Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Getting Right With God Again

I'm writing this post this morning before getting any work done. Today isn't a particularly stressful day for me, as far as work goes. I should spend some time writing for BlogMutt, and I have one client who is waiting for blog posts for her blog and they're due on Friday. But first, I need to write about a few things that are happening in my spiritual life.

I've been struggling for about a week now. I seem to have caught a cold and it's causing me a lot of problems. Last night was, by far, the worst. I wasn't able to get to sleep for a long time because I kept coughing. I considered sleeping on the couch so I wouldn't wake Craig up, but then I decided that I would try taking some more cold medicine and some Benadryl to try and calm things down (not to mention knock myself out). It worked, and I slept for about four hours straight. Things were a big fitful after that.

I've also been working on losing weight. I started on March 21, 2013 and since then I've lost almost 17 pounds. I'm not thrilled with that amount, but I do look better than I've looked in a long time. It's nice to see myself on camera at church and not despise what I see. (If you'd like to follow my weight loss progress, I write a blog about that here.)

Here's the problem.

Last weekend, my best friend from college came to visit me. I hadn't seen her in a few years, and the last time I saw her, she was confined to a bed in a hospital room because of a cancer diagnosis. She had never met my husband, and she had not met my three-year-old son, despite the fact that I brought him with me when I went to visit her a little over three years ago. So, this visit was really special.

Up until she came to visit, I had really developed a great Bible-reading habit. I would do my devotions every morning with my cup of coffee nearby. Then, I would eat my breakfast and venture out to our back room and do my morning exercise. It had gotten to be a really great routine. However, when I had my friend here, I kind of fell off the wagon as far as the devotions part of the routine goes. I realized this morning that I hadn't done my own morning devotions in over a week. While I do read my Pastor's devotions on his blog, I know I need to be doing my own as well.

The result?

While I don't think God is punishing me, I do believe that I've been in disobedience to Him because I haven't been spending time with Him in the morning. I believe it's made Him sad, and I also believe it's brought me out from under the umbrella of His protection health-wise. So, I believe it's caused me to catch a cold, and I believe it's caused the scale to kind of hover over the same numbers for a few days. Granted, I do believe my scale is broken, I also think that it's given me a "ballpark" number that's been in a fairly downward trend since I started on my weight loss journey in March.

While it might seem that the logical answer would be to just resume my "habit", I'm amazed at how easy it was to fall away from that habit. I was thinking about that this morning while I was getting ready, and thinking about writing this post. Honestly, I don't believe that God wants us to develop a HABIT of spending time with Him. I think He wants us to desire to spend time with Him because we are looking forward to growing in relationship with Him. I think He's excited to spend time with us, and He wants us to feel the same way. Over the past few months, my habit of doing my devotions was akin to brushing my teeth.

I believe that I need to find a way to foster my relationship with God that doesn't revolve around telling myself that I need to read four chapters in the Bible every morning. I am not sure what I should do, but as I write this, I feel like God is telling me that He will tell me what I should do. My logic gets in the way a lot, come to think of it. My ideas usually aren't that good. However, when I lean upon my Daddy, and when I climb up into His lap and snuggle against His chest, great things happen. I love that.

I'm going to spend a few days listening to God's heart. I'll report back here in a few days and let you know where He's leading me. I do know that I want to go deeper in my relationship with Him. I know that involves more than a "religious" commitment to read my Bible.

Hmmm...I'm feeling better already!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

God's Timing Is Perfect

Last night Craig and I were talking and the conversation drifted to when we first met each other. It's really amazing how it all came about, and to look at it now, it's obvious that in order for our lives to turn out the way they have, God's hand had to be on us so that we would meet at just the right time.

I had just given complete control over my dating life to God. After being in an abusive relationship for over a year, and after spending a few months falling in love with a man who lied to me about having a wife at home, I had made the decision that I was finished with online dating. It had only caused me pain and heartache. I knew that God had a plan for me, and that He didn't want me to be single forever. I resigned myself to wait on His plan to come to fruition in my life.

As a demonstration of my faith, I began writing letters to my future husband. At first, writing the letters was awkward. I didn't really know what to say. However, isn't that exactly what happens when you meet someone for the first time? I started by introducing myself and telling him that I was praying for him. I wanted him to know that I loved him and that I was setting myself aside for him until God brought him into my life. As I wrote, I grew to learn all about this man who would be my future husband. Certain details became clear to me. I knew that he lived in the Binghamton, NY area. I knew that he had blue eyes. I knew he was tall with dark hair. I was beginning to fall for him. I thanked God for revealing these little details to me. I knew that when I finally met him, I would know it was him. That was such a blessing God gave me, especially after all that I had been through.

