Category Archives: Motivation

For the Encourager and the Future Encourager

I woke up with a word on my mind — encourage. But that was quickly followed up with this thought, “What if the encourager needs encouragement?” I know I’ve written about this before but sometimes it’s good to have a reminder. You see, some of us are born encouragers, others have it in them but tend to be receivers of encouragement much moreso than givers. Believe me, that’s okay; I’m not here to condemn. However, it’s important to do two things:
 
1. If you are an encourager, it’s important to recognize that you need encouragement, even before the times get tough.
 
2. Really assess, if you’re on the receiving end, how often you share that same encouragement with others. You can’t continue to receive but never give that same back to others.
 
The Bible calls us to be encouragers — each and every one of us. I guarantee that those who lend themselves to help, to encourage, are not going to be the first to come to you when they need a word of encouragement themselves. That’s where we must learn to reach out with a word, a text, a call, even a prayer for those we may not know need it most.
 
This morning I want to offer two different words of encouragement; one for the encourager and the second for those who want/need to learn how to be an encourager more. May this be just what YOU need today! Love you all <3
 
To those who want to be a better encourager:
 
You will notice when someone needs encouragement because they may tell you something is wrong, you may know they’re going through something difficult or they might wear their difficulties on their entire being and, without even having to tell you something is wrong, you just know it. What about those who share a smile despite feeling broken inside or in need of the word they just gave to someone else a few moments ago? You may not recognize those as needs but they might even prove to be a bigger need that those who have an obvious “problem”. You see, encouragers who get that much needed encouragement BEFORE it becomes a problem are going to be even better at encouraging those around them. Simply knowing an encourager and offer a card, a text, a hug every now and then might just save them from going over the edge when their weak moments arise.
 
Here’s something I read this morning that might help:
 
“Do you know someone who is always helping others or doing the tasks no one else really wants to do? Maybe you shouldn’t wait until they “need” help or ask for it –maybe you should just offer to do something nice for them. They may be a little resistant at first, but don’t give up. Be there for them. Encouragers need encouragement and helpers need help sometimes. And it’s okay.”
 
To the Encouragers:
 
First of all, know it’s okay to need some encouragement from time-to-time. It doesn’t matter if it’s during the obvious difficulties or on some random Monday when you’re feeling less than appreciated. Either way, needing encouragement isn’t something you should feel ashamed of. We need to feel good and sometimes, we just aren’t feeling it. One of the most important things I’ve had to learn is that most of the time, on those days when it’s a little less obvious to others, I’m going to either need to reach out to a friend or find encouragement on my own. Pride can keep an encourager from getting the encouragement they need by standing in the way of what God might answer in His Word. It also might keep them from a good word from a friend who would be there if they just knew we needed it. Encouragers might think, “Why is no one here when I need them?” When in all actuality, the question should be, “How could someone help you if they knew you needed them?”
 
I have realized over the years that being an encourager is part of my nature. I may not be an encourager to everyone in need but certainly, when God puts it on my heart, I reach out to those who seem to need it and sometimes when God instructs me to, even if I don’t know why. It’s important to me that abiding in Him, being obedient to those things He puts on my heart will bring fruit that I may never see but is so important. It’s the kind of “help” that we give not ever seeing the outcome. Being a good encourager is just that — lending a hand, an ear, a word without expecting one in return, knowing you may not see the fruit of your labor. But what about those days when we wish we were on the receiving end? The more you give, the more you encourage, the harder it can be on those days when all you need is a word of encouragement and no one is to be found. Encouragers aren’t one to reach out and ask for something, nor are they going to call you to say, “Can you tell me something good about me today?” Honestly, some days, that’s all an encourager needs — someone to tell them that they’re doing a good job, that their good deeds are noticed or that they are simply loved for who they are inside.
 
Encouragers, you need to understand that people aren’t going to recognize when you need a boost. Some people wear their heart on their sleeve as in they share every problem or know how to ask for prayer or help when they need it but others wear their heart on their sleeve in such a manner that people just know they have a big heart, never realizing that heart might be breaking ever-so-slightly. So if this encourager is you, you have to learn to ask for prayer but also know to go to God when you’re feeling a little lonely.
 
Here’s a good word from someone who was used to being the encourager that I found this morning:
 
“I imagine that if you are one who helps, it’s hard to switch roles and be on the receiving end. I recently had that experience. I’m used to being on the helping side, not the receiving, yet a situation arose that caused me to need a little help. And boy was it hard to accept.
 
