Just the Way You Are: How to Be Still and Enjoy the Season that You're In

I love the changing of the seasons because they are a reminder of how life ebbs and flows. As we watch nature change right before our eyes, we see that we can trust the beautiful picture God is painting. I remember this really hit me as I drove up North the fall after my Dad died to go write my book. As I grieved, I just had to be still and even enjoy the season I was in surrounded by the beauty of nature. I'd lost my Dad and it was devastating, but it was also really beautiful. My focus at the time was letting my heart heal from the loss. Working out, was not. I did what I could with the season I was in. 

What are you doing today in the season that you're in with what you have? Are you keeping it simple? Or are you hurriedly planning for the next because you are afraid to feel what's going on in this one? If you are piling on a million things so you stay busy, I get it. I had a recent bout with that and didn't even realize I was doing it. It must have been the post-high school students/empty nester brain. As soon as the house was empty it was like, "Okay, let me do everything on my list!" I'm sorry, what? 

Let me tell you what I am doing to be still and enjoy the season I'm in. I'm working on a new book, as I mentioned last week. I'm also focusing on getting back into my body.  We all go through seasons where our body is more the boss than we are and I am coming out of one of those. Now I have the time and the space to get healthy again. But as someone who has been an exercise addict there are two principles that are incredibly important to me:

#1. I come into it knowing that my body is a vessel for the Holy Spirit but also knowing that it's not a god to be worshipped. 1 Corinthians 6:19 AMP tells us, "Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is within you, whom you have [received as a gift] from God, and that you are not your own [property]? You were bought with a price [you were actually purchased with the precious blood of Jesus and made His own]. So then, honor and glorify God with your body."

#2. It's also true for me that physical health is important, but spiritual health is even more so. These are important things for me to remember on my journey of health. 1 Timothy AMP tells us, "For physical training is of some value, but godliness (spiritual training) is of value in everything and in every way, since it holds promise for the present life and for the life to come."

*****

So, I've been, as Fergie says, "up in the gym just workin' on my fitness."

Photo Credit: www.secure.static.tumblr.co

Photo Credit: www.secure.static.tumblr.co

Here's the thing though. This season I've been in with my health, I'm not coming into a new one trying to "fix" myself so I can be good enough or accept myself. I accept myself as I am today. I want you to know that you don't have to wait until you are "fit" to be accepted. When we accept that we are loved by God, we can accept that God wants us to change for the better. In John 10:10 it says, "I came that they may have life and have it abundantly." Part of that is feeling good in our bodies so we can be vessels for Him! It's not about getting better looking or fitting into better clothes, but ultimately it's about Him. The healthier we are, the more able He is to use us. But that doesn't mean He's not using us now! He wants to work with us to improve our health, he's not EXPECTING us to get it right so He can accept that. If that's what you believe, please listen to me, that's not who God is. He loves you JUST the way you are.

When we can see ourselves as God sees us, we can meet ourselves in the season we're in and begin to move forward. That means accepting where we're at and totally ENJOYING that part of the season! And yes, that means not focusing on our plans or a goal weight. It means focusing on HIM. Focus on the journey, not the goal. Focus on  Him in the midst of it, not down the road. Imagine God is the yellow stripes down the middle of a road and just keep your eyes on Him. 

Some of us aren't in seasons where working out is really an option. We can't get away because work is too busy, kids are busy, or a beautiful baby has come into our life! That's okay! I truly believe THAT is where God is wanting YOU to Be Still and ENJOY the Season you're In. If you can get away and go for a walk or hit a yoga class, then go for it. But don't beat yourself up for where you are at my friend! 

Oh, and guess what I've got to do this every day too!! Right now, not having kids in the house has allowed me to get up early and go workout to get the day started. So I've been doing a mix of walking, barre workouts and yoga. I love it because they all are low impact, and the classes have awesome instructors and atmospheres. I'm not running miles that kill the knees that I have left. I'm being gentle on my body and mind.

It's funny because last week I was at an early barre class and I talked with two ladies after class. As we rolled our eyes to share in the exhaustion, we laughed about how we're moving slow and how we used to be able to do push-ups, planks and runs a lot more in the past but we are meeting ourselves where we're at. Where? Right NOW. And just the night before I went to that class, I made a remark to my husband (not beating myself up, but just noticing) "Wow, I'm kinda out of shape." Thankfully, I'm doing something about it. But you know what my husband said, "Honey give yourself a break. You've been in a season." He was right. The last four years of our life together had been one crazy season with every kind mixed into it. But it was a beautiful thing to hear Him say that.

The next day after I got home from the gym, I started to prepare this week's message and listened to Billy Joel's  "Just The Way You Are." Started balling, just realizing that my husband truly loves me just the way I am. What a gift God!! I realized how crazy it is that we always think in the demanding seasons of life we're not beautiful or something.  But if we're showing up, however we're supposed to show up in that season, being still and enjoying it? That's where we're beautiful. Right now, in the season that we're in. 

