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When Your Brook Dries Up

Logo Sheree Decouto

 

It happens to all of us at some point in life. Everything is going along just fine and then one day we notice things are starting to change. We hear rumors of downsizing, notice a nagging health issue or sense things are different in a relationship. We thought we had our lives figured out and suddenly our life’s stream has been dialed down to a trickle and the thing we have learned to count on eventually dries up. Now what? Will we trust God, or trust the thing we’ve become accustomed to?

 

Sometime later the brook dried up because there had been no rain in the land. 1 Kings 17:7

Elijah knew this predicament well. God had led him to the Brook of Kerith sometime earlier.  Things had gone well there. The ravens had fed him and the brook had provided much needed water during the drought; but it too eventually dried up.

When our streams turn to a trickle, it is sometimes God’s way of closing one door in our lives to prepare us for what’s next. Other times God wants to know that we will trust Him when it looks like we can’t. How will we react when we watch our provision shrink, our health deteriorate or our relationships falling apart?  Will we trust God even when we don’t see the evidence of His help? Will we move on without His direction?

Elijah didn’t move on until God told him to. He didn’t try to solve his own problem and he didn’t complain about it either. He simply trusted God and waited.

Trusting in God’s provision and His timing are perhaps two of the hardest things to do especially when what we’ve become accustomed to fades away.

If you’re brook is drying up I encourage you to ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Have I wrongly trusted something other than God?
  2. Am I resting in His timing or my own logic?
  3. Has He given me the green light to move on?
  4. Am I willing to stay where I am until He says move?
  5. Am I complaining about my situation?

 

The Kerith Brook had dried up, but God’s supernatural provision for Elijah didn’t; it just changed locations. When God told Elijah to move on to Zarephath he provided a widow there who would feed him.

Our brooks may dry up, and it may seem like God waits to the very last second to lead us to our next place of provision, but it’s in trusting Him that we will see the miracle of His provision.

Blessings,

Sheree

By |July 16th, 2014|0 Comments|

Pharaoh’s Who Launch Us

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I’ve had the privilege of meeting several high profile Christian authors and speakers, and I whenever I do I always ask the same question. “How did you launch your ministry?” I want to know, because I want a formula for success.

Each time I’ve asked the question I gotten a similar answer, “I finally quit trying to make it happen.” When I’ve pressed them to elaborate each has told a story of working hard trying to get noticed only to wind up frustrated. The key to their success was not in their ability to make it happen, but rather in their determination to serve God with their gifts where He had them. Eventually someone noticed them.

Joseph knew what it was like to serve faithfully for many years without being noticed. As a former slave, then prisoner, he faithfully served those around him with little recognition.

He was desperate to see his dreams come true and unable to make them happen on his own. 

We’ve heard it said it’s not what you know, it’s who you know. In Joseph’s case it wasn’t who he knew, but who knew him. When Joseph’s former cell mate heard that Pharaoh had questions concerning a dream he knew just who to call. That day Pharaoh launched Joseph into his dream. Instantly he went from prisoner to second in command of all Egypt.

So, how do we get a Pharaoh to notice us? Here are 4 steps to Joseph’s formula for success:

  1. Realize it has nothing to do with you. As a slave, then prisoner, Joseph had no other choice. He couldn’t make it happen. Despite our freedom, we really can’t either.
  2. Consider the options where you are today. Instead of focusing on your future hopes and dreams and being frustrated because they haven’t happened, focus on what you can do today. If you aren’t serving faithfully where God has you today, who’s going to notice you?
  3. Give your dream back to God. He gave it to you- now give it back to Him and allow Him to work it out. It’s so much easier that way!
  4. Trust God’s timing. When the time is right God will orchestrate our meeting with Pharaoh.

While I haven’t arrived at my dream of being a published author and national speaker I have seen some major progress. In each step toward my dream I’ve had to follow Joseph’s example before God has sent a “Pharaoh” with a need that I was created to fill.

As you wait on your dreams I encourage you to ask yourself these questions: What need were you created to fill? Who is watching you? Will they have something to say about you when God sends a Pharaoh with a need that you were created to fill?

