All posts by Amy

Strengthen Relationships

The most valuable relationships, objects, or possessions dwindle and fade because people have stopped caring. We have stopped focusing on what we have/need and we’ve turned to everything we want. That friend that has helped you through so much is no longer so easy to contact. Relationships are slowly fading away because “you are too busy to keep in touch”. That hand-me-down clock that’s been passed through the family no longer ticks because it broke and was later replaced with everyone’s new Fitbit that acts as a watch and step counter. When life gets busy, it’s important to remember who and what matters most. It shouldn’t matter what will make your commute the easiest whether that be dropping great friendships or purchasing the latest technology. Strengthen those relationships that have grown weak. Take care of the rocking chair that’s been passed down for generations. Focus on the things that make you different from the “trending” world. It isn’t a bad thing to stay an old school kind of cool!
Challenge: Work on weakened relationships. Have meaningful items dusted and put on display in your home to remind you of their value.

Is Being Comfortable Making You UNcomfortable?

Have you ever been at a place in your life where you didn’t know what to do next?  If you’re not a planner or someone who likes to have a schedule or at least a “to do” list, this might be somewhat hard to understand but follow me here…

Recently I have been out of sorts, mind wandering, not knowing what the next move was supposed to be.  I was simply getting by each day with no clear direction as to what road to travel or even if there was going to be a road around the next bend.  I waited, often confused and overwhelmed that I didn’t have more of a clue that I do.

Feeling like I was out of place almost everywhere I went, no matter who I was with, yearning for that comfort that I typically always had. I wasn’t unhappy, just *blah* and not really even sure why.

Aside from making better food choices, I started exercising with my family outside.  We went for walks, hikes and bike rides nearly every day lately and boy, did that feel better!

Then, as if someone hit me with a brick, a conversation with my husband made it all come together.  Ironically, we were feeling somewhat of the same way!  Although he doesn’t have the female hormones that make my brain somewhat questionable (yes, I will admit that!), he did feel kind of complacent and wondered what is next.

Ever since we met, we dreamed together, talked about our future and up until recently, had goals and a list of things we needed to do in order to reach those goals.  Although we haven’t reached them all, we are well on our way and fairly confident that what we’re doing, if we keep on keeping on, we’ll accomplish each of them right on time — God’s time.

That brings me to THE conversation…

What do we want? Why don’t we have clear direction?  What are we working so hard for every day?  It’s not just to work so what is it that we’re working hard to achieve?  For either of us, it’s not success.  We could care less if our names are in lights as long as we make a difference right where we’re at.

Then there’s the question of finances.  If we’re on the right path, saving and spending wisely, what is it that we’re going to do later?

We used to dream — a LOT! It’s not that we aren’t dreaming, we just don’t know what we’re dreaming about at the moment.  We’re going through the day to day, knowing that we’d like to have property, that we want to be further in the country, have cows, chickens and more dogs but what else?  For either of us, it doesn’t just have a happy ending in the grand scheme of things.

When we retire, or before that if we can help it, we want all of these things but there needs to be a purpose.  WE need to serve a purpose.  That’s where we feel that things have changed lately.  We know that we want our resources to help others and that, once we have this dream home on our dream property, that it will serve a purpose to help others but we just aren’t sure in what way.  We don’t know where to look or, for that matter, where to start.

That’s when he said it…those words that I didn’t realize I would dread.

“Maybe God has us here because he wants us to rest.”

“Rest?” I said.  “Neither one of us likes to rest.”

He knows as well as I do that even on the days we plan to do nothing, we end up doing things that need to be done.  It’s just how we are.  We can’t sit still.  I can think of only a handful of days in the 6+ years that we’ve known each other that we have actually sat down and watched tv or movies all day.  We just don’t stop and that’s all for good reason.  As much as we don’t like being busy, we do. We’re go-getters and I’m pretty sure that’s how God intended it to be.

If we want something, we work for it – or – we think about it and decide if it’s really a want, a need or something that eventually we’ll get over and wish we wouldn’t have bought.  We analyze only because we want to be sure that we use our resources wisely.  But most importantly, we have been in a place where what we are doing or planning to do is making a difference.

