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

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Let’s Talk Comfort Zones

So today I had to do some MAJOR “adulting”. To boot, my hubby was out of town/wasn’t able to get to his phone–> so I had no extra help or direction from him. I did “it” on my own. And to be honest, I kicked some adulting butt. (Really I did.)

I was *totally* out of my comfort zone. But I did it anyway.

Was it easy? No.

Did it feel good? No.

Was I scared? Yes.

“It” wasn’t expected. I wasn’t prepared for “it”. What I *thought* was going to be a simple thing turned into a “you lost your afternoon fussing with ‘this’.”

But because I’ve been working on myself and actively dealing with my insecurities, I really handled it with genuine ease. I didn’t get flustered/confused. I didn’t fumble over my words. I was able to be straightforward & honest.

In a word, it felt very “freeing” today. Not in the moment, but afterward. Something that would normally be crippling was handled “matter-of-factly”. I cannot adequately explain how proud I am at my ability to handle this hard situation.

Perhaps my “hard” is another one’s “simple”. IDK. We’re not comparing experiences here.  That’s dangerous ground (that is, comparison). It seemed hard to me, and I conquered it. Yay!

Feeling strong. Feeling accomplished.

But it all started with stepping outside my comfort zone.

It’d be “comfortable” to have someone else deal with this issue.

It’d be “comfortable” if it wasn’t my problem to fuss with.

It’d be “comfortable” if I could wash my hands of this.

But I stepped out and did something scared.

Honestly, I’m on Cloud 9.

Like I said, in the moment, it didn’t “feel good”. It was uncomfortable. I wished someone else could handle it for me. I thought of my escape routes for sure.

But I stuck with it. Did it scared. Prayed. Believed that God was in control over all things.

If there’s something you’re struggling with today, may I encourage you to take just (1) step forward and do “the thing” scared. I’m right there with ya. I did a scary thing today, too. You can do it as well. From one scaredy-cat to another… we can do this!

#formerscaredycat    #nowbebrave    #takethatfirststep    #doitscared    #trustGod    #youarenotalone    #stepoutofyourcomfortzone    #liveawakened   #livefullyalive    #beencouraged    #loveyourlife

comfort-zone

Stop Waiting

Stop waiting. Make something of the moment you're in right now

Because of the Fall of man and the effects of sin on the earth, there’s always gonna be decay, failure, let downs, problems, sadness, and death this side of heaven. And quite frankly, I kinda think that because of sin, our brains may be hard-wired to immediately see the darkness around us. I think this because ‘seeing the good & the positive’ seems a skill that most of us struggle to naturally have and develop. It doesn’t seem innate to most.

Scripture says,

“… brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy, meditate on these things.”
~Philippians 4:8

“Be careful what you think, because your thoughts run your life.”
~Proverbs 4:23

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, be be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is- His good, pleasing, and perfect will.”
~Romans 12:2

It matters what we meditate on in our hearts and minds.

If a negative thought comes into our minds, it matters what we do with it. Do we run with it? Imagine intentions of other people? Think worst case scenario? Ruminate over it? Meditate on it?

What we’re doing is creating mental ruts and grooves. And quite literally, we are creating neural pathways of negativity in our brains. The more we think negatively, the more ingrained that line of thinking becomes!

We must counter this with positive thinking. Not in a New Age-y way. But in a Biblical way! Focus on what is right and true and praiseworthy. Focus on the good that is all around us. Focus on the blessings of God. Focus on what Christ did on the cross for us.

Having a hard time doing this mentally? Just get out a notebook & pen or sit down with a blank Word document and just start writing. Even if it’s simple things like: the sun is shining and the weather is nice today, it’s Friday and I’m getting paid, no one’s sick in my family right now, we went grocery shopping and have a full fridge/pantry of food, etc. It doesn’t have to be anything huge and amazing. But what you’ll see is that there is a TON of things in our lives that are going RIGHT. We just need to be paying attention/looking for it. It’s there, I promise.