 

Blessings,

Sheree

By |July 9th, 2014|1 Comment|

Prisons That Hold Us Back

Prison

 

I’ve been in prison and I don’t mind talking about it. Of course I was wrongly accused, but that didn’t lesson my sentence. It was a dark lonely place, and no. . . I’m not actually talking about jail. Instead I’m talking about a season of feeling stuck, held back, and overlooked. No doors were opening, no opportunities were surfacing, and there didn’t seem to be a way out.

 

Perhaps I’ve exaggerated a little. But who doesn’t know what it feels like to be passed up for a promotion, overlooked in a relationship, forgotten, or just plain stuck? Sometimes, no matter how hard we try to move on we can’t.

Joseph knew what it felt like to be stuck, only his prison was a literal one. He found himself sentenced for a crime he didn’t commit and stuck behind bars that held him back from the dreams God gave him.

However, in the midst of his misery came a glimmer of hope when two unlikely cell mates showed up with dreams of their own. After correctly interpreting their dreams, Joseph asked that he would be remembered. Eventually, after two long years, Joseph was remembered and the kindness he had shown his former cell mate led to not only his release—but also to the fulfillment of his dream (Genesis 39-41).

Joseph’s prison story gives us some great examples of how to handle ourselves in the prisons that hold us back from our dreams. Below are three attributes Joseph exhibited while stuck in prison:

1) Do your best where you are. Scripture tells us Joseph found favor with the prison warden and was put in charge of all the prisoners and everything that went on there. When his release finally came he walked away with both leadership skills and a good referral if he ever needed it.

2) Think of others’ needs. Joseph immediately noticed the anguish of the cup bearer and the baker. He took initiative to share his gift of dream interpretation. In the end, his unsolicited kindness paid off.

3) Give God credit. Joseph didn’t take credit for interpreting the dreams, instead he gave all the credit to God. Self-promoters rely on their own abilities. God-promoters have the pleasure of watching God do miraculous things in their lives.

If you are stuck in a “prison” with seemingly no way out, I encourage you to follow Joseph’s example. God can do great things with a person who is willing to make the most of the harshest situation. I know because He has done it in my life over and over again.

Don’t let your prison experience keep you bound in discouragement. Choose today to trust God’s timing.

 

By |June 30th, 2014|1 Comment|

Palaces That Prepare Us

Sand Castle

 

Is it just me, or have you ever wondered what happened after Cinderella and Prince Charming rode off into the sunset? As a little girl I bought the happily- ever-after ending hook line and sinker; as a grown woman I know what palace life is really like.

Despite what my real life experiences have taught me, I still get caught off guard when my expectations fall short of my reality.

I’ll never forget the day I landed my first full time job in ministry. I thought I had arrived. For years I had dreamed of what it would be like to work for God. I knew the job wasn’t my final destination, but it sure felt like I was finally at my happily ever after. My head was full of all the wonderful things I was going to do for God now that He had brought me to my palace, so to speak. Needless to say, palace life has been harder than I expected.

Lately I’ve been studying the life of Joseph and I’ve wondered if he too might have grappled to reconcile his expectations with his reality. Obviously he must have been disappointed when his brothers sold him as a slave. But I wonder what he thought when he was purchased by Potiphar, Pharaoh’s captain of the guard, and put in charge of his entire household. Could he have thought, Someone has finally recognized my potential; I’m finally at a place where my dreams could come true?

If you know Joseph’s story then you know Potiphar’s palace was only another step in his journey. Yes, it was a place where he would gain valuable leadership experience but also a place where his character would be tested. Which makes me wonder, could our dream job be more about our preparation than happily ever after?

There’s something deep within us that yearns for the happy ending. I believe we can experience joy during the journey by remembering these three truths:

  1. This is not our final destination; all of life is preparing us for the ultimate happy ending when we meet Jesus face to face.
  2. There will be tests. Make no mistake. . . our dream job, dream marriage, and dream life will bring challenges to test us. (Thankfully they are all open book tests; the Bible gives us the answers we need!)
  3. What we do with the gap between expectation and reality determines our level of satisfaction. We choose our response when life doesn’t turn out the way we expected. Joseph’s life story gives us an excellent example of how to move past our past and toward the ultimate call of God on our lives. In the end he considered it more valuable that God’s will was done than his comfort compromised.

