All posts by Amy

Right On Time

I’m not the most punctual person.  I get it from my dad’s side of the family.  Most of them will admit it because, well, there’s no denying it when you’re always late.  My dad, on the other hand, would take it to the extremes some days.  Whether it was because he lost his keys, ran out of gas, or because he just got side-tracked, he always made it…eventually.

I vowed to myself that I would not run out of gas EVER and my plan is to stick to that.  Running out of gas more times that I can count as a kid and having to walk in not-so-good neighborhoods at night weren’t always the best memories.  However, I learned a thing or two in those times that I couldn’t have learned anywhere else.

I learned how to trust my dad that everything was going to be okay.

I learned how to believe we would get there, even if it wasn’t “on time”.

I learned that the most important thing isn’t necessarily that you arrive at a specific time.

However, we’re led to believe that timing is everything.    I might agree with that if I understand whose timing we were talking about.  There’s always our timingyour timing, and everyone else who thinks they have a handle on the right time.

There are birthday parties, dinner dates, flights, movies and other activities that you can’t argue…have a specific time.  But what about the rest of the things that seem timely?  We’re given the idea that it doesn’t matter what it is but if we want it, we can get it now.  We see messages like:

“No money down!”

“0% Financing!”

“Buy now, pay later!”

The thought instantly comes to mind, if I want it I can have it.

It’s not always about things that cost us in paper money either.  There are things that can cost us in other ways if we choose to go for them when it isn’t the right time or in the right way.  There’s a time, a place, a purpose for each and every single thing we do.  We’ve come so used to getting what we want when we want it that we don’t have the patience to wait for anything anymore.

What does that say about our future?  Are we handling things in our own time to suit our desires verses waiting until a time that might just be best for us?  What if we took a step back from the situation, wrote down pros and cons, wants vs. needs and truly assessed if whatever it is, needs to happen now or is just something our minds are trying to convince us is a necessity when in all actuality, it’s a want that can wait until a better time?

Often, if we wait patiently, opportunities will present themselves in such a way that we can see our movement would have been detrimental to the overall outcome.  It doesn’t give us the best result when we push to have something that could have been so much better had we waited.

What about that house…
That car…
The job…
The perfect man/woman…

It can be about the little things just as much as it’s about the big things.  It all adds us to be a sort of timing that will never be our own.  This doesn’t mean we sit complacent, never making a move.  But it does mean listening to that still, small voice and the urging inside that tells you to wait when everything in your head is telling you to GO! GO! GO!

That yearning inside makes us feel like we won’t be able to handle waiting any longer, but I promise you friends, our heart can handle the wait if we get control of our mind.  We have to step out of certain situations or away from what keeps our mind thinking thoughts of want vs need.  But in some cases, we are to learn patience by remaining right where we are until the opportunity presents itself.  You don’t have to jump.  You don’t have to be the first.  And I promise you’ll never be the last.

There’s something out there for you.  It’s pulling you in a direction that may seem wonderful but not quite right.  There’s a timing that’s better.  It’s a timing that has withstood all the tests.  It’s proof that things happen for a reason, at a time, in a season.  It’s why you’re here reading this and why I was led to write it.

You see, this purpose, this plan, it’s something that has been laid out for you.  The good, the bad, the confusing, the sad.  Each and every experience is leading to something greater, something stronger, and something longer-lasting than anything you could muster up yourself.

Trust in this timing.  It’s God’s timing.  Have you truly given it to Him and asked Him to lead you?  Have you asked for His guidance or walked in His confidence?  It doesn’t have to be a life-changing event but I promise, even the small things can be if done at the wrong time.  Before you take that medicine, before you buy that couch, before you reach out…look up!  Ask God what He thinks.  Give it to God and watch Him work.  He’ll guide you if you allow Him too.

I don’t know who this was for.  I don’t even know where it came from, but you know what? God does.  And it was in His timing that you were able to see it! Now believe it!

Love you all!

The Rise and Fall of Social Media

Admit it, at least those of you who use social media, you have a love-hate relationship with it all.  The whole concept is great…I mean, you can stay in touch with people far away, share pictures with family and friends, make announcements to large masses of people, advertise your business, and now even sell things in an online garage sale-style type of forum.

But then there’s the other side of the coin.  When you flip it, you see what’s on the back.  What’s there are things you don’t have.  Places you haven’t been.  Experiences you’ve never had.  Some days, the back side just leaves you longing for more.

Why?

Because it’s only a natural reflex to see someone having a good time and wishing you had been there or that your family could do those things, be in that place, see what they saw.  We notice if we’ve missed an invite, missed an opportunity, or missed a chance at doing something on a day you ended up doing nothing at all.

Come on now.  I know I’m talking to someone!

