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Enough

Dec 3, 16

supervention-2-ch-17x14There’s a worship song whose chorus says, “If I lose it all, You’re enough. If I gain the world, You’re enough. My joy is complete.” I love praising the King, who despite anything we lack or anything we need, completes us so fully. He is truly enough. But what’s equally incredible, is that to Him, we are also enough.

The word “enough,” for women, can be such an easy trap to fall into. We can coast too long on the idea that “this is good enough,” rather than seek to live God’s very best for our lives. OR we can unknowingly toss ourselves into a tornado of self-doubt that nothing we do “will ever be enough.” We deprive the power that God placed in us and cut short the identity that He custom made for us.

Until we come to the point where we have truly had ENOUGH of the s elf-doubt, self-loathing and self-dissatisfaction, our love for the One who created us will be anemic. Because He tells me, that I am ENOUGH. Because He was ENOUGH. One extraordinarily ordinary life was MORE than enough to atone for the mistakes made by generations. Until I can grasp that … I will always fall prey to the beast of “not enough.”

On the flip side, if I settle deep into the quicksand of belief that “this is good enough” and never seek beyond myself or grapple for more, then I am selling short the truth that the SAME POWER that conquered the grave lives in me.

The enemy loves the game of enough, because he loves to tip it violently, never allowing us a moment to regain an equilibrium. But it’s a game the Lord doesn’t need to play… ” Because I MADE you, and I declare that you are enough because you are my image, my chosen ones. ”

There is nothing that my children could do that would not be enough for me. They breathe and call me “Mom,” and that is beauty and perfection to me. My Father is beckoning me to breathe Him in and call to Him.

Maybe tomorrow I’ll catch up on the laundry, or workout more, or get ahead on work, or spend time painting my nails… And maybe I won’t. But it will be enough. Because I am enough for the One who made me.

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The Hard to Reach Places

Dec 2, 16

Psalm 51:10
Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
sunrise-on-the-river-cb-30x30When my kids were little, I remember bath time being so much fun, and truly, such a mess. Squeals and shouting and slaughtering and splashing. Some nights I don’t know that we got clean so much as we all got wet. As they got a little older, it was my responsibility to start teaching them how to bathe and make sure they were clean. For a while they relied on me to help them with the hard to reach places… behind their ears, that weird spot on your back that your arms can’t reach… the ones that without realizing it could get pretty dirty.

For a lot of us, our hearts are our hard to reach place.  As toddlers we didn’t have any trouble expressing our wants and needs. As we got a little older, and as our emotions became a little more complex, it got harder to communicate. And as adults, for many of us, the nooks and crannies of our hearts have become clogged with the residue of unexpressed turmoil, pain and anxiety.

The beauty of our Lord is that He is a cleaner. Not only that, He knows all of our hard to reach places, because He was the One who sculpted them in the first place. He carefully carved out that hiding place in your heart and designed it in a way that only He can reach and clean out.

Just as any mother knows her child innately and knows the words to soothe each ache or fear, our Father created us to hear Him perfectly. I urge you, especially as we enter this holiday season that is sure to be full of activity and rushing, to spend a few minutes each day examining your heart’s hard to reach places and invite Him in to renew and purify them.

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A Gift of Gratitude

Nov 22, 16

This week, Wendy and I traveled to New York with our friends Ron and Beth Hall for some press conferences to raise awareness about homelessness. I was eager for the trip with some of my favorite people dedicated to one of my favorite causes, but I had no idea how God would open my own eyes.
img_7212When we arrived, Wendy and I had to laugh at our hotel accommodations. In short, they were pretty abysmal in comparison to what we’ve gotten used to on our travels together, but we were game and just excited to be there. After checking in and unpacking, we all headed to a nearby drugstore for some necessities.

As we were leaving the store, we noticed a young woman nearby wrapped in blankets. Ron approached her and began asking her some questions. We learned that her name was Ashley, she was 28 and had been homeless for 6 months. Like everyone living in poverty and homelessness, she had a story and was now living a reality she had never expected.

As it happened, my husband was originally planning to join us on the trip, so we had 2 rooms. We invited Ashley to come with us and use our second room. As she expressed her gratitude, she shared with us just how badly she wanted a bath and the opportunity to get cleaned up. She wanted the dignity of cleanliness that we too often take for granted.

img_7200The next morning, we were planning to attend a full day at the New York City Rescue Mission. We invited Ashley to join us, and she sat beside us, alongside leaders of top corporations, a perfect picture of brokenness inside of beauty. At the end of the day, we arranged for Ashley to use a room at the Rescue Mission. We showed her the rooms, heard the rules and sent her back to the hotel to collect her things.