The unclear picture for our future as to what we’re working for and why is driving us both crazy.  But here’s the deal — maybe he’s right — he probably IS right.

We work so hard all the time for something that God just wants us to take some time to just be right where we are.  He wants us to chill out and be OK doing so.  It’s a lesson of sorts.

In the  meantime, while we are trying to find out what’s next, we connect with one another by simply knowing we’re on the same page, incorporating more prayer and being open to what God reveals to us.

When I searched the word “comfortable” of course a lot of things came up but a portion of this one struck me:

“However, sometimes comfort can be a stumbling block.  Sometimes comfort can rob us of our strength and dependence on God.  Think of a man who is so comfortable in his life with so few problems that he doesn’t do much of anything let alone worry about anything.  He relaxes and enjoys life.  He also becomes weak and dependent upon his routine and life.  So too the Christian who is very comfortable in his life, can also become weak and dependent upon the securities of life instead of the Lord.  There is nothing wrong with being comfortable, unless that comfort makes us depend on God less and cause us to become complacent about the lost around us.”

So this is where we are.  We may not be able to identify with the entire piece, but we are here, in this very paragraph, praying that God will show us what we can do with our future that will bring about change in others by allowing us to use our gifts as a blessing.

We really want to help people.

We both have unique skills in which to do so.

We have wordly dreams that we fully believe can play into the idea of helping others.

So what’s next?  Do we rest where we’re at? Pray for direction and a clear mind?

The end of that same devotional that I read summed up some ways that just might help. I’m sharing them with you because I don’t doubt that there are others out there feeling the same way.  As Christians, we aren’t supposed to simply feel comfortable for long periods of time.  We are supposed to step out of our proverbial box and do something — daily.

“…. pray to the Lord and ask Him to reveal your sins to you.  Confess them and do your best to repent as you continue to rely on His grace.  Second, read your Bible regularly and ask the Lord to apply to your heart what you read.  Third, ask God to put a desire on your heart that is in accordance with your spiritual giftings so that you may not only grow and edify the body of Christ, but also to reach out to the lost.  If you don’t know what your spiritual gifts are, that’s okay.  God will show you.  Fourth, don’t be afraid to take risks for the Lord.  Don’t be afraid to become a little un-comfortable.  Tithe.  Pray.  Intercede.  Read the Word.  Confess your sins.  Speak the gospel.

Remember, our life is not about our comforts.  It is about loving God, loving others, and spreading the word of God.”

I think the author hit the nail on the head for me when he got to the third part of his suggested prayer.  I know you may not be in the same spot as we are, but I guarantee we could all use a little prayer time to determine what it is that God wants us to do.  We sometimes focus so much on what we want that we forget to bring God into our dreams.

After all, He should be in the driver’s seat, don’t you think?

Next time you pray, ask God what He wants you to do then be patient and wait expectantly.  Sometimes He reveals a plan that seems far out of reach but I guarantee, whatever it is, if God is your driver, then you’ll always be right on track!

 

Where Did I Go?

People wonder why I’m so happy all of the time. There’s lots of reasons actually…like the fact that I have an amazing husband, daughter, family, friends, and a church family that I love. But honestly, over the past 10 years, my reasons have been deeper, much deeper then those amazing people, things, and places in my life.

When you find out that you have a serious medical condition, your life will forever be changed. Sometimes things can get better sometimes they get worse and sometimes, well sometimes you just have no idea what will happen next…

It’s been a couple years since I’ve had any issues whatsoever until these past few weeks. I didn’t say anything to anyone, not even my family, because I wanted to wait it out. I decided not to wait any longer because it bothered me enough that I was in tears at my desk at the office one day. Of course I knew what the doctor was going to say…that he would put me on a heart monitor see how things are going. That’s what was going to happen and quite frankly  what should happen. But what happens from here, I don’t know.

