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Faith, hope and love. This is what the recipe of a joy filled life calls for. If there is anyone who knows about recipes it is my guest today, Michelle Borquez Thornton. This wonderful woman of God spends time cooking up recipes sharing the love of God with others. How awesome is that? Michelle has a wonderful ministry of reaching others through sharing the gift of cooking. You will just have to check out IT'S A GOOD LIFE to see just what I am talking about. Michelle speaks on just these very things. Faith, hope and love.  In these three things we have it all. We have a God who sees us through when we can't seem to find our way through the fog. He lifts it and as He does we get a glimpse of the beauty He has brought before our eyes. The Lord has pointed me in the direction of women who are living for purpose and have a passion for bringing those around them closer to the God who restores ashes to beauty. As you read Michelle's words today you will find a woman after God's own heart. We can be the virtuous woman of God in Proverbs 31 when we surrender and totally make everything about our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. You will see through Michelle's life that God is real. He whispers to us until we answer His call and once we do there is nothing to hold us back from all He has for us. It is my prayer that you will find blessings today. It is my hope that you find just what the Lord has laid out for you today. In seeking Him we will find all He has created us to be and that my friends is women living in faith, hope and love. Sit back, grab a great cup of coffee, because you are in store for a special gift today.

(Robin) Hi Michelle, please tell us a little about yourself.

(Michelle) I recently remarried an amazing man, Michael Thornton. We have known each other for years and been the best of friends, but this past summer, God opened our eyes to each other in a whole different way…a better way.  I really had come to the place of surrendering my dream of being with a great man, a God given man. God really had become my “everything”. I was enjoying the freedom of single life and focused very much on my children, my treasures.

I have been a single mom for many years now, something I NEVER had in my life plan, but through it all God has been so faithful. Seven years ago, out of the pain and overcoming, came my first book "Live, Laugh, Love Again"; book on how to get beyond divorce, co-written by three other awesome women. Out of my suffering, and desperate journey to understand "why", came the book "God Crazy" a book on why ultimately "surrender" is what draws us into the heart of God. Finally, after five years of pursuing my own healing and restoration and wanting to see other women and men set free from the bondage that can keep us from walking out our purpose and destiny, I authored "Overcoming Seven Deadly Emotions" released September 2008! I founded Shine Magazine in 1999 and was Editor-in-Chief for eight years. The magazine was birthed out of my passion to see a women's publication that had fashion, travel, health, focusing on women's issues, all from a Christian world view and done with class and excellence. My passion is people, and seeing them overcome and be free from whatever is keeping them from fulfilling Gods plan. As long as I am on this earth I will give my energy to whatever I feel can help in making a difference in my life, my children's lives, and people's lives. This is me. I am driven for this cause!

At the same time I love to have fun and live life. I tell my kids "everything in moderation except for God" (except for illegal stuff of course LOL). When it comes to God we get "God Crazy"! I enjoy life and feel God gave us music to dance, and a voice to rejoice and sing. I think we can easily take ourselves way to serious and when I get too serious I try to sit back and laugh at myself, or the situation, and remember life is short. I spent too many years pretending to have it all together, to have all the answers, only to find out none of it is true. What I do know is true and real, is my love for Jesus and His POWERFUL Word, my friends, and my family. Life is short. Get over yourself because it is not about you, or me, but about giving, loving, trusting, being, laughing, dying to our own selfish, selfish nature and getting over pride and what "we" think we have to have. Life when challenged, when interrupted, suddenly is reduced to God, a few faithful friends and hopefully a family who loves you unconditionally.

Michael and I have come together during a wonderful season of my life. While we all have issues, I have never felt as healthy as I do now. My ministry partner, Tammy Maltby, and I are entertainment chefs. We travel and speak on why we cook? We cook to create deeper connection with people. Friends, who eat together, stay together.

(Robin)  I would love for you to share your testimony
(Michelle) Wow! Testimony…let’s see. My story is not a short one that is for sure. I didn’t grow up in a Christian home. My parents did not come to know a relationship with Christ until I was ten. At ten, I had already decided how I felt about life and God and He was not a part of it. The next ten years would be a struggle. I was a “touch the fire” kind of gal. I didn’t just take someone’s word for it. I had to find out for myself. Unfortunately, choices and consequences pretty much go hand in hand. There were many things that played a part in my years of rebellion, the NO-God Years. Those years were all about ME. I didn’t really know they were about “ME”, but they were. I was very selfish, my heart was hard, and I was angry. There were a few things that played into it.

