Can I walk with you?

December 2011

January 2012

I would like to think I can blame my weight on having a child. Well, my son is now 19, so that excuse is a little outdated. Over the course of 19 years I have tried everything from the major name brand weight loss companies, professional counseling and counting calories. I am not discounting any of those programs; I am simply saying they were not effective for me. I had memberships at gyms in every town I’ve lived in and went to just about every class offered. Something was not clicking. March 2012, I was challenged by 3 friends to join them for 5:30am Insanity workouts. For about 3 months I joined these ladies for Insanity and walking/jogging around the high school track. March 2012, I was determined to try something…anything. A few weeks later, one of the ladies mentioned there was a new thing in town called Smoky Mountain CrossFit. Well I tried everything else; why not give this a shot too. I went to their first inaugural day workout on June 30th and it kicked my butt. I had no plans of going back, not only was it super hard but it cost more than a typical gym membership.

June 30, 2012

June 30, 2012

I thanked the owners for a great day and I was on my way back to staying the same…until…

Later that same day, I received a phone call from one of the owners and she said I won a free one month membership. Ha, I laughed because I thought that will be a waste. I was not athletic, I was not in shape and I was not ready to do CrossFit for a month. I went to my first workout and thought these people are crazy. I thought, after this month is over, I am done. After the first week I could tell a difference in how I felt. After the first month I could not stop talking about CrossFit; my friends probably thought I drank some funny kool-aid that turned me into a CrossFit junkie.

538981_3681201157370_1569887218_nBefore CrossFit, I was tired all the time. I was grumpy and I hated looking in the mirror at myself. I did not want anyone to take my picture because it would be a constant reminder that I was out of shape and severely overweight. To be brutally honest, I did not even want to be intimate with my husband because why on earth would he be excited about having a fat wife. Yes, all these thoughts went through my mind, daily!!

After a few weeks with CrossFit, it became apparent to me that I was a ticking time bomb. My health was out of control, my eating was on the boarder of gluttony, and I was on my way to Type 2 Diabetes. My back, joints, legs and head hurt all the time. It was time to get serious about my health, not only for me but for my 3 kids. I held onto and repeated several times a day “Don’t you know that your body is a sanctuary of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. Therefore glorify God in your body” I Corinthians 6:19-20. I was committed to an average of 4 workouts per week, sometimes in addition to Insanity or walking in my neighborhood.

after photoIt has been 12 months since I first stepped into CrossFit and I no longer walk in with a feeling of shame. Over the past year there have been some tough workouts, two I did not finish and one that took me almost an hour to complete. I have overcome a lot of obstacles in the past year; I must admit I am still hesitant to jump on a 20inch box. I try not to focus on the struggles or the things I cannot do like double unders and muscle ups. I focus more on all the other things I have accomplished such as 255lb dead lift, 110lb bench press and a 200lb back squat. This is all coming from the girl who could not complete a full squat on day one.

 

IMG_0649In May of this year, I had an opportunity to participate in a mission trip to Nairobi Kenya. It was a huge blessing to serve and minister to the women and children of Kenya through a medical clinic at a place called Orbit Village. Mission trips can be difficult mentally, physically and spiritually. Having been to Africa once prior to my time at CrossFit, I believe my training at CrossFit gave me the needed endurance for the time difference, the change in meals and the overall change in my everyday surroundings. At SMCF, we do not know prior to coming into the box what the workout is for the day; however we are expected to give everything we have when the clock counts down to 3-2-1 Go. The mission field is the same; we have some days when we have no idea what to expect, especially in a third world country. We simply have to be ready to go into our day with whatever is presented before us. And we are expected to give our very best every time.

crossfit logoAs I come to the end of my first year with SMCF, I have set a few goals for myself. June 30th marks my one year anniversary as a charter member with SMCF and I believe it is only fitting that I look at becoming a certified CrossFit trainer. I believe there are many avenues and programs out there that can be effective to weight loss however I believe CrossFit is the most effective in changing the total person. I believe CrossFit challenges a person’s thinking of what we believe we are capable of accomplishing. I believe CrossFit challenges our eating behaviors to not only eat because we enjoy food but to eat because we need certain foods to lead healthy productive lives. I believe CrossFit also challenges us spiritually, when we recognize that the Holy Spirit dwells within we can accomplish so much more when we are spiritually, mentally and physically healthy.

wpid-freedom.jpgI am not sure where you are on your journey to health and wholeness. If you feel like you have tried everything yet nothing is working, may I recommend you give CrossFit an opportunity to radically change your life. I am also a firm believer that we need others to walk some journeys with us. If I can be that person to come along side you to walk out this journey, please contact me and let’s get serious about you living a life that is happy healthy and whole!!

 

HAPPY ANNIVERSARY!!SMCF-banner-website3

The Rhythm of God’s Song

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Today I’m joining http://lisajobaker.com/ and friends to write for Five Minute Friday.

1. Write for 5 minutes flat – no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking.
2. Link back here and invite others to join in.
3. And then absolutely, no ifs, ands or buts about it, you need to visit the person who linked up before you & encourage them in their comments. Seriously. That is, like, the rule. And the fun. And the heart of this community..

The Word Prompt for today is…Rhythm…

Today I decided to look up the word rhythm prior to writing my Five Minute Friday post. This is what I grabbed from Wikipedia ” rhythm is the timing of events on a human scale; of musical sounds and silences”. Hmm ok I think I’m on to something the Lord has been speaking to my heart this week… so here goes…Five Minute Friday

The timing of events on a human scale..the musical sounds and the silences. This week I was sitting with the Lord and he very clearly said “Why are you praying for a new assignment, I have already given you the assignment I have for your life. Why are you waiting for someone else to validate, affirm and confirm the assignment that I gave you?” Those were tough questions to hear let alone try to find an answer for in that moment. A couple of years ago, I felt the crushing blow of some one say “Women’s ministry is not for you.” Unfortunately I allowed those words to dictate the musical sound God was singing with such sweet rhythm over my life. Since then, I have tried to seek out other avenues of walking in step with the Lord. Nothing brings fulfillment and joy as walking in the rhythm of the Lord through teaching His Word and walking with women through life’s mountains and valleys.

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The past couple of years have felt like silent years. When I stop to consider why they have been silent, I go back to what the Lord has spoken this week. If I truly believe what God has been singing the past 20 years, what else is there for Him to say. This week I had a dream that at first seemed a bit odd however it was another, about the 10th, confirmation that God’s promises, assignments and calling over our lives are consistent. He does not change His calling just because a man or woman does not agree with the calling.

I am grateful for friends who know the depths of my heart and hear the music that God sings over my life. I am thankful for women who believe in me and the assignment God has over my life. I am blessed by friends who remind me to listen to the rhythm of God’s song.

One of my favorite Bible verses…

Zephaniah 3:17  The Lord your God is in the midst of you, a Mighty One, a Savior [Who saves]! He will rejoice over you with joy; He will rest [in silent satisfaction] and in His love He will be silent and make no mention [of past sins, or even recall them]; He will exult over you with singing. (Amplified Bible)

Blessed Assurance

June 9th, 2013…Unedited Version…

March 27, I arrived in Nairobi Kenya prepared to accomplish many good things for the Lord. I will get to those things in another blog post. Today I want to share with you what the Lord accomplished in my heart during this recent mission trip. Prior to leaving for Kenya I had a sense within my spirit that my life was in jeopardy. I tried to keep this feeling to myself however I ended up sharing these feelings with my husband. He acknowledged God’s protection, provision and care over the mission trip.

One night I was preparing for the next morning’s devotional and I was reading through the story of the Samaritan woman at the well. During my reading time the Lord impressed upon my heart to share with our team not about the woman’s sin but about the woman’s encounter with the Savior of the world. As I sat and prayed I knew God was dealing with me, not about my sin but my understanding of Jesus as Savior.

When I was an 8-year-old little girl, I acknowledged and professed a belief in Jesus Christ. I was baptized at Covesville Baptist Church by my uncle the Reverend Montague. My mother raised me in a Christian home and we were faithful to our church. As a teenager I became distant and at one point I had very little desire to go to church. When I left home, I did not attend church for almost 2 years. When I met my husband in 1993, I started going to church with him, simply because he would not stop asking me to go. After we were married and I had been back in church a couple years, I felt it was time to get right with God and repent for the way I had been living my life. That too is another blog for another day, now is not the time to uncover the sins of my past. Sitting in my living room in Salisbury MD I confessed my need for a Savior and committed to living my life according to God’s Word. shortly there after I, along with my friend Robin, was baptized at Community Christian Church.

Before I go any further, I know this is going to mess with the theology of some who read this blog post. Let me be clear…I am not concerned about your theology. I am more concerned about your eternal salvation.

During my mission trip to Nairobi Kenya, I had many sleepless nights. A few nights I stayed up praying that snakes would not come into my room in the middle of the night. Yes one night a snake was killed on the patio of the Lodge where we stayed. So yes I think I had a little bit of paranoia at work however I also believe there was a spiritual battle taking place. The enemy is likened to a serpent in Scripture. In the beginning, in the Garden of Eden, the serpent came to Eve and questioned what God had spoken to Eve. It was becoming evident to me that my sleepless nights were connected to the wrestling and doubt that was raging in my soul. I know God’s Word says there is nothing that can separate us from the love of Jesus Christ. I know God’s Word assures us of our eternal security in Jesus Christ. When the enemy came to Eve, I believe there were moments of  wrestling within her spirit between God’s Word and what the enemy was speaking into her. I believe once the enemy had a slight crack in the assurance in Eve’s heart, he knew he could chip away at that small piece.