It brings me back to the very reason that I wanted to share this with you today. Although I have so many reasons to be happy with my life, to be happy in my life, and to be happy each and every day, the most important reason but I’m happy is because I’m alive. I was given an opportunity to be who I am, to live through a very difficult time and to actually make it out better than I was when I first started. I don’t know about you but I’ve come to realize that life isn’t just about the things, the places, or even the people alone. It’s about the very reason that God put us here in the first place. Sometimes those reasons have to do with people sometimes they have to do with a lot of people. But know one thing folks, you’re here to serve a purpose greater than yourself, greater than the individuals around you, and far beyond anything you could have ever imagined.

Be thankful.

Be happy.

If you don’t show it on your face, people will know you don’t feel it in your heart. As the saying goes, fake it till you make it. We’ve all heard that but it’s the truth. If your heart doesn’t feel something it’s hard to make the rest of you go along with it. One day, things will catch up.

Last night I was reading James 5, something Pastor Josh had just spoken a great message on this past Sunday. I got to verse 16 and stopped cold:

“Confess to one another therefore your faults (your slips, your false steps, your offenses, your sins) and pray [also] for one another, that you may be healed and restored [to a spiritual tone of mind and heart]. The earnest (heartfelt, continued) prayer if a righteous man makes tremendous power available [dynamic in its working].”

I was reminded of a conversation I had had with my husband, my daughter, my mom, cousin and a friend. In these (all separate) conversations, I openly shared with them the disarray of my heart, my lack of and often times overabundance of emotions, and feelings of sheer emptiness.

On top of the heart issues, I was also feeling “off” with no explanation as to why. In one of my conversations, I shared something very important that I wanted you all to hear and that is, I need to practice what I preach.

So many times I’ve written what words that I believe God has laid on my heart for others, all the while wondering if in fact those words were meant for me. I can talk a good talk when it comes to giving advice and knowing how to handle difficult situations but truth of the matter is, life isn’t always easy for me either. I read the words knowing I should be following them myself, earnestly seeking God’s guidance yet hesitating to put forth the effort it will take to actually change the situation.

I’m here to tell you that my lack of perfection is what makes me the best candidate for God’s correction. My love of life and people is what makes my love of God and all things good produce fruit…when I’m on the right path that is.

Want to know how I know this?

It’s when nothing is going right, so many things are in disarray, yet I still feel the urge to make a difference. I get worn out, feel beat up and simply out of sorts.

Want to know how that happens?

It’s from losing track of myself somewhere amidst taking care of everyone else. My concern for others can sometimes stand in the way of the blessings God has for me. And trust me when I say, most of my blessings end up leading to ways I can bless others. So in closing off myself, I am standing in the way of God working through me to help others.

Do you see this circle I’m in?

Trying to do what I feel is right while losing track of the light. Instead of telling God I don’t know what’s wrong and asking for help, I try to find an explanation, try to fix it or flat out ignore it.

I’ve laid it out there for all to see and WOW, it feels good. Do I feel like a fraud? Nope, not at all. I feel like the person who tries to do it all, who sees the best in everyone, who finally realizes that not everything is peachy. Not everything has to be “right”. I don’t always have to smile every dang minute of the day!

I don’t know at what point I got off track but I’m certainly glad I finally admitted to myself, to others and to God that I just didn’t feel like myself.

Here’s to getting back to ME.ily10

You Have Potential

Have you ever thought about the number of lives you have the potential to affect every day? Notice I said “potential”. You see, it isn’t often that we are intentional about going out of our way for someone, that we take enough time to think before we speak or act out of love for one another, regardless of the possible outcome.

All around us are people who are hurting – physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually – yet we have become so self-focused that we often fail to see it. We have this unique opportunity, day in and day out, to make a difference in the lives of the people we know, we’ve briefly met or who we simply encounter while going about our day.

I don’t know about you, but when I think about that, it gives me hope. Hope that my life is going to make a difference simply by acknowledging that I’m not here to live for myself. I’m here to make this world better, one person at a time. I’m going to acknowledge that what you see, isn’t always what you get because not everyone wants us to see all their junk, their hurt, their tears. Then, I’m going to look beyond what can be seen with the naked eye, to the person who is inside each and every individual. You don’t have to spend a lot of time with someone to know that they are worth more than a wave. We all need that little extra encouragement, conversation, and in certain situations, benefit of the doubt.