Here’s the funny thing.  Those things you’re wishing for…you find yourself getting lost in…that you feel like you’ve missed out on…they’re not meant for you!  Harsh reality is, if they were, you’d be experiencing them instead of someone else!  Take a second to think of the things you have to be thankful for so far this year…

It doesn’t have to be a long vacation, a party or anything of the sorts.  What about your family? friends? church? Have you started school? Got a new job? Moved to a new home?

We have to learn to be content with what we have.  Learn to make memories out of the mundane.   Be happy for others without forming a jealous thought.

What it boils down to is something we see making way for a thought that we tend to think on.  We think on that for so long, in such a way that we start to daydream.  We hope, we wish, we long for things that just aren’t ours.  Philippians 4:8 says,

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things.

We need to park our minds on things of this nature.  Things that we can be grateful for.  Reasons we’re blessed.  We need to park it there and stay there!  Those times will come when you see someone else having fun and you need to be happy for them.  Happy because they are enjoying their time but also happy because you’ve made your own memories too!

This past weekend, my family and I did a whole lot of nothing! My daughter went through her closet.  My husband practiced tying knots with extra rope he had since he was recovering from a back injury and needed to rest.  And I worked for many hours on my computer, preparing for a group I’m hosting in a couple months.  Those things seem a little boring but here’s the cool thing…

My daughter and I also went grocery shopping together.  It’s such a great time to catch up!  I took her and a friend on a little FREE morning trip downtown.  We BBQed twice! We woke up late, had a delicious breakfast, and even got in some time working out.  We watched movies together, went to church together and truly enjoyed just having a whole lot of nothing to do.

Yes, we missed out on some things.  Yes, we said no to a few.  We could’ve kept ourselves busy.  We could be upset because we weren’t invited by everyone to everything.  We could be nervous that this is life.  But guess what?  If it is life, then I think I’m quite happy with it!  I am blessed to have a home to live life in!  I am blessed to have a vehicle to take me to the park, or for a walk or out for the day.  I am blessed to have the opportunity make my own memories and do things my way.

You see, the rise and fall of social media isn’t that it’s going away.  It’s that it’s causing our emotions to do things that we shouldn’t allow it to do.  If you’re find yourself grazing for infinite amounts of time, or feeling down instead of happy for others, or just noticing a change in your mood once you dive in, then it’s time to bow out.  Not forever, unless that’s what you determine is best, but just for awhile.  Just until you can recount your blessings.

I know I’ve said this time and time again but here me folks — you CAN control the thoughts you think on.  You may not be able to control how they get into your mind but you can choose whether or not they stay there.

So it’s Monday.  Maybe you have to work, maybe you don’t.  Maybe you’re on vacation, maybe you’re not.  Maybe your situation isn’t so bright, maybe, just maybe…it’s how you look at it.

Choose your kind of happy today!

Happy Wife, Happy Life

A wife is something special.  If she weren’t, what would be the point of marriage?  I mean, if two people love each other, what is the point in standing in front of a few (or many) people we know, exchanging rings, and saying vows to one another?  Simply put, marriage has meaning.  Therefore, your role in marriage has a significant purpose.

The cool part about it is that every, single person brings something special into their marriage.  There isn’t a gender role description out there that says, one must do this and another that.  In fact, things can be shaken up a bit with one person better at cooking and another a master at household maintenance, especially if the so-called traditional roles are reversed.

I would venture to say that many people like to put their own ideas out there based off of scripture but that’s a topic I’m not going to touch today.  But it is on my list of discussion topics — stay tuned!

Anyway, I was thinking about one phrase the other day that has taken such a negative tone over the years.  I don’t even know where it originated but I have read blogs by Christians who think that by saying, “Happy wife = Happy life” we mean that husbands should put their wife’s desires above their relationship with God.

NOT TRUE!

Of course you can interpret things as you wish, but here’s how I see it…

Everyone may bring something physically different to the marriage but there is one thing that a wife has that her husband just can never “get”.  I put get in quotations because I don’t mean it’s something he won’t acquire (even though it isn’t) but it’s something he simply won’t understand.  Guess what?

No one does!

There’s a tone in your house.  It’s either positive or negative…sometimes neutral.  One day it’s hot, another it’s cold.  Some days it’s full of passion and others it’s cool as a cucumber.  It can be playful, crabby, full of tension, energetic, clean, dirty, picky, helpful, constructive and critical all in the same day.  But there’s something to say about all of those emotions.  Yes, they are all emotions.

We can safely say that when the wife is happy, there’s something in the house that smells good and it’s not necessarily because she has cookies baking in the oven!

You see, we women have this innate ability to insert a tone into a situation that doesn’t already have one.  Without us, life can be drab, mundane, colorless.  Then again, some days with us can be just the same!

I truly believe that there is some power women have that controls the mood temperature in our homes.  When we’re up, everyone’s up.  When we’re down, everyone’s down.  When we’re cranky, everyone’s cranky or they just leave.  When we’re mad, they tend to be scarce.  See the cycle?

