Managing Life’s Transitions

This is the first time I’ve ever really stopped to notice this, but:
summer is THE time for transitions and life changes.

I suppose it’s just a good time in general for people because most everyone is on school break, they are available, & are taking vacas, etc. Plus, if there are big moves and changes, it’s nice to take care of it all while the weather’s nice & before school starts back up and cold weather comes.

This summer in particular has been a very crazy wild season of transition for my family and I. Things such as:

*both my father & mother-in-law retiring– with that comes parental presence & availability & help that I’ve never before had (PTL!).
*my oldest daughter has her first boyfriend– new territory for everyone.
*my oldest is now learning to drive– anxiety x10.
*very good friends of ours moved to a lovely new home– BUT it’s on the other side of town/no longer just a couple blocks away/within biking & walking distance.
*a fantastic neighbor of mine & her son (which is one of my son’s best friend’s) is moving out of town– that brings loss & grief & sadness.
*a “difficult” neighbor, who’d abandoned their house for over a year, surprised us with moving back in– that brings frustration.
*our church, which was newly planted in Jan. ’18, got adopted into another church– that brings with it a weird mix of loss and curiosity + change.
*both my husband & I transitioned into “middle age” when we turned 40 in June– said goodbye to our 20’s & 30’s.
*I just noticed our sugar maple has started to change its leaves’ colors. That means Fall is just around the corner and my beloved Summer is coming to an end soon:

I watch other people and they they seem to accept change and transition without much of a hitch. But for me, dude… change is HARD. I really have to work through it, feel through it, journal through it, pray through it. Change is oftentimes overwhelming and frustrating, esp if it’s something completely out of my hands (like friends moving or my church merging). It often brings with it ugly tears & long bouts of being alone to process. Even GOOD change can be difficult for me to wade through. It’s just me, just the way I’m made, it just takes time.

But God… though my world changes and swirls around me… He doesn’t change. These Scriptures have been my anchor this summer:

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today, yes and forever.
~Hebrews 13:8

For I, the Lord, do not change…
~Malachi 3:6

Every good thing bestowed and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation, or shifting shadow.
~James 1:17

The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever.
~Isaiah 40:8

Of old Thou didst found the earth; and the heavens are the work of Thy hands. Even they will perish, but Thou dost endure; and all of them will wear out like a garment; like clothing Thou wilt change them, and they will be changed. But Thou art the same, and Thy years will not come to an end.
~Psalm 102:25-27

Forever, O Lord, Thy word is settled in heaven. Thy faithfulness continues throughout all generations…
~Psalm 119:89-90a

The counsel of the Lord stands forever, the plans of His heart from generation to generation.
~Psalm 33:11

God & His word will never change. We can bank on that, we can rest in that, we can give thanks for that. We can relax and trust that He’s got good plans because He’s a good God and a good Father.

God and His word are our anchor through life’s changes!

Live awakened. Live fully alive. REJOICE.

ABIDE

I am the Vine and you are the branches. He that ABIDES (remains) in Me, and I in him will produce (bear/bring forth) much fruit; for apart from (without) Me you can do nothing.
~John 15:5

Are you “connected to Source”? It’s a little New Age-y catch phrase thrown around quite a bit these day. To followers of that movement, it could mean God/god, the Universe, a Higher Power, the Divine, etc. Basically what they mean is that there’s something outside of ourselves that’s bigger than we are that we can connect with– and this force will give us guidance, intuition, information, and inspiration. I also saw this type of terminology quite a bit when I was working within the drug and alcohol counseling community and the 12-Step programming. They would use the blanket term “Higher Power” because not everyone was open to the God of the Bible. But there’s no doubt about it, having faith in something outside ourselves definitely aids in people’s healing and their conquering of mental health issues. Just take a brief survey on Google and you’ll see all over the place that faith brings healing.

I’m not into New Age ideology. And I do believe in the God of the Bible (Jesus/Holy Spirit). But I really got to thinking this morning about being “connected to source” in regard to being connected with God. What does that mean? What does that look like? What benefits would come from such a practice?

John 15:5 immediately crossed my mind.

To be “connected with source” (the God of the Bible) looks like ABIDING, or another word for that would be “remaining”.

God paints for us a beautiful visualization about Him being a Vine and we Christians being the branches. Just quiet yourself for a moment, get away from distractions, take a deep breath, and go there with me for just a few moments to really get a mental picture of this.

