Read His Words Before Ours!
In the beginning, I couldn’t have foreseen what Redefined Courage would become. I simply saw a need within my own family, and knew, with deep conviction, God was calling me to help.
My mom was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2006. It recurred in 2011, and again in 2013. I remember telling my mom I would design clothes for her, clothes meant to be gentle to her post-op body while making her feel beautiful. At the time, it was just an idea, but God already knew the plan.
He knew He would call me to design post-surgical clothing my mom would never wear. But He also knew, until we find a cure, hundreds of other women going through bilateral mastectomy would wear them instead.
When my mom died, I designed seven or eight shirts in a frenzy. December 2019 marked four years since my mom went to her heavenly home. Since her passing, I’ve realized grief makes you run fast and hard because frenetic movement is easier than staying put.
But when I peeled back the emotional layers and slowed down, I landed on designing and implementing just one shirt, the postoperative shirt. It’s a cotton shirt with 4 interior drain pockets, buttons up the front, and hems and seams which won’t irritate incisions.
Once I had the shirt, I knew it shouldn’t be just a shirt shipped in a pretty pink bag. It needed to be a box, a tangibly solid declaration of courage and hope. Additionally, with every HOPE shirt sent across the world, we include an encouraging note written on the tag. Sometimes it’s Scripture, and sometimes it’s my own words, meant to help each woman grow closer to God.
When women follow us on social media and read any of our blog posts, they find encouragement. Then their boxes arrive, every detail designed to speak of God’s love. In the box is the shirt they need for surgery, makeup to help them feel beautiful, organic tea (since a good cup of tea always warms your heart!), and a Norwex body cloth to aid in bathing when they have the drains attached to their bodies.
I pray over each shirt, asking for its recipient to experience the care and nearness of God. As she begins a battle which will change not only her body, but her entire life, I hope these free gifts remind her she is loved.
It’s kind of like what Jesus did for us. He offers the gift of salvation, purchased with the blood of Jesus; our only cost is our yes.
So, in essence, I believe Redefined Courage is a simple way to say,
In this dark time, you are cared for and remembered.”
I’ve always been good at encouraging and connecting with others. God uses those strengths when I write shirt tags, or when I connect with a local woman facing surgery.
My weakness is my lack of confidence. I don’t hold a business degree, or do math well. When I feel insecurities creeping in, He assures me, “Nikki, you are confident in Me.”
He’s using both my strengths and weaknesses to grow me. Yes, the Lord has led me to this huge undertaking, but only one manageable step at a time. And now, I feel like every box represents not only the love I have for my mom, but more importantly, my love for and obedience to the Heavenly Father.
Living on mission has meant learning how to prioritize my time and energy.
I used to do all. the. things.,
until one day I made a 45 minute drive home in complete silence,
walked upstairs, and slept for 24 hours.
I knew something had to change.
I realized my purpose is to serve God, not my to-do list. I began reviewing my commitments, asking myself if each one was present at the Lord’s prompting, or shouldered under my own sense of “should.”
Sometimes I must say no, and sometimes my no makes people unhappy. But since I’ve followed God, I’ve seen growth personally and in ministry.
Having margin in our lives is vital.
Refueling is also critical for us to stay on mission. I spend a lot of time in my prayer room, which is full of Scripture and the first names of women who’ve reached out online. I also rely on my Bible and worship music. Finally, silence is how the Lord speaks to me, so I walk for an hour each day. Quietness fills me up and allows me to hear God.
Let me share two lessons I’ve learned with those of you called to run on mission.
First, don’t tell your Creator you can’t or won’t. Seeing your heart, knowing your refusal is rooted in fear or plain old stubbornness, and desiring your transformation, He will often ask you to do that very thing.
Second, yes, you can.
I am not “qualified.”
But I have a purpose, passion, and an amazing God, so I’m doing His work anyway.
If you, too, have only those three elements,
Because God is in it with you, and He can.
He will grow you and then you’ll bless others.
I’ll end with this . . .
trust in the Lord (Proverbs 3:5-6).
Some days (or years) may be dark and excruciatingly trying. I was a wayward daughter who didn’t return to the Lord until after I had my second child out of wedlock.
And yet, in these last four years since my mom died, I’ve grown into a woman who loves God more than anything. Trust Him, because He will use even the hard things, the unqualified moments, and the dark days for your transformation and His glory.
In the end, it’s going to be beautiful.
Embracing God’s fullness in our lives is rooted in scripture and memorizing His word is vital to our continued growth and depth with Jesus. Tap and hold from your mobile device to download this week’s verse and make it your phone’s lockscreen!