It’s the small chipping away that goes undetected from the outside world and quite possibly undetected within ourselves…until it has cut deep enough that we begin to buy into the doubt. And for me…I was on that dangerous path of beginning to doubt what the Lord had spoken over my life. I was beginning to doubt the calling over my life. I was beginning to doubt whether I was living a life filled with the fruits of the Spirit. I was beginning to doubt whether I was walking in faith in Jesus. I was in a place of doing all the right things for the Lord, yet wrestling the enemy for my very life. Yes my life was on the line…my eternal life was on the line. While in Kenya, I was determined that I no longer wanted to live a life consumed with doubt and wrestling with the devil over something that Jesus Christ said is securely mine. After my quite time with the Lord, I thanked the Lord for His confirmation over my life. I thanked the Lord for opening my eyes to the doors that I had allowed the enemy to slip through.

When I returned home to America, I did not realize the process that God was still taking me on. On June 9th while sitting in church, the Lord spoke to my heart and said “We are done with this battle,  today we are nailing a stake in the ground as a confirmation that the devil is under your foot because of the power and blood of Jesus Christ the Savior of the world. Today, is your day of Salvation unto knowing without any shadow of doubt that your life if secure for eternity with Jesus Christ.” When my Pastor asked if anyone prayed with him to receive Salvation, I could not remain in my seat. I walked towards him, yes I must admit I could not look at anyone on the worship team (especially my husband), I could not look at anyone I passed as I approached my Pastor, and I could not look at my Pastor as I approached him. That was the last and final scheme of satan. I belive that snake wanted to me walk in shame, that I as staff member of The Gathering, a deacon’s wife, a woman with a MA in Christian counseling is walking the aisle to acknowledge receiving Salvation on June 9, 2013. I dropped to my knees and sobbed because I knew without a shadow of doubt it was finished. I was done with the devil trying to taunt me with lies. I knew in that moment, my Salvation was sealed with the blood of Jesus Christ.

Now for those of you who question whether I believe I had lost my salvation…NO! I believe I had lost sight of my salvation. Like I Eve I began to believe lies. I began to believe that I was not called to a specific ministry. I belive I lost sight of the gifts that God had given me. I believe I had lost sight of the victory that is mine in Jesus. I belive my life was no longer marked with power…because I was walking in doubt and insecurity.  And on June 9th, I made a public declaration that I have accepted Jesus Christ as my personal, forever and eternal Savior. I made a public declaration that satan is under my foot and I walk in the assurance of my salvation.

There is so much more to say but for now…I need to take and break. I will write more…For now I would ask that you take some time and evaluate your walk with the Lord.

Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine
Oh, what a foretaste of glory divine
Heir of salvation, purchase of God
Born of His Spirit, washed in His blood

 

Songs I Sing

Five Minute Friday…

Zephaniah 3:17 is one of my favorite verses in the Bible. To know that The Lord rejoices over me with singing brings such and comfort to my soul!!

As I look back over my life, now some 40 years there has been one constant. As a child I sang in the church choir and played a flute in 5th grade. In middle school and high school I was a part of a dance team. In college I sang with a praise and worship group. As an adult I have sang in choirs, ensemble groups and alone driving down the road.

Music is what moves my heart to worship The Lord. Singing songs of worship is more natural to me than cooking a meal for my family. There is something magnificent and majestic about praising Jesus.

Recently I heard this song by Misty Edwards that drives me to my knees. When you think of me…let it be with mercy. When you think of me

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Shifting Winds…

I found this today…May 2013…23 days before I leave for Kenya!!

Shifting Winds…God is up to something way bigger than me. This is a re-post (updated) from May of 2010. Wait till I tell you about May 2011…until then…

Almost 20 yrs ago, I met a man who would forever change my life. At the time we met I was concerned about how I was going to make a name for myself in this world. I was on a path that was to take me straight to Law School and into courtrooms defending women and children. The dream of becoming a lawyer, and advocate for others has not died however I believe God had bigger plans than a mere courtroom.

When I married my husband, he told me God had placed it on his heart to do missions work; rebuilding what was destroyed by natural disaster. In my limited capacity of understanding missions I said I was not interested in leaving the country. My husband was home-schooled; familiar with the benefit and blessings that arise from families learning growing and studying together. I too said I was not interested in homeschooling our children. So misinformed I believed they wouldn’t make it to a good university; well my husband graduated from the University of Virgina with a B.A. in Civil Engineering.

In the past 10 years God has been shifting the winds of my heart. My husband has been on several mission trips, state side and overseas. In 2005, God impressed it upon my heart to fly into Maracaibo Venezuela and drive out to a remote town with several teens and adults. We spent the week in 100+ degree weather playing with school children and showing Jesus films at night. I have since longed to return!! Oh did I mention, worship in Spanish and English at the same time is beautiful music!! Four years ago, the Lord allowed my husband and I to build our own home with an estimated sq footage of…well way beyond anything a family of 5 needs. We currently open our home to children who have been displaced by one reason or another through the foster care system.

Jon went to New Orleans several times in the aftermath of Katrina. After his last trip there, he said “What do you think of selling our home, buying an RV, homeschooling the kids and traveling to areas hit by devastation. Use your Marriage and Family Counseling degree to minister to families who are psychologically struggling. And I (Jon) will minister to their physical needs of tearing down and rebuilding the physical structures.” Honestly my first thought a couple years ago was, “We have good jobs, and our kids are in fantastic schools. Why move around?” This week we heard and read about devastation that hit Nashville. I was not at all surprised by the nudge of the Holy Spirit, “The time is coming and it’s drawing near.”

The winds are shifting…we are not looking to move anytime soon. Or at least we don’t believe we are. We believe God is starting to do a work in our hearts first, to get us spiritually, mentally and physically prepared. For those who are wondering…no our house is not up for sale, yet. And we are not looking to change jobs; Jon is blessed to work for an amazing company and serve along side an awesome church family. We believe God has been preparing us for a work greater than anything we could have ever dreamed or imagined July 10, 1993 walking down the isle of Cherry Ave Christian Church.

The winds are shifting and God is preparing us to be ready when He is ready. This weekend, Jon and I are taking our first “mission” trip together as a couple. Friday afternoon we will head out to Nashville and spend Saturday doing as much as we can. We anticipate the worst structurally but anticipate an awesome display of God’s faithfulness, holiness, and majesty to shine through the people we will encounter. Our degrees, our licenses, our goals, our dreams, all that could make for a pretty comfortable life. God is more interested in molding us into a life that He has designed. God allowed us to walk certain roads to get us to the road He wants us to travel. He has allowed us to learn somethings along the way so we are prepared when He shows up with the blueprint of what we are to complete for Him!!

Please pray for us…we believe the journey is just beginning!! We welcome shifting winds because we know Ruach (The Spirit of God) is leading the way!!

Thank you for sticking with the random thoughts of today. I know it was a little long…sometimes thoughts flows like a waterfall…

Nicole

Almost there!!

Missions Update…I am so excited about my upcoming mission trip to Nairobi Kenya. God has blessed me with an amazing opportunity to travel on a second Mission trip with The LORD’S Child (http://thelordschild.com). While in Kenya, we have an opportunity to serve women and children at an orphanage called Orbit Village. We will have several nurses on our team to conduct a medical clinic at the school and a nearby refugee camp. At first glance, I felt out-of-place as I am not qualified as a nurse or one to provide medical related education to the women. Joshua%20House%20Boys

God was not surprised by my lack of education & medical knowledge when he called me to this mission trip. He simply wanted my commitment to go. Since the time of my commitment to say yes, God is opening my eyes to the greater vision He has for me on this mission trip. For 20 years my heart’s passion and desire is to serve and minister the love of Jesus to the hearts of women. As I prepare for this mission trip to Kenya, that is my assignment given by God and submitted to the leadership team of our missionary group. I have been encouraged and commissioned to receive a message from the Lord to share with the women in Kenya. As the nurses prepare the medical equipment and the right medications, I believe God is preparing my heart to receive a Word from Him. Today I am asking that you would join me in praying that God would open my eyes to see more of Him, that God would open my ears to hear His voice alone, and that my heart would be open to receive His love, unconditional and true.8348e71e-b55d-3671-8615-4cc3b80121c1

This missionary journey would not be possible without much prayer, as this trip also requires financial funding. I am believing that God will provide over and above my financial needs. With the help of some wonderful friends I am praying daily for the financial provisions for this mission trip. As a missionary, I am tasked with raising my own support to cover travel expenses, meals and lodging while on the mission field. Today I am so close to meeting my fundraising goal. My final installment of $1200 is now due.

So far, several individuals have sacrificially given towards this missionary trip. As you read this, please consider what amount you are able to give. Your gift is what allows the message of Jesus to spread around the globe!! When making your tax-deductible donation, please make it out to The LORD’S Child P.O. Box 6120, Sevierville TN 37864. And add my name to the memo line. I believe with prayer and God’s help to stir the hearts of many, my financial need will be met.

I look forward to writing again soon to say God has supplied my every need…just as He has promised!! God Bless and have an amazing day!!

In His service,
Nicole

From there to here

Today I am joining Lisa-Jo and friends for Five Minute Friday.

This is where we come together writing for 5 minutes without editing or overthinking.

Check out what everyone’s is sharing on the word HEREhere.

What an amazing week…Here I am waiting to walk into the Women of Joy Conference. It wasn’t planned as is the case for many of the sweet moments I received this week.

Earlier this week I was in a place of wanting to drop some things off my plate and go back to where I was comfortable. And then it happened God used a great friend to lead me to thinking on the life of Joseph. Joseph may have never made it “here” if he had not gone “there”.

Two days later God gifted me with the company of another friend who reminded me to slow down and appreciate the women God has placed in my life. There are so many women who would rather talk about me, curse me and probably abandon me…but that’s ok. You see Joseph had to go “there” before he could be “here”.

And then today…I sat with 2 more amazing friends. Blessed by the beauty of friendship. I am here because a precious woman gave of herself to see that I go from a place of there to here.

The real me is…broken

FIVE MINUTE FRIDAY
Today I am joining Lisa-Jo and friends for Five Minute Friday. This is where we come together to write for 5 minutes without editing or overthinking. I love connecting with these ladies…they challenge me to think beyond myself as I write.

Check out what everyone is sharing on the word BROKEN here….