I wish this story had a happy ending in which I could declare that Ashley has been radically transformed and is safely situated at the Mission, but unfortunately, that isn’t true. Ashley left to get her things and didn’t return. But thankfully we can cling to Jeremiah 29:11, which assures us that God has plans for Ashley. He has a hope and a future appointed just for her. We had the opportunity to declare that truth over her, and Ron and I agreed that the seeds that were planted during our time with Ashley may blossom into hope and restoration for her. img_7223Homelessness and its factors and symptoms are complex, but they aren’t hopeless. Homelessness has a face. It’s Ashley’s face… it’s the face of thousands of people who find themselves in a wholly unexpected situation, fighting for survival. But I’m encouraged by the simple truth that Jesus knows and recognizes each of His precious children. They are not forgotten or unseen, and I urge you to keep your eyes open for the Ashleys around you. Give them hope, encouragement, dignity and love. Make sure they know that we have not forgotten them. We are not blind to them.

As we arrived back in Charlotte, I was more aware than ever of the luxuries we live in that we all-too-often take for granted. Ashley was so thankful for a bath… something that is routine for me. This week, in the heart of Thanksgiving, I ask that you make yourself aware of the luxuries you have immediate access to and extend your arms to those in your path that don’t. Be grateful and be generous. Be Jesus.

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Angel Armies

Nov 17, 16

Psalm 91:11
For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways . 

Proverbs 18:24
One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.
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I wish I could properly express the joy and gratitude I experience when I receive a new “Angel story.” That’s what our team calls the multitude of emails, letters and social media comments that are sent in to share what an angel painting or book has meant in someone’s lives.

While we have our fair share of men who let us know how important the angels have been to them, more frequently, we hear from women sharing about giving or receiving an angel at just the right time. We have heard from countless women who have been encouraged and strengthened during health battles, marital dissolutions, parent or child loss, or family milestones.

These stories also serve to remind me that sometimes the Angel armies God has promised to surround me with are actually the relationships He has so carefully planted around me. From acquaintances who share timely encouragement, to prayer warriors who cover me even when I can’t see them, to my soul sisters who know all of my struggles, our friendships can be some of the most vivid reminders of who God is in our lives.

He sees our needs and hurts and provides the people to hold our hands as we walk through them. If you are in a season where you are feeling deserted and wondering where to find your angels, pray above yourself and then look around yourself. There are angels waiting in the wings to embrace you, love you, walk with you and befriend you.

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There Is Still Love

Nov 11, 16

1 Corinthians 13:13
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

540fe1b41eb8a_-_10-tcx-retro-tennis-outfits-in-group-0812-xl-lgThree of my four kids played tennis for years (admittedly with varying degrees of skill level), and I spent countless hours watching their matches, their forehands, backhands and serves.

I don’t know how familiar you are with tennis, but the scoring system is sort of weird. Points include Love (what 0 is called in tennis), 15, 30, and 40. There doesn’t seem to be much reason behind it.

I was thinking about tennis recently, since this has been my first fall in a few years I haven’t spent watching set points and shuttling between matches, and it struck me that maybe we should base our lives a little bit more like tennis.

Between pitfalls, trials and struggles, it can be easy to become discouraged and allow the enemy to convince you that you don’t have anything. That you’re a zero. That you can’t win. But in life, just like on a tennis court, even if you don’t have anything that can be counted, you have LOVE.

John 3:16 is so simple yet so foundational when it says that God so LOVED the world, He gave His only son to give us life. No matter how little we have, because God gave us His Son, we will always have LOVE.

If you’re in the midst of a season where all you can do is watch helplessly while points pile up and balls soar past you on the metaphorical court of your life, I urge you not to be dismayed. Your God has already conquered every battle you will face. He is the ultimate victory, and He has equipped you so that no matter what comes against you, you will always have LOVE.

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Scars

Nov 8, 16

Isaiah 53:5
But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.

jesus-1Do you have a scar somewhere on your body marking a specific moment? As I was staring in the mirror (in my 50-something birthday suit, which for some reason is not as cute as a toddler’s bumps and rolls!), looking back at me was a 4-inch scar from my one and only C-section delivery of my third daughter, who was born breech. I’m not going to lie, childbirth does not rank up there as the most fun in the pain department, and even though C-sections are different than natural childbirth, they are accompanied by their own type of pain.

