The Great I Am.

Today was not an easy day for me.

I had work all day, the future on my mind and I knew I was going to have to study for two tests tomorrow. To say the least, it was an exhausting day and still isn’t over! I told my mom earlier that I feel like I have been running a marathon today cause my mind has been turning circles!

But on my drive home, Jesus intervened. Like always. Seriously, I am not sure why I get the least bit surprised when He shows up big. He ALWAYS does when I ask for Him!

The words of a song softly reminded me that this is not where I belong. Days will be hard, people can be frustrating and life can seem unfair but all this life is but a glimpse of the eternal rewards that await me. So, why worry?

No, really. Why?

As I allowed myself to actually breathe, rolled my window down and said “thank you Lord” over and over and over again, He simply said back, “Always.”

God didn’t show up just today. He didn’t fight for me just today. he didn’t answer my knock on the door just today. That’s Him, every single day.

Good gosh, I serve an awesome God!

In the midst of my calming down, I took a second to write and just thank Him for being so good to me.

Jesus kinda took it from there…

This poem is called “The Great I Am.”

You offer me this uncanny sense of relief.
Like a calm wave washes over and I can no longer speak
Your voice strikes a nerve deep inside of my soul
Reminding me that in your arms is a place of control.
After a hard day, i just want to to be cradled in you
Just to sit in your lap and take in the view
Chiseled jawline but your soft eyes tell a story
They radiate something beyond this human sense of glory
I begin to look in them and see down a long path up ahead
But you reel me back in and as me to just rest instead
Do you get tired of me asking the same question over and over again
“How much do you love me even after I sin?”
But your reaction, its the same, every single time
As you outstretch your arms like the picture in my storybook rhyme
It’s you, on the cross, but with no nail wounds to show
Your smile reminds me of all I ever need to know.
So I never will comprehend or understand why
The King of the universe loved me enough to die.
Like he did as blood ran down his face
Three days later, rising again in all of his grace
He told evil, “my father is the almighty, don’t you realize?
That your arrows are wasteful and your schemes are all lies
You cant stop me or destroy my people here
My physical flesh departing doesn’t mean I disappear
I will reign more than ever as they all will learn
I am the maker of every ocean and every fire that burns
And their souls will yearn and they’ll be consumed with my love
And your evil cant take them cause they have the peace of a dove
They may fall, they may slip but their security isn’t for sell
I will tell you this softly, I wont waste my voice and yell
for My people know their real home and eternal resting place
your demons don’t scare them so turn your ugly face
I am the god of gods and this is a raging war
My angels are warriors , you have no idea what is in store
Maybe in the garden, eve bought into your lies
When you bore your hatrid and was a snake in disguise
But victory is ours, we will always prevail
and you and yours can go straight back to hell.
So exhaust yourself as you try and manipulate
Using strategies and weapons to cause strife and hate
My love outshines it no matter what place you attack
You think I am weak but I don’t need a gun on my back
My power comes from the highest heavens and the tallest tower
Once every one bows on one knee, you will also cower
As I watch you cast down into the lake of eternal fire
As you wither and suffer and everyone sees you’re a liar
Until then, I’ll continue to rest easy cause I know
My people are safe cause where they go, I go
You have been given your change to realize who is king
But now no sympathy, a death song you will sing
I am Lord of lords, there is no one I fear
when I come back for my bride, the song you will hear
Every knee will bow and follow my command
My strength and my glory will bestow the great I am.
My people hearts will be fulfilled as they prepare to return
To the pearly gates of heaven where all their hearts yearn
And life is made perfect and the weak are made strong
But for you, lucifer, this is not where you belong.
I once whispered to them their identity as you laughed in their ear
But they’re in my domain now, and you cant enter here.

That guy I was just talking about above…yeah, He lives inside of you.

I’m sorry, did you hear me?

The almighty King of Kings, heavenly positioned, author of all faith, Lord of Lords and Great I AM lives in You.

Soak that in, baby!

Jesus’ Shoulders.

Imagine this.

A little girl dressed in her frilly church dress and white sandals matching the big white bow in her hair. Her bouncy curls were almost as big as her and she is just tall enough to reach her daddy’s hand without him having to bend lower to hold it.

“Daddy, I can’t see! I can’t see! Where are all the floats?” she asks.

The little girl’s view was clouded with people shuffling everywhere, traffic clobbering the streets and snack trucks taking up the sidewalks. This parade was just not what she had imagined it to be.

As she got discouraged and sad, her big blue eyes focused on each step her white sandals took along the pavement. The more she walked, the harder it became to be excited about this parade her dad had talked so much about.

Just as she thought she might run out of numbers to count, she felt her father’s strong grip pull her up on his shoulders. It felt like she was flying for a second.

Wow. She was in awe.

“Dad!!!! Look!!! Just like you said! The snow white float and the Cinderella float!!! And I see all the dwarves too! I wonder where Sleepy is? He is funny!” she said.

Her dad had not said a word besides, “Just be patient, Sophie.” the entire time they were walking. And now, he gripped Sophie’s hands tightly as she hopped up and down on his shoulders, unable to hide her excitement. He knew how much she had been looking forward to today so he didn’t say a word. He let Sophie say everything she wanted to. Everything, as he listened with a grin on his face.

You see, Sophie was discouraged because from her view, the parade was boring. It was not what she expected. it was disappointing. it discouraged her spirit.

But when Sophie got on her daddy’s shoulders? It was more than she had ever dreamed. It was exciting. full of life! More colors than any coloring book. More princesses than the movies. And sleepy, the dwarf, even waved just to her.

This is how God is with our lives.

We must remember that sometimes we are in the midst of walking to see the parade. Sometimes life is not glamorous. Sometimes it can be tiring and discouraging. Sometimes, it can crush our spirit if we do not cling to the eternal hope that we have been promised.

However, when we ride on Jesus’ shoulders, letting Him grasp our hands as we watch in awe of his creations around us, our spirits soar. Our perspective is completely renewed, refreshed and revitalized. We have a front row seat to the best show in the world when we live life from a Jesus perspective. And just when you think you might run out of numbers to count as your feet hit the pavement step by step, keep on going. Your father’s hand is never too early and never too late.

So, my friends, do not discouraged when you have to take a few more steps and life isn’t all you expected. Hold onto Jesus’ hand because this is one parade you will NOT want to miss!

And believe me, when you’re on Jesus’ shoulders, you get VIP treatment. Who do you think makes up fairy-tales anyway?

Warrior.

Gladiator.

Troy.

300.

Rocky.

What do all of these movies have in common? Other than the fact that I could watch them over and over again, these movies contain a character who literally fights for his life.  Not the kind of fighting that makes the audience a little nervous but the kind of fighting that literally keeps you on the very end of your seat, biting your fingernails, accelerating your heartbeat and tapping your feet, making you feel like you yourself are the one fighting.

These men in these movies are warriors.

What is the difference between a fighter and a warrior? I think it lies in the man’s reason for fighting.  When one is fighting for something larger than himself, the fight is bigger. It is harder. It requires more sweat, more tears and more determination. The cost of losing a fight for yourself? Your pride.  The cost of losing a fight for a greater purpose? A change in the war itself.  The stones you throw have a rippling effect on everyone fighting beside you.

Fighting for a purpose, for a reason,  it requires you to completely step away from your own agenda. Your battle plans are no longer crucial for the plan of action because there is one in command who is much wiser than you are. Despite your ideas, your commander has his own route of action that must be taken.  And you? You must surrender to it.

So, just as a warrior must fight blood and tears, a warrior must also surrender. 

He must surrender to the one who is greater than him.  He must surrender to a plan of action that is constructed for his own benefit because his commander can see past the gates he stands behind.  He must surrender because although he has his own equipment, it is the strength of an army that will ultimately win the war.

Jesus doesn’t call us to surrender so that we can softly accept defeat.  He doesn’t call us to surrender so that He can watch us be crushed under the foot of our enemy.  He calls us to surrender because His shield of protection is all-encompassing, all-knowing, and impossible to beat.

Jesus’ army has compassion for the lost but NO room for the wicked.

Jesus’ army is courageous. willing. bold. strong. intentional. intelligent. confident. fearless. And most of all, victorious.

So, warriors of Jesus, remember what you are fighting for today.  Remember that while you may know how to use your sword, the Lord does not always want you to draw your weapon.  While other times, he will call you to fight. He will call you to fight with every morsel of strength in your being. And when your strength ends? His begins.

Do not worry about this battle for your commander is in charge of EVERY army.  He knows each of their battle plans and the minds of his enemies. 

Jesus’ army will be victorious each and every time.

Who will you fight for?

You’re a warrior, a true soldier here.
Into the enemy’s eyes, you look without fear.
You remain educated and always aware.
You pass commoners as they point and stare.
You are different, completely set apart.
But this is old news you’ve known from the start.
Death does not scare you or keep you away.
You know your maker and he determines your day.
You respect authority without need to be King.
But people worship you asking you what can they bring.
Your eyes resemble truth at its’ core.
Deciding to do right, no matter what is in store.
You walk without stumbling in the dark.
Using God as your GPS on the journey you embark.
You offer mercy to other who aren’t as strong.
Knowing that everyone sings a different song.
Your equipment lays heavy upon your chest.
Yet you never do less than your absolute best.
You preach the power of Christ through action alone.
Live David, you kill Goliath with only one stone.
When others begin to condemn or criticize.
You say Jesus’ name and know they can’t cause your demise.
Instead you use it as a platform to proclaim His grace.
Praising the Lord with blood stained on your face.
Fighting for you is not a physical competition.
You are a warrior, that is your position.
You rest at night praying for your enemy.
Aware that saving them is not your ability.
When the war continues and you enter the battlefield.
You stand on the rock and hold up your shield.
Fear has no place and death has no hold.
Oh warrior for Jesus, do you hear the story you’ve told?
Keep fighting, keep standing, keep lifting your face.
This arena can’t contain you, you’ll remain in first place.
Don’t be discouraged, your heart is in high demand.
You are a warrior, your life’s in His hand.

 

p.s. Please continue to pray fervently for my friend Spencer and Lindsay and they gear up for this battle they are fighting against melanoma. As true warriors, hit your knees and be ready to stand in the gap for Spencer and Lindsay.

Against All Odds.

Batter Up. A man, covered in tattoos, stands ready as he hasn’t been up to the plate in a while. Alcohol flooded his life and drugs robbed him of his joy. Media criticizes his every move. He can’t seem to walk away from the quick sand. He already has two outs and the crowd is quiet.

Unfavorable odds? Sure seems that way.

One man is small and skinny in his size. Another is like a creature from a different species, trumping the other in size. The skinny man has no armor but his clothing. The amazon like human is covered in bronze. The small soldier has no weapon but a slingshot and a stone. The beast has a sword sharper than the devil’s tongue.

Unfavorable odds? It appears like it.

An older woman, 78 in age. Her dark locks have been replaced by a bandana that covers her head. Her once athletic stature has been replaced by frailty. Stairs are no longer her friend. The doctor’s report she has less than a two percent change to live for lung cancer has decided her time frame here.

Unfavorable odds? They have to be.

The first is the story of Josh Hamilton as he came back into the game of baseball proving to every opposing fan in the stadium not to ever bet on his failure for their livelihood. And the Rangers? They celebrated their entrance into the World Series with ginger ale instead of champagne. Cheers to the haters!

The second is the story of David and Goliath. David was a soldier of God, not for himself or his own honor. Because he fought for something much greater than himself and placed the trophy on Jesus’ shelf, his pebble was the only one necessary to defeat a giant.

The third is the story of my 84 year old grandmother who is the strongest person I have ever met. She looked death in the face and clung onto Jesus hand, replying in her soft southern accent, “I’ll go when He wants and now is Not that time. Give me my hair back.”

You see, the world we live in has such a clouded view of victory. We seek to understand the science of winning a battle, believing that it all comes down to an equation. While none of these situations are preferable odds for any person, they are not without favor.

Have you ever heard the phrase, “Don’t show your God how big your problems are. Show your problems how big your God is?” Well, it’s true. We live in a fallen world where sin is everywhere and Jesus is often forgotten. But our saving grace? Jesus NEVER forgets us. Despite it all, despite the current situation we face or the current circumstance that tries to chain our feet down so we can no longer dance for the Lord, despite it all, it can’t chain down our spirits.

It has NO grip on us.

Jesus has set His captive free.

So, as I sit here right now, I’m adding another story to the list.

A 24 year old man with the courage of a lion. His demeanor from the football field to the hospital room now displays the ultimate level of strength. His wedding? Less than a month away. His supposed prognosis? Two months to two years to live.

You know what? Those are not preferable odds. There is no way to word them to make them sound pleasant. However, I have never witnessed an encompassing of faith and prayer like the one that is going on right now around this man. His name is Spencer and he is a warrior. The coolest thing is that he now has over 4,000 people circling around him, keeping his feet sturdy, his heart at a steady pace and engulfing him in prayer. Jesus absent from this story? PUH-LEASE!

And you know what? More people join the circle every single minute. I can’t WAIT to see what God does through Spencer.

Sorry Satan, you lose, Again.

Against all odds, our God reigns.

P.s. If you just read this, please lift up Spencer as we speak right now! Please lift up his awesome fiance Lindsay and both the Hamptons and the Styons’ families as they fight this battle. Prayer is powerful and necessary. It works. Our God IS a God of miracles.

Carry me, Jesus.

This morning I checked something off my bucket list: A half-marathon. I must say, it was a dang good feeling to cross that finish line as people were cheering you on, pushing you to take that last leap and not give up.

While the physical success was a great feeling and I am already ready for another one, my mind was focused on something much different as I was running the race today.

I was overwhelmed with gratefulness and determination.

In fact, as I was running, I thought “I have GOT to write about how I’m feeling write now! But what does that even look like?!”

So, here goes.

As I was about to start the race, I turned on my pandora station to Jeremy Camp and the song “I’m Trading My Sorrows” came on. If you don’t know that song, go listen to it. No seriously, don’t wait to finish reading this post. It will so encourage you right where you are and make the rest of this even better!

The lyrics say:
I’m trading my sorrow.

I’m trading my shame.

I’m laying it down for the joy of the Lord!


I’m trading my sickness.

I’m trading my pain.

I’m laying it down for the joy of the Lord!
Chorus:
And we say yes Lord yes Lord yes yes Lord!

Yes Lord yes Lord yes yes Lord!

Yes Lord yes Lord yes yes Lord Amen!


I’m pressed but not crushed persecuted not abandoned.

Struck down but not destroyed.

I’m blessed beyond the curse for his promise will endure.

And his joy’s gonna be my strength.


Though the sorrow may last for the night

His joy comes with the morning!

Imagine it being 6:15 in the morning, still dark outside, the ground is wet cause it’s been raining all throughout the night and you’re about to run 13.1 miles. I have terrible shin splints (genius idea to do a half-marathon, I know) so I was extremely nervous. And I’m a competitive person so walkin’ this thing just wasn’t an option.

So I plug my earphones in, turn the volume on full blast and close my eyes.

Y’all, I can’t even explain it but Jesus turned on the green light in my soul and when I started that race, I KNEW I was going to be able to make my goal.

As I ran each mile, I noticed all different kinds of people running. Some had on shirts in memory of someone who had passed away and this was their way of recognizing the person. Others had shirts from past marathons and this was their hobby, a huge part of their life. There was an even a little boy running the race (p.s. WHAT! I couldn’t even play freeze tag without getting winded when I was that age.)

I started out beside a guy who had shorts on in the pattern of an American flag, an army shirt and a backpack on. His face was determined. His eyes held all his focus. He was running for someone else, someone bigger than Him. He was running for his country.

As my feet pounded the pavement, I prayed to God over and over “Carry me in this race, carry me.”

Guess what?

He did. The whole way there. From the first step to the finish line.

While I know a half-marathon isn’t climbing Mount Everest, this experience reminded me that I can literally do anything that I set my mind to. ANYTHING. But ONLY if I rely on Jesus to carry me through it. The definition of impossible was made by man and it’s a good thing we don’t rely on man to determine what we can and can not do!

Walking around after the race, I was just so encouraged by all of these people who had smiles on their faces, sweat running down their face and a medal around their neck. Each person had done what they had set out to do. I could tell by the look on so many people’s faces that this race had nothing to do with an official time, it had everything to do with the fact that they had done it, they had completed the race.

So, get this: You can do anything you set your mind to but ONLY if you rely on the power of Jesus Christ.

Also, get this: Nothing good comes APART from Jesus. And a heck of a lot of things are impossible without Him.

So, grab your water bottle. Turn on your ipod and claim right now that you are trading your sorrows and you are trading your shame because JOY has come! And today? It’s your day to let Jesus carry you, my friend.

You get a piggy back ride the whole time. How AWESOME is that?!

Turn Back Around.

Curly blonde hair. Little levi jeans with light up shoes. Miniature Carolina Baseball jersey. Blue eyes with eyelashes longer than mine and a smile that covered over half of his face.

Thomas was his name. I met him earlier today as I was waiting in line for my food at Panera. As he clenched his mother’s hand in front of me and played hide-and-seek with me through her legs, I instantly fell in love. I wanted to eat him for lunch, no seriously. He was THAT cute.

Well, as I looked up from my phone to step forward in line, I saw his big blue eyes staring at me, terrified as can be. I saw his mom had just gone to pick up napkins, not even two feet away from him, but was just out of his line of vision. Because I used to make the same look, I knew immediately what was wrong.

“You okay, buddy?”, I asked him.

One word out of my mouth and tears started to swell in his eyes.

“My mom left me. I don’t know where she went,” he said with the most pitiful look on his face.

“What’s your name? I’ll help you find her!” I said.

“Thomas. Tommy. Either one.” he said, as his voice cracked from crying and sniffling.

“Well Tommy, look riiiiiight over there” I said as I turned his body towards his mom. “She was just getting you napkins so you could eat your soup!”

Thomas had grabbed my hand at this point and squeezed it so tight I was already sweating. His grip sweetly loosened as soon as he saw his mother’s face.

“I’m so sorry! I swear, I leave for two seconds and they think I’ve been gone for five minutes. And anytime he doesn’t see me directly, he freaks out! Thank you.” his mom said. You could tell she was frazzled and a little stressed.

I told her about how I had two younger brothers and that look was far too familiar. Plus, her little Thomas was the first boy to make my heart skip a beat in quite a while (and yes, he was under six years old).

Sweet little Thomas and his mom ate lunch right near me and he would not leave her lap. He wanted to make sure she wasn’t going anywhere, especially not to get another napkin.

As I sat there eating my own soup, I couldn’t help but smile at the resemblance that this incident has with our relationship with Christ. So often, we turn our focus (just like Thomas had turned to look at me) and we think Jesus has abandoned us. Instead of turning back around or looking another way or searching for him, we become terrified and afraid. Just like Thomas’ mom had not left her little boy, Jesus never leaves us.

So, today I want to encourage you to remember that whenever we feel afraid or alone or worried or uncertain or anything at all, it is not Jesus who has gone anywhere, but rather us who have changed our focus.

Just like little Thomas was too short to see his mom’s face behind the napkin dispenser, sometimes we allow our circumstances and worldly perspective to blind us from seeing Jesus in the midst of our situation. But He is there, like He always has been and always will be.

Keep your focus on Him and when you feel like He has strayed, reconsider your view.

And, you will have days where tears will swell up in your big blue eyes and even your light up shoes can’t save the day. And on those days, Jesus will take those napkins He was getting just for you and wipe the tears off your face as you sit on His lap. Eating your soup. Resting your legs. Soothing your heart. Calming your spirit. Reminding you that once again, He never turns His back on us, it is only the other way around.

The Wrong Caption.

Have you ever gotten dressed for a big event or dolled yourself up in a new outfit and you were feelin’ fly?…until you looked in the mirror after a few hours. HAHA is all i have to say about myself at times.

I considered suing a particular place downtown because everytime I go out and end up looking in this mirror, I swear it is lying. It’s like one of those circus mirrors that gets the proportions all mixed up…yeah, it’s one of those. Or that’s what I’m going with for the time being.

But really, it is insane how quickly we go from snapping pictures left and right to refusing to be present in the next snapshot after seeing ourselves in the mirror.

What changed?

Not your appearance. Hate to break it to ya, and myself as well, but sweaty hair does not take you down ten notches. It just ain’t possible.

What changed though?

Our perspective. Our mindset . What changed is how we saw ourselves, therefore sky-rocketing or plummeting our confidence level. And then, that night that was supposed to be composed of fun memories with friends turns into a selfish pity-party in your head where you contemplate why you’re not “pretty enough” or “hott enough” or “good enough” or “skinny enough” or blah, blah, blah whatever!

I’m stopping myself cause I find even my own introverted thoughts annoying in this process. It seems absolutely ridiculous that we let such miniscule, materialistic details change our plans and ability to enjoy ourselves.

While I am not retracting my belief that mirrors might make this world (especially the female population) a happier place, I think it is of utmost importance that we ask ourselves whose standards we are adhering to….Why would we let the world’s definition of beautiful override that of God’s view of us? Didn’t He create everything in this world anyway?

It isn’t the picture portrayed in the mirror that we must “work on”, but rather the message and caption we attach with this picture. I’m simply encouraging you to take off the false, unreliable caption the world places on appearance and reattach the caption the Lord put on when He created you.

So I want to encourage you to feed yourself truth and redefine the thoughts that you think when you look in the mirror. I’m not saying you won’t have those “days” nor am I saying your reactions will be “Dangggggg son, I look GOOD.” (If it is, two thumbs up to you my friend, now stay humble 🙂 )

But truly, tell yourself these things each time you look in the mirror:

“You are altogether beautiful, my love; there is no flaw in you.” -Song of Solomon 4:7

“Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” -1 Samuel `6:7

“Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.” -Proverbs 31:30

Eventually, the truth you’re speaking will become ingrained into your brain, into your mind, into your soul and eventually be the knowledge of your heart.

Do not let the mirrors of this world decide how you see yourself. You are BEAUTIFUL!

Now, defying my own idea at the beginning, go look in the mirror. Which caption defines you today?

Why are you waiting?

Do you want to know something I am really bad at? Being patient. In all seriousness, I am so NOT good at being patient.

You see, I used to think this was one of my best qualities. That is, until I realized that I was good at being patient when I knew things were going to workout. I was good at waiting for things to click into place as long as I knew that everything was going as planned, the pieces were in the right position and I felt like I was still in control.

Well, news flash to me, when I have to wait for the chips to fall as they may and I have no control over where they land, I am sooo not a patient person. This is the thing about being patient: I hate feeling as though I am being stagnant. I hate the feeling of going no where at all more than I hate the feeling of going backwards. At least in one, I am still moving somewhere!

I was having a day when I really needed to surrender my thoughts to Jesus and stop trying to be in control. Imagine that (Why are we such control freaks?!) So, I closed my eyes and just kind of sat there.

This is how my conversation went…

“Hey God. I’m so frustrated. You tell me to be candid and I guess since you can see my thoughts anyway, hiding them from you makes absolutely no sense. But I am feeling unsure about a few areas in my life and I have tried my best to fix them….Why isn’t it working?….I am kinda feeling like you’re maybe wanting me to go another way. Is that right? I want to be patient but I am struggling with doing that right now.”

As clear as day, He challenged me in my own prayer. “Are you really trying to be patient, Cleere? Answer this one question: Do you trust me with this?”

Woah. what.

God?

Yep, it was Him. So I answered, “Yeah, I am trying to. I think I the more time that goes by, the more I wonder whether I am making the right decision yet I haven’t felt a nudge to go in another way. I want to serve you but I don’t know where I will be next.”

And He nudged me, quietly asking me back: “Why can’t You serve me while you wait?”

There it was. The answer I needed, more abruptly said to me than I can really express into words. That was the remedy.

Why was I waiting to serve the Lord when the answer to my prayer arrived? Or when the next step in my life became clear? Why wasn’t I doing it NOW? Wasn’t there people around who needed to be fed and encouraged? Wasn’t there ways I could nourish my soul as I prepared for the next step in my journey?

Yes, to all of those questions: YES!!! The second I became emotionally raw and intimate with God and expected Him to 110% answer my question as though I could physically see Him right in front of me, He showed up, like He promises us every single day of our lives.

So I want to encourage you, whether you are in the fresh steps of a new phase, on the back end of a closing chapter or in the midst of waves and wondering which one will be your next ride to shore, SERVE. The best part about being on a journey with Christ is that you never have to remain stagnant. He is a living and moving forward kind of God!

Seek the Lord where you are. Yearn for Him where you are. Listen to Him where you are. Thank Him for where you are. Be assured that you are never without purpose anywhere that you go!

Be patient. The time will come. But do not think for a second that the Lord doesn’t work “in the meantime.”

Get raw with God. Be honest with yourself. Are you allowing yourself to settle into that comfy seat and remain stagnant when you can serve as you wait?

….Don’t miss out. You have no idea which wave might roll by that could be the trip of a LIFETIME 🙂

It’s okay to not be okay.

Have you ever been sad and you really don’t even know why? Or you just get into a funk during the day and you can’t seem to shake it off? Or today, everything hurts your feelings? (even a six-year-old’s comments can make you cry. I speak from experience here).

I’m gonna go out on a limb and say that a lot of people have felt this way. Maybe I’m crazy? If so, stop reading. If not, work with me here and think of a time when you have just felt “off” or “not 100 percent, or “not yourself.”

I have had these days more than I can count. Unfortunately, I am not one of those kind of people who can hide my emotions…at all. Actually, the more I try and hide them, the more obvious they are. I’m upset= I try to be excitedly cheery. It takes that one person to ask me a certain way or the hug from my brother that breaks my wall down. And brick by brick by brick, I crumble. Often literally. (Feel sorry for me yet?)

No, I’m not an emotional nut. I promise. Actually, I think if I considered myself overdramatic, that might even be easier cause I’d have an excuse! But I’m not.

Anyway, these days are my least favorite while I’m going through them. I get so impatient and frustrated with myself because I can’t label why I’m feeling sad or upset. I literally go through the different aspects of my life (family, friends, school etc) and check them off in my head. WHY am I sad or feeling this way? It’s like that rut that you just can’t get out of so you have to hang out there a while.

But, as I reflect on my days like this, there is a common ending to each one. Always.

God intervenes.

What’s that mean?

Well, it doesn’t mean that I start jumping around on rainbows BUT the second I get on my knees on a day like this and invite God to reveal to me why I’m feeling this way or restore my joy, He starts speaking TRUTH into my life!

My mom has always said, “There is so much power in Jesus’ name! But only if you believe it.” Well, go mama! So true.

Sometimes days like this are God’s way of pulling us in, calling our name and saying to each of us, “You are mine!” It is not that our lives are just enriched by a friendship with our maker, they are DESIGNED for it! We were created to be pursued by Jesus and to pursue His heart in return. That is true Joy! That is when we begin to understand love. That is when we get to experience life! That’s when the days where we don’t feel like “ourselves”, we learn that only He can give us back that peace of mind we need.

So, even if you’re feeling just a little off your rocker, do not wait until you’re literally helpless to go to Him with it! God understands every single human emotion, even the ones we can’t describe or explain to ourselves. He knows them. He created them. He can sort them out. He can fix them. He can change them!

And be encouraged! Having an “off day” for no reason is COMPLETELY NORMAL. Do not even waste your time sending out invitations to your self pity-party because no one has time for that, especially you!

It’s okay to not always be okay.

Did you hear that? No? Okay, I’ll say it again. It is okay to not always be okay.

In fact, that’s like a sign that your heart is beating and your blood is flowing. It is human! BUT it is what you do with that that makes the difference. Go straight to the throne, get your cup filled and expect the end of your day to be much better than the beginning. Maybe circumstances didn’t change, maybe everything is just as it was before, but now you have a Jesus perspective. THAT, my friend, is irreplaceable.

So, when you’re not feelin’ peachy, get on your knees and thank Jesus anyway. Jesus can make it all okay.

“I sought the Lord, and He heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.”
-Psalm 34:4

Be somebody’s Starbucks!

Are you a Starbucks addict?

I’m not. I wish I was, actually. I love seeing people with their little Starbucks cup and their laptop ready to take on the world! (Besides the fact that they cost an arm and an leg). However, I got a coffee the other day and for some reason, it tasted WONDERFUL. I put the perfect amount of splenda and milk in it, so it didn’t turn completely white but I could taste the sweetness.

Anyway, I read my devotion and drank my Starbucks and I felt so energized! Originally, I woke up feeling a little drained but after having a little quiet time and discovering my new-found love for coffee, I felt ready to climb a mountain!

What do I call this? The perfect little pick-me-up.

Encouragement. We all need it. We all look for it. We all benefit from it. But the real question is: Do we all give it? You see, what we do not realize is that when we encourage others around us, we ourselves are encouraged. It’s called the power and contagiousness of positivity.

The scripture in Proverbs 27:17 says, “Iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” So does just one piece of iron become sharpened? NO! When one person takes the time and effort to encourage another, both are equally blessed! While we should not encourage others out of selfish conceit, it is important to understand that when we fill up another’s cup, some is poured into ours too! Think about it: Doesn’t it feel good when you make another person smile?…rhetorical question. YES!

Giving encouragement to someone takes time. It takes effort. Sometimes it requires patience. Other times it means removing your pride and the need to be competitive.

Whatever it means, be willing to do it. After all, think about all the times you have succeeded in your life. Did your mom encourage you after your first baseball game or gymnastics competition, telling you how wonderful of an athlete you were? ….So you kept going. Did your friend encourage you through a difficult time in your romantic relationship, reminding you that there were more fish in the sea?….So you moved on, picked up your head and kept pushing forward. Did your teacher include a smiley face sticker beside the A+ and “AWESOME JOB” on your math test?….So you were reminded of your intelligence and ability to do well and you kept studying!

So, take a little time for someone else.

Write a thank you note. Tell them how much they mean to you.

Write a kind message on their facebook wall. Remind them to have a good day because, well, they rock! And they need to know it!

Review their english paper and encourage them to keep up the good work. Not everyone can be a Shakespeare like them. Remind them of their gift!

Attend their swim meet and yell as loud as fricken possible so they can’t miss seeing you in the stands.

Give someone a hug who looks like they are having a bad day. We have ALL been there. (and please use two arms and don’t do an awkward side-hug. Those are the worst!!!!!!!)

And sometimes encouragement just means being there. Your presence alone can make all the difference to someone who needs it.

Whatever being an encourager means in your life today, do it. Don’t forget or procrastinate. When your day comes around and you need some lifting up yourself, you definitely won’t want someone to forget. Or give you a side-hug. So do us all a favor and don’t do that to someone else! Make them feel significant, important, special, cared for, loved or even just…better. Sending a little pick-me up goes a long way!

Be someone’s little cup of coffee today and give them a little jump-start in their day. Recharge their battery. Believe it or not, your encouragement can trump that of a Starbucks coffee latte thai mocha cappucino espresso blah blah blah, all of the above.

“Encourage one another and build eachother up.” -1 Thessalonians 5:11

Be encouraged, my friend! It WILL be a great day, believe it! 🙂