Have you been Stamped or Fingerprinted?

Downtown Tampa is one of my favorite places to spend the day with my hubby. One sunny afternoon we found ourselves strolling through the galleries at the Tampa Museum of Art. Modern Art isn’t really my thing so I was a little disappointed to hear that the traveling exhibit was, “Famous Artists from USF Graphicstudio.” After an hour of reading plaques and descriptors, I still had no idea what graphicstudio, lithograph, intaglio, and serigraph meant. My husband on the other hand, apparently majored in art (while I wasn’t looking)! He eagerly gave me a whole dissertation about the various forms of printmaking. Somewhere around the history of intaglio print I found myself… slowly…. breaking….. away…… from……. the…….. conversation………. There were two intriguing images that were calling me from across the room.   The first was a portrait of a man-made completely out of office stamps. The image felt dark and grainy. The man’s features were heavy and harsh. As I looked closer the effect of the stamps gripped me. The stamps read “To Be Destroyed,” “Abandoned Project,” “Rush Medical Supplies,” “Caution,” and “Copy.” Staring deeper into his “date stamped” eyes I began to see the truth in this image. How often do we stamp ourselves or allow others to stamp us with labels. Are you still wearing labels from your childhood experiences or past failures? Have you been stamped with helpful or harmful labels? My fear is that all too often we continue to identify with the negative stamps people have placed on us, like “Damaged” “Abandon Project,” and “Fragile.” If you were given a basket full of stamps which ones would you use to recreate your face? The heaviness of this portrait lingered. Combersomely I backed away from the portrait. At the end of aisle hung the second intriguing image. T “Fanny” by Chuck Close The second portrait possessed a haziness from afar. The soft glow of the woman’s eyes drew me in. As I neared her gaze I was amazed to discover the entire image was made out of finger prints. The artist did not use pencils, chalk, markers or pens. Every detail and intricate work was made simply with pigment and a fingerprint. This creator worked diligently to form a uniquely beautiful masterpiece.  Her features were carefully crafted. Just think our Heavenly Father, the God of this universe has taken great care to craft us. Isaiah 64:8 says “Yet, O Lord, You are our Father; we are the clay, and You our Potter, and we all are the work of Your hand.” His fingerprints are all over us! Both of these images rolled off the canvas and imprinted my soul. I walked away asking myself, “When people look at me do they see the stamps I’ve labeled myself with or do they see the fingerprints of my creator and Lord?” What do people see when they look at you? Fingerprints or stamps? Share...

Flourish in Endurance

I am so excited about my Flourish in…Endurance class starting this Saturday, October 19th! There are still a few more days to register! Please complete this quick survey if you would like to participate in this physical and spiritual endurance building group! Click here for the survey! Flourish in…Endurance Details and Information: WHEN: SATURDAY mornings – October 19-December 14 TIME: 8 AM – 10 AM WHERE: SUNCOAST PARKWAY SR-54. We will meet in the Target parking lot behind McDonald’s. COURSE FEE: $25 (race fee, not included) RSVP by October 16th. Fee is due on the 19th. Spiritual and Physical Endurance for the Soul – Led by Jayde Gray This is an 8-week course that will encompass a spiritual journey on the subject of ENDURANCE. As a woman, endurance is an important key in us fulfilling the calling that God has placed on our lives. In order to finish our race, endurance is a necessity.  Please join us for this spiritual study on endurance as well as applying it to our physical endurance. This will be for first-time runners as well as experienced runners. Our final “Hoor-ah!” will be a 5K race together…The Color Run in St. Petersburg, FL. Come join us!! For more information, please contact us on facebook @ www.facebook.com/growandflourish or jayde@launchps.com   Share...