So here's my message. Ladies we are all beautiful - just the way we are in whatever season we're in. I don't care if you've got scars or baby puke on your face, you are beautiful. I don't care if your pants size went up or you need a haircut (like me). I don't care how much you want to say, "But I'm not as pretty as so and so." I care that you ARE. You really are beautiful JUST THE WAY YOU ARE. I know you may not be feelin' me right now but believe me. Be kind to yourself, and your body. Forgive yourself for not being further along in health or some other area. You are where you are and God's okay with that because that's exactly where he wants you to be...still.

Here are two verses that God gave me in devotion time recently that I think speak to this message:

You ARE fearfully and wonderfully made. "I will give praise and thanks to You; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my Soul knows it very well." Psalm 139:14 AMP

You faith is worth more than gold (Amazing!!). "In this you rejoice greatly, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the genuineness of your faith, which is much more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested and purified by fire, may be found to result in [your] praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ." 1 Peter 1:6-7 AMP

Finally, here are a few videos that I think speak to it as well. Maybe you can add them to your workout playlist to remind you: YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL JUST THE WAY YOU ARE.

Here's Your Playlist for the Week With Videos Below: 

Alessia Cara, Scars to Your Beautiful
Bruno Mars, Just the Way You are
Pitch Perfect Girls, Just the Way You Are
Billy Joel, Just the Way You Are

 

When Our Plans Don't Work: How We Can Trust God's Instead

“In their hearts, humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps.” Proverbs 16:9

So, I had a plan to have a Podcast started on Monday. It did not work out as I had planned or expected. But when I got in prayer that morning God established my steps. He gave me what he always does - good sound direction. So I wanted to share it with you so it can help you when your plans don't workout. 

I was fighting hard not to beat myself up for this launch not happening. Thank God the verse of the day on Monday was Proverbs 4:23, "Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it." Our hearts are something many of us don't pay attention to - and I'm all about giving them some more attention! They are our will, emotions, thoughts, desires and all the stuff inside that we just follow. My heart was wanting me to believe that I had failed once again because the "product" hadn't launched. But there is something I'm learning (slowly) about what the Lord has called me to do. It's not a product. It's heart. It doesn't mean that there won't be a product. I do believe that he wants the words I write and share to get out to the world. But it also mean that I have to focus on what he's put on my heart. I can plan all I want but if he directs, I have to follow him.

Here's what else he reminded me of Monday - that I'm not in charge. He builds the house.

"Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain." Psalm 127:1

He reminded me that He is the one that meets all my needs. I'm not in charge of meeting all of my own needs. It's why I so need Him. 

"And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:19

His ways are higher than mine and even though the world tells me that I've got to focus all my efforts on self-promoting, I need to focus on God - because HE is the only one who will promote me. Again, it doesn't mean I will do nothing to promote. But I do have to keep in check my motives - am I doing this for my glory? or His.  I was taken to 1 Peter 4:13, 

So be content with who you are, and don’t put on airs. God’s strong hand is on you; he’ll promote you at the right time. Live carefree before God; he is most careful with you.
— 1 Peter 5: 6-7 MSG

What an awesome reminder. How often do we think we have to meet our own needs? Really that's what the world teaches us, that we can't depend on anyone but ourselves, let alone God. Isn't that why we put our plans together, so that we can have control of the outcomes? I know I have had times where I felt like I was in God's will, but then he showed me I wasn't by not letting it workout. Every time though, it was for good. I have so often struggled with God's call on my life, because it isn't traditional work. I struggle with what others think (just like everyone does) and what it looks like. But writing is not a traditional job and I am absolutely okay with that because God is guiding my steps and I trust that if it becomes something more, he will make it that - in His time. Over time I've slowly learned to trust Him more and more. I know that God wants me to feed his sheep and share the Word with the world, to bring people closer to Him but I can't do that if I'm beating myself for what didn't workout. I always have to understand that he has a better plan. Not only that, he's got a purpose for me and for you. 

I have to remind myself (as you probably do to) that we don't need to be doing what  everyone else in the world is doing. I'm doing what God has me doing. Are you doing what God wants you to do? I'm not saying everyone needs to be doing what I'm doing. But he gave us all gifts, are you using yours?

I've been blessed and gifted to do a lot of cool things in my professional life like planning Presidential events. As far as cool goes, I've had the cool job. But now I have the amazing job that deeply satisfies me. It feels right and when words hit the page, I get lost. It's just how I communicate. My writing doesn't come by trying harder. It just comes. So I dare you to think about what it is you really love to do. What do you get lost in? You may think you have to do something that fits in a certain box, because it looks good - but what feels right? Where do you feel God tugging you? God doesn't want you to build a house alone. He wants to help you build it. But you gotta trust that he's right there beside you ready to lay another brick. Now, I say this to myself and you! Don't get ahead of yourself! I know, when you do find what you love to do, you get excited. But God's got the plan and  it's much better than ours. 