Whatever, wherever, whoever…it’s your choice. You can either choose to take a backseat to what’s going on or you can step up and make a difference in the lives of those you meet. Either way, you’ll be living the life you’ve been given…but I guarantee, if you choose the latter, you will be richer for it.

Are There Intentional Circumstances?

I’m a writer. It’s in my heart and, quite frankly, I’m convinced it’s in my blood. My father could write, I had a grandmother who wrote a book of poetry, and now I know that my daughter can write as well. She’s always enjoyed writing and has been very good at creating wonderfully descriptive, fictional stories when asked to in school. But it wasn’t until yesterday that I truly heard the inner writer come out.

I was running late, getting in the shower and she wanted to show me her grade on a paper she wrote for Honors English. I didn’t want to blow her off, but I REALLY needed to hurry or we were going to be late. So, I told her to read her paper to me once I was in the shower, and consequently, I’m glad I was already wet because it made the tears fit the scene. As she read her 3-page paper, I was convinced that she would continue to do just as I have, creating a bond between herself and writing, even if only for her own strength and comfort. She could go on to do more with it but, like me, I believe she’ll use it to impact whatever or whoever it is she’s helping rather than having it as a lifelong career. She’s passionate about people, even if she doesn’t feel comfortable with strangers or making new friends; which is quite opposite of her mother I might add.

Her story was self-reflective, talking about who she is, where she came from and explaining why she is the way she is. She is confident. She is awesome (she says so in her paper!). And she knows how to make her momma cry. She talked about me in a way that I hadn’t heard before. She said things that I only hoped she had felt. And she understood that, even though life is difficult at times, we are who we are because of what we do with the situations we are presented with. It was the best thing she’s ever written and I am proud. I don’t think it’s fair to get into all the details but I will tell you one thing, she’s going places.

Last night, I confessed to a room full of women that I’m scared about letting her go. On one hand, I’m worried that she’s going to make the same mistakes I have in the past but on the other, I don’t believe anything I’ve ever done is a mistake because it led me to right where I am; and let me tell you, this place is pretty cool! I explained something that I tell Aubrey often and that is, as parents, our job is to raise our children to be better than we are. When I look at her, at almost 15, I know I’m doing something right, yet I worry that she’s going to make the wrong decision. Here’s where the tears came, in front of that group of amazing women…I’m so afraid that she’s going to make a bad decision that I don’t let her get into a situation where she CAN make one. ‪#‎truth‬

At some point, I’m going to have to let her go, little by little, knowing that I did a good job. I know I’ve made an impression because of what she wrote yesterday and the choices she makes each day. It’s just a matter of convincing myself that, even if she makes a poor choice, it will be her choice to make. However, I know that she’s already far stronger than I was at her age. I pour my knowledge into her. I’m open, honest and a little less than discrete with her at times. I don’t want her to question things, or wonder, “what if?”

I can confidently say this morning, that I have done a good job; not to get a pat on the back, but just to be honest about all of the “what if’s” in my life.  Like…

“What if I would have not finished college?”
“What if I wouldn’t have put my all into being a mom?”
“What if I wouldn’t have been a single mom for so long?”
“What if I would have stayed where I was for so long because it was comfortable?”

What if, What if, What if?

Then, this morning, I continued to read a book that I’ve been getting up early for lately. I didn’t make it very far before something jumped out at me.

“Today’s choices become tomorrow’s circumstances.” ~Lysa TerKeurst

It brought me back to all of those “what if’s” and suddenly, I had the answer I didn’t even know I had been searching for. People say that we are the product of our circumstances, yet I sit here, reading this sentence understanding one very important thing…we CREATE our circumstances. Sure, there are unavoidable things that happen to us in our lives, but they do NOT, and I repeat, do NOT, dictate what our choices will be. My life would have been so much different had I not made the conscious choice to step out of a path that would have taken me down a road that I would have not allowed me to be who I was to be.

That’s it folks. It’s really that simple. My amazing daughter, is a product of the circumstances that I created for myself and I’m pretty darn proud of that. Knowing what she knows, sharing what I know with her and being surrounded by people that she is, I know that no matter what situation she’s in, Aubrey will make the choice that is best for her. Regardless of whether I think it’s wrong or right, it will be what she needs to bring her to a similar point in her life, 20 years from now. I envision her sitting on her bed, typing away in the wee hours of the morning, sharing her understanding of life as she knows it.

