Thursday, February 23, 2017

When the Answer is No

I find myself wanting the answer to always be YES!  Yes to anything and everything.  That type of lifestyle doesn't work well because there is no way to always say yes.  It is actually pretty impossible to do.  I especially love to say yes to things when they are safe.  When it is the safe job, the safe group of people, (you know the ones that are going to tell me what I want to hear), the safe feeling.  I love to say yes when I am in control, and when it means everything going the way I want it to go. 

No is a hard word for me.  I put a lot of weight in how other people feel.  It is actually one of the things I say in a job interview for something that I need to work on.  I feel things deeply.  I analyze people's reactions, and I don't let go when I should.  No is hard for me because it seems personal, even when it isn't.  I hate disappointing people, I hate letting people down.  I want to please, for the world to be a peaceful place, and for everything to have the Yes answer. 

Sometimes the answer has to be no.  It isn't the right fit, or right time.  Sometimes the answer is no because it is something that I shouldn't engage in.  Sometimes the answer is no because I need to take a risk. 

Something happened this week, and I had to give a no answer.  It was such a wrestling match in my heart and soul.  I cried, I prayed, and I came to terms with the fact that my heart just wasn't in it at this moment.  The reason I stressed out so much was because it felt like if I said no I was going to be disappointing people.  It felt like if I said no then I was making a definite decision that was going to impact some major things in the near future. 

Yet, I said no.  I said no because I am in a great place in life.  I am single, available, and ready for big things.  My life isn't limited anymore by the hopes of this or that.  I know my worth, I know what I want from life, and that means saying no sometimes.  That means saying no despite the risks.  It means saying no in the midst of uncertainty.  It means staying true to myself.  I am so thankful that sometimes God makes it a No. 

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Lent 2017

I can't believe that Lent is here, so soon!  I feel like it was just Christmas, and now here we are at the peak of the Easter season!  Next week marks the beginning of Lent.  I find myself loving this season, mostly because it is a time for me to stop and reflect.  A time for me to stop, breathe, pray, think, and change some habits in my life.  A time for me to recommit myself to the closeness I long to feel with God.  A time to give up something that takes a lot more of my time, then it should. 

So, as I ponder and think about what takes the most of my time..... I decided to not watch Netflix, and Hulu during Lent!  Even the thought of it makes me cringe a little.  So, it looks like I will get a lot more reading in, and watching of documentaries.... films that will help me think and ponder more of life. 

Here's to this coming up season of meditation, prayer, and greater focus on things above. 

When Pain Makes us Stronger

This world is so broken.  Every corner I turn to, everywhere I look I find myself bombarded with brokenness.  In my own life too.  I find myself constantly in a state of grieving for a world where people build each other up, instead of tearing down.  I find myself wishing that I could see everyone the way Jesus does.  I find myself longing for a place where we all agree, where guns aren't necessary, where fighting ceases to exist, and where I never have to worry about others judging me or accepting me. 

That's not this world though, I have to wait.  How do I live while I wait?  Facing pain on a daily basis.  Uncertain of the future sometimes, of where I am going.... or what diseases the future may hold.  Tragedy strikes us at a moment's notice.  How do I stop from just letting it overwhelm me? 

In these last few weeks, I have heard a lot about sin, and justice.  I have experienced a pain in my heart for things that I had stopped longing for.  I have come to understand how pain has made me stronger.  I have come to understand the purpose behind some people not being in my life anymore, or not being directly in my day to day. 

Sometimes I put such a hold on people.  I place them on a pedestal.  I long for their approval more than God's.  I see them in this light of grace and mercy that isn't for me to view them in.  I try to keep them in my life at all costs.  I allow others to be my god.  I forget that I don't measure up on a daily basis, and that's okay. I forget to allow myself the grace that I give to others. 

The truth is that there are people that aren't meant to be in our lives.  There are experiences, and activities that we aren't meant to engage in.  It is those people and activities that push us farther from God, instead of closer to Him that we need to let go of.  Do you ever find yourself trapped in a routine, allowing those people/activities to voice your worth, to be in charge of the choices you make? 

