A New Season

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Andy Horner, Premier Designs’ CSO, July of 2011

There comes a time in our lives when we have to let go of something in order to fully enter into that which the Lord has planned for us. The letting go can be painful, difficult, and down right scary. After all, it does require change, and change is often uncomfortable.

Casey and I transitioned from our last church back to The Crossing in March after much prayer. We knew God was bringing us into a new season. In April we found out we were pregnant, and in May we miscarried. I had applied to Southeastern university for church music after prompting from my husband to go back to school for what I loved to do—lead worship. This was before I was pregnant and I wondered how I would manage the two. Then I miscarried. God’s plans are so much bigger than we could ever imagine.

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National Rally 2011

The past couple of months there have been so many God ordained things that have happened that I am in complete awe of my Father. They began with me finding out I didn’t need to do scales for my video audition for the music department and the chair of the music department telling me earlier this month what I needed to study for my upcoming music theory placement exam (see more about this here).

These God winks continued with me singing for the first time at The Crossing’s SouthShore campus and knowing without a doubt while on stage that I was smack dab in the middle of God’s will for my life. The doors began opening  after that. I went to noon prayer at church last Wednesday and was asked by someone on the worship team if I could sing for the upcoming women’s conference. I was placed on the schedule to sing later in September as well. I really began to feel that I was doing what I was created to do, even though I have sang on the worship team at my last church for three years.

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Singing for the first time at The Crossing’s SouthShore campus

While all of this was happening, there was also a struggle going on inside. I was working my Premier Designs jewelry business, but finding myself overwhelmed with my schedule and all that I was trying to balance. I was also (and still am) studying for my music theory placement exam which is of utmost importance. I started to find that which once brought me great joy seemed to cause me stress. A lot of it had to do with my physical limitations as well. I had a jewelry show the Friday before I sang at The Crossing for the first time (again) and it took a huge toll on my ankle. It was then that I knew I had to really choose carefully what I put my time and energy towards, and really re-evaluate my goals.

I attended training Monday and brought a friend with me. Again, I struggled. I didn’t want to go because I felt God had made it clear what I was to do. However, the friend I was bringing was looking forward to it, so I went. While there I felt different, because I knew this season was coming to an end. My dear friend India Hopper opened us up in prayer and proceeded to read a devotional entry that was straight from the Father to me. I listened as tears streaked my face. This moment was not by chance, but by His design.

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For months I had struggled with what to do. I can’t count on two hands how many times I cried out to the Lord for direction on His will for my life. Premier has been such a huge part of my life for almost 6 years. The friendships formed through the business have been the biggest blessing. What would I do without Premier? What about the Haven of Hope retreat I am scheduled to attend next week and I have already bought airfare for? But then confirmation after confirmation came.

I began clearing my schedule of things that I didn’t feel lined up with God’s will for me at the time. I need to focus on school and the worship team at the moment. I planned to message Jennifer Pelham, a friend of mine, to cancel my Thirty-One party I had scheduled with her. Before doing so I received an email from one of the worship leaders at church putting me on the schedule for the women’s conference as well as the rehearsal for the conference which happened to be the same day and 30 minutes before my Thirty-One party.

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Some of my sisters at Rally this year!

This morning I emailed Cheryl Johnston of Brandon Christian Writer’s to tell her that I wouldn’t be making the monthly meeting tomorrow night as I need to cut things out of my schedule that aren’t related to what I feel God is calling me to right now. Today at noon prayer the worship leader that emailed me came up to me and asked if I could sing this Sunday because a gal that was supposed to had something last minute come up. The rehearsal is tomorrow night—the night I was supposed to have my BCW meeting. (Not by chance, but by design.)

This morning I discovered that there is a mandatory orientation for music majors that is followed with the music theory placement exam next Sunday. That is the day I am to return from Haven of Hope, so clearly can’t make it to the retreat.

At noon prayer Pastor Stan had everyone who was able to get on their knees in the posture of prayer and began to pray over us. He said the Lord was wanting us to let go of the thing we are holding onto so tightly so that He can take us deeper into His will for us. He spoke of no longer striving, but instead surrendering, and not letting the fear of “what if’s” plague us. He said that God has a plan for our lives and a purpose we are to fulfill. I stayed on my knees, face to the cold floor, tears forming a puddle beneath me. I began to sob and could hear others sobbing and praying in agreement. I couldn’t believe it. What he said was pretty much the same as what the devotional India read Monday said. WOW. How great is our God?

