Saturday, February 28, 2015

This Is the Life God Has Called Me To Live

From my point of view, I’ve seemed to go through quite a few things in my life that weren’t “normal.” By that I mean, that I didn’t know anyone else to whom I could talk to or consult with about what season I was in at the time. I understand that doesn’t mean that someone else somewhere wasn’t going through it. But for me, I just felt all alone. I felt like I was navigating that season a little bit blindly – hoping that I made the right choices through it and came out the other side in tact and better from it.

I’ve struggled with these seasons in my life. I’ve struggled because they were things that people would probably view as things that “shouldn’t be done that way.”  There are certain things and ways you should go about things in life. And for whatever reason, my life doesn’t always seem to go about these things in that ‘acceptable’ way.

I’ll give you a couple of examples.

I got married at 23. But I didn’t just get married. I got married to someone who had been married before, and who had custody of his 6 year old son. So I immediately became a full-time custodial stepmom. Not something I knew anyone else in my life had done.

I’ve had two children get engaged at the age of 18. Before they graduated from high school.

Not part of the normal. Not part of the way society says you should do things.

But I’m thinking, “Just who made society always right, anyways?”

Just because something isn’t considered ‘normal,’ doesn’t mean it’s wrong.

There are a few other examples in my life of things that haven’t taken the ‘traditional’ path. I’ve had to adjust my mindset and my thinking to accept these deviances from what everyone else thinks I should do, how I should do it, and when.

There are so many times where I wish I could feel ‘normal.’ I wish I could have the same problems as everyone else. But it seems that I am not called to ‘normal.’ God has a different direction and plan for my life. He has asked me to step into abnormal situations and circumstances and trust Him with them.  It doesn’t mean I still don’t struggle internally with them. I do. But I’m learning that this is my life. This is the one He has called me to. And it’s beautiful.

I’ve been stretched. I’ve been hurt. I’ve been judged. But I’ve also seen glimpses of God at work that I know I wouldn’t have any other way. I’ve seen His hand in my life and in the lives of those I hold dear and I could not wish or ask for anything differently.

I may wish at times that God had called me to a normal and safe life. But I’m honored that He’s called me to this one. Even though it is so different than what I would have thought I needed in my life – it’s a blessed life. And I will handle it with as much graciousness, prayer, and integrity that I can.

Whatever life God has called you to, know that it is tailored just for you. It’s a life that He feels is right for you and how He can best speak to you and through you. Trust His judgment. Trust His curveballs. Enjoy the ride when you can, and hold on to His hand when you’re scared. He will never leave your side.

It’s your life. Whatever you’re going through – it’s what He has designed.

Just. For. You.

Follow on Bloglovin

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

I Want to Make a Difference

I want to make a difference in someone’s life. I want to know that their day was better because of something I said or did. I want to know that they are happier because of my presence in their world.

I want to make an impact.

I want to smile, knowing that I had a part in causing someone to smile.

I want to feel content, knowing that I helped make the load and burden in someone else’s life – just a little bit lighter. I want to feel like I helped someone else realize that they were valued, cherished, and loved.

I want to make a difference.

I don’t want to go about my business and fail to see the tears in someone’s eyes or the droop of their shoulders. I want to notice. I want to act.

I don’t want to ignore the struggle that someone else is enduring.

I want to listen. Love. Hug. Touch. Smile. And care.

If only I could always help someone feel less alone. If only I could help them see their own beauty. If only I could help the cracks in their heart heal – the ones that are there from deep wounds and hurts.

I want to try. I want to love.

I want to make a difference.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

I Don't Need a Bucket List

Lots of people have “bucket lists.” Things they want to do that year, or throughout their whole lives.

I think it’s truly great.

In fact, my husband had a bucket list when he turned 50. He had all sorts of fun things on it to do – not just large things. He wanted to skip down a street, roll down a hill, do a dot-to-dot, climb a tree – and more. My favorite things were the little things he chose to do. The things that reminded him to enjoy the simple things in life.

It was fun to watch him, and it was fun to do some of his “bucket list” things with him.

But for me, I don’t need a bucket list. And I’ll tell you why.

I have done far more in my life, than I ever could have dreamed of doing. I have ziplined in Guatemala, climbed the Eiffel Tower, touched a dolphin, and seen a lightening storm over the ocean. I’ve seen the miracle of birth with my two daughters, felt the love and friendship with someone who doesn’t even speak my language, and felt the beauty of romance.