On learning to take a positive spin on events & circumstances…
An example: this Thursday (7/19/18) AM, I had a varicose vein procedure. I had my alarm set for 4:30a so I’d have ample time to get ready and drive to my appointment. Well, I forgot to turn that alarm off. So come the next morning (Friday), my alarm goes off at 4:30a. Besides scaring me out of a nice dream, my next immediate thought was “grrrrr… this upsets me… I want to sleep!” But I forced myself to take a positive spin: though I don’t like waking up at 4:30a when I don’t need to & I was awoken out of a deep sleep: I am now awake enough to take the Ibuprophen I have on my bed stand. Now, when I wake up at normal time, I won’t be in pain. Yay!

Though “yay” wasn’t my initial response, it’s the one I rolled over/fell back asleep to. I was genuinely happy and slept like a baby like a husband. 🙂 I knew I’d wake up with less pain in a few hours AND the Ibu would allow me a couple more hours of good, pain-free sleep. I successfully took a positive spin on that experience.

Note: I will NOT be accidentally be waking up at 4:30a on Saturday as I successfully deleted that alarm. 🙂

But no matter our situation or lot in life, there is ALWAYS something positive to focus on that can bring a smile to our face. There’s ALWAYS a silver lining. Look for it. Seek it. Search for it. Don’t “wait for it to happen”. MAKE it happen. It seriously starts in the mind and how we perceive the things that happen to us and that are said to us. Happiness starts within us. It’s not an outward thing that happens to us.

Let’s make it happen.
Let’s look for something good to savor today.
Let’s choose now to be happy!

Live awakened. Live fully alive.

#lookforthegood   #bepositive   #livefree   #choosehappiness   #happinessstartswithin   #becarefullittlemindwhatyouthink   #smile   #behappy   #liveawakened   #livefullyalive

Fearlessness vs. Bravery

Our goal in life shouldn’t be to “be fearless“.

Think about it… there are things and situations in life that are very much fear-inducing: getting a bad report from the doctor (then following that up: medical procedures), getting our works published, starting that new class/degree, stepping back into the world of dating after the death of a spouse or a divorce, getting that positive pregnancy test, starting a new job, etc. There’s so many variables and unknowns and new things we’re  being faced with. It can be frightening and uncomfortable.

We can’t not feel fear. It’s there. It always will be. It’s impossible to genuinely be “fearless”, that is, to be without fear.

A better, more noble goal is to be BRAVE.

It means we feel the fear and yet still go forward anyway. It means being courageous.

I used to always tell my kids to “be fearless“. That is, until this last week when my little girl had an earring infection.

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As I started to clean her piercing, she started saying, “I’m scared, momma.” Then it dawned on me: of course she’s scared. She’s scared of pain. That’s a very real thing. That’s a very valid feeling. How could I tell her to be fearless? Fear is very real.

So I pointed this thought out to her. I said, “you’re right, honey. This is scary. It could be painful. I’m going to try my best NOT to hurt you, but I *have* to clean this infection or it will get worse and even *more* painful. You know how momma used to tell you to be fearless? Well I was wrong. You need to be BRAVE instead. You’re going to feel this fear, but you have to do this anyway. But you know what? I’m RIGHT HERE WITH YOU. You’re not alone. We’ll do this together.”

She did it scared. She was so brave.

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This week, I myself am going to be putting my “bravery” muscle to use. Today (7-19-18) at 7am, I will be having an ablation procedure on a varicose vein that’s been bothering me for YEARS.

Starting around my 4th or 5th pregnancy, a vein on my right leg became varicose. I then had to begin wearing compression stockings during each of the following pregnancies (I’ve had 8 full-term). It would get so swollen, inflamed, painful, itchy… and to boot, it was ugly. Perhaps I’m just being vein, I mean, “vain”, but I really don’t like the way it looks. [LOL. I had to add that in, apologies. ;-)]

But now that I’m done having children, that vein is STILL causing me problems as it hasn’t gone away. It still gets irritated and flared up and achy. And it’ll only get worse if I don’t get it taken care of now. Plus, having a vein like that increases my chances of getting dangerous blood clots.