I remember the day that I felt God telling me to go online and look for this man. He told me to go to a specific website: relationships.com. It's not even an active site anymore. He told me that I would find him there, and that he would have contact information snuck into his profile, so I wouldn't have to pay anything to talk to him.

I went onto the site and when I saw him, my heart jumped into my throat. He was so handsome. I knew he would have blue eyes...but I didn't know they would be so beautiful and bright. I saw the contact information in his profile and since it was a Yahoo ID, I assumed that he must use Yahoo messenger. I sent him an instant message, and then I waited.

Little did I know, he didn't use Yahoo messenger. He had put his email address in his profile. Even so, God is greater than our assumptions. The next day, he was emailing with another girl and she asked him to install Yahoo messenger so they could talk there. He did install it, and when he did, my message popped up on his screen. He answered me, and we started talking. We talked for two hours online that day, during which time I became so engrossed in our conversation that the dinner I was making caught fire in the kitchen and I had to go put it out with a fire extinguisher! At that point, I signed off and gave him my phone number. He called me soon after, and we made arrangements to go out that coming Saturday night.

Each day leading up to Saturday, we would text each other and talk on the phone. Our anticipation was growing, and I could not wait to meet this amazing man.

Saturday arrived and I took my kids to my parents' house early that day. I wanted to give myself plenty of time to get ready for what I was sure was going to be the last first date I ever had. I baked him some cookies and then got ready for my date. When he called to say he was going to be a little late because he was helping some friends move, I wasn't sure if I should be relieved or disappointed because I was so nervous.

As it turned out, he was only about a half an hour late, and part of that was because he stopped at the grocery store down the street to buy me three white roses. He parked his car across the street from my house, and I watched him through the window as he crossed and approached my front door. I let him in and I couldn't believe how good he smelled. When I looked into his eyes, I knew he was my future husband. He asked me if he could have a hug, and I wrapped my arms around him. I had never felt anything so wonderful in all my life. He held me so tight, and it felt like I belonged in his arms.

That night was the beginning of the most amazing relationship I have ever known, apart from my relationship with God. We instantly became a part of each other's lives. After our date (which lasted 24 hours, only because of an ice storm), it became clear that we were meant for each other.

God's timing is perfect.

God used Craig to save me and my little family. My son Matthew was beginning to get out of control. At four years old, he was disobedient and headstrong. I was suffering from a back injury, and punishing him was difficult for me. Cassidy was beginning to display the effects of not having her father present, and at seven years old, I had already gotten phone calls from her teacher that she was chasing the boys around the classroom and the playground. Craig's transition into our family was seamless. The kids treated him like a dad, almost from the beginning. He treated them like his kids from the beginning too.

Little did we know, as our dating relationship progressed, there was a woman closer to Craig's home city who was pregnant with his child. A mistake he had made the month before we met resulted in a pregnancy. Craig had been starting down a road that might have led to him backsliding in his faith. When he met me, he says I helped him realize the type of man he wanted to become. He placed God back in the center of his life, and we began planning our future together. Of course, we were still unaware of the baby that would soon be born.

God's timing is perfect.

It was a whirlwind romance. We got married in June that year, and planned a larger celebration wedding for August. We took our honeymoon in August as well, venturing to Florida and embarking on a Caribbean cruise while we were there. Upon our return home, we had to get ready to move into another house. Only three days after our honeymoon ended, we would be moving.

After we moved to our new home, Craig was in the backyard when he received the phone call telling him he had a son. He was devastated. He thought he had been so careful. He didn't want to have to deal with having a child to another woman. What's worse, he had no idea how I was going to react. Would his indiscretion tear our family apart?

God's timing is perfect.

When he told me about the phone call, I remember he had asked me to sit down. He was pacing in our driveway and shaking like a leaf. He told me the news and I took him in my arms. I told him that I loved him and I also told him that sometimes when people have sex, the result is a baby. I asked him if I could call the mother and reassure her that we would help her in any way that we could.

To this day, JJ remains a blessing to our family. He's five years old now, and when he comes to visit the energy in our house doubles in intensity. That's okay. We love him to pieces, and I'm so glad that God gave us this little surprise.

Can you see how God's hand worked through all of this? Not only was God orchestrating every minute of our connecting online, but he also orchestrated our relationship and facilitated our marriage before Craig found out about JJ. Every little piece of the puzzle had to be there in order for it to work.

God is so good. I'm so glad that he's in control of my life and that he gave me the most incredible family I could have ever asked for. God has a plan for each and every one of us. If you're reading this and you don't know Jesus as your Savior, you're missing out on that incredible plan. Let God write the rest of your life story. His endings are so much better than ours, because...