What palace is God using to prepare you? Are you passing the tests, or has your chosen response kept you from enjoying the journey? If I’m honest, I have to admit that the gap between my expectation and my reality caught me off guard. I haven’t passed all of the tests. But today I’m determined to consider God’s will more valuable than my own comfort. I choose joy in the midst of my circumstances and I thank God that He is still preparing me for the ultimate happy ending.

 

Sharing the journey of faith,

Sheree

By |June 25th, 2014|5 Comments|

Pitfalls And Dreams

Pitfall

 

 

Shouldn’t your God-given dream, purpose, or calling come easy?

Seven years ago God gave me a huge dream for ministry. In it I saw myself on stage in a big arena preaching His word and making a great impact for His kingdom. I thought, Watch out Beth Moore here I come! Seven years have passed and so far no big arena, which often leaves me wondering why God gave me such a big dream.

I wish my story was unique, but I meet frustrated dreamers all the time. So why does God give us big dreams and then let us fall into pits of hopelessness over them?

 

One of my favorite Bible stories is about a dreamer named Joseph. God gave him a big dream in which his brothers bowed down to him. The next thing he knew, his jealous brothers threw him in a pit, sold him into slavery, and then he was hauled off to Egypt. I’m sure this wasn’t the outcome he expected.

After studying Joseph’s life and comparing it to mine, I’ve come to realize that a big dream is often what God gives us to get us moving in the right direction.  I have to admit that I wouldn’t have left my successful secular career for anything less than a big dream. In Joseph’s case, Egypt was the right direction and the pit was just the first stop.

I believe every dreamer can make their way out of the pit and back onto the road toward their dream by learning from these three pitfalls:

1) Thinking it’s going to be easy. This is the biggest trap the enemy sets and the place most dreamers quit. Don’t give up! It’s worth the fight or God wouldn’t have given you the dream in the first place!

2) Thinking others will support your dream. Joseph’s lack of support from his brothers was what catapulted him in the right direction even though it may have seemed like the wrong direction.

3) Thinking hardships aren’t part of the process. Joseph faced many hardships before his dream ever came true. These hardships shaped his character so he could be the right person for his God-given dream.

Today if you find yourself stuck in a pit with your God-given dream looming so far ahead that it seems impossible to reach, just remember you are one step closer to it today than you were yesterday!

Keep dreaming my friends!

Sheree

 

By |June 16th, 2014|4 Comments|

My Golden Gate Experience

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On a recent trip to San Francisco I heard a sermon that changed my life. Not to be corny, but I believe it’s the golden gate that I’ve needed to cross over in order to reach my destiny and I want to share my experience with you.

The sermon was on bitterness and unforgiveness, a problem I didn’t think I had. However, the clue that told me different was when the pastor asked, “Are you rehearsing, rehashing or replaying an offense?” It was the bullet between my eyes so to speak. Immediately I recounted several recent conversations. Indeed I had a problem with bitterness and unforgiveness.

So how was I blinded from seeing the realization of my predicament? I didn’t see it because my bitterness and un-forgiveness was not directed at any one person or event. Instead it was the result of my season of life in which I’ve felt forgotten by God, held back and over looked. Without realizing it my rehearsing, rehashing and replaying of the past few years of disappointments had rendered me bitter. (I’m just keeping it real!)

The sermon was from the life of Joseph, a story I know well so I almost tuned out. What hit me was when the pastor talked about the names Joseph gave his two sons. The first, Manasseh, which means, “God has made me forget all my trouble.” And the second Ephraim, which means, “God has blessed me in my land of affliction.”

As I reflected on my last three years and what started it all, (my battle with cancer), it feels like a bad dream that didn’t really happen. God is helping me forget my trouble. While cancer has come and gone other problems have come and stayed and I’ve continue to live in a land of affliction. Even so, God has blessed me with much fruit in the land of my affliction.

Upon further reflection of Joseph’s story I noted that his sons were born after he became second in command of Egypt, but before his brothers showed up. Part of Joseph’s dream had come true- his sheaves of grain had risen and his brothers were suffering the effects of the drought. The total fulfillment of the dream with his brother’s bowing to him was right around the corner.  Yet before his dream was completely realized, he had made peace with God and his lot in life.

Joseph’s famous words, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives”, rang in my ears. My bitterness toward my season of life had kept me from seeing that God intended to use it for the saving of many lives. I didn’t have a band of brothers to forgive, I needed to forgive God. That was the golden gate I needed to cross. I needed to make peace with God and my lot in life.

