Showing posts with label motivation. Show all posts
Showing posts with label motivation. Show all posts

Monday, January 2, 2017

What I'm Saying Yes To In 2017!

2016 taught me a good many things about what I want out of life. Particularly as I sat down this fall and began to give myself a few hours to really pray and think over what I did and didn't want. Like most of us do, I want the good stuff. But a lot of the time I'm too busy, too scared or talk myself into a frazzle or frenzy to really embrace the good stuff. Somewhere in my brain, the good stuff becomes the bad stuff. Because the meaningful and good responsibilities and opportunities in life feel more like chores, chaos, hard or things I have to do.  But I started to think, it's not the stuff that is bad or overwhelming. Could it be our perception of it has gotten off, rather? And although we may need to say no to a few things, a lot of time, we end up saying no to the things that were intended as blessing and abundance of joy and peace.

My friends and I talk a lot about how we need to get together. It's not like we ever walk away feeling disappointed in the once or twice a year that we actually do it. Yet, somehow getting ourselves to that point. That point where we HAVE to get dressed- HAVE to go out of the house and do something enjoyable with the people we love feels like a chore. Why is that?

Why do that things that are good for our spirit and soul and body feel so extremely hard some days?
I began thinking about how this happened. How did the really good things in life somehow become the things we sort of dread and maybe even stopped doing. We've lost perspective. We've lost sight of the blessing and joy we once felt really being with those people or doing that thing we used to hold important.  Over time we let life overwhelm us and we start saying no. But we start saying no to the wrong things. We began saying no, because we got preoccupied with unimportant things. Or busy things. Or us things. And the more we said no, the easier it has become to say no and eventually just stop all together. Probably not on purpose. Maybe our intent was a little break or me time (which isn't wrong) but somehow when we began focusing more on us, we forgot the things really made life worth living to us.

So recently and going into 2017, I'm saying Yes to saying Yes. I'm not letting the perishable things overtake the worthwhile and eternal things. I'm not letting my No be sort of an automatic response just because it's what I've become accustomed to doing in my, dare I say, laziness. I'm weighing the importance of the things I'm presented with and I'm choosing the good things.
I'm pushing myself to really esteem the people, the family, the church, my body, the calling and this life God gave me. I hold them highly enough to remember them, the spend time with them, to work on them, to encourage them, to smile with them, to talk kindly about them, to work diligently on them, to serve willingly with them and to enjoy doing it all. Because I don't have to do any of it. I get to. They are beautiful opportunities given to me by a merciful God who loves me and a Heavenly Father who knows what's best for me. A God who sent His son, Jesus to give me an abundant life.

I only got one shot at 2016. I missed chances to be present. I missed chances to change my attitude. I missed chances to love others. I missed chances to work on my health. I missed chances to smile and laugh with my people. I missed chances to honor and encourage people. I missed chances to step into what God called me to do. But in 2017, I am saying Yes more often.

What I'm saying Yes to in 2017!

-Being Bold and Brave in what God has called me to do. I know bits and pieces of my place in this big enormous puzzle of life. I don't know everything. But what I do know, I won't shy away from. I will walk confidently in it, because I know the Greater One lives in me. And I believe when I speak, God will speak through me. So I will walk in what I know...

-Spending more time with my parents. I see my parents often. At least twice a week. But I've taken for granted 'seeing them' and replaced really loving them with my time and heart for a brief hi and bye at church a few times a week. We've had a few scary moments (at least for me while my parents were in the hospital), though my trust was in the Lord. But these past few years I've seen how important it is to be with the ones you really love. Because life can pass quickly and for some too quickly. And I never want to have any regrets. I want to give my all.

-Actually seeing My friends. Sometimes this means girls nights in. Sometimes this means girls nights out. Sometimes it means play dates. Either way, I'm committed to not getting lazy and actually acknowledging my friendships someplace other than social media. I have never ever walked away disappointed and almost always walk away needing my inhaler from laughing so hard. This is so good for my soul. So YES!

-Going to church and liking it. Ok, I grew up in church. I was/am a preachers kid. Ever since I can remember, I've gone to church 3 times a week, if not more. As an adult with 4 kids of my own, it got more difficult, but we've tried our best. Because really, no one ever got hurt from learning about Jesus and sitting in His presence, listening to His word and being around other believers (for the most part). It's a habit I want to instill in my kids. Maybe it sounds old school. Going to church more than once a week. Hardly anyone does it anymore. And as our church has gone from 3 to 2 services a week and our midweek volunteer status has dwindled. It's been easier and easier for me to say NO to church more than once a week, because I honestly have no one to watch my toddler. However, with the convenience of the situation, it affected my attitude somewhat. Not negatively per say. Just indifferent, I guess.  I truly love learning the Word. I've been sitting under the same preacher (Daddy) since I can remember, yet rarely when I go to church, do I go in rolling my eyes thinking I've heard this all before. Because the Word of God is life and His presence is refreshing, no matter what. And I know if I go in expecting to receive, I will. So I am saying Yes to church and receiving what God has for me in the place he has me. If I'm going to skimp, this isn't the place I want to do it.

-Laughing and playing with my kids. 4 kids are a handful. I have a toddler, a teenager and two in between. It's not for the faint of heart. I've gotten overwhelmed and stressed and snippy and cranky more often than I like to admit. I've looked at my phone when they had to repeat their question over and over again...more often than I like to admit. And I want to have fun with them. More game nights. Movie nights (though those rarely go over well in my home). More conversation. More one on one date nights. I want to give them moments to remember. So when they grown up, they don't just remember how much I yelled at them, but how much we played and talked and snuggled.

-Fun day with Wyatt once a week. Wyatt is with me at home, all day, every day of the week. The little dude is the happiest kid in the world when we get to go somewhere. He loves to get out of the house and explore. So I committed myself to attempting a 'once a week' outing with him at a gym, play yard, fun zone, park, pool, wherever it may be.

-Gain Knowledge and Understand Truth. I am generally a really touchy feely sort of gal. I'm a heart girl more than a head girl. When God speaks to me, it moves me, tears me up, inspires me and really gets me thinking. But lately, I've sensed myself shift in a bit of a new direction. I want to gain knowledge and rescue truth in a world where so much opinion, false doctrine & political correctness is esteemed. And now when God speaks, it get's me excited because I can see His plan and purpose laid out throughout time. I want to know and understand what God is saying, why He said it and to whom He said it to without preconceived ideas. I want my heart to be wide open and my eyes to be wide open. I want to understand people's hearts too, yes, but so that I can better relay God's truth. Because His truth is the only one that will set people free from bondage. And I feel there is a reason God is shifting my time with Him.. I can't place my finger on it quite yet though. YES to Knowledge, Understanding & Truth!

-Writing. I started writing on this little blog of mine 4 years ago today! Whoa, I just realized that. And I've toyed with the idea of book writing or writing a devotion. Time, motivation and lack of confidence has kept me quieter as the years have gone by. But this year, I'm upping the ante and getting back into the swing of things. Yes to slipping away more often and letting the words pour on out.

-Rest, Nutrition and Exercise. I really hesitate even putting this out there, because ever since Wyatt has been born, I've failed miserably in all three areas. However, with current health issues and toddler issues, I really, really, really see (and feel) the need for good health and I have to start somewhere. I'm saying yes to better choices. Going to bed earlier more often, Yes to healthy foods (not just no, to junk food) and Yes to exercise, no matter how hard it seems to do it.