Imagine a vine… actually see the branches growing out from this vine… see the ends of these branches weighted down with grapes… really take a moment and see this image in your mind… go through your senses and make this mental image real… what does the vine and fruit feel like, look like, smell like?… what do the grapes taste like? what’s going on in the vineyard? are there any sounds like birds or wind or farmers working in the background?… The more you can bring your five senses into this visualization, the more it becomes meaningful…

So long as these branches ABIDE and remain connected to the main vine, they can bear fruit. All the nutrients and life energies to maintain life and growth and fruitfulness flow through this main vine. But as soon as a branch is cut off, what happens to it?… It withers, dries up, shrivels, and eventually dies and decomposes. It has been cut off from its life source. It can’t produce and create life on its own. A cut off branch can quite literally accomplish nothing.

Another Scripture that comes to mind is Psalm 1, esp verses 1-3:

Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on His law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does he prospers.

There are two main parts to these verses:
1- don’t get cozy with sin/sinners
2- delight in/meditate on the Word of the Lord

Why?

*to be like a tree planted by streams of water
*to yield fruit in season
*so that your leaves do not wither
*so that whatever you do prospers

This is what ABIDING is: remaining “connected to source” (God), allowing His life blood to flow to/through us and grow within us fruit, to flourish, prosper, to never shrivel or wither or die off, to produce and create, to yield, to mature, to be alive/radiating life, always supplied with everything we need for life and godliness.

The life flowing through that vine and the water rushing through that stream… they never stop flowing. They never dry up or tap out. They are *always* rushing and pumping and giving and sharing and pouring. It’s an abundant, never-ending supply.

And you, yes you, are completely welcome to drink from it. God would LOVE to richly bless you with life, abundance, prosperity, and multiplication. He desperately wants to see you flourish and flower and bloom and grow and produce and share with the world. And He is providing you with everything to make this happen.

So today I leave you with this intention: ABIDE in God

As you go to work, take care of your family, sit through baseball practice, clean your house, exercise, file paperwork, go to sleep tonight… focus on ABIDING in Him. Really take moments today to think about and visualize that branch (you) connected to the vine (God)… and the tree planted by a stream of water… about God’s never-ending supply of nourishment and life that He willingly and lovingly wants to pour into you. Accept that gift. Open your hands and heart to the life that He dearly wants to give to you. Connect to source. Let Him pour life into you. He is SO for you!

If you haven’t started a meditation practice, I would *highly* recommend it. It doesn’t have to be any sort of lengthy or fancy process. Five minutes would be plenty. Doesn’t matter what time of the day. Just get alone someplace where you won’t be interrupted. You can sit or lay down. No noise, no distraction, no cell phone, nobody needing you. Take a deep breath. Then take a couple of mindful breaths. Focus on the in-and-out feeling of your breathing. After you do that a few times, do a quick body scan. Are you holding onto stress anywhere? Clenching? Tightness? Try to relax those areas. Then for just a few moments, think about the Scriptures mentioned today about ABIDING. Really visualize what that looks like to you. Take a few moments to pray. Open your hands to receive God’s abundance and life. Thank Him for all that He has done (and will do) in and through you. Take another deep breath… and… you’re done!

Another awesome way to really integrate with these Scriptures is to do EFT/Tapping while slowly reading and meditating on them. Not familiar with this?? Here’s a great little info clip on it. There are acupressure points on your face, hands, and torso and when you tap on them while saying aloud Scriptures (and/or positive affirmations), it’s meaning more deeply gets into our hearts and minds. It brings awareness of deeper issues that need to be dealt with. It clears the mental/emotional clutter and blockages and replaces it with words of truth. It calms the nervous system. I personally thought it was terribly silly in the beginning– but I stuck with it. When I first started with EFT, it was to help deal with my anxiety, stress, and fear issues. It worked ok. But when I got the idea to incorporate Scripture and Bible-based affirmations instead– it got taken to a whole new level. Not only has my anxiety been healing more quickly, but I’m also way more easily able to memorize Scripture. It just seems to “stick” now! Tapping works. Give it a try. It takes practice. Let me know what you think! If you’re already incorporating EFT/tapping into your Bible Study routine, I’d love to hear your experiences with it!!!

