Pages

Saturday, March 10, 2018

ISAIAH (March 10th)






The Book of Isaiah

We started reading the book of Isaiah this week. The book of Isaiah was written by the prophet Isaiah. According to Bible.org, "The book is a collection of oracles, prophecies, and reports; but the common theme is the message of salvation." And I don't think any chapter quite displays the message of salvation as Isaiah chapter 30.

The first part of the chapter discusses a rebel spirit. A spirit that the generation was plagued with. They piled sin upon sin. They refused to seek God's face concerning their plans. They lied. They wouldn't listen to God. 

Salvation

But God still had a plan of salvation for them. They weren't a hopeless case (I'm listening to Clint Brown's "If Not Grace" while I type this and how ironic that he just said, I'd be a hopeless case if not for grace...)

God knows it takes strength to turn our backs on sin. We were born in to it. It takes effort to be a morally sound person. It is our nature to be sinful, so it takes work to be different. God says in Isaiah chapter 30, "Your strength comes from settling down in complete dependence on me." Our strength to battle sin comes from DEPENDING on God. We cannot overcome our human nature alone. It only comes from ASKING Him for help. Seeking His face every morning. 

I've noticed in my own life that the days I don't put God first, sin has an easier hold over me. It's easier for me to let my anger fly without even trying to contain it. It's easier for me to yell out of frustration. The days I don't DEPEND on Him and I try to do it all myself-- I struggle.

Waiting

In Isaiah 30 verse 18, Isaiah says, "But God's not finished. He's waiting around to be gracious to you. He's gathering strength to show mercy to you. God takes the time to do everything right- everything. Those who wait around for Him are the lucky ones."

I know lately, my family has been having a very difficult time. I'll be honest- it felt like God was just blatantly ignoring us. We would pray and pray and pray-- and no response. Or at least it felt that way. I was desperate for an answer. Weeks went by.. and no response still. It was very discouraging. And then I read this verse and although my faith was weak, I kept thinking 'God has a reason. Try and trust Him.' It was hard. I kept wondering how He could see us struggling and not rush in to respond. BUT. After weeks of prayer.. weeks of wondering why He wasn't answering... our prayers were answered and honestly, they were at the perfect time. If God would have responded a month ago when we started praying, the blessing would have been great, BUT the blessing NOW (at this point in our lives) is NEEDED. He knew what was going to be happening a month from the point we began praying.. and it just took waiting on our part. 

Now, reading this verse-- I can say it is the truth.

I struggled when I read it 2 weeks ago. I struggled to trust, but now I see how it has come full circle.

He was waiting around to be gracious to us because He knew WHEN we would need His blessings. He takes the time to do everything right. It just takes trusting Him.

When the Waiting is Over

And when the waiting is over...

the time of tears is over.

Isaiah 30:19 says, "Oh yes people of Zion, citizens of Jerusalem, your time of tears is over. Cry for help and you'll find it's grace and more grace. The moment He hears, He'll answer." (and some times that answer might be WAIT! It doesn't mean He isn't hearing!)

I get cold chills every time I read that.

Your time of tears is OVER. You find GRACE.

Grace.
Grace.
Grace.

Thank You Jesus for hearing, even when we think You don't hear.
Thank You for grace.
Thank You for answers that fit our NEEDS.

God Will Provide

"God will provide rain for the seeds you sow. The grain that grows will be abundant." (Isaiah 30:23)

God will provide rain for the seeds.
God WILL provide what you NEED in order to grow.

I'm going to repeat that for myself here.

God WILL PROVIDE what you NEED in order to GROW!

And we might not like that RAIN!
But let me tell you-- that growth will be unlike anything you've ever seen.. if you understand that the rain SERVES A PURPOSE.

I hope you all will pray over your lives today. Pray for His Word. Pray for His perfect timing. Pray for His provision. Pray for His LOVE to flow through. Pray for RAIN. Pray for growth.

In Jesus name.


Friday, March 9, 2018

Guilty Pleasure (March 9th)






We are going to switch gears a little bit and talk about 

GUILTY PLEASURES.

Guilty pleasures are described as, "something, such as a movie, television program, or piece of music, that one enjoys despite feeling that it is not generally held in high regard."

One of my guilty pleasures is: CRIME TV SHOWS

I'm obsessed.

Gimme 'Forensic Files'.. gimme 'Cold Justice'... gimme 'Criminal Minds'..  gimme 'Women Behind Bars'... gimme 'Snapped'...

Obsessed.