So, that being said, if you are wondering what I'm up to. I'm spending my time focusing on what God's called me to do. That is writing. The extroverted part of me spends time with others in various communities, but this is where I feel called to help the world. You may already know that, but isn't it funny how long it takes us to figure it out ourselves? Right Now, those of you who have read my book will be happy to know I'm working on the next one and in two weeks I'll be at a Writers Conference to get some feedback. And those who like the videos, they are coming back in October. So, take a rest. Take a listen to what God may be doing by changing your plans. Don't expect an answer right away. Just trust, that he will provide the way in His time.

Seasons Change: How We Transition From One Season of Life to the Next

Today's post was supposed to be about how I've learned to navigate the grief over the years since Dad passed. Well, that's not what it's turned into, because as an empty nester today, I'm navigating an additional kind of grief - of not having kids in the house. So I thought it was appropriate to widen the scope of this, cause grief and change aren't all tied up into a nice box with a bow. They are messy. So this one's for all of you who are walking into a new season of your kids going back to school, your kids being off at school, or in their new careers, or your parent or loved one not being on this earth. Maybe for you it's even about mourning a relationship that you have that has changed. Whatever the case may be, we all need a little bit of God's grace.

So, here's the story. I thought my husband was going to be the one to have a much more difficult time than me with the whole empty nesting thing. Ha! I was wrong. I totally got blindsided. Day one of a regular week with the kids not there, or even just Sami there was a little shocking. The routine of everyone gathering together at the end of a day to come to the table and nestle into home was something that comforted me. It was a routine.

So when Mike got home, I didn't expect to snap at him about something as dumb as clothes of Matt's we're giving away. Then I'm in the kitchen, cooking our turkey for dinner trying to get in touch with my feeling and realizing I had anger. Wow, hadn't had THAT emotion in a while! What's behind anger? Fear. Of course I had fears of the change with this next season. I had fears that I wouldn't be able to get back to my dream after all these years of putting the kids first. I had anger that one day they are here, and one day they are gone?! It wasn't them, or even my husband that I was angry at. It was the situation changing - cause we all hate change, right? And it was the enemy wanting me to beat myself up for all the stuff I haven't gotten done in this season of parenting. Yeah, no I wasn't going to let him do that. I wrote about it, apologized to my husband, named what I thought might be going on and kept moving forward. That was that. I could process my emotions. Of course, they came back again the next morning but guess what? I don't have to hate myself! This is normal and part of the process of changing into a new season!!!

So here's what came as I sat with this lovely grief. Much of it has helped me since Dad died too...

#1. SIT WITH IT. Yes, that's what I said. That sweet rollercoaster of emotions is yours, so own it. But don't let it lock you into the ride. If you don't feel it, you stuff it. You gotta feel it, whether it's anger like that I felt Monday night, or plain old sadness. Maybe it's not even a feeling. Maybe it's purely physical, like you feel like you can't do anything. Be in that. Maybe you are in your head. Okay, maybe don't stay in your head. But put it down on paper. Get it out of yourself the minute it starts to take you for a ride (even if you hate writing!). If we don't sit with it, we won't heal it. Yes we have to move on, but our feelings have a mind of their own. "The Lord will fight for you; you need only be still." Exodus 14:14 NIV "Come to me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." Matthew 11:28 NIV

#2. BE COMFORTED. There is so much stuff out there to "comfort" ourselves with, whether it's food or Netflix - we can just seek it in those things. But here's the thing about healing. You aren't going to heal it, if you just seek comfort. You've got to let God heal it. You've got to let God get to the root of your pain, and be comforted knowing that He isn't doing it to hurt you, but to heal you. Believe me I get it. I get wanting just something to take the edge off. Hello food! But I have found when it gets tough, there truly is only one who can comfort me and that's God. Not only that, he's the one who puts people in my life who I get to share my grief with that get it so we can comfort each other. How beautifully God works in our lives. He is..."the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God." 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 NIV. Galatians 6:2 NIV says, "Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ."