It’s not because I think I’m “too good” to need help – in whatever form that help takes. It’s because I want to give. I found myself stressing out about being a burden or bothering other people, but that’s when the thought occurred to me: when I know someone else needs help, I never feel they’re a burden or a bother. So why would I think others would feel that way about me?”
 
Another blog I read speaks to reaching out to God:
 
“But the best encouragement comes in the form of truth – the Word of God. We desperately need God’s truth. When we feel like we can’t go on any more and life is too difficult, God comforts us with the Holy Spirit, who is our helper, counselor and our encourager.
 
God also provides us with encouragement in the context of meaningful relationships. God uses regular people like you and me to be agents of encouragement. He comforts us through other people who are willing to come along side us and encourage when we’re weak.”
 
Whether you’re an encourager or one who is learning to be one, God has called us all to the same task. That task is to love and part of that task requires learning to encourage one another.
 
“I give you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, so you also must love each other. This is how everyone will know that you are my disciples, when you love each other.” –Jesus (John 13:34-35)
 
Be conscious that if you give, you take the time you need to seek encouragement. And if you receive, be sure you always take time to give it back.

Finding Peace In A Crazy World: Part II

20 days. Nearly three weeks ago, I wrote part one.  It started like this:

It never fails. The day you want to start something, the enemy comes to distract you.  Whether he succeeds or not really lies with you but in those moments, we feel that he has total power.  The title Finding Peace In A Crazy World is about slaying the demons that demand our attention and focus when it should be elsewhere.

Now I’ll remind you that it has been 20 days since I wrote that post.  Talk about being distracted.  My intention was to write the rest the following day…then the following…then the following.  I am now at a friend’s house who is also a writer.  Although our topics are often very different, we both understand how important it is to set the tone of your writing space, be it at home, in a coffee shop, or at a friend’s house.  There might be certain music playing on the surround sound or in your headphones, oils diffusing or candles burning, comfy clothes and maybe even a blanket.  You might have your favorite beverage or a simple cup of coffee to give you a little energy.  When you finally get your environment conducive to a good writing session, it never fails…something distracts you.

Thinking of all the things that have occurred over the past few weeks has me wondering if I just need to reread my own words.  In all honesty, sometimes what we write can be as much if not more for ourselves.  Let’s face it, distraction has become something we expect but never prepare for.  When I consider all that I could have written in the past few weeks, I feel bad that I have not made more of an effort to refine a gift God has given me.  Do you ever feel that way? That you’ve put something so far behind on the back burner you have to literally turn yourself upside-down to get things right-side-up again.  I’ve put so much time between part one that I am having to go back to revisit what I wrote because I can’t even remember anymore.  It was good but I needed to read it myself!

So here I sit, at my friends with my headphones in, cup of tea on the table, comfy clothes and blanket atop her couch.  The next words that come out of the mouth of the singer playing in my ears are, “I am guilty.”

That’s exactly how I’m feeling right now.

My word of 2018 is INTENTIONAL yet I can honestly say I’ve only been intentional at about 20% of things that both need and deserve my all.  This thing called life is hard but it isn’t impossible.  How can it be that we have something on our minds to do then the next minute our minds are nowhere near where they started or where they should be? It can be because we allow it to happen.

I said in Part One that, “You CAN find peace – BUT it won’t come easy.  It will require some thought, action and quite possibly, behavioral change.”

For so long we have been allowing circumstances outside of our control, control us.  Instead of pushing through to make things happen, we have so easily caved into our feelings in a situation that we have no control over.

Let me remind you of something else I wrote previously…You aren’t failing when you have a bad day.  You aren’t failing when you have to fake your smile or fight past feelings causing you to struggle. You aren’t failing when you realize you really need to think about the reasons you should be happy.  You’re just at a point when the crazy world is starting to get to you.

Here’s what I realized since writing that…we’re letting it.  We are letting this crazy world and the people in our lives affect how we feel, how we act and ultimately, if we are following along the path leading to our destiny.

So now it’s time for the meat and potatoes; the main dish for which this all has been written to say…

Finding Peace In A Crazy World isn’t too far-fetched.  It IS achievable, but it will take our ATTENTION just as much as it will take INTENTION. There are some practical steps you will have to take but if you do them, even just some of them, I guarantee you will be better equipped to handle the crazy that I guarantee will try to take your day away – again.