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The real me is broken to pieces…broken jar1

I have faults…I get angry, I get mad, I get sad, I get happy, I get glad…I have feelings

I am not trying to impress you…I am not trying to please you…I am not here to judge you

The real me is broken to pieces…broken jar

I am not the perfect wife…I have cussed…I have cried…I have loved…and I have lied

I am not the perfect mom…I have yelled…I have fussed…I have hugged…and I have cherished

The real me is broken to pieces…broken jar2

I am not the perfect friend…I have betrayed…I have stayed…I have mended…and I have bended

I am not the perfect woman…I have aborted…I have spoken out of turn…and I have squatted in the bush

The real me is broken to pieces…broken jar3

Jesus my Savior was broken to pieces too…yet He knew no sin and it for that reason

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I surrender my brokenness to Him

alabaster oil jar

A sweet reminder

Today I am joining Lisa-Jo and friends for Five Minute Friday.
This is where we come together writing for 5 minutes without editing or over thinking.

Check out what everyone’s is sharing on the word REMEMBER 

here.

Five Minute Friday
3-2-1 GO
March 2000, I can remember like it was yesterday. Our family  moved from Salisbury MD to Clarksville TN. We loaded our young family into a moving truck and traveled west. We had no idea what was in store for us. We knew we needed a place of restoration and healing for our marriage. Without it we were done…
moving truck
We found an amazing Christian Church to attend which also served as immediate family for our 1st grade son and our daughter who was due to be born any day. After seeking marital counseling our marriage was being renewed daily. With the help of loving friends we were on a path laid out by God.
One year later we moved to Knoxville TN where I enrolled in Johnson Bible College. Six years later and a third child,  I would cross that stage to receive my MA in marriage and family therapy. My degree, our journey is a reminder that anything is possible as long as God in the center of our marriage.
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This year Jon and I celebrate 20 years together…
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God promised to hold my hand

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Today…I continue to look toward Nairobi Kenya. Two months and $2800 more to go. I trust God’s promise to hold my hand along the way from America to Kenya.

Isaiah 41:8-10; 13-16

“But as for you, Israel my servant,
Jacob my chosen one,
descended from Abraham my friend,
I have called you back from the ends of the earth,
saying, ‘You are my servant.’
For I have chosen you
and will not throw you away.
Don’t be afraid, for I am with you.
Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you.
I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.

For I hold you by your right hand—
I, the Lord your God.
And I say to you,
‘Don’t be afraid. I am here to help you.
Though you are a lowly worm, O Jacob,
don’t be afraid, people of Israel, for I will help you.
I am the Lord, your Redeemer.
I am the Holy One of Israel.’
You will be a new threshing instrument
with many sharp teeth.
You will tear your enemies apart,
making chaff of mountains.
You will toss them into the air,
and the wind will blow them all away;
a whirlwind will scatter them.
Then you will rejoice in the Lord.
You will glory in the Holy One of Israel.

 

May God bless you as you prayerfully consider how you can partner with me on this mission trip. I welcome prayer partners to join me in praying for safe travels and protection. I welcome prayer partners to pray for the financial provisions of this mission trip. I also welcome financial partners who believe in the work the Lord is accomplishing around the globe. Your tax-deductible donation enables willing missionaries, like me, be the hands and feet of Jesus. You may send you gift to The Lords Child P.O. Box P.O. Box 6120 Sevierville, TN 37864 with my name in the memo line.

May God Bless You!!

Nicole

A resting place

Five Minute Friday

Today I am joining Lisa-Jo and friends for Five Minute Friday.

This is where we come together writing for 5 minutes without editing or overthinking.
I am new to this community but I love reading how God is working in the lives of the women.

Check out what everyone’s is sharing on the word REST here.

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There are few places I will allow my heart to land. As I began to share how I had recently picked up a stone of hurt, my friend very quickly realized how she needed to minister to my wounded spirit.

Without sharing all the details just know that I was in a place of seeking outward approval and affirmation of a God given assignment. God gave me my assignment long before I ever uttered a cry on this planet. Growing up the enemy tried very hard to steal that assignment. As a young woman in my 20’s, I began to see glimpses of the assignment yet I was so broken and tormented by the lies of the enemy. As I walked through my 30’s, The Lord began to reveal a bigger picture that allowed me to see more of who I am created to be. The closer I moved towards 40 the enemy came in with one more blow “you are not really created for that assignment”. And for almost 3 years I have believed every word. Even when my closest friends and family locked eyes with me and said “God gave you an assignment and you know it full well to the core of your being”.

So as I sat sharing with friend through the tears I could hear her say stop striving for man’s approval and come into a place of rest. Rest in knowing I am created by God to bring Him glory through my God given assignment.

Please leave a comment to let me know you stopped by today…

Blessings,

Nicole

I’ve fallen…

I took a leap of faith…and then I fell.

Yesterday  I completed the Crossfit Open 13.2. The workout was to complete as many rounds as possible in 10 minutes of 5 Shoulder to overhead at 75 lbs; 10 Deadlifts at 75 lbs; and 15 Box jumps at 20 inches.photo

The overheads and deadlifts were a piece of cake. My trainer gave me the option of stacking plates to a height that was just shy of 20″. I was doing fine and then it happened. I went to jump, my foot slipped and I fell chest first on the plates. OUCH!! I rolled onto the floor realizing my fear had come true. I fell.photo (1)

Laying there I had one choice…to get up and realize fear no longer had a grip on me. I had literally come face to face to that thing that had me bound. I jumped up and went back to the workout! Actually, I left the shorter stack and went on to complete the workout on the 20″ box. After 10 minutes, I completed 5 rounds for a total of 150 reps.rouge crossfit box

In the aftermath I was glad my trainer left me alone. She did not come to my immediate rescue. She watched to make sure I had not broken anything. My fear of falling had to be met head on and today it was conquered.

As I watched my name go up on the whiteboard for 5 rounds completed I  saw this written on the door:

“I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength” Phillipians 4:13

One year ago I would have remained on the floor allowing the pain to convince me to never try again.

One year ago I would have walked away with a bruised ego and pride would have won.

Today I left knowing I had come face to face with the fear that held me bound.

I may have fallen…but by golly I finished well!!

(This is a repost of 03/14/2013–original post was mistakenly deleted)

I’m leaving…in 2 months

I am 2 months from getting on a plane and leaving what I call the comforts of home and going to a place unknown, at least unknown to me. I began to cry because I believe God called me to go to Kenya just as He has called me to Venezuela and Uganda in the past.

My tears were not that I doubt the call, but because I still have a way to go with fundraising. The total cost of the trip is $3800 and as of today I have raised just shy of $1000. I have friends who are also raising funds for this trip and they too are trusting God to provide the needed resources. As I began to type more letters and make my list of possible donors I could feel the Lord leading me to a place of simply sitting at His feet to worship.

This song gripped my heart like none other...Oceans (Where my feet my fail). I was doing fine until these words flashed across the screen

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders

Let me walk upon the waters

Wherever You would call me

Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander

And my faith will be made stronger

In the presence of my Savior

And it was at that moment that my crying turned into weeping. Last week I began reading several books written by missionaries to Africa. They were both on an unlikely journey to turn what seemed like a dream into a God sized mission. Today I am not sure what I will find when I arrive in Kenya but I know my assignment is to help with a medical clinic and share the love of Jesus with women and children. I know God has greater plans for my life than I could ever begin to dream or imagine.

So today…I am writing to you…I have said yes I will go…Our team will travel to Nairobi, Kenya from May 26 – June 6 2013. We have an opportunity to partner with Orbit Village (www.orbitvillage.org), a Christian school of over 400 children grades k thru 12, along with an orphanage consisting of 75 children. While at the village, we will work with the staff and children daily by conducting a medical clinic. The medical clinic will provide physicals, vitamins, antibiotics, and women’s health care. In addition to the medical clinic, I have been tasked with preparing a 4 day women’s conference. The purpose of the women’s conference is to educate women on topics ranging from esteem, parenting, personal hygiene and general health. Our team will also visit a refugee camp, Mathare Valley, on two separate days to conduct a medical clinic. Mathare Valley is considered the slums in of Kenya.

There is no gift too small…a gift of $25 is just as generous as the gift of $1000. Each one is noticed by the Lord. I invite you to listen to the song again and ask the Lord to lead you to a place of trusting Him without borders. For some the Lord may be calling you to stretch your walk in your local community and for some it may be to stretch your walk around the globe. And for others, the Lord is asking you to consider partnering with missionaries, like me, through your prayers and financial support. It is through your partnership the love of Jesus continues to spread. Your tax-deductible donations may be made to the Lord’s Child with my name in the memo line and mailed to The LORD’S Child P.O. Box 612 Sevierville, TN 37864

I am certain when I arrive in Kenya, I will weep with joy…

And my faith will be made stronger

In the presence of my Savior

The gift

It has been almost 2 months since I made the commitment to go to Nairobi Kenya. The confirmation and encouragement from friends has been over the top phenomenal. Twenty years ago, my husband told me we would become missionaries. At the time I envisioned moving to a third world country and living in the middle of an unknown foreign land. You could say I felt a little like Sarai and laughed at my Abram.

Since that time I have become the mother of 3 children and provided a foster home for over 20 additional children. I have been blessed to obtain my MA in Professional Counseling and serve in various churches with the main focus of mentoring, counseling and developing women to become lovers of Jesus. In Spring 2005, I was given the opportunity to travel to Maracaibo Venezuela. It was there the Lord spoke to my heart about the work He is doing around the world.venezuela 1 venezuela 3Finally I began to recognize the message my husband spoke over me in the late 90’s did not necessarily mean we would move to another country. Accepting the call to missions can be lived out daily here in America with the expectation there will be times of traveling around the globe. It was not until 2009 that I felt the Lord leading me to travel again. September 2009, I had a dream of walking among a very dark-skinned group of people. I dreamed of celebrating in their worship services and then preparing the children for school. I must stop here and say, at the time of my dream I was not in connection with anyone who was doing missions work in this particular demographic group. As with most of my dreams, I wrote this down in my journal and prayed for God to prepare my heart to know when the timing is right. Approximately one year later I heard a man from Kampala Uganda speak on the needs for women and children in his country. I knew the time was coming near for me to see this prophetic dream became a reality.