#3. RECOGNIZE WHEN YOU ARE BEATING YOURSELF UP. This may not make sense at first, but listen to what you tell yourself. Do you tell yourself things you should have or could have done? Do you do what I did the other night and beat yourself up for not "measuring up" and doing more in that season? Stop yourself. Get out of your head. Recognize that those are NOT your thoughts and they are certainly not God's, because He would not be beating you up for everything you haven't done. He would be telling you that He had you in that season for a reason so be nice to yourself. "See how much our Father loves us, for he calls us his children, and that is what we are!" 1 John 3:1 NLT

#4. LOOK AT THE GOOD. Gratitude, contentment, acceptance, love. Have gratitude for the entire season you've been brought through and for what God is already doing in the next. Let God show you by reflecting on the previous season, just how lucky you are to have loved or to have been present to the kids God has given you or to love the parents you did. Think for a minute just how much God must love us, to show us love and to put people in our lives to love! Accept where you are at, maybe in all the messiness and realize that God is going to do a new thing because out of every storm comes a clear sky somewhere! Love. Just BASK in the love you got to feel because you've gotten a small taste of just how much God loves us. "But God showed his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." Romans 5:8 NIV.

#5. PRACTICE SELF-CARE. How hard is this one? In 2 days I have found this statement to be true, "Kids are an awesome distraction from dealing with your own stuff." Yes, I said it. It is a beautiful thing to raise kids - a tremendous gift from God. But, wow. When they aren't in front of us 24-7 and we're left with ourselves? What a time to look at ourselves and say, "It's time to take care of you." Yes, we do our best at taking care of ourselves when we have those people in our life. But I see where God just kinda opened the skies enough to show Mike and I, "It's time for you to take a real rest and take care of yourselves." I can just feel it in my bones almost. What does that look like for you? For me? It's going to yoga more. It's being in nature more. It's getting a massage to release the toxins!! It's even letting the cortisol in my body rest by eating foods that don't inflame my system. It's doing all those things that connect me to that love of the Father - watching a sunset, listening to a song, video chatting with the kids. It's so much about just being in the season I think. And I know I'm only a few days in, but I can see how much it's about that acceptance and contentment, and even healing.  I mean I'm excited for how God's going to show me how to take better care of my body this season! "Don't you realize that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body." 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 NLT This verse is one I think I'm going to put on my wall, "Beloved, I pray that in every way you may succeed and prosper and be in good health [physically], just as [I know] your soul prospers [spiritually]. 3 John 1:2 AMP

#6. DREAM AGAIN. It is so important to feel our feelings. But we cannot let them run our lives or stay stuck on a pity pot of the past. We must dream again. We must know that God's got good plans for us in the next season. The other night I was beating myself for all the stuff I haven't done with Healthy Voice in this season, and all the work we have to do in our house. But that doesn't serve me. What does serve me is everything I've mentioned above, and this. Dreaming again about all the things I can do with Christ in my work, in my marriage, in my home, with my time. I was walking around St. Mary's and ND campus yesterday, texted my husband to say, "We gotta come back over here and do our Sunday morning runs." They were so important to us for a long time, but kids schedules took it away for a season. But that's okay, because we have new ways to dream!! God will do new things in this season ahead. "See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up, do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland." Isaiah 43:19 NIV

One last fun thing. Did anyone look at the title of this blog and think of the old eighties song by Expose called "Seasons Change"? I did for a minute. So if you need a little extra dose of reflection (or a laugh at the eighties outfits). 

On another note, if you just need to be with it, here's a more appropriate video. This is one that's with me now as I Be with it.

10 Tips for Leaving the Nest Well: What I Wish I Knew When I was Going to College

There is nothing you can do to prepare yourself (or your kids) for the craziness that is college. Flying away from the nest is no easy thing, but it's also a beautiful thing. I want to share with you something I've learned in the years since I've left college, something that I've worked on with the college women I've mentored. It's probably not something you'd thing. It's also not something I the world will tell you, or you'll find out your first few days there. But I believe it's the secret to navigating this season in life well. 

There will be storms. There will be rocky times. There will be mountaintops. There will be valleys. There will be smooth times. There will be everything. So what do you need when you are being faced with everything under the sun? A rock.

This rock is something I didn't know I had access to in college, kinda like my ADD. The doctor told me in my mid-thirties, "You probably would have done a lot better in school had you know this." No kidding. I want to share this with you now, before you are further along the way...

Here it is. Yes, it's your Healthy Voice. Your Healthy Voice is the voice of unconditional love that is with you as you step into this new journey. It will be hard to hear or even believe - especially if you feel fearful or ashamed - but it is there. You've just got to listen for it. It is real. It is pure and it is not you. It's greater than you and anything you can tell yourself. It's the power of God in your life. He is your Healthy Voice, and he wants you to tune into Him. Before you roll your eyes, I want you to bear with me for a minute. If you believe me when I say to you that God will be with you this whole time, wouldn't you rather know how to access Him, rather than turn away from Him (especially if He's there anyway?)

Right. So, here's the deal. It's going to be hard to hear him so this is a list of some of the ways you can tap into His voice and power in your life. They are ways that have helped me and other young people like you, and if they can help us get peaceful - they can help you too. If you are struggling mentally or emotionally it will be especially helpful. But there is something very different about this Healthy Voice.