-Date Nights. Really, what are date nights? I sort of pride myself on letting the world know that Jeff and I have only been out alone maybe a total of 5 times alone since Wyatt has been born, for 4 hour increments at most. We finally took a little 2 night trip for our 20th Wedding Anniversary (What?!) But no more. We will budget and plan date nights (or days) this year. If they have to be in house, they will be, but they will happen. YES to fun and romance with my man!

-Serving and Encouraging. I sincerely enjoy serving people and serving my church. I like encouraging others. But at times, it has felt like 'what's the point?' When we are not recognized or felt like we are not needed, we can get apathetic in this area. But the Lord has spoke this to me, as written in a recent post, "Do It For The Ones That Show Up." There is always someone who needs what you have. My church needs me and someone needs to me to say or do what I can say or do. So despite what it looks or feels like some day, I will continue to step out and step in with a good attitude. I will continue to set my hands to good things.

-Prayer and Life Speaking over others. I'm tired of the complaining. I'm tired of the whining. I'm tired of the gossip. I'm tired of the tiny sparks our mouths may have set that turned up forest fires in the hearts of others. I'm tired of spoken fear, disappointment or lack. From my mouth and from others. And I'm done. I've said enough and I've heard enough. And I really don't think I've prayed enough about that things I was whining about. Have I said spoke blessing? I've let fear sit on my tongue. But no more. These past few weeks, I've made it a point to begin speaking LIFE. I've began praying for others. Lifting families and hearts and lives up to the Lord. Speaking blessing on people. Forgiving people. Speaking life over our church. Blessing over our nation. And thanking God for his continual presence & anointing resting upon the leadership in my life. I'm saying Yes in 2017 to using my mouth to speak blessing, rather than cursing.

-More Selfies! Haha! This is random and I get that it sounds self absorbed. But honestly, I think my lack of selfies has been more self absorbed than anything. My lack of pictures of myself, with my kids or with my husband or friends really has to do with my lack of self confidence in my appearance. The weight I put on with Wyatt, I only lost about 1/2 of so far. I've always lost my pregnancy weight easily (and trust me, I gain a lot!) and I've never been stuck so far above my 'normal' weight for such a long period of time. He's two and a half.  And I'm several years older since I've really taken a decent picture of myself or with my family to top it off, so I'm really just trying to come to terms that this is me, right here and right now. And I'm going to want pictures of myself with my kids. So, I've been working on it. A few snapshots here and there. Because I will want the memories. And I think when we say, "I don't want to be in the picture' it's more or less because our fear of social media. But yes, we will want the memories with our people.  And I want to believe in myself, not just my appearance. This is one time, I will say Yes to more selfies!

What about you?
What are some things you can say YES to more of this year?
Jesus came that you could have an abundant life! Are you saying YES enough to the things that are good for you? Are you saying YES to the blessing He's been trying to hand to you? Are you saying YES to having a fulfilled life?
Don't let your NO become your normal. Just say Yes!

Sunday, December 4, 2016

For The Ones That Show Up

I got suckered in. I was at a jewelry party one afternoon about six years ago and I got suckered right on in. Not just into buying a $79 dollar necklace. That's one thing. Deciding I was going to sell it was another. But I did. I became a Lia Sophia home sales consultant that day. And for about 8 months or so, I sold jewelry. It wasn't the worst thing in the world. I loved having something I could do on my own and be proud of. Something besides be "Mom." (I wear the Mom title humbly and appreciative now, but that's a whole other story.) However. I'm not a real assertive, pushy sell what I'm selling to you kind of person. I actually really hate trying to convince people of anything, unless it's the word of God. But that just comes easily, because, well it's truth. And it's life.

But I remember trying to convince and tug at people's heartstrings that year, to puh-lease host a party for my new business. And I must have made a profound impact with all my begging because my cousin agreed to have a party and went on to  invite a slew of co-workers, friends and family members to her home and she had quite a few of them that reluctantly agreed to show up. But closer and closer to the party, they started cancelling and bombing out on her. I remember her email so clearly because I could relate. She said "This feeling sucks. I'm never doing this again. I don't know how you can do this over and over." As a sales rep it didn't bother me so much.
I wasn't really all that interested in making millions. But as a human, I knew the feeling. The feeling of anticipation followed by a feeling of let down and finally rejection or abandonment.

It's a feeling most of us are somewhat accustomed to. But particularly if you have ever led or planned or put significant time, thought or passion into anything. Ever plan a birthday party for your kids and only three kids show up? Ever put your heart and soul into a message for your bible study or home group and only 5 show up, when last month it was 20? Ever watch your blog or band or ministry peak and then little by little people start trailing off to find something flashier?

This is a little awkward for me to write because I've grown up in the church (in the ministry) and people that know me might read this. I never want it to sound like I'm whining, because it couldn't be further from the truth. It's the exact opposite. I'm refreshed. Because I've experienced healing and thankfully some wisdom in this area. And it's been on my heart to write this to you for awhile. I want you to know that if you have become familiar with this sort of disappointment and it became a game changer for you, I hope that what I'm writing will open your weary eyes just a little to see a new perspective.

Whether you are a parent or a preacher, an actor or a small group leader, a business owner or a school teacher, a musician or a probably know this feeling. If you've pursued any sort of passion or served in any capacity, this is for you. This is for all the people that are walking this particular path today, because I've been there. I know that feeling of disillusion when it seems like people aren't with you and I know it's intimidating. I've planned parties and youth services and women's events. I know what it is like to feel like people don't care about all the hard work you put in. I know what it is like to watch crowds of hundreds trickle down to crowds of tens over the years. I know what it's like to promote or advocate something you are so incredibly passionate about and people just don't get it. I know what it's like to feel like a cast away. A has been. I've seen it all.

I remember going to a small home make-up party a friend was having a few years back. She planned and prepped and of course, had all her carefully planned snacks set out. And shortly before her party, my mom called me up and said "Do you want to go to her party?" I said, "Sure." And off we went. I'm glad we did, because when we got there, we realized that we were the only ones that showed up.
As I write this, I can think of a dozen examples either from my own life or peering from the sidelines and watching other people as they abandon their passion, something they truly loved doing or even what God had told them to do because this very thing has happened to them.
People stopped showing up.

Not everyone is empathetic, but I think that is why I am such a cheerleader for other people. I hate to see people feel unsupported or let down. I hate it. So as much as I can with four kids. I try to show up. And I don't just want to make an appearance. If I go, I want to really be there. Ya know?

A few years ago, I was talking to the Lord about this. I don't remember the exact details, but I had probably planned an event of some kind with a probable small turn out and I distinctly remember hearing these words, Do it for the ones that show up . That pretty much rocked my world. From that day on, I have been able to plan and prep and write and speak with little disappointment to who wouldn't be there, but more prayer, thought and time spent into who would be there.
Do it for the ones that show up.

We can spend all year long feeling let down, wondering why people don't care or aren't there, listening to rumors, or feeling forgotten. But this was never even supposed to have been about us anyways, right? Why are we so worried about the people that are not there any longer? Or maybe were never really there to begin with? Why do we question and muse and plan our lives around the people that don't show up?

What about the people that do still show up?
What about the people that do still need us?
What about the people that do still believe in us?
Do those people matter?
Not that we can't genuinely love people that aren't around, because I believe we can. We needn't cop an attitude with the no-showers and naysayers. And there is certainly an aspect of reaching outside the box or beyond the four walls. That's a whole other post. But the point is, there are still people showing up. What about them?