Do you need to cross the golden gate of forgiveness and let go of bitterness? God can’t fulfill our dreams until we do.

Blessings,

Sheree

By |June 10th, 2014|11 Comments|

Deleting a Selfie

selfie

 

A couple of weeks ago I took a “selfie.” It wasn’t flattering.  In fact it was downright ugly and needed to be deleted. It was a picture revealing a side of me I’d rather not admit I have. And no, I’m not talking about a self-taken photograph of myself. The “selfie” I’m referring to is self-pity.

 

 

I’m generally a very optimistic person, but something happened that day that threw me for a loop and before I knew it I was sucked into a spiraling vortex that left me virtually useless for the entire day. It started with an announcement of someone else’s good fortune. I should have been happy for them, but all I could think about was… well, me.  Why couldn’t I get a break like that? Why do I have to work so hard at things that come so easy to others? You get the picture. By nightfall I was ready to through in the towel.

The next day I woke up wishing I could press the delete button. How could I have wasted an entire day consumed with self-pity? Then it was as if God said to me, “You neglected to take your thoughts captive, instead they took you captive.” 

We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:5

When the lie said, “It’s not fair,” I should have replied, “God decides what is fair.” When the lie said, “You’re hard work is not appreciated,” I should have replied, “I live my life before an audience of one. His approval is all I need.” I didn’t stand firm, I didn’t resist the devil and he didn’t flee. Instead he spent the day trying to convince me that my dreams were never going to come true and I almost believed his lies.

What about you, have you been tempted to believe his lies? When our focus becomes inward and not upward we are right where the enemy wants us. Self-pity is consuming and keeps us from being who God called us to be.

So, how do we delete a “selfie”?  Believe it or not it’s almost as easy as pressing the delete button when you don’t like a self-photograph. Here are three things I’ve did that can help you when you find yourself held captive by self-pity:

1.      Acknowledge it and ask God for forgiveness.

2.      Contradict the lie with the truth of God’s word. (Find scripture to support the truth.)

3.      Refuse to allow the enemy to win. Use the experience as fuel to keep you moving ahead toward your dreams. 

In my day of self pity the enemy tried his best to take me down. Today I’m throwing it back at him. My dream, the thing he was trying to steal, is the dream that the story of my life would make a difference in someone else’s. I’m committed to being God’s girl getting real. If my story has inspired you in some way, leave a comment below. Together let’s get real and in the process tell the devil where he and his lies can go! Let’s delete our “selfie’s” and refuse to let them hold us captive any longer.

Much Love,

Sheree

PS- If you haven’t signed up to receive email notifications when I post, please take a minute to do so. I’d love to share my walk and encourage you in yours!

By |March 12th, 2014|11 Comments|

Letting Go

Letgo

 

Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. Isaiah 43:18-19

 

 

When my family gets together we love to tell stories of days gone by. One family favorite is the infamous day I snuck outside during naptime while my grandmother was babysitting. I remember it like yesterday. She yelled from the porch for me to come inside. When I refused she came after me.  I grabbed hold of the tree next to me and poor grandma had to peel me off and drag me in kicking and screaming.

This old story always gets a laugh at family get-togethers, but when it was recently told at a family dinner it spurred a thought I haven’t been able to shake.  We can’t move on to where we are supposed to be when we are clinging with everything we’ve got to where we aren’t supposed to be.

Things aren’t as simple as they were back then. I’m still clinging to things I shouldn’t and those things are keeping me from moving to where I know God wants to take me. Instead of a tree, I’m guilty of clinging to my doubts and my past hurts. Will God really do what He said He would do? Can I trust Him again?

Let me briefly explain…

Seven years ago God gave me a dream of being a published author and speaker. Two years ago I was on track with my goals and dreams when I was diagnosed with throat cancer. I thought God would miraculously heal me and I would add this miracle to the stories I told for Him. He didn’t. Instead I endured great suffering which slowly chipped away at my faith and hope. Today I’m cancer free, but I still have the lingering effect of a faith that was battered and a dream I put on the back burner.

Recently I’ve sensed God asking me to “dream again.” The problem is, it’s nearly impossible to dream again and hold on to past disappointments at the same time. The truth… I no longer have cancer so why am I still allowing it to control my future? God did heal me… maybe not the way I had hoped for, but I am healed non-the-less. My past is no longer relevant and I need to let go of it.