Treading Water

Treading Water

I watched anxiously as my breathless five-year-old desperately tread water in the deep end of the pool. Her body was furiously fighting to stay vertical. Unwittingly, my inner swim coach took control of the situation. With reassurance, I encouraged my struggling daughter to do something unnatural. She had to submerge herself in the very thing she was fighting against.  The only way for her to get to the side of the pool was to go under, get horizontal and START KICKING. After a few moments of hesitation she finally followed my instruction. A confident smile swelled under her goggled-eyes! She made it to the other side! I wonder how often God feels like that swim coach/parent on the side of the pool. The Abba Father wants to jump in and rescue us from the deep waters we have found ourselves in. Yet the Holy Spirit, our guide, stands on the edge instructing us on how to persevere. Are you trending water?  Are you stuck in a situation? Do you feel like your relationship with the Lord is stagnant? Do you feel like you are struggling to hold on? My daughter knew how to swim but in that moment of crisis she forgot her training. Exhaustion and crisis may have paralyzed you for the moment but don’t forget your training! SUBMERGE: Submerge yourself in the word of God! GET HORIZONTAL: Get on your face before the Lord and PRAY! START KICKING: Do something to move out of that situation. Kicking could mean seeking Godly council, journaling, distancing yourself from unhealthy relationships, etc. Simply take action; don’t remain stagnant. LISTEN TO YOUR COACH’S VOICE: The Holy Spirit will guide you to the other side! You will make it to the other side! Joy will overwhelm your soul as you look back and see just how far you swam. Keep kicking! You are getting closer.   Related Scripture: Romans 5:3-5 says, “We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance.  And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation.  And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.”   Share...

Starting Lines

Starting Lines

Last night I toed the starting line of a new race in my career. I’ve committed to lead a passionate pack of dedicated parents at Dayspring Academy. As I drove away from the meeting I felt a tad overwhelmed by this new role.  Self doubt wanted to take over! Then God reminded me of Cliff Young’s extraordinary story. At 61 years old, Cliff Young decided to run Australia’s 875 kilometer, ultra-marathon endurance race from Sydney to Melbourne. Only a few young, highly trained athletes participated in this event each year. The race usually took a week to complete. On the day of the race, Cliff Young, in his overalls and gumboots was mistaken as a spectator. As he approached the registration table to take his number, it became obvious that Cliff Young was a participant! He was going to join a group of 150 world-class athletes and run! Many thought it was a publicity stunt. Curious reporters began to question Cliff: “Who are you and what are you doing? “I’m Cliff Young. I’m from a large ranch where we run sheep outside of Melbourne.” “Are you really going to run in this race?” “Yeah,” Cliff nodded. “Got any backers?” “No.” “Then you can’t run.” “Yeah I can,” Cliff said. “See, I grew up on a farm where we couldn’t afford horses or four-wheel drives, and the whole time I was growing up – until about four years ago when we finally made some money and got a four wheeler- whenever the storms would roll in, I’d have to go out and round up the sheep. We had 2,000 sheep and we have 2,000 acres. Sometimes I would have to run those sheep for two or three days. It took a long time, but I’d catch them. I believe I can run this race; it’s only two more days. Five days. I’ve run sheep for three.” When the marathon started, the pros left Cliff behind. The crowds smiled as Cliff set off in his gumboots and overalls. Reporters commented on his “incorrect” technique. Instead of running, he leisurely shuffled. Australians fixated on the live telecast. Many feared the worst for Cliff. The professional runners knew that it took approximately 7 days to complete the race. The athletes knew they needed to run for 18 hours and sleep for 6. No one informed, 61 year old Cliff Young of this formula; and so he ran. The next morning, the public was shocked to find out that Cliff was still in the race. Rather than stopping to sleep, Cliff jogged all night! When asked about his race tactics, he said it was “to run to the finish line.” And so he kept running. Every night he would inch closer to the leading pack. Finally, by the last night, he passed ALL of the world-class athletes, while they were sleeping. Cliff remained ahead until the finish line. Not only did he run the Melbourne to Sydney race at age 61 (without dying)…he won first place, breaking the race record by 9 hours! Cliff Young finished the 875 kilometer race in 5 days, 15 hours and 4 minutes. He didn’t sleep because he didn’t know that he was supposed to; he just kept imagining that he was chasing sheep and trying to outrun a storm. If this man wasn’t amazing enough already, when awarded with the first prize of $10,000 he said he did not know there was a prize and insisted that he had not entered for the money. He said, “There are five other runners out there doing it tougher than me,” and he gave them $2,000 each. It is astonishing how often unremarkable people impact the world in remarkable ways. It’s inspiring, because there’s probably a Cliff Young in each one of us. The starting line was a critical moment in Cliff’s journey. I applaud his courage and inner strength because the odds were stacked against him. He did not have…. Proper training A national sponsor backing him Conventional running shoes or clothes Racing experience Correct running form But, this is what he DID have… Life experiences – running sheep over 2,000 acres A straightforward plan – “To run to the finish line.” Ignorance – His lack of knowledge was a key component to his success. No one told him he needed to sleep Courage – Cliff believed in himself! All too often, we become paralyzed at the starting line. We allow our lack of experience, lack of support, lack of training, or improper attire stop us from taking that first step of faith. Romans 8:28 (Amplified) says, “We are assured and know that [God being a partner in their labor] all...