I'm a mom of four. My kids are 13, 11, almost 8 and 2. The summers are loud and slightly chaotic. During the school year, however, it gets quieter during the day. My two girls who are my middle children, go off to private school all day. My teenage son comes home around 11 in the morning from 'brick and mortar' public school and finishes off his school day with home school. Either way, it's much quieter in my house. And either way my kids are getting older.
During my days, not nearly as many people need me for things. Even with the teenager home doing his home school, there is still an awkward hush in my home. But that doesn't mean I get to sleep in. Unfortunately, I can't sit on my butt all day. I just can't stop
"Mom-ing' because most of my kids are either off at school or being quiet upstairs. You know why? Because I still have a toddler at home.
I think any mom with a single kid at home can tell you they are very needy. Almost more so, than if there were two or more children keeping each other busy. Alone, he may not be as loud and rambunctious as having the four kids here. But he still needs me to be Mom all the live long day --and sometimes well into the night. My crowd may have out grown specific needs from me. It may just be one on one during the day. But guess what? That one single tiny cute child still shows up every single day. He points to the door and says "Side" (Outside) or to the window and say "Cai" (Car) or to the kichen and says "Mmmmm Mmmmm Ahh Ahh Eat" (I think you can figure that one out.)
It's just me and you kid, and because it's just me and you, I HAVE to show up. 
I'm there. Showing up. Just for you.
He still needs me just as much, if not more during the days, in particular while the multitudes are gone away and not entertaining him.

Do you see my point? That one tiny child all by himself still needs me to show up and do what I am here to do. It may be lest hustle and bustle and more slow and steady, but I still have to do it. And guess what? Slow and steady wins the race.

If I could tell any one person on this planet that is doing anything in the way of passion, talent, calling, serving or obedience to the Lord-- I want to say this. Please hear me. What you are doing matters. It sounds corny or cliche'. You may have no idea the impact you are making on that one hyperactive child in your kids church or the disgruntled teenager in your youth group that never seems to pay attention, And you most likely have no idea how much you are helping out those parents. You may wonder about that small quiet lady in your bible study that keeps to herself but is always sitting there in the back of the room. You may look around to your audience and see 10 where you used to see 50 or see 100 when you used to see 500.  You may even wonder if  anyone other than that one girl even reads your blog anymore. But for that one kid or teenager, or for those parents who cried themselves to sleep, for that one quiet lady that shows up faithfully at your bible study every time, or for the noticeably smaller congregation or readership or crowd...for the ones that are still there. Do it for them.
Do it for the ones that show up. And take it seriously.

You may never verbally hear how amazing you are for doing what you do.
You have to be okay with that .
Just do it for the ones that show up.

I wish I could tell all my kids teachers and coaches and leaders over the years all the details of our lives. I wish I could share the struggles and hardships and tears and meltdowns. I wish I could always every day tell them how much they are needed to help guide and instruct and mold our kids. Of course the major responsibility lies in the home. But, it actually brings tears to my eyes when I think of how important my kids are to me and how quickly attached they become to the adults in their lives.
I've seen their confused sad faces when it's time to move on for one reason or another. They depend on people to care about them. They think the adults in their lives are committed to them and I hope they are, but it hasn't always been the case. And my heart is invested in my kids. And whether you realize it know it or not, their heart is invested in you. I see it every day.
Do it for the ones that show up.

What I'm saying is, every single response you make to influence the life of a single person, big or matters. So do what you do, not half-heartedly because of the ones that are no-shows. But do what you do, for the ones that have always been there and will probably be there for awhile longer.

Because they still need you.
They need your help.
They need to know you care.
They depend on you.
They learn from you.
They look up to you.
They believe in you.

And maybe sometimes they talk about you. Or forget to thank you. Or misunderstand you.

But they are people. And people make mistakes. And trust me. It's okay to not worry about what everyone else does or says or doesn't do. It's okay to show up anyways. It's our job to be obedient to what we are instructed to do in this life. And trust me, as I started applying this to my own life, the Holy Spirit has given me such an incredible peace and comfort in place of fear or disappointment. His presence has rested on me and in our home in midst of the chaos, sadness and very temporary feelings of abandonment. I don't look to my left or right any longer when I do what I am supposed to do. At least not for any significant amount of time. I don't look to see who is not there, but I look to see who is. And I see exceptional people. And it's possible that if even one of them gains any encouragement from my being there, I am there for them.

Do it for the ones that show up.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Being Known Vs Being Loved

We have the same discussion over and over again. My son and I. He's a gamer. He's a youtuber.
That's a thing now. Being a youtuber. I used to be a youtuber several years ago. After a few random and brief episodes, I saw no future in it for myself. But it's hard to explain to an adolescent boy the concept of hard work and sometimes the stroke of luck. Because he doesn't just admire youtubers. Nor does he just intermittently create videos. He has a goal in mind. His goal: being famous. Eventually he wants a full time job of youtubing. I'm not saying it doesn't happen. Oddly, people make a living off it. And I'm not saying he lacks the skills. He's pretty bright when it comes to this big world of technology we live in. But I don't want him basing his self worth on how many people are subscribed to his channel. Because there have been tears over this. 
He says, "I'm never going to be famous" with that look of defeat on his face.

Most of us have had our "I'm never going to be famous" moment of defeat, in our own way...
As immature as it may sound, (because we all know better), it's all to familiar in our current world. 

When I was a kid, you measured your self worth based on how popular were in school. Lucky for me, I could have cared less. I'm a quiet, keep to myself, kind of person to this day. I don't think it was until I reached the thick of adulthood that I even cared for the approval of others. And it wasn't until the invention of social media that I saw the desperate and silent cry of way too many adults needing to be known. And that look of failure when not everyone on myspace liked your music. 
Suddenly self worth went beyond the high school walls and reached out to win the admiration of not just our peers, but of the entire world . So crazy. But we remain hopeful.

Last fall, I attended the Influence Conference. The final 'big' one. I had to go. I had gone to the first one and I just really wanted to be a part of the final one. I went knowing just a handful of people via social media and blogging and just a handful of people knew me or had even heard 'of' me via social media. I'm going to be honest, It's not the best feeling going somewhere where you don't really know anyone and the people you do know are known by so many others- If that makes sense. But I like to challenge myself occasionally and like every other person who has had a first time for anything, you work your way through the uncomfortable feeling to put yourself out there. And I did the best I could.

I remember leaving the conference and writing up an Instagram post, saying something to this nature: "I didn't know a lot of people. Not alot of people knew me. But everyone I met was friendly and showed me kindness. One thing it taught me was that being known is not the same thing as being loved." 
And I didn't think too much over it until recently

Because I'm an overgrammer. I insta my kids, my days, my location... sometimes a lot. And I like to use a few hashtags, mainly regarding raising kids, having kids etc or along the lines of being a christian woman, reading devotions, having influence. The main reason I use hashtags  is because I write. I write here if I'm feeling ambitious and I write on Instagram when the mood hits. And if I can write something that someone else relates to and if that something will encourage them, help them in any way...than in my own small way I am making a big difference. I may not always know how I'm making a difference, but I try to be responsible with my words and stay open to the leading to the Holy Spirit in everything I say, so my job is done. So I hashtag (at least for now), to put myself and my words out there. It's a simple and mostly harmless way of being seen and heard.