God's timing is perfect. 

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Patience In Business

"There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens..." Ecclesiastes 3:1

As I wrote in my last blog post, I believe that God is in the process of prospering my family through my business.  I'm excited about where I'm headed, and about all God has done to promote me over the past year.  It is truly remarkable, to think about all that I've learned and how I've grown.

As I go forward, I do struggle.  If you follow my blog, I don't want you to think that everything is sunshine and roses.  It's been a long, hard process for me to get to this point.  I'm still dealing with issues.  At first, I dealt with a lack of clients.  It was just a complete lack.  It took me a few months to get some buzz going about what I was doing.  Then, once the buzz was going, I was contacted by a few people who wanted me to do some work for them.  One of those people panned out, and I'm thankful for Dan and Rose Flatt of Multi Media Business Printers.  Since then, and since I learned how to wait for God to bring me the clients, I have started, yet another challenging time.

It's difficult to create time to meet with clients (especially with a toddler at home, and only one vehicle for our family), but I do it.  Of all the client meetings I've had (except for Dan and Rose), I have yet to have someone smile at me and say, "Yes, I want you to work with us.  Here is a check for $XXX)".  I've had potential clients who talked about it...but I haven't received any money yet.  Now, for some of them, they are simply waiting on funding to be available to work with me.  I understand that.  But my controlling nature still wants to move things forward more quickly.

That's my biggest struggle.

I was thinking about my struggling tonight and God spoke to my heart.  He reminded me that He is in control of this.  I gave it to Him, so I need to let Him handle it.  The truth is, I have no idea what these businesses are going through in their own struggles.  Every business owner has struggles, whether they're financial, or internal with their employees, or something else altogether.  There have been some potential clients that have asked me to contact them and they haven't gotten back to me.  That's OK.  I believe there's a reason for that.  I believe that I probably won't ever know the reason.  But, I also believe that I will trust in God to take care of my business.  I'm believing him to weed out the clients who might not want to pay me (like the guy in England who asked me for a contract but never got back to me after I talked about money).  I don't want to chase clients down.  I want them to want to work with me, so we have a good working relationship.  I want to create great change and promotion for their businesses.  I want to do my work with the highest degree of integrity there is.

So, even though I'm growing more successful every day, it's going slow.  I know I still have some things to learn, and perhaps God is even waiting for me to perfect those things so that when I do get that first big check, I'll be ready to take on the challenge.  I am fortunate because He's already shared His plan for my life with me.  I know He wants to bless me in my writing.  He's given me a gift, and I want Him to use it for His glory.

I can be patient as I wait for His perfect plan to unfold.  His perfect plan is always better than my botched-together plan, anyway.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

God's Blessings Are Right On Time

I never cease to be blown away by the goodness of God.

I started my content writing business in November 2012.  I was so excited.  I had learned so many great things about SEO from writing for Blogmutt and for Interact Media.  I was thrilled to get started on writing some copy for businesses in our area.  So, I went through all the steps of setting up your own business, and I started emailing businesses and sending out letters.  I waited.  I waited a long time, actually.  Nothing was happening, and I was frustrated.

I went to God, and I questioned him.  I asked him why this was happening.  What was taking so long?  Why was no one contacting me, if this was supposed to be what I did with my life and my writing?  I was so passionate about what I wanted and about what I could do for our area businesses.

God answered me.

He told me that he had led me to this place in my life, but I was taking control over it.  Much like I had taken control over other parts my life in the past and those things ended up being disasters.  He told me that I needed to do the things that I learned brought in good clients, which are writing blog posts on my website and sharing those posts on social media.  He then told me to keep up my writing at Blogmutt and Interact Media, and he promised me that he would take care of the clients for my business.

So, I did.

Man, was it hard!  I kept wanting to do things, to reach out to people.  When I was asked about my business, of course I answered questions.  I went on consultation appointments when they were requested.  But, I stopped doing the "cold calling" that I was doing.  The consultation appointments I had weren't amounting to much, and the temptation to say, "God, this isn't working" was there, but I never gave in to it.  God said he was taking care of it.  I knew that I was (am) a tither and that God's Word is true.  I was just waiting on that outpouring of blessings in my life.

I believe the outpouring is beginning.

Yesterday, I had a consultation with a restaurant in Corning.  I don't know if it's because I love restaurants, or if it has something to do with what Craig does for a living, but I've wanted to work with restaurants since I got this vision for local SEO.  I had a really great meeting with this particular restaurant owner.  I went into the meeting knowing that he had a certain set of views about the importance of social media over his website, and I was able to change his mind.  I know God gave me those words.  I know he opened up the opportunity for me.