Some days, I wish I would have became a detective or a homicide investigator. Seeing justice being done for the innocent lives taken.. it lights a fire in me. I also like to make a check list in my mind of things I should do if something were to ever happen to me. Like seeing victims scratch or bite their attacker... transfer of finger prints or blood or teeth marks or skin cells or clothing. How to be aware of my surroundings. How to feel safe in my own home. It teaches you so much about the world and the kind of things to look for in your own home. 

I think I've watched every single episode of 'Forensic Files' 4 or 5 times... every episode of 'Criminal Minds' at least 2 times.. it's just an obsession and I'm proud to say it is my guilty pleasure!

What is your guilty pleasure?


Ecclesiastes Part 2 (March 8th)





I thought we would continue our discussion on Ecclesiastes today. 

In Ecclesiastes chapter 9, we read:

"Each and every day of your precarious life. Each day is God's gift. It's all you get in exchange for the hard work of staying alive. Make the most of each one!"

Like I always say- as someone who struggles with anxiety- this really hit home for me.

I know I certainly struggle with making the best of each one.

I spend some days just scared of basically everything- and some days, I have no idea why. BUT, reading this verse sent conviction through out my entire body. What am I doing with my life? Letting fear rob me of actually making the most of my days? Absolutely. And this is something that I SHOULD NOT be doing. It breaks God's heart. He gave me each day as a gift- for me to live- not just survive.

Ecclesiastes chapter 9 also hit home for me when I read: "Sooner or later bad luck hits us all."

I know we all get down at times and think 'Why me?' We look at other's lives and think they have it all together, but truth be told, we probably just don't see when they're down on their luck (at times.) But God reminds us- sooner or later bad luck hits us all. It is just part of life. We have to get through the tough times, to get through the good times.

Ecclesiastes 10:1 states, "Dead flies in perfume make it stink, and a little foolishness decomposes much wisdom."

Reading this verse has caused a prayer to pour out of my soul- Jesus, please release any kind of foolishness in my life so that wisdom can flow. Wisdom, according to the dictionary, is "the quality of having experience, knowledge, and good judgment." I want good judgment in my life. I want knowledge that can help in every situation that I face. And I want foolishness out of my life. God, please help me.

Ecclesiastes continues the discussion of wisdom by stating, "Wise thinking leads to right living; stupid thinking leads to wrong living." (Ecclesiastes 10:2)

Prayers should pour from us-- God release foolishness-- God grant wisdom. Wisdom leads to right living: a desire that is so close to my heart! 

A calm disposition quiets intemperate rage. (Ecclesiastes 10:4) 

Wow, this hits home: when you are facing an argument- when you encounter someone with rage-- a calm disposition can calm it. You have a choice to REACT. You can react with peace and a calm spirit or you can react fire with fire. The choice is yours, but just note: someone cannot get mad at you for keeping your cool. When you keep your cool, you will not say things you don't mean. When you keep your cool, you will not act in a manner you regret. Keeping calm is key!

The words of a wise person are gracious.
The talk of a fool self-destructs- 
He starts out talking nonsense
And ends up spouting insanity and evil.

Once again-- God, please help us be wise! Help us to not use words of self-destruction. Help us to not spew insanity and evil. Guard our hearts. Guard our minds. Guard our mouths. Guard our lives, Jesus.

And through this guarding, God... help us be a blessing to others. Ecclesiastes 11:2 says, "Be a blessing to others. This could be your last night."

We have got to put ourselves aside and think about others. Let kindness pour from our hearts. Let a giving spirit from our souls. God, help us be a blessing to others. Please. 

And Ecclesiastes continues the thought from Ecclesiastes chapter 9. Ecclesiastes 11:7 says, "Even if you live a long time, don't take a single day for granted."

God, help us not to take a single day for granted. Let us live our lives to the fullest, being the best version of ourselves we can be.

And as if I hadn't received enough conviction through Ecclesiastes, LOL, Ecclesiastes 11:9 says,"You who are young make the most of your youth. Relish your youthful vigor. Follow the impulses of your heart. If something looks good to you, pursue it. But know also that not just anything goes. You have to answer to God for every last bit of it."

After reading this, conviction stabbed me... and repentance overcame me. God forgive me for following youthful vigor and for making mistakes that probably broke your heart. Please wash me clean and love me wholly.

Happy 365 Day Blog Challenge!




Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Ecclesiastes (March 7th)






In trying to read through the entire Bible, I read through the book of Ecclesiastes the past couple of days. I was kind of shocked, if we are being honest, about how raw the author was. He consistently talked about how he hated life.. hated everything. There was no point to life. There was no point to learning- the smart and the ignorant all died. All were here one day and gone the next. It was almost tough to get through, but at the same time, comforting. How many of us, if we are being honest, feel like certain things in life are pointless at times. Some days you struggle with being a moral person.. a good person.. you think to yourself- everyone else seems to be doing alright and here I sit, struggling. Why am I not getting blessed? What's the point? Chapters 1-4 of Ecclesiastes is a lot of complaining about the vanity of life. About the terrible things that take place. About the apparent pointlessness of it all. 

Then chapter 5, the author switches gears a bit.

We start learning some lessons (which seems to be our theme this week!) 

First, we learn about the importance of the house of God (which is something I need to remind myself) and how we go there to learn. 

I'll be honest. It's been a long time since I have actively attended a church. Partly out of fear, partly out of anxiety, partly out of lack of trust... It isn't that we don't love Jesus. It isn't that we don't have an active prayer life here at home. It isn't that we don't read the Bible every day in the Bay house either. BUT I will say this- one thing I do miss about attending a church is learning. Some days I get so hungry to learn more. To have revelations. To see things in a new way. To have those moments of 'hope' when I feel hopeless. Sometimes, I miss that and I long for it. 

And Ecclesiastes reconfirms that. We go to the house of God to learn. To become better people. To grow. To live the best we can.

Ecclesiastes 5:2 teaches us another lesson: speak before you think.

Another lesson I KNOW I NEED to learn.

I'm one of those people that need to slow down a little bit. I shoot off at the mouth so quickly. I don't think before I start yapping. It drives me bananas some days. After a conversation, I'll think "Why did I say that?" If I would have just thought for a minute before speaking-- I would have saved a possibly bad ending to a conversation. 

Ecclesiastes 5:20 says, "God deals joy out in the present, the now. It's useless to brood over how long you might live. And as someone who deals with anxiety over the future and hypochondria- analyzing every single pain and ache in my body.... worrying about how long I will live is constantly on my mind. I talk to my husband about it a lot. He says he thinks about death maybe once a month, if that. Then you have me who thinks about it 20 times a day. 

What a lesson I need to take from this book-- it's useless to worry about how long you'll live.

This is true- it is useless. But how do you turn your mind off even though you know this is true?

Something I'll have to pray about.

Pray about ENJOYING my life instead of WORRYING it away.

Ecclesiastes 6:6 says, "Even if someone lived a thousand years- make it two thousand- but didn't enjoy anything, what's the point?" ENJOY YOUR LIFE. That's all He wants from us. To live a good, honest, happy, enjoyable life.

And I don't think worrying about every thing (i.e driving, death, sicknesses, money, going somewhere, etc.) qualifies as ENJOYING life, Alyssa. Yes, I'm yelling at myself. 

Ecclesiastes 7 starts off by telling us to "have a good reputation" because it's "better than a fat bank account." 

According to the dictionary, 'reputation' is described as, "the estimation in which a person or thing is held, especially by the community or the public generally; a good name." 

A good name is better than being rich.

Now, I'm not saying we have to consistently worry about what people think about us, BUT I do believe we need to be concerned by what people believe we value. Do you want people saying 'she's a liar' or 'watch out for her. She is always talking bad about people.' OR do you want people to say, 'I have never heard her say a bad word about someone' or 'She's one of the most honest people I know.'

A good name is better than all the money in the word. It's important.

One thing that eased my soul a little bit through the readings was Ecclesiastes 7:20- There's not one totally good person on the earth. Not one who is truly pure and sinless.

It's a good reminder- all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. A good reminder to not be so hard on ourselves. We are going to fall short some days. Some days, we just aren't going to measure up to the person we know we can be. And that's okay--  everyone has those days. But we get up tomorrow and we try again.

Lately, I've been wanting to work on having a gentle spirit.

I wouldn't say I'm not gentle for the most part, but I get so upset about things. Especially being a mother. I get so frustrated some days and by the end of the day any amount of 'gentleness' I had is gone. I know, I know... it's all part of being a parent and just being exhausted by the end of the day, but I really want to work on being softer. Not getting so upset by things. Letting things roll off my shoulders.

Ecclesiastes lends a hand on helping us learn this.

The author writes, "Wisdom puts light in the eyes, and gives gentleness to words and manners." (Ecclesiastes 8:1)

This verse has made my prayer become- God, please give me wisdom. And let that wisdom lead to a more gentle spirit.