I am not talking to you about making sure you pray, or checking the box of going to church on Sunday. I am not talking about religion. Whatever you do in your religion, is your business. I'm talking about your relationship with God. It is more important than any other relationship you will have in your life and the sooner you connect, the more content and satisfied you will be. But the key is pursuing it. Not PERFORMING for Him. But pursuing Him, letting Him into your life and heart. That's where the magic will happen. He'll be with you in everything - your grades, your other relationships, your passion and purpose, your everything. To me, there is not better tip you can get in life than accessing the power of God in your life. So, here's the list below. When you start beating yourself up for not being good enough, you read these and get out of your head. Btw, remember that I had no idea of ANY of these when I was in college. So, even in the midst of the madness, if you can use these tips? You will be well on your way to hearing the voice of God in your life.

#1. Make a relationship with God a priority. This means finding ways to connect to him everywhere (I will give you those). Remember, it doesn't have to be about checking a box. He is with you all the time. Take a moment in the mornings just to reflect and connect to His love. Get in the Word. It will do wonders. It is powerful powerful. You can get a devotional book like Jesus Calling or the Bible App to look at the verse of the day everyday. If you do find him in church on Sundays, awesome. Try to find him everywhere the rest of the week. He wants you to know he's with you at every moment. "Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you." James 4:8 ESV

#2. Find your tribe.  They will support you, encourage you, comfort you and walk with you. They will go deep when you need to go deep. Be yourself and you'll find them. Look for the ones who have a similar faith to you and understand that God is part of your life (in relationship). Look for girls who maybe have shared parts of your brokenness with you and just get you. Know that friends are in your life for three reasons - a reason, a season or a lifetime. Sometimes it helps to repeat that to yourself when you can't figure out what's going on with a friendship. Maybe they've got drama and you can be there for them, but remember their issues are theirs and yours are yours. "As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend." Proverbs 27:17 NLT

#3. Find your place. I'm not talking about your dorm room. I'm talking about a place somewhere on campus that you can go and just be still, get away from all the madness and take a breath. It's in the stillness that we connect with God. I know at ND for a lot of people it's the grotto and the lakes, but not everywhere has a beautiful reflective place. But it doesn't have to be perfect. It just gives you peace because you are going to need it. "Then Jesus said, 'Let's go off by ourselves to a quiet place and rest for a while." Mark 6:31 NLT

#4. Get outside. Nature is going to be supremely important. It's where we get to go outside and realize in the middle of the madness, that God is bigger than all the drama or the grades and he'll take care of you. I don't care if you have to look up at the blue sky, the clouds, the rain, the grass, or a bird. Whatever you gotta do, just let nature be a part of how you connect to God. Maybe you like to walk or run outside. Maybe you have a hiking trail. Whatever you have, nature is the place you go when life is getting you down and you can say, "If God's got that bird, he's got me." "Look at the birds. They don't plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly father feeds them. And aren't you far more valuable to him than they are? Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?" Matthew 6:26-27 NLT

#5. Be kind to your body. Please. Please. Please do this. When it says, your body is a temple in the Bible. It doesn't mean you are supposed to have a perfect body. It means God is in you if you believe. Your body isn't yours to push to perfection with diets, workouts, cleanses, whatever. God created you. Be nice to you. This isn't about eating perfectly. It isn't about obsessing about your body, what you put into it or how you move it. Yes, you need to move and eat well and discipline your body. But God created your body and it is beautiful. So embrace it. Be nice to it.  Know this too, it literally says in the Bible not to obsess about food. "That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life - whether you have enough food or drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn't life more than food and your body more than clothing?" Matthew 6:25 NLT and before you make exercising everything, read this: "For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come." 1 Timothy 4:8 NIV

#6. Be Gentle on Your Mind. Friends, your mind is a BATTLEFIELD. Some of us it's just some negative thoughts we've got to deal with. Others of us have been through stuff that has made our mind EXTRA hard to navigate. I'm talking about trauma that wrecks us and makes us react to everything out of the pain we haven't dealt with. Your mind will play tricks on you in this area. Do not let it. Man, did it take me a while to figure this out. It was never about my workouts or my diet, but my MIND. I had to deal with my MIND. So if you DO need t deal with yours, do NOT deal with it alone, especially if you feel like you've got some kind of mental illness. It is NOTHING to be ashamed of. That's just the stigma talking. And more importantly, once you get on the journey of mental health, it's not "fixing" your mind that works. It's getting in the Word and hearing what God says about you that holds for the long haul. "Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will able to attest and approve what God's will is - his good, pleasing and perfect will." Romans 12:2 NIV

