Don’t sweat the small stuff.

Have you ever heard the phrase, “Be careful what you wish for because you just might get it?” Well…be careful what you wish for. Seriously. I was thinking, “What if I ran out of things to write about?” (Which is such a stupid thought considering life happens and with that comes new experiences and lessons..and yeah, material will never be an issue.) BUT I kept thinking about it and just as I thought I wasn’t sure if I’d write a blog post today, I walk outside….

Nope. You can’t even begin to guess my story. I walked outside of the dry-cleaners and I notice my bumper is completely messed up and detached from my car. I don’t claim to be the most observant person but I certainly am not blind. I was so confused as to how ten minutes prior, everything was fine and dandy. Needless to say, my car had been hit by a woman as she was speeding out of the parking lot after stealing from the store beside the dry-cleaners I was at. She was stealing hair-weave, which I assure you is not THAT expensive, but hey, what do I know? Anyway, I wanted to cry and punch something at the same time. I thought, “Out of all of these cars, WHY MINE?!”

Immediately, the store owners from the surrounding stores, whom I had made friends with because I’ve dropped my dry-cleaning off there before, came out and helped me call the police and get everything settled. The dreadful call to my father also went way better than anticipated. As I got in my car, one of the restaurant owners who was helping me said, “It’s all good. Such is life, huh?”.

Yep, such is life. Very true.

He didn’t mean that in a sarcastic, “life is sucky” kinda way either. He meant, these kinds of things happen everyday, all the time. However, they simply aren’t everything. Cars can be fixed, period.

I came out of my self-pity vortex I had been hanging out in (I had even had a chair set up at this point and some cheetos out to snack on), packed up my things and pulled myself together.

And…there it is, right before my eyes, my material for the day. I told you to be careful what you wish for. But really, I needed to be reminded that life is simply too short to sweat the small stuff. Things happen and life doesn’t always turn out the way we plan. Let’s be real, it often doesn’t. Or I’d still have at least my bag of cheetos, a perfectly fixed car and I’d be asleep by now, but that is all besides the point. You just learn to adapt, to pick up the pieces and to not worry about things beyond your control.

While the brain can hold a lot of information, it is not meant to store but so much. You can’t harbor the stress of a million things going on that are outside of your control. You will officially become a nut. Believe me, I’ve tried and I even annoyed myself.

So, whether it be a small issue with a friendship, a test grade you didn’t do so hot on or a change in your schedule that throws a kink in your day, don’t let it steal your focus, your energy or all of your time! You can’t afford to let the small things put a dent in your bumper…No, really.

So, get up! Yep, you. Get up out of your worry rocking chair (keep your cheetos) and spend your day working on things you can control. Don’t sweat the small stuff!!! That’s your heavenly father’s job. Why are you all up in His business?

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Just gotta let it go.

Letting go is so hard. Have you ever had a situation in your life that consumed you and you just couldn’t seem to let it go? Or maybe it is that specific person who held onto your heart for so long that convinces you another person will not be able to love you like they did? Or maybe it is a negative situation that, although you know it isn’t good for you, you just can’t seem to part ways with?

Whatever it is, I think we have all been there before. For me, letting go is kinda terrifying. I think it scares me because I’m afraid I’m losing something that might potentially be good for me. And because letting go means that I have to release something from my hands that used to provide me comfort. It hurts to know that something or someone that is so close to you could potentially be a stranger. Often times, because we don’t want to have to experience that foreignness, we decide to keep that door just a little bit open, you know, just in case!

Well, let me tell you that those little cracks we like to leave open can often be a way for the devil to get a foothold in our life. He likes to pull at our heartstrings and tempt us with situations and people that he knows affect us. What good would it be if he toiled with people whom we hardly knew or situations we didn’t give a flip about?! He’d never get to us! Satan picks our weaknesses because he knows that is where we have the most fear.

Don’t worry, you CAN beat him at his own game. Easily. But the trick is, we have to be willing to let go of what God wants to take out of our lives, no matter how comfortable we feel in it. We must be willing to close those doors and LET GO of situations or people that can consume us. While it may hurt saying “good-bye” and the process of first putting one foot in front of the other is not an easy one, by any means, it is always a better choice than hanging out in the quick sand where the devil wants to make you slip.

I think people easily confuse Jesus’ guidance as the automatic, easy route. Um, wrong. Sorry! Following Jesus is not always easy but it is ALWAYS BEST. While the other path may have been a little easier to walk by appearance, it provides so much less joy and abundant life than the life Jesus has planned for you. Because when the path is difficult but it’s His will, He always intervenes on your behalf. Always. Providing you with the strength, direction, energy and endurance to more than make the journey.

So, my dear friend, let go! It hurts, yes. It may be terrifying to think something so “steady” will change in your life. Although you may be used to climbing that rope, don’t you see how rough and tired your hands are? It is time to move forward and be excited about the hopeful times in your future rather than rehearsing the events from your past!

Do not worry about the people you are “letting go” of, those are God’s children too. He will take care of their hearts and guide their feet, just like He is doing for you. Do not worry about the situations you have to “abandon” because if God calls you out of something, He will clean up your place after you get up.

Sometimes the little tiny part that we are use to holding on is the very part God is asking us for. Don’t let fear keep you stagnant. Unclench your hand. Let it all go and come, just as you are, to His feet. He has been waiting for you:-)

Center Stage.

In the spirit of the Academy Awards, I started reflecting on movies. I started thinking…Why do I love the movies so much? (I like them all. Seriously) What about them draws me in like no other? (I become very emotionally invested in all the characters. It is an issue I am currently working on). Why do I leave some feeling numb, as though I lost a loved one myself? Or so elated with joy as if the life presented in the movie was my very own?

Reflecting on all of the movies I have seen, I think I’ve come to the conclusion that movies make me feel, well, alive. Even though I simply sit in a dark cinema for two hours glued to the screen, my soul is running and my mind is being taken on an adventure. Sometimes, it is a sad movie that instigates those feelings you experienced in your own life, allowing such sadness to re-create itself inside your heart. Other times, the character experiences such a life-triumphing joy and beats the odds and boy does it feel good!!! It is like you yourself climbed that mountain.

Movies pull on our heartstrings. Movies make us realize certain dreams we have within our souls. Movies expose cultures that we have never seen with our own eyes. Movies expose the real difficulties and tragedies we see and don’t see. Movies reveal the incredible opportunities that many of us do not even know exist. Movies provide us with a relatable journey, outside of our own, that often makes our own lives feel, well, normal. Movies INVITE us in, tell us a story and leave us imagining what else is next. And our dreams that very night after vising the Regal Grande involve the character we just saw partaking in a new adventure that we create ourselves…once again proving that no scene is final.

I think it is no mistake that movies have always been a popular past-time in our culture. They make us feel vulnerable, but okay about it. They make us feel strong and empowered while still being realistic about our weaknesses. They recognize both the human and the hero inside us all. They remind us of the passion we should have for life, the tenderness we should have with others and the grace we should have with ourselves. And while some are unrealistic or a little exaggerated, they allow our minds to wander and explore the “impossible.” As Walt Disney said, “It’s kind of fun to do the impossible.”

So, while movies present the glamorous, remember they often show the process of the pebble becoming the pearl. The underdog often has a process in getting to the top. Even the best of them, well, they fall the hardest.

Do not be afraid to live life and make the movies your reality. After all, the best movies are the ones based off of true stories.

Your life is what you make of it. Are you proud of the character you play? If not, change the scenes, put on some lively music and show the world that your story is something everyone will want to watch! Remember that you have a chance to leave a legacy, a true story, and that is something that no one can mess with! So remind people what it feels like to be ALIVE, whatever emotion that turns out to be, and keep moving forward to the next scene. This movie DOES have a happy ending so have fun and be EXCITED that you were chosen to play this part!

If your life were a movie, what would the message be? What does your character believe in? Do they conquer or collapse? Do you inspire others to be “alive”?!

Think about it. It’s your moment to shine! Lights, Camera, Action! And…we’re rolling!

Spring Cleaning.

It’s that time of year again. Everyone is trading out their uggs for their flip-flops and the sweaters are going to the bottom of the stack as the tank tops regain their place on the top. The dust bunnies are FINALLY taken care of (mostly). Everything gets sparkly clean as the febreeze is sprayed and the windows are finally open to let the spring air inside. Spring Cleaning, the time when everyone does a re-vamping of their living area. Annoying but necessary. Time-consuming but essential. There is something about spring cleaning that just makes you feel good, it’s like your life is getting a little makeover of some sort. And the spring breeze certainly doesn’t hurt.

Speaking of spring cleaning, my room/closet was in dire need of spring cleaning last week. I’m pretty sure I wore uggs when it was seventy degrees one day last week (not to mention they are the ugliest shoes on the planet…which I’ve accepted, moved on and will still wear them religiously every winter.) After I finished, I felt relieved. I had room for everything I needed for the next season. I found things in the process of cleaning my room that I had been looking for FOREVER. I could only laugh at myself at the places I found them. I had put my zapper (I guess normal people call it a channel changer) in my desk drawer. How that I occurred, I am still figuring that one out.

Anyway, I started to think as I was cleaning, this is kind of what God does with our lives after different seasons we go through. He gets down to the nitty-gritty corners that we don’t address and gets all the dust bunnies. He removes things, situations, people or circumstances from our lives that are not beneficial to us. He takes the time to address the deepest parts of our heart and clear us of feelings we should not be feeling or desires that stand in our way of a fulfilled and happy heart. He longs to fill the holes in our life with substantial things. He wants to take out our “uggs”, if you will, and give us a pair of shoes a little more useful for the season we have coming up.

Its funny how often we fight God in doing this. He sometimes sends such clear signs that something is not fitting into the will He has for our lives. Maybe a harmful relationship, a destructive lifestyle or a painful remembrance of our past that we can’t let our minds forget. He longs to strip us of those things because He wants positive, important, joyful, important, stress-free, exciting, lovely and heavenly things to fill our closet instead! He is a good God. He will not take something from your life unless it is keeping you from where you need to be going!

Think about how great it felt to be done with your spring cleaning. (If you haven’t done that, NOW is the perfect time!) How awesome would it be if your life felt that organized, refreshed and new? That is the way our hearts will feel if we let Jesus clean the closets of our heart. It doesn’t matter how dirty our room is or how messed up we think our lives are, God wants to meet you right where you are! Do not wait another minute to let Him take from you those things that do not benefit your life. You simply have too many places to go, too many people to enjoy and too many things to do in this life to have other things in their way. So unless you like wearing Uggs when it is eighty degrees, i suggest you pick up the swiffer and let God get to work in your life and your room. After all, if your life is so full of “stuff”, you leave God no room to pour out the blessings He has planned for you!!!

Happy Spring Cleaning! Feels good, right?

“No” means “Yes”.

Closed doors. Rejected applications. Unavailable opportunities. Termination of a relationship. What do all of these things have in common? Besides the thought of a consumption of an unhealthy tub of ice cream, they all revert to the answer “no.” When thinking about these things, I realized something: If you were to talk to another person and say one of these things had happened to you, the person would reply with, “Oh no! I’m so sorry to hear that!” (typical, right?)  Wait, why is this person consoling you? OH YEAH, cause society has labeled anything we are denied like a job promotion as failure.  And your boyfriend dumped you? Good luck with that one, honey!

Society has permanently damaged our view here.

You see, we are trained to think that “no” is a bad answer. “No” is a negative word.  But why? Thinking back to so many times when I didn’t make the cut for a particular job or task or when I was dumped feeling like my heart was in a million small pieces, I realize those times were essential.  I realize that while I felt like someone was telling me, “no, you’re not good enough” or “no, this will not work out” while I was I was IN the situation, God was really telling me “YES!” to something or someone else. 

Seriously, think about it.  Even get a piece of paper and write down the times that you “felt” rejected (this is an interactive process, work with me here).  Look back over them.  Was there a reason why that door was closed in your life?  Was there another job that needed you to be complete?  Was there another person more capable of taking care of your heart?  Was that “no” really actually a “yes”?

I’m not saying that every situation’s “no” will feel good.  And if you think I’m saying rejection feels good, you are CRAZY! Closed doors are tough on the heart. Period.  But I think we shouldn’t be so quick to label the answer “no” as failing.  Chances are, God is telling you no because a.) The time is not for “right now.” 2.) He has something better in store! 3.) He means NO! God knows your heart and He knows it’s perfect fit regarding every aspect of your life.  Do not let the world define rejection for you, redefine it for yourself.  Instead of “I guess I just wasn’t good enough for this job”, train your mind to say “This job obviously was not where I am supposed to be right now! God has something better for me in store.”

God’s job is to guide us, right? Well isn’t guiding just as much about telling us where NOT to go as it is about telling us where to go? I mean, I don’t know about you, but I definitely appreciate the signs telling me “Wrong Way” and “Detour.” So, don’t get discouraged! Confuse the heck out of your friends by thanking the Lord for the “no” answers just as much as the “yes” ones! They will be concerned. It’s gonna be great.

And don’t worry, God is a “YES”, doors flung wide open kind of God. But only when it’s good for you. Lift up your hands and praise Him for the stop signs because rejection is protection, not defeat!

BUT not everybody does it…

“What are your skills? Please list all that apply.” is what the application said. Skills. What are my skills? Well, I can write okay. I can talk to a wall. I like traveling (Is that a skill? I guess not…) My mom tells me I can love the unlovable, but I still am not sure if that counts. My dad says I can find the positive in getting stuck in an avalanche (which I feel like he might be stretching my ability to be positive by just a tad). Those are my skills. Wait, can’t everybody write, talk and love other people too?

That was my conversation with myself that I had earlier today. Filling out applications for jobs and really evaluating yourself is hard stuff. What is a skill anyway?! I can pass a volleyball pretty dang good and let’s just say, I felt so unqualified for so many jobs that I almost became that desperate. As I wanted to put my head down on my computer and just cry out of the uncertainty I felt about my abilities, God so clearly whispered to me, “But not everybody does it.”

I stopped, closed my computer and thought about it. Not everybody does it….well, I guess that’s true. You see, there are so many things that we all can do. Yes, a lot of people can write but only some put pen to paper. Yes, a lot of people could love the unlovable but many do not ask God for the patience and strength to do so. Yes, many people can talk but how often do we stop to talk to those who we don’t consider necessarily, “worthy of our time.” The more I thought about it, the more I realized God was exactly right (duh). Being obedient in the small things and actually “doing” those things IS simply enough. Why? Because God favors those who act upon their faith, who are willing to move their feet and those who are bold enough to take that leap.

No, filling out applications will never be my favorite thing to do and the “What are your skills?” question will never be my favorite to answer. However, I think I’m learning that sometimes it isn’t about what I can write on paper and how I can change people’s perception of my talents but rather how God will extend favor on my behalf and open their eyes to me because HE knows I am capable. Grace. All about the grace. We do what we can and He does what He does and THAT is how major organizations, world-changing foundations and life-altering businesses are created and succeed.

What are your skills? Just kidding:-) Do me a favor and change that question around: What are the little and the big things you can do to remind others that Jesus loves them? What are the things you can do for yourself to show Jesus you appreciate His love for you? Yes, everyone can hang out in a nursing home even though it doesn’t smell awesome but let’s get real, only a few do. So, be a do-er. Be obedient. Be willing to open your hands and He will always open the windows of Heaven. Get ready friend, BLESSINGS don’t stop when that happens!

Feel Celebrated!

Have you ever been in a place that you felt you weren’t wanted? I don’t know about you but I think it is the worst feeling in the world. Whether it be one person who makes you feel uncomfortable, a situation that makes you feel useless or you just feel disposable to those around you, it is not a fun feeling.

I was listening to a preacher this morning and he said a quote that I have heard before: Go where you are CELEBRATED, not tolerated. This phrase started rolling around in my brain as I thought about times when I have stayed in a position in which I was certainly not celebrated and often times, barely felt tolerated! And let me tell you what, being tolerated is almost worse than just being not liked at all. When you’re “tolerated”, it seems like someone feels obligated to be around you! They do not find your company enjoyable and it is OBVIOUS! You would think people could fake that a little better but it definitely is not a strong suit for most people. Reflecting back on times in my life when I have felt this way, I stuck around the individual or group of people because I was longing to have their approval. I so desperately wanted them to WANT to be my friend. Let’s just say, I was pretty unsuccessful at doing that.

Anyway, thinking on those times, I see that I was absolutely 110% wasting my time! Not only because my mission of them wanting to be my bff and plan my next birthday party failed miserably but because no person needs to stay in a place that makes them feel that way! Staying around negative people or people who simply “tolerate” your existence rather than appreciate you is a CHOICE (Read that sentence again and focus on the last word). It is a choice. Plain and simple. Do you know how many people there are in the world? Do you know how many would LOVE to be your friend? Well in case you don’t know, there are billions of people and in those billions, there are millions who would find you delightful and make you feel significant. Ah, significant. Such an important quality in a friendship worth having.

So, do me a favor. Think about people who celebrate the person you are (NOT those who celebrate who you try to impersonate). Jesus himself didn’t fit in everywhere! Neither will you! Do not try to conform your appearance to what others think you should look like. Do not try to conform your thoughts to what others think you should think. Do not base your feelings off what others feel is right. YOU are you and that person, the one who actually likes to read books on a friday night or the one who finds such joy in the quirkiest of adventures, deserves to be celebrated.

Now do yourself a favor. Keep in mind how it feels to be “tolerated” and don’t “tolerate” those around you. CELEBRATE them. Before you know it, everyone will be celebrating and it will be one heck of a party!

Heartbreak Hurts.

Heartbreak. Something everyone is familiar with, guy or girl. Girls may be more outspoken about their emotional state (…we know) but I feel like most everyone can say they have experienced heartbreak in one form or another. Whether it be through a relationship ending, a family death or a tragic life circumstance. It’s sometimes unexpected. Sometimes it comes with no explanation. Actually, it often offers no understanding. So many times I have heard the question asked: Why did God allow this to happen to me? While I’m not suggesting I know any answers to your personal situation at all, I just wanted to share a little bit about what God has been showing me.

Living with five other girls for my past three years in college and having myself to deal with, heartbreak has unfortunately not been a stranger. I have seen relationships that have ended with so many unanswered questions or because of a terrible inconsiderate decision by one person. I guess because college opens you up to so many new people from all different places, you are exposed to so much more but I feel like I have heard far too many stories of close friends dying in car accidents, family members passing too soon or sicknesses that seem to overtake people with no concern for the people they have to leave behind. Or life in general, well it can easily take a turn for the worst if we make the wrong decisions and sometimes heartbreak is a consequence of that. No matter the situation, heartbreak is hard to watch and even harder to experience. There isn’t a cure or a pill you can take to make it better. Often times, the only thing that seems to help is time. As time passes, the pain lessens and life begins to seem bearable again.

I have thought so much about why we experience heartbreak. God must know how much our heart longs to not feel this way anymore, why doesn’t He reach down and work His magic? The answer: I still don’t know exactly. But I do know that He cares about the condition of our heart more than any person on this planet possibly could. The condition of your heart doesn’t just mean if you’re happy or sad or feeling loved or unloved. He wants you to take CARE of your heart. And the best way to do that is to leave it in the caretaker’s hands. So many times, we make decisions for ourselves that don’t line up with what God longs for our lives, which is often what leads to heartbreak.

I guess what I’m saying is: Don’t let heartbreak deceive you into thinking that God doesn’t love you or care about you. Heartbreak is the exact opposite. Rejection is often God’s protection. Something ending can often be because He is craving to start something NEW in your heart and your life. He only allows heartbreak so that you will reach out to Him, begging for Him to come into your life and give you peace. That intimacy is what He craves. Why? Because the second you allow Him to be the caretaker of your heart, you will realize it is also what you crave. My mom used to tell me that a breakdown was the sign of a breakthrough. I think the same goes for a heartbreak. My friend, don’t be too discouraged if your heart is hurting. Allow yourself to cry huge tears if necessary. But as soon as you finish, grab your tissues, lift up your hands and praise Him in the storm. Thank your sweet Lord for whatever He is doing in your life. Yearn for that closeness with Him and I promise you that where He is leading you is way better than where you have been.

Take care of your heart by letting Him have it. It really is the wellspring of life.

Unlimited Possibilities.

It’s a tad longer, I know. Scroll a litttttle more with your blackberry, I promise it is worth it.

Have you ever read a story for the second time and it hit you completely different than the first time you read it? The words are all the same but the message is a brand new one. Whether it’s because your circumstances that you’re going through make you read it differently, I’m not sure, but whatever it is, it feels like the first time all over again.

As I sat down to read my Bible, I just flipped it open thinking “Alright Lord, hit me! What do you want to tell me this morning?” Of course, I was thinking He was going to lead me right to a common verse like Jeremiah 29:11 and I could soak it in for a few minutes and call it a day (Not like I didn’t want to spend time reading, but I was thinking it was going to be a single, standout verse and BAM, done!) Well, He always has different plans for us, huh? I opened my Bible and my eyes went straight to the parable about Jesus walking on water in Matthew 14:22-33. I had heard the story a million and one times (seriously. I think I drew my Tarzan version of Jesus walking on water in vacation Bible School) but I decided to read anyway.

My brain followed as my eyes scanned the page and I started to imagine the picture. So, it begins by saying that the disciples were in a boat, which was far from the shore at that point. Jesus walked on water as he came towards His disciples and they couldn’t believe their eyes! So our dear friend, Peter, said, “Lord, if it’s you, tell me to come to you on the water.” And just like Jesus always does in the Bible, He proved to be faithful. He replied to Peter saying, “Come.” Then, guess what? PETER WALKED ON WATER, TOO!!! Wait what? I thought the parable said “Jesus walks on water”. Did you hear me correctly? Are you still picturing the story? So instead of just Jesus, we have Peter and Jesus both walking on water. Somehow, I had allowed these words to not really soak into my brain and really visualize the situation until now.

In that very moment, Peter knew in His heart it was Jesus and He trusted Him. He didn’t think twice about stepping out of the boat. His gaze was fixed upon Jesus and his feet didn’t slip or sink! …I’m still amazed thinking about this.

Later in the story, Peter loses his focus and begins to sink as he focuses on the upcoming waves instead. The instant Peter began to look away, he lost his ability to do the impossible. But you see, Peter performed a miracle, just like Jesus. He was not superhuman. He didn’t have an extra muscle that we lack. He had Jesus as the apple of his eye and the steadiness of his heart and because of this, he too could do the impossible.

Now, if this happened near the Atlantic City waterfront and a man began to walk on water, I don’t think the story would EVER stop being front page news. We tend to think that just because the Bible is old means that it isn’t alive. NEWS FLASH: If we have the faith that Peter had in that moment, we too can walk on water.

Don’t dream small dreams or set little goals because you think you’re being too much of a dreamer or you’re asking something of Jesus that requires too much faith. He loves NOTHING more! What would you have called Peter? Crazy? Just like Jesus was for Peter, Jesus is waiting for us, right there, with his hand out ready for us to step out of the boat. The waves are still coming, just as they did then, but we have the power from the man who created the sea himself.

In fact, I think I’ll change the term “dreamers” to “realists”. Let’s get real, those who dare to believe they can walk on water are the ones getting real with Jesus.