Life's Sweet Journey: On Faith
Showing posts with label On Faith. Show all posts
Showing posts with label On Faith. Show all posts

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Mending Relationships and Forgiveness at Christmas

I posted this over on Instagram originally, but figured I would share it here as well for those that don't follow on IG. I know Christmas can often become heavier the older we get, so if the following is one of the reasons it seems harder each year, I hope that this leaves you feeling a little lighter and knowing that you aren't alone... 

I saw the above words on the wall the other night at The Coop and they been on my heart ever since, because it is so very true; it really is never too late to mend... After my brother died there was still something about our relationship that needed mending; a forgiveness that was needed, both towards him and towards myself. Once I was able to forgive the hurt that I felt he had caused our family, I also realized I needed to forgive myself for some of the hurt I am sure I caused him when my anger at his addiction got the best of me.

Mending that, for me, changed a part of my heart and while it doesn't make the loss of him at Christmas any less hard, I can now simply feel the hurt of loss at the moments he isn't here for, instead of holding onto some of the bitterness. I can approach the holidays with reminders of happy memories, because that was one thing about Christmas, whenever we were together, even if every other day was a battle, Christmas Day seemed to always just be a good one!

So please know that if you're hurting this season, if you are missing someone or if there is a relationship that needs to be mended, if there is someone you need to forgive or ask forgiveness from- be it a parent or child, a friend, a spouse, a sibling, or even yourself- it is never too late... after all isn't that what Christmas is all about? God fulfilling a promise to mend a broken world. Christmas is the ultimate mending of a relationship, when a Baby was born and laid in a manager, to set a course that would mend our relationship with God once and for all! And I am so very thankful for that!

If you find yourself hurting this Christmas, please know that my prayers and thoughts are with you. I hope that you find small moments of happiness to balance the heavy and make the load a little lighter. 

If this helped your heart and you would like to read further thoughts on past Christmases since my brother has been gone you can read them here; both the heavy moments and the lighter ones

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Tuesdays Together: The Drafting Desk and the Color of Hope

Happy Tuesday Friends!!
This post will be a bit different than recent posts, but I wanted to brag on some of my friends for a bit! I am so blessed to have some pretty incredible people in my life. People who use their stories, their heartbreaks, their imperfections (or uber-perfections that they have a hard time letting go of) and pour their souls open in hopes of letting others know that they aren’t alone. A few of those friends recently took big leaps of faith and today I want to share where that willingness to jump in has found them…

Lindsey and Rebekah are sweet friends that I know through church. Lindsey and I became close when we were working together in children’s ministry, before she moved to Michigan (boo for Florida, but yay for her new home state). We were also part of a sweet writers group. I miss her, but I have loved watching her story continue as she raises her growing family in a place where the seasons change! Lindsey considers herself a recovering perfectionist and, out of desire for her own heart to have something to remind her that it’s all about grace, she reached out to a gal named Rebekah and together they have began The Drafting Desk. It is a monthly newsletter filled with all kinds of goodness for those looking for a reminder to cut yourself some slack. We all need that, don’t we?! Though I wouldn’t consider myself a perfectionist (recovering or otherwise) I often find myself envying people who are. On a day when I have, yet again, failed at daily life tasks like getting my clean laundry off the couch (for the 3rd day in a row) and into the closet, I grind my teeth and curse myself for not being good at "adulting" and wonder if I will ever get better or if my poor husband will be left taking care of all the housework until we are both old and gray! I am looking forward to an inbox full of encouragement reminding me that it’s ok... It’s ok to be myself, flaws and all, because I was saved by Grace and my worth isn’t in the laundry on the couch, or the waffles in the shower (more on that another day), it’s in Jesus. That’s it, that’s all, amen! In Lindsey's own words, "The Drafting Desk is for all of us who are exhausted from the constant pursuit of "better and need encouragement to choose Grace instead of perfection." 