When I was in the shower this morning, I was praying.  I’m a random prayer.  Sometimes it’s in the morning when I’m reading, just to myself. Other times it’s out loud when I’m on the elliptical.  And sometimes, well, sometimes it’s when I’m in the shower!  I was praying about our team that is currently in Brazil who we have absolutely no contact with.  One of those team members is my husband, who I am thankful will be home in four more sleeps.  I adopted this phrase from the very friend who sits across the living room from me.  It’s something she says with her daughters when talking about how much longer it will be until their dad comes home who, incidentally is on the same mission trip as my husband.  Thinking about how many “sleeps” is a lot easier than trying to figure out if today counts as a day and how about the day we see them?  Sleeps makes sense.  It’s tangible and cannot be argued.  So now that I’ve explained the four sleeps I have left until he’s home, I can now fill you in a little more on my prayers.  They were about keeping them safe, healthy and happy.  While I know they will be leaving a lasting impact on the people in the villages of the Amazon, I pray that God’s impact on their lives is equally as lasting.  I prayed that the things they are getting from God are moving them in such a way that it will be life-changing, in a good way but a lasting way – that they are able to keep feeling the way they’re feeling and doing as God has called them to do, even once they’re home.  Not only that, but I also pray that the things that God is doing in my life while he’s gone will last as well.  My feelings are different when he’s not here.  I see ways that I can be a helper more to him.  I realize how much he does and how much more I can do.  And so begin the thoughts…thoughts of the things I need to do, how I need to purposely set aside time to do things that will help me to be a better wife and mother, how I need to step up my game and show him even more than ever, how much I appreciate just who he is and how much of an impact he makes on our entire household.  Those thoughts eventually led back to prayers for the team and others who are there.  Praying for some individuals I began thinking about some things that I knew had been said to those very people I was praying for; things that are hurtful and were said shortly before they left.  Then my mind began to start wandering in a different direction; in a direction that made me hopeful that they are not letting these words resonate.  I also thought about the people who said those hurtful words who were in no place to put down a friend.  While these individuals struggle in the same area, I find it hard to take that one feels the need to put down rather than bring up this friend.  Who are they to say something like this when they know it’s the last thing that would help them?  And the cycle stops there.  God spoke very loudly.

I know I’ve said this before but I should reiterate to those of you who are new to reading my posts…I don’t audibly here the voice of God.  It might frighten me a bit if I did!  No, God speaks to me through words He puts on my heart that I then think.  Sometimes they stop me dead in my tracks like these 16 words did:

I am not going to let the things people say dictate the thoughts that I think.

In this situation, I was allowing words someone else had said to another take over my prayers.  If I can allow someone else’s words to someone else affect me in such a way, what was I doing in the situations when someone said something directly to me?  Ouch!  That’s where those 20 days went!

So there you have it folks, Lesson #1 in how to find peace in a crazy world is to not let the things people say dictate the thoughts that I think.  We hear it often and I say it often – We cannot control the thoughts that creep into our minds but we can control what stays there.  We have to do better with keeping ourselves on topic.  If the thoughts creep in, push them out.  Pray if you have to.  I have to remember that I am the only one who can keep me focused.  I may not be responsible for some of the distractions but I am solely responsible for allowing those distractions to take my focus.  What about the distractions that we cause? That’s Lesson #2…

We have to disconnect from the things that cause us to disconnect.  You know what those things are.  They’re social media, the news, anything with connectivity that you initiate.  That’s right, YOU have chosen this distraction so there’s no one else to blame for what follows but you.  Here’s what happens…you connect for a quick second but are immediately brought to something, then to another, and another until you forget how you got there in the first place.  These things that help us connect with some people or things cause us to disconnect from other [more important] things.  I’m going to repeat that again…The very things that help us connect are the same things that cause us to disconnect.  What you do with those few brief moments can have a substantial effect on the rest of your afternoon and sometimes even your relationships. Be careful.

Lesson #3: If you want to be better at something you have to do it.  You’re not going to get better at push-ups by doing crunches.  So how do you expect to be a wife if you’re focusing on being a better mother? How are you going to be a better husband if you’re focusing on being better at your job? How are you going to learn to focus more when you just created more distractions in your life? The cycle continues until you decide that what you want and need to get better at is going to require some work.  How does that relate to finding peace you ask?  It has everything to do with finding peace because of one, very important reason.  If we are not the best we can be, or at least striving to be the best we can be, in every role we have in our lives we will never FEEL that comfort and peace in those roles.  If you’re not putting your all in and making changes that will help you to be successful in those roles, you’re never going to be working at your full potential.  There’s no peace at putting half your effort into anything.  And it isn’t just about the roles we have either.  If you want to get stronger, you will not get there just walking – you’ll need to lift weights! If you want to be closer to God, you’re going to have to read His Word, praying will only do it for so long.