If it was just about being seen and heard for my own sake, I wouldn't do it. This online world we live in has the ability to affect and reach so many more people than ever before in history. We can scoff at technology or reflect on the good old days, but when it comes to our influence, we have more now than ever. And if we don't use our influence for good, someone else will come along and use theirs for bad. So I say, let's do what we can and use the tools in our hands today for the glory of God.

I'm off topic, but this is where I am going. With hashtags and whatnot, comes along a lot of "likes" and "comments" and "follows" that are false in nature. People follow along with the hope of getting you to see them or follow them. Perhaps they own a shop or are a creative of some kind. They write, they speak, they are a fitness coach, they sell wraps, whatever...and sometimes they just have a really cool Instagram aesthetic (which is it's own awesome kind of creativity, in and of itself)!
So I get it. I get people need to put themselves out there, they need to put forth effort to get people to see what they do and what they have to offer.
But where I've learned to draw the line is lacking integrity in doing so (especially if you proclaim Jesus in your bio). When we gain or seek followers under false pretense and someone responds in kindness by following us and then we unfollow once we get their approval (or if we don't get it), I see and hear junior high & high school all over again. It sounds so super silly even typing this out. But as silly as it sounds, it's a real thing with millions of people online desperately hoping for the approval and distant admiration of others, but lacking the integrity to really earn it. If you have any sort of social media account, you've probably know what I am talking about.

I think the reason this has been on my heart is because I've been there. I have felt like I needed people to like or know me when I first started this journey of blogging and writing online. But little by little, God has shown me to just follow his leading. I will affect and reach the people I am supposed to reach if I always stay obedient to Him. Remember Paul when he said "Follow Me as I follow Christ?" (1 Cor 11:1) It wasn't about Paul. He had already been known and not in the best kind of way. That's not what he wanted any longer. But it was about Paul setting an example so in turn others would follow Christ and find hope. 
Maybe today, I will set the example in my home. Maybe this weekend, it will be at my church. Maybe on Tuesday, it will be on the phone or at the grocery store or mall. Maybe next week it will be online. Maybe he needs me to reach 10,000 women or maybe He already has someone else doing that. Maybe I am supposed to reach 10. Maybe He wants me to fiercely promote what He has laid on my heart, or maybe what he is teaching me is just for my small group.
Maybe it changes from day to day.

The point is it's all about Him. It's about making Him known in a real way to this world. It's not about being known or gaining momentum, just to feel admired by a majority. Whether you are a writer, a church, a worship leader, a parent, a creator, a speaker, a photographer, an entreprenuer, an Instagrammer, a doctor, a computer programmer.

Whatever you do. Whatever hats you wear. Make it about Him. And honor that commitment.

Because, being known doesn't always mean being loved. I think our current politics teach us that. There are a handful of names I could spit out right now and everyone in the world would know those names and thousands of people would respond with sarcasm or fury or annoyance. But true love and acceptance comes from your Heavenly Father, who knows every bit of you and from the people in your real life who love you no matter how many or few people admire you from afar off.

If this is an area you are struggling in or have ever struggled in, my prayer is that the Lord to show you the depth of His love for you. That you would feel brave and confident and beautiful knowing who Christ is in you. And that you would seek His wisdom for your life and in following His leading, you would find true happiness and rest in simply being known by Him and doing what He has called of YOU, and you alone. 

His word says He knows the stars by name and every hair on your head. He knows you. 
He knows when you lay your head down and when you wake up. 
He knows your voice shakes when you speak in front of a crowd, but when you counsel a friend, His wisdom comes pouring out smooth as butter. 
He knows, you might look like a kindergartner when you try to create with your hands, but genius shines through when you create online. 
He knows that you write there instead of their, and loose instead of lose and people make up memes about you, but you have the anointing of God flowing through your words when you speak. 
He knows that you can't sing a single note in key, but can certainly make that musician sound amazing in the studio.

It doesn't matter. Because He knows you. 
He is the one who truly knows you. He is the one who truly loves you.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Parenting, Grace + Doing "It All"

It's been a quiet place around these parts lately. I don't really have any reason or excuses to give. I actually could rattle a list of things that have kept me busy/ entertained/ losing my marbles, but nobody is asking me for a list. I've been settling lately. Settling for just being, not so much doing. I'll be honest. It takes effort these days for me to hop on here and write something. Anything. And all my energy is sunk into family in this season. I feel like I've been saying that all year long, but since having a 4th child and with him still being a baby, it's just true. Ya know? It is what is is. I'm wiped.

I have noble head goals to want to do more for myself. I want to go full steam ahead or I want to take it day at a time. Whatever works. But I've done neither. Because parenthood really does take it out of you and you really have to be super duper intentional to get anything done in life other than 'the kids.'

I don't beat myself up too much. When I realized a month has gone by, then two months since I sat down to fists clenched a bit, my heart felt a little frustrated and in that moment, I tell myself "What is wrong with you? Just do it. Do what you want to do. Get it done...better yet, Get 'er done." And then someone yells "MOOOOOOOOMMMMMM!" And that's that. And that's why I don't beat myself up.

I'm so very thankful for the grace of God in this season. I can't say that enough. I seriously believe all parents must have a dose of God-given ability to raise little people into big people. Believer or not, that ability is God given. It's just learning to rely on Him which takes some practice and faith. Self reliance leaves us feeling frustrated and imperfect. Because none of us can do it alone. Who really wants to go at it alone?

I think sometimes we dwindle the grace of God to be a blanket to cover our sin or weakness. Or we mistakenly use it to excuse our laziness. He never intended for us to be bound to our weakness so that He could simply cover for us when we fail. He wanted us strong. He wanted us to rely on Him. He wanted us durable so that we could hunker down and finish this course with joy and satisfaction. His grace is a spring board that we can catapult from and move forward, despite our human weakness. It picks us up and gives us the muscle along the way to move faster, lift harder, and carry bigger loads if they are dropped in our lap.

Grace isn't a covering or a blind eye to what went wrong. It's so much more. It's a strengthening to help us get it right. And we all need more of that.

When Paul addressed the things going wrong in his life, God told him "You got this. Why? Because "My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness." So Paul then said he is content to admit he is weak, because then the power of Christ can strengthen him and work through him. 
(2 Corinthians 12:9) It kept him going!

The other day I had a friend comment on my facebook that she loved 'how open and honest' I was about life. I so appreciated that comment because I felt that all these words I spill out into the world are not pointless. Some days I wonder. But I know this sort of gut wrenching openness wouldn't be as easy if I didn't know victory and peace on the other side of the stories I share. 
If I spilled my guts without sharing my glory, it would really just be me candidly complaining about life and everything in it.  But I'm open about my frustrations + weakness + victories as a mom, as a wife, as a friend, in my health, in my commitments and goals, because it's real life. And more importantly, because in my real life there is real grace to do it all, sometimes go through it all, sometimes trudge through it all...knowing that HOPE that only lies in Jesus. It's His ability alone working through me that keeps me moving, keeps me real, keeps me victorious in the end.

Let me say this. I don't try to do it all or be it all or trudge through anything just for the sake of doing it. Or to win some sort of award for rule following. Or to measure up to some level of perfection I saw on Pinterest. 

I don't even really even try to do "it all." When I say  it all , I mean, I do what I have on my plate just because it's there set in front of me. Don't get bent out of shape thinking I'm struggling to reach some unseen level of perfection to be noticed by God or anyone else for that matter. I do what I have to do and my aim in every basic life activity is to bring Glory to Jesus. Why shouldn't it be?

On the other hand, I'm not trying to give the illusion that I don't want to do more with my time on this earth. Mostly, I want to do more in my personal life. But I'm still learning in some ways how to rely on that grace to catapult me into all those dreams I have for my life. And it's okay that I'm still learning. It's okay to admit I don't have it all down pat yet. It's okay if I never get there. It's okay if I am just Mom and Wife and Friend and Sister and Daughter of God....but when I do all those things and be that person, my desire is I do it all for His Glory. Keeping my eyes on Him...

"We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God's throne." Hebrews 12;2

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Go Big Or Go Home

I've been clinging to every bit of baby I can. I love babies. I could keep going. But at 39, it's alot different than at 33 or 30 or 28 (the ages I was with my other 3 babies). Plus now I have four kids. So it's like a quadruple load of work for someone 11 years older. Eleven years makes a big difference in your energy level, especially if you've not been keeping up on your 'health and fitness routine' the past few years. Ahem.
So I cling. I find the baby, the tender moments with all my kids. But especially with my BABY baby. My sweet Wyatt Cash. As I sit there breastfeeding him, I talk to him. I tell him to stop growing so fast, I stroke his fluffy baby hair or his soft baby cheek with my fingers. I sing crazy made up mommy songs. Or I just kiss him one million times in the course of a feeding. And he just laughs at me. He eats and I see the smiles and hear the giggles all at the same time. It's one of the best things ever. EVER. It's difficult knowing it's coming to end soon. But for now I will keep going~ you know, at least until it's awkward.

I said all that to say this, with all my babies, I was in a hurry to lose my baby weight. With every one of them, I gained 55-70 pounds. And with the first 3 kids, I lost all the weight within 6 months. With Wyatt, not so much. It's been a struggle to be motivated, to stick to goals, sometimes to even care. One of my good friends and I have made it our mission to lose that final 30 together and to motivate each other to do so. Every day we send each other voxer messages with what we call 'a daily dose of inspiration'~ what it really comes down to is us whining to each other about how horribly we did today or this week, talking about how disappointed we are in ourselves in our poor choices.

And we make excuses. Lots of excuses.
One of my major excuses (and partially legitimate one) is that I am breastfeeding. I don't want to diminish my milk supply, therefore diminish my 'baby' time with my last baby. I don't want to eat too few calories and lose out on those tender moments with my little man because my body isn't making enough milk. So instead of not eating 'too few' calories, I eat all the calories in the world. Basically.

Go Big or Go Home.
Why do we do this? Why do we put the 'All Or Nothing' clause on ourselves. We set goals, we have aspirations, we want change and we throw ourselves into the thrill of renewed passion for dot, dot, dot.... We want to get closer to God. We want to be more organized. We want to eat better. We want to break free of addiction. And instead of letting God change our heart first, we throw ourselves into better behaviors with nothing concrete to uphold us. We dive into the excitement of something new and something flashy. It has all the feel goods of something that just seems better and once the thrill wears off or the work load seems too hard or we fail miserably for just a moment, and we throw in the towel. We give up. We don't look past that failure. We've already told ourselves it's all or nothing. Maybe not purposely, but our actions certainly lean in that direction.

Maybe there is a reason for the saying 'slow and steady wins the race.'
Maybe there is a reason for the saying "life is a marathon, not a race.'
Maybe it's because we want to sprint to success, and since a sprint is so short, one single trip up can cause us to lose the whole race.
Or maybe we start out running our marathon with all the momentum of a sprinter, quickly losing energy and zeal as we get tired or tripped up.

I've made my bold declarations online along with the rest of humanity. My declarations for change in my life. Change with my children. Change with my relationship with the Lord. Change with my health. Those bold declarations came forth in the midst of the 'exhilarating newness' of what I anticipated would happen if I stuck to my guns. My declarations came in hopes that if I was bold and loud, that 'this time' it would make me stick to what I was saying. Because people were watching.

But my thought is, what if instead of making brash announcements of all the outward changes we are embarking upon, failing at and quitting...what if instead we allowed God to do a work in our heart? What if we allowed God to teach us, give us wisdom, reveal his will to us and change us from the inside out and like Mary, we 'keep all these things, and ponder them in our heart.' (Luke 2:19)

A quiet change. But a real change.

What if instead of throwing our all into the first 5 minutes of the race and getting weary, we start off quiet and we pace ourselves knowing this race is life long? What if we realized there will be rough terrain and uphill struggles and to make it through those, we need something stronger holding us up than a sparkly cool pair of running shoes to keep us going? We need sustenance.
For whatever it is we are doing and wanting out of life, whatever successes and accomplishments we aim for, we need a change of heart. We don't need a crash diet, we need a lifestyle of better food choices. We don't need to run to the altar in tears yet again in a moment of emotion and regret for a pick me up. We need to know  Jesus more intimately and consistently, knowing his grace and his strength as he helps us push through the rough terrain, he picks us up when we fail, and he gives us strength to just keep swimming.

What if instead of allowing our failures to control us, we just keep moving past them.
And better yet, what if every failure isn't a failure? Instead it's a motivator. It's a life lesson in what to be careful for next time.
Let's face it, most of our life's journey is circling the same course over and over. We know what temptation trips us up. We know restaurants to steer clear of. We know what stresses us out, what bothers us and what may drive us into the arms of those same addictions.
So now we can take our FAIL, and learn from it and step over it next time.

An outward act or declaration of change before a true change of heart is simply going through the motions. You're sitting on the outside but standing on the inside.

We have to have something deeper motivating us. I always said when I turned 40 I wanted to be the healthiest I've ever been. I don't think I really understood that concept until this past month when I watched my dad go through open heart surgery. It was hard. And it scared me. It scared me for him. It scared me seeing him go through that.  And it certainly made me think a lot more about my health in general and of how I was probably training my children to eat poorly.  Now when I sit at the window of a fast food drive though, I'm thinking about clogged arteries or diabetes, thinking anyone could be headed down that road. It's a serious thing. But it's not something I should be fearful of. However, right now, that is my "deeper" for getting healthy. I know I am needed. I am a mother of 4 for Pete's sake. I am a wife.  I have a purpose. I need to take care of my family. I need to take care of me. They need me alive and well.

I'm under no illusion that I'm in "all or nothing" from this day forward. I know it's a process. I've had good days and bad days. But I'm certainly having more good days than I was 2 months ago. And that's something. I'm in it to win it. And that is life long.

You have to remember that your good days are worth something. You may have failed today. Or last night or this entire week. But remember the God we serve. Remember the prodigal son. Remember that season of his life was one big FAIL. He wound up eating with the pigs in their pen. Talk about fail. But the moment he woke himself up and took one step forward in the right direction, his daddy ran to him. He saw past the failure and helped him move on. Thank God! But why should we wait until we are eating with the pigs, to finally pick up and move on? Do it today.

Do it for the long haul. Take it slow and steady. I'm not totally against 'all or nothing' or 'go big or go home' or 'bold declarations'
~if we really CAN go big or go all. But if down the road, the poor decision we make trips us up so bad, we give up, then I say remember to keep it slow and steady...and just keep moving forward. And let your goals come from a deeper place than the approval of man or bold declarations. Let them start in your heart. Start walking. Then pick up the pace and jog a little. Just press on.

Phillipians 3:14 says "I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize, for which God through Christ Jesus, is calling us.' 
Right before that verse, Paul says he forgets those things that are behind him. He doesn't indulge in them. He doesn't embrace them. He doesn't wallow in them. He forgets them and he presses on.

Only you know you. Maybe you've tried bold declarations or all or nothing...
Has it worked for you? Maybe this time, you need time just to quietly pursue God or quietly pursue your fitness goal or whatever it is you are trying to obtain. Maybe you don't need to Instagram everything you're learning. Maybe you need the quiet time to allow God to teach you some things. I know I have. The seasons where I have learned the most and obtained the most was when I was the most quiet. My heart was quiet. And I just kept stepping forward every day and persevering... There was nothing grand or exciting about it. But it was bold. And true joy came as a result.

Hebrews 12:1-2 Let us throw off everything that hinders us and the sin that so easily entangles us and let us run with perseverance the race marked before us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him, endured the cross, scorning it's shame, and sat down at the right hand of God.

It was because of that joy set before him that Jesus endured. There is a real joy set before us if we endure and press on, keeping our eyes forward and never looking down or behind us. Fixing our eyes on Jesus and nothing else... looking straight ahead.

I always find it amazing how God's word can teach us in the midst of really really basic life circumstances. Who knew my whining about my eating habits and failures could turn into a blog post about goals & moving forward. I love how He is always right there in the midst of our struggles shining the light on his word to help us. Don't you?

Tuesday, January 20, 2015


Don't just sit there. Do something.
That is what has been ringing in my ears the past 20 days of this new year.
But it felt so trite. Do something? Really? Isn't that the whole idea of a resolution?

To set a goal and act on it.
To set a goal and act on it.

Could I really come to my blog and tell you that the word that God has seeped into my being these past 20 lazy, negligent, unintentional first days of 2015 is the word ACTION? Clearly, I can't find the online thesaurus to jazz it up a little.

But here I am. Saying it. ACTION.

And let's be honest.. It's been more than 20 days of me sitting on my rump (both figuratively and literally speaking) and pretty much doing squat. No, I didn't say squats. I wish I did. That would certainly help said 'rump.'

I'm going to follow that last statement with this tid-bit. My daddy is a preacher.
You're wondering how that has to do with anything I'm talking about, aren't you.
Action. Rump. Squats.. Annnnnndddd Preacher.

Just hold tight a minute. It will all come together.
On the first Sunday of  2015 and my daddy got up and preached a sermon titled "A Year Of Action." Granted he was mostly talking about gearing up and setting out to do something for the kingdom of God, but it still resonated with my insides.
It was something I knew must happen.

Both for the Kingdom work...but also for me.
God has been shouting me this very practical word at me for a few weeks now.
And along with it, he said "Don't just sit there. Do something."

There is so much I want out of life.
I want a blissful and romantic marriage, not just a team membership.
I want my kids to WANT to love Jesus and treat each other and us with respect. Is that too much to ask?
I want to lose 35 pounds. What on earth is taking me so long?
I want to control all these health issues I've been dealing with. I've been hospitalized and in the ER more times these past 6 months than my life. I'm tired of ulcers and asthma and eczema and allergies.
I want to be strong in my body.
I want to have energy. (Let's face it. Netflix and One Tree Hill has been very good to me lately. I mean, really quite very good.)
I want to write a book (yes, still).
I want to have a full fridge.
I want to have a home that isn't leaking tub water into my kitchen floor.
I want to speak and inspire and encourage women.
I want to shine for Jesus only. Not for myself.
I want to share my heart and my story, and somehow not get any glory out of it, yet be totally comfortable with not getting any glory out of it. Does that make sense?
I want to wake up each day and say "Jesus, what's on the agenda today? Hit me with the good stuff. But first, give me what I need to get 'er done."

But all these wants come with some sort of "doing something."
They require some sort of action. Whether it's to start making better eating choices or romancing my man... or whether it's praying about something we need, all I know, just sitting around watching Netflix isn't working for me.

Okay. Let's be fair to myself. In my defense, I did just write in my last blog post about how my baby keeps me busy. And he does. He needs my loving attention a lot these days. He loves a good snuggle. He loves for us to walk around holding him. God forbid we sit down and hold him. And my kids need me. But there are things. Things that I could do to get the ball rolling in the right direction. Things that require me to not watch Netflix.

Set the remote control down.

Just honesty here today, friends.

I was telling my husband and my close friend today, as I was given this apparent divine revelation (Ok, maybe I'm a little slower than I care to admit) that I felt like God actually spoke this to me, that "action" may even mean to go to sleep .
I'm not kidding.
It may even mean that I don't have the energy I need, because I'm not getting enough sleep.
Action may mean to me that I need to turn off the television and take a nap.
To not just sit there and do something, means some days... to sleep.

See how I keep pushing the sleep thing?
But seriously, that is part of it. It's simple. It's intentional in reaching my goal for a healthy body, mind and spirit. 
This ACTION word. Is this a new word? Because it suddenly has become so clear to me.
To wake up each day and take action. Some days it may be hard. It may be inconvenient with a baby in tow.
It may be unclear. But it is my goal. 
It is the first word I want to think of when I wake up in the morning. Maybe the 4th word. Maybe like Ready, Set, Jesus, Action.

Alright Daddy-o. Let's do this. A Year of Action.
I'm getting some things done this year. I'm telling ya!
I'm getting (sorta) organized. I'm taking new steps into unknown territories for me.
I'm getting healthy. I'm getting sleep. I'm not always going to play it safe and comfortable.
I'm going to live just a little bit on the adventurous side.
I'm going to be a little more brave with my dreams this year.
I'm going to shock the heck outta my husband with my amazing romanticism. (Oh Lord, I hope he doesn't read this). These are aspirations, Hon. One step at a time.

I'm going to set some things in motion that God has dropped in my heart long ago.
Yes, it's taken some time. It's taken tears. It's taken facing my fears and insecurities. It's taken a fight against laziness and tiredness. And it will keep taking all of this out of me. But I'm willing to try. I'm willing to say it out loud and hope that I stick to it. I'm willing to fail and pick up and try again.
And do that over and over again.

I'm willing to not just sit there. But mostly this year, I'm willing to do something.
Are you?

Dear Friends, do you think you will get anywhere in this if you learn all the right words but never do anything? Does merely talking about faith indicate that a person really has it? For instance, you come upon an old friend, dressed in rags and half starved and you say.. "Good Morning, Friend. Be clothed in Christ. Be filled with the Spirit." But you walk off without providing so much as a coat or a cup of soup? (Really?)- Where does that get you? Isn't it obvious that God-talk without God-acts is outrageous nonsense?
James 2:14-17 Msg Bible

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Suck It Up, Buttercup...

To all the people with problems, who have ever had a problem, who ever will have a problem:
Have you (or will you) let your bump in the road become your fork in the road?

Ideally I would love to be the one to tell you "Suck it up, buttercup." 
  I would love to tell you how I overcame each trial and temptation in the course of my life with faith and victory in 2-4 weeks and here is how I did it. I would love to give you a 5 step strategy of how to not let junk and sin and hard circumstances hold you back from destiny.

Unfortunately, it's only by trial and error that I've learned my lesson. I've learned not to let the bumps in my road of life ultimately become my fork in the road of life. Not to say that I never have. Because at times I have willingly let my own problems, circumstances & my own selfish actions suddenly take me on a path I had never intended. The path that led me further away from God. And further away from my destiny in God. I let my mistakes and hard times alter my course.

We all have done it. We all do it.

But at some point we have to learn. No one is exempt from problems. No one is exempt from temptation. No one is exempt from circumstances and a hard life now and then. And at some point we have  to rise above the status quo for what is acceptable when someone is going through a hard time. We have to stop playing the excuse game for ourselves by allowing *our screw up* or *our problem* to lead us down a permanent path of sin or a road of mediocrity.

Pick yourself up, friend... and move on to greater depths of purpose. Not because you earned it by screwing up. But instead because in that trial or error, you learned something. And the biggest thing you learned was to not let your problem suck you into a mediocre lifestyle, once again.  And because of that trial or error that you didn't compromise over, you now have something to teach someone else.
About strength.
About integrity.
About humility.

We have to stop pretending we are on a life long diet and every time we eat a candy bar, we simply shrug our shoulders and give up. That's not how life is supposed to work. That's not how our Christianity is supposed to work.

I watched the Son of God movie this past weekend and the one of the things that struck me the most was that is was taken from view point and gospel of John, in which at the end he stated, that every disciple with the exception of him had died for the cause of Christ. And he (John) was exiled. Their comfort wasn't more important to them than the message of the Gospel. They took it as far as they could go, despite the persecution they faced. Despite the death sentence they faced.

How convicting! That we can't even see past our own problems sometimes. We can't even see past our failures to see the forgiveness and grace of God. So, instead we let ourselves sit in defeat. We let ourselves swim in the pool of complacency, doing nothing...

Because, well, what's the point now, right? 
We already screwed things up. Or life already screwed us up.

Not true. You think the disciples didn't want to give up? You think Peter didn't feel guilty and ashamed after denying Jesus 3 times immediately following his promise to Jesus face that he wouldn't?  But did he wallow in it? Or did he move on to something greater?
I got news for you, friend. He moved on to accomplish great things...

There does come a point where we have to stop making excuses every time some little (or big) problem meets us on our road of life. There comes a point where we have to suck it up. Stop letting a difficult season defeat your destiny. You're not the only one with problems. Rise above them. Rise above the typical and the status quo. Refuse to let yourself accept that it's ok to walk away from God and your destiny just because you have been through a hard time.

It's not ok.
Somebody has to tell you.
It's not ok to sin.
It's not ok to sulk.
It's not ok to turn away from Jesus, who gave his life for YOU, just because....
Because you hit a rough spot.
We all have.  And it never has been okay.

I've been in that place. That place where I gave up on my purpose, gave up on God, gave up on joy because I let a hard time win me, instead of the compassionate heart of God win me.

And I finally decided... It's not ok to do what everyone else does. It's not ok to sit in sin. It's not ok to throw a pity party. Maybe everyone deems it acceptable to 'walk away' for a short period...or a long period, because you were 'going through a rough spot.' But for me, it's not acceptable to turn my back on the one who gave his life for me.

It's not okay for me to shrug your shoulders and walk away from Him.
And it shouldn't be ok for you.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Bored With Christianity

I was thinking about this earlier this week// the bored christian.
How is that possible when we serve such an amazing God? Yet it happens all the time.
We grow weary. Our senses grow dull. We stop responding to his still small voice.
And soon it's as though we need a LOUD, BOOMING voice to wake us up out of our daydream.
The daydream that has come from living the boring christian life.

As I watch people float in and out of church, months in, months out. Or people float in at out of the passion and devotion for God, I begin to watch their lives become repetitive and mundane. Work, home, bathing, eating, sleep, work. Over and over.

I've watched myself lose interest in all things God at times. And when I do, I lose interest, at least passionate interest, in all things important. You know the big things. The meaningful things. Family, Marriage, Ministry, Friendships.

We do what we gotta do to get to the next day alive. And that's it. That's life.

Suddenly life seems dull. Family seems hectic. Marriage is blah. Church is definitely going through the motions. But it all started where? It started when I got bored with Christianity. Or maybe I should say bored with God. I know that sounds absolutely hideous for me, a preachers daughter to say. But let's get real people, it happens. No matter who we are.

But why? Is it because God is boring?
I'm convinced that all the little pieces of our lives are affected by our relationship and passion for God.
The joy of the Lord IS our strength after all. If there is no joy there, then there is no strength or joy anywhere.
It all trickles down from Him.
And for the record, laughter or good times do not equal joy. Not true joy.

I looked up the word boring and I came across synonym words like these// unimaginitive// unvaried// repetitive// monotonous// dull// uneventful.

The whole reason we become bored in anything is because we are not being productive. We are repeating the same thing over and over again, not using our imagination to accomplish new goals or try new things. Same thing goes for our walk with God. If we are unproductive, if our relationship with our creator is based on church on Sunday once, twice or even three times a week, it does get boring. Absolutely.

There is something about productivity that makes life exciting. That makes us feel satisfied and accomplished. And as a Christian, we need to be both productive inwardly as well as outwardly. I can tell you this without a doubt. There is nothing boring about spending time with Jesus. I swear, sometimes I am at his feet or digging in his word and I feel like running around my bedroom. I mean seriously. I get completely  hopped up on it. It's a high for me. It's when I start slacking on my time with God, that I feel bored with life.

2 Corinthians 2:7 says "Where the Spirit of the Lord is , there is FREEDOM."
It never said, where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is boredom. If we are truly into this thing we call being a Christian, there is no room for boredom.

Especially true, if we are taking new adventures in our Christianity. Meaning, it's not all about my relief of boredom. It's not about me. But it's about sharing this Jesus I know in the ways I know how to the people I know...or don't know.  There is a new step of exhilaration that you feel when you know you've touched a life, sparked inspiration...even when someone specifically comes to you for prayer because they trust you. It is something to be experienced if you never have before.

You may think you are just so-n-so, living your little Christian life. It's just you and God.
But there is more. There is nothing dull about it. Not once you satisfy those cravings of creativity and adventure and passion. Not once you realize how you can affect people around you...
and the high you get from spending time with Jesus.

I challenge you to take Christianity seriously, this time. Don't just say you love him.
Really act on that love. Don't take love for granted. Don't get bored with it. Ever.
You will look back and wonder how you ever got bored with such an amazing person to begin with.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Cry, Pray, Breathe, Rest...Repeat

Earlier this week I was filling out an application that applied mainly to my health, both physical and mental. It discussed my history in both and it brought up the topic of stress and anxiety. It asked me, "How do you cope with stress or anxiety?" I was sitting there with my sister and I literally laughed out loud. 
I said to her "I don't know. What do I do?"
Um, foot massage, back massage, long warm candlelit baths, nights out with the girls? None of that. As relaxing and wonderful those things are, those usually aren't my go to methods of coping with stress. Like ever. My bathroom/bathtub is anything but relaxing. If anything, sitting in my tub would cause me more stress as I looked around at how badly it needed to be gutted. Massages I love. My husband gives them to me, often. But it's usually because a certain area of my body is aching. I think the last time I payed for a massage was maybe 3 years ago. To come up with the money to get a massage, again, has the tendency to cause me more stress than I need. And although I do enjoy an occasional night out with the girls, and I love my girls dearly and I love to laugh... it's not my coping method for life or anything.

Then today a friend of mine posted an article on facebook, 
I'm pretty sure I actually blushed as I read this. I know that, again I laughed out loud. Not because I'm embarrassed about being a control freak. But I'm embarrassed that it made me sound like I don't care about anything. People, Life, Work, Kids, Money...meh...  I think I maybe qualified for 1-2 things on this list and it made me think, what do I do when I'm stressed out? What do I do when I feel like I can't control things in my life? Nothing.
Writing this sounds a little weird to me, given the fact that a few years ago, my doctor "described" and "prescribed" me as obsessive/compulsive. But I know for a fact where that derived from and it was completely unlike me. I keep my house moderately clean (as clean as possible usually) but if I can't, I can't. I don't stress about it. I pay my bills, but if for whatever reason we have no money, it is what it is. Phones will get turned off. So what? I will turn them back on when we have money. I have work to be done, but I work better when I'm on a time crunch so most times I wait until the last minute. I don't have my life mapped out. I don't have lists.
And a few years ago, I learn to let go of that "control" issue that I had.

Ten years ago, before I had kids I had a lot of responsibility, thus things I had to control on some level.  I was the coordinator of our youth ministry. I am a pastors daughter, so there is some level of "stepping up to the plate" I felt (and feel) is necessary and appreciated at church. We owned a house. 
We had an insane amount of  debt...
and the only thing that still stands today in that list is that I am still a Pastors daughter.
We had to sell our house, I lost my job, my husband lost our health insurance, our bills plus the loss of money got us in over our head, but it taught me one major thing and that was that we are still standing. I have a family of five and although times have been hard. There have been meals of macaroni and cheese or cereal or less on days, we are still alive. There have been unpaid bills. There has been tons and tons of paperwork requesting help financially, medically, etc. It has been humbling to say the least.
But God has always provided and we are still blessed.
Before that, we never imagined that life how we knew it would crumble. I don't think anyone does.
But when it seemed like our little 'white picket fence' life fell apart, I learned that God has yet to let us down. Maybe that sounds weird to say, seeing that it felt like we lost everything. But we had each other. Don't get me wrong. I cried and cried and cried over the years. I cried the times we were told we wouldnt get a paycheck. I cried when we had to sell our house. I cried when we discussed how to handle our insane amount of debt. I cried when I found out my daughter needed $20,000 worth of dental surgery and not only did we not have health insurance, but our current pediatric dentist wouldnt even look at her because we owed them almost $4000. I cried and I cried and I cried. 
I couldn't control life anymore...
 all I could do was cry.
And years later, it's evident that God has not left the throne...we are still standing...and to me that means, everything is ok.

I felt the control issue creep in again a few years ago when I started getting involved in the Women's Ministry at our church. I saw a need and I sort of just stepped in. I didn't place myself in charge or anything, but I did what I could to organize occasional events. I still do... and no one stopped me.
So I just went ahead and did it. When I asked for help with decorating the first year, I called upon one of the young women in our church who does a tremendous job with styling parties and asked for her help. But there was a part of me that wanted to still have 'a say' in what she did. 
And I caught myself...and I took my hands off and stepped back...
I thought, 'You know what, I don't even want to do that. I already have enough to do. God made plenty of people with plenty of talents. The only reason I would be doing that is because of my need to control something I don't even want to control. Just for the sake of being in control.'
Since those hard times and since that moment where I caught myself losing, and trying to gain control again... 
I taught myself ...or rather let God... teach me how to let go of some things.
Just because I was involved in things, doesn't mean I had to control them. Just because things were in my life, didn't mean I even had the ability to control them...and I felt myself let go of trying so hard.
And I felt myself rest.

I kind of joke around inside my head as I watch my kids in their ratty hair, no shoes riding their bikes outside as I'm cleaning the several colors of acrylic paint off the table and I say, 'I guess I'm a hippie. It's all about peace and love, man.'  I'm kidding, but you get what I'm saying. I take care of what needs to be taken care of. My kids do get baths, but it's not every day. My house does get cleaned, but it's not always as clean as I'd like it. My family does get fed, but it's not always steak and chicken and roast...

I let go of stress. I let go of that need to get things done all the time. And alot of times I cry.
I cry. I pray. I breathe...I rest....and then something comes up and I do it all over again. 
I repeat.

Needless to say, when I was filling out my form this week and after I laughed asking my sister, "I don't know what I should say?" I said "I'm just going to write it."
I wrote. I cry. I pray. And I trust in God.

Monday, October 14, 2013

It's Not Me, It's Him

Over the weekend, I was at an anniversary party and some friends of ours sat down next to me 
and the guy said to me, "So, when you are you going to write a devotional?" 
Almost on a daily basis, on my facebook wall in the morning I share little snipits of what God is teaching 'today' and I never really thought about it, but I guess a lot of it would be "devotional" type of material. 
I kind of sat there with a puzzled look on my face and said "Huh..." It wasn't like a question "huh?", 
but more like a "Well, there's a thought." I told him, That's a good idea. I know I'm supposed to be writing, but sometimes I just don't feel like I have enough in me to write a whole book. 
But I do have bits and pieces of things on my heart."
 As soon as I left the party, the thought came to me, well that's the biggest lie you've ever told yourself.

Have you ever told yourself a lie like this?  
That you don't have enough in you to do what it takes....
 I felt like that's what God said to me.. .yes, now God is saying it (the really thing)...
He said "Really Julie? YOU don't have enough in you, eh? Don't I live on the inside of you? 
Isn't it by MY strength, by MY power? Don't you live and move and have your being in ME?"

Wow! Well I keep telling myself, it's all Him... All of this, everything I write, being a mother, being a wife, stepping into new positions in my life, it's all Him. It's all by his strength I do any of it. I can't be a mother of three on my own. Are you kidding me? I can't be a wife of seventeen years on my own. I can write this stuff on my own...
So why would the next thing (the scarier thing) be any different? 
(As if trying to raise and instill morals into three small people isn't scary)

It's not us, It's him. 
We just have to be willing.
Are you willing?

We have to remember that the Greater One is on the inside of us. Why do we belittle him to having such
little ability through us?  We are telling God he didn't give us what it takes...
Or better yet, why do we think that anything we do or have ever done is done without him?
It's not...

Allow yourself to believe that "Greater is He that is in YOU..." (I John 4:4)
With it comes freedom to open yourself and allow everything (and I mean everything) HE placed on the  inside of you, every passion, every talent... to be used for his Glory. 
He put it there. There is nothing God can't do through you. We just have to allow him to.

I love  this scripture I heard last night and read this morning...
Daniel 11:32~ But the people who know there God shall prove themselves strong and stand firm
and do exploits for Him (their God).

If you know your God, this means you...

Congrats to Hanna over at bouffe e bambini for winning the #tenpoundsbytenten challenge.
She was actually the only one who lost over ten pounds! Yay! Go Hanna!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

A Message To All Women

No matter what stage of life you're in, whether you are feeling weak,
whether your circumstances are less than acceptable.
Maybe you are at the top of your game.
you have a happy family, the perfect job...
Maybe you have enough blog readers, satisfy you.
Maybe, you feel sad or left out because you don't get noticed.
Maybe you want to lose weight, maybe you want to gain it.
Maybe you want a husband,
 Maybe you are desperate for healing in your broken marriage.
Maybe you have five noisy kids,
maybe you've had five miscarriages.
Whatever season of life you are in, good or bad.
You're seasons and circumstances don't define you.
Your job status or marital status doesnt define you.

You are worth more.
You have everything you need to be an AMAZING you. 
You have everything you need to give, to love, and to receive love.
I watched this video just moments ago, tears in my eyes...
and I wanted desperately to share it with all of you.
I hope you take a few minutes to watch this.
 You deserve it.

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