Endurance: The Race of Life

At a meager five foot two inches and built more like a stocky softball player than a runner, I’m sure I stuck out at my first half marathon training run. As I looked around at all the Garmin watches, hydration belts, compression socks, and dry-tech t-shirts I knew I was out of my league. These people were bona fide runners and I was a naïve stay-at-home mom with twenty pounds of extra body fat and a motivation to rise above the monotony of my life. As beads of salty sweat poured from my face and stung my eyes I mentally berated my girlfriend for talking me into this hellish endeavor. Who in their right mind would train for a half marathon in the heat of a Florida summer? Not to mention I was NOT a runner! Two grueling miles later I concluded my first training with the surprising realization that my boobs, my crotch, my butt, and even my ankles were capable of leaving substantial sweat marks. Could I really do this? Four short months later I found out that YES, I COULD DO IT! Overnight I became a metal wearing, bumper sticker sporting–half marathon racer! During the race, the Lord began to show to me a striking resemblance between physical endurance and spiritual endurance. Hebrews 12:1 says, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.” I desired to run my race with endurance and finish strong…but how? Using the visual of a race here are seven ways to help fulfill a calling and move closer to a goal. Each of these areas will be a chapter in Endurance: The Race of Life. 1.  TRAINING I marvel at hardcore runners, they are always tweaking and altering things to improve their personal record. As Christians we must do similar things to strengthen our relationship with the Lord. Try increasing the frequency or duration of these spiritual endurance building activities. Pray……….Read the Bible…….. Fast……….Give……….. Bless others (including your enemies)   2. STARTING LINE We have all toed an arbitrary starting line at one time in our life. As we reflect on the events that have led to that moment our minds instinctively begin to calculate our readiness. Tony Robbins was spot-on when he said, “I’ve come to believe that all my past failures and frustrations were actually laying the foundation for the understandings that have created the new level of living I now enjoy.” The starting line induces thrill and fear. Check back on September 9th to learn more about the starting line!   3. REFUELING STATIONS This one is not that complicated. Runners need food and water to complete a long distance endurance race. Christians need the Bible and prayer to sustain their spiritual pace. It is a horrific sight to witness a marathon runner collapse a few feet before the finish line because of dehydration. Christ is our “living water,” we should drink of him daily! Near the refueling stations you will typically find a restroom. When necessary get some much-needed relief. A refreshed mind and soul  handles stress and adversity better. Are you properly refueling your spirit? When is the last time you rested? Learn more on September 16th!   4. BOUNDARIES Simply stated…Boundaries keep us on track! Join the conversation on September 23rd as we discuss the importance of setting healthy boundaries.   5. RUNNING BUDDIES There comes a time in everyone’s training when you decide to push harder and go further then you have ever gone before.  It is in these moments that you need someone to come along side of you and encourage you to keep going.   You need a buddy run! Pick your buddy wisely! I have found during my training’s (and throughout my life) there have been a variety of people who have come alongside of me.  Some of these people will push and challenge you in unexpected ways.  Whereas others slow you down and psych you out mentally.  September 30th will be Buddy Run day! 6. OBSTACLES Obstacles are precisely why so many people stop short of personal goals. Think back on your last few New Year resolutions.  Did the price of a gym membership derail your weight loss goals? Was your daily devotional time permanently postponed due to illness? What caused you to throw in the towel on your resolution? Was it because of an obstacle or trial? Romans 5:3 tells us to, “rejoice when we run into...