When we have to let go, it hurts.  It hurts so much.  Because we have invested time, energy, and love into those people/activities.  We have sacrificed to make their lives better.  We have connected with them, and gotten to know them.  Yet, despite all of that....there has been pain.  Pain that comes with rejection, pain that comes with disagreements, pain that comes because our choices didn't mesh well with others.  So much pain. 

In the pain though, isn't that when we understand more about the love?  Isn't that when we have nothing to do, but kneel before our Creator and understand how this pain causes us to be absent from Him?  How pain grows us, and changes us.  How pain allows us to understand what we have been saved from.

For me pain no longer seems a threat.  It no longer seems like something I want to escape from, because I can see through the pain.  I can cope with the pain, because my focus is on something far greater than pain.  My focus is above.  My focus is on what I am here to do in this life.  It's not about being the prettiest, the smartest, the most liked.  It has everything to do with knowing God the most, and allowing that knowledge to overflow out of me into others.

I don't think that I have gotten this the past few years.  I have been sidetracked into just being who everyone wanted me to be.  I have given in to the pain way too much, and allowed it to change me in ways that I am not proud of.  So, today I think and ponder how I am going to be different, embracing the pain.  Understanding that it is not an eternal pain, and healing in truth and love.

Today I put aside the expectations that the past few years have created in me.  I think and ponder new expectations, and live a life that is committed to being more in love with God everyday.  When that's my focus...everything else seems to fall in place, and pain doesn't seem so destructive.  




Wednesday, February 8, 2017

When It's Time to Move....

The past few months have been a whirlwind of emotions.  Trying to wrap my mind around all that was happening.  The ups and downs, the insecure moments of regret, and the hopeful moments of surrender.  In the quiet moments I have felt a move in my heart, a tug to go forward and take risks.  That's what this year was supposed to be about...taking risks. When I declared this to be the year of risks I had no idea what that would exactly mean.  I had no idea that a little over a month into this year I would be in the midst of some major life decisions, that involve a lot of risk. 

How do you make life decisions?  For me I ponder it, pray about it, listen to the advice of others... but ultimately I go with my gut instinct...what makes me truly happy!  And what does make me happy? 

It makes me happy to know that I am valued, loved, respected, and needed.  Have you ever left a place, or a group of people and wondered if you really mattered?  I have, a lot lately it seems.  Sometimes I find myself in the midst of people that only wish I was a different person.  That only want me around when it is convenient for them, or when they feel in a certain mood.  I don't like doing life half-heartedly.  I don't like it at all, and I refuse to, actually.  So, there comes a time when you have to examine if you are on the right path.  You have to look at your happiness, at your role, and the people that surround you and ask yourself if you are living the life that you are supposed to?

There's not always going to be a clear answer.  Sometimes it is foggy, and tough to see the mountain that is just over the next hill.  But it is there.  The mountain is there, the mountain that you must climb to get to the top, majestic, beautiful view that is waiting.  The view that will allow you to understand the journey, all the sweat and tears.  All the heartache and pain.  The view that will allow you to see the very breath of God.

Sometimes it isn't even about the people, sometimes it is about your view of the people.  Or your view of what you think you know of the people.  We all play a different role in life, among friends.  We all play a different role everywhere we go.  We try our best to be authentic, we try our very best to be the best version of ourselves, but we don't always win.  We don't always understand.  But we always know when it is time to move.... We always know....

Moving on isn't a bad thing.  In fact I think sometimes we stay too long because we hate to risk.  We are afraid of letting God be in control of the future.  We like our lives just the way they are safe, and sheltered.  Afraid of the pain and unkind things that are out there.  We get scared because moving on requires a loss of the things we have known.  It requires faith that things are going to work out better than they have been, and it requires healing.  Healing from pain, healing from brokenness, and healing from growth.  Sometimes I think we would rather stay bruised and battered, than heal.  Healing means that we admit the pain, and let it go.  Isn't it sometimes hard to let pain go?  As humans don't we like to wallow?  I know I do.  Sometimes I get so stuck wallowing that I forget in order to heal those bruises I have stop wallowing, and move forward.   