September 2011, I had the precious gift of traveling to Uganda with my then 17 year old son and a team from our church. During the 24 hour journey to Uganda I prayed the Lord would open a door for me to have opportunity to minister and serve the women of Uganda. As a mother and foster mom of many, I love children however I know without a doubt my calling is to minister and serve women. For three days I was blessed to share the love of Jesus with women in three different villages. With the help of other women on our team and the translators we also shared basic hygiene procedures to help minimize the spread of disease among the children.

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This year in May, I have been given the opportunity to travel to Nairobi Kenya. While in Kenya, our main focus will be to provide a medical clinic for women and children. There will be nurses and children’s ministry leaders with specific assignments. The Lord is preparing my heart to provide workshops and teachings specific to the needs of the women.

As a missionary, I depend on the support of others to help with the travel expenses. Today I am writing to ask that you would consider the work the Lord is doing around the globe. In Matthew 28: 20, the Lord commands that we are to go and share the Good News of Jesus Christ. For various reasons, not everyone is able to travel 8000 miles around the world. As a missionary, I am praying the Lord would allow you to become one of the financial partners to help send me. I am willing, able and ready to go!!

Your gift, whether $25, $50, $100, or $500 is valuable to the mission. You may send your tax-deductible donation to The Lord’s Child P.O. Box 6120 Sevierville, TN 37864. www.thelordschild.com. Please include my name on the memo line.

Thank you in advance for your prayers!!

Nicole Hawker

Answered Prayers!!

In January of this year, I was invited to go on a second mission trip with The LORD’S Child (www.thelordschild.com) along with others from my church. Our team will be traveling to the country of Nairobi, Kenya from May 26 – June 6 2013. We have an opportunity this year to visit and work with Orbit Village (www.orbitvillage.org). Orbit Village operates a Christian school of over 400 children grades k thru 12, along with an orphanage consisting of 75 children.

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While at the village, we will work with the staff and children daily by conducting a medical clinic. The medical clinic will provide physicals, vitamins, antibiotics, and women’s health care. In addition to the medical clinic, I have been tasked with preparing a 4 day women’s conference. The purpose of the women’s conference is to educate women on topics ranging from esteem, parenting, personal hygiene and general health. Additionally we will go to a refugee camp, Mathare Valley, on two separate days to conduct a medical clinic. Mathare Valley is considered the slums of the slums in of Kenya.

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As I prepare for this mission trip I am praying for individuals who believe in me to come along side me in prayer and financial support. The greater need is prayer. This missionary journey would not be possible without much prayer. I believe God will provide over and above my financial needs. With the help of some wonderful friends I am praying daily for the financial provisions for this mission trip. As a missionary, I am tasked with raising my own support to cover travel expenses, meals and lodging while on the mission field. The total estimated cost for this trip is $3600.

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Today, I am believing God for 12 sponsors in the next 2 weeks to donate $75  each towards this, my 2nd mission journey to Africa. So far, several individuals have given above the $75 donation which makes a huge impact on the total costs. Your gift is what allows the message of Jesus to spread around the globe!!  When making your tax-deductible donation, please make it out to The LORD’S Child P.O. Box 6120, Sevierville TN 37864. I believe that with prayer and God’s help to stir the hearts of many, my financial need will be met.

I look forward to writing again soon to say God has supplied my every need…just as He has promised!! God Bless and have an amazing day!!

Sincerely,
Nicole

Me…Afraid? #FiveMinuteFriday #FMFParty

Today I am joining Lisa-Jo and friends for Five Minute Friday. This is where we come together to write for 5 minutes all with the same word prompt. We write without editing or overthinking.  And then we connect on Twitter with the hashtag #FiveMinuteFriday

Check out what everyone is sharing on the word AFRAID here

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3 – 2 – 1 GO

The ultimate performance trap. I’ve lived my life for many years feeling trapped. There seemed to be no way out. I would see small glimmers of hope but again the chains would close…trapped. I spent so much time trying to figure out where I fit in. In the black community, I was too white.  In the white community, I was too black. In the skinny community I was too fat. In the quiet community I was too loud. In the loud community I was too quiet. In the intellectual community I was not smart enough. In the mediocre community, I was too educated. Trapped in a swirl of lies and deception.chains

One day in 2012, I resolved it was time to break free and live my life unafraid of what people thought about me. I began to look myself in the mirror and start asking “Who are you? and What does God say about you?”.Who am I

I am still on a journey, some days I still walk afraid of what people think of me. Then I come back to God’s Word. He reminds me I am redeemed with an everlasting love and it is the Lord who has called me to this place, by name for His name sake.

Song of my life…

“Redeemed”…Big Daddy Weave

Seems like all I could see was the struggle Haunted by ghosts that lived in my past Bound up in shackles of all my failures Wondering how long is this gonna last Then You look at this prisoner and say to me “son Stop fighting a fight it’s already been won”

I am redeemed, You set me free So I’ll shake off these heavy chains Wipe away every stain, now I’m not who I used to be I am redeemed, I’m redeemed

All my life I have been called unworthy Named by the voice of my shame and regret But when I hear You whisper, “Child lift up your head” I remember, oh God, You’re not done with me yet

I am redeemed, You set me free So I’ll shake off these heavy chains Wipe away every stain, now I’m not who I used to be

Because I don’t have to be the old man inside of me ‘Cause his day is long dead and gone Because I’ve got a new name, a new life, I’m not the same And a hope that will carry me home

I am redeemed, You set me free So I’ll shake off these heavy chains Wipe away every stain, ’cause I’m not who I used to be

I am redeemed, You set me free So I’ll shake off these heavy chains Wipe away every stain, yeah, I’m not who I used to be Oh, God, I’m not who I used to be Jesus, I’m not who I used to be ‘Cause I am redeemed Thank God, redeemed

Headed to Nairobi Kenya

I am so excited to share with you that I am going back to Africa!! September 2010 I had the amazing privilege to travel with a mission team, including my then 17 year old son to Kampala Uganda. It was a mission trip experience I will never forget. Because of people like you who prayed and provided financial resources I was blessed abundantly. I had the opportunity to share the love and gospel of Jesus with hundreds of African women and children. Due to technology like Facebook and Smartphones I have been able to remain contact with some of the amazing people I met while in Uganda.

I was happy to find out that I have been invited to go on a second Missions trip with The LORD’S Child (www.thelordschild.com) along with others from my church. Our team will be traveling to the country of Nairobi, Kenya from May 13-22, 2013. We have an opportunity this year to visit and work with Orbit Village.

Orbit Village operates a Christian school of 450 children grades k thru 12. In addition they have an orphanage consisting of 75 children. While there, at the village, we will work with the staff and children daily. We will conduct a medical clinic at the school. You can visit their website @ http://www.orbitvillage.org. Additionally we will go to a refugee camp on two separate days to conduct a medical clinic and bible school.

Now, all I need is the money to get there. We will be involved in fundraisers to earn money, however, I will need sponsors. Right now I am looking for 40 people to sponsor me for $75 toward this, my 2nd mission journey to Africa. However, I realize that this amount may not be possible, so any amount that you might be able to give would be greatly appreciated. If you are sending a check, please make it out to The LORD’S Child P.O. Box 612 Sevierville, TN 37864. I believe that with prayer and God’s help my financial need will be met.

Please pray for me as I prepare for this mission and while we are there. Pray that people will see the love of Jesus through us and will be touched in some way. My prayer is that this trip proves to be life changing for the people of Nairobi, Kenya even more than for myself.

Thank you for letting me share with you what I feel will be one of the most meaningful experiences of my life. If you cannot help in a financial way, please help support me with your prayers.

In His service, Nicole

Going back to Africa…Nairobi, Kenya!!!

I am so excited to share with you that I am going back to Africa!! September 2010 I had the amazing privilege to travel with a mission team, including my then 17 year old son to Kampala Uganda. It was a mission trip experience I will never forget. Because of people like you who prayed and provided financial resources I was blessed abundantly. I had the opportunity to share the love and gospel of Jesus with hundreds of African women and children. Due to technology like Facebook and Smartphones I have been able to remain in contact with some of the amazing people I met while in Uganda.

I was happy to find out that I have been invited to go on a second Missions trip with The LORD’S Child (http://thelordschild.com) along with others from my church. Our team will be traveling to the country of Nairobi, Kenya from May 13-22, 2013. We have an opportunity this year to visit and work with Orbit Village. Orbit Village operates a Christian school of 450 children grades k thru 12. In addition they have an orphanage consisting of 75 children. While there, at the village, we will work with the staff and children daily. We will conduct a medical clinic at the school. You can visit their website @ http://www.orbitvillage.org. Additionally we will go to a refugee camp on two separate days to conduct a medical clinic and bible school.

Now, all I need is the money to get there. We will be involved in fundraisers to earn money, however, I will need sponsors. Right now I am looking for 40 people to sponsor me for $75 toward this, my 2nd mission journey to Africa. However, I realize that this amount may not be possible, so any amount that you might be able to give would be greatly appreciated. If you are sending a check, please make it out to The LORD’S Child. I believe that with prayer and God’s help my financial need will be met.

Please pray for me as I prepare for this mission and while we are there. Pray that people will see the love of Jesus through us and will be touched in some way. My prayer is that this trip proves to be life changing for the people of Nairobi, Kenya even more than for myself.

Thank you for letting me share with you what I feel will be one of the most meaningful experiences of my life. If you cannot help in a financial way, please help support me with your prayers.

In His service,
Nicole

New Year…New Hair

2013The Big Chop aka BC.