#7.  Don't stuff your inner pain. We've all got something that broke us or someone that hurt us. Maybe it's a friendship. Maybe it's a parent. Maybe it's an event like your parent's divorce or a death. Whatever it is, it broke your heart in some way and you've tried for a long time to fix it yourself. My friend, you gotta let yourself feel it. But you don't need to let yourself feel it alone. #1. God is there it comfort you, #2. God's put people there to comfort you, #3. You CAN get help to walk through it and know that no matter how painful God will be with you. But the further you run from it, or try to stuff it or fix it, the more it will settle in. So if you are in school and got pain you are dealing with, REACH OUT for help. I know you will be tempted to reach for the bottle or the food or the boys. But when you find they aren't satisfying you, or worse - hurting you, remember who will quench your thirst and feed you. "All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us. For the more we suffer for Christ, the more God will shower us with his comfort through Christ."  2 Corinthians:1-5 NLT

#8. Find your WORTH. Not in things or in grades or in friends or in social status or in your likes on your social media page. Find it in Christ. If you don't believe me, here's a song and a video you HAVE to watch.  You Are More

So instead of trying to fix you to be good enough, let HIM love you and help you realize you are more.

Here are two verses for you with this: "For I know the pans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope." Jeremiah 29:11 ESV

"But he said to me,'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me." 2 Corinthians 12:9 ESV

#8. BE a Light and SEEK the light. I mentioned this earlier but it's supremely important. You aren't alone. In your life, there will always be people walking it with you. Some will be a little behind you. Some will be right beside you. Some are far enough ahead that they can mentor you or coach you through this crazy time in your life. Help those who are a little behind you. Be a light in the darkness. Encourage those who walk beside you, and not only that - lean on each other. Do not stay in your head, or stuck in your feelings, or in your stress for too long! Talk to you friend who you trust the most! There will be some others who know you the most and can remind you of who you are. Stay connected to them. And then there will be those who see your potential in you more than you, and can guide you through the process. Do no hesitate to find a mentor or a Life coach to guide you. There is no reason to muscle your way through this alone. "No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father." Matthew 5:15-16 NLT

#9. Find a place to worship God through Music and Fellowship. Although I'm smack dab in between Generation X and Millennials, I relate most to Millennials to I'm just going to reference "us" in this one because music is an area where I feel most connected to you guys. We all know that our generation is into music. We live for it. We connect through it.  It's not just about music choice. It's about what music moves you. Here's the other thing. What you listen to affects you. I know it's hard not to listen to all the booty shaking music in college, but in your own time, a great way to connect to God is through music. If you haven't heard of Hillsong United, just find them on Spotify and start listening. Your soul will move. I can listen to their music anywhere and spend time in God's presence. That's what worship is all about. Spending time in God's presence. If you can find a church or a fellowship on campus where you can do that, awesome. Even better, because you are doing it in community. God wants us in community, not alone on the journey. But make sure if you find a place, it fits you. If religion and repetition, doesn't, there is another place. Find music. That's what captured my soul even deeper for God. Music. Don't underestimate it. "Worship the Lord with gladness. Come before him singing with joy." Psalm 100:2 NLT

#10. MOST IMPORTANTLY, and this will be so hard to do, but - do your best to focus on God. Keep going back to Him as you source. Yes it will be hard, but the more you do it, the more you will realize only He can satisfy your thirst and hunger. These verses should help you with that. 

"Jesus said to them, 'I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst." John 6:35

"He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said,'From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.'" John 7:38

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take." Proverbs 3:5-6 NLT

"Therefore since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up.  And let us run with endurance the race that God has set before us.  We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, endured the cross, disregarding it's shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God's throne." Hebrews 12:1-2 NLT

GODSPEED FRIENDS AND HAVE A GREAT SCHOOL YEAR STUDENTS!! PARENTS, Hope this helps you too for your own journey! Please come back this semester for more good stuff geared towards you!!

 

 

What a Stand-Up Paddle Board Taught Me About Trusting God

Hello!!! Guess what, I'm alive. Been behind the scenes and happily off Facebook for a bit. It has been so nice. One of the things I've done is write a few summer blogs for you until the Podcast is up. So I hope this one gives you a little inspiration. 

How many of you have ridden a Stand Up paddle board? Well, I just started riding the one I got a few weeks ago at the lake and loved it. Loved it in the sense that I grew to love it. I knew it was going to be hard to get up and balance, especially on the unpredictable waves of Lake Michigan. I was up to the challenge, but I had to step out and step away from the shore.

It's kinda like the time I've had off Facebook. It's become so normal to just post on Facebook and scroll the news feed for all of us. It feels funky to be off it, like you aren't with the "in" crows. But it's freeing. It's almost like we've become numb to the effects of it on our life that we forget who we are without it. Let me tell you, I haven't now! (Another blog - gonna be good).