I also think that sometimes I convince myself that I can't move on.  I convince myself that I just have to keep pushing through, allowing others to break me, to put me down, to see me in the worst possible light.  Is that what life is about?  I don't really think so.  I don't think we are called to live life in one place forever.  Maybe some people are, maybe there are those that are supposed to settle down, build a life, and never leave that life.  I don't think I got those genes.  Instead I think that I have been given the gift of travel, and unique community.  A gift that is unique to my life, and allows me the desire to move on.  The desire to take what I have learned both good and bad, and walk in it.  Lead with it, let it move me to compassion.  Let it break my heart for those that claim to believe one way, but don't choose to walk in it.  A gift that lets me see people as people, not terrorists, unwanted aliens, or crime-focused thugs.  That is my gift, that is why I choose to process to move on. 

I have so much to give, and I am not going to allow anyone to take that from me.  I am not going to allow the bad to outweigh the good, or make myself feel unworthy of love.  I refuse to just be another teacher, friend, daughter.  I choose to change the world.  I choose to use my gifts.  I choose to live as a daughter of a King.  I choose to love without borders.  I choose to move on, and give all that I have to be the best that I can.  That's my goal, and that is my reason behind moving....

Monday, January 30, 2017

The Heart of God....

Whew!  Does anyone else feel like their brain is going to explode with all the controversial craziness that is happening in the world these days, specifically America?  Yesterday was supposed to be a no social media day for me, then I had some things come up that I felt like it was necessary for me to be on it, and stay informed.  Then today, I had thought that I would disengage because technically I am supposed to be staying off of it once a month, and I have yet to do that for the month of January.  There's only one day left!  So....maybe tomorrow?  Or maybe I just try to check it less, and not engage in the debates, or the craziness that is everyone's opinions. 

I have a lot on my mind today. Most of which causes me to ponder what is truth and what is false.  Do you ever find yourself thinking that nothing you read is truth?  Because you feel like everything has gotten so mixed up, that there couldn't possibly be any way that the truth is actually real?

It makes my head hurt.  Like for real hurt! 

How do we decide what to believe?  How do we decide what is truth?  How do we stand up for what we believe is truth without judging those that don't see things the way we do? 

In this world we face many things.  The truth is that this world is broken.  It is so broken.  I find myself on a daily basis fighting against the brokenness.  I want it to be fixed so badly.  I want the hurt, pain, sadness, sickness, disaster to stop.  I want there to be peace.  I want my facebook feed to be filled once again with food pics, selfies, and people lying on beaches.  I want to be able to open up a page without seeing all the name-calling, degrading comments, and rudeness. 

That's not what the world is though, because it is broken. 

So, do I ignore it?  Do I just live my perfect American dream life, not caring because it doesn't really affect me?  Or do I do something? 

The other day I wanted to scream, and cry.  I wanted to lash out at everyone that couldn't see things the way I did.  I wanted to really just say some things that I knew would go no where, but they sure would make me feel a lot better! 

Here's the deal, 10 years ago I probably would have considered myself Conservative.  In fact I would have considered myself really conservative.  I grew up Southern Baptist, I went to a Southern Baptist college, I worked with people that were like-minded.  Then I moved overseas for the second time in my life, and was met with people that didn't necessarily hold to the same conservative values I had lived by.  I encountered Jesus in a way that I had never really encountered Him before, and I was forced to decide what I believed to be true about people from other places. 

I met refugees that were alone, held captive, and struggling to find meaning to life.  I walked down the streets where brothels lined every inch of the sidewalk.  I met women, and men that literally had lost hope in everything.  And my view changed. 

I became less concerned about checking every box, and more concerned about hearing people's stories.  I became less concerned about condemning people to hell because of their lack of beliefs, and more concerned with them knowing that they were loved and valued.  I became less concerned about everyone living by my standards, and more concerned with understanding the standards that they acknowledged.  I became less concerned with being the "American" in the room, and more concerned with diving in head first to anything cultural I could. 

My life to me isn't about being an American.  It has gotten me into some pretty amazing places, where I have had the chance to meet and experience some pretty cool things.  I am privileged to have been born in America.  I know that.  All it takes is visiting any third world country, and you realize just how blessed you are.  I don't hold to the notion that America needs to be the best, because as far as I can see it was not set apart as God's special people.  As far as I can see, Americans are not and will never be superior to any other nation. 

