Cultivating An Intentional Life: When Your Mess Becomes Your Ministry

Posted in Coffee Break Series, Inspiration
on July 26, 2017

Have you ever looked at your life and thought about what your ministry could be?  What special gifts and talents do you have that could help others grow and be encouraged?  Are you afraid to let your mess become your ministry?

One night as I was out picking up dinner for us, I reflected back on my day and was just simply thankful.  My mind was whirling with blogging ideas {as it is most of the time}; the changing colors of the sunset were beautiful; and I just felt joy.

I relished in that moment, because there were some pretty dark days in my life when I wondered if I would every laugh again or feel thankfulness or joy.  But, sharing my story through blogging has given me some purpose in that pain, and helped me heal.

Here’s the story of how God turned my mess into my ministry, & how He can do that for you too….

For as long as I can remember, I always wanted to be a wife, a nurse, & a mommy.  I planned my wedding for years, read books about how to be a ‘good wife’, and prayed for my future husband even though he was sitting behind me in social studies at school and I didn’t know it yet.

When I was a little girl, I would practiced dressing changes on my stuffed animals using up every last band-aid in the house. I would read medical encyclopedias (remember those!), and pretend diagnose my family members and friends.  I was so proud that I could watch those disgusting medical shows on TLC without getting queasy, because surely that was what would make me a good nurse, right?

Thankfully, many years later, I made it through nursing school without completely loosing my mind, and still enjoy the gift that being a nurse brings to my life today.  I love helping new mommies and daddies, and getting the chance to snuggle super cute chubby babies is icing on the cake.

A couple of years after nursing school, I married that guy that sat behind me in school.  We had a small, intimate fall wedding on Mackinac Island in northern Michigan.

After spending years working as a bridal consultant (yes, I’ve had many cool jobs!) and seeing how stressful weddings can be, I really wanted to have a small but amazing wedding.

That day in early October at the Lakeside Gazebo, surrounded by several of the people who made us who we are today, we said our wedding vows.  It was simply beautiful.  I’ll never forget that day…

 The sun came out from behind the clouds, & a harp filled the air with such beauty.  Fellow travelers on  bicycles and carriages stopped to watch our wedding.  We had the time of our lives.  It was our own little fairytale.

Flash forward years later after celebrating a couple of anniversaries & buying our very first house, we decided to start trying to have little babies of our own.  How hard could it be? After helping countless new families at the hospital, I couldn’t wait to have a newborn of my own to hold and love.  I couldn’t wait to coach Adam through his first diaper change, dress our little one in adorable clothes, decorate a nursery, and finally be parents.  The dream and the desire were there.

  We wanted to start a family with every fiber of our beings….and couldn’t.  Days turned into months, and months turned into agonizing years.  Several doctors, fertility treatments, shots, and pregnancy tests later & we were finally pregnant!

We relished in the moment of our little miracle finally joining our family, as I’ve share with you here.  But, unfortunately this story didn’t have a happy ending.

The loss of that little one in a miscarriage was one of the most devastating days of my life.  Many of you know exactly what I mean.  I’ve met several of you who, when relaying your own experience of loss, well up with tears.  I can see the hurt and devastation in your eyes too.  The grief never goes away.

I fought through the depression and grief along with my faithful, patient husband, as we decided to pursue joy and happy memories amidst the chaos. We were determined to make the most of our time together, and not let this ‘ruin us’.  And, during these continued years of waiting, there has been an ever soft voice saying “share you story”.

You see, I truly believe that there is opportunity in every situation for us to encourage others.  God can give a purpose to our pain, and turn our mess into our ministry.

Writing and connecting with other women on my blog has been so incredibly healing to me.  Sharing my story hasn’t always been easy.   But, every time I question my blogging journey and whether or not this is really what I should be doing, God gives me a little nugget of goodness to lift my spirit.

Once such nugget, was getting chosen to be part of a book launch team.  This was something I’d never done before.  In fact, I’d never even heard of Lara Casey, her Powersheets Goal Planner, or her first book “Make It Happen”.  And, when I somehow stumbled upon her site, I remember thinking “this is right up my ally!  This girl and I could literally be besties!”.

I don’t think it was a mistake that I happened upon her site that day.  I think it was a little extra nudge of encouragement from God letting me know that I’m right where I need to be…sharing my story.

Rest assured, dear friend, God can take the mess you are in right now and turn it into a glorious message that can be heard around the world.