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Making dream boards with my Premier sisters at a beach retreat last fall

After prayer I drove to see a dear friend and counselor of mine, Phyllis Tarbox, of Above & Beyond Counseling Ministries, and she assured me that I am stepping into a new season and God has great things in store for me. However, I need to be obedient, trust Him, and move forward without looking back. (After all, I don’t want to become a pillar of salt like Lot’s wife.)

I left feeling so much peace. I no longer had the fear of, “what will people think of me if I don’t renew with Premier?” Because honestly, it doesn’t matter. What matters is that I am doing what I believe God wants me to do. He wants to free up my schedule so that I can do the things that I love and that bring me joy. And in doing so, it would bring Him joy. So, here I am, deciding not to renew with Premier next month after 6 years of being a part of the company. I know this will be a huge shock to most because I have been successful in my business, have been attending training’s, holding shows (I just had one Friday), attending Rally, promoting to Builder, etc. But this should prove all the more that this is something I am doing because I am being obedient to God, not simply throwing in the towel because it wasn’t working out for me. It was working out. It’s just time to move into a new season.

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Penny Marshall, my Premier “Glamma”

Premier Designs is an AMAZING company built on Biblical principles that truly has a heart for the Lord and for people. I have too many testimonies of times when fellow jeweler’s were there for me when family and even church family were not. Mike Glenn of Premier’s prayer team has been praying for me since my accident in 2009. My sister who was a jeweler, called Mike and he put her in contact with a jeweler in SC where my accident was. She opened up her home to my sisters and my mom for a week and even packed them lunches each day for the hospital. I had the blessing of meeting her years later at National Rally when I got back into the company. I even had jeweler’s I didn’t know mail me inspirational jewelry.

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Mike Glenn AKA “Dad”

It has been such a blessing to be a part of this company. I believe they have the most generous hostess plan and marketing plan available. A little research will prove this. So if you are looking for a sisterhood, a ministry, a biblical based business, or some awesome free bling, Premier is the one for you. I will cherish the many memories made over the years, but even more so I will cherish the friendships.

I find the most joy and fulfillment when I am singing on the worship team, helping others enter into the presence of Holy Spirit through the worship experience. That is what I feel God has created me to do. I must be obedient in that without looking back or having a back up plan. Obedience is better than sacrifice (1 Samuel 15:22). After all, that is what true surrender and trust look like.

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My dear friend Kelly Spezzano and I

 

Thank you for all of your love and support the past 6 years. If you have ever hosted a show for me or purchased a piece of jewelry from me, THANK YOU. You were such a big part in my business and success. I am forever thankful for you. Stay tuned for a going out of business sale! 🙂

To my Premier family (especially Penny Marshall, Jalene Browning, and Kelly Spezzano), THANK YOU for all of your love and support through all of my surgeries, the death of my dad, my mom’s health issues, and my miscarriage. You ladies know who you are and I appreciate you more than you know. May God bless your businesses and make all of your dreams come true. Love you to the moon and back. ❤

UPDATE: I have since changed my major to a BA in Multidisciplinary Studies with a minor in Church Music and a minor in Creative Writing (because you can’t have too many writing degrees, lol).

 “There are no ‘if’s’ in God’s world. And no places that are safer than other places. The center of His will is our only safety – let us pray that we may always know it!”
Corrie ten Boom

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Lizard Shenanigans

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Photo credit to http://www.wdw360.com

These little (sometimes big) guys are everywhere. If I let Dallas out on the back porch before going out and scaring them off, he’s sure to catch and kill one . . .

Yesterday I spotted a little guy (not THAT little) on the wall in our bedroom . . . I went to the kitchen, got a Tupperware bowl and a thin magazine in hopes of trapping it and sliding the magazine between the wall and bowl to contain it in order to release it outside.

I had no such luck.

The thing was so fast and I was afraid of squishing its fragile body with the rim of the bowl. It disappeared behind the wardrobe closet . . .

Once Casey came home he tried to find it with no luck. Bummer.

There have been many times over the years that I have found a dried up lizard around the house while cleaning. I know. It’s just a lizard. But it still stings a little. I think about the suffering it endured. The pain and fear of not knowing where to go, or how to get food or water. It is a slow death for the lizard.