To join in simply head to their site to subscribe and also follow them over on Instagram. Their newsletters include great freebies like monthly printable prayers, plus phone and desktop wallpaper! 
                                                   the color blue and hope

My sweet friend Jenna; her story is one that can often find my heart in my knees and my brain playing through all the ways she shows how strong a person can be with the right amount of hope. Jenna is a mama of 4, with two babies here on Earth with her and two babies who are in heaven and always in her heart. Jenna writes about her journey over on her blog, The Color Blue and Hope, and her words can share her story much better than I could. She has taken the grief of losing her two baby boys and found the strength to make her pain something that can benefit others. Jenna is using The Color Blue and Hope as a platform to create care boxes for women who are fighting for the life of their child while on bed rest and for those who are grieving the loss of an infant. Jenna is loving on these ladies from a place of understanding and helping them to feel cared for.
You can learn more about her plans and read some of her story here on Instagram. You can also donate money towards a box, that will help show a sweet mama that she is not suffering alone, here at GoFundMe. Sadly, so many of us know someone who has lost an infant or we have a friend doing their best to stay in bed because doctors have told them their baby might not make it if they don't. Seeing Jenna use her story to help support those woman is something I feel blessed to get to witness!! 

I am hoping that today finds you with time to lift someone else up, to come together in community and support one another! That's what we are here for; we are here to love each other and cheer one another on! 

Who in your life could use a cheerleader? 
What friends of yours have taken big leaps of faith recently?
Share them, please! I would love to "meet" them!

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

#TravelTuesday 4// Laying Aside Fears of International Travel

As someone who loves adventure and thrill, it surprises people to learn that international travel scares me. I am usually up for anything! But after Greece, international travel scared me and I never really had a strong desire or need to see other parts of the world. Fear told me that the United States was full of enough beauty for a lifetime- and it is, full of so much beauty. But being afraid to step outside my comfort zone, and cutting off anything outside the borders of the U.S., discredits the rest of the amazing world that God created.

What am I afraid of? I think mostly the unknown. I like knowing what to expect. Do I think other places are really any scarier or more dangerous than the United States? No, not really. I think all places have things that it is right to be cautious of, in their own way. I just know the things to be afraid of in the states. Going to a new place means not knowing the things to be that I should be wary of.

It also makes me nervous to not be able to communicate with people. A communicator by nature, I love to talk to people, I love to be able to share stories and learn more about them and speaking different languages makes that hard. It makes me nervous not being able to understand what those around me are saying and not being able to join in on conversations. But my trips to Costa Rica helped alleviate some of that fear. There is a lot that can be spoken with expressions and having interpreters helps and sometimes you just branch out, make a fool of yourself and try to learn their language on-the-go. People are generally kind and willing to be helpful, in between laughs at all the things you said completely wrong! It really is true, that the best way to learn a new language is to immerse yourself in the culture.

But if I am being truly honest, I think the thing that might scare me the most is how God will use this trip to change me. I believe that travel in the U.S. can impact my heart and teach me things, but I am not sure if those trips will ever have as high a probability of creating pivotal moments in my life that can truly change parts of my heart. Change and me, we have never really gone well together- change has a funny way of rocking your entire world off its axis. I don’t enjoy having my world rocked, but I know that anyway He chooses to change me will be for the better- for His glory- it just doesn’t make it almost any less terrifying. God has a way of asking big things of those who follow Him. He breaks our hearts, over and over again, for what breaks His. He invites us to be part of the story He continues to write and it is, all at once, exciting and scary! Pivotal moments in life are usually never easy; they come with challenges and heartache, filling your heart with things that can tear it clean in two. But God is there, always with you, holding you, helping you and mending your heart. I need to remember that! And so I tell myself that, over and over, because I refuse to NOT do things because of fear! Fear will not stop me, because fear CAN NEVER stop God and He is always on my side!!

And so I remind myself of that and of all the wonderful things I would have missed out on if I have chosen to let fear take the wheel... 

//The beauty of Greece & Turkey// Sure, I was already there when my fear kicked in, but if I had chosen to let fear define my trip I wouldn't have truly seen the beauty that the country had to offer! 

