Bold(ER)

Bold(ER)

I feel like today’s culture is very “you must agree with me or you’re stupid”. Anywhere you look people are arguing over opinions as if they are facts. People talk about “their truth” and it almost appears as though truth is something that can be changed based on whoever is speaking. 

God says differently than this. In the Bible, God has laid out how we are meant to live, do marriage, be parents, trust in Jesus and everything we need to know. However, the world will tell us that God is wrong and God is bad. The truth is we live in a very sinful world where the enemy is running rampant. In fact, he has the world’s culture hating God and not believing he exists. All of the evil in the world is blamed on God because he “allowed” it. As Christians, we know that isn’t true and that isn’t how God works. “If God is all powerful, why does he allow -blank- ?” 

As Christians, we know the answer is Free Will and we know that even in the bad times, God works to make the evil good. Every bad thing I’ve gone though has allowed me to grow, learn or shape who I am today. Sometimes, the end of the bad ended up being better than before the bad. God is amazing and powerful. 

As Jesus followers though, what are we doing to proclaim his name? What are we doing to share the good news? I know I struggle with this. I am almost afraid to admit that I love Jesus because I’m afraid of what whoever I am talking to will think of me. I’m afraid I will lose credibility or that I’ll be thought of as intolerant or whatever else is thought of when it comes to Christians. 

I want to be bold. I want to speak my faith without fear because when you get down to it, the opinions of others do not matter. When I return home, I want to hear “good job good and faithful servant.” I don’t want to have to answer for my fear of what other people thought. 

There is a way to speak our faith and that is to speak it plainly, letting God guide us in our words. The bible tells us that He will give us the words when we speak. Let’s walk in boldness of our faith instead of fear of what others might think. 

Write it Out

  1. Do you worry about what others think?
  2. How can you put a bolder step forward and share your faith?

Devotional Thursdays- Choices

Choices

She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. – Genesis 3:6b

Eve was presented with a choice. She was talking to the enemy, who presented her with an alternative to what she knew God had said. He convinced her to make the choice to eat the apple from the tree God specifically said do not eat from. They had one job, one rule and they didn’t follow it. Then, Eve handed an apple to her husband Adam because sharing is caring and he ate it without question. The bible never indicated that Adam questioned his wife on where she got the apple from. Granted, there were probably other trees that had apples and maybe Adam wanted a snack. Apples are good. Why not eat it? 

That single choice wrecked humanity on earth. This individual choice effected every single human that would be born afterwards. This choice now made all of us born into sin because of their sin. We are born sinners because of Adam and Eve’s sin. 

Imagine having that sort of weight on your shoulders. I know sometimes we feel like we are carrying the world on our shoulders. How many of us actually make decisions that effect us, our children, and the thousands of generations that follow? I sure don’t. 

Jesus comes next. It is a long time after Adam and Eve, but he comes. He is born, he lives in the wold alongside humanity that is sinful. He also started his ministry, knowing how it would end. Jesus was always aware of why he was on earth. It wasn’t some revelation that was given to him when he was in his thirties and he suddenly had to make a choice on whether or not he wanted his destiny. Jesus always knew what he was. Jesus always knew what he was sent to do. However, as a man, Jesus had a choice. Jesus even asked God to take away what he was sent to do. (Matthew 26:39)  Since I have free will, I think Jesus could have ran away that night if he really wanted to. Just like I could run away from my family and everything I know tonight. I won’t, but technically, I could. 

Jesus’ choice to follow the father’s will and sacrifice himself was the choice that saved humanity. We now can go to God freely and be saved from our sinful humanity. Jesus chose us. He chose you. He chose me. He chose to bare my sin, and your sin. 

The bible has a lot of stories about prophets and people who all had choices to make. Some choices were made to cover up poor choices. Other choices were for the betterment of a kingdom. And still, other choices were made to glorify God.

Just like the people of the bible, we have choices. We go about our day making a ton of choices. We probably make more choices than we even realize. Not all of our choices hold weight, deciding to get into another car lane isn’t as heavy of a choice as deciding to buy a house. Thankfully, our choices most likely won’t effect humanity as a whole. Our choices may have consequences but we are human and as humans, we will make wrong choices. We cannot control that. No matter how much we stress over every decision we make. (Trust me, I’ve tried.) 