That brings me to Lesson #4: New level, new devil.  Ouch! You didn’t know I was going there did you? It doesn’t matter if you’re a Christian, simply spiritual or confidently confused, once you take a step in the right direction and start making progress, it is inevitable that things are going to come into your life to distract you, to take your focus, to throw you off course.  We talk about this often in church in regards to people’s relationship with Christ.  The closer you get to Him, the better you get at your walk, the harder things are going to get.  The enemy is out to steal, kill and destroy and he doesn’t want you to succeed.  You think you’re going to play hardball and outsmart him, he’ll find another way in, typically through your mind because that’s where he gets us the quickest and the deepest.  The only advice I can give you about this is know this – new level, new devil – and then when something happens, simply acknowledge that’s what it is instead of giving in to the feelings that you instinctively have along with it.  Make your actions support your direction and your goals, showing that enemy that he’ll just have to try again later because he won’t be getting you this time!

Lesson #5 You’re not of this world.  I believe we’re beings created for a purpose only we can fulfill.  Regardless of how good, bad or indifferent you are, I know that God created you for a reason even if your choices don’t always or have never reflected it.  He gave us free will so you can choose what you do, how you act and react, but just know you are made with love for love.  It’s simple.  Do it, give it, have it – LOVE. You can’t let the things of this world have such an impact on you.  If you are meant to make a difference in a situation then do it, but don’t let that situation have you.  It’s important to know that our actions must reflect who we are meant to be, not how we’re feeling about things going on around us.

Although most of those lessons were pretty deep, I have some easier, more practical ways to find peace in a crazy world.  If all else fails or you are simply lacking time and can’t get out of your own thoughts, try doing any or all of these things and tell me that you don’t feel better!

  1. Hold a baby. This may not work for everyone and it will be best with a calm, maybe even sleeping baby!
  2. Get puppy kisses. You may not be a dog lover, but I’m telling you if you sit down on the ground and let a puppy lick your face, you WILL SMILE!!
  3. Go for a walk. Sometimes this is even good if it’s raining! But for goodness sakes, if you’re going for a walk, PUT YOUR PHONE AWAY!!
  4. Listen to music. This is a little tricky though.  You can’t turn on angry music and expect to feel like looking at sunshine and rainbows.  Let’s be honest, it’s going to take something a little different than that. Whether you believe me or not, you are affected by what you listen to and what you watch.  Try listening to only Christian music for a little while (days) and tell me that something doesn’t feel different.  There’s some good Christian music out there too so don’t think it has to be slow or boring! Try Crowder, Third Day or Need to Breathe.  For me, sometimes I need some 80s-90s country music.  Other times, I need the old KEZK favorites that I listen to as a teenager to fall asleep. Some days, a little Michael Jackson has just the right touch.  Experiment.  Find something and stick with it for a bit.
  5. Get fresh air. How about just sitting outside for a bit? Early morning, late night or mid-day, doesn’t matter.
  6. Disconnect. Seriously, do it. I don’t need to say anything else about this.
  7. Exercise. Endorphins have such a positive effect on your body both inside and out. 
  8. Eat better. What you put in your body effects more than your shape.  It can affect your mood, your health and so many things that you could literally become a different person if you just bit the bullet and put the right foods into your body!

There are so many other things that I could tell you to help you find PEACE in this crazy world but the best advice is to simply not let this world have you.  Here are a few final words of advice…

  • Be passionate about something but don’t let it dictate your every move.
  • Be careful how much effort you put into things that aren’t going to help you to be a better you.
  • And for goodness sake, stop letting things that don’t matter impact you.

Read Finding Peace in a Crazy World: Part I

Morning Journal Entry: Day 24

I keep waiting for this feeling to come over me but God gave me a gentle reminder just now that faith isn’t a feeling. I think sometimes I get caught up in remembering the moments when I did “feel” something. They’re so powerful that they have the potential to carry me through to the next BIG THING -or- they can fizzle just as quickly as they came.

I’m tired of waiting for a feeling, for hoping something or someOne will pick me up when I’m struggling and completely worn out from not fighting the battles in my head hard enough. You see, when I fight to stay focused, to not let negative thoughts stay in my head, to be who God has called me to be, those “feelings” aren’t far behind. The saying goes, “Fake it ’til you make it” but what if we were to FIGHT until we make it? What if, instead of giving up when we’re tired and things aren’t easy, we get up and start fighting?

Things are coming from every angle and just when you feel like you’re finally breaking through, the enemy comes at you again. he knows your weaknesses, where you struggle and exactly when you’re at your breaking point. This is when you realize there’s no rest for the weary. If you give up now, what was the fight even for?