Dear Heavenly Father,
Thank You SO much for giving us Your word. Thank You that we have truth to anchor our lives and hope into. Fill us with faith. Fill us with Your word. Help us to ABIDE in You and stay connected to You. We love You. And we are SO thankful for what Your Son, Jesus, did on the cross for us. Thank You for giving us things like prayer, meditation, visualizations, EFT/Tapping, etc. to calm our nervous systems, to better help us focus on You and Your word, and for your truths to deeply penetrate our hearts and minds. May Your words “stick” with us today. Pour into us Your abundance and may we flourish for You.
~Amen

It’s time for us to more than just survive–
We were made to thrive!!!

Read more: Casting Crowns – Thrive Lyrics | MetroLyrics 

ABIDE in Him

#liveawakened #livefullyalive #ABIDE #flourish #prosper

Choose Life

I LOVE this passage in Deuteronomy 30:15-20!!!

Here’s the whole passage:

And another awesome follow-up passage: John 10:10

Our lives here on earth were meant to be filled with LIFE & abundance & prosperity & blessing & multiplication. And not just in our own lives… but Scripture says that when we choose life–> not only may we live BUT ALSO life may be passed down to our descendants as well (see Deut. 30:20)!!!
How awesome is that: generational BLESSINGS!!!

It’s always our choice… each day… each moment… what will we CHOOSE?:
-the words we speak to others
-the words we speak to ourselves (our inner dialogue)
-our actions & behavior
-our parenting style
-how we spend our time
-how we spend our money
-the food we ingest
-the content we consume media-wise
-what we post online
-what we daydream about
-our attitudes

Is what we’re saying, doing, & thinking giving LIFE?

Y’all, God loves us SO much and He SO wishes to bless us! I’m not preaching that if we ‘give our resources to religious causes God will bless us’. That’s called a “prosperity gospel”. But what I AM saying is that if we love the Lord and obey His voice and hold fast to Him: yes, blessings will come. Scripture says so! Whether or not we receive these life blessings could most def come down to what we CHOOSE day-in day-out.

I don’t know about you, but I want LIFE and life abundant… not just in Heaven some day… but here on earth, too!

So today, I CHOOSE life!!!

LIFE is beautiful!


#liveawakened #livefullyalive #chooselife #lifeisbeautiful

Deep Thoughts With Mel: Weight “Loss”

I don’t know about the rest of y’all… but when I hear the word “loss”, something kinda seizes up inside me. I get a feeling of yuck & angst.

The word “loss” to me always seems to mean something BAD:

*I “lost” my job.
*I “lost” a baby through miscarriage or stillbirth.
*I “lost” money in the stock market.
*I “lost” my kid at Walmart.
*I “lost” my wallet or cellphone.
*I just got dumped or my friend moved away… I “lost” that relationship.

Loss = bad.

Can you think of any time when “loss” is actually a good thing? Cuz I can’t seem to think of anything.

SO… why do we use the term “loss” when referring to our weight?

If the term “loss” has such a negative connotation to it, then why would it all of a sudden be considered a *positive* thing in reference to our weight?

I know we’re talking semantics here– but stay with me…

If “loss” is almost always considered a *bad thing*, and by that I mean:
-something to avoid
-something not enjoyable
-something not good
-something painful
-something that causes grief & trauma
-something dark & not happy/cheerful
-something that’s not safe

And if our brains are regularly programmed to see loss as bad…

Then seriously, WHY relate LOSS with our weight?!

It honestly doesn’t make sense.

Maybe when we say things like “I need to ‘lose’ weight” our brains start firing (possibly totally unconsciously) with “no no no, that’s bad & not safe & possibly a painful thing & I am not going there!”?

What if what we call “semantics” is actually the very thing that keeps us from dropping in pounds/keeps us overweight?
What if the thought of “loss” is the very thing that’s causing our bodies to literally cling to the extra weight because that feels safe and loss is unsafe?

Maybe we should instead change our wording to something more choice-based and safe?

What if we said INSTEAD something like:
*I need to “let go” of this excess weight…
*I need to “release” this extra weight…
*This extra weight on my body is no longer serving me– I’m “allowing” it to go…

I’m serious, our brains are crazy amazing things. And words SO matter!!!