I have talked about this day for months…well actually years. I’ve joked about it with my husband and sort kinda mentioned it to friends. Over the years I have worn my hair in braids, long weaves, curly weaves, relaxed, finger waves, color treated and every thing in between. As some would say “fried, dyed and laid to the side”. Going for the BC also means going back to my roots, literally and allowing my hair to grow out naturally without all the harsh chemicals and hot styling tools. Why the change…

Last year I began a journey to uncover the one question most of us ask ourselves a time or two. “Who am I?” It started with a few friends asking me to exercise and commit to getting into shape. This led to an ever-increasing awareness that I am a child of God made in His image and likeness. I am a daughter of the King to be adored and celebrated for all the ways in which I am created. As a daughter of the King, I am to present my body as a living sacrifice and as a temple that embodies the living Holy Spirit. As I stood one day looking in the mirror I knew deep in my heart I was a walking time bomb waiting to explode with some kind of health issue or another. Check out some of my earlier blogs about my journey to better health.

Today I’m discovering more and more that I have allowed society to dictate many areas of my life; not just what I put on the inside of my body but how the outside of my body looks to others. Standing in that same mirror, I committed to take off the wigs, let go of the extensions, lay down the hot combs, and wash away all the relaxers. new photo
It was time to become the natural me. Around the same time I stumbled upon a twitter conversation with 3 other women talking about going all natural. They talked about doing the BC, watching youtube videos, blogging and vlogging about our transformations. I was still very hesitant…it was great to meet up with sistas on-line and talk about hair. In my everyday I don’t cross paths with too many women who understand all that goes into “doing my hair”. So I decided to keep my same do…until Kim’s vlog. My first impression was wow that is a nice vlog. My second impression (speaking to myself)…yea so why are you so caught up in what people think about you. I closed my laptop and called my friend Jamie. I scheduled my appointment and said it’s time!!

January 3, 2012 at 2:00pm I walked into the hair shop, told Jamie my plan and the journey began…I have to admit there was a time or two I looked in the mirror and questioned my decision. I felt where my hair used to be and thought yes this is all natural…just the way God created it.

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I am just starting out on this journey…if you want to learn more,  join me and my friends on Twitter #NaturalHairGFClub. This is where we talk all things natural!!

Happy Styling…

Please leave a comment so I know you were here…

New Year…New Words

I have been

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Isaiah 48:17 NLT
This is what the LORD says — your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel:
“I am the LORD your God, who teaches you what is good for you and leads you along the paths you should follow.

I am

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Zephaniah 3:20 NLT
On that day I will gather you together and bring you home again.I will give you a good name, a name of distinction, among all the nations of the earth, as I restore your fortunes before their very eyes. I, the LORD, have spoken!”

I am walking in

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Psalm 119:45 NLT
I will walk in freedom,
for I have devoted myself to your commandments.

John 8:36 NLT
So if the Son sets you free, you are truly free.

One word…Overwhelmed

One word…overwhelmed.

Yesterday, December 13 was my 40th birthday. I spent the day getting a new license, picking up a Christmas gift, CrossFit workout and pedicure with girl friends. Later that evening I ventured out to the intermediate school to celebrate Christmas with my children through the sounds of the choir and band. Everywhere I went people smiled and wished me the happiest of birthdays…I guess the sparkling tiara gave them a hint.

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When the day came to a close, I sat quietly reading through birthday wishes on Facebook and emails. Overwhelmed by the love and affirmation I received I began to cry. Lord…why have I allowed so many birthdays go by without celebrating. There was a time when I did not want a cake or even a candle. There was a time when birthdays were not happy. That’s another post for another day.

Today, I continue the celebration with some of my dearest friends.
Several friends are in my house at this moment now decorating what sounds like the party of the year!! I promised no peeking as I spend some quite time alone.

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As I think about the people who are joining us this evening, I am overwhelmed. God has taken me on a journey that has crossed paths with so many wonderfully amazing people. The greatest gift I have received is to know they call me their friend.

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As I walk joyfully into my 40’s, I am truly excited about celebrating all that God has done in my life. The wounds are healing, brokeness is mending, walls of loneliness are  shattered, the emptiness is being filled. God is overwhelming me with His Love, His Mercy, His Grace.

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Jesus, You make All things NEW!!

Birthday Love

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Woke up to these words this morning from my amazing husband and I wanted to share them with you!! Next to my salvation, he is one of the greatest gifts from God!!

40 years ago today God brought one Nicole Seronda Cowan into this world. With a path that took her through tragedy, pain, anguish, sorrow and mercy God protected her. Over 20 years ago God introduced her to me and for the past 20 years I have watched in absolute amazement how God has gently combed through her life and turned those things that Satan intended to use to destroy her into jewels of her character. Almost like watching a diamond as it is turned in the light of the sun, God has taken and polished surface after surface and continues to do so right before my very eyes. This I can say with absolute certainty; the brilliance with which God will allow her to shine in the very near future is beyond my capacity to envision. She is truly a gift of God to me and my family. This on Her 40th birthday. Happy birthday my wife my love, my soul mate, the part that makes me one, Nicole Cowan Hawker I love you…
Jon Hawker

Fit by 40

January 2012…Began 2012 with a Daniel fast and my prayer…God set my life in order. My weight is getting out of control. Compulsive eating is killing me.

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March 2012…Lord please wake me at 5am so I can join my small group girls to workout.

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March – June 2012…Lord give me strength to continue working out. I know I am becoming a stronger wife & mom.

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July 2012…Lord thank you for Crossfit. I am encouraged and motivated to always push myself to new levels!!

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October 2012…Mudsanity 5 mile obstacle course and mud run with my small group family

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November…met some personal records…195lb back squat and 225lbs for a deadlift

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December 9, 2012…Completed Santa Hustle 5k in under 45 minutes. Reached a 205lb PR for back squats.

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I am not done…fit by 40 is just the beginning. I believe God is making all things new. I know we’ve been told we get a new body in Glory. I thank God that because He makes all things new I am receiving a new body on this side of heaven.
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I run the race set before me and in doing so I may not always come out ahead of anyone else. I may be  slower, I may walk at times but this one thing I know…I will complete the race!!

Prayers for my sister…she is coming to the House

Updated…God has forever called me to pray for my sisters. During the third night of the December Solemn Assembly God laid it heavy on my heart to pray for the women in our church and community.

Specifically, I am praying for women who are bound by “sins of the night”. The addict, the prostitute, the women caught in trafficking, the women abused by pornography.

Will you pray and believe with me, God will send “those” women to this House, The Gathering, to find healing and freedom. I am believing the light on the hill will shine brightly in the darkness for those women as it has for me.

**God prepare us to be ready to receive women from these walks of life. Lord I believe these women have been so beat down by Satan with shame, guilt and fear. They may feel unworthy to come in during the daylight hours. I am praying God raise up an army of women who will stand watch in the midnight hours for the women are bound by “sins of the night”. Lord raise up intercessors to be on the lookout post when theses women enter our house. Lord prepare us to receive women and children who have no place to run but to the House of God.

Full of Expectancy

It has been 20 years and our family has taken very few vacations. We have been camping, we have ventured out in an RV, we have traveled near and far. This year we are planning our trip to Chincoteague VA. Chincoteague Island is 7 miles long, 1-1/2 miles wide and known for the Assateague pony swim each year in July.

I  expect this year to be a little bit insane as we are traveling with a 18mth old, 5, 8, 10, 12 and 18 year old.  I expect several bathroom stops and lots of whining about who is touching who. I expect there to be times of scolding and many more times of molding our 5 boys and 1 girl. I expect there to be times of utter chaos and times of sweet peace.With all of these expectations I am also expecting time alone with the Lord. I am expecting to break away from the everyday norm and carve out walks along the beach at sunset. I am expecting times of refreshing as I watch the sunrise from our sky gazebo.

My prayer as we prepare to leave in less than 24 hours…Lord open our hearts and minds to the things you want to reveal to us during this time away. Lord in the middle of our expectations, renew in us a desire to expect Great things from You. Lord may we seek you in all that we do and may we forever find you in the places we least expected.

And for those of who are wondering…yes I have located 3 CrossFit boxes 🙂

 

 

 

Five Minute Friday: Race

It’s #FiveMinuteFriday!

We are to write for five minutes flat. All on the same prompt that is posted 1 minute past midnight every Friday. And we connect on Twitter with the hashtag #FMFParty and #FiveMinuteFriday

No extreme editing; no worrying about perfect grammar, font, or punctuation

RACE

Oh what perfect timing…This Saturday I am participating in a Mud Run with 7 of my very dear friends, including my amazing husband. We are doing the MudSanity in Crossville TN which is a 5 mile obstacle course complete with mud and a lake that we must cross. I have been training for this race since March of this year by doing Insanity workouts, CrossFit, walking and jogging. MudSanity is not necessarily a race to see who wins but a race to complete the course with pride. Yes there will be trophies given and lots of pictures for the winners. For me this mud run is a race against myself and the negative words that have swirled within for decades.

Hebrews 12:1 says “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us…” For me the biggest obstacle to overcome is the voice that says I can’t. During my training I have had to overcome the “I can’ts” in my own head. I KNOW that at the end of mile marker 5 I will shout with victory  “I can and I DID run the race set before me!”

Nicole Hawker

  Wanna play? Here’s how:
1. Write for 5 minutes flat – no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking.
2. Link back here and invite others to join in.
 3. And then absolutely, no ifs, ands or buts about it, you need to visit the person who linked up before you & encourage them in their comments.

Found a poem today…

Poems found in “The Disciplines of Life” by V. Raymond Edman

When God wants to drill a man, And thrill a man, And skill a man,

When God wants to mold a man To play the noblest part; When He yearns with all His heart To create so great and bold a man That all the world shall be amazed,

Watch His methods, watch His ways! How He ruthlessly perfects Whom He royally elects! How He hammers him and hurts him, And with mighty blows converts him Into trial shapes of clay which Only God understands; While his tortured heart is crying And he lifts beseeching hands!