I want to be in the muck because that’s where people are hurting but I can only survive there if I have the STRENGTH to. Not strength that’s my own, but the God given, Holy Spirit driven, never going to give up kinda STRENGTH. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

I’m giving it to God today so He can use me His way. I’m not waiting on a feeling, I’m fighting for one and along the way, I’ll be creating one.

I know I’m not the only one who thinks this way, feels this way. If this is you today, time to put on those big girl/boy pants, a pair of boxing gloves and fight the enemy who’s working hard to get in your corner. You have too much up ahead to give up now. It won’t be easy and it’s going to take work but trust me, it’ll be worth all the effort you’re putting in.

Why Are We Never Happy?

It’s a Monday, we wish it were Friday.
It’s summer, we wish it were fall.
It’s chilly, we wish it were warmer.
It’s rainy, we wish it were sunny.
It seems as though, no matter what the situation, we always have something to complain about.

If our only hope is for the perfect amount of sun at just the right temperature on our favorite day of the week, what are we doing with the rest?

Life’s too short for a “throwaway” day.
There will never be enough hours to get it all done.
You’ll always have “something come up”.

When you slip and fall, what matters is that you get back up.
When you try and fail, you just have to try again.
When you wake up grumpy, you just have to surround yourself with things that will bring YOU back again.

If you’re always waiting for someone to cheer you up then you’ll always feel like someone is letting you down.

Today, it’s about you. It’s about YOUR choices. It’s about sacrifices, decisions, and movement. CHOOSE to be someone who doesn’t use the word “busy” or “tired” to answer the question, “How are you doing?” Because in all honesty, we’re all tired and busy. We all have good days mixed with the bad. There will always be circumstances beyond our control but we will always, always, always have the chance to choose our outlook on them. Our responses, our demeanor, our actions are a direct reflection of our heart.

Be sure your head knows how big your heart is and that your heart knows how powerful your mind can be. Learn to balance the two and live in the moment. Be thankful. Be joyful. Be sentimental. Be YOU.

This mismotch (I just made that up) of words is brought to you today by someone who isn’t perfect. Who experiences some of these same feelings. Whose mind can be all over the place but stationary at the same time. I want to show more appreciation, I want to love bigger, I want my actions to match my heart but sometimes, sometimes I just want to feel less, think less and let go. I’m a work in progress and I’m sure you are too.

#choosehappy

Today is a new day (a short poem)

Today is a new day. What you did, how you felt, where you were yesterday, it’s all a part of the past. Time to live now, not look too far ahead and be right where you are with all your might. Some moments might be tough, others a little brighter, but with God by your side, things will get a little lighter. Let Him help carry the load, lead you down the road, calm your fears and dry your tears. Today is a new day.

Choose Happy

Why are we never happy?
It’s a Monday, we wish it were Friday.
It’s summer, we wish it were fall.
It’s chilly, we wish it were warmer.
It’s rainy, we wish it were sunny.
It seems as though, no matter what the situation, we always have something to complain about.

If our only hope is for the perfect amount of sun at just the right temperature on our favorite day of the week, what are we doing with the rest?

Life’s too short for a “throwaway” day.
There will never be enough hours to get it all done.
You’ll always have “something come up”.

When you slip and fall, what matters is that you get back up.
When you try and fail, you just have to try again.
When you wake up grumpy, you just have to surround yourself with things that will bring YOU back again.

If you’re always waiting for someone to cheer you up then you’ll always feel like someone is letting you down.

Today, it’s about you. It’s about YOUR choices. It’s about sacrifices, decisions, and movement. CHOOSE to be someone who doesn’t use the word “busy” or “tired” to answer the question, “How are you doing?” Because in all honesty, we’re all tired and busy. We all have good days mixed with the bad. There will always be circumstances beyond our control but we will always, always, always have the chance to choose our outlook on them. Our responses, our demeanor, our actions are a direct reflection of our heart.

Be sure your head knows how big your heart is and that your heart knows how powerful your mind can be. Learn to balance the two and live in the moment. Be thankful. Be joyful. Be sentimental. Be YOU.

This mismotch (I just made that up) of words is brought to you today by someone who isn’t perfect. Who experiences some of these same feelings. Whose mind can be all over the place but stationary at the same time. I want to show more appreciation, I want to love bigger, I want my actions to match my heart but sometimes, sometimes I just want to feel less, think less and let go. I’m a work in progress and I’m sure you are too.

#choosehappy

It’s Okay.

Every single day.  Every moment. Every ounce.  It can be exhausting.  The smile is often from a place that you’ve prayed for because, on your own, you couldn’t have managed to muster it up.

Today it’s different.  Today you feel like you just want to feel.  And you know what?  It’s okay.

We are taught to smile, be a light, spread happiness and all the other fluffy words you can put together to describe the one emotion that is encouraged by many but felt by few.  Happiness [joy] is the acceptable emotion.  It’s the only one that people aren’t trying to talk you out of day in and day out.

When you lose someone you love, you are encouraged to remember the good times.  When all else fails, you are told to look at the bright side.  It’s a constant battle to ward off the emotions that bring about things that can be perceived as negative.

We tip-toe around our emotions because, quite simply, we are told it isn’t okay to not be okay.  We wear ourselves out trying to do everything we can to not feel how we feel.

Simply reading about anything other than the good stuff might even be taking your mood from one of anticipation to a little down at this very moment.  You’re used to reading the good stuff to start your day off right and here we are, discussing emotions you’d rather not feel.

Take a look at this list:

Sadness
Anger
Fear
Disgust
Joy
Guilt
Envy
Pride
Lust

Some of those words make you cringe, don’t they?  The same few are considered sinful.  We try so hard to be “ok” that we don’t even know what is okay to feel anymore.

What if I told you that what you’re feeling [right now] is perfectly normal?  How someone or something made you feel is okay.

You aren’t determined by your feelings.  To be quite honest, it isn’t even about your feelings at all.  It’s what you do with those feelings that’s the important thing.  You can’t allow your emotions to take a piece of your peace.

So what are we to do with these emotions?  First and foremost, we mustn’t allow our emotions to dictate our actions.  What someone else says or does may make you feel a certain way, but you are in charge of what you do with those feelings.  You are ultimately the controller of the very emotions that you have a tendency to let control you.

It’s empowering to know that what we feel is okay as long as we can redirect our thoughts and determine our actions based on Godly truths such as we were made for more.

There’s Point A and Point C.  Point A represents our feelings/emotions.  Point C refers to our actions.  We tend to forget Point B but what’s in between does count.   It’s what takes us from how we feel to what we do.  It’s how we get to the part where we determine our actions.  What we do in between can bring about a completely different action or reaction depending on the situation.

It’s okay to be less than joyful but it’s not okay to be the only guest at a self-induced pity-party that lasts for weeks.  When certain thoughts creep into your head, thoughts that are shameful or even confusing, what you do next will determine  how or even if you will act on them.

If you dwell on those feelings, hypothetically sinking your teeth into them, you may as well call it a day.  When we give in to our feelings and let them take control, we are essentially saying no to the God-given strength that lies waiting for our acceptance.  We are trying to do it on our own when our Heavenly Father is equipped to manage those very things for us.

Ecclesiastes 7:3 says Sorrow is better than laughter, for sadness has a refining influence on us.

We are able to learn despite the emotions that are often perceived as negative and take something positive from difficult situations.

Listen to this word from I Peter:

“And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.” I Peter 5:10

It’s a reminder that God is with us in the difficult times, through the tough emotions and onto what’s next.  We mustn’t take our eyes off Him in the process.  He’s in the mess with us.  He gave us feelings for a reason, but so we could experience Him, call on Him, rely on Him; not so that we could stay in a state of confusion with a dim-lit light and hope that something will give.

He is our light.  He will guide, provide and help us gather our thoughts when we invite Him in.  So while you may not be feeling quite like yourself, know it’s okay to not be okay for a bit.  Heed the process. Remember the steps from Point A to Point C require choices in between that will ensure our actions aren’t a direct reaction to how we feel or have felt.  Allow yourself to feel what you feel but then use the tools God has given you to take action in a positive way.  Use self-control to direct your thoughts in such a way that what you gain is what you recall — not anything you may have lost.

Our God is so good.  He has shown us in so many ways what it important and how to live a life that qualifies us.  Hear that friends, you are qualified because you are equipped with the tools you need to succeed and far surpass the goals you have for yourself.  You are chosen by God to do and be so much more than you could ever on your own.  Seek Him in every situation, with every emotion and you will reach Point C with praise and thanks.

God Equips the Called

I have been purposely staying away from social media. I’ve noticed that it tends to be an unwelcome distraction, putting me into “moods” that I can’t quite explain. I am happy, healthy, and very thankful for the life I have, yet scrolling through the pages and stories, we can all find ourselves getting wrapped up in the lives of those around us. We are in a vulnerable state these days, knowingly allowing ourselves to fall victim to the mentality that ordinary isn’t extraordinary. I’m on a journey to make it known that my ordinary IS extraordinary, which is why I’m back this morning.
 

