Monday, October 31, 2016

Day ONE

Today is the first day of the rest of your life. It begins now. Everything that you did five years ago, last week, or even 30 seconds go does not count. All of who you were does not have to be who you are. When was the last time you considered that? 

We always try to be someone we are not. We are always trying to keep up with the Jones'. We put on a smile when we are sad. We act as though our lives are perfect when we know deep down that nothing is perfect. Social media has opened a platform for us to portray an unrealistic image of our lives. Our fake portrayal can even lead to someone else feeling inferior because their life doesn't match up to our perfect fake life. What happened to being real? When did real become not good enough? 

Many, many of us never accept that fact that it is just fine to be who we are; to be who we were made to be. We even try beating ourselves up for our past mistakes. Ecclesiastes 7:20 says, "Surely there is not a righteous man on earth who does good and never sins." We have all done wrong, we have all messed up -- you are not alone. 

Let go of your ties to old friends who you know drag you down. Let go of old habits. Let go of the self-destructive behavior that your past taught you to be so good at. Let go of the guilt. Let go of the hurt. Let go of the pain. Let go of the fake perfection.

You are forgiven for all of that. Completely forgiven. Jesus died for you. And for me. For all of us, really. He died so that we could be free. He took your sins, my sins, the sins of our family, of our friends, of our great aunt Hilda, and even the neighbor's dog. He took them all. And in return, He gave us freedom. 

Now is your chance to start over. 

Now is your chance to find your freedom. 

Now is your chance to do things whole, good, and right. 

Now is your chance to be the person God created you to be. Find the REAL you.

A new day is dawning on the horizon. 
Your day. 
Make something of it. 

DO SOMETHING. 

You have more power than you know. You could let go of everything holding you back and make a huge impact on the world. And, if not the world, then on one person. Even one person. That is enough, isn't it?  

But you cannot move forward until you find the freedom to do so. 

All you have to do is talk to God. Let him know you are ready. Let him know that you are tired of everything that has kept you from him and is still keeping you from him and you are ready to live for him. Ask for forgiveness. Ask for his guidance so that you may travel on the path he laid out for you, rather than your own. 

"If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness" 1 John 1:9

Go on, you can do it. There is no better day than today and no better time than right now. 

Friday, October 28, 2016

Buffalo-sized faith

Have faith. Seems easy to say, right? A co-worker tells you about a problem going on with her family, you tell her "just have faith." Your neighbor lost his job, you tell him, "just have faith." Your best friend thinks her husband is stepping out, you tell her, "just have faith." But what does that mean? How is that comforting for someone? I mean, we say it in moments when people are feeling some awful feelings. How is faith going to help? 

Well...Faith can be defined as having complete trust or confidence in someone or something. As in, placing your trust in God that he knows what he is doing with your life.

Just have faith...


Faith is one of those things you either have or you don't. You cant have more or less faith. If you have faith, then you have faith. See, Jesus said, "...I tell you the truth, if you had faith even as small as a mustard seed, you could say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it would move. Nothing would be impossible." Matthew 17:20 (NLT) One does not need more faith to do anything. God did not say you need faith as big as a buffalo. No, if you have the tiniest bit, you can move mountains. And, you either have it or you don't. 

Here is something that I have been contemplating lately. If you believe in God, then do you automatically have faith? In other words, do you "get faith" somehow? Or does it come with your belief? For instance, do I have the power to move mountains with a tiny ounce of faith, as long as I believe that God has given me the strength so that I can move them? Feel free to comment below as I'd really like to hear what you have to say. 

"The Lord answered, "If you had faith even as small 
as a mustard seed, you could say to the mulberry tree,
 'May you be uprooted and thrown into the sea,' and it would obey you!" 
- Luke 17:6 (NLT)




Friday, October 21, 2016

I am ready

Every one of us has a story. We all have been through things that have paved out a part of our path thus far. We have been told over and over that everything happens for a reason and God has a plan for all things that happen. Though, sometimes things are so difficult that we have a hard time seeing through the shadows in order to find the light. Some of us may never even find it. 