How He bends but never breaks When his good He undertakes; How He uses who He chooses, And with every purpose fuses him; By every act induces him To try His splendor out God knows what He’s about. (author unknown)

Life as a foster Mom

It’s 2am and the phone rings. “Ms. Hawker this is Jill from the Dept of Children Svc and we are looking for placement of 3 children.” As I try to wake up and understand the information being presented I have to process what it will be like to bring more children into our home.

In 1996 we accepted our first foster child with a couple more to follow. After moving a few times and receiving my MA in Marriage and Family Therapy we decided it was time to open our home again. So in 2009 we signed up for the call. The process of becoming a foster parent was a 12 week parenting course that covered everything from child abuse, cultural diversity, working with birth parents and the legal system. My husband and I learned so much about what it means to be parents, even though we already had three birth children. Since our training classes in 2009 we have fostered about 20 children in our home. And have provided respite (temporary care) for several others.

When we receive a call to accept a child, or a sibling group, we know very little about the children. We are told their age, sex and race. If medical issues are known by DCS, we may find out however some families are very reluctant to share. Children have come to us at all hours of the day and night. They generally come with the clothing on their backs and maybe one other outfit. They come hungry, tired and scared. Several children have come to our home with lice, roaches, scabies, foul language, aggressive behavior and most without appropriate discipline. Each child is different and each situation has called for grace, humility and a goal to love the child.

When the paperwork is complete and goodbyes are done by the state worker who brings the child to our home, the child is left with strangers. As a foster family we do our best to let the child know they are safe, they will be fed and no harm will come upon them. The first night especially for little ones is tough. One time we had a 7 year brother lay next to his 4 yr old sister trying to comfort her all the while needing to be comforted himself.

As the days pass there are initial court hearings that the children and I must attend. This is generally my first meeting with the parents. I have had some good experiences and some pretty sad experiences meeting the birth mothers for the first time. If the children are in school, they must be enrolled within about 5 days. Next comes the medical and dental appointments that must be completed within 30 days. After about 2-3 weeks the state will help with getting clothes.

Real life everyday living. Our home is approved for a total of 6 children, my three plus three. Some days get a little wild and crazy. Waking up six kids for school, getting everyone bathed and fed requires an extra dose of coffee in the morning. Homework, afternoon sports, dinner and baths become like a revolving door; it just keeps moving. Our grocery bill increases a bit, our water bill goes up, but God always provides. One year my friend Tamara showed up in the middle of the night with a box of food and toiletries. Others have lent us car seats, given us clothes and provided a listening ear.

As I’ve mentioned I have three children of my own. They are a vital part in everything we do as a foster family. As we are making decisions to accept children we consider not only the physical and emotional; but also the spiritual impact other children will have on our birth children. My children have become very aware of some of the “baggage” that foster children bring. My children have learned to share not only their toys, their home, their parents but also their faith. My children enjoy helping to take care of, mentor and befriend each child that comes into our home. When certain children have left, my kids have asked how they are doing and if they will ever see their friends again.

It’s not easy being a foster parent. The kids don’t always receive love and discipline. The birth parents can be mean and blame us for taking their children. Well meaning friends have questioned why we have those kids in our home. Being a foster parent doesn’t really require any special skills or traits. It does require a few schedule adjustments and a few unknowns. Being a foster parent doesn’t require major financial burdens, the state will help along the way. It does require an extra couple meals and a few extra loads of laundry. Being a foster parent doesn’t require a big house with a big front yard. It does require space in your heart to love one created by God. Being a foster parent doesn’t require being perfect it just requires being a parent to a child.

I agree not everyone is called to be a foster parent. So you may ask how you can help. Pray for a foster family. The beginning of a school year tends to bring awareness to the plight of children and more come into the foster system. Consider helping a foster family with school supplies, diapers, formula, whatever God lays on your heart. Consider emailing or sending a card to a foster family. Consider making a special package for the birth children, sometimes they feel left out. There are so many ways to support foster families and the children they serve. With over 1,200 foster children between Knox, Blount and Sevier County the need is definitely present to get involved.

Today I sit watching over 3 blond headed, green eyed boys and 2 of the most compassionate children I have ever met.

Isaiah 58:7 NLT “Share your food with the hungry, and give shelter to the homeless. Give clothes to those who need them…”

James 1:27 NLT “Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows…”

I am also drawn to a small little word tucked in 1 Timothy 3:2..”hospitable”.

Thank you for letting me share my journey. It’s just a small part of who I am but I believe it’s making big marks on the hearts of the children we serve in our home.

Nicole

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Called by God

It has been a few months since I have stopped by to write…today is the day I choose to share my testimony with you. Grab a cup of coffee, sit back and discover who God created me to be. I ask that you not judge me, condemn me, or even praise me.

Several months ago I was starting my day with a short devotional and the Lord stepped in with these words “your quiver is full”. At the time I was unsure of what those words meant. I sat on my bed asking the Lord for more details. I believe the Holy Spirit said to me “your testimony is rich and full of arrows, it’s time.”

When I was a student in middle and high school, I loved the sport of archery. Not sure what my aim was like back then but there was something exciting about pulling back and seeing how close I would come to my target. I am not one to follow astrological signs but as a Sagittarius I find it not so odd that I loved the sport. Now 20 years later the Lord has used that imagery to show me something deeper about myself.

You see, my story begins long long ago as a child. My mother raised me in a Christian home, we were faithful to our church and to our church family. At the age of 8 I accepted the Lord as my Savior and followed Him into baptism by immersion. As the cards were dealt to me my father died when I was 10 years old of a heart attack and several years later began the decline of my teen years. At the age of 12 I encountered relationships that would strip away every ounce of purity I had. By the time I reached my senior year of high school I had experimented with substances that break my heart when I consider the grip of the enemy on my life. A few years later, I would find myself failing out of college on a fast road to destruction. Even into my marriage a few years later, I continued to be deceived by the enemy. On the surface yes those were declining years, but God spoke to me and said those were years of war fare. I celebrate not those years, I forget not where I have come from and the battles won. The scriptures tell us in Isaiah 54; 17 “No weapon formed against you will succeed, and you will refute any accusation raised against you in court. This is the heritage of the Lord’s servants and their righteousness is from Me.” No weapon the enemy sends against me shall prosper. I believe the enemy has been sending weapons (arrows) my way for a very long time. Weapons of fear, weapons of death, weapons of self doubt, weapons of anger, weapons of insecurity, weapons of doubt and criticism from others, the list goes on and on.

According to Isaiah 54:17, there have been and will be weapons that come against me. This verse also says these weapons will not prosper. As I sat on my bed and I pondered this question, Lord if weapons come against me and they do not prosper, what happens to those weapons? Immediately the Lord spoke back and said, “Your quiver is full of arrows that have been refashioned and formed for My glory. Each of those arrows have a name, a purpose and target.” And one by one the Lord began to reveal the specific name of each arrow in my quiver.

Let me pause here and we will come back to the names of each arrow. That morning a few months ago the Lord also gave some additional insight into the sport of archery. There are several components that one must have when taking on the sport of archery. Today I will wrap up by tell you about one specific component the Lord opened my eyes to.

All of my life even as a child and as a teenager I knew there is a specific call on my life. In my early 20’s when I turned my life and my heart back towards the Father, that call was made loud and clear in my soul. That calling is my quiver, the place where I hold my arrows. The place where the Father has fashioned arrows, the place where I am to draw from when it is time to enter the ring of warfare. The enemy knows the call on my life is specific and sharp which is why in every way he has tried to kill, steal and destroy everything about me. The devil has tried to keep me from that calling because he knows my arrows are sharp. He knows I have been tested by his efforts and the Lord has sharpened His weapons of warfare

My quiver, my calling, my place of ministry and service to the Kingdom, the place where I have trained, sharpened and tested to do warfare. Wait…let me ask you what is your calling? What has God called you to in His Kingdom? Some would say I have been called to youth ministry, some would say I have been called to pastor a church, some would say I have been called to children’s ministry, some would say I have been called to be a missionary, some would say I have been called to senior adult ministry, some would say I have been called to be a worship leader. The local church applauds and congratulates these callings, the local church parades these callings, the local church even ordains these callings.

I have been called to Women’s Ministry. I know without a shadow of doubt in my heart and soul and the very fiber of my being that is my calling. For so many years, I have allowed the enemy to LIE to me. The devil has tried to get me to think I have been called to 100 other things in my life. A children’s pastor, can serve in the youth department, but he knows in his heart his calling. The worship leader can participate in mission trips but he knows in his heart his calling. I can do all things asked of me, but at the end of the day I know my calling is to serve the body of Christ, most specifically women from ages 18-118. I know within my calling is to encourage, motivate, strengthen, teach, train, and build up women to become who they are called to be in the Kingdom of God. For too long, I have waited for others to recognize that calling on my life. The Lord has said no more, I have called you not man. The Lord said my quiver, my calling is Women’s Ministry. The arrows are specific to the weapons the devil tried to use to kill and destroy me as a woman. The devil knows the names of each of my arrows and he has been decisive in his attempts. Today I stand here to tell the devil, no weapon formed against me shall prosper.

Today I continue to work full-time yet anticipate the day when I am able to move into full-time ministry. Until then, I appreciate the opportunities to minister and serve the families and women I come into contact with on a daily basis.

Uganda Mission Trip Update

This morning at 6:30 am me & oldest son, Brandon started our oral Typhoid Vaccine. We are beginning to count down the days until we set off to the other side of the globe. Today…43 days until leave with @theLORDSCHILDtn & @GatheringFamily for #Uganda2011.

Friends have asked me “Are you getting excited?” Absolutely however I am more than ecstatic that my Brandon is taking his first mission journey!! A friend recently told me how proud she is of my son. She praised him for being a respectful and compassionate young man. God has created my son to be a friend to anyone who needs a friend. God has gifted him with the ability to seek out the misfits and the outcasts and to touch them with the gift of friendship. I believe God will capture my son’s heart in Uganda in a brand new way. I believe God will open a wide mission field before my son’s eyes!!