Of course all homes are different and if this doesn’t apply to yours, your free to stop reading.  HOWEVER, over the years of friendships, love and learning about life, this is one thing that I believe with my whole heart to be true…at least in my case.  It wasn’t something I just woke up one day knowing though.  It just happened to be something my husband AND my daughter brought to my attention.

There we were, in the kitchen having perhaps the most influential conversations the three of us have ever had.  It was serious.  I was crying.  They were both looking at me with what seemed to be amazement.  They saw something that I didn’t.

I know I won’t get the words exactly right, but it went something like this…

"When you're not right, this whole house isn't right."

I didn’t know whether to take that as a compliment or an insult.  I was already crying, so why not take it as the latter?  How could they tell me I’m not right.  And why in the world were they letting their moods be dependent on mine?

That’s when they both began to explain.  What was said came with so much love.  The feelings in the house weren’t constructed because it was a nice house with all the right furnishings.  It wasn’t because we had food in the fridge and dinner on the table.  It wasn’t even because of the furry, four-legged children we brought into our home.

It was because of the people in it and my role was perhaps the most significant.  I hadn’t thought about it before but they were right.  Unintentionally, I set the tone in the house day in and day out.  When I wasn’t feeling quite myself, I often wondered what was wrong with everyone else.  Were they mad at me?  Did something happen? Was someone hiding something?  When I was tired, I often had those same thoughts.  When I was sad, the whole world was sad with me.  Happy, just the same.  And the list goes on and on.  They didn’t choose to adopt my attitude, it just happened.

I instantly flashed back — time and time again, I can remember that their reactions were a reflection of my attitude.  How can I blame them in times when I’m tender or frustrated that they too have a complimentary emotion, lending to either a favorable or unfavorable reaction.

So I probably should say that the conversation was about work and whether or not I should quit my job.  Not because I had something better lined up, but because I was overwhelmed and felt a sense of “I need to be home” but felt guilty without having a reason why.  They both agreed wholeheartedly and I instantly felt a weight lift off of my shoulders.

I contemplated what I would say to people or how I would explain being a stay-at-home-mom with a teenage daughter.   I do want to write a book. I do want to keep up with my blog.  But most importantly, I wanted to feel less overwhelmed so that I could put my all into the important role I played in my home.

Many people don’t have the option of staying home, I get that.  Believe me, I know how blessed I really am.  I have a whole list of things I could say right now to justify deserving  this opportunity but it isn’t about that at all.  Those things don’t even matter.  What does matter is that I know the significance of my role in this home.  I know what I bring and on many days, what I don’t.  One thing is for sure, I love my husband and daughter more than life itself.  They deserve to have me, the real, honest-to-goodness me, that is happy, hardworking, creative and at peace.  That’s all they want.

So you can say it however you want…

When momma ain't happy, ain't nobody happy!
Happy wife = Happy life

But no matter how you put it, it all comes down to knowing how significant you are.  Your influence is so much greater than you could ever imagine!

The Wingman

By definition, this word has a couple, different meanings.  I need you to get the urban dictionary connotation out of your mind for a few moments to hear this important message.

I often have words on my mind before I pray…before I even ask God for something to share.  More often than not, I will have just a couple words that end up turning into a chapter in what I hope will some day become a book.  This morning…

Wingman

This couldn’t be from God, or could it?  I mean, the God whose been a part of my life certainly has a sense of humor…maybe He’s just trying to make me laugh.  I had to humor him and sit down to my computer to find out what both the silly dictionaries and the reliable ones said about this word.

Wingman…Wingman…Wingman…

Over and over again. I pictured Aubrey.  What? Yes, I pictured my daughter.  I paused and opened a letter she had written to me for just this moment.  I wrote in my journal about how I loved my husband for loving her so much.  I reflected on the wonderful day the three of us just had yesterday, which I could re-live over and over again.

That’s when it hit me.  I’m a wingman! Not in the bar scene sense.  Not in the military sense.  But in the take the military definition and apply it to life sort of sense.  WOW!

I was on to something here.

By dictionary.com’s definition:

Wingman: a pilot in a plane that flies just outside and behind the right wing of the leading aircraft in a flight formation, in order to provide protective support.

Her whole life, I’ve been in the lead, hoping to set the right example, taking the right steps (and sometimes the wrong ones too), giving orders (sometimes a little too often), helping her to reflect on things, learn from situations, and essentially  see things my way in hopes that she gathers enough from our deep conversations to make informed decisions in life. 

As her mom and her best friend, I don’t want her to fail.  But I’m reasonable and know that sometimes that will happen.  I want her to have the strength, the confidence, and the skills to make it through those moments where the outcome isn’t favorable, even if it is just spending money on something that you realize later wasn’t worth it.  These moments could contain BIG things  or small ones but in each lies a lesson that she will eventually pass on to her child(ren).  In some delicate way (or not so delicate if she has “off” days like I sometimes do) she will share this very situation with the next generation, maybe even a few words of wisdom I’ve given her with the flare she’s added all on her own.  It’s a cycle that is often like the game “phone” where words are passed from person to person but instead of the final person sharing a message that sounds nothing like what started off, it’s going to be something profound, life-giving and meaningful.