When bad things happen to us on our journey, I truly believe that our body is so magnificent that it has a built in mechanism that blocks things until you are ready to face them... like, maybe we still need tools that God hasn't lead us to yet, who knows. Whatever the reason, it happened to me. See, for the longest time I was missing a couple years of my life. I knew what years they were, I knew what happened in them, but I couldn't remember exact details...until recently. Over the last couple of months I have been bombarded with memories that I had locked up so deeply in my being. 

Before I go any further, please know that this post is going to be a bit different than normal. And it is going to get a bit personal. Well, ok, A LOT personal. This is my journey for a reason. And now I am being compelled to share, little by little. A few details some of you may already know, but most are stories that I have never told a soul. Until now.

Just shy of a decade ago I found myself in a relationship that consumed me. It started as any normal relationship would... but I was ingested so quickly that I couldn't settle my focus on the things that I had spent my life nourishing -- my relationships with friends & family, my education, my skills. Little did I know that giving up control over those things was only the beginning... 

Life was a whirlwind. Crazy nights, parties, spontaneous adventures. Almost all of these included large amounts of alcohol. Alcohol affects each person differently. Some get giddy, others get sloppy, some get emotional, and the worst ones get angry. My relationship in drunk terms made a giddy person and an angry person. Lets just say I was not the angry one. 

In a span of 2.5 years I learned the following: 

- what it means to relinquish control. 
- how quickly a laugh can turn into a cry. 
- how belittling feels. 
- how it feels to be lifted off the ground by your hair. 
- what its like to look in the mirror and hate what you see and what you stand for.
- what lonely feels like. 
- what broken looks like. 
- how painful words are. 
- how clenching a jaw really hard can somehow lessen the blow of a fist. 
- how hearing something over and over sinks into the fibers that make you. 
- how it feels to hear the hurt of loved ones.
- how ashamed feels. 

I stumbled across a blog the other day looking for posts of things we discover that we do well. I decided to take a step and submit a guest post. I said that I leave well. And I mean that. I do leave well. You know why? Because it took a couple of years, a lot of pain, 1300 miles, and an ounce of strength, but I successfully left and started over. 

It isn't easy for those on the outside of me to understand. I couldn't let those closest to me know what I was going through because it was not as easy as, "just leave." Maybe it was... But not when you are broken down so much that you are unrecognizable to your own self. After all, if you don't know who you are anymore, how can you remember how strong you were or what you used to be capable of? It was easier to keep this all in. Hearing the hurt or judgments of loved ones may have taken me too deep. I knew well enough to know that I couldn't handle that.

I did not write this for pity or for your personal opinions on my life or my decisions. I am writing this from a place of joy. I have come a long way from the person that I was back then. And from the bottom of my heart I believe that if I had not gone through the things that I did, then I would not be who I am today -- no matter how cliche that sounds. 

I have discovered that when I felt so alone, I wasn't. I had God the whole time. I just wish I would've known him then like I do now... though I may not have been so easily broken down and re-molded in the way he needed me to be, right? I'm ok now. I am more than ok. I'm good. I am happy, I am loved, and I am stronger still today than I was yesterday. And I have forgiven - and found forgiveness - on so many levels.

Whatever journey you face in life, know that it builds you up for what is to come. God prepares you for what he has in store for you. I am ready. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. - Romans 5:3-5 (NIV)

You can check out the guest post here:The secret to leaving well
Make sure to check out all of the other blogs at: ilovedevotionals.com It is an awesome and inspirational blog. 

Friday, October 14, 2016

Amazing

So I am sitting in Barnes and Noble... mostly for distraction. I find it easier to write when I am not at home where I tend to think of all of the things that I should be doing rather than what I want to do and, well, the writing never makes it out of my head. Anyways... next to me there is a shelf of calendars and planners. Lots of colors, lots to choose from... but one keeps jumping out at me. The cover holds the phrase, "DO SOMETHING AMAZING today." It really got me thinking...


Do we really need a calendar to remind us to do something amazing? Don't we all love doing amazing things? Unless you are ill, a pessimist, or a serious Debbie Downer, I would assume you do. I mean, the feelings we get when we do something amazing should be reason enough, let alone the memories we make. 

The term "amazing" when describing something is subjective and each person determines what he or she constitutes as amazing. But, regardless, when we do something amazing, it is the act of doing something that makes it amazing. Sure, a trail could be amazing, but taking a break from your day to go for a long walk on that trail is what truly makes it amazing. If we never take the trail... then, really, how amazing is it?

So if we enjoy certain things so much, why don't we push all the boring, monotonous activities into the gutter with the garbage? Why are you going to be so busy with pointless things that you need to spend money on a calendar that will remind you to do something that makes you feel good? We live in a world that is so incredibly distracted, constantly stimulated by things that having quiet time is a rarity. And, even then, many of us are taught to "schedule me time" when planning our days. Really... we have to remind ourselves to take time for ourselves. Crazy, right? 

You are smart so lets just think about this for a minute - put it into perspective - shall we?... we spend our time working, running errands, taking care of kids, cleaning, cooking, checking social media, texting, emailing, commuting... filling up our calendars with what we feel are "needs" and "responsibilities" all the while hoping we have time to schedule in "me" time for a couple of minutes before the end of the day... Its no wonder why we need to be reminded to do something amazing!! 

I've never given it this much thought, but this just doesn't seem right. Since we are talking about amazing things... God is amazing. He created an amazing world. We should be enjoying it -- we should be doing amazing work, sharing amazing love, passing on an amazing message of amazing grace, and reminding each other of amazing sacrifice

Taking a break from the life you made for yourself and transporting yourself into the life he gave you... with eyes to see amazing in the ordinary, hands to rebuild the broken, a heart to hold the vulnerable, and a mind to put it all together in the most beneficial way. THAT is amazing. 

Doing "something amazing today" can be something small... you don't have to try to churn huge miracles every single day. That is not what its all about. You just need to not waste this amazing world that your amazing God created. Overflow your heart... 

"The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen." - 2 Corinthians 13:14

Here is your reminder -- DO SOMETHING AMAZING TODAY! 


Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Love, Love, Love...

The Beatles sang to us, "All you need is love..." and love really is all we need. Well, God, too. We most certainly need him. But God is love, right? ("...God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God and God in them." - 1 John 4:16) The nerd in me just needs to translate that to: If God = Love and if All you need is Love. Then really, ALL YOU NEED IS GOD! You like that, don't you? ha! 

Anyways, moving on. Love... We say that word a lot. Sometimes we mean it, sometimes perhaps we don't, but it is the right thing to say. But is love really just a word? Is it a feeling? Is it an action? 

Of course love is a word, but it is not just a word. It is so much more than that. And yes, it is a feeling. We have loved parents and family members. We have had our first crushes, our first boyfriend/girlfriend, possibly a spouse, kids, pets. We know the feelings that we associate with love because we have felt them. 

But, still, love is greater than that. 

Love is something that we do. We act out love. Let's take a lesson from the big guy, shall we? 1 John 4:9-11 (NIV) says, "This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love; not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another." He doesn't simply love us. He intensely cares for, shares and gives to us. One of the most basic principles in Christianity - humility and serving others; selfless devotion to all of our brothers and sisters in Christ. THAT, my friend, is what love is. 

Think about this for a minute: 

You love tootsie pops. You get so excited at the thought of them, placing a Halloween size bag in your shopping cart at the grocery store. As soon as you get to your car, you bust open the bag, pick out your favorite color, yank off the wrapper and stick that sucker in your mouth. Again, you love tootsie pops.  

You had a terrible day at work. The manager that has always seemed to have it out for you caught an honest mistake you made. Instead of discussing it with you, he fired you. Your spouse was laid off from her job a few weeks ago. You head home that day discouraged and a bit upset with the manager for the way he handled the situation. The next weekend you are driving on the highway and see this same manager pulled over with his car hood up. Standing with his hands on either side of his waist, his head down, it is clear that he doesn't know what to do. You push aside any ill feeling you have for this man and you pull over to help. 

I know these are simple examples, but which is the type of love God represents? You already know the answer. Swallowing our pride, remaining humble and willing to serve anyone you see in need represent the true meaning of LOVE. 

To truly love God, we must love each other -- those we like, those we don't and those we don't even know. Go on, spread the love.