Not only was I able to make him see that his website was just as important as social media and that the two go hand in hand when it comes to Internet marketing, but I was also able to convince him that a redesign of his website was in order.  He didn't balk at my prices, and he even said they were very reasonable, and that he would rather spend his marketing money with me than with the yellow pages and other advertising methods that weren't working.

He was interested in everything I said he should do.  For the first time, I was able to experience the feeling of a truly successful consultation session with a potential client.  When he showed me around the restaurant after our meeting, he introduced me to some of his staff as "Nicole, the person who is going to be helping us with our Internet marketing from now on."  He told me to go home and look at his website and work up a quote for him.  I did that yesterday, and I emailed it to him.  Right before I left, he looked me in the eye and he said, "Just so you know...I know a lot of people.  A LOT of people.  If you do a good job for me, I can get you more clients easily."

Talk about blown away!

Obedience to God pays off.  It pays off big time.  I would have never dreamed I'd be here, in this place, at this time last year.  In fact, last February, I was still working for Dr. Addams.  I was desperately trying to juggle handling all of her office responsibilities, and failing miserably at it.  I was being verbally and emotionally abused every day.  I've never felt so free in my life as I do right now.

Thank you, Lord.  Thank you for knowing when the right time to bless us is.  We don't always think you're right on time.  But you are.  I believe it.  And I trust you with every piece of my life, knowing that you always have a better plan for me than I could ever have for myself.

Friday, February 15, 2013

God Is My Healer

2 Corinthians 4:8-9:  We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed.

Last month I got a flu shot.  I was pressured incredibly by my mom, who couldn't believe I hadn't gotten it yet.  Everyone in my house had gotten it, but I rarely go anywhere, so I thought it would probably be okay if I didn't.  I finally gave in though, after being told I should "really get it because the flu is bad this year."  A week later, I got sick with something that resembled the flu.

I don't think I've ever been so sick.  It was awful.  There aren't many times when I have to call my best friend and say, "Hey, can you come and take care of Caleb? And make dinner for my family?  I feel like I'm going to die."  But that's exactly how I felt.  And she did.  God bless her.

I felt awful for about a week.  Then I started to come out of it.  I was still coughing, but with a little NyQuil I was sleeping okay.  Then I started feeling worse again.  The coughing picked up in frequency and severity, and the NyQuil stopped working.  In fact, it stopped even making me tired.  It did nothing for the cough.  I spent one night sleeping on and off.  The next night I ended up evicting myself from our bedroom so I didn't bother Craig.  I took up residence on the couch and slept on and off again.  He woke me up when he got up and sent me to our bedroom to finish the night there.

That was yesterday morning.  Yesterday I knew something had to be done.  I couldn't go on like this.  My clients are still needing work from me, and I don't have sick days.  I'm sure if I had needed to ask for more time from my clients, I would have been given it.  But, integrity is an important thing to me, and I hate asking to extend a deadline.  So, I pressed on.  I told Craig I needed to go to the doctor, and yesterday, he took me.

Thank God.

I was told that I did have the flu when I was sick a month ago, and in fact, I'm just now coming to the end of it.  However, in the mean time, the flu has birthed a double ear infection, bronchitis and a sinus infection.  I was given an antibiotic and cough medicine with codeine in it, or as I like to call it, miracle sleeping cough medicine.

Yesterday I spent some time reading healing verses out loud.  I declared them over my life, and I asked my Pastor to agree with me in prayer that I was going to be victorious over this sickness.  I'm so sick of being sick, and feeling yucky all the time.  I know that sometimes God uses doctors and medicine to heal.  I knew in my spirit that it was time to seek that out.  I am believing that God is going to take that medicine and move it through my body quickly, resulting in a fast recovery from this.

I know this is an attack from the enemy because it seems to happen when my work and my business start to take off.  I'm getting more work than ever, and I have clients for my business now.  God is prospering me and Satan knows what our intentions are with the money I'm going to make.  He doesn't want me prospered.  Well, my God is bigger.  My God is able.  My God is my Healer and my Protector.  My God is my Provider.  Satan already knows he lost.  He's lost this battle too.

I am choosing to believe in the Word of my God.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013


This morning, I'm disturbed.  When I'm disturbed, it helps me to write about it.  So, here I am, meeting with you today.

One of my Facebook friends (actually, a local radio personality) posted an article about Ashley Madison.  The article really rubbed me the wrong way.  I'll rehash it for you.