Every day she opens a letter I’ve written for her so that the entire 25 days we’re apart, she’ll know how much I love her, even though I’m sure she already has a pretty good idea 😉

I didn’t want to be sentimental on every single one, but I found myself writing life lessons from Day 1.  It wasn’t my intention, but it happens.

It always happens.

Whether she asks for it or not, I give advice, I share my thoughts and, if I’ve been in a similar situation, maybe even tell her what I did.  If I’m lucky, she thinks I came out alright and takes my advice.  If I’m faithfilled, I know that what I’ve shared will be taken with a grain of salt and used to do with it what will work best for her.

Ah…then there were other letters…when I realized how grown she’d become.  She’s much like me in ways such as maturity, forward-thinking and independent.  She’s a free spirit too, one that I look at and thank GOD for giving her more of the good qualities of mine than the not-so-favorable.

Wingman

It’s been 15 days so far since she’s been gone and all I can think about is how proud I am, how blessed we are as a family, and how I know she’s going to be more than just fine.  You see, my job thus far has been so important.  As her mom, I was blessed with a role that would mold and shape her into someone who would more than handle anything.

She’s far surpassed that.  She’s taken what I’ve shared with her and ran with it, in such a way that she knows how to develop the right kind of relationships.  She has a faith that is strong, that she’s not afraid to share with anyone.  And for the most part, she doesn’t really care what people think of her.  Many of the lessons I’ve taught her, she’s put her own spin on to teach the teacher.  What an amazing experience!

I knew that there would be a step forward at some point, when I would realize it was time for her to take the lead.  I knew she’s been there for some time now but I failed to see that with her in the lead, there was now a new role for me…

Wingman

In order for her to lead the formation of her life, I had to let her be in the lead plane.  I had to slow down and take a secondary role where I would compliment her while still protecting her.  My part had to change so hers could grow stronger.

I read an excerpt from a blog posting about being a wingman and it was SO TRUTHFUL right in the midst of our very situation.

The writer says that there are three qualities that make up being a good wingman:

  • Mutual supportThe best leaders expect wingmen to be on the lookout for threats to the formation and empower wingmen to intervene and keep the formation safe. This isn’t always comfortable, but it is always the right thing to do and an expectation that should be created in everyone. Of course, to intervene and provide support to a teammate, it’s necessary to first sense a problem.
  • Situational awarenessnot just of one’s own situation, but that faced by teammates. From the day anyone in any walk of life joins a team, no action or inaction — positive or negative — is free of consequence  for  teammates.   This means every team member must know where s/he is in time, space, and circumstance, but also remain aware of the situations confronted by teammates, and how individual actions might impact group dynamics.
  • Individual reliabilityIf each individual meets expectations and is always in position, the formation will spend less energy on mutual support and more energy on making the enemy suffer. 

Although the writer was quite literally discussing qualities of a pilot, he hit the nail on the head, explaining who was now.  It’s time for me to take a position as part of her team, but no longer leading the formation.  I couldn’t have found a better way to explain the position I am now in as her mother, her friend, her wingman.

When I got to Individual reliability, I was floored.  In that moment, God brought it all together.  He used this analogy in such a way that by point three, I was realizing that my job wasn’t over — it never will be over.  In order to be a good wingman, I have to continually work on myself as well.  I can’t slow down or lag behind.  I have to be the example, even if I’m no longer in the lead.  And I have to help my team stay in formation by taking up a role that will make us stronger to fight the enemy that tries to attack us each and every day.

He comes in the form of thoughts in our minds…but he’s different to everyone.  We are attacked where we’re weakest and trust me, he’ll never stop trying to find the weak spot in your formation.

We have an armor of protection (Eph. 6: 10-18) that we need to clothe ourselves with daily but we also need to remain in formation.

So now what’s next?  That’s not up to me.  I know my role is just as important to her now as it ever was before.  But accountability is key; moreso than ever before.  Holding myself accountable to take the position as wingman seriously will do wonders for her when it’s time for her to do the same for her daughter/son.

Deep breathe.  Sigh.  Close my eyes.  Do it all over again.

I’m confident that this shift in formation was with perfect timing.

I’m comfortable with where she is in life.

I’m blessed beyond belief to have been a part of it all thusfar.

And I’m looking forward to all the years ahead.

Baby girl, you have no idea what’s in store.  When I say you’re going to do great things, I believe it to be true!

Continue to take it all in.  Keep doing what you’re doing.  Be you.  Be the best you.  Take notes.  Love big.  Love forever.  Love life. Live life.  Judge no one.  Stay true to your beliefs.  Honor God.  Honor your family.  Use your faith to battle your weaknesses.  And always, always, always, know that I love you so incredibly much.