//This miracle moment// My first out-of-country mission trip to Costa Rica was all girls (at least those of us leaving from the states) to drill wells with Agua Viva Serves. We worked alongside those in the community where the well was being built and other Costa Ricans employed through Agua Viva. The team helped me learn some spanish and then showed me how to work the drill rig! Helping with the pipes made me feel a sense of strength I had never experienced before and gave the guys a good chuckle to see that a girl could do some of the heavy lifting (they were very wary when I first asked them to teach me, especially since, in the Costa Rican culture, manual labor jobs are seen as men only work). Then, in the midst of all the mud, and the sweat and shoveling, a pipe striped and that pipe, the others connected to it and the drill bit all broke off from the rig and disappeared into the (now very deep) ground. We were worried that we had just lost all the progress, a weeks worth of labor hours, as well as expensive material literally down the hole; but God showed up in a big way and the guys were able to find a way to get the pipes out of the ground, find the striped pipe, replace it with a new one and keep going! I would have missed the elation and praise and smiles of that moment if I had let fear keep me from getting on the plane! 

//Babe's first mission trip// That first trip to Costa Rica, proved to me that I can live outside of the fear I had created in my head! The God moments of that trip began opening a door in my heart which led to another trip with Agua Viva Serves, but this time WITH BABE! This was his first mission trip ever (I had done others in the US when I was in youth group), but this was his first. It was so great to experience that time together and to watch God work through and around him! (man am I going to miss that face while I'm gone!) 

//And now for AFRICA// God used each of those moments to open the door of my heart, inch by inch, to say to me, "You! Go to Africa!" It was small at first, a nudge on a nudge, and then He screamed it at me!! And so, here I am go! And I am ready; even if my heart flutters and my knees shake a bit! I am ready and open and anxious to see what He will teach me!! 

Any travel advice for this nervous girl? Anyone been to Kenya? 
Anywhere fun you've been adventuring lately? Or plans to adventure soon?
Join in for this month's linkup and let's travel together! Just add your link below! 
~On the 2nd Tuesday of every month I will be sharing a new travel destination and would love to see where you have been exploring! 
~Any linked posts will be pinned under Travel Tuesday on my Pinterest
~No real rules, as I am not a huge fan of those sorts of things! Just add any travel related link and I encourage you to peek around and see where everyone else has been. Leave a little love where you like! 
~Feel free to grab the image from the sidebar and add it to your post so others know where to link up. 
Excited explore the globe with you all!!

Monday, April 11, 2016

Laying Aside Fears of International Travel// Part 1: I'm Going to Africa!

Tomorrow is the second Tuesday of the month and time for another #TravelTuesday linkup, but this months post will be a little different than previous ones. Over the next two days, in preparation for Africa, I am sharing some of the things laying on my heart and some big fears I have when it comes to travel. I know what you might be thinking, that with my usual "just do it" attitude and love for big adventures, how could I be scared of travel? Well, to be honest, international travel freaks me out. It has for a while, but I do NOT want to let fear keep me from living life to the fullest and experiencing what God's great world has to offer... 

It’s really funny to me that to start this year off I burned away some of the things I felt were holding me back or weighing heavy on my heart. FEAR was probably one of the biggest of those- of not doing things for fear of the outcome. I have also been calling this my “let it be” year- whatever it is, whatever comes, whatever God places in my path, I am just going to let it be and see where He leads me. Well, this year one of those moments came in the form of the opportunity to go to Africa, on a vision trip, with other staff members from Summit Church, where I work in Children’s Ministry. And as soon as I was asked to go 'fear' tried to rear its ugly head and wrap a vice around my throat.

A little backstory: I discovered, while on our honeymoon in Greece, that international travel was not all I thought it was cracked up to be, at least for me personally. While it was a beautiful trip, I spent much of my time anxious and nervous and out of my element. So after finding Summit, and deciding to make it our church home, we learned that they had a strong tie to working alongside those in Africa. I thought “well, I can be supportive from the states, but going just wouldn’t be something that’s for me.” Flash forward a few years and a mission trip to Costa Rica (I had a “minor” freak out while we were in line to board the plane and was on edge for a bit, until I settled in and soon felt at home among the Costa Ricans and was blessed with an amazing experience) and there I was sitting in service when it was mentioned that people should join and go to Africa. My heart jumped and felt a nudge- you know that little push that says, “hey, you! I want you to listen to this. Maybe you should go to Africa.” I brushed it away, thinking this is the people pleaser in me coming to a head now that we were invested in Summit. So I let it slip away.