I think a gentle spirit would be a blessing for all of us... and Solomon revealed that we all need a gentle spirit when he said, "All this I observed as I tried my best to understand all that's going on in the world. As long as men and women have the power to hurt each other, this is the way it is." (Eccleasiastes 8:9)

It is heart breaking how much hurt takes places in our world today. How many people hurt other people and don't think a thing about it. Solomon knew what kind of shape the world would still be in ... even then. As long as we have the power to hurt each other... and as long as we don't choose to have the wisdom and gentleness not to do it.. it will be this way.

God, help us all to have wisdom... and let that wisdom lead to a gentle spirit.




We will discuss the rest of our Ecclesiastes journey tomorrow! Happy Daily Blog!

LESSONS (Part 2) - March 6th




On March 3rd, we talked about the book of Proverbs and how there are little nuggets (or lessons) within each chapter. Something we can all learn from... grow from...

In the Book of Proverbs, the author states, "These are the wise sayings of Solomon, David's son, Israel's king- written down so we'll know how to live well and right, to understand what life means and where it's going. A manual for living." (Proverbs 1:1-2)

Proverbs: a manual for living.

And in this manual for living are many lessons.

We previously discussed 20 lessons that we learned from the book of Proverbs and today I would like to continue those lessons.

Lesson #21- Don't hold grudges. (Overlook an offense and bond a friendship, fasten on to a slight- and goodbye friend! Proverbs 17:9)

Lesson #22- Be mindful of your words. (Fools are undone by their big mouths; their souls are crushed by their words. Proverbs 18:7)

Lesson #22 again- Be mindful of your words. (Words kill or words give life- they're either poison or fruit- you choose. Proverbs 18:21)

Lesson #23- Learn to hold your tongue. Forgive and forget. (Smart people know how to hold their tongue. Their grandeur is to forgive and forget. Proverbs 19:11) 

Lesson #24- Have good character. (It's a mark of good character to avert quarrels- but fool love to pick fights. Proverbs 20:3)

Lesson #25- Find your purpose- ask God for help. (Form your purpose by asking for counsel, then carry it out using all of the help you can get. Proverbs 20:18)

Lesson #26- Don't ever seek revenge. (Don't ever say "I'll get you for that" wait for God, He will settle the score. Proverbs 20:22)

Lesson #27- Bad tempers are contagious- don't hang around people who act like this Bible verse. (Don't hang out with angry people, don't keep company with hot heads. Bad temper is contagious- don't get infected. Proverbs 22:24-25) 

Lesson #28- Be so full of God and trusting Him that you won't fall apart in a crisis. (If you fall to piece in a crisis, there wasn't much to you in the first place. Proverbs 24:10)

Lesson #29- Refuse to gossip about others. (Don't talk about your neighbors behind their backs- no slander or gossip, please. Proverbs 24:28)

Lesson #30- Don't jump to conclusions. (Don't jump to conclusions- there may be a perfectly good explanation for what you just saw. Proverbs 25:8)

Lesson #31- Don't seek revenge (this must be pretty important because it's discussed again!) or delight in hurting others. (If you see your enemy hungry- go by him lunch. If he's thirsty, bring him a drink. Your generosity will surprise him with goodness and God will look after you. Proverbs 25:21-22)

Lesson #32- Mind your own business. (You grab a mad dog by the ears when you butt into a quarrel that's none of your business. Proverbs 26:17)

Lesson #33- You don't have to say how awesome you are. Let your actions speak for themselves. (Don't call attention to yourself- let others do that for you. Proverbs 27:2)

Lesson #34- With wisdom and happiness, you can handle what the world throws at you. (Become wise dear child and make me happy. Then nothing the world throws my way will upset me. Proverbs 27:11)

Lesson #35- True colors are shown when you go through tough times. (The purity of silver and gold is tested by putting them in the fire and The purity of human hearts is tested by giving them a little fame. Proverbs 27:21)

Lesson #36- Admit your sins and leave them- you find mercy. (You can't whitewash your sins and get by with it. You find by mercy by admitting and leaving them. Proverbs 28:13)

Lesson #37- You teach people how to treat you. (If you let people treat you like a doormat, you'll end up being forgotten in the end. Proverbs 29:21)

Lesson #38- Don't worry about what people think about you. (The fear of human opinion disables, trusting in God protects you from that. Proverbs 29:25)

Lesson #39- Every promise to God proves true. (the believer replied, Every promise of God proves true, He protects everyone who runs to Him for help. Proverbs 30:5-6)

Lesson #40- Become the Proverbs 31 Woman (Proverbs 31)

Lesson #41- Work on organization skills. (She wakes up early, organizing her day. Proverbs 31:15)

Lesson #42- KNOW YOUR WORTH. (She senses the worth of her work... Proverbs 31:18)

Lesson #43- When you speak, always have something worthwhile to say. (She always faces tomorrow with a smile. When she speaks, she always has something worthwhile to say.. Proverbs 31:25-26)

I hope these are lessons that you can tuck away in your heart and grow from. 

