like you and me, the people around us have off days as well.

So what do you do when they have an off day and you do too? If your value is placed in people, in their words and attention, you will quickly lose heart. It is disappointing when you see it’s impossible for them to please you every day. People are here one day and move away the next. Maybe you have experienced a girl being your best friend one day and hating you the next. You know how it can go.

So much comfort can be found in the One who remains the same through all the ups and downs.

In Matthew 8, Jesus is in the boat with his disciples. Jesus is asleep while his disciples are upstairs. Suddenly, a huge storm comes about and the disciples start panicking. They decide they need to go and find Jesus. They tell him to save them! Jesus responds saying, “Why are you afraid? You have so little faith! Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and suddenly there was a great calm” (Matthew 8:26). It was that simple.

We all want someone who is unchanging. We want someone we know will be there tomorrow, who will be there after a fight, and won’t look at us any differently after finding out our deepest secrets. Jesus is here for the long run, and I believe that is a trait we are all longing to find somewhere from someone or something. He is it.

Allow yourself to tune in to that small voice you hear calling and longing for you. Forget about the inconsistent moments from people in your life and fully invest your heart in the One who is unchanging. Then, you can start to experience the freedom that can occur when those bad memories are left behind and replaced with the One who is steadfast.

Madi and I have enjoyed bringing her writing to you this week. In fact, we’ve gotten such positive feedback, Madi will start writing regularly here until she heads off for college. Start looking for Mondays with Madi soon!

To celebrate all of the empowering that has happened this week, today we’re giving away a copy of  my book, “Magnetic: Becoming the Girl He Wants”. I love this book as I wrote while investing in a group of Madi’s friends. They test drove the material in order to help me creative a book that truly helps young women find powerful confidence found in Jesus.

 

magnetic_cover

To enter this drawing for Magnetic, please share below which of Madi’s posts was your favorite. (To read previous posts, just go to www.LynnCowell.com and click on “previous” in the blue box at the bottom).

If you’re busy, just say “I’m on!”. We’ll announce the winner on Monday. Thanks for inviting those you know who also have young women who need Jesus-confidence to enjoy these posts!

You can read all the June You and Your Girl series here.

Lynn

Thursday, June 25, 2015

From My Girl to Your Girl: Day #4 – Release the Pressure

 

Day 4 of 5 | Release the Pressure | From My Girl To Yours | #youandyourgirl series {June 2015} by Lynn & Madi Cowell

by Madi Cowell

What keeps you pushing every single day? What fills you up and keeps you going?

 

I’ve been taught people should never be what completely consumes our hearts, but this is so hard not to do! Sometimes we don’t see how much pressure we are applying to a relationship or friendship until they’re gone and then it’s too late. When the relationship ends, we’re left feeling like a part of us is missing.

 

So how can we fix this problem?

 

When we’re all alone, caught in a moment of silence or going through a rough time, running to someone comes naturally. But what if instead, you ran to the One you cannot see? When we stop holding people to so many expectations such as filling up what is empty within us, pressure is released.

 

Does this mean you will immediately feel better? Not necessarily. We want someone to run to. But what if these hard times are needed in our lives as a wake-up call to remind us of WHO we should be running to?

 

For me, most of these times occur late at night, when I am literally all alone. I have struggled with insomnia for most of my life, and God has definitely used these sleepless nights to pick and pull at my heart in all the ways I needed. Notice I didn’t say it was necessarily what I wanted, but it was much bigger than that, it’s what was essential. God can use situations in our lives that we can find insanely painful, and see it as an opportunity to pursue us, and show us what is true. So many nights I have stayed awake lamenting over ruined relationships and friendships in my life that have come to pass, and those are the very times that He weaves his way into the crevasses of my head and heart, showing me the ultimate answer. Showing me that the reason why my heart continues to get shattered is because I was placing it in the wrong hands over and over again.

 

God isn’t the one who caused me to get involved in those bad relationships with people, or allow myself to be too vulnerable and put my heart on the line endless amounts of times, but He used those situations more than I could’ve imagined to show me that there isn’t, nor will there ever be any other answer, any other person, or thing to run to, except him.

