Needing some time for PB & J

by Christie Browning


There are many aspects I love most about my Heavenly Father. However, what I love most about Him is that He is redeeming God. His love and mercy knows no end. He doesn't get impatient with me. He doesn't throw up His hands in frustration wondering what to do with me. He never gives up on me even when I fall down over and over again... He is there every time I turn around to run back to Him. Yet I've been struggling to find time with Him.

A year ago, I was filling my mornings with scripture reading, prayer and journaling notes and thoughts. I called this my PB&J time - prayer, Bible and journal. However, when I went to work full time, my mornings were full of showers, makeup and packing lunches. Although I was up at 4 a.m. to see my hubby off to work, I would crawl back into bed instead of spending those early hours with my Father who I love so dearly. 

It's funny that something I say I love so much is so hard to make a priority. I also love writing but I can say I haven't spent a lot of time in front of the keyboard this past year. Why is that? Why is it that I am so easily distracted by things I really don't care about, such as watching TV or Netflix, social media scrolling, playing silly online games, or getting hung up on house cleaning (OK, I do see the need for that, unfortunately). All the time I spend on these meaningless things rob me of the time I say I love, but yet....they win out each day.

As I review the last 12 months (see my retrospective post here) I know there have been many ups and downs. However, even in my most difficult, darkest times of life, my quiet time and my writing has been a lifeline for me, something to keep me tethered to my true, authentic self. But let me just say that has not been the case this year. And consequently, I feel like I've had to fight to stay connected to my heart, to my Father and to my sanity! 

I recently sat in a class on a Sunday morning where the teacher spoke of a "love affair" with scripture and with time with God. I felt very moved to make my PB&J time a priority, but when Monday rolled around, that didn't happen... another week and not PB&J. Thankfully, I trust that my Heavenly Father knows my heart's desire is to be in those quiet moments each morning. I believe He is watching, rooting for me to win over my busy schedule, to find that time for Him. And when the time comes and I settle in to study, read and pray, I know He'll be waiting... ready to offer that loving kindness that so welcomes me unto Him. 

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness -- Lamentations 3:22-23

I have given up on my to-do lists

by Christie Browning

If you know me, you know that I have been addicted to organized day planners and to-do lists for a very long time. I thrive on a good calendar that let's me keep track of my activities and appointments. Normally as the end of the year comes closer and closer, I begin to geek out about the next year's planner and start foaming at the mouth to set my goals and put into place my plan of action for the new year. 

But, this year the feeling was different. As the holiday season approached I didn't have that need for a planner fix. I wasn't really looking forward to the new year. It wasn't that I was dreading the new year, it was more that I was exhausted and looking ahead with a big ol' game plan made me want to ride the bench. 

2016 was a long year that presented lots of hurdles. And although the year ended on an extremely high note, most of the year my plate was overflowing and I really was burned out and tired. 

Enter in Lara Casey and her #Powersheets. I have been a fan of Lara Casey for a while. I read her book "Make It Happen" and had been a follower of her blog for a couple of years. This year something about her "intentional goal planner" captivated me and made me start thinking differently about the new year.

In the planner she writes, "Goals can be overwhelming if they aren't connected to what matters. They can make life busier. I don't want a new to-do list for my life; I want a clear, meaningful path. I want to know I'm living with intention and purpose instead of living by accident."

That statement really resonated with me. I was tired of living by a list, by a set of to-dos and feeling like a failure when those things didn't happen, or killing myself to scratch each of them off as done. In the end, I didn't feel like I was really living at all. I always felt like I was playing catch up and that I wasn't ever reaching the finish line. 

But when I read this statement, I thought YES!!! I want to live a clear and meaningful path. I know I was created for a purpose, but that purpose loses its magic and motivation when it gets buried in a long list of to-dos. As I journaled about the new year, I wrote:

"This is the year! This is the year I create a splash! No more ripples of no impact. I am going after waves of inspiration and meaningful living."

Now, don't get me wrong. There's still goals in place for 2017. It's more about a mindset shift and going about my day-to-day action a bit differently...with more grace and forgiveness when I don't get it done.

In fact, I've picked my 2017 word of the year -- "Done." For many years I have been about starting a lot of great things. I naturally crave change and want to embrace new things. But somewhere along the way, I get bored and fall uninspired. I leave so many things at the halfway mark, finishing nothing I start. Well, not this year. This year things get DONE. This year things get COMPLETED, FINISHED, WRAPPED UP.

I spent most of adult life trying to figure out me. Looking for purpose, significance and where to fit in. After spending time in prison that all changed and I began to see my purpose unfold within my passions and talents. Since then I've started ALOT of things, said I was gonna do TONS of stuff and each time I fell short of finishing. NO MORE! 2017 means getting it done! Finishing!!

I am letting go of this sense failure and truly feeling embarrassed that I've been all talk and no action. I am not carrying this weight of failure into 2017. Because 2017 is a year of completion; of seeing it thru; of being a starter AND a finisher; of crossing off goals and pushing through to new ones; of seeing the needle move and not looking back at stagnate, unfulfilled dreams.

So, what's your word? What will define 2017 for you? Write it down and, more importantly, write down why this word is important and relates to your 2017. Get passionate and get connected emotionally! That's where the magic happens. And...feel free to check out my friend Lara's page at

Be sure to share in the comments below what your word is and why! We love hearing from you!!!