If you're not sure what Ashley Madison is, their tagline is, "Life is short.  Have an affair."  It's a dating site for married people.  Basically, you sign up and then you have a chance to meet other married people for the purpose of having an affair.

And we wonder why marriages are failing every day?

In the article, a woman discusses the site with her friend, who is using it to meet men outside of her marriage. The woman decides that her marriage isn't everything she'd like it to be either, and thinks that it might be a good idea to check out Ashley Madison for herself.  From the sounds of things, her sex life isn't very good.  While she and her husband used to have sex three times a week, now they're having sex once a week...maybe.  And when they do have sex, it's quite predictable.  She's not getting any younger, and she thinks that having an affair might help her feel better about herself.

She meets a few different men, none of whom are the type of man she's really looking for.  Her new job has longer hours, which gives her an excuse to give her husband for why she's not home at a decent hour.  Of course, he's taking care of the children while she's out dating other men.

Finally, she meets a man who is a doctor.  He's handsome, and he looks younger than his stated age of 43.  They hit it off and decide to get a hotel room for their first romantic tryst.  When she arrives at the hotel room, they go through the motions of having their first sexual encounter, however he isn't able to "perform".  A few weeks later, they try again and it's another failure.

In the end, she decides that what she has at home is good enough, and she doesn't want to lose her husband, her children, her home, or their cottage at the lake.

Well, isn't that a lovely way for this article to end?

It makes me sick.

I've been the victim of infidelity in marriage.  Let me tell you...it's the worst feeling ever to know your husband has been cheating on you.  I've never felt so betrayed in all my life.  Once I was able to reassure myself that I hadn't contracted an STD from his affair, I had to heal from the hurt of not being good enough for him.  I had to help my small children through the situations they were facing with a looming divorce.  I had to work through my own feelings of self-worth and being able to trust someone again.

Anyone who turns to something like Ashley Madison for an affair (or anyone who simply has an affair) is a coward.  Not only that, but they're also lazy.  It takes two people to keep a marriage working, not one.  And you know what?  Sometimes when one person isn't giving enough of themselves to the marriage, you have to do their work for them too.  Marriage is not a 50/50 proposition, and people who believe that it is will get divorced.  Being married means giving 100% of yourself.  And in those times when you can't, your partner should be giving 100% to make up for what you're lacking.

If you're struggling in your marriage, I want to encourage you to do something about it.  Sit down and have a talk with your spouse about what you're feeling.  If you're not having enough sex, tell them.  If money issues are plaguing you, bring them out into the open.  When you take the time to have a conversation with your spouse, you'll be amazed at what you can learn about each other.

When you married your husband or wife, you took vows to stick by that person until death do you part.  Assuming that there's no abuse in your marriage, those are vows you should keep.  There is absolutely nothing that would cause me to break my vows to my husband.

Was I at fault for my first marriage failing?  I believe I did the best I could at the time.  However, I also believe there are some things I could have done better.  Looking back on it, I know that ultimately he was not willing to get help for his problems.  These are problems that are still issues for him to this day.  His second marriage has already failed.  Mine has only gotten stronger over the past six years.

I'll close with this...

If you've considered having an affair, don't.  The pain you'll endure isn't worth it.  The guilt will drive you crazy.  Instead, think of the person you made vows to.  Look back and remember what it is that made you fall in love with that person in the first place.  If your marriage is broken, don't throw it away.  Fix it.

Do it today.

Friday, January 11, 2013


I have to be honest with myself.  I struggle with procrastination.  Each day, I find it difficult to get out of bed. I'm not sure why that is, but I'm sure it has something to do with the fact that it's difficult for me to get to sleep at night.  That's not entirely "nature's" fault.  Sometimes I spend too much time on my cell phone, reading ads on Craigslist or looking at Facebook.  Last night, I couldn't believe when a whole hour just flew by and I was still looking at stuff on my phone.  Of course, Craig is sleeping beside me...he falls asleep so fast.  Last night I think it was record speed-about 90 seconds.

Each day I struggle.  I was doing pretty good for most of this week.  I was showered and dressed by the time Matt went to school.  Today...not so much.  In fact, I'm still in my pajamas.  I'm planning on taking a shower when Caleb goes down for his nap.  Then I'll have to spend some time writing.  I'm just not feeling it today.  I don't know why.  It's kind of a blah day.

I know I need to start spending more time in prayer.  I kind of feel like my spirit is tired.  There's so much going wrong in the world right now, and I think it's messing with me a little bit.  I don't usually pay too much attention to the news.  Craig is good about filling me in on stuff.

I don't want to rehash all of that stuff here.  Nor do I want to go over it in my mind.  I just know I need some motivation.  Somehow.  I'm just struggling today...