Anyway, so this SUP (Stand up Paddle) board experience. I am not the queen of balance, (kinda like life). Who is anyway? So the first day I go out and get up. I fall within a minute. I get up again and fall within 2. Then 3. Then 4. I had to have the board turned just so - so that I wouldn't moved across the harbor with the waves. Let's just say it was frustrating. Thankfully my husband was out there hanging out with me on the kayak, watching me get up and fall down, get up and fall down. Sometimes I'd fall forward and the board would fly behind me. The board would move so fast, he'd paddle across the water pretty far to grab it and bring it back cause I couldn't get to it fast enough. One time I fell backwards and got a lovely bruise in the middle of my back. Totally worth it. Another time? Lost my favorite white sunglasses. Tried to go back and find them, never did. 

But I went out again the next day and didn't give up. I was stronger, able to balance better. I think barre played a huge part in keeping me up there. (Thank you Tammy Weisweaver) This day the water was rougher than I thought. I could not get up and stay on the board at all. So we went out on the kayak instead (another story.) The next day I was stronger, cruising along for a few minutes at a time. I felt like a rock star. lol 

A few days later we were heading back home and I wished I had gotten out on the water again but the weather kept me from it. So we're driving down Grand Traverse Bay and it is just beautiful out. I made a decision to turn around and stay another day, and it was the best decision I could have made. It wasn't just because I had another day on the water and got some writing done. But because I woke up that next day to see the lake more still than I'd seen it in two weeks.

I remarked to my mother-in-law, "I have GOT to get out on that lake." So I went to the basement, hauled that board down to the water and got on that puppy. Let me tell you - nailed it. 

I got up on that board and never once fell. I got up with reasonable grace. I stayed up on that thing for over an hour. I laid down on it just looking out at the Manitous.

A view of my time on the water from land.

A view of my time on the water from land.

I did an Upward Dog. I did a Downward Dog. Didn't quite make Warrior, but next time. I was moving on that lake feeling totally connected to God through nature in front of me and below me. It felt like the living demonstration of being still and knowing God. It took complete trust to stay up that long, over every wave knowing that even if I fell God would be there when I got back up.

So I found myself singing the song, "Oceans" by Hillsong. If you don't know it, HERE it is

You call me out upon the waters
The great unknown where feet may fail
And there I find you in the mystery
In oceans deep
My faith will stand

And I will call upon your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am yours and You are mine....

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior

I was literally singing this this to myself as I glided along. It was so very cool. It reminded me of how much I want to trust God, how much I want to trust Him to take me deeper than I could ever be on the shore.

Then I realized that He was using this board to teach me something. He was reminding me that because of Him I don't ever have to get up. God is the one who gives me the courage to keep getting back up, no matter how many times I fall. It reminded me of all those times in life that I've been challenged, God gave me the strength to get back up. It was this God confidence that I could never get on my own.

You know what else I learned? That life IS all about balance. But it doesn't always mean perfect balance. Some days we feel pretty balanced because things are going pretty smooth. Other times we're trying desperately to hold on as the waves come. It's a miracle we don't fall off. Then there are the times where pretty quickly we are completely thrown off. But we come up from the water, and we give it another shot. Or we say, today's not the day. But tomorrow I'll get up and give it another shot. You just never give up. Why? Because every time you get up, you get stronger. So the more you trust, the more you step out, the more courage you'll have to keep stepping out of that comfort zone.

So what if we fall off? So what if we look goofy trying to get back up? We're doing it. That's what matters most.  We get up. We fall down. We fall down again. But we keep getting back up. 

I think that time on the lake is what gave me the inspiration to step away from Facebook a bit and see how it affects me, affects us - to maybe help all of us realize we may just be giving it a little too much power over our life. That time on that SUP showed me how much more I want to fix me eyes on Jesus than a news feed. It showed me how much more I want to do God's will, than what everyone else is doing on their news feed. I know I won't be able to completely avoid it, because I do believe that there is a need for good content on there. I will just be working to fix me eyes on Jesus a lot more. Anything I can do to know Him more. God wants my time more than anyone else, and I want to be obedient. 

So, I'm going to remember this time on Lake Michigan with this SUP where I learned that I can go deeper - "where my trust is without borders, where my faith can be made stronger." I can leave the rest up to God because no matter how much my mind fights me, or the water gets rough, or the storms come - God is with me. He is with you too. 

Today's Bible verse was from Deuteronomy 31. It spoke of when Moses was handing over the leadership reigns. Moses said to all of Israel in verses 6-8 NIV

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.

Then Moses summoned Joshua and said to him in the presence of all Israel, Be strong and courageous, for you must go with this people into the land that the Lord swore to their ancestors to give them, and you must divide it among them as their inheritance. The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.

 

What's your Stand UP Paddle Board story? How are you going to step out and trust that He's got you?