This morning while getting ready my thoughts returned to the lizard. Where was he know? Did Dallas find him in the night and eat him? Is he still cowering in fear somewhere?

If only he would have trusted me to catch him so I could return him to his home.

I know what’s best for him. He needs to return to the great outdoors so he can be among other lizards and have food to eat.

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Photo via Flickr Creative Commons

But he thought he knew better, and in running from me, was running to his death.

This hit me hard this morning. How many times has the Father tried to gently, carefully, capture our hearts—our attention— to bring us home to our identity in Him, but we run in the opposite direction out of fear and misunderstanding? We run to that which won’t bring life, but instead will bring death, either physical or spiritual (or both)?

We compromise our faith by moving in with a boyfriend/girlfriend before marriage in order to save money. We stop attending church because we feel too convicted and aren’t quite ready to take up our cross. We don’t tithe out of fear of not having enough in the future. All the while Papa is saying, “Come to me, I want to help you have life and have it more abundantly.”

I can relate to all of the above examples I gave. But I can attest to a life changed when I finally decided to let God capture me and to live a life obedient to His word. Casey and I didn’t move in together until after our wedding day. Our wedding night was our first night in the same bed. I used to avoid church because I knew I wasn’t living a lifestyle that brought honor or glory to God. Now I want to be in church because if there is anything in me that isn’t bringing Him glory, I want it to be brought to light so I can deal with it. I used to not tithe because I feared not having enough. Ha! Let me tell you . . . that’s a whole testimony in and of itself, but ever since I started tithing faithfully I have never been without. I’ve heard it said that tithing isn’t giving, it’s simply not stealing (10%). God has given us all that we have, and the only time He says to test Him in the Bible is with tithing. Casey and I are stepping out in faith and deciding to give more beyond the 10% God asks for. He is faithful. It all belongs to him anyway, and we can’t take it with us! 😉

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I’m not perfect. Trust me. However, I am constantly examining my life, my motives, my words, and my actions so that I can be more like my Savior, my Lord. I want nothing more than to reflect His love to the broken world around me. I want to remain captured by His love, and I have found that a life lived in obedience to the Father is a life full of peace, joy, and blessings. Do I still mess up? You bet, but my identity is not in my current circumstances, but who God says I am. I repent, pick myself back up, and continue running the race in the right direction and with the best coach.

So I want to ask you today, are you that lizard that is out of the environment you know you are meant to be in? Are you running from the Father who truly desires to help restore your identity and return you to where you belong? If so, don’t merely slow down, but STOP. Stop running. Listen for His voice. He loves you and is ready to upgrade your life in ways you can’t even imagine. ❤

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Building Blocks

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It’s been awhile since I have blogged. I’ve had lots going on amidst the miscarriage, my trip to Texas for Premier’s National Rally, and the recent vacation in Wisconsin visiting family that I just returned from. I’m trying to get back on track though! 😉

The beginning of June I got my acceptance letter for Southeastern University, a Christian college in Lakeland, Florida. I attended for a semester in 2012 but due to the hour commute and decrease in BAH (housing allowance from the government) I returned to the University of Tampa to finish my degree. However, since I have graduated from there, I decided that it was time to return to school for something I feel called to do, and that is lead worship.

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I didn’t find out about needing to apply to the music department and submit a video audition until about a week before the deadline. I was a bit concerned about all of the scales I had to do, as I wasn’t used to doing scales. I had some questions and was given the email (during the summer) of the associate-professor of music. He was very good with emailing me and helping me choose a classical selection as well as answering any other questions I had. He also told me not to worry about the scales, as they will be removing that from the requirements! Praise the Lord! (God wink 1)

Furthermore, I was in communication with the school and discovered that they extended the deadline by two months! (God wink 2) Thankfully, I was able to get my application and video submitted 4 days after the original deadline of July 1st.

July 12th I found out that I had been accepted to the music department and I cried so many tears of joy. I have sang on worship teams for the past 6 years or so, but was never really given the opportunity to grow in my gifting. This was now becoming a reality. Furthermore, Casey and I returned to our old church in March, and I am back on the team there, and will be singing this coming Sunday. 😀

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Tears of joy when I got my acceptance letter into the music department!

I’m going somewhere with this. While in Wisconsin I called SEU to find out when the music theory placement exam was going to be, as I can’t register for my classes until I take the exam. I told the gal that I spoke with that I couldn’t seem to get a hold of anyone in the music department when I called there. She gave me the number to the chair of the music department as well as someone else I had tried calling several times. I decided to call the chair.