I think that is where I am going to differ from a lot of people.  Yesterday I was chatting with a friend, and she said, I am a Christian first, and an American second.  So here's the thing...I don't even know if I could say American second.  I would almost consider myself a Refugee second, because this world is not my home.  I am here because God has placed me here.  I am here because I have been given the opportunity to be here.  I don't deserve it more than anyone else.  I didn't do anything to get the privilege of being born in America.  I just got it.  How is it that I should think my life is more valuable than anyone else's? 

Before I go too far...

The real reason behind this post.  I have been really heartbroken lately by the posts I am seeing from people that I have respected and known for a long time.  People that aren't putting others first, people that aren't acknowledging that Syrian Refugees deserve our love and care.  Or that our Muslim neighbors that live down the street from us are scared.  They are scared!  They did nothing but be Muslim.  Is that grounds for them having to fear?  It doesn't even matter if you agree or not...the truth is they are scared, and friends that should be enough to warrant an honest, loving discussion with each of them. 

So today, I prayed.  I prayed for myself and others.  I prayed that I would have the heart of God.  I prayed that I would be able to see with His eyes, hear with His ears, and touch with His hands.  I prayed that I would understand what matters to Him.  I prayed that I would understand and learn how God's heart is responding to what is going on in my country and the world right now.  I prayed that I would see EVERYONE the way He does. 

When I go to God for those answers, and allow Him to really open my heart I believe that I will understand, and love more. 

I am not going to ever claim to be completely Republican or Democrat because I don't think that either of those parties is completely in the will of God!  (shocker, I know!) 

I am though, going to be on His side.  God's side.  I am going to support life, support people.  I am going to support freedom to choose religion, schools, lifestyles. I am going to let the world live by their standards, not my own.  I have to account for my actions only.  One day when I am asked I don't want to have to say no to the question.... "When I was hungry, did you feed me, when I was naked, did you clothe me?"  I don't want to have to say no.  I want to be able to say yes, every time. 

So today, I choose the Heart of God. 

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Fullness without Rejection

How do you deal with rejection?  How do you deal with feeling left out of things?  For me, I stink at it.  I have lived my life feeling rejected every time someone does something without me, thinking that it is somehow connected to my worth.  Sometimes I analyze every single thing that happens in a span of months to determine if the people that I have been spending my time with really actually value me, or not. 

It is kind of a stinky place to live.  But I think that instances in my past have created this need in me.  This need to feel rejected.  This need to put myself down, because of words that others have spewed at me, or instances when I felt overlooked. 

As I was pondering over these things the past few weeks, reading a book and participating in a Bible study,  it seems that my heart has changed without me even realizing it.   Something happened last night that made me realize that I have grown if only just a little bit in this rejection process. 

Some friends that I have are taking a trip, and didn't invite me.  In the moment I wanted to feel rejected, and I even tried to conjure up those feelings, until I realized that I actually didn't feel rejected at all.  In fact it was quite the opposite.  It was this moment of realizing that I know exactly where I stand with this group of people without having to be included in every single moment of their lives.  Honestly I couldn't have gone on this trip anyways because of money and my job.... so it should be a mute point. 

However in the past I would have allowed it to put a wall up, and I would have allowed another brick of rejection to be put on top of that wall.  I would have analyzed it to the point of depression, and deep rejection.  I would have allowed it to change myself and my relationship. 

It wasn't until today when I was reading another Chapter in the book Uninvited by Lysa TerKeurst that I realized why I didn't feel that rejection that I would have once felt. 

It is because I have been really intentional about practicing having God fill me. 


This quote from the book pretty much sums it up:  "The more fully we invite God in, the less we will feel uninvited by other."  -Lysa Terkeurst

How I live my life full of God?  First, I truly have to take time to read, pray, meditate, and just be.  It is so easy for me to get distracted, by social media, tv, films, or just lost in my own daydreams of the life I wish I had.  My fullness in God sometimes gets lost along the way, as I try to fill my heart with everything but Him.