The biggest choice we make will be the one that deals with our eternity. Is Jesus the savior God sent to pay for our sins for us or is Jesus a myth about a really upstanding guy thousands of years ago?

That choice is the choice that will effect eternity. 

Write it Out

  1. What are some choices you are struggling with right now?
  2. What are some bad choices you made in the past that you need to forgive yourself for?
  3. How can you rest in God’s grace instead of relying on yourself to make every single right choice?

& Jesus

Long ago, on one of my previous blogs I wrote a blog post I titled “& Jesus”. I was planning on reposting it here today because I feel like it is a relevant reminder.

My life looks different than when I first wrote that post. A lot different. The past year has been one full of change, more change than I could have ever anticipated, expected or wished for. While I talked about change in the first edition of this post, it was nothing compared to what this past year has been like. In all this change, I have forgotten the most important thing I should be focused on. The one who controls it all- Jesus. In all this change, I am processing, worried about more change and wondering what is going to happen next. “This has changed and this has changed and this has changed” and I am waiting for the next “And”

I am not going to repost the original blog post, there is too much I would need to change so I am rewriting it and modifying it. The message stays the same though. Instead of worrying about what the next change might be, what the next “and” might be, I need to be focusing on Jesus- who I trust in all this change. If change is happening then God is allowing it. Change is good, as much as I want to fight against it sometimes, change is growth.

Viewing life in the view of “ands” and worried about what “and” might happen next isn’t the way to live life. Life isn’t one long run-on sentence. There has to be a period somewhere. That’s where I need to decide that end, and it ends with “and Jesus.” A and B and C and D and Jesus. This sentence ender stops my worry. It reminds me that in all this change, while it is surprising to me, it isn’t a surprise to God. If I trust God, then I need to trust in his plan. It’s so simple when I write it out and when I say it. Just trust. God hasn’t let me down before, He isn’t going to start now. This simple sentence, the trust, looks and feels so different when played out. The actions are not easy. The feelings are not easy. The actions are not simple. I wish they were, but they are not. So I need the reminder. I need to end my sentences with “and Jesus” to remind me to shift my focus and to remember what God has already done. I’ve already said it, God hasn’t let me down before. God isn’t the in the business of let downs. God’s plan is the plan I want in my life because I know His plan is what is best for me. I want the best.

I am so serious about this reminder that I even titled my book “& Jesus”. It is a journaling devotional that I hope encourages people to journal more. To use journaling as a way to talk to God. Journaling has been so helpful for me. I use journaling to talk to God, to lay out my hopes and dreams and seek guidance. It’s where I put action to the & Jesus sentence ender and include Him in my life. Journaling is where “& Jesus” lives.

Journaling to Talk to God + announcement!

How’s that for a title? About four years ago, I was doing some real hard work on myself. There were some things I really wanted to change about myself, things that have defined me my entire life. Parts of me that existed because of my upbringing but I knew I shouldn’t act that way. I knew they were not good traits about myself. These things were control and anger. I was so controlling and I was constantly micro-managing my husband and the people around me. I honestly have no idea why my husband stuck around with how awful I used to be. I knew it wasn’t right but I didn’t know how to just stop being controlling and angry. My fuse was so short and patience was a word I didn’t understand. So I joined a ministry at my church and started working on myself.

During this process, we were constantly told to journal as part of our homework. Back then, the thought would make my skin crawl. I didn’t want to write about my life. I didn’t want to write about my feelings. I didn’t even understand my feelings to be able to write about it. I was told by my leaders to try, just try and then keep trying.

Try I did. After a few semi-consistent days of journaling, I started to see the benefits. I didn’t fall in love with journaling right away but I saw that it took some of the weight off my shoulder. It made me feel lighter. Like the notebook and the pages were carrying the weight instead of me. Some times, I was able to write some things out and then walk away from them and they stopped weighing on my mind. Sometimes, I would vent out my frustrations and I would see that the frustration wasn’t as big of a deal as my brain was making it out to be. If it was something I didn’t think I could address with someone, I quickly saw that I could. It just took mapping out the whole situation on paper to see it. Sometimes, I think I get so caught up in my own head and focus on a single thought train or a single piece of the whole picture that the rest gets lost in my emotions. When I sit down with a pen and piece of paper, I noticed I started slowing down and actually thinking about the situation as a whole instead of the one part that hurt me or irritated me or made me feel some type of emotion.