Love,

Mom aka your wingman

Read the full wingman blog post HERE

Come To A Complete Stop

When you hear those 5 words, what do you think of? A stop sign, right? Maybe those of you teaching your teenager to drive are specifying what they should say or do to know how long is long enough to stop.
 
As adults, most of us don’t practice what we preach in that scenario. Coming to a complete stop has meant pulling up to the stop sign, looking both ways quickly while we gently roll through it. We’ve made our own definition of stopping and, so far, it’s worked quite well.
 
What if traffic was going so fast in the opposite direction and the stop sign only pertained to the way you were headed? You couldn’t just work your way into traffic going full speed in the opposite direction. Considering your limited number of options, you’re forced to stop.
 
Now let’s talk about life. How fast have you been going? Are you noticing what’s going on around you? Who needs what? Where are you headed? Do you even have a clear direction? Are you going so fast that you don’t even know yesterday from the last?
 
We’ve all done this. Some of you have been here before, others are there now. You’ve begun to roll through the signs telling you to STOP. Signs such as exhaustion, weight gain/loss, irritability, lack of sleep, lack of or over abundance of emotion, forgetfulness, sickness, and the list goes on and on. There are signs everywhere, telling us to slow down but eventually, we will come to a crossroad where we must stop.
 
Hear me out on this one folks…
 
There are some times that we need someone to tell us to STOP. We need to heed their advice for our safety as well as others out there on the road. If we’re not careful, we could injure ourselves or others along the way. Unintentionally, by not giving ourselves any time to stop, we are making the road more difficult to travel than it should be. Just because we ignore the stop signs, doesn’t mean we’re going to get there any faster — or at all if we keep up the pace we’re going.
 
Psalm 46:10a says, "Be still, and know that I am God;"
 
It’s a verse we can use in so many different ways but in this case, we need to stop and really hear those words.
 
Stop worrying if everyone has everything.
 
Stop trying to be everything to everyone.
 
Stop trying to be everywhere at the same time.
 
Stop trying to do everything.
 
Stop trying to be a part of everything that’s going on.
 
Stop worrying if you have enough and just know that you ARE enough!
 
God didn’t put you here on this earth to run yourself ragged. He didn’t intend for your purpose to be, “work yourself to death.” He also didn’t decide that you were the one that was going to do all of the things that could easily be done by several people. Look around. Do you enjoy what you see? Are you taking the time to truly enjoy what you see?
 
Take a look at this picture. My love for cows is the reason we came to a complete stop to take this photo. I love the warning that here, at this very spot, cows may be crossing. It’s a warning to all the drivers on this dirt road that they might just need to stop. Of all the things in the world, God cares about us so much that he gives warnings for us too. Sometimes he gives them to family, friends or coworkers to share with us and sometimes He just gives them to us. Often times, we have both but still fail to listen. That’s when we’re forced to stop.
 
Back to the picture. Take a look around at the scenery. What once was a beautiful ranch became a burnt mess back in October when a fire ravaged the area. I don’t know about you, but that is cause enough for me to stop immediately.
 
Some of you are there. The fire is roaring, you are forced to stop moving, and you just don’t know what to do next.
 
Read the scripture again: “Be still, and know that I am God;”
 
No one is going to get the best parts of you if you aren’t coming to a complete stop. You can’t give everything and think you’ll have something left. Your family will suffer, friendships, your job, your ministries and finally — you.
 
Don’t let that fire have a chance to start in your life.
 
Don’t miss all the warnings and continue to speed through life.
 
Don’t wish you hadn’t waited so long.
 
Life is too short and if you go too fast, you’ll miss it entirely.
 
I know this is for someone today. I’ll be praying for you. Love you all.

User Error

Do you realize that typically, we are the ones who set our own limitations? I say typically because there are certain physical limitations we cannot change and rules we must abide by but otherwise, we set our expectations high but often lower our limitations.
 
Why do you think that is? Low self-esteem? Lack of confidence? Situational setbacks? Those may all be true but for the most part, we have a tendency to be so proud of others for their accomplishments while verbalizing that we could never do that.
 
My question is, why not? If the opportunity is there, other than time and hard work, what is holding you back from going after whatever it is? If we are given a chance just by being who we are then who are we to hold ourselves back?
 
I understand stepping out of your comfort zone might be a little scary and setting the bar high for yourself often demanding, but if you can expect more out of others why not do the same for yourself?
 
Imagine you’re sitting there, wishing you could do something that you’ve never done — run a mile, do 20 push-ups, write a book, lead a group, meet new people, go for a promotion — and the list goes on and on. So you’re sitting there, thinking, wishing but never really believing in yourself enough to take that chance and do what you want to do.
 
I’m calling this your “User Error”.
 