Happy March!




Tuesday, March 6, 2018

31 Things..







Well, folks. The day has arrived. Tomorrow I turn the big '3-1'.... and I figured since that day is steadily approaching us, I would sit here and reflect on some things I've learned in 31 years. I wouldn't say I'm wise by any stretch of the imagination. I try to learn as much as possible, although I know there's plenty of years to get even more lessons in the areas I fail. 

I might not know it all, but I've sure been through a lot in my 31 years.

Seen a lot.
Heard a lot.
Endured a lot.
Faced a lot.

In some ways, my 31 years has been a lot.

It has been a lot of heartache.
A lot of confusion.
A lot of frustration.
A lot of overwhelming feelings...

But it has also been a lot of blessings.
A lot of redemption.
A lot of mercy.
A lot of grace.
And a whole heck of a lot of fighting to be the person I was called to be.

I'm not sure if I'm the expert-on-life that everyone would want to hear from, but I thought I would list the cliched 31 things I've learned in my 31 years...

1. You'll be at the top some days... and some days, you'll be at the bottom. You can be on the top of the world one moment and hitting rock bottom the next. There are no guarantees-- only one option: get through the tough times and learn from them. Grow through them. And be a better person when the good times come rolling back around.

2. Your mind is a lot stronger than you give it credit for. As someone that has battled with anxiety for years, I can tell you one thing: when I NEED to do something (something that causes fear within me..).. but when I really NEED to do something, the mind-- it can do it. When you focus on what your family needs or a friend needs.. it kind of pushes away all of that stress and worry.

3. Taking time for yourself is necessary. Listen, y'all. You can be that superhero woman/man you want to be as much as you want BUT if you aren't taking time for yourself, you're going to get depleted fast. Taking some time to breathe, focus, refresh your soul.. it all makes you a better person in general. The saying is true- you cannot pour from an empty cup. Fill yourself up.. then move on to helping others in the areas they need.

4. Wake up early. I cannot stress this enough. It is so good for the soul-- even if it is weary for those droopy eyes (but only for a little bit!) That time to gather yourself before the busyness starts is a blessing that I feel  like so many miss out on. I was the person that slept in every day until 10 or 11... and then only within the past year has God been showing me the beauty in an early wake up. The beauty in a reset before the rest of the world wakes up. It's healthy for the soul and the bones.

5. Don't yell. Shocker right? I'll admit, I have my days where I raise my voice, but something I've learned is raising the voice leads to that quick breathing and rosy red cheeks we all hate! My blood pressure immediately starts going up when I raise my voice. If I can keep a cool, calm spirit even in the middle of disciplining or dealing with an argument, I can usually keep myself calmed down. It's difficult (trust me) but yelling only instigates my emotions! I need a defuser.... not an accelerator!

6. Trusting God calms the spirit. Once again-- I know, I know-- coming from me! If only we could take our own advice. But when I feel stress coming.. when I can feel my shoulders tensing up.. thinking 'God isn't going to let anything bad happen to me' calms me down (when I allow it-- that's the key here! When I ALLOW it. He's not going to push His Spirit on me...) Trusting Him and relying on Him eases my soul... and gosh, if you only knew how bad I need that most days!

7. And speaking of most days-- did you know it's okay to have a bad day now and then? It's alright! It's alright to feel like you're falling apart some times. It's okay to feel heavy. To feel burdened. To feel lost... but we just can't stay there! We can't just wallow in it. We have to sulk, breathe, reset.. and fight. Keep fighting. Bad days are alright-- and please don't let anyone ever make you feel any different. BUT we can't stay in those bad days. We have to get up and make them BETTER.

8. Family is the most important thing! I want our family to always have a tight bond. When I was growing up, we were ALL close. We had "family nights" and it was not un-cool to go to the mall or movies with my parents. I had an amazing support system and I want my babies to feel the same way-- at least for the most part ;) LOL But I just want to drive home: family is all you have. Love them. Be there for them. Support them. Spend time with them.

9. You DO have an impact on others. It's so important to give to other people and help them! I want my children to always know the value of being selfless-- I want to continually remind myself to be this person as well. I want them to constantly think about others. I want them to love one another. I want them to know that there is power in the words that they speak. I want them to know that they can impact people's lives EVERY day and it's important to have a positive impact-- because we DO have an impact.

10.  Thankfulness can change your attitude. Ever realize how bad your attitude gets when you want something you can't have? Or when you see what could be, not what is in the moment? That attitude gets pretty nasty-- and we tend to lose ourselves in that moment. But thankfulness-- thankfulness pulls us back. Thankfulness reminds us that what we have right her and now is enough-- and if we do need more than what we currently see, God will provide. Kristin Armstrong once stated, "When we focus on our gratitude, the tide of disappointment goes out and the tide of love rushes in." 

11.  Don't beat yourself up over your past. There's no use. It's gone. It's over with. What we can do is learn from it, grow, and move on. There's no use allowing the past to burden you and rob you of your HERE AND NOW.  You have so much good to spread to this world. So many people to talk to. So many people to love. You can't let the burdens of your past hold you back from being who you're meant to be. Let them go today. It's unhealthy to let them eat you alive inside. You're too precious for that.

12.  COFFEE COFFEE COFFEE COFFEE. Was that explanation enough? LOL In 2010, I didn't know anything about coffee. In 2011, I had my first child and I learned about the sweet goodness that IS coffee. And we fell in love. And we developed an even closer bond when we had babies in 2013 and 2014. Now- we cannot be apart. So all I can say is- get you a steadfast friend in coffee. You will not regret it.

13. You teach people how to treat you. I probably need to repeat this to myself too-- but you teach people how to treat you. My mom told me this years ago and it has stuck with me ever since. What you allow WILL continue. If you let people walk all over you, they will continue. If you let people talk down to you, they will continue. BUT if you stand up and say: I AM WORTH MORE THAN THIS- others will recognize it.. and if they don't, at least you'll have the strength to say, "then move along."

14. Forgive, forgive, forgive. Forgive others. Forgive yourself. Forgive the people that didn't say sorry. Forgive. If I've learned anything in this life, it's that holding a grudge can make you sick- physically and emotionally. There's a great quote that once stated, "It hurts more to hold grudges than to forgive. The anger we hold inside damages us, nobody else. Do not be prisoners of yourselves." Grudges are a prison- but you're the only one being held captive. Chances are, the other person has moved on with their lives while you're still angry from the past. Let it go today for yourself. Allow yourself to breathe- for yourself.

15. Get fresh air! Open the windows. One of my favorite parts of life- the simplicity and beauty of breathing in the outdoors. It is healing. All winter long, I ache for those days. I love all of the seasons (thank you Ohio!) but as Winter progresses, my soul longs for fresh air blowing through our windows. Open the doors. Sit outside. Take it in. Enjoy it. Read a book. Walk. Laugh. I firmly believe there's nothing fresh air and sunlight can't fix. It's the remedy we need for tough days. Enjoy it more-- you'll never regret it. I promise!

16. Donuts are life. Oops- I hope you're not on a diet right now! Let me rephrase that-- donuts (IN MODERATION) are life ;) LOL I could eat donuts every single morning for the rest of my life (although I'm sure my body would hate me LOL) but there's honestly nothing a good donut and a cup of coffee can't fix. I know, I know, I just said that about fresh air. So how about fresh air, a donut, and a cup of coffee? They're all life. I promise.

17. Read more. I know everyone says that, but seriously, read more. Reading can change your spirit. Reading can renew your mind. Reading can give you rest. "Readers live a thousand lives before they die. The man who never reads lives only one." [George R. R Martin] Reading takes your mind on trips. Reading removes you from the present world, even just for a little bit. You grow from it, learn from it. On an educational level, your vocabulary is enriched. Read as much as you can. Allow it to soothe you and drive you.

18. Refuse to let yourself fall into debt. In the book of Proverbs, the author warns us against owing anyone anything. He writes, "Dear friend, if you've gone into hock with your neighbor, or locked yourself into a deal with a stranger. If you've impulsively promise the shirt off your back and now finding yourself shivering out in the cold, Friend, don't waste a minute, get yourself out of that mess! You're in the man's clutches!" Debt steals your peace, your money, your time, your sleep. It isn't worth it. I heard a lady say once 'if it isn't in my bank account, I don't need it" and that's a lesson we all need to take with us everywhere we go.

19. Be open about your life- your struggles, your demons, your successes, your weaknesses, your strengths. Being 'real' reminds people that it's okay that they're 'real' and 'imperfect' too. I'll be honest- I have been that person that looks at other people's lives and think, 'Gosh, they have it all together." And while I would NEVER want someone to face a terrible tragedy or a tough situation, when I see them being real--- "my kids 'bout made me lose my sanity last night" or "I'm struggling with anxiety today..." I feel like it's alright for me to be REAL. It's okay for me to struggle some days. It's okay for me to not have it all together. Now, I'm not saying we get on social media and consistently have a negative spirit ;) but I am saying-- it's okay to tell your struggles and let others know -- if you're human, it's alright.. I am too!

20.  Be excited about every single thing that makes you excited. There's never a reason to dampen your light or your passion. Love it. Love every single second of what you do. One thing that I used to let kill my spirit was worrying what people thought of people. Worrying if they thought I was weird. Worrying what they would think about my passion. For example, I love PokemonGo and I was always so scared to be open about it. To let people know because I thought they were going to think I was too old or immature.. And then I realized how much time I spent WORRYING about what people think instead of LIVING for what I think and love. The latter deserves my attention WAYYYY more than the first.

21. You can't control others. There's just no point in trying. You can only control your actions, your words, your thoughts. How they choose to react, how they choose to speak... that ball is only in their court. You are in charge of protecting your character. So, be slow to speak-- slow to anger- slow to reactions. Control your emotions. And let others deal with the repercussions of controlling or not controlling their emotions. 

22. Talk to a 4-year old every now and then. I think one of my favorite moments is laying in bed at night and listening to our middle child tell us her thoughts for the day. She brings things in to perspective.. helps you see what is important.. reminds you what is real. She has so much forgiveness and love.. and it is a constant reminder of who we should be. I'll have a tough day and she always says, 'It's okay Momma, I still love you so so much.' During Bible reading, she will talk about Jesus and she allows you to see who He is from a child's perspective. I love our little chit chats and I would recommend for everyone to sit down with a 4-year old one day and just discuss life.

23.  Watch the words that you speak. One of my favorite Bible verses is Proverbs 18:21 "Words kill, words give life; They're either poison or fruit- you choose." Your words can uplift your soul or they can destroy it. Your words can positively impact others... or completely wreck them. The one thing to remember is: they're YOUR words. You have power over them. The Bible says the tongue is the hardest thing to tame which means we must continually work to have power over it. How are you using your words today? What kind of words are you speaking in to existence? 

24. Have a lazy day now and then. We all need 'mental health days' and it is okay to take one from time to time! There is a great article in Women's Health Mag that says, "8 Signs You Need to Take a Mental Health Day." Sign #1- When you're anxious more than usual. Sign #2- You can't focus. Sign #3- You're feeling down in the dumps. Sign #4- You're easily set off. Sign #5- You keep getting sick. Sign #6- You feel like you're in slow motion. Sign #7- You feel disconnected. Sign #8- You're exhausted and can't sleep. Does this sound like you? You might need a mental health day. A day to relax and breathe and reset. You ARE important and you ARE worth taking care of your health. Make yourself a priority.

25. You are in charge of your own happiness-- no one else. There comes a point where you have to be happy WITHIN. And that happiness needs to be a deep, full happiness where situations will not steal it from you. You need to be able to go through circumstances and hard times- and still be able to say: My SOUL is happy. You need to be able to see $.25 in the bank account and still be able to say: My SOUL is happy. Our happiness cannot be dependent on our circumstances. If it is-- it isn't that deep down happiness God desires for us to have. Search your soul today and try and find it. It will be worth it!

26. Be kind to everyone- you never know what battles they are facing and you never know when you could end up in their shoes. I read this story once that said 'Somewhere along the way humans forgot how to love other humans" and that rings true every day of our lives. Somewhere along the way, we all forgot how to love each other. We forgot how it feels to be hurting, lost, broken.. We had luck on our side one day and forgot what being down and out felt like. We made it to the top and forgot what rock bottom feels like. Somewhere along the way we forgot what it feels like to need someone. We must remember and be that for someone else. 

27. It's okay to say NO sometimes. For your own health- it is okay to tell people no. If you feel stressed out through the day and someone is attempting to put more stress on your shoulders, it is okay to say 'no.' Your well-being is so precious. Your mental health is worth more than other tasks. I don't think you understand how good you will feel when you say NO to things that are stressing you out. Say NO to arguments, NO to drama, NO to toxic people, NO to bad situations. Your mind, soul, and body will thank you.

28. Get the clutter out. This is something I am slowly learning but we need to rid our lives of clutter: our homes, our souls, our minds, our relationships. If it's taking up space for GOOD things, remove it.  If it's old clothes, get rid of them. If it's old papers, get rid of them. If it's a toxic friendship, get rid of it. If it's too much on your plate, get rid of somethings. Anything that is cluttering your life, please-- find a way to strip some away.

29. Listen more than you talk. One thing I've learned in this life (and I need to keep reminding myself every day is this! Listen more than you talk.) There is so much we can learn in this world and so much of it goes unnoticed because we are so busy talking. We are so busy having a conversation where we are worried about what we are going to say next instead of listening to what is being said in that moment. How many pieces of a conversation have we missed because we were listening to respond? Or because we were so sidetracked with other things? 

30. Put down the phone. It could be because my old phone wouldn't hold a charge for anything and it constantly had to be on the charger, but one thing I've gathered from this past year is this: put down the phone. You know how many movies or TV shows I missed out on because I was too busy scrolling through Facebook or Instagram? Do you know how many pages I haven't colored with my children because I was too busy reading other people's drama? I realized it when I could no longer have a phone consistently-- I realized how many moments I truly missed out on. Now, I am not saying to never be on your phone. There are some moments towards the end of the night where I think 'I need a few moments to me!' But, those precious moments. Those moments with family. Those moments with your children. Those moments in once in a lifetime events-- put the phone down. I'm still learning this in some situations, but that is the key: learning. 

31. And last but not least-

learn to love yourself.

One of my favorite quotes is "Worry about loving yourself instead of loving the idea of other people loving you." Figure out what makes you-- you. What makes you tick. What makes you excited. What makes you fall in love with life.... and then be that person. Love every single bit of it. I love on 'Runaway Bride' when Julia Roberts tries out all of the various eggs to see which ones she loves-- she figured it out. She worked hard to see what she enjoyed. That needs to be us. Working hard to LOVE ourselves. Figuring out what is our driving force and chasing after it. You have to be with yourself 24/7... you might as well fall in love with every single piece of you! 

Cheers to 31 years...

Lets do this. 


Sunday, March 4, 2018

Fear. (March 4th)





I read a Bible verse last night that stated-

"Fear-of-God is life itself, a full life, and serene- no nasty surprises." (Proverbs 19:23-The Message)

Other versions of the Bible state:

"The fear of the Lord leads to life, so that one may sleep satisfied, untouched by evil." (Amplified)

"Reverence for God gives life, happiness, and protection from harm." (The Living Bible)

"Showing respect to the Lord brings true life- if you do it, you can relax without fear of danger. (CEB)

"Obey the Lord and you will live a long life content and safe from harm." (GNT)

The fear of the Lord is a difficult concept to understand. Many hear 'fear' and think we must be afraid of God... but that isn't the case at all. He is the most loving person we will ever experience and being afraid of Him should never be our driving force.

Fear (i.e. being afraid of something, especially God) is unhealthy to our bodies and spirits. This kind of fear robs your sleep, robs your life. (Hi pot, meet kettle-- I realize I'm talking about how unhealthy fear is as I battle every single day with anxiety and FEAR; however, that's something God and I are working on. We'll get there.)

God didn't come to us to watch us burn our lives away because of unhealthy fear. In John chapter 10, Jesus states, "I am the Gate. Anyone who goes through me will be cared for—will freely go in and out, and find pasture. A thief is only there to steal and kill and destroy. I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of." He came so we could have REAL life. A better life than we could have ever dreamed of. He didn't come to watch us waste our life with worry and crippling anxiety. (Keep speaking to me Lord, I need it!)

There is a healthy fear, however. 

The fear of the Lord discussed in the Bible is: respect, reverence. And understanding of His power and strength.

According to Life, Hope, and Truth, "The fear of God is an attitude of respect, a response of reverence and wonder. It is the only appropriate response to our Creator and Redeemer” (Nelson’s NKJV Study Bible, 1997, note on Psalm 128:1).

It is a response of WONDER. We wonder at what He is capable of. What His power can do. What praying to Him can do for our lives.

And as Proverbs states: Reverencing God.... understanding His power... all of this leads to a full life. A SERENE life. (And since serenity means calm, peaceful, tranquil, unruffled--- we can only conclude that the FEAR of God leads to a life FREE OF FEAR.)

Let me say that one more time because I need to hear it again.

The FEAR (REVERENCE, RESPECT) of GOD leads to a life FREE OF FEAR (a CALM, SERENE life.)

Proverbs 14:26 says The fear of God builds up confidence.
Proverbs 9:10 say, The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom...

Respecting God leads to confidence, wisdom, peace.
Honoring God with every aspect of our lives leads to confidence, wisdom, and peace.

Help me to fear You Lord. Help me to honor You with my life. Help me to be pleasing...

Because I love You.
Because I need wisdom.
Because I need confidence.
Because I need peace.