A little later and I found myself working at the church, where, as a staff member, it is strongly encouraged that you go to Africa once every 5 years. I thought, “welp, how am I going to work my way out of that one?” And a little voice whispered, “you’re not.” Then the summer teams for Africa come around and I felt my heart jump again- nudge, nudge. I considered looking into joining a team, but then, fear… So I looked for other ways to plug in with our Africa partnerships and we began sponsoring a sweet little guy from Malawi. But the nudges didn’t end.

And so, I sat and I prayed and I asked for a sign, “Lord, you know me. You know the fears that will continue to stop me and you know I am horrible at making decisions. You also know what a people-pleaser I am. Is this really you telling me to go or is it the people-pleaser in me wanting validation? Ok look, if someone asks me to go, then I will know You want me to really consider it!” Yes, I ended with consider it, knowing full well if God wanted me to go to Africa He wanted me to go and not just consider.  So I ended my prayer and I left it alone.  And then trips came and went for another summer and the trips for this upcoming summer had also already been set and I thought I was in the clear. I even thought that I might actually consider joining next years trip, to the organization through which we sponsor, had even briefly mentioned sitting in on one of the Africa meetings to Babe and just decided it wasn't for us right now. And it wasn't, for us... 

Because out of the blue, just a little over a month ago I got asked to possibly go on a trip to Kenya. Not only was the trip just about a month away, but this trip also came with the added possible commitment of going back in August. That God! He’s definitely got a sense of humor! “So you wanted to wait for me to be glaringly obvious that you should go? Well, ok, how about going twice?” Because this trip will include working with kids, they wanted people from our children’s ministry team to go. A few of the people that were first asked could go in April, but committing to go back in August was tough, as the August trip will be the first week kids go back to school. That led to me- no kids, nothing holding me back from being able to commit to going twice. God was just sitting back and shaking His head with a chuckle, I can just picture it now...

To be honest, I still tried to look for a way out. I met with the guy who initially asked me (our global partnerships coordinator, also going on the trip), so that I could get some of my questions answered. Every question I had (every possible excuse I kept in my back pocket if I wanted to let fear win) was met with only open doors that I had no ability of closing. I sat in that meeting and I just knew, “I am going to Africa.” Sure, I had to discuss things with Babe, but I pretty much committed. If God wants me in Africa, Babe isn’t going to stop Him. And apparently neither was I. And so, here I go, on Thursday, to finally say yes to something God has been nudging me about for a while.

Maybe this trip itself is why He was nudging me all along, giving me 2+ years to prepare my heart for something huge! To prepare my heart for truly surrendering this decision to Him. My walk with God has always been one where I keep trying to take the wheel, but after John Wayne died, I realized that trying to steer things myself was only ever going to leave me in a tangled mess on the highway. And so this year I committed to letting it be- to stop trying to take control- and He is using that surrender to take me far beyond anything I could have ever imagined for this year.

Am I still afraid? Yes! But I am excited too! I am excited to see how this will impact my walk with Him. I am looking forward to getting to know the Matlacks more and to meet those they work alongside in Ngando, the community we will spend the majority of our time in while we are in Nairobi. I am so thankful for the opportunity to take part in this trip and so thankful that God is bigger than fear!

Monday, February 1, 2016

5 ways to Kickstart your Day

I woke up this morning and I laid in bed. I wasn't quite ready for life to start just yet. And those mornings can be nice, really so very nice! But that wasn't how I was supposed to start today. I had planned to be productive, but it was Monday and I wasn't ready. I finally pulled back the covers and made my way to the kitchen, where I vowed to myself to devote 30 minutes to quiet reflection on my thinking chair while I ate breakfast. After doing my devotion, I opened up my Instant Happy Journal and the prompt for the day was to trace the words "I'm Not Good Enough" and then cross through them once done. I originally thought about skipping it, because I thought it sounded a bit silly! But sometimes you just do it anyways!! Oh, it was so freeing! Freeing to cross out the "I can'ts" and to let go of the running list of ways to fall short! And after that my morning took a jump start! So I really started thinking about the things that, if done each morning, help me feel like I can take on the day at full force! So I figured I would share them with you. Hoping they help you get the day started off on the right foot- or if it's already on the wrong one, maybe it will help shift that weight! Either way, here they are... 