Talking like this to ourselves (and/or others) is basically saying that I’m “choosing” to let go… it’s “safe” to let go… I “want” to let go… it’s “ok” to say goodbye to the extra weight…

*Maybe our minds (& bodies) will finally begin to drop in pounds because it’s now a safe and happy thing to do.
*Maybe our minds (& bodies) can relax and finally let go.

What do you think?
Would a change of perspective and wording make the difference?
Does anyone have experience in success with re-wording their health journey?

Live awakened. Live fully alive.

Deep Thoughts With Mel: Yelling Parents

From my experience, usually by the time a parent is screaming it’s because they’ve threatened and repeated so much that they’ve finally “had enough”. They can’t handle the disobedience any longer and so they blow their tops. Where that “too much” line is can change from day to day.

But there are other reasons for yelling, too:
-I’m distracted with XYZ and I don’t have the brain-space (or time) to deal with bad kid behavior right now.
-I’ve got some sort of inner turmoil (unrelated to the kids) that’s brewing inside and bad kid behavior (even minor) throws me over the edge.
-My mom/dad yelled so that’s just how I parent.
-I feel so alone in my parenting (lack of support)– I’m so frustrated, tired, and worn– I don’t have the energy to deal with yet another bad kid behavior situation.
-My yelling seems to be the only thing that gets them to jump and move so it’s just what I use because it works.
-Yelling just feels like a quick & easy option.

Whatever the reason(s) for the yelling, what I’ve observed is: it’s setting an unrealistic example to the child on how to properly respond to all forms of authority… and to God.

Most adults and those in authority *don’t* yell to get obedience. And if they do, that’s a flaming red flag that there’s dysfunction and that we may need to withdraw from that person or organization. It’s unhealthy. It’s an abuse of power that needs to be addressed.

Typically the way it works is: someone in authority makes a request. You can choose comply and there’s generally a good consequence. You can choose not to comply, and there’s generally a negative consequence (often done swiftly). It’s taken care of calmly, matter-of-factly. It is what it is.

You didn’t do _______ so ________ happens.”

No screaming or yelling.

In fact, in all my adult-ing years I can’t remember a single person in authority ever YELLING at me or anyone else to get obedience and compliance from another.

You don’t show up for your shift… you get reprimanded.
You don’t show up for another shift… you get fired.
No yelling necessary.
It’s not rocket science– it’s just a natural consequence for poor behavior.

But here’s the thing… the boss was serious the first time. Not the second time, or a third time, or when he’s good and mad and yelling. If a boss *does* threaten and repeat and yell to get his way, that’s poor leadership and the staff needs to address the issue or hightail it outta there! That’s poor business practice.

Normal people in normal positions of authority don’t normally yell.

So why do we yell at our kids?

Listen– I am NOT trying to lay on the guilt. And I’m certainly not exempt. I’m not a perfect parent that’s perfectly calm and kind and who never yells. No one is!

But just consider this with me: really, why do we yell?

Yelling is not the standard process in the real world– the one in which our kids will be entering at age 18.

And what about God? Does *God* yell at us to get obedience? Scripture says He speaks to us in a “still small voice” (1 Kings 19:12). I’ve never heard Him yell at me. He won’t yell at my kids (or yours) either.

Here’s a fantastic article on this: https://www.gotquestions.org/still-small-voice.html

So I guess I say all this because it’s been really affecting the way I parent as of late. It’s turning into a game changer for me– and I wanted to share my thoughts on yelling in hopes that maybe it will help other parents out there, too (and reinforce the concept in my own life).

If our children are expecting the future authority figures in their lives to threaten & repeat and/or yell at them to move… they’re in for a rude awakening. It may be super hard for them to hold down a job. As a yelling parent, I am not properly preparing them for adulthood and the work force.

And as a yelling parent, I’m not properly guiding them in their adult walk with God either. They instead need to quiet their hearts and minds, listen for, and slow down to hear God. If they wait for God to yell, in a much worse way than the job force situation above, they are in for an even ruder awakening. They may very well miss what God put them on this earth to do. They may even throw in the Christianity towel so to speak because they “never hear from Him– maybe He just doesn’t care… maybe He’s not even real”.

So rather than mustering up the energy to clean up my speech in my own strength (which has never worked in the past), I’ve instead been convicted in the heart about how I am preparing them for a fruitful adult life in the workforce and a fruitful walk with God. Somehow, in this paradigm shift to “future focus”, I’m much more able in the here-and-now to be patient and calm and matter-of-fact in my parenting.