Typically, you have a few tries before being locked out in situations like this, but fortunately and unfortunately for you, your opportunities are endless. You can want and wish for things for a long time and just never try. You are given chances time and time again, doors opening and closing before your eyes, little reminders of the dream you have, little nudges of movement but no actual push of the forward motion.
 
Philippians 4:13 says, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."
 
If I adopt that scripture into my mind and believe it to be true, I know I have enough to at least try with all my might to get to where I want to go. I may not be there tomorrow. I may find out that what was at the end of the tunnel wasn’t for me. It may take a little longer than I would have wanted. But if I’m believing that God has given me all I need to be successful at all I’m called to be then I truly am the only thing holding myself back.
 
I don’t know who this message is for today, but I felt these words very strongly on my heart. I’m believing that soon, you will feel empowered. You will start to align yourself with the right people, the right sights and sounds, to just make that next step…then another…and another…until that limitation no longer exists. If you’ve used up all your “User Errors” simply because you’re afraid, now’s the time to try again.
 
Photo Credit: Aubrey Marie, Mexico 2016

Guacamole

I won’t apologize for making guacamole. I don’t need to justify that I’ve spent my time mashing avocados, squeezing limes and adding a dash of sugar. Those delicate little leaves of cilantro, so perfectly chosen will add the final touches.
 
Still reading? Good! Because Guacamole is Part II of Cilantro. For those of you thoroughly confused, I suggest you stop reading right now and go to yesterday’s post. It will all make sense then!
 
I felt I had to follow-up Cilantro with Guacamole because of one, very important reason. Those leaves are a part of something bigger. Each has their own flavor that they bring to the bigger project — Guac!
 
All metaphors aside, what is it that you and those you’ve chosen to be in your circle have done or are doing? As with you and your greater purpose, those you are aligned with will also serve one another as well as some outside of your carefully chosen few. When everyone comes together, adding their own distinct flare [your talents], with it comes a taste like no other. A few additional ingredients, such as your time/dedication, wisdom, and a dash of the sweetest gift from above and you have something to share!
 
Ah…but not everyone likes guacamole, maybe even some of you reading this post…but stay with me here! Even though you may come across those who don’t like what you’re throwing out, aren’t picking up what your dropping, or who just have a problem with what you’re saying, that doesn’t mean you need to stop.
 
HEAR ME ON THIS ONE…
 
You were NOT put on this earth to please everyone therefore, your mark on this world should not be dictated by those around you who are not part of your immediate circle. Even still, those within your bunch might disagree a time or two, but remember that you CHOSE them for a reason. Their gifting on your life might just be wisdom a time or two to bring you back to that walk with HUMBLE CONFIDENCE.
 
You see, we have an inner circle of carefully chosen individuals who will grow with us and make a difference by simply being together with us. There are other circles that are equally as important such as those who are a part of your church family, work family, and so on. Something has to be said about these groups as well because just as we have to purposefully choose who to allow into our immediate circle, we must do the same with the rest.
 
Face it, you are not going to go to every Bible study, be a part of every small group or go to lunch with everyone after church on Sundays. You may not even know what’s going on in each other’s lives until the very last minute. Same goes for work — you may not get invited to the after work gathering, you might not be on Joe Schmo’s wedding invite list and you just might not be on the attendee list for a meeting with the big shots. Want to know something cool?
 
IT’S OKAY!!
 
We shouldn’t put people into our circles because we’re afraid to miss out. That’s important so I’m going to say it again…
 
WE SHOULDN’T PUT PEOPLE INTO OUR INNER CIRCLES BECAUSE WE’RE AFRAID TO MISS OUT.
 
Why are we letting people into the inner workings of our lives simply because we need to add one more notch to our friends’ list? Or is it because we’re afraid something might happen and we wouldn’t have been a part of it?
 
We have to learn to say — WHO CARES!!
 
It’s not that we don’t care or that we’d rather stay in a bubble, but if we try to be everyone’s friend, to be everywhere, do everything, the only thing we’ll be missing out on is what COULD be happening in our own lives! Think of all the time you wasted just wondering why you weren’t on the guest list. What else are you missing out on because you’re somewhere else in your mind when you’re body is right here?
 
It’s time to work on that end result — that Guacamole — those other circles and see that, they too, matter to the greater purpose of your life. Not every ingredient will be added. Not everyone will like it. But one thing’s for sure, the right people will get what they need at the right time when YOU ARE ALIGNED THE WAY YOU SHOULD BE.
 
I can’t answer for you what changes it is that you need to make, but I can tell you this…some decisions will be hard. You will miss out on a few things. But as I said the other day, you can CHOOSE the thoughts you allow to stay in your mind. When the doubt, sadness or loneliness creeps in on you, as it will when you feel you’re “missing out”, get your head back in the game. Call on God and ask Him to take those thoughts out of your head and then — CHANGE THE SUBJECT! Busy yourself with works within YOUR CIRCLE and stop worrying about others.
 
Hope this reaches someone today. Love you all!

Humble Confidence

I’m fat. I’m ugly. No one really listens when I talk. I have no purpose. I have no direction. I’m boring. No one really likes me. I wish I were more like her. I wish I were stronger like him. I don’t matter.

Now that I have your attention, I want to ask you a question. Have you ever said any of those things? Have you ever wondered if you’re ever going to amount to something?

I’m talking to people of all ages here, from the teenagers to the adults. And it’s important so you’re going to want to park it for a few…

This has been on my mind for quite some time. I hear students and grown adults alike, who don’t understand their value here on earth. Too often we look to someone else’s talents, achievements, direction and assume that if we don’t have the same ambition, we just aren’t worth it. SO NOT TRUE!

There are days when we are down and quite frankly, those days SUCK! But you know what? You can CHOOSE the thoughts you allow to stay in your mind. I’ve shared that with my daughter a time or two but definitely have to remind myself often. We have an enemy out there who wants to take our joy and replace it with all those negative comments up there ^^^. And you know what? YOU HAVE TO TELL HIM NO!

Each and every one of us here on earth brings a certain unmatched charm wherever we go. We are all smart in different ways with the chance to make a difference in each other’s lives just the same. Here’s the kicker though —

1. We have to believe and know in our hearts that we’re worth it.
2. We have to CHOOSE to say NO to those thoughts that try to creep in and tell us otherwise.
3. We have to stop comparing ourselves to others because our journey is different than their’s.
4. We have to remember that we can have one of the greatest qualities a human can possess.

#4 is special. These two words were put on my heart yesterday out of no where. Many of you know how I work and so you’re not surprised to hear me say, it has to be from God. My faith has gotten me a long way, but it’s my process of being who He’s called me to be that has kept me strong.

Those two words — perhaps the greatest quality we can possess — HUMBLE CONFIDENCE. Having confidence is one thing because you can be confident but arrogant. You can be strong but ignorant. And you can be smart but not compassionate. Humble confidence describes a quality that allows us to see our strengths, to pursue using them, nurturing them, and using them for their intended purpose. Each purpose will be different, but it will be for the greater good. You may not touch thousands of lives, or you just might, but I guarantee it will be more than just about you. It’s never just about us. It’s never just about us and our chosen few. It’s about those that God puts in our path to learn from, you love on and to share with. He brings us people to help us through our ups and downs but when it comes down to it, we have to know how to reach out in our own strength and know that we DO MATTER.

Your uniqueness is what sets you apart from everyone else — from your boyfriend, girlfriend, spouse, siblings, parents, friends, etc. Of course you’ll have similarities and qualities that you’ll get from someone else you’re close to, but your skills, your desires, your direction is uniquely yours.

Don’t worry so much about 20 years from now — concentrate on what’s in front of you. Make the most of today and what’s next will come naturally. Realize that your strengths are there for a reason, even if you don’t know exactly what that is yet, and learn to walk with HUMBLE CONFIDENCE.

I, for one, am so glad to know you. I am so thankful that God put you in my life. Whether I see you every day or never at all, you did make some sort of an impact on my life or you wouldn’t be here. Know how important you are. Even if we don’t have everything in common or follow the same path, our paths did cross for a reason. We may travel together for awhile then wave goodbye at the fork, or we may be on a journey together that will take us through to what’s next — who knows. But I do know this…

You are smart. You are strong. You have purpose. Your life has meaning. It doesn’t matter who or how many like you. You are uniquely you and that is the best news! You will make a difference.

I want you to know how special you are. I’m praying today that this verse empowers you in your walk with humble confidence. Love you!

Cilantro

There I was, making guacamole, trying to pick off the perfect leaves of cilantro. When I was done selecting just the right amount, I decided to pick off all of the bad leaves or those that were going bad. I don’t know if you know this or not, but if you take the bad leaves or semi-bad leaves off of the bunch and put the rest back into a baggie with a paper towel, they will last so much longer, many times 2 weeks in my fridge! To care for this bunch that often only costs me two quarters sounds a bit excessive, I know. But who wants to have all the ingredients for a delicious salad or guacamole and fail to have good cilantro? So I take extra good care of it (I have a few other food tips if you want them too, just ask!).
 
Anyway, the metaphor here is simple. Cilantro represents you and your circle of friends, something we’ve been talking about quite often in youth. The bad leaves are those that could potentially cause the others to go bad. Inevitably with cilantro, they’re all going to go bad at some point, but many of those delicate leaves are going to fulfill their purpose by serving me and my family for dinner. They’re going to make us smile, satisfy our craving for guacamole, and fulfill our hunger. That’s right folks, there is a greater purpose for cilantro.
 
But there’s also a greater purpose for YOU! if you don’t skillfully select the people who shouldn’t be a part of your circle, there’s a better chance of things not going as they should. Those people are going to come into your life, believe me, but you have the choice as to what role they play. Will they be a part of your inner circle or will they reside on the outskirts where your kind gestures make way for a safe distance? Who are you letting influence you? What kind of impact are they having on your life? What in the world are you doing with people who make you feel worse when you should be feeling better?
 
There are so many questions to ask when closing off that circle of friends and even family that you allow into the depths of your life. Some people have to stay on the outskirts simply because they bring out the worst in you, other because their attitudes towards others are damaging yours.
 
When I was a teenager, the key was just in having friends. It wasn’t about quality friendships or even trying to choose people who knew me for….well, me! I used to be embarrassed to say that but I know now that my past is something that I can share to help others learn and grow. You see, I may have had many acquaintances, but not a whole lot of lasting friendships. I was impressionable. I was reasonable. And I gave people a chance, too often, to be a part of my inner circle when they never even worked for it. I realize now that my circle should have been smaller — so small that it would leave room for only myself, some family and a few close friends. The rest could still spend time with me but they wouldn’t see the parts of me that caused me to doubt, feel anxious, nervous, not confident, or even worse, just plain bad. Why? Because those that shouldn’t be part of my circle make all of those insecurities worse; maybe not intentionally but because they had that tendency to be the bad leaf in my bunch, I should have weeded them out sooner.
 
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not blaming my poor choices or lack of direction at times on anyone other than myself. However, I am saying that had I chose to close off my circle sooner and broadened the vision for my future, I may have prevented so many struggles with doubting myself and being untrue to the faith that I so desperately tried to hold on to.
 
Regret isn’t in my nature. I may have made some pretty poor choices and acted so unlike my true self more often than I’d like to admit, but I don’t regret a thing. If I wouldn’t have done every, single thing right and wrong in my life, I wouldn’t be here today, writing about cilantro! My path may have been full of shortcuts, detours and a few deep waters, but the other side is plush, green grass with beautiful sunsets and birds chirping in the background. Every day might not be my favorite, but my life is…because I got it back. I closed my circle and open it very rarely to let in those that compliment me. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather take out the bad leaves now just in case they try to spoil the rest…
 
I have a purpose, just like that bunch of cilantro I’ve used as a metaphor. And although I make guacamole, I know my purpose won’t end when I dip the chip! I have to carefully, skilfully, purposefully choose who, what, where and when each and every day. It’s a circle that is ever-changing, revolving and fresh. So before you make your next choice, maybe you should take a look at who and what is around you. Are there any leaves that shouldn’t be in your bunch?
Do not be deceived: "Bad company corrupts good morals." ~1 Corinthians 15:33

PEACE

In the devotion I was reading this morning, I immediately noticed the multitude of times the word PEACE had been added to the day’s reading.

From the shared verse (John 14:27) to the lesson, the word had been used 21 times.  At first count, there were 20, but something told me to look again…I found one more.

21 seemed relevant but I wasn’t exactly sure why.  So I looked up the significance of the number 21 in regards to the bible.  Needless to say, I didn’t get the answer I was looking for.  I don’t really know what I expected but since my word was PEACE, I thought I would find something a little fluffier than “exceeding sinfulness of sin”.  Another source says this:

“…the great wickedness of rebellion and sin.”  Later on saying, “…beginning a new level or effort that is sinful and disobedient against God.”

Guess I hadn’t expected sin and disobedience to somehow describe my discovery of PEACE.  Ah!  But in that sentence lies the very answer that God may just have spoken [to me] about this very message.

In John 14, Jesus was preparing his friends after their last supper together.  Perhaps one of the greatest things he reminded us is that we can experience a “sense of well-being in the midst of hardship.”

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do no let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”  John 14:27

When I thought about what the Holy Spirit might trying to reveal to me, I thought of two, very important things.  Both have significant meaning to me at this very time in my life.

The first thing He revealed is that He has given me a Spirit of PEACE.  Amidst the turmoil in the world, I am able to have PEACE – true and total PEACE – in Him.  Any time I let the problems of this world affect my mood, I must remember this gift that He gave me in such a time as this.

Secondly, He reminded me that sin and disobedience do affect my PEACE.  Distractions and deterring from a plan that keeps me alongside Him strips me of the very PEACE He so graciously promised.

So now what?

God’s trying to tell me something and I really want to listen.  It’s like an old television show with the word of the day.  My word of the day is PEACE and I will carry it with me today, just like it was part of my outfit.  Then tomorrow, I’ll get up and do the same thing, maybe even writing a card and sitting it next to my bed so that the first thing I see in the morning is a note that says PEACE.

I don’t know if this message was just for me or if it’s meant for you as well but I certainly do believe that God’s PEACE is promised to us all. Regardless of your situation or the outcome, you have been given a PEACE beyond all understanding.  Take that gift and use it to set your mind free – free of distractions, free of disturbances and free from the disobedience that is bringing you farther away from your Heavenly Father.

I pray that today, you experience PEACE like you haven’t found in so long.