We have to believe that whatever it is we’re going through is either A. directly reflective of a choice we made or B. something that we will later look back on and see as an opportunity to grow, to learn, to have a story to share with someone going through the same thing later on.

Don’t feel discouraged. Don’t feel stuck. Don’t feel like you can be anything less than the best YOU. We can all make a difference somewhere, doing something but we have to first make a difference in ourselves, then in those around us before we can impact the world. As Stephen Covey once said, put first things first.

I really have no idea where this came from, but I’m certainly glad it came out here. My heart to write is evident, but it’s up to me to make the decision to share it. I choose to share. These words keep coming up everywhere I go so I’m going to repeat them again – BE INTENTIONAL. In all you do, in all you say, in all you are.

Thanks for hanging in there. Hope this helps someone today. Praying for you all.

I was thinking about you…

So I got to thinking about you this morning…

I know there’s something bothering you and you wish it would all go away. I know you want these moments to end and this situation to just be over.
I know that your heart longs for more but your head tells you the time isn’t right.

But are you interested in finding out what else I know?

I know that “this too shall pass”.
I know that at this very moment, Jeremiah 29:11 is screaming loudly in my head AND…
I know that you need to hear it right at this very moment.

Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans that I have for you, says the Lord, plans for peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.”

But what if you read a little further…

Jeremiah 29: 12-13 “Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.”

God’s response isn’t simply that He knows what’s best for us, it goes much further than that. In the next two verses, He tells us that we must come to Him in order to see it all come to fruition. It isn’t just about knowing He has plans and being just “ok” with the fact that someday it will all come together. Nope, it’s about fully putting your trust in Him. Knowing that once you go to Him and truly rely on Him that you will start to see things a little differently each day. The answers will become more clear. The direction you are to go will begin to show like never before. Things will unfold, unravel and open up right before your eyes. Believe it and you will see it!

It WILL come together in His time. He has plans. Just be sure you understand this, take it all in and continue to believe in a future that is brighter because of this very belief.

Hope this helps whoever it was for today!

No Worries!

Do you know that there is literally no help in worrying? I would say there’s no reason either, but there’s always a cause for our concern, even if we know there’s nothing we can do about it.

If there is something in your life that you cannot change, I encourage you today to let it go. Give it to God and let Him do His work on the situation. I know this is difficult, but your worries are going to be no help in the situation. Just because you think you’re “right” or that your advice might help, doesn’t mean that you should insert yourself into the situation.

Maybe it’s time to pull back. Maybe if you gave less of yourself and more to the One who’s trying to direct your path, you’d start to see that the worries and concerns lie only on the surface of the situation. Deep down, it’s all getting worked out, it’s just not happening as quickly as we’d like for it to.

Let me ask you this. If you were to not worry for just a bit, do you think the situation would seem better or worse? Do you think that, if you took your eyes off of that very situation for just a few moments, that things would get worse? I think not!

So why don’t you try that today. Take a step back. Remove yourself from the line of fire, take your heart back and refocus your mind on what you know to be true. Then pray that God does what He does best in the situation. Give it to Him and be thankful for His leadership. After all, isn’t this His baby anyway?

Hope this helps someone today!

Feelings…

There are moments when the answers seem so obvious, yet we choose to do the opposite. We often choose to follow our feelings versus the direction in which we’re being led.

Every day we have a choice to be ruled by our feelings or take charge over them. We may have a momentary breakdown, a “pity party” if you must, but we cannot stay there. For our own health, for our future despite our current situations, we mustn’t waller in what’s lost.

Stop thinking about what you don’t have or what is gone and turn your focus to what is here, what is true and what you can make of the situation you have right now. It isn’t about what is no longer present in your life, it’s about what you have to give right where you’re at. You have the chance to give your all no matter how difficult the circumstances.

You can’t lay low and let the world go on without you — you’re too important! You DO make a difference. Don’t be a product of your circumstances but rise above, take hold of your feelings so that they no longer dictate your days.

This is your chance to do what you do best. You are at this point, now what you do next determines where you’ll go from here. Don’t worry so much about the difficulty of the journey, just know that you will be able to handle it. The hard times will pass and you will come out ahead but only if you put first things first. One step at a time. You are stronger than you let yourself believe sometimes.

Whoever this is speaking to this morning, I pray that your every breathe today and moving forward is filled with warmth, confidence and the ability to decipher between what’s real and what is simply a “feeling” that you can choose to get past. Don’t reflect on what has passed at this moment, only look forward because it is the direction you are to go.

Is It Really That Bad?

Is it really as bad as we make it out to be? Is life really that difficult or are there just times that what we don’t understand begins to consume our thoughts?

I often wonder about those times when I was really struggling…what if I were to have taken all the worries, all of the “what if’s” and all of the bad feelings and put them in their place. Would I have come out ahead any quicker? Would it [the hard times] have ended any sooner?

There are so many times when we’re hurting and all we know to do in those moments is hurt. What if we try to feel something different? What if we try to worry less about the feelings altogether and focus on what’s next. If we carefully thought out our next move rather than huddling behind our feelings, do you think our difficult times might soon begin to be a little easier?

This week I feel like I’ve been speaking to the struggling; those who are going through a time in their life that they just wish was over. Know that I’m praying for you friends. I know it’s not easy but it definitely could be worse. There is such a bright future ahead and now is the time to turn your focus towards that. Don’t turn back or wonder what you could have done different because all you have is every step you make moving forward. Place your eyes upon the prize which is a life full of love, happiness and blessings in abundance. If you know that is what’s next, why would you ever look back?

You were meant for more than this moment.

‪#‎dontlookback‬ ‪#‎lifeiswhatyoumakeofit‬

You and Your Nemesis

I honestly don’t know why this is on my mind this morning and I’m not sure who it’s for, but it is for one of you so I have to share…

There are some people in your life that you could quite honestly live without. I mean, let’s be honest, you can’t stand them; the very thought of them makes you cringe. You hear their name and you automatically have a rebuttal to whatever it is that they’ve said or done, even if it’s nothing at all. So admit it, if I’m talking to you, that this person is probably someone you will never be “friends” with.

Now that I have your attention, I need you to listen and really HEAR what it is that I’m going to say to you this morning. This person is in your life for a reason. Regardless of how rude they are to you, what they’ve done to turn you off or how bad you just wish you could avoid them at all costs, they are in your life to serve some purpose. And don’t try to turn it around like maybe they are the one who should learn from you. I truly believe that these types of “unhealthy” relationships can be very healthy in the long run if we stop, take a step back and assess.

Please keep reading…

Often times the very things that drive us crazy about someone are the qualities we carry within ourselves that only others are noticing. Ouch! That’s truth speaking there ladies and gentlemen.

Hear me out…

In order for us to grow in our lives, to become better people, more productive employees, the best we can be in the roles we have in life, we MUST learn from every situation, every person, every good, bad and ugly thing that we encounter.

I want you to start thinking about this person in a different light. Today, I want you to find some qualities about this person that you find admirable and learn from them. I don’t want you to focus on their faults, their poor approach or negative responses. Nope, not this time. today and moving forward, I want you to look beyond where this relationship has gone and I want you to choose a different step today than you would have in the past. Today you will be the bigger person and you will continue to until one day, that relationship isn’t so strained.

I believe with my whole heart that these opposing forces between the two of you are acting like a magnet. They are drawing you closer together but in such a way that you’re moving about this way and that, furiously trying to part. When if you would just turn around – connecting the right end to end – you might just be stronger…a force to reckon with!

You have something to learn from this person. Maybe they are very good at some things that you struggle with. Maybe they push you harder than you like to work. Maybe they even challenge you when you are just happy being complacent. It’s time to shake things up a bit. Step out of your comfort zone and make a few changes. The only way you’re going to make a significant impact on this world is to learn to get along with others and learn the value that you can have on each other’s life.

‪#‎changestartswithyou‬ ‪#‎bethechangeyouwanttoseeintheworld‬