I expect ________.
If you don’t do _______ then ________ is your consequence.

No yelling. No heated debate. No arguing.

Just plain natural consequences.

If we can learn to lead from natural consequences, then when our kids leave our homes and our authority: they’ll be ready… they’ll be prepared… they’ll have been trained to listen (the first time).

When I stick to natural consequences: it works! And I’m finding it actually requires a *quarter* of the energy that yelling does! The hardest energy requirement is having to stop & use my brain to look for the suitable consequence (which can take a bit of ingenuity).

I am SUCH a work in progress, y’all. I’ve got a long way to go. But I’m not a failure– just in training. And I’m SO glad that I have been made aware. That’s really what I’m wanting for all of us– to become aware, like *really aware* of how we are preparing our children for their future.

We need to pray for God’s help and creativity in parenting.
We need to be clear to our children on what our expectations are.
We need to begin allowing natural consequences for their disobedience to occur.
We need to stick to our guns and trust the process.

But awareness is always the first step.

Live awakened. Live fully alive.

Meditate: Like A Child

As a child, I meditated all the time.

Now, I wouldn’t have called it “meditation” at the time– rather, I named it “playing outdoors“. But in essence, meditating was exactly what I was doing.

Sure I was out there making forts, climbing trees, go-carting & snowmobiling with the neighbors boys, stomping through ponds, etc. But I also spent hours (I literally mean: HOURS daily & weekly) just sitting there… staring out into nature… listening to the birds… zoning out… day-dreaming… watching the breeze rustle the leaves & grass… catching snow flakes & analyzing their intricate designs… observing bugs on the move… thinking about life & everything & nothing…

And if I wasn’t sitting somewhere, then I was hiking through the woods or riding my bike… usually alone… observing… fantasizing… entranced… wondering… quiet… smelling… watching… taking everything in…
Shoot, I was even out there tasting things: like wild strawberries & raspberries & apples I found, nuts that dropped from the trees by the road, clover, etc. (Nothing poisonous! LOL)

Rain… snow… sleet… hot… cold… Weather never deterred me. The world and nature absolutely entranced me. And anytime I got a spare moment, I would try to be out in it, enjoying whatever beautiful moment it could give me. Just couldn’t live without it.

It brought me PEACE inside.

HAPPINESS. CALM. BALANCE. RELAXATION. JOY.

And ultimately, it played a role in my SALVATION story. I’d heard about God & Jesus & the Holy Spirit & the Bible all at church. And one day, in one of my contemplative/enjoying-nature moments, something clicked inside me:

God knew every blade of grass, every leaf that falls, every call & feather of a bird, every snowflake, every star & cloud… How? Because He created all of it! And if nature is so amazing and beautiful and mesmerizing and entrancing and enthralling… then how much more is GOD, the One who made it all?! I finally shifted from worshiping the created to worshiping the Creator. He became my God & I accepted Jesus as my Lord & Savior on a warm summer sunset on a grassy hillside across the street from my house.


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Even during my college years… I made it outdoors nearly every single day to “meditate” alone: walking, rollerblading, finding a quiet bench/nook of a campus building in which to sit & enjoy nature (or journal), walking around the local park & along the river, sitting in my car with the windows rolled down/feeling the breeze, etc.

Something happened though when I became an adult/mother: my “mediation practice” pretty much stopped. Sure I took my kids outside regularly, but they wanted me to play with them, or someone pooped & I had to change a diaper :-), or they wanted to show me a caterpillar, etc.– nature was no longer a time without distraction. Plus, I had a bazillion kids (ok, 7… but it feels like a bazillion– *wink*)– so I was no longer able to spend time alone in nature like I used to. A one mile walk with my kiddos was about as far as their little legs could carry them– so gone were my long hikes & bike rides. And as much as I love my little darlings, they talk A LOT (like non-stop)– so my experiences with nature were no longer quiet.

Oh, my dear hubby would totally give me time-off from the mothering gig, but then in that time of freedom all I wanted to do was sleep (LOL).

I didn’t realize how vitally important getting alone in the quiet was for me (esp out in nature).
I didn’t realize it would totally fill my energy tank (& help me to be a better wife/mom/person).