Sometimes, while I was journaling, I’ve realized that I was the one in the wrong, even if I thought I was right in the moment of something. I usually think I’m right. In my journal though, slowing down and looking at the whole picture I would find that I wasn’t as right as I thought I was. Astonishingly, I was okay with the fact that I was wrong. I was also okay with going back and apologizing to whoever I needed to apologize to. If I just allowed myself to focus on the one part and the thought that I was in the right, I would have never realized that I’m not as infallible as I think I am.

Journaling is so powerful. I’ve written other posts about how amazing journaling is and how it is so beneficial. I believe these things from the bottom of my heart. In a world of speed and gotta get there now or gotta get it done right now, it is such a good thing to slow down. It goes against all of my natural instincts, but dang does it feel great. It feels great to step back from myself in a sense and see everything from a different perspective. When I journal, I don’t just list facts, I explain the why behind it. Why I felt a certain way, why that person might have responded that way, what I said before the thing that hurt me. When we are hurt, it isn’t because of one thing, it is like an onion, it has multiple layers. There is more than just the fact that someone said something that hurt me. When I’m feeling stressed, I’m not stressed because of one commitment or obligation or thing I want to do. I’m stressed because of other things and those other things are the things I need to realize. If I’m feeling stressed, it helps to know why to write it out and figure it out like a puzzle. Stress is not a good emotion, I don’t care what high productivity coach wants to argue with me, there is no such thing as good stress. I’ve lived with stress my entire life and I can promise you that it is not a good emotion. It does things to your thought process, to your body, stress can affect everything including your relationships. I think “good stress” is being mislabeled for motivation. You need the motivation to get something accomplished, you don’t need to be stressed about getting it done.

This is just how I got started journaling, someone forced me to try and once I saw the benefits, I never wanted to stop. I fell in love with journaling over time once I saw how it made me feel better. It’s like mental exercise. If going to the gym and working out is great for your physical health, journaling is the gym for your mind. It is so good for your mental health. This is why I believe everyone should be journaling.

As I grew in my relationship with Jesus and my faith, I’ve started to use journaling as a way to talk to God. Writing is something that I love and enjoy and writing can even be an act of worship for me. I feel God leading me when I’m struggling with a decision and I’m writing about it. A lot of time, while I’m writing, I’ll remember other things I need or should pray for and add them in as a prayer into my journal. It’s fun to go through my journal later and see what God has answered. I also use journaling to cement my faith in what I know to be true. Life can get hard and when storms hit, it is so easy to feel like God isn’t there. That is when I go back to my journal and look at the truths God has given me. The truths I have read in the Bible. I know who God is, I don’t feel who God is. Feelings can be misleading and influenced. Truth cannot be. That is why I journal and invite God into my writing sessions. I also keep a gratitude list of things I am thankful for. Sometimes, I forget all the good I have because I’m too focused on the hard stuff, the stressful stuff. Finding the things I’m thankful for is like finding the sunbeam through a dark, stormy cloud.

Now, I have a HUGE announcement. You might have already seen it on Instagram if you follow me over there but I am PUBLISHING A BOOK!

I still can’t believe I get to say those words. I’ve been writing since I was a teenager and I never thought I would see this day. I wrote a journaling devotional designed to help you dig deeper in your relationship with God and get into the habit of journaling. My book is called & Jesus and will be released May 7th! You can preorder your ebook here. The paperback version will be available on May 7th. I am publishing through Amazon so Kindle is the e-reader but that might be changing!

Good / Better / Best

I’m the yes girl, I say yes to almost everything asked of me. The only time I ever say no is if I’m already committed at the same time or if I don’t think I could actually do what is being asked of me. There are just some things I am not capable of doing- like lifting 100lbs. Truth is, even when I’m already committed I still try to figure out ways to work things around so I can say yes. Really, I’m only saying no when I cannot do what is being asked. Not many people are asking me to lift heavy things so I’m literally saying yes to everything.

Being reliable and dependable are awesome things. I enjoyed that people could ask me to do things and feel confident that I would get it done. I felt needed and I love that feeling. Being needed was like a subconscious life goal. I didn’t plan to make that a life goal, but I was constantly doing things to make it happen. It was like in order to be okay, I needed to be needed.