 

I have learned that instead of always allowing people to take full control of our hearts, let’s allow God to make an even larger imprint on our lives, one that will out live this earth. An everlasting impact not only on us but also on others around us. It takes a person of bravery to have full faith and trust in the unknown, knowing that their Father has got their best in mind and won’t leave them in the dark. I know for me each and every day I am both eager but frightened to give God all the control. I know the more I release to Him, the less I have to worry about. Getting to that mind-set is where the fright can come into play. Help yourself out by constantly absorbing the truth of Who and what is important everyday, and not just in the moment. Through this, we can allow ourselves to be okay with the sitting and waiting, okay with not needing instant gratification, and okay with remaining in Him as our One True Answer.

You can read all the June You and Your Girl series here.

Lynn

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

From My Girl to Your Girl: Day #3 – Why You Should Let Your Guard Down

Day 3 of 5 | Why You Should Let Your Guard Down | From My Girl To Yours | #youandyourgirl series {June 2015} by Lynn & Madi Cowell

 

By: Madi Cowell

Vulnerable: capable or susceptible to being wounded or hurt

 

When I read this definition,  I felt a small pit in my stomach. Maybe for you when you read this word a flashback was created.

 

     What if there was someway that we could take this sometimes painful word and use it for our benefit?

 

As young ladies we’ve been taught to never be vulnerable, to not invest or attach ourselves to someone too quickly and be careful who we let in. Our parents told us this because they didn’t want us to get hurt. Don’t get me wrong; the Bible tells us to guard our hearts (Proverbs 4:23). That is some of the best advice out there.

 

I can admit from my own personal experiences that when we are made a fool of once, we don’t want it to happen again. We opened our heart up to someone or something and had it thrown back in our faces. I can see that God allows us to experience wounding and painful stories so that we can go and touch others, but we never will be able to if we let the idea of being vulnerable fill us with fear.

I have had multiple experiences in my life where I have gotten hurt from relationships, but did not deal with the pain until much later. The pain does not go away. If anything it just comes back later when you think you may be getting better. Then the hurt hits you even harder. Sometimes what seems easier in the moment is to shut out all the pain we feel, but the repercussion is ultimately a greater pain.

I have met so many beautiful girls with such broken stories, and these stories have made them the incredible girls they are today.

     Don’t be afraid to own your past.
     Don’t be ashamed or feel guilty.
     God gave you a story for a reason.

 

Hold your head up high knowing that He is molding you into who He wants you to be.

 

Every time we are hurt, we can either view it as a sorrowful moment, or we can see it as another great time that God can continue to design our hearts. Use your times of pain to be open to what He has to offer. In Ruth 3:11 we are told, “And now, my daughter, don’t be afraid. I will do for you all you ask. All the people of my town know that you are a woman of noble character.”

 

When we are going through hard times, the easiest way to handle pain is to shutdown. What if instead we kept our hearts and ears open to the Lord for what is next? How does He want to use the moments of pain and vulnerability in your life, and turn them into something that is tremendously beautiful?

 
You can read all the June You and Your Girl series here.

Lynn

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

From My Girl to Your Girl: Day #2 – You’re Not Weird

 

Day 2 of 5 | You’re Not Weird | From My Girl To Yours | #youandyourgirl series {June 2015} by Lynn & Madi Cowell

by Madi Cowell

Have you ever noticed when you are at your best, some people make you feel like you’re the worst?

I think I finally cracked the code on this strange idea I once never understood.

Some people don’t like a secure girl.

I know that sounds really strong, maybe even cocky, but stick with me. I am talking about the girl who knows Who’s she is.

I have been running circles in my brain for the past week trying to think of what is the best way to write this post in order to get the point across as well as I can. I have realized some girls and also boys don’t always enjoy the company of a girl who is pouring out with confidence, radiating Jesus and secure with who she is. To some people, this can be intimidating and sometimes even frustrating. When people recognize those great traits in someone, you would think they would be attracted to them, right? A few do; finding those traits ravishing and beautiful. But many don’t…and this can leave a girl feeling insanely confused.

This situation never made sense to me. I will give you an example of this in my life.

Within the past year I have made a 180-degree turn from who I had been for the past three years of high school. I won’t go into too much detail, but let’s just say I have finally overcome the most painful obstacles in my life thus far. But I just couldn’t grasp the concept that the closer I grew to God, the further I seemed to grow from some people.