I've touched a rock that someone thousands of years old, touched. I've kissed the face of someone I've loved dearly - who has passed on. I've gotten chills down my arms as God has revealed that He protected me and answered a deeply-held prayer request. 

I've seen the Grand Canyon, Mount Rushmore, walked the Mall of America, stood in the FOUR CORNERS, gone on a swamp ride, seen a grizzly through binoculars, white water rafted, gone up the side of a volcano, hula danced, seen a carving of Michelangelo, and gone horseback riding on the beach.

I've been able to do A LOT.

I have travelled to more places than I ever thought I’d visit – Ireland, Jamaica, Guatemala, Panama, Scotland, England, Belgium, and France.

I have lived in many different states – Oregon, Nevada, Idaho, and now Texas.

I have gone on road trips all across the U.S.

Most all of these things were unexpected gifts in my life. I didn’t pursue them. I didn’t dream of them. They just naturally came about.

I’m blessed. And I know it.

Everything I do from here on out, is just ‘extra’ for me. I’ve already experienced, and seen more than I could have dreamed possible. So everything I’m able to do from this point on, is a “cherry” on top of the huge cake I’ve already been allowed to eat in my life.

I don’t need a bucket list. The only things I desire from this point on have to do with those people I love, good health, and rich friendships. Sure, there are things that I think would be cool to do. But I don’t NEED to do them. I’m happy enough with what I’ve already been able to do.

Life truly is a gift. We just have to realize when we’ve unwrapped it. And I’ve gotten more gifts in this life than I deserve. How could I ever ask for more?

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

And We Wonder Why We Struggle

Sometimes we want to lead. We want to have control of our life and a situation or circumstance going on in it.  We want to walk in the direction that we see fit, and hope that God will bless it along the way.

Let’s face it, we don’t always want Him holding our hand and walking step by step with us unless He lets us choose the course of the direction we are walking in.

It’s the truth, yes?

In our heart of hearts, we DO want God’s blessing in our lives. We DO want Him to be with us and to guide us as we make decisions and choices. But often, we want to make those choices on our own – without consulting Him. And then, we want Him to stamp an approval on it.

And we wonder why we struggle.

I am so guilty of wanting things to go in the direction that I think is the right one. I can have quite the ‘heart-to-heart’ talk with my Lord in trying to convince Him that my way is the best way. As if He doesn’t really know the BEST way! Who am I trying to kid? My way is usually – simply – my way.

We often operate in fear. Fear of losing someone, some thing, or some control in our lives. Fear of pain, fear of failure, fear of anything. We let that fear dominate our faith. We let it take over.

I don’t know about you, but I hate it when I do that. And I’ve done that time and time and time again.

I want to instead, choose peace. I want to trust in my Lord and Savior; that He knows what He’s doing, even if that DOING might cause me heartache. I want to let HIM choose the direction and course of things – not me. I don’t want to fight against Him or try to talk Him into my logic.

It’s hard not to do those things. So hard. Some battles are so personal and so emotional that it can take everything we have, to just cling to God in that trust. But my God has ALWAYS, ALWAYS been faithful to me. He is good to me. And I want to trust. Not because I believe I will get my way, but because I believe that HIS way will be the best way.

It’s scary – this letting God choose the outcome thing.  I still have to fight against the mentality of thinking that my way should be the right way. I have to swallow a lot of pride and fear. But, I want to know God’s heart more. I want to hear and see Him more. And I think the best way to do that; is if I get out of His way.

Everything I am, and everything I believe in, is riding on my faith and trust in God – especially when I have so much at stake in certain decisions and circumstances. But, that’s who I want to be. That’s HOW I want to be. For I’d much rather be walking through challenging issues in life holding God’s hand, than walking alone and hoping He’ll catch up and accompany me.

Friday, February 13, 2015

I Am a Reflection

It seems like lately the subject of whether or not certain things are “ok” in the life of a Christian has been coming to the table fairly regularly. I’ve seen them discussed by others, and observed people take one side or the other.

Whether or not some of these things are suitable for a Christian to do or not – is a very hot topic. Someone will always feel excluded if one person says it’s wrong and they, personally, partake in that action. They will immediately feel defensive. Someone else will always be interpreted as ‘judgmental’ simply because they think something is wrong. It can be a tricky thing to discuss.

I can hear some people say, “Well, that’s why I stay away from subjects like that!” But that doesn’t always work either. I believe that God asks us to stand up for what is right. So that means that we sometimes have to take the side of unpopular opinion in order to take GOD’S SIDE.

A lot of these ‘hot button’ issues revolve around things like alcohol, tattoos, gambling, smoking, ‘white lies,’ or swearing.

This is where I stand on these issues and others that might come up.

For me, I want to always remember that I am a reflection of my Lord God Almighty. It is HIM, whom I serve. I don’t serve the world. I don’t have to someday account to the world. But I do, to my Lord.  If someone sees alcohol in my fridge and it in turn causes them to question my beliefs, my Christian walk, and my faith – then to me, and for me, that is wrong, because I don’t want to ever be the cause for someone else to stumble. I don’t want to be the hindrance to someone else’s faith.

Being a believer means I’m held to a higher standard whether I like it or not. It means that someone is always watching me. Watching to see if I’m really different. Watching to see when I will mess up. Watching to see if I can stay true to what I say I believe when temptation comes, when trials come, or when disappointment comes. 

So, yes. Some things may not be a sin in and of themselves. But that doesn’t mean it’s okay for me to take part in them.

1 Corinthians 10:23

“I have the right to do anything,” you say – but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything” – but not everything is constructive.”

Not everything is beneficial. And not everything is constructive.  That’s what it comes down to for me. I don’t need to partake. I don’t want to partake. For I am a reflection. A reflection of my Lord.

Follow on Bloglovin

Monday, February 9, 2015

Nothing Wrong With a Little "Selfie!"

“Selfies.” The craze of this generation.

Everyone seems to have their own opinions on this craze. I’ve heard it said that people who take ‘selfies’ are narcissists. That it signifies mental or emotional issues. I’ve heard people mock others for taking ‘selfies’ and I’ve seen people think they are ‘above’ the whole craze.

I think ‘selfies’ are fun. And, I think they are perfectly normal and okay to do.

Recently, I went to Hawaii with my husband. We saw people taking selfies all over the place. At the beach, by a palm tree, overlooking the ocean, and more. Sometimes it was an individual ‘selfie’ and sometimes it was a couple.

This is how I see it. There is nothing wrong with taking a picture of yourself, to remember a time, place, or moment. It’s fun. And it’ a way to enjoy life and where you are currently are, in it.

I even think it’s okay to take a  ‘selfie’ once in awhile in your bathroom or car. Make a pucker face, or have fun with a pout. Again, it’s about enjoying life. Enjoying yourself and the moment you are in.

“Selfies” are kind of like photo journals, in a way. You’re recording who you are on a certain date and time. You’re recording your mood, your outlook, your environment.

The only time I can agree with the professionals on ‘selfie’ assessments, is when someone takes CONSTANT and UNENDING selfies, then posts them online or on Instagram. If someone does nothing BUT selfies, then yah, maybe a deeper look needs to be given as to why they don’t find anything else in life worthy of capturing with their camera.

I also personally feel that ‘selfies’ should always be kept classy. Flipping off the camera generally doesn’t make others love you more. And anything you might regret posting one day you get married, have children, or have a relative see – you might want to forget about posting. In fact, forget about taking that shot at all. No shot – no regrets!

But other than those wise words of wisdom, I say, have fun and take some ‘selfies!’ There’s nothing wrong with loving on those around you and taking your own shots of a moment in time. There’s nothing wrong with capturing yourself, either.

Life is meant to be lived and enjoyed. So live and enjoy it. And take a ‘selfie’ to show it.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Sometimes I Forget To Pray

I want to be as ‘real’ and ‘authentic’ as I possibly can while I walk this earth. I want others to feel love, encouragement, and warmth in my presence. I want them to enjoy laughing with me, and feel safe crying.

I strive for these things. I believe they are the character traits that my Lord has. Character traits that He’d want me to walk out.

But let’s face it; I am so imperfect. I screw up, and feel like slapping myself on the head over the ease into which I slipped into an area, that is not an area that helps me be the kind of person I want to be.

I know the habits that should be a part of my life. I know the people that I should surround myself with. I know how I should behave.  Yet, sometimes, sometimes, I just neglect the very things that would help me be a better, more faithful, “me.”

Sometimes, I forget to pray. I try to handle a situation myself first before I remember to ask God to intervene.

Sometimes, I don’t read the Bible. I’d rather watch the news, get on the computer, or fiddle with my Iphone, than read the great wisdom, peace, and direction that God has sitting there at my fingertips.

Sometimes, I sleep in and I don’t go to church. I may have been up too late, or I just don’t feel like going. So I don’t.

Sometimes, I prefer to listen to my ‘pop’ music, rather than my ‘praise’ music. It’s usually more danceable.

I am human. Just as you are. None of these things are horrible sins. In fact, I think God expects me to forget to pray, read His Word, or go to church at times. I think He KNOWS that the music, books, and movies of this world will entice me.

And sometimes, sometimes, it’s simply ok to just enjoy this life that He’s given us. It’s ok to enjoy hanging out with good friends until late at night. It’s ok to struggle in our own skin to try and solve an issue – because then we are reminded how much we need to rely on God! It’s ok to sleep in sometimes and not go to church. (Even God needed rest when He walked on this earth). Rest is important. As long as that ‘sleeping in’ doesn’t become a habit more important than being a part of a local church body where we can be encouraged, ministered to, and fellowship with other believers.

It’s ok. Sometimes.

But if I want to be as ‘real’ and ‘authentic’ as I possibly can? If I want to love, be loved, encourage, be encouraged, and have others in my life to laugh and cry with…. I need to do those things that I “sometimes” forget.

For they are food and water to the heart and soul of a Christian. I can’t grow without them. I can’t BE the kind of person I want to be in my own strength, in my own will, and on my own terms. Well, maybe, sometimes I can – but not indefinitely. I need God speaking into my life through His Bible, His church, His music, and His whispers in prayer time, for those character traits to permanently take root in my life.

I have to be intentional.

I have to prioritize.

So, sometimes? Sometimes I might forget to pray, and it’s ok.  As long as that “sometimes,” never turns into “all the time.” And that is a slippery slope to watch out for.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Things Will Never Be The Same Again

You usually know those moments when you are experiencing them. Those moments that are timeless. You are making a memory and you know it. You are living a special moment with someone, or several people that are dear to your heart. And you know it will never come again. You know things will change after that moment.

I remember visiting my grandpa three weeks before he died. We knew he was dying. He knew he was dying. And I asked for a hug – knowing it would be the last time I ever hugged him. I tried to soak it in the best I could. Tried to take note of how he smelled and felt. For I knew life would change for me after that hug. I would lose my grandpa.

I knew when I dropped my daughter off at kindergarten and cried in the car. I knew from that day on, that things would never be the same. She would never simply be safe in her momma’s world. She would be exposed to people and things I had no control of. She would never just be ‘home’ with me again.

And I knew when I said ‘yes’ to my husband’s marriage proposal that life would be forever different for me. I knew the life I had known up until that point, would change. It would be new, different, exciting, and tough.

Those are the moments.  The ones where you know you are going to forever try to be reliving those hours or minutes over and over again in your heart and in your head. They are the ones that cause a lump in your throat – for you are happy and sad at the same time. Life is shifting. The ground under you is changing and you will have to adapt.

And you know it.

I recently had one of those moments. The circumstances around it will remain sacred only to me for now, but I knew …. I knew it was one of those ‘this will never be the same’ kind of time. It wasn’t lost on me.

I both love and hate these times. I hate them for what I feel I lose as the season in my life changes. I will miss what once ‘was.’ But I love them for I know that there is ‘new’ around the corner. And ‘new’ is usually motivating in some way. It forces you to grow.

It’s a privilege to be able to be a part of so many of these iconic moments in time with your loved ones. To see special ones be married, to watch graduations, to hug loved ones as they leave your life – all – a privilege.

We can try to force things to stay the same in our lives, but change will happen eventually. Kids will grow up, parents will retire, and health circumstances will alter. It’s the cycle of life. And it’s beautiful. It’s priceless. It’s ours.

Relish those moments. Smell them, feel them, and touch them the best you can. For they will never come again and things WILL never be the same. It’s the bittersweet beauty of life and love.

And it’s a treasure.