If you've felt worn down, burned out or stuck in place.... THIS IS YOUR TIME.


NEW from reVision an online devotional series designed to set your heart in motion.

No matter what time of year it is, you can start a new --- as if EVERY DAY is NEW YEAR'S DAY!     Click here to sign up!

Happy Three Years

by Christie Browning

So this is a story about a gal who totally took a leap of faith and dove head first into a dream God gave her. Fast-forward three years and here we are. Yes, this month marks the three-year anniversary of reVision's inception.

Many of you have joined me at different stages of my journey and so I thought this might be a great time to fill in the blanks along this timeline. Plus, it's always fun to do a little bit of a throwback and see where you came from. So here goes....

reVision's logo circa 2014 as the company was just beginning to form.

reVision's logo circa 2014 as the company was just beginning to form.

I sat in my two bedroom apartment at my dining table that was a garage-sale find. I had just come through a divorce after being married 15 years. I had also recently came home from spending 9 months in prison. Needless to say I was starting over, but God was blessing me every step of the way.

After years of not knowing who I was or what I supyposed to do with my life, God opened my heart and my eyes to this calling, which is now reVision. I had spent the better part of my adult life pleasing everyone else, trying to meet everyone's expectations and keep the peace, avoiding conflict by always complying with their wishes and wants. That created an adult version of Christie that was clothed in fear, isolation, feelings of unworthiness, and no sense of identity. Couple in a spouse who was not honest, was insecure and controlling and you've got one messed up gal. No wonder I ended up in prison. But, God did a complete transformation on my heart, my mind and my self-awareness. 

reVision's logo that took shape when business services were added to the mix in 2014.

reVision's logo that took shape when business services were added to the mix in 2014.

I was sitting in my bunk one night and could not sleep. In prison you can't just flip on Netflix to veg out to, so I grabbed my pen and paper and started writing. I had always been a big believer in journaling and writing was a passion of mine since I was a kid. But this night, journaling took a different turn. Sitting there in my metal bunk under dim prison lights, God hit me with a vision so clear I could draw it in great detail -- but God didn't give me the gift of being an artist, so I chose to write out the vision, because He did give me a gift with words.

I was standing on a large stage in an arena. The stage was lightly colored, but metal in it's construction. Behind me were instruments that had been played by musicians and I was speaking to a vast audience. I could see my animated self articulating encouraging truth to this group and feeling as if I was giving hope to those who needed it desperately. 

Our logo in 2015 as I began to transition the company from business services to coaching.

Our logo in 2015 as I began to transition the company from business services to coaching.

I knew then that speaking was what I needed to do. God gave me the idea for the name "reVision" that night and the plan of attack flowed out of me. So when I got home, I was all set to start making this vision come to reality. I began writing speeches and talks in preparation for the day I would get to speak to a group. I studied and prepared with a frenzy, but when my marriage started falling apart, this vision went on hold for a bit.

But soon after I got settled in my apartment and life was back on track, my plans were picked back up. On January 4th of 2014, at that garage-sale table, I opened my laptop and bought a domain name - I then picked my website platform and paid for my first month of service, designing my site where I would feature my writing and my speaking. The entire start-up costs were less than $50. But the heart cost was great -- it took a lot of courage to put myself out there.

The first logo design for reVision was on paper and I was off and running. I had held a series of workshops the summer before and loved teaching and speaking, also writing the curriculum I was bringing to these women. But after officially launching the company, a business coach advised me to "follow the money" and I began adding marketing services to small businesses in my area. That cash flowed the business quickly and within 10 months I left my full-time job to pursue reVision with more focus. 

It didn't take long for marketing to no longer satisfy. I felt I was lacking in purpose and although the cash was there, I just wasn't inspired to solely elevate others' messages. I was advised to create a coaching business. Since I loved to teach and encourage others, this seemed like a logical move. Although I loved the ladies I worked with and mentored, my heart still gravitated toward the speaking and writing vision I had two years prior. 

A little bit of a re-work on the logo and we have what we have today. Three years later, reVision may have evolved but the heart still is to encourage, empower and inspire others.

A little bit of a re-work on the logo and we have what we have today. Three years later, reVision may have evolved but the heart still is to encourage, empower and inspire others.

When the opportunity to step out of coaching came, I gladly made the move. My website went through another revision and so did my logo, which brings us here today. So even though I have tons of marketing and business development experience, I am holding true to the original vision. I know God didn't give me that visual instruction by accident. I know that one day I will realize that scene which has been burned on my mind for three years. 

Yes, the last three years have been an evolution. I've made a lot of changes and grown even more. But now, looking at year three, I am on a mission to encourage, empower and inspire others to embrace who they are through the grace and redemption of our Heavenly Father. I want you to shirk off the weight of your past, your failures, your insecurities and sprint toward the open arms of a God who loves you. Let God's plan and purpose for your life be a beacon for you as you navigate your own path. It will be unique and it will be fabulous! I know it has been for me.

So here's to another 3 years, 13 years and 30 years! I know God is leading me and reVision into the next powerful phase where we point hearts toward the glory that is His.


This thought-provoking and empowering study takes an in depth look at the disease to please, approval addiction, and the other ailments that come when the opinion of others weighs heavy on the heart and mind.