One more thing, you know what that gave me the courage to do? Step out in faith in another area of my life. Tomorrow at the crack of dawn I'll be heading to Charlotte, North Carolina for the "She Speaks" Christian Writers Conference, and I cannot WAIT. I'm trusting that God's got this call and all I have to do? Is step out in faith. 

All you've got to do - is step out in faith.

"Creativity requires the courage to let go of certainties." Eric Fromm

You Can Have Victory Over Envy

I just noticed that last week's message was on comparison and this week is envy. Must be that time of year! I hope you enjoy today's message and it helps you in some way! Shout out to my friend Tammy Weisweaver (pictured here at the conference yesterday), and here's her barre studio if you want to check it out! (For all you out of towners - she's got online classes too!) B Present.

If you haven't checked it out, go to a class at her studio and see how she shines. Walk through your envy and defeat the lie of the enemy!

Here are a few resources that I mentioned plus 2 songs

"True Confidence has no room for jealousy and envy. When you know you are great, you have no reason to hate." - Unknown

"With envy out of the way you'll have more rom for your own greatness." - Danielle LaPorte #truthbomb

Your verses are:

James 3:16 AMP

"For wherever there is jealousy (envy) and contention (rivalry and selfish ambition) there will also be confusion (unrest, disharmony, rebellion) and all sorts of evil and vile practices."

Hebrews 10:19-25 AMP

A Call to Persevere in Faith

Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

For some reason this is the song that kept playing in my head when Tammy talked about how we're made to fly and the second one is one I've never heard. What AN AWESOME SONG!!

 

 

Comparison 2.0: To Moms, Young People & 2016 Graduates

The One Key to Overcoming Comparison

It doesn’t matter what stage of life you are in friends - college student, 20 something, 30 something, working mom, stay at home mom, single mom, grandmother - it doesn’t matter. We are all confronted with this comparison thing. The difference is in what we do with it. Are you going to sit in it and have a pity party? Or are you going to recognize it's the enemy playing a trick on you, trying to divert you from your focus?

Will you choose to focus on God's plan for someone else that has nothing to do with His plan for you? Or will you focus on Him and let Him show you His beautiful plan for your life...that one that's already unfolding?

Here's the deeper part from the message I heard at church on Sunday: The roots of comparison we have go back to when we were kids. Whatever we thought was our disadvantage, is the barometer we used to compare our walk to someone else's. I know I had two, and every time I get insecure today somehow it relates back to how I felt with these two - struggle with weight and being a child of divorce. I am NO longer a victim of either of those, no matter what the circumstance. But let me tell you, my insecurity about them kept me lost and addicted for a long time. As Pastor Bob said, he kept that comparison and resentment in his heart for over 20 years. I get that. I was brought not only back to childhood but back to my first day at Notre Dame when the only thing that repeated in my head was "I'm the only one overweight." "I'm the only one with divorced parents." Wrong. It's no wonder I dove into the drink believing that.

Believe who GOD says you are. This is especially for you graduates. There will be many opportunities to compare yourself to others in many areas I won't even get into. If it shakes you, don't let it break you. Get away and figure out who God says you are by getting in the Word or downloading the Bible App. He will show you who you are to Him. You will get all the advice in the world to follow your dreams and create a perfect life. It is good to have dreams. But it is better to have something to fall back on when they don't work out. Oh and it's not a bad thing if they don't because failures are what make you a success. Failures, contrary to popular belief, are the greatest lessons. You know the road will get tough so just remember when you are comparing. Wait a minute and remember this: I can seek the only one who truly knows me. The sooner you get that the world will always give you reasons to compare and tell you that you aren't enough - the sooner you can find the one who will always tell you the opposite. Just know that NO one has it all figured out. No one is beating you in the race of life. God's got you EXACTLY where you are supposed to be and he is walking with you if you let yourself notice Him. So as soon as you say, "Well I don't have that," think of all the things you DO have. Think of the fact that God designed you JUST as you are for a specific purpose and no one can take that away from you. 

This image is courtesy of Elephant Adventure and my friend Margaret Sheyka Stough who posted it on my page.

This image is courtesy of Elephant Adventure and my friend Margaret Sheyka Stough who posted it on my page.

Here are the resources I mentioned below that can help you work through this a little bit more.....

2) A great article called "Find Contentment by Killing Comparisons", by Anne Peterson from Christianity Today speaks to that comparison game we play on Facebook.

3) Another great article called, "The Life and Death of the Proverbs 31 Woman" by John Greco from In Touch Ministries.

4) Verses

Romans 12:2 says it best. I like the NLT,

"Don't copy the behavior and customs of the world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God's will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect."

John 16:33 NIV

"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."

Hebrews 12:2 NIV

"fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God."

And a song that may not help you now but maybe one day. Heard it last week and it was just perfect.

 Bonus song: