A few simple questions.

Reflect.

Do you take the time to reflect on the incredible things God has done in your life, both big and small?

Forgive.

Do you offer the same forgiveness to others that God offers to you? Do you offer that forgiveness to yourself?

Laugh.

Do you take the time to stop being so serious about your life long enough to laugh and just enjoy what is around you?

Enjoy.

Do you spend too much time planning, organizing and running yourself wild that you do not really enjoy your life?

Breathe.

Do you spend so much time planting flowers that you do not stop long enough to smell the roses already planted? Do you give yourself time to just breathe it all in?

Remember.

Do you take the time to remember the love of God, the worth He has stored in you and the value of those around you?

Discover.

Do you seek to discover new things each day that allow you to really “taste” life? More importantly, do you take the time to discover who God is on a daily basis?

Try.

Do you let yourself try new things and experience new adventures? Do you always stick to the same ol’ same ol’ and never let your taste buds change?

Feel.

Do you pride yourself in being so logical that you don’t actually let yourself feel anything? Does your brain decide your next step without negotiation of how your heart feels?

Understand.

Do you take the time to invest in those around you and try and understand how they feel? Do you seek to know more so that you can really relate and help those around you?

Give.

Do you give your time, effort, money, energy and love to things that matter? Or will the efforts that you invest in have no eternal value?

Love.

Do you spend your time loving those around you or breaking them down? Do you keep your walls up so high that no one can love the very depths of who you are?

Can you tell I am in over analytical mode today?! Exam time = Brain in overdrive.

But really, I started thinking about everything and in the midst of making it so complicated, I realized it is often the simple questions we fail to answer.

Go through each of these questions and really be honest with yourself- what does consume your day and therefore direct your life? Do you give yourself enough time to breathe that you would even have a chance to discover, try or understand something new?

Life is short but oh SO sweet. So, before you look back and wished you had, act now and be glad you did.

Remember to:
Reflect.
Forgive.
Laugh.
Enjoy.
Breathe.
Remember.
Discover.
Try.
Feel.
Understand.
Give.
Love.

So elementary. But SO not.

Now don’t spend so much time analyzing these questions that you don’t take the time you have left in TODAY to do some of them. The more you breathe and enjoy life, chances are the more you will feel and love and discover and etc….you get what I mean.

Life with Jesus is simple . The world makes it hard. Therefore, living a life for Jesus in this world ain’t easy. Take one day at a time and remember we were created to THRIVE, not survive.

All in all, life is good. Are you livin’ it right?

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Hand up to the haters!

“I am so offended.”

Why would she say that to me?

Why would he think he can speak to me that way?

Why wasn’t I invited?

As humans, we naturally are offended. In our flesh, we have the tendency to feel excluded and left out, leading us to believe that we are unworthy. We start to analyze the things that people say, read into harmless comments far too often and wear our hearts on our sleeve.

I am no stranger to feeling offended or taking things personally. I used to tell myself that it was just “part of my personality” and like my mother always said growing up, I just had an extremely “tender heart.”

Well, my dad changed my perspective really quick.

In conversation with him one day about his advice in what to do in a situation in my life, he responded to me with “Cleere, honey, you know it isn’t Godly to be offended, right? God doesn’t call us to be offended or take things personally.”

Excuse me, WHAT? I’m offended, dad.

No, seriously I was. I was thinking he was going to respond to me with this wonderful speech about how awesome I am (humble) and that I shouldn’t worry about what I was worrying about! I was better than that, right?!?

No.

He responded in a way so much deeper than that. His words were no subtle message. I heard God speaking through him loud and clear. I sat there after our conversation and really thought about it. My dad was exactly right. Being offended isn’t Godly. Being offended isn’t helpful. Being offended is often times the action of questioning your own worth, actions or character because someone else vocalizes that they do not agree with you. Or, sometimes it is simply having your feelings hurt because you aren’t invited somewhere, making you feel alone or invaluable to those around you.

Wanna know something crazy?

Those thoughts are all LIES. You see, Satan loves for us to listen to him as he feeds us bad food for our souls, holding us back from walking in the true WORTH that we hold in our Savior. We were not made by Satan, he doesn’t know us like our Maker does! So while it may be easy to react to a situation with being offended or upset, choose to see a different perspective. You must KNOW in your spirit that you are made for so much more than taking up your time feeling offended. Your worth is not determined by those around you so why would you let it depreciate your day or hold you back?

Along with this, I recently read in Luke where Jesus is standing trial before Herod right before he is crucified. At this point, Jesus had been stoned, condemned, tortured by others and denied three times by his very own disciple, Peter. Herod was so excited to see Jesus because he had been longing to hammer him with questions. Jesus had the perfect opportunity to defend himself!

Right? Speak up, Jesus! ….Wrong.

It says in Luke 23:9 that as Herod questioned him in length, “He answered him nothing.”

Jesus didn’t have to defend himself. He was not offended by those who refused to believe that He was the Messiah. He didn’t carry his heart on his sleeve because He knew how his father defined Him and the world could not take that away from Him. ever. and What happened? He shut everybody up after rising from the dead.

yep, uh huh. That’s our Jesus.

So, do yourself a favor, and don’t be so offended all the time! Refuse to worry about the things others say or let their thoughts define how you feel about yourself. You are a child of the most High God aka you have no time to be offended! You are loved, worthy and you have purpose.

So, hand up to the haters. You got work to do!

One small ripple.

Have you heard the phrase, “A small pebble can leave a big ripple”.

I think that’s the saying. If not, you know what I mean.

Well, it’s true.

A teeny tiny pebble can cause ripples that continue to effect the tide long after it hits the water. Those little ripples can add to a monstrous wave which could possibly tip a canoe. Or change the direction a fish decides to swim downstream.

Or sometimes, that ripple sifts through the water and stops when it reaches the bank and the pebble hits the bottom of the river, adding one to the stack of many, affecting no one or nothing in its course.

What does this have to do with anything? Well, it kinda doesn’t. But I will tell you where my brain was going with it.

Deciding to drink and drive.

An obvious action that can seriously affect the lives of others, as well as yourself. It’s selfish and stupid. There is just NO way around that. Sleep outside for a night, or find a couch somewhere. But seriously.

However, what we don’t realize is that so many things we do and so many things we say affect the lives of those around us. Including the way we respond to others and the words we say out of frustration. All of it! Our actions and our words can encourage or discourage. They can build others up or completely tear them down. They can constructively build relationships or criticizingly destroy them. They can prepare the way for success or pave the road for consequences.

The craziest part abut this? You probably have NO idea when your actions or your words have affected someone, especially someone you don’t know.

Perfect example of this is when I was recently walking around the mall and I saw an exchange going on between a mother and her child. He tore down a clothes rack, naturally, at being the age of no more than six. She grabbed him by one arm, slapped his face and cussed at him with a face of absolute disgust.

Part of me wanted to attack her. I was allllll kinda rowled up inside. She was about six feet tall so we both know I was able to control my anger cause I didn’t want to embarrass her…

Anyway, I thought about this event all day, and it still crosses my mind frequently. I pray that the little nameless boy knows he is worth more than anything his mama calls him out of frustration. But you see? It wasn’t just me who witnessed this event. Others were bothered, too.

Once again: our actions affect others. Our words affect others. Sometimes, they completely change the course of our day or the direction of our lives. Other times, they simply nudge us to pray for someone, like this did to me.

What do you want to be known for?

Throwing a pebble that ripples through the water, softly nudging others with words of encouragement and showing love to them through your actions?

Or a stone that shatters the soul with harmful words without thought of how this ripple might affect them or actions that seek to be a wave tearing someone down, giving them no grace to get back up?

We all need the first. Our hearts were created to be pursued by Jesus and He is the most gentle soul we know. Be aware that what you do affects more than yourself and that those around you need to be loved. And so do you.

So, gather some pebbles. Toss them where the water is still and those around you need your words and can benefit from your actions. Put down the stones, those aren’t yours to throw 🙂 And if you’ve thrown any recently, take the time today to apologize and create a new ripple. You will be so glad that you did.

You are “mine.”

What is a father?

I had so many conversations this past weekend over Easter that continually reminded me of this definition.  Some were about broken relationships with parents, some were about relationships with earthly fathers that had been recently restored and a lot were about the only perfect father.

One particular conversation keeps re-playing in my mind though.

Davon, sixteen-year-old, absolutely hilarious, talented and sweet boy. His dream is to be a rockstar or a rapper, which doesn’t seem difficult to achieve because his energy is contagious!

As he told me his story, he laughed every so often as he shared each difficult detail.  I think the laughs were to fight the tears.   He told me about his family growing up, the friends that he had lost along the way and the people who continually shifted in and out of his life, providing him with no consistency at all.  He openly shared all the things he did to try and fill these empty holes in his life, none of them satisfying him like his friends promised.

As I looked into his big brown eyes, I realized so deeply what it means when they say “your eyes tell a story.”  Davon had been through more in one year than I feel like I have in my entire life, but his eyes glisten.  Through all of the pain that he has endured, he has gained more hope.  For after each fall, he has also stood up again, testifying to the amount of strength that his 16-year-old self has inside.

As he told me the story about how his father had completely abandoned him and chosen someone else over him, I crumbled inside.  I could physically feel my heart hurting, like I was experiencing intense heartburn at age 21.  It made me so sad but it also infuriated me! How could ANY man leave his child? And especially Davon, this precious spirit who so desperately was seeking affirmation and love?

Abandoned.

Left alone.

Told he was unworthy.

As I sat there, I prayed as he continued to talk. I prayed that each detail he shared with me would no longer define him. I prayed that he knew that despite what anyone in his past told him, a real father does not abandon his children.  I prayed that no matter what labels his earthly father put on him, that he only would accept the ones his heavenly father placed on his head.

He is worthy.

He is loved.

He is sacred.

Lord, please let his heart know, I said over and over and over.

I squeezed Davon’s eyeballs out when I hugged him after he finished talking and Jesus calmly reminded me, “My daughter, just as I watch over you, I also watch over my son. He is and has always been mine.”

Jesus had always been right beside Davon and there was no doubt that his arms of protection continually kept him from harm.  

You see, there are so many times in our lives when we let wrong things or sinful people define something that only God can accurately define.  He is our father and no matter if our earthly father does a good job of showing us love, we have a heavenly father who is the King of Kings.  

He loves unconditionally, passionately and eternally.  We can’t be separated from His love.  The best part is? no matter where we go, what we do or what mistakes we make, He sees us the same yesterday, today and forever: Radiant and perfect!!!

So, remember this: You are loved, cared for and protected by a heavenly father who will never leave your side. Never allow someone to tell you differently 🙂

Your father finds you worthy and is PROUD to call you “mine”.

He always intervenes.

Imagine this.

A little boy, not more than four years old, short in height, tiny in stature, with blue eyes bigger than quarters.

Not more than an hour ago, his legos were all that were on his mind. His babysitter had taken her eyes off of him for just a short second to tend to his even littler sister when she heard him scream with such terror in his voice. She turned around to see his head gushing with blood as the chair had slipped from under him and the corner of the kitchen table gashed his small head.

Now he laid on the emergency room bed, terrified of all these “white coats” that surrounded him.

Finally, mom and dad reached the hospital and sprinted to the room where their precious little boy was waiting. With each stride, their heart beats accelerated.
Colton’s blue eyes became glued to the door. He just had to focus on the door and soon enough, mom and dad would enter and the white coats would disappear.

As if it could not get worse, the doctors approached Colton’s parents telling them that they needed to get anesthesia in his little body before he lost any more of his blood.

So Colton’s dad boldly entered the room, as he watched his little boy’s face extend his arm reaching for his daddy’s neck. Instead of accepting the embrace, Colton’s daddy pinned his hands to the hospital bed so the doctors could give Colton the anesthesia he needed.

Colton’s face displayed the ultimate look of betrayal. Confusion. Uncertainty. Fear.

Why was his daddy siding with the “white coats”? Didn’t he realize that he needed his help?

Colton’s head still gushing blood and his heart, broken.

You see, Colton didn’t know what was going on around him. He didn’t know that there were things he could not see and details happening behind the scenes that his four-year-old little mind could not grasp. While he felt that his father had betrayed him, his father had actually displayed the ultimate act of love in that situation.
His daddy did save him, he just didn’t know it yet.

This is how God so often is with us. There are so many instances in our lives that land us in the “emergency room”, terrified of what is coming next. The “white coats” that surround us fill us with anxiety and fear.

“Where is my daddy?”, we think.

Well, he is there. He is always there. He has never left you. And just when you need it, He will intervene. It may not be exactly how we viewed him saving us, but a father’s love sees past what we can see on our small hospital bed.

God doesn’t betray us. He saves us. He is always our hero.

If your arms feel pinned back sometimes, remember that there are so many things we do not see and that Jesus displayed the ultimate act of love on the cross. He will not betray you now. He is faithful. He is loving. He is caring. He is passionate about your heart. He is all-knowing. He is compassionate. He is merciful. He is wise. He is able. He is our Savior. He is God.

Take comfort today, knowing that your daddy would never side against you. He will always save you at just the right moment in just the right way.

You. Are. Loved.