At fifteen I was date raped by a boy. It was a very big turning point in my life. I had already begun going down a wrong road, but after the rape, I pretty much felt it was the only road I could take. The shame, the disappointment, the failure, the feeling of unworthiness, left me feeling like I deserved nothing. I allowed the enemy to lie to me and keep me believing it for about four years. I harbored hatred, despair, insecurity, anger, disappointment, in my heart for four years and out of that came some bad choices,

God was after my heart.

He never stopped pursuing me. My parents were major prayer warriors and their prayers would no go unheard. At twenty years old, after several years of fighting God, I accepted Him as Lord of my life. I was desperate for Him and at the end of myself. All the answers I had for life were not worth anything to me. They had left me in a pile of broken pieces and now I was crying out to God to put me back together again. I was living in Scottsdale, Arizona, and for about a year a young woman had been sharing Christ with me. Not by telling me to repent everyday, or letting me know I was going to hell if I didn’t change my ways. Those were both true, but I wasn’t ready to hear those things. Instead, she shared her life with me. She asked me to lunch, to play racquetball, she let me stay at her house when I needed a place for the weekend, and she extended love and grace to me in a way I had never seen. She even slept on a hard floor and let me sleep in her bed when I stayed over. This is a woman who changed my life forever, a woman I would never forget. I have no idea where she is today, but Sally Soderman will one day meet me in heaven again and she will see all the fruit that came from her courage to step out and have faith for my life.

(Robin) In your journey as a woman what has been the most challenging?
(Michelle) The journey of faith is never an easy one. God starts you out trusting Him for little things, and the way He grows you is teaching you to trust Him for bigger things. It’s a process of surrender, and this journey is not easy. It’s painful, it’s difficult, it’s perseverance, but the beautiful way in which He leads you, the dedication by which He does it, shows you His undying love for you. This love that never fails, that never leaves you, and in this you realize God is all powerful, all knowing, and all faithful. This is where the beauty lies. To have someone love you like that, to have someone believe in you so much even when you are not worth believing in, is the most beautiful thing we can experience, but it is challenging. It gets less challenging as your faith grows, but just when you start to think you can rest in the shade, he brings you something else to trust Him with. J

(Robin) Can you share with us how you came to be in the ministry?
(Michelle) Just when did you hear God calling? Ha! I didn’t want to be in ministry. I was a scared little puppy, sitting in the corner, hoping no one would call on me. I never felt worthy enough to be a leader, but God sees. He sees the gift he created and He knows how to deliver the gift to His people to be used for His glory. I simply said “Yes, Lord” I will go where you want me to go, do what you want me to do, say what you want me to say, and He said well then, I will take you there. I mean this sincerely. I did not have a plan except to be a mom and a wife. I did not care about anything else, but God had a plan beyond my plan. He always does. People saw something in me, they saw leadership, and God put it on their hearts to ask me to speak. He starts you out small, then He takes you one step at a time beyond your fears till you are finally running and then He slows you down. My first experience, my first “gig”, was in Colorado. My kids were all babies. I had been asked to speak at a women’s retreat. They were all sick and my week had been hell (not sure if I can say that), but it had. I was sitting on the front row getting ready for them to introduce me and I felt so empty, so useless. I felt I had nothing to say. I was so exhausted, worried about my kids, wondering why I was there, and yet when I stood up to speak, the words came flowing out of my mouth like a river. I knew that night, I would speak for Him always, at least as long as He asked me to.

(Robin) I believe a mistake is only a mistake is we cannot walk away with a greater wisdom. Has there been a time in your life where struggle occurred from a poor decision and if so, how did you overcome?
(Michelle) Oh goodness yes. I have made bad choices, and the only thing that has saved me from the consequences is my recognition of it and my ability to do what I say to my kids “kick my own butt”. Overcoming bad choices is really about our response to them. Here is a great story of my son Josh:

My oldest son Josh had a hard lesson to learn when he was only fifteen. I have to say as a mother your pray for lessons like these, lessons that don’t hold hefty consequences yet are hard enough to turn your child’s heart in the right direction. At about 2am I received a call. “Mam, your son Josh is being held here at the juvenile corrections center and we need you to come down and get him” a man’s voice on the other end of the line said sternly. Initially I was half awake, half asleep when I answered the phone, but the man’s statement, and seriousness in his voice, woke me up pretty quick. “Sir I replied, is this a joke”. Who is this?” “No, Mam, this is not a joke”, he said sternly. Your son Josh was caught vandalizing Christmas ornaments with three other boys and he is being held here at juvenile detention hall until you pick him up. “Ok, I replied, I’ll be right there.” My mind was racing as I hung up the phone. I could hardly breathe. I jumped in my car and began to run over how I would approach this with Josh when I saw him. This is a kid who never did anything wrong in his life so it was definitely a shocker. In fact, I thought Josh was sound asleep at his friends house where I had permitted him to spend the night. As angry as I was I knew I was too tired to handle this properly so on the way there I made the decision to just love on him, and wait to address what had happened after we had all had a good nights sleep. The next day I sat Josh down and asked him what had happened. I could tell by his response he and the other boys had already been conjuring up an excuse for their behavior. Josh had rationalized away his behavior and had convinced himself what he had done was really no big deal at all. As I sat there listening to him I was disappointed realizing he was not going to take responsibility for his actions. I could hear the arrogance in his voice as he downplayed the prior evening’s events.

How I chose to handle the moment would potentially set the stage for how he would respond to sin in the future. I looked him right in the eye and I said to him “Joshua, you better kick your own butt in this situation or I am going to be so tough on you and do it for you. Now I need you to own this situation and take responsibility for your actions”. I went on to explain to him how important it was for him to handle this in a Godly way so he would not be in the same situation again, and again, and again. When we don’t repent, when we shift the blame, or downplay the situation and rationalize away our actions, we prolong the opportunity for God to do something great in our life. Why? Why can’t God do great things when we don’t take responsibility for our lives, our sin, our shacks? Because when we aren’t willing to face our “stuff” we thwart God being able to operate through us. Pride gets in the way and robs us of our purpose and potential. Can you imagine something like pride being the very thing keeping you from Gods best? When we refuse to accept responsibility for our mistakes, our failures, we are robbed of an opportunity to grow, be healed, receive forgiveness and experience transformation. We remain in denial and reject truth and truth sets us free. Freedom comes from exposing the lies in our lives, from exposing darkness in our lives. As long as we keep the darkness hidden and tucked away somewhere, it continues to have power over us and we remain enslaved to it. This keeps us from experiencing emotional and spiritual freedom which is what God so desires for us.

(Robin) How do you define success?
(Michelle) Hmmm…that is a hefty question. You sure make me think. 

Success for me is when my husband and my children feel loved and care for. I can make mistakes, but if I am not loving and living my life authentically before them, I feel as if I am not successful. Business, ministry, all the accolades of life cannot bring me fulfillment the way hearing my kids say, “Mom, you have been a great mother”, or my husband say “baby, you are an amazing woman”. I am grateful to say at this time I feel successful, but it is something I cannot take my eyes off of because the minute I do, is the minute I become a failure.

(Robin) Looking back, what advice would you give to yourself at the age of eighteen to prepare you for life ahead?
(Michelle)There you go again asking me those shallow questions (smile). Do we really take advice at eighteen? I guess the advice I would give myself is:

Find a mentor who you respect and glean from them in every way. Don’t be stubborn or think you know everything because you don’t. Listen, watch, learn, and imitate what you see. I think we live in a culture where we are not passing down our wisdom. Young girls are being brought up with no one to teach them how to be a woman. I had a rebellious heart at 18, but at 20, once humbled and saved, I began to look to women, including my own amazing mother, who could teach me how to be a great woman. It’s actually how I have learned everything in life. I never went to college. I went to the school of hands on learning. You have to be teachable to be successful in life. Those who are not teachable cannot grow, cannot become all they are purposed to be.

(Robin) With a new year beginning what do you hope to accomplish this year?
(Michelle)  I set my goals and have a plan, and then I let God lead every day. My plan is to write a couple of books. One is a book on purpose, the other a book and curriculum to mentor young girls. I have a foundation I am launching with Jodi Gemma, ministry leader of Beauty to Ashes, and my daughter Madison, called Dream Hope Love. Dream Hope Love is an organization formed to mentor and encourage young girls to keep dreaming, to never, never give up hope for a future, and realize Gods acceptance and love for them.

(Robin) What encouraging words would you give to someone encountering loss?
(Michelle) I have experienced a lot of loss so I feel I can speak to this. Honestly, if I had not experienced loss, I am not sure I’d be a good person to ask. No one can describe the deep pain that you experience in losing a person through divorce or death. It’s truly indescribable. You go through the normal stages of grief: Shock, Denial, Anger, Depression, and Acceptance.