But looking at my now-19-year old beautiful Taylor, I know that that scar was worth every second of the pain that accompanied it. My son Ford has a scar right above his right eye. When he was about 2 years old, we were in our neighbor’s yard pushing one of the girls on a tree swing. In just the blink of an eye, he darted in front of the swing and WHAP!, he was facedown on the ground.

Even now, I can remember vividly that I was wearing a white blouse, and I can still hear the screams, and the blood that was everywhere. I can remember holding him in the backseat of the car as we raced to the urgent care center and can clearly recall holding him as the doctor neatly stitched up the wound. I remember the hurt. The pain. The cries.

Of course, our best picture of scarring is in Jesus, and the suffering He bore on our behalf. I started thinking about this amazing, humble man, born the Son of God, who came to earth in the flesh. He lived, healed, related, empathized, and taught human beings who didn’t understand Him. Then He endured beatings and brutality that tore His flesh. Unlike Ford’s single wound that could be sewn together with a few stitches, the torture and 39 scourges couldn’t be simply and completely healed. Picturing that graphic scene astounds me.

Jesus bore these scars all over His body for me. Totally on my behalf. So that I could be fully, wholly and entirely healed of the scars that sin inflicts on my spirit. We serve a God who loves us so much. Through our mess, pain, trials, joys, struggles. I cannot believe that Jesus would voluntarily submit to that agony for me.

Our world gets caught up in religion, but I am here to proclaim that it is not about religion at all. Rather, it is about a relationship. A supernatural being whose love is as deep as it is wide. Someone whose body is marked with major scars for you and for me. Someone who is aching for you to surrender your heart.

We all have scars. Some can be seen on your eye or stomach or leg, and others are hidden deep beneath that no one can see. But God sees. He knows what pain you endured when you received them. And He wants to heal each and every one. His word is a soothing balm that promotes that healing.

Take a few moments today and ask God to heal your scars… whether they are scars of doubt or disappointment or betrayal or resentment. Know that the fruit of the scars He is planning for me are perfect and complete. He is waiting, and His healing is real. I have a C-section scar that reminds me of my beautiful daughter, and I have a living relationship with Jesus because of the real scars He carries because He delivered me.

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All Wrapped Up

Nov 5, 16

fullsizerender-26The leaves in Charlotte are finally starting to change into vibrant shades of yellow, red and orange. And while our temperatures are still warm, the calendar is telling me it’s November, ushering in Thanksgiving and Christmas quickly on its heels.

Last Christmas ended up being more than a little nutty (read last year’s holiday recap here), but this year I’m trying to stay ahead of our busy schedules, and I actually have presents purchased and wrapped. Christmas is coming, and I want to be ready.

In addition to my gifts, I want to make sure that I’m ready too, and while my packages are all wrapped up, I want to insure that my heart isn’t. It’s all too easy to get wrapped up in picture-perfect Instagram moments, forcing family traditions, attending all of the functions and events that the next two months will surely be full of.

As you start working on your gift wrapping, start evaluating your heart wrapping. What’s encasing your heart at the beginning of this season? Is it expectation, stress and pressure? Or is it a posture to hear from God and find joy in the moments He is curating just for us?

What is keeping you wrapped up? I want to know!

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22

Nov 1, 16

14910479_10154643870071228_6186419323640866339_nToday, my oldest daughter Blakely turns 22. It’s hard to believe that I’m the mother of a 22 year-old, and even wilder to think that she and I have been on this journey together for more than two decades.

As any mother knows, parenthood is covered in doubt, anxiety, fear and questioning. Especially with your first, every day can feel like trial and error. In fact, as my children grow each year, I find myself longing to rewind the clock and experience their infancies and toddlerhoods again. My team members are celebrating their own milestones of those days, as I watch my communications director with her almost 2-year old and the growing bump of her second daughter coming in January, and my graphic designer who is experiencing kindergarten through her daughter’s eyes.

Together, Blakely and I have walked through mistakes, regrets, and ultimately, joys and triumphs. Being a mother is my greatest accomplishment, and one look at this beautiful, brilliant and confident woman overflows my heart and makes me eternally grateful for my Heavenly parent who loves me even more than I could possibly love my children. That thought is humbling.