In Lara’s newest book, “Cultivate”, she correlates everything she’s learned along your journey so far with her beautiful garden.  She encourages us to look at the soil we are in right now. The soil is messy and dark and not the prettiest.  But, it is out of the soil, or the mess, that beautiful things grow.

“We dismiss the dirt and the mess as bad…But, dirt holds a certain kind of magic, cradling new life.  Your past mistakes, your heartaches, your circumstances, and the tension you feel right now in your season- every bit of it is part of your growing ground.” ~ Cultivate

What season are you in right now, friend?  Are in a season of grief, or in a season of new growth?  Are you in dark trials or are you rejoicing in the light?

Whatever soil you find yourself in right now, friend, embrace it.  It can be hard, believe me, I know.  Dig in to that soil…let God sow some purposeful seeds in your life…water your soil with truth and goodness…and watch the beauty that comes from the mess.

One of the things Lara’s says frequently is that

“In the seasons we find balance.”~ Cultivate

She talks about being in “a continual state of coming undone” & how “coming undone is part of coming alive”.  If we don’t allow ourselves to feel the lowest of lows, then we can’t appreciate the highest of highs.  We live in a society now where we want to be happy and comfortable always.  But, that isn’t really a good life, is it?

We have to walk through dark times, in order to really appreciate the light.

I had no idea that Lara would share her story of miscarriage in this book, which is why I definitely do not think it was by accident that I found her that day.  God knew exactly what kind of encouragement I needed.  Oh, how powerful stories and words are.

“Maybe there was a purpose in this pain.  In this blank slate.  Maybe this season of grief was part of God’s good plan.” ~ Cultivate

When I read those words, I honestly wondered if Lara had entered my thoughts.  In “my mess” I felt alone, dead on the inside, and like my life had just been swept up from underneath me.

How are you feeling today, dear friend?  Are you feeling alone or unloved?  Are you filled with confusion and doubt.

“Feelings aren’t the enemy, but sometimes they can lead us away from the truth.  I may feel like my heart is a mess, but I know God transforms our messes into our message.  I may feel alone, isolated, and lonely at times, but I know that God never, ever leaves me.  Take my feelings and turn them into faith.” ~ Cultivate

I have had to learn over these last few years of healing, that my life doesn’t look like everyone else’s for a reason.  I have a message to share, and people to love who I otherwise would’ve never met.  God has taken the messy dirt of doubt, anger, and fear in my life and turned into a beautiful message to be shared.

When I changed my perspective on God’s plan for my life, I was able to finally open up and share the pain.

What about you?  Are you ready to share your mess with the world?  Are you ready to lay perfection at the doorway, and walk in faith and hope?

“God uses imperfect people to do His will.” ~ Cultivate

God has a special plan for each and every one of us.  We each have a story to tell.  What is yours?

I am so thankful that I listened, after over a year of deliberation, to God’ gentle calm voice telling me to share my story.  In this process of writing, which I sometimes find tedious and annoying (bad for a blogger to say, I know!), I have healed.

My faith has grown as I’ve seen God open doors quite vividly.  My thoughts have shifted from the pain of my miscarriage & the agony of infertility, to helping others and sharing our joy-filled moments.  God has turned my mess into my ministry, and He can do that for you to!

Have you been ignoring God’s nudging in one direction or another?  Maybe it’s simply befriending an outsider at work, or volunteering, or trying something that scares you.  What is it that God has laid on your heart?

I didn’t choose this path, believe me.  If my plan had worked, I’d have 3 kids, a dog, a bigger house, and a busy life…all of which sound amazing!  But, now I’m beginning to see the beauty that’s been waiting for me, here, in this plan that God created.

“things don’t have to perfect to be beautiful and life-giving” ~ Cultivate

Can I encourage you today to embrace the season you’re in & listen to God’s gentle leading to minister through and because of your mess?

This is my favorite song right now.  I saw this video on Facebook just the other day as I was preparing My 6 Months Powersheets (which I’ll share with you later).  I love the lyrics in this song.  Let these words pour over you as you head into the season of your life with joy and confidence.

“Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders.  Let me walk upon the waters, wherever You may lead me.  Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander, and my faith would be made stronger, in the presence of my Savior!”

Join me on a journey through “Cultivate: A Grace-Filled Guide to Living an Intentional Life” in an online book club.  Join below!

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