The ablation process is outpatient. It’s routine. It’s pretty low risk. If there IS any sort of issue, the hospital is literally next door. It’s pretty painless (thank you lidocaine). Success rate is high. I’ll have a gorgeous/pain-free leg. Woot woot.

BUT… I’ve never done it before. This is all new territory. I’m not going to lie, it’s giving me butterflies in the belly.

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But I’m going to feel the fear and do it regardless. I’m going to be brave and step boldly into this new experience. I’m going to focus on the fact that I won’t be alone during this procedure: my hubby and God will both be with me. (Plus, my hubby promises to take me out on a lunch date later and buy me a tenderloin from the most amazing food truck in our county. #worthit)

So anyway… I leave you with this: be brave (rather than striving to be “fearless”). Do the scary thing anyway. Trust that God has your back and that you’re not alone. Stop focusing on what could go wrong, and instead focus on what could go right!

Live awakened. Live fully alive.

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#bebrave    #youarenotalone    #Godiswithyou    #feelthefear   #doitanyway   #doitscared   #liveawakened    #livefullyalive   #livebyfaith

Regret Is Worse Than Fear

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Fear is such a difficult thing to deal with. It feels so very real. It quickens the heart, it pumps the adrenaline, it clouds our thinking, it makes us break out into cold sweats.

It can be terribly uncomfortable.

But that’s all it is: a feeling. Almost all of our fears are imagined, derived from “what-if” thinking or “the unknown”.

If we’re stepping out into new territories, there’s almost always going to be butterflies in the tummy.

It’s ok. It’s normal.

Go ahead and feels those nerves, but do “it” anyway (whatever “it” is for you).
-The sting of regret of a missed opportunity is oftentimes so much worse than the “feeling” of fear that you felt in the beginning.
-The frustration and jealousy of watching others step up to the plate and do the “thing” you were scared of doing (but wanted to do) is so ridiculously tough.

The only difference between you and them is that they stepped up and said “yes”. And there’s a darn good chance they said that “yes” with flutters in their belly, especially if they’ve never done it before either.

Is there something you’re wanting to do (or be) but the thought of actually pursuing it makes you nervous?
Are your excuses really just your way of avoiding feeling fear?
Do you find yourself jealous of others that step into success?
When you look at your past, do you feel regret or grief over missed opportunities?

Let’s start feeling the fear and doing “it” anyway.
Let’s learn to start saying “yes” to the things that energize and thrill/excite us.

Live awakened. Live fully alive.

#nofear   #bebrave   #liveawakened   #livefullyalive   #doitscared   #stepoutinfaith

 

 

Am I resisting Happiness?

On my personal Facebook profile awhile back, I posed the following question:

If fear & failure weren’t an issue, what would you do/pursue/invest in that you’re currently not? Just curious. Let’s dream a bit.

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I received several amazing answers like “creating resources for at-risk youth”, “teaching baking”,”being a stunt woman”, “being a politician”, “starting a restaurant”, “being a mortician”, “starting an apple orchard/cidery”, etc.

Fantastic, very eclectic responses! Got some big dreamers out there!

So, this was *my* response:

Me? I’d get serious about writing. Instead of dreaming (cluttering my head) and having thousands of half-written documents (cluttering my filing cabinet & computer & flat surfaces) I’d put myself out there and blog, write (for myself and other writers/bloggers), get articles and books published, etc. Every time I think about getting consistent with my blog I keep thinking things like “someone’s already said this before… probably better” or “what if this offends someone?” or “can I deal with potential ridicule or critique?” etc. Or the infamous “you can’t make money blogging… besides, who’d read your stuff anyway?” ugh

A friend of mine commented on this thought and said,

I once heard someone say that instead of self doubt they would think “why not me? If they can do it – why not me?”. Why not you? You don’t have to be the first to say it – if you say it well, someone out there hasn’t heard it! If that wasn’t true pastors and teachers would be out of a job 

Her words struck a chord.