I continue to be overwhelmed by the generosity of those who have committed to pray & financially support our mission trip to Uganda Africa. YOU are a blessing to us and those going on this trip with us!! Once again THANK YOU for sending us and praying BOLD prayers!!

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For this boy, I prayed…

Thank you friends and family for your continued prayers!! God is definitely opening the flood gates of heaven!! I am super EXCITED to take my 17 yr old son Brandon on this mission trip to Uganda!! Today I want to share with you a little bit about my son Brandon. I am so proud God chose me to be his momma. 

A little about my son….Brandon was born June 18, 1994 in Nassawadox VA. The delivery was a long 28 hours which turned into a C-Section. Brandon was born with a collapsed lung and not breathing. He had to spend several days in the hospital after his delivery. As Brandon grew and matured he became a very healthy & very active young boy. About the age of 5 we began him on an ADHD medication called Adderall. Several months later we noticed round patches of hair loss. Unsure of the cause we had Brandon evaluated by many specialists. At the age of about 7 or 8; after total hair loss, we were given a diagnosis of Alopecia. Alopecia is simply known as hair loss without a specific cause. In Brandon’s case we also found out he had an over active immune system with prevented his body from contacting viral and bacterial illnesses. What a blessing even in the midst of him not having any hair.

Fast forward….Brandon has received much ridicule and taunting from his peers due to the hair loss. Brandon began to regrow hair however it was very random. In 2008 we took a family trip to Myrtle Beach and for the first time we celebrated Brandon having a relatively full head of hair. That was the first time his hair was also long enough to braid. Today I still braid his hair about once a month because he refuses to have his hair cut. There are still a few bald spots that go generally undetected.

This fall Brandon begins his last of high school; he graduate May 2012. Wow…where did the time go? It seems like yesterday I was waving good-bye as he went off to Kindergarten at Fruitland Elementary. Earlier this year Brandon was named the Seymour Boys & Girls Club Youth of the Year.  A few weeks ago we were taking his senior pictures and it so bittersweet. Several years ago, I remember someone telling me God was going to use our son in ways beyond anything we could hope or imagine. Over the past few months, that is becoming clear. Brandon has a compassionate heart that draws people to him. He is kind gentle and loves the Lord. He loves to help others especially those the world deems unworthy. He seeks out and makes friends with the kids who sit on the fringes and attempts to bring the hope of Jesus through friendship.

September 9-17 Brandon is taking his first journey around the world. Brandon has been on mission trips before, here in the states. He has been on several with his father to the mountains of TN and Grundy VA. In July he is planning to go with his father and mission organization called LiveIt to Alabama. They are helping rebuild a widow’s home which was lost during one of the deadly tornadoes that came through earlier this year.

I am very proud of my son. He may not be the school valedictorian. He’s not the star athlete. He may never be voted most popular by his classmates. Brandon may never receive his name on the school billboards. But those things are like wood and straw…they will burn away. Brandon is known and will be known as the teen who loved to serve others.

Once again it is such an honor to take Brandon on this mission trip in September because I believe the Lord will cement His calling in Brandon’s heart. As a mother that is possibly the greatest gift, to know that our children know without a shadow of doubt the call of the Lord on their lives. I can’t wait to see how the Lord uses my Brandon to touch the heart of millions around this globe.

Please continue to pray for us as we prepare for this journey. Please pray for continued financial provisions. Please pray for our health and physical ability as we go on this mission trip. Please pray for the people in Uganda that we will come in contact with during our time there. Please pray for hearts here in America to be blessed as they pour out blessings and provision towards our mission trip. Please pray for the Lord to be glorified in us and through us!

Blessings….

Nicole

How precious…the heart of a friend

Saturday June 11th is a day etched in my heart as the day my friends carried me to the feet of Jesus. These friends would not allow the normal to over come the supernatural. They believed the Lord would meet my needs.

I woke up Saturday feeling a little anxious about the lack of resources secured for a fall mission trip I’m planning to take. At one point I simply looked upward and said “Lord what are you up to, You said I’m to go on this trip but I have no money.” I began thinking what items could be sold. A few minutes later I receive a text from a very dear sweet friend letting me know she is talking with a potential investor towards my trip. In my lack of faith, I thought that’s awesome a couple hundred dollars is a wonderful blessing.

My sweet friend is part of a group of ladies who meet every Saturday morning to pray and share God’s Word. This particular Saturday, two women came to the small group with a burden to pray for my financial needs for the mission trip. Totally unsolicited by me but motivated by the Holy Spirit. Remember…I’m in my house throwing my worries up to God.

God impressed it up one of the ladies in the Bella Sisters small group to invest a significant amount of money to send both me & my 17 year old son to Uganda. I was so excited that I could not express more than Thank You Lord.

God totally ROCKED my world Saturday on so many levels. God showed me what it means to love someone. God showed me what it means to be called someone’s friend. Love & Friendship: words we sometimes take for granted & let roll off our tongue.

As friends how well do we know each other that we could carry one another’s heart? Thank you Bella’s you carry my heart well…very well!!

Around the world…never thought I would say Yes!!

Missions Update
 
 
 
 
 
Dear Friends & Family
 
I would like to share with you a trip I am planning to take that will hopefully be a life changing experience for the people I come in contact with, as well as myself & my son.
 
I am very excited to announce that I have the opportunity to participate in a mission trip with about 40 other adults & youth from my church, The Gathering, including my 17 year old son. Our team will be traveling to the country of Uganda from Sept 9th to Sept 17th. While there will be ministering to the people of Uganda through construction at the The Lord’s Child Orphanage. We will also be helping a local church with a three day evangelistic crusade.
 
Please begin praying for our team and for our family specifically as we prepare for this mission trip. We are seeking individuals who will commit to praying for us daily. We are also seeking individuals who will commit financially to send us to Uganda Africa. The average cost of this trip for both myself & my son will be about $8000. Right now we are praying for at least 75 people to sponsor us for $75 toward this once in a lifetime experience. However we realize that this amount may not be possible, so any amount that you might be able to give would be greatly appreciated. All donations are tax deductible, made payable to the Lord’s Child. We belive that with prayer and God’s help our financial needs will be met!!
 
Thank you for letting us share with you what will be one of the most meaning experiences of my life. As a parent, I count it a blessing and an honor to share this experience with my son. 

Please mail your donation to the following address and be sure to include our last name (Hawker) in the memo line of the check.

The Lord’s Child P.O. Box 6120 Sevierville TN 37864
http://www.thelordschild.com/uganda
http://www.thegatheringfamily.com/

Nicole & Brandon Hawker

Mission Monday…where He Leads I will follow.

This week I had the opportunity to attend a Mission Monday meeting at The Gathering in Sevierville TN. During this meeting I learned of three mission trip opportunities. Two are here in the states and one is around the world to Uganda Africa. Yes Africa!! For more details on each of the mission trip opportunities click here.

As a Christ follower, my aim is Lord where you lead me, I will go. There is an old song I used to sing as a little girl in choir…I have decided to follow Jesus…that’s a bold statement when you boil it down to submitting to follow. I am still praying about where Jesus is leading me to go…could it be around the globe to the middle of the desert or right here in our neighboring county.

Five years ago…I followed the Lord to Venezuela and I left a huge piece of my heart. I will admit I was nervous, scared, anxious, and every other feeling in between. Knowing that my husband had been to Venezuela before me had eased some of those concerns. This year, Jon is not going before me; at least not to Africa. He said to me Monday night…that mission trip is more about you and what God has in store for you.

So this year I am praying…Lord where will You lead? Will you, my friends and family, pray with me? Check back soon as I will post more updates regarding Mission Trip 2011!!

Nicole

Shifting Winds…updated

Shifting Winds…God is up to something way bigger than me.  This is a re-post (updated) from May of 2010. Wait till I tell you about May 2011…until then…

Almost 20 yrs ago, I met a man who would forever change my life. At the time we met I was concerned about how I was going to make a name for myself in this world. I was on a path that was to take me straight to Law School and into courtrooms defending women and children.  The dream of becoming a lawyer, and advocate for others has not died however I believe God had bigger plans than a mere courtroom.

When I married my husband, he told me God had placed it on his heart to do missions work; rebuilding what was destroyed by natural disaster. In my limited capacity of understanding missions I said I was not interested in leaving the country. My husband was home-schooled; familiar with the benefit and blessings that arise from families learning growing and studying together. I too said I was not interested in homeschooling our children.  So misinformed I believed they wouldn’t make it to a good university; well my husband graduated from the University of Virgina with a B.A. in Civil Engineering.

In the past 10 years God has been shifting the winds of my heart. My husband has been on several mission trips, state side and overseas. In 2005, God impressed it upon my heart to fly into Maracaibo Venezuela and drive out to a remote town with several teens and adults. We spent the week in 100+ degree weather playing with school children and showing Jesus films at night. I have since longed to return!! Oh did I mention, worship in Spanish and English at the same time is beautiful music!! Four years ago, the Lord allowed my husband and I to build our own home with an estimated sq footage of…well way beyond anything a family of 5 needs.  We currently open our home to children who have been displaced by one reason or another through the foster care system.

Jon went to New Orleans several times in the aftermath of Katrina. After his last trip there, he said “What do you think of selling our home, buying an RV, homeschooling the kids and traveling to areas hit by devastation. Use your Marriage and Family Counseling degree to minister to families who are psychologically struggling. And I (Jon) will minister to their physical needs of tearing down and rebuilding the physical structures.” Honestly my first thought a couple years ago was, “We have good jobs, and our kids are in fantastic schools. Why move around?” This week we heard and read about devastation that hit Nashville. I was not at all surprised by the nudge of the Holy Spirit, “The time is coming and it’s drawing near.”

The winds are shifting…we are not looking to move anytime soon. Or at least we don’t believe we are. We believe God is starting to do a work in our hearts first, to get us spiritually, mentally and physically prepared. For those who are wondering…no our house is not up for sale, yet. And we are not looking to change jobs; Jon is blessed to work for an amazing company and serve along side an awesome church family.  We believe God has been preparing us for a work greater than anything we could have ever dreamed or imagined July 10, 1993 walking down the isle of Cherry Ave Christian Church.