Next week I will take the stage at church to speak to middle and high school students. First of all, I’m sure there are a few of you who have known me for years who will be surprised by this. I have been fearful for most of my life to be on stage. God made me a writer, NOT a speaker. When I want to convey my feelings or say something profound, I write it down. It’s why I started a blog several years ago and also why my home office is filled with dozens of journals. The very thought of standing in front of a crowd made me nervous. Aside from the times I stood on a small stage with a beer in my hand, singing karaoke, I would have never pictured myself being a part of a group on a stage, much less standing alone on one.

Six months or so ago, I joined the worship team at church. Two things I love stood a far better chance at helping me overcome my fear than any courage I could muster up on my own. God and music. That’s it.

A friend told me many years ago that God doesn’t call the equipped, He equips the called. So I guess you could say, God has been preparing me for this moment on stage for some time now. From all the decisions I made many years ago, to the countless hours of writing, from the times I used beer courage to step foot on stage, to the God confidence that calls me to sing there today, I FINALLY feel like the fear is gone. He has been equipping me all this time to do something I would never have been able to do in my own strength alone.

I guess what I’m trying to share this morning is that you can’t be continue to be held back by the things that scare you. What you’ve been fearful of for so long might just be what God is trying to build on in you now.

I saw a church sign last night that said this:

"Forget the mistake, remember the lesson."

For all those times you’ve struggled, take note. Who you are now isn’t who you were then. Use your lessons, take hold of your fears, and be who you were called to be.

Stumble, Don’t Fall

Why is it that when we stumble, we almost inherently fall?  Figuratively speaking, we tend to believe that the little hiccup we experienced along the way is it.  It’s the end all, be all point of no return.  This stumble just caused us to fall, why?  Because we gave up!

Our immediate reaction when we mess up in life is to just throw in the towel.  Rather than picking up the pieces and trying to start again, we beat ourselves up for the mistake, maybe do a little trash-talk in the mirror and just decide that again…this isn’t going to work.

What if I told you that it didn’t have to be that way?  What if I said that your mistakes, whether great or small, have the chance to transform you into a better human being.  That’s right folks, your mistakes, your stumbles along the way might just be the road to recovery for you in many, many ways.

Here me out on this one.  I’m not saying that once you make a mistake you should consider doing it over and over again because if you’ve ever heard the great Stephen Covey, you would know that Doing the same thing over and over again will not bring you different results.  You can, however, rest comfortably knowing that you have a chance to redeem yourself.  Your life, your goals, your challenges are not to be determined by the stumbling you do along the way.  It’s what you do after that counts.

Take eating for example (because this is a struggle many people face daily).  So you’re doing your thing, on your way to losing weight and feeling great, when suddenly you screw up on the plan.  You eat ice cream and since you’ve made that bad choice already, why not add insult to injury and go a step further and just have another snack later on?  Your first thought is how horrible you are.  I mean, it’s only the second day on your so-called “diet” yet you have managed to put yourself further behind than when you started.  The scale went up overnight and you just feel worthless.

Ah…but here’s the cool part.  You have a chance to start over RIGHT NOW!  You don’t have to let that bad decision define you or determine your next move.  What comes of the poor choice from last night?  A brighter start today.  You can feel awakened, refreshed, and ready to start anew.  No, it just doesn’t happen that easily.  First, you have to stop the trash talk.  Then, you have to decide that it’s okay to start over.  And most importantly, you have to realize that you’re worth more than any mistake you have or could have made.  It’s all in your mind.  This game that goes on day in and day out starts right there and it’s only us.  We are our own worst enemy, stripping ourselves down to almost nothing when we should be looking upward.

Romans 8:1 says

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

If that is true, than who are you to badmouth yourself?  Maybe it’s time to focus on what’s next and leave the past behind, even if it was just yesterday.  Time to look in the mirror and call yourself blessed, perfectly designed, and ready to take on the challenges you’ll face.  You will not be defined by a choice you’ve made.  You are greater than that because your God is greater, stronger, and able to conquer any demon you may be fighting.  Give it to Him and watch what happens next…

To Do List

It’s 3:19pm.  My intention after church was to put on my pjs and sit on the couch with a cup of tea and just let Pinterest have its way with me.  Well, I made it into my pajamas by 11am but the tea didn’t happen until 3:10pm.   And Pinterest, it just may be a thing that doesn’t get checked off my very short “to do” list today.