Why NOT me?…

So what if someone’s said something similar to what I’m saying? I will word things differently. And I will reach a different audience.

And how often do we hear the same thing over and over, but it’s the repetition that finally makes it stick for someone?

Or someone words it JUST the way we needed to read it/hear it at that moment… it spoke to us in a language or tone that really jives with us.

And maybe it’s not even about being repetitious. Maybe it’s just, “hey, that person lives a very different lifestyle. They do things very differently.” Maybe that different perspective and view would be helpful, insightful, or encouraging to someone else.

Anyways, no longer am I going to let fear dictate my actions. Even if I’m not the best or most eloquent writer… that’s OK. I know with my words that I have stuff to contribute to society.

So what about you? Is there anything that you’re hesitant to do or start? Are you stopped in your tracks with self-doubt? Do you hear voices that say “I’m not good enough”… “would people even be interested in what I could contribute?”… “other people are already doing this/what I have to give isn’t anything new”… “would I even get followers/viewers?”… “I could never ______”… “who am I to do _______?”… “what I want to be and do is so big but I’m so small/I’m just a _______”…

Stop it! Just stop listening to those voices! Don’t give them anymore space in your brain!

What you think eventually becomes action (or inaction). Scripture says multiple times to guard your mind and heart and to only think on things that are lovely, excellent, praiseworthy, and right. We now have the science to understand that our thoughts can actually change our brains, cells, and genes. The brain/body connection is something I’ve been getting into lately and it’s an absolutely fascinating read! We’ve only begun to scratch the surface on how powerful the human brain is. But God knows because He created it. And He knows that what we think is ridiculously powerful– so guard it. What we think dictates what we do. Think right–> do right.

Let’s start taking charge of our thinking right now, today! Believe that God wants us to live fearlessly and fully for Him. He imparts upon us dreams and drives and passions. Certain things will energize us. Each of us has a unique take. A special creative spark is ours and ours alone and God desperately wants you to share it with the world. He made you for a plan and a purpose. Don’t miss out on it because of fear. Tell fear where to stuff it.

Do something today, even if it’s ever so small, to step out in faith and begin pursuing your passions and desires. God gave them to you for a reason. They’re yours alone. Let’s be faithful and use our gifts and talents for the Lord. He’s rooting for us.

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Live fully alive! Live awakened.

 

#livefullyalive   #fullyalive   #liveawakened   #stepintoyourfreedom   #useyourGodgivenpassion    #thinkright   #thinkpositively   #stepoutinfaith   #bebold   #befearless   #whyNOTyou

 

Your Love Awakens Me

This past January, my family and I began attending a new church in our community. One of the very first songs we learned was “Your Love Awakens Me” by Phil Wickam. You can listen to it here:

With as many times as I’ve heard and sung this song, I still love it. In fact, this past Sunday they sang it again and the church totally rocked it.

I think I’ll always love it.

One line from this song really stands out to me: Your love awakens me.

When we can begin to really grasp the width and breadth and depth of LOVE God has for us… when we finally realize that He is FOR us (and always have been)… when we can finally see He’s our biggest fan and wants the absolute best for us (He’s got plans to prosper us… to give us a hope and a future)… and when we can finally wrap our minds around the truth that any and all condemnation that was once on us because of sin was completely taken away at the moment of salvation…

… in a very real sense, we have been awakened

Walls between us and God are broken.
We’re no longer bound by the chains of sin.
We’re covered in grace and LOVE.
We’re brought out of the darkness and into the light.
We’re fully alive (abundantly… eternally).
Death has been conquered for us.

In a word, we are free.

So as believers in Christ, let’s live FREE and FULLY ALIVE!

Live Awakened.  Live fully alive.

#Yourloveawakens   #liveawakened   #Godsloveforus   #nomorecondemnation   #livefullyalive    #freedom   #livefree