This brings me back to my grandmother and how she came after me, prying me off of the tree. She knew I needed rest. Thankfully God knows I need rest too. Lovingly He comes after me and pries me away from the death grip of doubt that has kept me from dreaming. As I let go of my past hurts, they let go of me and I am able to dream again.

What about you? Are there things in your life that are no longer relevant yet you’ve been unwilling to let go of them? Like me, are you challenged to loosen your death grip on past disappointments in order to move where God wants you today? Let’s resolve together to let go and let God lead us where He wants us to be; completely confident in His ability to do what He says He will do.

 

Blessings My Friends!

Sheree

By |March 5th, 2014|5 Comments|

Between a Rock & a Hard Place

rock&hard

Have you ever noticed that God has a way of bringing us to places that seem like insurmountable obstacles? Dead end jobs, impossible relationships and problems with no apparent solution lodge us smack dab in the middle of a rock and a hard place and we find ourselves crying, “Help! I’m stuck and I can’t move on.”

 

A couple of weeks ago I sat across the table from a friend who was in just such a situation. Her job was fast becoming more and more intolerable and despite her attempts to find a new one, God hadn’t opened the door for an escape route. As she shared her story I wanted to scream, “Just quit!” Thankfully I filtered my response and instead said, “God has a way of bringing us to what seems like insurmountable obstacles like the Red Sea or the Jordan River. Sometimes He parts the way without us having to do anything, like He did at the Red Sea. Other times He requires us to make the first move, like he did at the Jordan River when He told the Israelites to step into the water before He parted it.”  Then I encouraged for her get her feet wet and trust God to provide her solution.

After our meeting I started thinking about the stuck places in my own life and how trite my counsel to her might have sounded. It’s not as easy as it sounds to just move on when an army of problems are seeking to kill your joy and an insurmountable obstacle is front of you.

This morning I decided to read the story of the Israelites as they fled from Egypt only to find themselves stuck between a rock and a hard place. In re-reading it I noticed a few details I had forgotten. First I hadn’t remembered the emotions they experienced in their plight. With Pharaoh’s army breathing down their neck and the Red Sea opposing their path they cried out, “Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you brought us to the desert to die?” (Exodus 14:11) The desperation in their voice was the same desperation I heard in my friend’s voice and one I too have felt from time to time. Secondly I had forgotten God’s twofold response, “Why are you crying out to me? Tell the Israelites to move on.”  (Exodus 14:15) They had to move on.

When we feel stuck between a rock and a hard place it’s a perfect set up for God to show up in big ways. But we can’t miss the fact that God often requires us to engage our faith before He parts the water.  Whether it’s putting an end to our crying, moving on when we can’t see our solution, or getting our feet wet- we miss His miracles when we remain focused on the impossibility of our situation.

Do you feel stuck with no obvious solutions? Maybe it’s a set up for you to experience God in ways you never dreamed possible. Remember, the Israelites never dreamed the water would part for them. When we engage our faith, He can move mountains, part seas and do things we never dreamed possible.

 

If you’re stuck, or have a praise report about God moving a mountain or parting a sea – please share with my readers by leaving a comment on my blog. Together let’s encourage each other to engage our faith and move on!

 

Blessing,

Sheree

 

By |February 19th, 2014|0 Comments|

Check Out My New Look

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Change is springing up all around me. I’m in a new home in a new area of town with lots of new experiences. Since I’m on a roll I thought I might as well get a makeover… a website makeover that is.

There’s nothing quite like a makeover, a move and new life experiences. They ignite passion again and cause me to dream about possibilities. What will God do in and through me in this next season of life? My kids are grown and my heart is wide open, I wait to hear what God will say.

As God’s girl getting real I have to admit that some days I wait better than others but I’ve learned my lessons on running ahead of Him and don’t want to repeat them. Albeit, I know God is stirring a new vision for ministry in me and I ask for your prayers that I will hear Him clearly and walk obediently to what He calls me to do.

In the meantime, take a few minutes to check out my new look thanks to the great work of Kristin Jackson and Becky Miller of Bread and Butter Designs.

 

God Bless,

Sheree

By |February 13th, 2014|6 Comments|