I remember so clearly the day that we dropped Blakely off at boarding school. I cried and cried thinking of someone else watching her daily struggles and happiness and the guilt I felt that someone else was “raising” her. As I sat in my prayer chair on August 23, it was no coincidence that that day’s entry in Jesus Calling spoke directly to me.

“Entrust your loved ones to me; release them into my protective care. They are much safer with me than in your clinging hands… When you release loved ones to me, you are free to cling to my hand. As you entrust others to my care, I am free to shower blessings on them. My Presence will go with them wherever they go, and I will give them rest.”

Wherever you are in your parenting journey… planning to start a family soon, in the middle of fertility treatments, reading this in the middle of the night with a tiny infant in your arms, or hoping for weekly phone calls from college to fill you in, remember that your divine Father designed you with everything your child needs. YOU are exactly who needs to be parenting THEM. Press into Him, and He will guide their paths.

To Blakely, thank you for walking this path with me. You are a delight and a joy. I am so proud of your tenacity, strength and poise. Thank you for teaching me, stretching me and giving me a front row seat into who you are becoming. I cannot wait for our adventures this week. I love you always.

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Costume Party

Oct 28, 16

A guest blog from our communications director Caroline Arey.

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Last year, my daughter Nora Beth made the most ideal Pillsbury Dough Girl.

Colossians 3:12
Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.

In the next few days, if you haven’t already, you’ll be seeing lots and lots of pictures of your friends’ and neighbors’ kids dressed up for Halloween. The costumes will range from cuddly to clever to creepy, and you may also find yourself sneaking more pieces of candy than you’re handing out to Trick-or-Treaters.

Halloween is a day that children and adults alike get to transform into someone else for the day – and have fun doing it. For many of us, though, especially for us women, too many of our days are spent like Halloween… trying on different “costumes” to see what fits us best.

It can be hard to live authentically and to feel completely comfortable and self-assured in the skin God created for us each of us, but that is exactly what He wants for us. In fact, He has already clothed us in the only outfit that we need: His own image.

No more trying to be the perfect housewife or most creative homeroom mom or has-it-all together entrepreneur. Costumes get uncomfortable quickly, but when we find freedom in who He created us to be, we can truly thrive in the various roles that we play.

In fact, the only “costumes” that Scripture encourages us to wear are the virtues of Christ, ranging from the Fruits of the Spirit to the Armor of God. He asks us only to wear what is already inside of us – His perfect creations.

This weekend as you find yourself unwrapping another fun-size Snickers bar or greeting an Elsa or vampire or monkey, praise God that He has unloaded the burden of dressing up and playing pretend from your shoulders. You have been perfectly cast – and clothed – in the role you play!

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More Precious

Oct 25, 16

Psalm 3:13-15
Blessed are those who find wisdom, those who gain understanding, for she is more profitable than silver and yields better returns than gold. She is more precious than rubies; nothing you desire can compare with her. 

Psalm 19:9-10
The decrees of the Lord are firm, and all of them are righteous. They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the honeycomb.

img_6837Each Monday morning our team gathers together to talk about business, pray together, and encourage one another in our various life stages. Yesterday was one of our happiest to date as we celebrated the weekend engagement of our associate sales director, Jessica. We popped champagne, ate strawberries and ooh’d and aah’d over her stunning new diamond (and took turns trying it on!). It was such a fun and festive morning for someone we love so much.

img_6830As I watched our team take turns admiring the diamond, my thoughts went to the Scripture in Psalm where David praises the laws of the Lord for being more precious than gemstones or gold. I know that I value the truth and encouragement that I find in the pages of the Bible, but I don’t know if I always consider His laws in quite the same way.
img_6836My youngest, Ford, just got his driver’s license late last week, and as scary as it is to have my last one out on the road, it makes me so thankful for the laws that protect him while he drives. It makes me value the rules that other drivers must also follow to keep him safe.

img_6803God’s laws are much the same way. While I’m sure there will be times that Ford will want to drive faster than the speed limit, the law is meant to keep him in a position to always arrive home safely. Similarly, there are times that my human urges want to push me beyond the boundaries that God has in place. But the beauty of His laws is that they aren’t meant to restrict me, but instead, to give me freedom to live my life to the fullest and always arrive home safely.
img_6802And as beautiful as I find Jessica’s ring, and as lovely as the encouragement of the Gospel, I will seek to find those laws just as precious as gemstones.

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