He apparently had JUST walked into his office (which is why he answered rather casually). I asked about the exam and he said they would be sending out an email with details on it. The conversation could of stopped there, but I proceeded to tell him of my concerns with music theory, as I never was good at it. I explained how I made first chair in orchestra years in a row and was accepted to Blake High School after auditioning, but was put in with beginner’s once they learned I didn’t know theory. He told me that he would be my advisor (God wink 3) and proceeded to tell me what I needed to study for the exam: augmented and diminished triads, how to build major and minor scales, key signatures, etc. (God wink 4) Anyone who knows music theory probably knows that this is what will be on there, but I am CLUELESS. He said if I didn’t do well on the exam it could add a semester of remedial classes to my degree. I have about 9 months of free schooling left on my GI Bill, which is about three semesters. According to my calculations I will have my degree in that time—without the remedial classes.

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I’m amazed at the grace I have been given with this whole process, and the “God winks” of being directed to the right people at the right time. My Music Theory for Dummies book arrived yesterday, and I plan to get to studying. On the cover I noticed it says, “Identify the building blocks of music.” Hmmmmm, This could be important, especially if I want to write music . . .

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Building blocks. I know how to sing, am good with harmonizing, intonation, etc., but I know nothing of keys, note names (what is what), etc. In orchestra I could see a piece of sheet music and play it without a problem. I knew where my fingers needed to go on the neck board based on where the notes landed on the staff, when to rest, when to hold half or whole notes etc., but I really knew nothing of what the notes were called or anything else for that matter. That is why I got an F in orchestra in high school when we studied theory, decided to drop the course, and sold the $900 viola Dad had bought me.

So, I am in for a challenge. There is so much more to music than simply doing what you know to do. When I began teaching myself guitar and learning chords I remember how proud I was of myself. I also remember my brother who was in a band look at me and say, “Whoa, you’re actually playing the cords!” I laughed and asked, “How do you play guitar?” “Power cords,” he answered. (Whatever THAT means.) LOL.

What about our faith? We can know how to treat others with kindness, attend church, tithe a portion of our income to the church, etc., but not know the building blocks of our faith. So what are they?

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1.) Salvation: We must know God’s true character, that He is loving, and always speaks truth. We must also believe that His only son, Jesus, was crucified for our sins, buried, and raised to new life on the third day.

2.) Study: We must know the word of God by reading His truths in the Holy Bible. By doing so, we will be able to apply what we have learned to our daily lives and interactions with others. Lies that we have believed about our identity will be replaced with God’s truth about who we are in Him.

3.) Prayer: We must pray to God on a regular basis thanking Him for all we have, repenting of our sins and asking forgiveness, and presenting our requests to Him. People can’t be in relationship without communication. The same goes for relationship with our Father.

4.) Speak: We must speak to the mountains in our lives and tell them how big our God is. There is power in our words. God spoke and light appeared. Jesus spoke and the sea was calmed. The disciples spoke and demons were cast out.

5.) Act: We must act on the word of God making it a reality in our lives rather than a feel good message we hear on Sunday morning. This goes beyond applying what you read to your life. This is intentional life changing action which means going out of your way to minister to a homeless person, or acting on that Holy Spirit nudge you feel to do something or say something to someone that will take you out of your comfort zone. God doesn’t call the equipped, He equips the called. He wants to make disciples of us so that we can disciple others.

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I may be able to sing well without knowing music theory, but it won’t go much beyond that. I don’t know the history of music, or how to help someone else better understand the art because I don’t know the building blocks. If I want to be able to lead a team I need to know more than simply how to sing. Granted, helping others enter into the presence of God is the goal of a worship team, but it would be difficult to make that happen if everyone was singing and playing instruments in different keys! (Hey, it would be making a joyful noise!)

I know this was a long post and I’m truly not trying to make up for lost time, lol. This is something I have been wanting to share as I think knowing the building blocks of faith is so important. I’m sure others have different building blocks, but these are ones that I find to be important to better understanding our faith. We can’t build a sturdy house without a solid foundation—so we must study and know the foundation.

“So this is what the Sovereign Lord says: ‘See, I lay a stone in Zion, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone for a sure foundation; the one who relies on it will never be stricken with panic.'”—Isaiah 28:16