I wrote a book with three other women directly after my divorce eight years ago. My feelings were still so very raw, so it was an honest depiction of my journey. We wrote about each of these stages, but the hope we left women with was what became the title of the book:

You will live again, you will laugh again, and you will love again. What I didn’t know is if I could ever feel “whole” again. I really wondered and believed, my thorn would be the fact I would never feel “whole” again. I am here to say this is not true. While it took many years of pursuing major healing in my life, I feel so whole today I am blown away by it. The hearts ability to heal when you invite Christ into the healing process is simply mind blowing. Not only did I heal from the divorce, I found healing from the many other traumatic experiences in my life. I mentioned a rape, but there were quite a few other traumatic experiences, what I call “heart bruises” in my book ,that had left me with feelings of unworthiness and shame. Shame was my greatest battle. I had to fight to find freedom from it. It stuck to me like a blanket for so many years and to get it to leave me was not an easy task. I had to press through. If we will fight for our freedom, if we will forgive even when we do not understand, we will live, laugh and love again. It’s when we stay “stuck” that we do not live out our purpose. This is the hope I give women and men everyday.

(Robin) My pastor says, "If the Lord has done something for you the least you can do is say so." Dear friend, what is the Lord doing in your life?
(Michelle) I am in a new season…a great season…a season of harvest. Life is full and I am enjoying this season and trusting Him and loving Him in the same way I’d love Him and trust Him during the season of trial. I am so very, very grateful. My heart overflows with joy unspeakable and this is not “spiritual talk” this is truth. This is where I am today. I don’t know where I will be tomorrow.

(Robin) As women we wear many hats. We can feel at times we are juggling with one hand. How do you do it all? Where do you begin and what do you let go?
(Michelle) I don’t think any person is the same. What God is doing with me, He is doing different with someone else. I don’t’ think there is a pat answer for how to balance life. I think we have to always keep our eyes open to our families first, and then everything else flows out of that. If we have things out of order, we will suffer for it. I do believe this. I have a great life partner in Michael. He is  truly a partner. Not every woman has this. Michael helps me in everything and we communicate through it all. Opportunities come and we talk through them to see if they make sense for our family. We have our priorities straight and me knowing if I am balancing comes from the feedback I get from my kids and Michael. At the same time, I have a calling on my life, a purpose that is being lived out. As much as I am able, I am dedicated to this. Michael understands this about me, and I understand this about him. We hold each other loosely and offer a lot of grace. We have to work hard to make sure our time is guarded and it is intentional. Ministry, work, people, can suck the life out of you if you let it. There is a time to labor in both work and ministry, and during this time the whole family has to be communicated to and understands it’s temporary. I think of my kids as part of my team. They stay on board with everything. When I take on new roles, or get big opportunities, I consult with the family and we talk about how to approach it. It’s the only way it works. When they were babies, I was home with them and I have to say I am so very grateful for this. There is a season for everything and I knew my season at that time was to be home with them. I can’t tell you or anyone else what God can only tell you. He leads us and makes up for time lost when we are walking in the midst of His plan for our lives. When we have selfish motives, or put earthly gain over what is eternal and lasting, then we most definitely are out of balance. This is when it’s obvious.

(Robin) In your legacy what do you hope to leave behind?
(Michelle) I have done more in my years of living than I ever imagined for myself and yet I know God has more still. The legacy I desire to leave is in my children. My mother will leave it to me and to my siblings. She is such a great Godly woman. A woman of truth, hope, faith, and great wisdom is what she is. If I leave this earth with my amazing husband and children saying the same thing, I will have accomplished the greatest legacy of all. The rest is just gravy.

Wow, I told you today was special. What a beautiful treasure you are, Michelle. It has been so awesome getting to know you better. Your words give such hope and your life shows a picture of faith. Your heart sweet lady if filled with the love of Christ. It has been a pleasure chatting with you. I hope you will come back and share more of your heart with us. After all, sharing just makes life sweeter. If you were blessed today please share with Michelle. I know she would love to hear to from you. Don't forget to click on the link below to see all Michelle is doing.


LissaLou said…
Wow, what an awesome talk! I love when I read these Friday chats and see things that I can relate to, take away from, and reflect on.

I learn so much from women who share so openly bits and pieces of life, love, heartache and the search to be closer to the Lord. Thank you so much!
Sue King said…
Love you Sally Soderman- and all the Sally's out there...keep shining and showing the light of God. The beautiful fruit shown here is the harvest. Love to you all. xx

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