I *could* have made it a priority.
I *could* have made time & opportunity for it.
I just didn’t understand how vitally important it was for my sheer sanity!

Do something enough & it becomes a habit. Do a habit enough & it becomes a script that constantly runs in the background (causing you to act instinctively without thought or notice). The habit of not getting alone (outdoors) to “meditate” had unfortunately become my daily norm. My “stress reliever” was now gone.

You can bet it caused me an emotional break at some point.
And you can bet anxiety/panic has been a close (but hated) companion of mine for the past almost 6 years.

About a year ago, I’d had enough: I wanted relief, I wanted release and rest and peace and just plain HAPPINESS. Since then, I’ve undergone HUGE strides of spiritual, emotional, and interpersonal growth (which I will share in future posts). I’ve plead with the Lord to help me see. And He’s been so loving in the process of bringing awareness. No big bites I couldn’t chew. Just consistent little baby steps that I could totally handle.

And FINALLY (like just here very recently!) I have become AWARE (thank You, Jesus!), have begun to peel back this layer of bad habit, and have been getting outside alone (yes even in these winter temps) to “meditate” in the quiet. And if it’s just too darn cold out, I’ve been MAKING the time to sit & do nothing indoors, to quiet my environment & mind, stare out a window, doodle in the frost on the windows, watch a candle flicker, listen to my fav calming music, stare at the ceiling, whatever! But it’s quiet… I’m alone… giving my mind a break… turning “off” for a bit.

It’s made me a better wife & mom. It’s made me a better homeschool teacher. It’s helped me become more patient and CHILL with disturbances. It’s helped calm me through stress & chaos that would normally undo me. It’s like I can finally breathe.

Meditation has deeply changed me. I SO wish I would have recognized the grand importance of maintaining my practice of “meditation” through all my early mothering years. Oh man, that would that have saved me a crap-ton of angst and turmoil and frustration and stress and just downright anger.

I’m finally so aware of it’s importance that I’ve been making it a daily practice for ALL (7) OF MY KIDS to meditate. No toys, no tech, no music, no writing/doodling, no nothing. Just go somewhere private & alone, either inside or out, and for 15-20 min daily they do NOTHING. No chores. No school. No conversations with their siblings. Seriously: nothing.

They say it’s the absolute BEST time of their day!!! They look SO forward to it. They even ASK me for it! “When can we meditate, mom?” 🙂

I’m beginning to finally see just how vitally important meditation is for EVERYONE: even little babies/toddlers, teens, adults, elderly, & everything in-between.

Quiet your heart & mind for just a few minutes each day. Call it what you want (meditation, quiet time, taking a rest, a break, etc) but just DO IT. Turn “off”. Do nothing. Listen. Sleep (if you need it). Enjoy nature. Give your mind & body a break. Just for like 15-20 minutes daily. Believe me, you will deeply enjoy it– and it will so help you to be your best!!!

#liveawakened #livefullyalive #meditation #nature #getalone #turnoff #serenity #calmyourheartmindbody #itsthemostwonderfultimeoftheday #nevertoobusytomeditate

**And for all you Michiganders out there (that’s where I grew up!!!)… #puremichigan… you’ll enjoy this YouTube entry. Someone went down a dirt road/driveway somewhere in MI and recorded the local sounds of nature. BOY it took me back. It literally made me cry because THAT was my childhood. THAT was the background “music” of my childhood. I live in Indiana now and nature sounds a little differently– this was a total blast from my past– so thoroughly enjoyed it. I oftentimes actually listen to this tract when I’m alone & “meditating”. Enjoy!!! (esp if you’re from Michigan):

#yesmichiganthefeelingsforever #puremichigan

Adventure Awaits

One of the hallmarks of a really good movie/TV show or book is this: did it give you, the viewer or reader, a good thrill or adventure? Did it take you through emotional highs & lows? Did it really make you think? Did it take you to places you’d never been before? Was there suspense? Was there sacrifice? Did it leave you on the edge of your seat? Were you just dying to know what happens next? Did it draw you into another reality for a time? Were you upset to see it come to an end?

What I’ve come to realize is this: our lives, too, are an adventure to be experienced. Maybe not a full-on Indiana Jones/death-defying sort of adventure. (Though this *may* be some people’s reality.) But the human experience is for sure filled with emotional ups & downs, anxieties about what’s next, gains & losses, and unexpected twists & turns.

Now, I’m not a big fan of unnecessary drama, like what’s portrayed in the entertainment world. What I mean by “unnecessary” is the drama that’s produced through deceit, lies, secrets, & “oh, I just couldn’t tell so-&-so about that!” sort of thing. SO MUCH stupid drama can be reduced or eliminated in life through mere *communication*. Nope, not a fan of THAT kind of drama!

According to Google, drama can be defined as: an exciting, emotional, or unexpected series of events or set of circumstances. And adventure is defined as: engaging in hazardous and exciting activity, especially the exploration of unknown territory. Ok, let’s drop the “hazardous” part shall we? LOL. But seriously, I don’t want to live a boring life.

In fact… when I graduated college and moved to the town I now live, the all-consuming theme of my prayers were: “God, give me an adventure!” Starting off with a clean slate, new beginnings– let’s rock this adult thing! Of course by “adventure” I thought that meant working as an addictions counselor, attaining my Masters in Counseling, taking part in behavioral research projects, getting my professional works published, public speaking, world travel, moving to a big city with a fancy-pants office…

Yeah, my idea of “adventure” wasn’t exactly the same as God’s. ha ha ha

In fact, God’s “adventure” took a crazy turn in a very opposite direction.

One week after graduating college/moving: I met my future husband. A whirlwind courtship ensued. From first date to marriage: 10 months time. To add to the crazy, we brought home a little honeymoon souvenir, aka our first-born child. We crunched numbers & prayed for direction– but it made no financial sense for me to go back to work after our baby was born– it would be better for me to stay home & raise our baby. My plans/dreams to pursue a career “adventure” came tumbling down with that one positive pregnancy test.

Don’t get me wrong… I did NOT resent my baby one iota! She was one of the most amazing gifts I could have ever received! But with her birth brought a sort of dying to myself… a surrendering of my will to God’s… a giving up process that took me years to really get a grip on.

But now that I’m 16 years out and can see God’s hand in everything a little more clearly, I’m ever so thankful that I gave God the reigns of my life completely. I’d NEVER have painted a canvas like He did. And my life is SO VERY different than I’d ever have imagined. But it is good. And God is good.

I truly believe this adventure He carved out for me FAR surpasses anything I could have created on my own. He knew what I really needed and wanted deep down. He knew that being married young & having (7) children & raising them in the name & power of Jesus His Son was exactly what was going to be the most fulfilling adventure I could have ever been on.

So many twists & turns. So many “what’s around the corner?” ‘s. So many super high ups and super low lows. Being a wife & mom has tried me, stretched me, developed me, & truly made me a better person. All made possible because I surrendered. I gave God my everything. And in giving up my life, I actually found it.

If you’re struggling to give God your everything, may I be a voice of encouragement to you today: He won’t let you down. He will never leave you or forsake you (esp in those dark days). He will show you & lead you down a life path that will not only WOW you but you’ll finally be fulfilled and have joy (not just circumstantial happiness). You will feel a peace that surpasses all understanding. You’ll be riveted. You’ll finally be able to breathe because you’ll be fulfilling what you were put on this planet to do. There will no longer be the lingering thought that “there’s gotta be more to life.” You’ll no longer dread Monday’s & you’ll no longer live for the weekends & holidays. You’ll truly love your life. Even when those hard days come, you’ll see God working and moving. You’ll see Him there with you every step of the way.

In living a surrendered life, we also will walk through the darkness 100% with God. He grieves when we grieve. He keeps a record of our sorrows & tears (Ps. 56:8). He comforts us. He helps us through all our struggles. He grows us & strengthens us & matures us. We are never alone. There are new mercies every morning. And when we go through hell & back, then we can be there for others when they go through the fire. We can comfort them with the comfort we received from God.

May I encourage you to open your white-knuckled hands and allow God the full reigns to your life. Maybe nothing drastic will happen. Then again, maybe God has a complete life transformation in store. Who knows?! All I know is that in following God (even if that looks drastically different than you thought) you will have a peace & joy & fulfillment & a true inner congruence to your soul. I want that for you!!!

#liveawakened #livefullyalive #surrender #loseyourlifetofindit #trustGodfully #lifeisanadventure #hangonfortheride #bebrave