So, what do we try to do when we see some of the closest people in our life start to leave us out or drop us? We see it as our problem. We begin to wonder, “What’s wrong with me?”, “What is my problem?”, “How can I fix myself?”

When you can make the bold decision to not base your view of yourself on the opinions of others, you can grasp God’s opinion of you. This will allow you to see you are set apart. (Psalms 4:3)

Don’t let the world tell you that your most prized gifts of your personality, which are so beautiful, are the exact opposite. People want you to feel guilty for what they don’t understand. The Bible says, “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” 1 Peter 2:9 (KJV) See how God uses the word “peculiar” along side chosen, royal and holy? The view is all in the eye of the beholder.

We can’t continue to believe the lies that we hear poured into us: that we are the reason people walk away or because we stand out in a crowd that makes us the strange one. Who even has the right to call us “weird” in the first place? You aren’t weird; you’re set apart.

When you’re set apart, you will feel the world trying to pull at your security.

God calls beautiful what some may not understand; there are things everyday that all of us are still working on understanding. Sadly, some times when people see something great, instead of drawing closer and wondering how you obtained it, they get uncomfortable with the unknown and walk away. Don’t let that steal your joy of being secure and set free.

I encourage you this week, any time you think of sweet words you could say to someone, do not hold back! Everyone needs to hear those words of truth and joy. You may just so happen to turn their whole month around just by speaking a few words of life into them when everything else around seems so dead.

You can read all the June You and Your Girl series here.

Lynn

Monday, June 22, 2015

From My Girl to Yours: Day #1 – Surrounded by People, But Completely Alone

Day 1 of 5 | Surrounded by People, But Completely Alone | From My Girl To Yours | #youandyourgirl series {June 2015} by Lynn & Madi Cowell

 

by Madi Cowell

     Have you ever been in a room full of people and commotion, yet you could not feel more alone? If your answer is yes, let me tell you I more than understand.
         As I walked into the first day of my senior year, I couldn’t have felt more alone. We’re given all these expectations as we go into these school years: “It’ll be the best years of your life” or  “You’ll fit in perfectly with your own little group”.  But where was my “group”? Why was I the oldest in the school, but still felt like the smallest?
    What if we don’t feel all the excitement we’re told to feel?
I often feel like there is some type of formula to life that someone just forgot to tell me.
     Am I doing something wrong, because high school has not been all that great for me.
         Loneliness. It may sound like such a mild thing, but it isn’t. Consider what drives people to follow the crowd; to not stick out or be themselves. It’s this fear of loneliness and rejection. As hard as it has been for me to swallow this idea, I’ve come to realize that at this stage in life, if I stick out from the crowd that is in fact a good thing.  The pain you feel today you will thank yourself for tomorrow. Whether its social media, your friends or maybe even your parents, we as kids are told to just go with the crowd, to fit it, but that’s not what I see going on in the Bible.
          God created warriors who were willing to stand up, who believed in Him enough to know that He was the one who had the final answers. They recognized this world for what it truly was and noticed that the temptations it delivers are not worth giving into.
         Not one person on this earth craves anything more than love and acceptance. We are programmed like this; it’s what keeps us going. We don’t want to be rejected and find ourselves on the outside. Being away from the crowd could be some teenager’s worst nightmare. I encourage you, in your times of loneliness, to remind yourself why you’re doing what you’re doing. Speak life into yourself. Remember – you are not alone at all. Isaiah 41:10 says, “ So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (NIV) Not only is He with us, but He is also fighting for us.
         In my moments of deep loneliness, I have at times, felt like God is nowhere to be seen. Looking back now, I see not only was He there, but He was walking along right beside me, feeling my pain and my burdens. As young people, every waking moment we are faced with decisions that shape our character. In hurtful situations in our lives, God can use it for the glory of His kingdom. Through my loneliness, I’ve learned to cling to the One that has always been in my life: Jesus.
Have you or do you feel lonely in life?
What steps could you take to surround yourself with others like you?
How might you find the comfort of Jesus during these painful times? 
 

You can read all the June You and Your Girl series here.

Lynn

Sunday, June 21, 2015

{You and Your Girl Series} From My Girl to Your Girl – June Series

5-day series | From My Girl to Yours | #youandyourgirl series {June 2015} by Lynn and Madi Cowell

 

For our You and Your Girl series this month I thought we’d try something new!

Have you struggled at times to feel like you understand your girl?

What is she thinking?

Why did she do that?

Why does she like him? Why does she hang out with her? What causes her to dress that way? Eat that stuff? Say those things?

Getting into the heart and head of a girl can be more than difficult.

This month, I thought I would ask my girl, Madi, to give us a hand. As a recent high school graduate, I think Madi can give us some insights into the inner workings of our girls. From here, we’ll be better equipped to be the investors we want to be and continue to encourage our girls to become all God has created them to become!

As you read Madi’s thoughts, please share them with your daughter or the girls you mentor. I think they will find encouragement and comfort in knowing they are not alone! If you have any questions for Madi or comments, we’d love to hear from you!

Here’s the whole series From My Girl to Your Girl:

Day 1 – Surrounded by People, But Completely Alone

Day 2 – You’re Not Weird

Day 3 – Why You Should Let Your Guard Down

Day 4 – Release the Pressure

Day 5 – The Power of Consistency

You can read all the previous You and Your Girl series here.

Lynn

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Finding Peace When it is Seems Impossible

Real Peace

The tender mercy of our God, by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace. Luke 1:78, 79 (NIV)

If you are joining me here from my Proverbs 31 Ministries Encouragement for Today – Real Peace – welcome! If you haven’t had a chance to read it yet, please do. I think you will find it encouraging!

God’s word is filled with promises of His peace coming to us, even in the hardest of times.

As I read His promises, I see:

Our part:

Isaiah 26:3 says, “You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.” (NIV)

My part is to pay close attention to where I am allowing my mind to go.

Am I trusting God? Am I worrying? Am I focusing on what makes me angry? Sad? Frustrated? 

God promises to keep our minds in perfect peace when we keep our minds steadfast; focusing on Him.

Next I see:

His Part:

Jesus says to us in John 14:27, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid”. (NIV)

His part is to be the giver of the peace. His presence, that power given to us by the Holy Spirit and living within us, imparts to us a peace that quite frankly doesn’t make sense. Everything around us might be falling apart, yet His spirit residing in us reminds us that He will never leave us. Jesus in us calms us.

Today, focus on your part. Parking your mind continually on Him. Yes, your mind will wander. It will worry, fret and get frustrated (at least mine does.) When it does, do your part. Reign it back in. Focus once again on the One who is with you and in you.

Rest in His part. Let’s remind ourselves all day long: we do not have to be slaves to fear. We do not have to give in to worry. He is with us now and He is with us in what is to come. We can count on it!

 

Do you know some young women who need help learning to live in God’s peace? Invite them to join a Magnetic Bible study and grow together as you become the women God intended you to be! Magnetic includes a free leadership guide plus you’ll find additional free resources to help you get started here.

 

Lynn

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Wednesday Wisdom Tip: I Lost My Job

Yesterday, I lost my job.

Lost might not be the right word.

Worked myself out of my job? Aged out of my job? However you say it, my job as mom of “kids” is over. Yesterday was my youngest child’s last day of high school.

We began the day with celebrating – a party at breakfast.

BreakfastParty

 

Yep – party hats, blowers and our family’s celebration plate all came out to mark the loosing of my job. (Ok, I know I am making this all about me. But stick with me for just a second!)

Celebrate even the every day good things that come your way!

Celebrate even the every day good things that come your way!

Our children, passing from being dependent to independent,  is time for us to celebrate too!

Because here is the thing – if we do this thing called being a mom right – our children grow up, move forward and pursue their own gifts and callings God has given them. And it is time, the right time, for us to make our exit.

I know I am purposefully being a bit dramatic, but I am doing so because I am guessing that like me, there is a part of you that doesn’t want to move over from this spot of motherhood. Like me, you have enjoyed immensely this season called being a mom and you are really sad it is over.

Me too.

But it’s not over. We’ve just done what God has called us to do in the season He has called us. We have nurtured, listened, cried and prayed until we have felt like we have no more hugs, patience, tears or prayers left. Now it is time for our child to call out to God more than they call us. It is time we move into our new season.

Of course, we’ll still be near, to encourage, cheer and give those hugs when needed. But the time for independence has come and together, with God, they’ll get this. We did; they will too!

You crossed the finish line!

FinishLine

 

 

Lynn