When I came home, I had to put together fruit salad for the week because, when I do, everyone seems to get their fill of fruit.  I can purchase the same fruit and 50% of it will remain in the fridge at the end of the week, untouched.  However, when I take the time to carefully select the ingredients and mix them with just the right amount of lime juice and honey, the bowl seems to have more appeal.

Then I remembered it was Sunday — and I needed to pack my husband’s lunch for tomorrow.  I also like to make chicken salad and put snacks in baggies for a quick grab throughout the week.  Lunches seem so much better when I take the time to put some things together in advance rather than throwing it together last minute.  I know if he were to pack his own lunch, he wouldn’t choose as healthy or put as much thought into it.

Ah, then there was the laundry.  Our household has managed quite well with each individual handling their own.  It was an unspoken thing that just happened one day.  No complaints here, except when it’s time for me to fold my own.  The daunting task causes me to sigh — every, single time.  But it’s quick and painless.  I washed a load and put 2 away today…yes, one was from a couple days ago that I hid in the closet for just this occasion — the day I was going to “rest”.

The dog threw up this morning so I made him boiled chicken and rice at 4:30am, reheating some about lunchtime to be sure he was getting some food in him.  Now he’s peacefully sleeping on the couch after his hefty helping, always a good company when you need him to be (and even when you don’t).

Had to catch up on the dishes from packing lunches and meal prepping for the week because who wants to start dinner with a full sink of dirty dishes?  Oh yeah…dinner…that’s on the list too.  Have to start that in about an hour…

So much for enjoying my tea while Pinteresting comfortably on the couch…

All these thoughts ran through my head as I finally sat down to enjoy a cup of tea.  Many moons ago, I might have been a little bitter about missing the “me” time and just not having things go as planned.  “To do” lists left undone used to cause me grief.  I would put too much stuff on the piece of paper, many things that a normal person couldn’t accomplish in several days, let alone in the few hours that I allowed myself in an afternoon.

I pondered my list of three things — pjs, tea, Pinterest — and actually felt guilty for even worrying about this incomplete list.  Looking at all I was able to accomplish, things that I need not put on the list, things I do because I’m a wife and a mom, things I do because I want to be an example, because I want to show my family I love them….these things are top priority and sometimes, just need to come before the list of countless other things I want to do for yours truly.

I think about the times I want things my way, which is almost all the time, and realized my way isn’t necessarily the only way.  In many situations, my way only seems like the best way.  Oh how I pray about this often…and I mean OFTEN!


It’s the next morning and I’ve been up since about 5:30a working on some projects for church, youth, and my family.  I had high hopes of working out first thing and finishing this blog in an entirely different way but God had other plans.

I’m sitting here with a cat curled up next to my leg, a dog as close to my armpit as he can be — snoring loudly — and Christian music blaring in my headphones.  The windows are open, although the air just turned on and I don’t care, I’m enjoying the crispness of it and of the candle I lit a couple hours ago.

My coffee went cold but that’s okay because I finished most of it over an hour ago.  My bed is full of highlighters, papers, a devotional, notebook, and a computer, which sits atop by lap.

Now that you have the full picture, you might also need to know that I’m in no way presentable but I’m in every way comfortable.  You see, the way things could have been had I had it my way would  have been much different.  I’ve reached out to God on several occasions for Him to lead my days and very rarely have I actually let Him.

Yesterday after church and this morning, He’s in the lead and I’m quite enjoying it. I’m not overwhelmed.  I haven’t forgotten anything [yet] and I am fully prepared to just roll with whatever comes next.

Does that mean I won’t have a freakout moment if something suddenly tries to take my joy?  Nope.  I just might.  But you know what?  My God is bigger, stronger, and IN CHARGE.  I’ll get through it.

So what are YOU going to do about it?  That thing that has been bugging you? That list that is never-ending?  That LIFE that doesn’t always leave room for the little things you’d like to do but always makes way for the things you need to do.


Let’s pretend you have nothing more than this day.  That a moment in time like this very one is all you’ll have to get you through to the next catastrophe.  You have this minute to summons God, allow Him into your day, breathe deeply, and set the tone for what is to come.

Try it.  Try relying on God through each and every moment of your day.  To do so you may need to get up a little early, adjust the music you’re listening to if it will help your mood, surround yourself with sights and smells that add to it all and just live.  You are in a position to do something right where you are in every single roll you’ve been fortunate to be put into.

How about taking this second to thank God for all those things that pull you away from you and just do YOU!

HAPPY MONDAY!!