In our lives we can feel rejected by those closest to us, I know I have.  In fact I haven't just felt rejected, I have been rejected.  People have stopped talking to me, walked away from me, substituted others in their lives to spend time with instead of me.  Every time I have gotten a broken heart.

But what if...what if my heart was completely full because of God?  What if my worth and value was full with His love?  What if I was truly inviting Him in to the deepest, scariest parts of my rejection?  Wouldn't I find that His love is enough?  Wouldn't I find that the brokenness of this world doesn't have to break me?

Right now I feel full, I feel good.  Right now I feel like I have people in my life that truly value and care about me.  But it isn't because I am doing everything right, or always feel a part of a community.  It is because I am finding my fullness in Him.  I am allowing Him to completely fill that loneliest part of me.

Why did it take me this long to figure it out? 

So, what do I do, when I feel rejected?  I pray, and acknowledge that I am worthy, valued, and loved.  I acknowledge that this world is broken.  I acknowledge that I am called to know Him more, and people will always fail.  But that failure just allows me more opportunity to grow in fullness.  


Monday, January 23, 2017

Cravings....

I started a Bible Study today...yay!  My life has been bombarded the past few months with things that pretty much wanted to destroy me.  I couldn't see past the fog, I didn't actually even want to see past the fog, mostly because the fog was safe.  It was safe to just walk through it, bumping into things every once in awhile..... and grasping at the air as I walked through very slowly.  I saw my life slipping through my fingers.  I didn't feel loved, worthy, or even worth anything.  I felt like I wanted to just give up.  I think that for some people this is a common feeling.  Just wanting to give up...just wanting to walk away.  We let our life slip so far from the grasp of the One who knows us best that we forget what it is like to be acknowledge Him holding us in the palm of His hands.  We forget what it is like to be in communion with Him once again. 

We think that we have to be perfect before we can spend time with Him, or that the time we have, has to fill these long moments.  When really, all He wants is for us to sit down and spend 10 minutes just being with Him.  10 minutes isn't a lot.  I scroll through FB for 10 minutes without a second thought, so why is it so hard for me to spend 10 minutes reading my Bible, or praying.  How did this happen? 

I've been coming back from this place for about a month now.  It has been this slow walk back up hill.  In some ways I still get a little scared that I am going to slip and fall, but I have to remember that I'm not the shepherd leading the sheep...I am the sheep! 

Yesterday I heard a sermon, and then today I did day 1 of my Bible study that were basically making the same points.  Spending time with God.  Not just saying that I was spending time with Him, not just putting in a moment here or there, while I checked FB on the side.  Not getting in a few verses, in between text messages, but truly setting aside time to just be.  Time to crave Him, to acknowledge Him, and time to let Him love me where I am. 

Why do I think that I have to be perfect?  The perfect teacher, perfect daughter, perfect friend?  Why do I put so much pressure on myself to be the One everyone calls and runs to?  Why? 

I know what the answer is!  I feel that way because I am not craving what I should.  My blood transfusion didn't fully click.  I am still stupid sometimes.  I am still this weird version of myself that gets lost in all of the insecurities, doubts, and unworthiness that try to grab a hold of me on a minute-by-minute basis.  I'm craving what I get from those around me, instead of craving what has already been given to me! 

Here's a few quotes from Lysa TerKeurst that have struck me today:

"Without full trust in Him, it is impossible to be fully satisfied by Him." 

"True desperation for God will lead to revelation." 

"Make no mistake, God is I AM.  He is absolutely all we need, but He delights in us not only needing Him, but also wanting Him." 

When did my life become so consumed in the doubts of who I am, that I forgot to let Him be not only all I NEED, but also all I WANT? 

It's okay to feel lost sometimes, it is okay to crave things, because we were made to have hunger.  We were made to fill ourselves and live a full life.  What isn't okay is allowing the brokenness of the world to fill those cravings, because every single time, they will only make us feel empty an hour later. 

Sometimes we have to think, process, and think some more.  Sometimes we have to let someone else think for us, and sometimes we just have to sit quietly and allow the cravings for the right things to become real once again. 

Tonight I long to crave more of who He is.  I long to allow myself that moment, where nothing else matters, but they fact that I am able to connect in a personal way with a God that is love.  Tonight that's where I am.