I’ve Been Nesting…

I’ve Been Nesting…

My delightful, spunky friend Cynda Harris from Grow Life Inc. calls herself a spiritual midwife. She helps women give “birth” to the dreams and visions the Lord has placed in their heart. Last week… I had the uncontrollable urge to nest. I needed a place for my creativity and passion to live. I longed for a sanctuary within the four walls of my home. As any good mother would do, I evicted a child from her room to create a nursery (some may call it a home office) for a dream the Lord was ready to birth!   Rewind 18 months… My restless mind could not shake the feeling that I needed to use my gift of teaching. As I searched the Lord for direction an unexpected idea began to take shape in my soul. …I could write a book… The thought was exciting and terrifying at the same time! Before I knew it confirmations rolled in at an alarming rate. As my insecurities grappled with my calling, the conversations I had with God went something like this… But [Jayde] pleaded with the Lord, “O Lord, I’m not very good with words. I never have been, and I’m not now, even though you have spoken to me. I get tongue-tied, and my words get tangled [and my fingers won’t type the words].” Then the Lord asked [Jayde], “Who makes a person’s mouth? Who decides whether people speak or do not speak, hear or do not hear, see or do not see? Is it not I, the Lord? Now go! I will be with you as you speak, and I will instruct you in what to say and [write].”    –  Exodus 4:10-12   The ideas for the book began to percolate in my mind. For a solid year the Lord flooded my soul with content and ideas for the book. I took copious notes. After a year of God speaking to me on a daily basis I ended up with 38 pages of a book and PILES of notes. I wasted tons of valuable time explaining to God why I was not cut out for the job. Career changes put my writing on hold for months but the dream never died.   Last May, I decided to take a bold move and sign up for She Speaks, a writer’s and speaker’s conference held in North Caroline.  For one solid hour, I was BRAVE enough to say yes to my calling! During that hour I paid for my conference, signed up to meet with a publisher, bought a plane ticket, and reserved a rental car!   Two hours later…I was researching cancellation policies. After thorough review of the fine print it was decided…the only way of getting out of this one would be the death of an immediate family member and you better believe I wasn’t praying for that! I spent the next six weeks kicking myself for spending all that money.   Two weeks before the conference I had a “come to Jesus moment.” God began to reshape my thinking. I turned my focus towards the women that will be blessed because of this book. I prayed for them, I cried for them and I began to write for them. I spent the next ten days piecing together a book proposal to present to the publishers at the conference.   Fast forward to Saturday, July 27th…   First Publisher Meeting – 10 AM: As I sat outside the publisher’s office I felt a piece and rested assurance that this book was going to get written with or without a publisher. I was not walking into the room alone…the Lord placed me there.   I passionately presented my idea.   I articulately answered all her questions.   She REALLY liked the idea!   Then came the “but”…The readership on my blog was not big enough. I needed a national audience.   I was rejected!   Can you believe that the rejection didn’t even faze me?! In that moment, I was brave enough to fail and that in and of itself was a monumental accomplishment! I proudly walked away knowing a person’s opinion cannot strip me of my calling. Second publisher meeting – 11:45 AM: Again I felt complete peace while I sat waiting. Scripture raced through my mind “…he is made strong in my weakness…” (2 Corinthians 12:9) and “…he who began a good work in you will see it through to completion…,” (Philippians 1:6).   Again…   I passionately presented my idea.   I articulately answered all her questions.   She REALLY liked the idea!   Then came the… “Here is my business card. I am...