The winds are shifting and God is preparing us to be ready when He is ready. This weekend, Jon and I are taking our first “mission” trip together as a couple. Friday afternoon we will head out to Nashville and spend Saturday doing as much as we can. We anticipate the worst structurally but anticipate an awesome display of God’s faithfulness, holiness, and majesty to shine through the people we will encounter.   Our degrees, our licenses, our goals, our dreams, all that could make for a pretty comfortable life. God is more interested in molding us into a life that He has designed. God allowed us to walk certain roads to get us to the road He wants us to travel. He has allowed us to learn somethings along the way so we are prepared when He shows up with the blueprint of what we are to complete for Him!!

Please pray for us…we believe the journey is just beginning!! We welcome shifting winds because we know Ruach (The Spirit of God) is leading the way!!

Thank you for sticking with the random thoughts of today. I know it was a little long…sometimes thoughts flows like a waterfall…

Nicole

Easter & a Resurrected Soul

Sunday April 24…what an amazing & glorious day. Our church family heard an awesome Gospel Message from Clayton King, campus pastor of Liberty University. He spoke on the three ways to believe in Christ based on John 6. The Jews acknowledged an inherited belief based on past miracles of manna from heaven. Some expressed an intellectual belief and demanded to see Jesus perform miracles in the present. And then there are those who have an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ.

Question…how do you believe? Do you believe in Jesus Christ simply because mom, dad and grandma believe? Do you believe because of a miraculous event that took place? Or do you believe Jesus Christ rose from the dead, defeated hell, AND confess Him as YOUR personal Savior? Wait…I know what you’re thinking…as long as I believe in Jesus I get to go to heaven. Well if that’s the case…Satan and his demons will be there too…WRONG!! As Clayton King said Sunday the demons, Satan, and even humans who fail to acknowledge Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior will NOT be in heaven. If your life, testimony and walk do not line up with confessing Jesus as Lord there is but one final destination for your soul..HELL. Its as real as HEAVEN!!

Now on the other hand; if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, that He rose from the dead and believe He is Lord…then you shall be saved. I remember the day I married my husband…18 years ago. If I continued to live my life as one unmarried he would question my belief and commitment. I learned to live a new life, wear my wedding bands as a symbol of my marital covenant and walk a new walk. The same took place when I confessed Jesus as Lord, I took on the waters of baptism as an outward symbol of an inward experience that Jesus confirmed in my soul. I am now in covenant relationship with Christ. I live as one who is a bride of the King. Not perfect but saved to tell the world what Jesus has done. He not only raised from the dead 2000+ years ago…He resurrected my soul to live abundant and free!!

So Easter is not just a day to celebrate because my grandma celebrated, or a day to celebrate because Jesus healed my body of an incurable disease. Easter is a day that I confess with my mouth…I believe Jesus Christ is the son of the Living God, born of a virgin, He walked this earth for 33 years, was beaten, stripped of his flesh, stripped of his dignity, nails pierced His hands & feet to a cross…and three days later…HE AROSE. He defeated sin, hell and death. Jesus Christ is my Savior, Lord and King!!

So again…how do YOU believe??
Nicole Hawker

Birthdays and a Haircut

Last week my amazing husband turned 40yrs old. One day while preparing for his birthday party I looked in the rear view mirror and caught a glimpse of myself. I needed a haircut bad!! As I stared into my own eyes; I felt the Holy Spirit say “Your 40 is coming do you want to look and be the same?” Kinda brushed it off and kept going about my day. Later that afternoon thoughts of my children began to flood my soul.

My oldest son will be 17 yrs old this summer. He has a heart for missions and desires to repair walls torn down by destruction. Not much about me, the physical me, has changed in 17 years. Spiritually I’ve grown up, emotionally I am getting stronger everyday but wow physically. The Holy Spirit gently asked “How are you maintaining the temple of the King?”

My daughter will be 11 in less than a week. Wow is she ever growing up; becoming a young lady every day. She is a worshiper and a teacher to the very core of her being. Once again ever so gentle the Holy Spirit asked “Do you model what it means to a daughter of the Most High King?”

My youngest son is turning 9 later this Spring. We affectionately call him mini-Trump because he is gifted with an amazing thought process, logic and understanding. He is very strong-willed and a fierce competitor. And once again the Holy Spirit nudged me and said “You were once a fighter; why do you let the enemy drive you to complacency about caring for yourself?” Ouch that one stung a little; but so true.

As my husband blew out the candles on his cake; a little bit of me wanted to know his wish. But in that moment as I looked around the room filled with friends and family; I knew the wish, the desire, the Lord has placed in my heart.

I knew something had to change before I reached my 40 candles; at this point I have 21 months. So…yesterday I had my hair cut it dries faster after a good long workout 🙂 I’ve been reading “I dare you to change” by @bilcornelius. It’s time for change!!

Time to become fierce about maintaining the temple. Time to become fierce about walking in confidence and modeling for my children what it means to be a child of the Most High King. Time to allow God to renew my inner strength vigor and energy to be all that God has called me to be as a wife, mom and servant to His Body.

Nicole Hawker

The Journey Continues

Today…I closed a door. As it was shutting a woman asked me “Are you happy with your decision”. Instantly she felt she had offended me but it was a perfect question.

You see this door I closed is one that I probably should never have opened. It was a door to a safe place, a door to a familiar place. What was that door…it was a door which swung on the hinges of my pride. Last fall I made a professional decision that sent me back to working part-time. The work itself was not the issue; the issue is that it stifled my faith in God’s provision & protection.

So to answer the question “Am I happy with my decision?” A resounding yes! As I was closing the door; God opened the door for me to share a small portion of my faith. I had the opportunity to tell of my church family http://www.thegatheringfamily.com. I was able share the value in walking in submission to my husband. I had the opportunity to leave with the respect of my peers and giving Glory to the name of Jesus Christ.

I believe that by closing one door God has the opportunity to open new doors. When I allow the Lord to order my steps; He knows my personality well. He doesn’t wait too long to begin unveiling the path little by little.

The journey continues…
Nicole Hawker
twitter: nicolehawker
Blog: nicolehawker.wordpress.com

My favorite websites:
http://www.thegatheringfamily.com
http://www.myrefuge2011.com

Raising children to love the Lord

Last week our 16yr was invited to attend youth adventure camp with teens from The Gathering in Sevierville TN. Our son is a good young man, with a good heart, a servants heart full of mercy & compassion. He is saved and loves the Lord. Last week our son had an Encounter with God that changed him!! He is no longer just a good kid; he is a young man filled with the passion of the Holy Spirit. His desire is to be a reconciler of people. These were his words upon coming home Saturday…he wants to bring people together and bring them to God. He wants to be trained as a youth pastor and he wants to follow after Christ!! We are proud of our son we believe He, The Holy Spirit, who began a good work in our son will complete that work and through the testimony of Brandon many will be saved!!

Nicole

Goodbye…So Long!

While reading Beth Moore’s latest book I had an Aha Moment. I am the most insecure when trying to taylor my words, thoughts and actions to please those around me. I am the most secure when I think, act, speak, and feel the way God created me to be. When I operate by His standards I am more confident and at ease. When trying to please man (or woman) I am faking it; I know it and God knows it.

Psalm 139 describes in very intimate and elaborate detail to which I was created. God knew what He was doing when He created me as an outspoken, Type A, Choleric, with a hint of Golden Retriever. He knew my spiritual gifts, my weakness and my strengths. As my old Pastor Keith H. would say…I celebrate the uniqueness!!

Dr. Tony Evans just tweeted the following: Many of us are asking God – why aren’t You giving me power? God is asking us – why aren’t you exercising spiritual authority? @drtonyevans

To walk in spiritual authority is to know the Source of power and authority. To walk in power and spiritual authority is to walk with integrity. Integrity of self; being true to live out the design and destiny of Him who created. He, God the Father created me; it is He who shapes me; it is He who molds me and it is He who approves me.

So from this moment forward; as Beth would say insecurity you have been a very very bad friend!!
Looking forward to Beth Moore Simulcast this Saturday with a few friends…there is still room for more!! Come join us as we pursue a life of authenticity and confidence!! Nicole Hawker

Waterfall Dreams

One day…we were ready…then one day we were not…and now God is saying “Get prepared; I’m about to do a new thing; don’t you see it”

When you stand near a waterfall you sense that rush, a rush of peace, a rush of cleansing, a rush that flows endlessly. That’s how God’s grace has been in my life; a waterfall.

God gave my husband and I a very clear vision 10 years ago that He began leaking a few years prior. People have said God doesn’t waste a hurt…well if that is truly the case…we have a mountain full of spices to encourage others.

In the simplest of words that vision lies in restoration; redemption; and a living water that over flows to the inner most parts of husband and wife.

As the waters flow down the rugged jagged mountain there is no idea where that water ends up. But for many water falls become living water.

Nicole Hawker

Learning from Daniel

This morning I read about the life of Daniel. One thing that stood out is Daniel was a man of fierce integrity in the midst of fierce opposition.  According to Daniel 5:12; he was given an extraordinary spirit, knowledge, and insight, interpretation of dreams, explanation of enigmas, and solving of difficult problems.  Daniel was able to interpret dreams, visions and reveal a message written by the hand of God on a stone wall. Daniel not only believed in a supernatural God; he was empowered by the one and only supernatural God to walk out God’s mission.  As I spend the rest of my day the question that I must answer…Am I living a life of fierce integrity even in the midst of fierce opposition?  I may walk into a fire but I can walk out unburned and without the stench of smoke, if I remain a woman of integrity!

New Thing

Testing the waters of blogging…This is a definitely a new thing for me. As one who rarely journals my thoughts this could be interesting if not humorous at times. Above all I hope it becomes something that edifies others.

If you are an avid blogger or reader of blogs I would appreciate and honor feedback!!

So where shall I start….

Nicole