Readers will be able to not only identify their approval issues, but will also work through practical ways to overcome those areas with faith-based principles. Christie personally shares her own approval addiction recovery methods and how she battles each day to let go of the need to please. Click here to learn more and order your copy!

The Year of 40: Not what I was expecting

by Christie Browning

This second week of "The Year of 40" was not at all what I was expecting. It started with treacherous roads followed by a 4 a.m. trip to the emergency room with my husband, Mat.

Finally this week was going to be normal. No more holidays, no traveling... just a normal week with all things fitting into the routine. Aaaahhhh I love routine. I like to shake things up a bit too, but there comes a time when I am done with all that and I am ready to return to "normal." That's exactly what I expected this week to be. I even posted on my Facebook page:

However, The Year of 40 had different ideas. Tuesday morning I headed to Fort Wayne, only to get caught in serious traffic backup on a two-lane highway. There was bad ice that morning and several slide-offs so when traffic came to a stop, I figured it was due to an accident. I sat for TWO HOURS waiting to get going. In the rural stretch of highway where we were stuck, there was little opportunity to turn around or turn off for a different route. 

But panic hit me when I heard my low-fuel light ding at me and I was no where near a gas station, no where near a place to turn, and no where near the end of this traffic tie-up. I texted my husband saying, "What do I do??" We were both beginning to worry that I would be stranded in the middle of the highway, in the middle of cow pastures and depleted cornfields, with no help insight. I could utilize our road side assistance but with the traffic the way it was, there was no way they could even get to me. UGH! I was freaking out. I spent about 30 minutes worrying about this situation when finally, a sheriff made his way down the line of traffic, escorting each car into the oncoming lane and back to an alternate route. The problem was.... that route took me miles out of the way. But off I went, navigating the country roads, curving and winding as they were, through the ice with a blaring low-fuel light on my dash. I prayed that God would just get me to the gas station. I then prayed that God would just calm me down and keep me safe. 

I made it to the gas station... on fumes, but I made it. I was relieved to have gas, but I still had an icy commute to take, but I made it to where I was going and all was well....Until Wednesday.

Wednesday morning about 1 a.m. I heard my husband get up coughing and hacking with this horrible cough that just won't quit. He's had it for weeks now, a leftover symptom from bronchitis he had a month ago. I laid in bed listening to him cough from 1 a.m. until about 3 a.m. - seemed like nonstop. I got up to check on him and to persuade him to consider going to the emergency room. Something in my gut just told me the ER was where we needed to be. 

As we sat there discussing if we should go or not, a coughing fit hit him hard and Mat was struggling to breath. There was a look of panic on his face as he gasped for air. At that moment, I wasn't discussing it anymore and I wasn't taking "no" for an answer. We were going to the ER. 

It was about 4 a.m. when we got to the hospital. They immediately took us into a room and Mat was hooked up to all sorts of machines as the nurses ran an EKG, ruling out any heart concerns. Then came the blood work, vitals and a myriad of other tests. In the end, the doctor cam in to say that he felt this was just a lingering infection from the bronchitis and a round of breathing treatments would help Mat out. They did indeed. We were waiting for the nurse to come back with directions and prescriptions for Mat to be treated at home, when the doctor said he saw one test that had an elevated number that had him worried. He wanted to do a CAT scan on Mat's chest to rule out a blood clot and any other lung abnormalities. This immediately worried both of us. Mat's mom passed away from lung cancer and currently, Mat's dad is battling it. We were worried, scared and a bit panicked. 

Thank goodness for smartphones and messaging. I hit up family, friends and church members for prayers. I knew in that moment we need God to calm our hearts and renew our strength. Mat went off for the test and I wore a path in that little ER room as I paced back in forth praying God's healing power and strength and presence rain down on us there in that hospital. 

After waiting about an hour, the test came back normal with no signs of the initial concerns the doctor had. But Mat's blood pressure was still high, his pulse rate was very high and spiking at times and his oxygen was very low. The doctor made the call to admit Mat and upstairs to a hospital room we went. Mat ended up staying overnight with breathing treatments every four hours and three IVs of antibiotics and drugs to fight off the lung infection.

Friends and family still prayed and a few members of our church came up to pray for us in person, laying hands on Mat and asking God to bless him with healing and strength. It was a long night, but Mat's numbers began improving and late in the afternoon on the next day he was released with a long list of instructions and several follow up tests and visits that we will tackle this coming week.

Needless to say this week was nothing but normal. It was as if life said, " want normal, well think again!" But through it all I was reminded of a few things:

  1. We are getting older...and our bodies need to be taken care of so that when we are faced with illness, we are strong enough to fight it off and stay health. We have lots of years to live still and we need to do what we can to maintain this "temple" that God has given us. Maybe it's because I am turning 40 or maybe I am just getting wise as I get older, but eating right and exercising is becoming a pertinent to-do on my list. BUT... I need a little bit of normal in order to get into a new routine where I can fit a trip to the gym into the schedule.
  2. God is in the middle of our upset. Yes, we know God cares for us and that He is with us when we face scary situations and worry-filled circumstances, but sometimes in the middle of those moments, the fear blocks out the truth. As I text messaged my mom with an update on Mat, she reminded me of the promises God gives us in times such as those. It was a great reminder and the words I needed to hear to keep my heart in check and the fear at bay.
  3. When there's no words, the heart speaks its own language. In that moment when Mat was out of my sight, getting his CAT scan done, I wanted to pray, but there really were no words I could speak. Emotion poured out of me and my heart just ached for the fear and pain he was in. It was for just a few minutes, but in that brief time, peace swept over me. I didn't even utter a real word, but yet God granted me peace and calmness. How good is our Heavenly Father that He understands the hearts of His children even when we can't express how we feel. 

It's a wonderful thing to have routine and "normal," but life doesn't always fall in line. But when it all falls apart and life comes undone, only truth remains and that is Heavenly Father's promises and unfailing love for us. 

If you've felt worn down, burned out or stuck in place.... THIS IS YOUR TIME.


NEW from reVision an online devotional series designed to set your heart in motion.

No matter what time of year it is, you can start a new --- as if EVERY DAY is NEW YEAR'S DAY!     Click here to sign up!

The Year of 40: So it begins

I know I am definitely not this little cheeky kid anymore...but, that sparkly-eyed, optimist still exists inside this soon-to-be 40-year-old. It's gonna be a great year!!

I know I am definitely not this little cheeky kid anymore...but, that sparkly-eyed, optimist still exists inside this soon-to-be 40-year-old. It's gonna be a great year!!

It’s a new year and with the dawning of 2017, I realize something very different about this year. This is the year I turn 40. Now mind you, I won’t turn 40 for about eight more months, but the reality has hit… I am turning 40 this year.

Now before you all send me encouraging words that assure me 40 is just a number, I’m still young, and I am just 30 with 10 years of experience, let me put your mind at ease….I am totally OK with turning 40. In fact, I think I’m looking forward to what the year of 40 will bring about. That’s why I decided to write this series. I wanted to commemorate this milestone year with my own perspective, sense of humor and penned words that may inspire you in some way.

So here’s some food for thought to put this 40th year into perspective. In 1977....

  • The first Apple Computer went on sale.
  • Jimmy Carter was elected as the President of United States and the first oil flows through the Trans Alaskan Oil Pipeline.
  • Elvis Presley Dies from a heart attack aged 42. 
  • Average Cost of new house $49,300.00
  • Average Income per year $15,000.00
  • Average Monthly Rent $240.00  
  • Cost of a gallon of Gas 65 cents
  • Wrist Worn AM Radio $7.95
  • 5 inch Portable TV $147.00
  • New Stereo System $247.95 
  • Star Wars opened in cinemas and filmgoers lined up for hours to see it
  • The TV Mini Series "Roots" was aired on ABC winning top audience figures, 9 Emmys and a Golden Globe.

But ... who wants to live in the past???

Here's what is going to happen THIS year:

  • I am finishing my book, soon to be released, "rePeatedly reVised"
  • My husband and I will be paying off $16K of debt
  • I am going to take care of me and my body
  • In the fall, my second book for 2017, #liverevised, will be published
  • This series, The Year of 40, will be an ongoing post this year because I want to prove to myself that I can see something through to completion

..... and so many more things are on the horizon for this year!

If you want to get this series delivered to your inbox, you can sign up right here!!

Being a woman who's up for the challenge

by Christie Browning

Something is happening... a phenomenon if you will. It seems as if every conversation I have with women is centered around confusion, lack of direction and feelings of emptiness. Whether they are weighed down by stresses in their marriage or feeling defeated by a past mistake or situation... either way, there's been a lot of heavy hearts and worried minds. 

All of this has left me wondering... are we really up for the challenge? The challenge of life, of love, of family, of business... are we prepared, shored up and ready to go?

I recently posted a broadcast in my Facebook community on this very topic. In it I gave four areas where we need to be up for the challenge... You tell me which one hits home!

1) Being a woman who's up for the challenge means we need to develop an intensity to do our specific jobs. Imagine a world where we all operated and acted out of our unique talents, abilities and gifts! How many of you have tried to force yourself into a job or a responsibility avoid saying no, to avoid disappointing someone, to be a part, to start something new... all the while it is not within your God-given gift. As a woman I know we give and we give and we give. Sometimes we pour ourselves into others to the point of being totally depleted. Developing an intensity for our God-given "job" won't mean an easy, breezy way of life. It will be hard. But, the rate of return and rewards that await will fill us up to overflowing. I see women who are drained, empty, and left feeling unfulfilled and I have to ask... "When was the last time you were intense about developing, growing and using the gift God has for you?"

2)Being a woman who's  up for the challenge means we need to focus on truth. For decades women have bought into the lies pushed by society, media, magazines, celebrity profiles, the woman next door and so on. We measure, compare and compete with what we now see on social media sites. We feel we aren't smart enough, thin enough, rich enough, blonde enough... whatever it is, we've bought the lie. In fact, these lies really are -- I'm not good enough, I'm not worthy enough, I'm just a big screw up, I am always messing things up, I am unloveable, I am a mess. These are lies sold to us by the one who seeks to destroy us. But we've bought them! We've handed over the very freedom and atonement Jesus died to give us to receive depression, frustration, loneliness, unworthiness. 

Romans 8:31 says, "Therefore, if God is for us, who then can be against us?" That means nothing and no one is against us! God is for you.. He is standing in the bleachers yelling your name, shouting for you to keep going! No one is against you.. not your boss, not your ex, not your bossy sister or your judgmental mother-in-law. NO ONE ... that is unless you choose to live in the lie. BUT I AM SAYING NO MORE! We must get focused on truth.

One of my favorite passages of scripture is Psalm 107. I've preached on this chapter several times and I just love all that this scripture has to say. Verse 16 says, "for he breaks down gates of bronze and cuts through bars of iron." I love that word picture! Who is the "he" in this verse...its the LORD!

He breaks through the heavy, tall gates you've used to close yourself off from the outside world. He can break down the gates that you've locked tight in order to preserve and protect yourself, but that leave you in isolation. He can cut through the iron bars you've hid behind that have left you locked up in depression, guilt, forgiveness and fear. 

THIS IS TRUTH! This is what we need to stand on, meditate on and devour!

3) Being a woman who's up for the challenge means we need to be compassionate and empathetic for our sisters. We need to get serious and zealous to encourage, support and cheer on those sisters around us. Yes, our journeys are different, our paths aren't the same, but that doesn't mean we can't applaud, sustain and support one another. Instead of judging, measuring and competing, let's help each other run the race. When we offer compassion and empathy to fellow sisters, it can be like rocket fuel propelling her to cross the finish line, to make it through the day, to keep her going on. And imagine the ripple effects that will create in her life, in her home, in her relationships. 

I Corinthians 13:1 says if we do not love we are like noisy gongs and clanging cymbals. We just make a bunch of clattering, loud noises. That to me is the woman who is quick to boast her super mom or wife successes while standing next to her is a sister suffering through a divorce, missing a wayward child, or was just lucky to get all her clothes on that day. Yes we can celebrate our success, but what if we poured out love, compassion and empathy. What if we slowed down enough to notice those that were hurting or struggling.

4) Being a woman who's up for the challenge means learning to be understanding and patient with our husbands. Ladies, if you're married to a good man, meaning he isn't manipulative, cheating or abusive, understand that he isn't perfect and needs your support. As women we tend to take charge and push to get things done. We take over the very responsibilities our husbands should have and we leave him on the sidelines with his hands in his pockets. Then we stand back and wonder why he isn't more involved, isn't more of a leader and doesn't take charge. It's because we have pushed him out of the way! If we would become comfortable with the God-given role we've been tasked with and let go of trying to do for our husbands, we would experience less stress and frustration. I know from experience we will even see our husbands rise to the challenge and step up to the plate.... BUT... he won't do things the way you would do them, he won't respond like you would respond, he won't even make the same choices. That's where patience comes in. You have to let him have a little room to figure it out and let him be him!

I believe with all my heart that women have been given special power and roles from God. There's a reason he didn't make a male friend to be Adam's bro-buddy to watch football with and tinker on engines. He made a female counterpart... which means we fit alongside our husbands. We don't push them out of the way, we don't act in their place. 

Regardless of which area hits close to the heart, I know if we resolve to be women who are up to the challenges of life, God will equip us. He is capable of mighty power through us if we are willing to let Him do the work.

Want to join our online community? It's in this community where I share some exclusive material, we engage as a group of women to supprot and encourage one another, and we learn as we grow. Request to join at

True greatness defined

by Christie Browning

Recently I participated in a group discussion that centered around the question, "What is true greatness?" The room was filled with women and the majority of them were stay-at-home moms. Although the large majority of them were about my age, I felt completely in the minority since I've never had kids and definitely not a stay-at-home type. 

Check out our faith-based study, "Numbers Do Lie" -- all about finding your true worth and value in spite of your past mistakes and failures. Click here to learn more!

There is nothing wrong with being a SAHM (stay-at-home-mom), in fact, my mother was such when I was growing up and my sister and sister-in-law are both SAHMs to their adorable children. But for me, that desire was never instilled in my being. In fact, I was pregnant once and upon finding out I was expecting, I cried knowing that I would have "to give everything up" in order to be home with my kid. Then after losing that baby in an early miscarriage, I felt depressed and ashamed that I selfishly didn't want to give it all up to be a mom. I was a mess....the shifting emotions probably had something to do with that.

In this room full of moms, stories were being shared that included finding joy and privilege in doing household chores and making meals. Several women shared how they found appreciation in those daily jobs even when they weren't always vocalized by the family members she served. They mentioned the blessings that were afforded to them because they were obedient in motherhood and were cheering each other on in the cause. Through the noise, a woman piped up and reminded the group that not everyone was a SAHM. Her inference was to remind the group that those women who needed or chose to work shouldn't feel guilty.

I sat there listening to the well-meaning conversation, trying to not get worked up. I've been in situations were I was made to feel less-than because I didn't give birth or wasn't developing baby fever. I seriously thought something was wrong with me when I was younger and all my friends were having their first babies and I was still standing there thinking, "what's all the fuss?"

So when this wise woman reminded the group that not every woman was on the same page in life, I wanted to stand and cheer. Not only was she my hero in that moment, but I also applauded her for realizing what so many women miss -- that our value and worth isn't defined by our roles.

The discussion was indeed about finding greatness, and the lesson material lead this conversation to see greatness not by worldly standards, but by God's - which usually means small, daily acts is where greatness is found. That being said, I get why these moms were honed in on folding laundry and cooking casseroles. And believe me, my mom was great and what she did for us as a SAHM was invaluable. I truly appreciate and applaud the SAHM. 

However, whether you are a SAHM, a career oriented business woman, a student or work simply because you like it or have to do it, don't get caught in the trap of attaching your worth and identity to the roles you hold and the hats you wear. When we do that, we tend to leave ourselves open for hurt and disappointment... it can even lead to confusion.

You've seen it before -- a woman is all about being a mom to her kiddos only to realize she doesn't know what to do with herself when her last baby isn't a baby anymore. Or the woman who is so consumed with doing for everyone else - laundry, cooking, cleaning, educating, teaching - that she doesn't know how to take a break and let someone else do the doing. And we see women who fall into depression when there's a disconnect between who they are and what they do. Their value is warped when children don't offer appreciation or when they make decisions mom wouldn't approve. The conversation in the mind and heart is "where did I go wrong? I must have failed as a mom." The reality couldn't be farther from the truth, but when we attach our value, our significance and our identity to roles and jobs we hold, our hearts rest on shaky ground, hoping our success rate keeps up in order to make us feel "good."

So what does that mean for us as women? Where does our greatness lie? Well, it is in WHO we are not WHAT we do. Who we are as women, as moms, as wives and sisters. It's in who we are because of the Heavenly Father and how He created us. Greatness is already ours because we live! You are great just because you are you!

Psychological cliches aside, grasping the concept of greatness can be hard -- especially when some much of the world is built around what we do. However, we can stay fixated on the truth of greatness by filling our minds with God's promises to us, His instructions for us and His love given to us.  Here's a few things that can help you as well:

  1. Journal - I believe journaling is a powerful tool for healing the heart and offering perspective and clarity. In this instance, perspective is what you are going for. When you feel like you are slipping into the "what I do" mindset, refer back to your journal and all the things you've written that point to the opposite.
  2. What to journal - When my heart and mind go off the depend, I like to write lists. Especially a list of things I am good at, I like about myself or that personal talents and abilities I have. This list reminds me that it's not a job I am going after, but it's about being me and living in the special, unique gifts God has given me. So... I write down 5 things I am gifted at and how I can use those things today or tomorrow. It picks up your spirits and boosts your confidence!
  3. Keep accountable - who's that gal who might talk you off the ledge? She's your accountability go-to girl when you start to struggle in this area. We don't need 20 accountability or two will do. Find her and work together to keep the greatness quotient in check.

The real lesson here isn't whether being a SAHM is important or greater than someone who chooses a career. The real thing to remember is that no matter what you choose to do with your days, your worth exists in who you are. You wouldn't use a yard stick to measure the depths of the ocean... so don't let roles and responsibilities measure your incredible worth to the world.

And that is a whole new way to #liverevised!

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Meatloaf Mishap

by Christie Browning

I believe it's important to recognize your strengths and weaknesses. Therefore, I am completely comfortable in declaring that I am weak when it comes to cooking. No, this isn't the type of bad cooking that produces dry chicken or overly bland potatoes. My bad cooking brings about burnt, charred, inedible dishes that make the stomach turn. Yes. I cannot cook and I am OK with that. 

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However, every now and then I convince myself that there's a certain dish or recipe I could indeed pull off. This thought happen recently and resulted in my attempt to make a meatloaf. 

It was one of those weeks where my husband, who is a master chef and usually handles all things food related in our house, was working a lot of long hours. He had planned to make a meatloaf, but time was just not on his side. I sincerely tried to help when I pulled that helpless lump of meat out of the fridge and began trying to morph it into a meal. But the end result was not as I had hoped.

With all the ingredients in place and the meat perfectly "loafed" in its pan, I shoved the dish into the oven and waited the appropriate amount of time. I must divulge that I used a recipe. Maybe that was where I went wrong, because the recipe called for the dish to cook for 40 minutes at 400 degrees -- a temperature that now I've been told is too high.

When I pulled the pan out of the oven, my meatloaf was a rich brown color on top and the aroma was rather inviting. Feeling pretty pleased with myself, I cut into the middle to find...RAW HAMBURGER!! So raw it practically mooed at me! 

I wasn't real sure how to handle this uneven state of affairs, so back in the oven it went, still at 400 degrees, until the middle was done. You can only imagine what the outside looked like -- charred to a crisp and the inside was dry as a bone.

When it comes to our hearts and our emotions, it's easy to become calloused and hardened. When we're hurt, betrayed, mistreated.... all of these are prime crimes to toughen our exterior. Often times we wear that hardened shell as a barrier that protects us from being hurt again. Or better yet, we let the love and affection from others bounce off, proud that we are tough enough. 

But the truth lies inside. We are raw. Left hurt and bleeding, we don't heal. What we do is deny, push on and move forward. Raw in the middle -- it makes for an unappetizing meal for a meatloaf and it also makes for a hostile heart for you, dear friend. Choosing to be calloused and chaffed by the world or those in it only conceals the pain that is left inside. It doesn't allow you to properly "cook through." 

On the other hand, the opposite is equally damaging. If we choose to stew and overheat about a situation, we do nothing but dry out and become unappetizing to be around. We can loose all our flavor and crumble under any amount of pressure. 

God has a different plan for these wounds. He wants us to give them to Him. He wants to apply His love and grace in such a way that we do more than just move on from the pain -- we are strengthened, empowered and inspired by it. Our flavor is amplified and we are able to share pieces of ourselves with others, offering our sweet aroma to those who need it most. 

The New Testament declares believers are "salt of the earth." That salt brings out the best in others and also heals where there is pain. It's true! Salt is used to enhance the flavor of meats and vegetables. And you know the power of salt in a wound if you've ever experienced salt in a paper cut! But... salt, although it may sting at first, heals, cures and preserves. 

I don't think my meatloaf needed more salt. What it needed was more time on a lower temperature with a tin foil for protection. In my own life, I need to cool my temper and my emotions, slow down to let myself deal and heal, and always keep God's love and His word as a protection around my heart and mind.

I think my faith has failed me

by Christie Browning

It was a dark, lonely time in my life. Although I had friends and family rallying around me, I still felt like I was waging war on my own. This spot in life was more than tough, it took everything out of me....

My fight took place in a small backroom inside the county courthouse. I was waiting for the jury to come back with a verdict on my guilt or innocence regarding a fraud charge I was facing. The details and circumstances that lead me there are long and tedious, but I remember sitting in that small room - just a few outdated furnishings and me - praying. I was praying in bold faith that God would surround me with protection and deliver me from this "unfair" situation. It was the kind of prayer that incorporated scripture and one that would rival the great Old Testament prophets. I was that sure God was gonna do something big, and I was prepared to give Him all the glory for it.

If you know my story or have heard me speak,  you know exactly how this ends. I didn't get the answer to my prayer - I was sentenced to two years in prison.  What happened? Why didn't that answer to prayer come through? Isn't the Scriptures that say if you have faith the size of a mustard seed you can move mountains? I had faith that would have filled buckets at that moment.

To say I was disappointed in God would be an understatement. In fact, I was furious with God and spent a good couple of weeks totally ticked off at my Heavenly Father. I felt betrayed, forgotten and foolish for putting hope in something that didn't pan out, but I would soon realize that God had a different plan for me - one that would be hard, but doable with His help.

Before I tell you the rest of my experience, I have to share what prompted this particular post. Yesterday at church, a guest speaker told his version of a time he prayed in faith. His story was this:

My son and I were going to mow the yard, but we had lost the key to the tractor in the grass. It seemed impossible that we would find this key in some two acres of grass, but my son suggested we should pray and ask God for help. I immediately thought, oh no... what if we pray and it doesn't work...what if we still don't find the key? How am I going to explain that to my son? But we knelt down in the grass and prayed. When we stood up, I saw my neighbor in his yard - he happens to have the same model of tractor. I asked if he might have an extra key that we could use and he said no. However, he knew something about our make and model of mower - if you use a piece of metal, about the size of a key, and stick it in the ignition, you can sometimes get it to start. He handed us a piece of metal to try and we headed back to the mower. I jammed the metal piece into the ignition, turned it and yes... the mower started.

It was amazing to see this man, who all of us in the pews would have said had great faith, struggle with trusting God's answer to his prayer. As he told the story, my eyes filled with tears because I can completely understand his reservations... I've felt them, and maybe you have too.

As this speaker closed, he said:

I may not have a pocket full of keys, but I do have a pocket full of scraps and pieces that God uses at just the right time and in just the right way. I'm a McGyver of sorts with the junk I have to use.

The lesson he learned in that moment, and the lesson I learned in that prison cell, was that God has ways much higher than we can conceive. When my prayer wasn't answered ... it wasn't a sign of my faith failing.. rather it was my time to lean on that faith even more, knowing God had a bigger plan, a different way He was going to show up and work. In the end, I wouldn't have changed a single thing about that experience. That trial taught me how to trust God again, see Him in a whole new way, and depend on Him as my refuge, protector, Father. 

You see, we want to look at the evidence of our prayers to prove our faith is real and God works, but in truth, faith comes from "things hoped for and not seen." Therefore, real faith holds a steady course even when the key is not found or the verdict not what we had hoped  - faith holds us up, believing God is still at work on our behalf, we just haven't seen the entire picture yet. 

What are you praying for today? Is it something specific? Are you keeping your eyes open to see other ways God might be working? Are you doing the necessary work to strengthen your faith so that you have a firm foundation to stand on as God reveals His plan? 

I had a shock while thumbing through a magazine

by Christie Browning

I'm typically not a magazine subscriber. I once was, but after they piled up on my coffee table month after month, I decided it wasn't worth it. But for some reason, I received a copy of a well-known women's magazine in the mail yesterday. I didn't request it or sign up for it... so I imagine it is either a solicitation aimed at getting me to subscribe... OR... someone out there sees how badly I need some fashion advice and they subscribed me some help! 

I laid the magazine on my desk with the other mail and behold! There it was this morning...waiting for me to flip through its glossy pages, inhale its perfume samples and dive into the fashion advice it offers. 

I was shocked to realize that this magazine actually taught me a few lessons:

  1. I wear way to much fabric compared to these fashionistas. But I rather like covering up all my bits, so I don't look for that to change. I rather believe our age should be an indicator to the percentage of our bodies that should be covered.... 40 years old, 40% of your body should be covered ... just kidding, but we all know some gal out there that is stuck wearing only 18% and she passed 18 years old a long time ago!
  2. My just-woke-up-hair is totally acceptable in the workplace or at a meeting. However, somehow my tossed tresses don't look nearly as fashionable as it does on the high-cheek boned, beautifully bronzed, Barbie-look-a-like model ... who, I might add, is standing in a business conference room holding a briefcase with her tossed locks and her shirt unbuttoned to her navel.....not the look I've sported in a professional atmosphere, but there's a first time for everything!
  3. There is no way to inhale or rub these perfume samples without looking like a mad woman who has just seen fire for the first time. Not to mention the paper cuts that are now on my wrists and neck. These should really come with instructions. OH WAIT!! There are instructions... "lift here to experience..." So maybe I just need to sniff and not rub it all over my body. Got it!

All joking real revelation came from the amount of pages I had to flip through before finding anything of substance. Literally, 61 pages of advertisements for perfumes, handbags, jewelry, shoes and clothes were stacked before the first page of the actual magazine -- which was only the index page! I still had to go another 33 pages before I hit the first article. 

Now, I know as well as you that these advertisements are financially the back bone of this and every other magazine out there. I get it. I'm not really appalled at the amount of ads themselves or even the strategic placement. What does make me scratch my head is the large amount of emphasis placed on outward appearance.

Tossed hair-dos and yoga pants aside, I enjoy looking nice. I like to wear nice outfits, have a flattering hair-do and sport my version of the smoky eye -- which looks more like I got into a cage match with my eyeliner and lost. Fashion and looking good is not all lost on me, but these 90 plus pages makes me wonder... really? Really is that what we are aspiring to emulate? Are these the images we want our daughters and granddaughters to pattern themselves after?

Just go with me for a moment --- imagine a gorgeous, glossy magazine cover with a 70 year old (or older) woman on the cover. She's wearing what looks like a tattered robe. Fabric is draped over her head hiding her hair. She isn't wearing a single swipe or smear of makeup and no jewelry is found hanging around her neck or dangling from her ears.

To those passing by this unexpected cover, the image may stand out simply because it is so different than the rest. But if you were to turn to the cover story, you would read about a woman named Sarah. She was married to Abraham and had a baby long after her biological clock rang for the last time.

Or maybe we could put this gal on the cover --  I've read about her and maybe you have as well -- her name is Hannah and she desperately wanted a son. Her story is one of patience, diligence and obedience. 

Or how about those ladies we know as Mary and Martha -- not Martha Stewart! You know those two gals who played host to Jesus in their home. I bet they could give us all some tips on keeping house and so on. 

Obviously these are not the covers that are going to adorn magazine racks anytime soon. But I think you get where I am going. What if our measuring stick was formed from women that moved mountains for God. What if our comparison and aspirations were held to those great gals who have impacted the world for the Kingdom. You don't even have to look to the scriptures because we have great women right here in our day-to-day living.

Better yet... what if YOU were the one someone could aspire to because of your confidence in who God made you to be, the power He's given you and the grace to be A-OK with that!?! Imagine if our daughters and granddaughters saw us as the women they emulate and want to grow up to mimic. I bet we could teach them more than how to apply the perfect lip gloss and how to wear the latest wedges. 

#liverevised -- Christie

Election aftermath

by Christie Browning

Indiana's primary election was recently held. It's always an honor to get to vote and exercise our freedom to choose our leaders -- one we should not take for granted.  However, given the fight between the donkeys and elephants, it's easy to feel uncertain as to where this year's election will leave us.

I've seen several of my Facebook friends post encouraging remarks that no matter who's elected, God is still in control. No Democrat or Republican can dethrone the Almighty or even catch Him off guard. For those of us who are believers, those sentiments might come across a little tongue-in-cheek. But let's take a look at the scriptures... there's assurance found there:

Psalm 24:1 - "The earth is the Lord's and all its fullness. The world and those who dwell in it."

Everything in and on the earth is the Lord's - it's His to manage, oversee, command, and allow. Nothing happens without Him knowing. The Psalmist goes on to clarify that the Lord's ownership extends to those who do not believe. "The world and those who dwell in it," means God's rule extends to all people, even those who do not acknowledge His power and authority -- even politicians :)

When we get worked up about the path our nation may be on or what decision our elected officials might make, we need to be reminded of our trust in the One who holds the ownership of all. In these uncertain times, one thing we can know is certain - we can COMPLETELY trust God!

My case for trust:

The Lord does not walk crooked paths, in chaos or change or uncertainty. For Him to do so would mean He would be changeable god - inconsistent and variable - we couldn't rely on Him. But over and over in the scriptures we read where God promises to remain the same, never change. We see evidence of that as we read accounts of the Israelites and their journey though the Old Testament and again as Jesus walked in the same trust in God when He was here on Earth.

When God commands  - it is so. He doesn't say one thing and mean another. There is no confusion, chaos or mind games with God. At the same time, neither does He command one thing and accept something else --- let that sink in for a moment...

When we read about Jesus' time on Earth - we see often that He marks the way and then He himself walks in that way calling us to follow Him as He goes (Matthew 4:19). I love knowing that the way is marked for us -- we don't have to wonder or stumble in darkness or in confusion. We simply follow.

We can read in the New Testament several promises that if we seek, we will find. If God is for us... who then can be (stand) against us. Over and over God's word assures us that in uncertain times, there is one steadfast assurance -- Him.

Psalm 20:7 "Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God."

I can't promise you that the guy or gal who will carry the title "President" will get it all right. I don't know if we are headed to a more liberal way of life or if a conservative approach awaits our nation come 2017. I can promise you this... God does not change. He is the same yesterday, today and forever. We are not without a guide, a comforter or a refuge. Choose this day whom you will serve.... red, blue, donkey or elephant... choose God as your solid rock!