- Be Still to Start Strong! Take at least 10 minutes out of each morning to just be still; To sit in a quiet cozy corner somewhere and just breathe in the day. The rest of the day will be rushed, there will be things that must get done, but this 10 minutes? This is my 10 minutes! I like to spend mine with devotion and prayer. Today, carving out 30 minutes was so nice! I know that won't always happen, but if I just set my alarm a few minutes earlier the 10 minutes definitely can and should! I really do feel such a difference in the day when I don't have take that time to start my day off talking to God. 

- Journal! I had a prayer/ life journal that I kept for a little while, but like most things in my morning routine it got pushed to the wayside. So when I picked it back up at the beginning of the year and saw that the last post was from the end of 2013 I cringed. Writing down a few thoughts each morning really helps me to set a tone for the day. It clears my mind of some of the fluff and opens it up to make it ready for the new day. Don't journal? No worries, just thinking on something happy! 

- List the happy things! This one is huge! I couldn't recommend it more! Take a minute and list (either on paper or in your head) at least 3 things that make you happy in that exact moment. Today mine were: 
1.) extra quiet time
2.) doing things despite fears
3.) starting my morning off worshipping Jesus
Then I jotted down a few more too! The thing is whenever I start with my list of 3 things, I usually end up with a lot more than that. I actually do this a lot, not just in the mornings. I do it a lot in tough moments. It's amazing what listing things you have to be thankful for or happy about can do to uplift your mood. Seriously, try it right now! 

- List the you things! While you are getting ready each morning, standing in front of a mirror somewhere putting on makeup or picking out clothes, think of 3 things that you love about yourself! We are so hard on ourselves all the time. I feel like as I approach 30 I have gotten even more critical of my appearance especially. At any moment, at any age and any time, we are beautiful! Life has taught us that we have to look a certain way or act a certain way, but that's all just lies! Be yourself and love yourself. Embrace your You-ness!! So name those three things and at least one has to be appearance based. Most of our time in the mirror is spent picking over the fine details; cover this, smooth that. So while you swipe a brush across your cheek, think of something you love, like your eyes or your smile or even that widows peak you (I) tried to cut off as a child that you have grown to find frames your face well! Tell yourself "I love you!!"

-  Pray! I know I talked about this in the first one, but this is huge for me. I am not going to lie, there are many mornings where the other 4 just don't happen the way they should. Seriously, I am NOT a morning person (the Lord knew I needed a job that started mid afternoon). So, if I am up before 7/7:30 I never make it to my cozy blue chair. Literally it is: push the snooze 3 times, stumble to the kitchen, pour cereal, head to the shower (yes, with cereal in hand), sit down on shower floor and just let the water run while eating breakfast. I am sure you are trying to image the scene. Just picture: shower cap on, cereal on the lip of the shower in between the plastic curtain and the cloth curtain, with my head in between the two as well so that I can eat without getting water in my food. This is real life! But I sit there, with eyes closed and mouth chewing and I say a prayer. A lot of early mornings it goes a little something like this, "Lord, please give me the strength and patience to be a morning person today!" Even if it is just short and sweet and half awake, it is so, so good for my soul. Not sure about this whole God guy? Don't believe in Jesus? It's ok. I just say try it. Try praying, even if you don't know what you believe yet. Send up a prayer the way you would talk to a friend, maybe ask about who He is, wonder it out loud, challenge Him with tough questions. He doesn't care how you pray, He just cares about you. Period. Belief or not, you are loved! Just wanted you to know! 

I hope these were helpful! For me, they were a good reminder to me more mindful of how important they are for me personally. My days are so much more productive and so much more full of life when I do them. And the funny thing is they are so very simple that I had to laugh at myself for not doing them more often! So I set my alarm a little earlier? Better than dragging myself through the day feasting for coffee! I mean, don't get me wrong, there's still coffee! But it's so much more enjoyable as an added bonus than something that I am yearning for. 

Happy Monday! 
Any thing that you do that helps to start your morning off right?