What I didn’t realize was that in all my yes saying, I was saying no to others. I was saying no to me and my dreams. My real dreams. The dreams and goals I felt like God was putting on my heart. I was saying no to more time with my family. I was saying no to time with my little man. I was saying no to date nights with my husband. None of these things I set out intentionally to do. I was filling up my schedule with other yeses that when it came time to plan out family time or date nights, there was no room for me to fit it in. I tried to, I tried so hard to make everything fit into the 168 hours I got in a week. I was constantly stressed and feeling like I wasn’t putting my all into everything because I was being pulled in so many directions. Did I mention that I was working full time and a full-time student? It was like my subconscious thought there were over 200 hours in a week the way I tried to schedule everything.

The thing about time is that you cannot make more of it. You have what you have and that’s it. It is up to us how we spend our time.

So one day, it hit me that how I was doing life, all this saying yes and jumping up to volunteer for every little thing wasn’t working. I was having horrible anxiety and health issues and something had to give. So I did what I know best, I sat down with a journal to write it all out.

There is a really good book that was given to me a few years ago as a gift. “The Best Yes” by Lisa Terkeurst. (Even my friends knew I said yes too much and were trying to give me tools to realize it.) In this book, Lisa talks about commitments and how to stop and really think about what we’re deciding to do before we just answer all willy nilly. The book challenged me to only be saying yes to the best things I could be doing. She talks about a good / better / best list and how to rank things. She gives examples of how things can still be good things to do but it doesn’t mean that it’s our best. The challenge is to start saying yes to only our best, to the things God has truly called us to do. The book was very eye-opening for me.

So when I grabbed my journal to write everything out and dump it from my brain, the idea for a good / better / best list came to mind. That is exactly what I did. I made a list of everything I was currently committed to and doing. I listed out the upcoming things that I had already said yes to. I also made a list of all the things I was saying no to, that I felt like I needed to be doing. All the dreams and goals I had that I was putting on my back burner because I was too busy saying yes to everything else. I wrote down more time with my little man and husband because I felt like I never saw them. I took my two lists, separated out my good / better / best sections and began to fill in the spaces. I took each item from each list and categorized them. It was shocking how many things I had said yes to or even things I had been doing for a while, a commitment I had for years, ended up not being my best yes. It was a good thing I was doing, but it still wasn’t my best.

Categorizing wasn’t easy. I wanted to believe everything I was doing was my best but it wasn’t. I had to really think about what I wanted to accomplish in my life and what really mattered. I had to be completely honest with myself and sometimes I had to ask why I was doing certain things in the first place. Was I doing it because I’m supposed to be the person doing it? Did I volunteer for something because there was a need and I just jumped in? Realizing the motivation behind some of my yeses helped me realize they didn’t belong in my best section.

After I had moved everything in my lists to a section, I had to do the hard part. As I was categorizing everything I thought it was hard, I wanted everything to be the best. I wanted more hours in the day. I wanted to make it so that I could do it all. However, I am not superwoman. So once my sections were finalized, I looked at my sections, and I made one of the hardest decisions I’ve made. I decided that everything that wasn’t in my best section I was giving up. This might sound easy for some people, but as the person who loved to be needed and said yes to things before the question was finished, this was the opposite of what came naturally to me. I didn’t want to let people down or feel like a failure. I didn’t want to hurt people by saying no or that they needed to ask someone else.

The truth is that I might have not even been the person who was meant to say yes to all the things anyway. Just because I can say yes doesn’t mean I should say yes. I also shouldn’t be saying yes before really thinking about things. It’s completely okay to tell someone maybe and you’ll get back to them. Not everything needs an immediate decision.

So I stepped down from some things. I went to people and said it was time for me to take a break from some other things. I started to prioritize the best section. It was a decision I had to make and then follow through with. It wasn’t easy, even after stepping down from the things and freeing up some time. Sometimes, I wonder if I say yes so I can do the easy things, things people think I’m good at so I don’t have to chase after the hard stuff I feel called to do. 

I’m in a place now where I am doing my best yeses. I am considering everything that is involved when I get asked to do something and whether or not I’m actually the person who should be doing it. This wasn’t an easy place to get to. It’s not an easy place to stay either. I see myself starting to go back to old habits, old ways of managing my time and when I catch myself doing that, I immediately tell myself to stop. I take a moment away from all the things I am putting in my calendar and really ask myself what I should be doing. Just because there is a blank spot in my calendar doesn’t mean it needs to be filled. Dreams are what happens when there are empty spaces.