Monday, December 8, 2014

The other day, I was walking home from work thinking about a conversation I had with a friend. I kept going over the conversation again and again thinking about how hurtful a comment had been made toward me. And while this friend has been told that statements made of that kind of nature are the ones I have the hardest time being told. I'm sure we all have that one statement that makes us feel belittled and unappreciated... and if you're like me, it's the kind that throws you off your game and makes you question everything about yourself. I was given this not that long ago and it hit me just how hurtful it really is.

A lot of us usually let our identity take place in what others say about us. That was me for a lot of years. I let what people say turn me into what they were saying about me. Most of the time, it caused a lot of pain... not just for me but in my relationships. I accepted all the titles and labels that were given and wore them as my nametag. But when I was thinking about this recent statement, suddently the words came to mind,

        "No weapon that is formed against you will prosper"

The book of James tells us how the tongue is a restless evil and full of deadly poison. The more I think about it, the more I realize how true it is. It's not the harsh things in life that I've faced that haunt me today... it's the words that have been told to me. It's the names I've been called.. It's the irrational angered words that ring in my ears. I know I'm not the only one who feels this way. According to James, our words are deadly. We can build up one day and tear down the next just by the things we say. How interesting is that. But while I was repeating the words the have been told to me all my life, and once more, the first part of that verse in Isaiah sent those words right out of my mind.

I started thinking about how if the tongue is a deadly poison, that makes it a deadly weapon. It's the most common weapon used, and everyone has one. Now I realize that that verse was written at a specific time for a specific purpose, but that doesn't mean that it still doesn't apply to me or you. The words of others do not add or subtract my value. It is the blood of Christ that gave me that value at the cross, and it covers my life from beginning to end. The same goes for you. We can accept these labels thrown at us, or we can choose to trust who He is. The One who gave His Son for us while we were sinners.... Whose Son gave us life with His own... The One who can never love us any less than the cross... The One who relentlessly pursues us when we walk away..

Or we can trust the words of broken, imperfect people in need of the very same grace.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

You would think that a lifetime of relationships would  make one an expert, but it doesn't. If anything, the more I have, the more I realize how much I don't know. I've had acquaintances, friends, and best friends. Some are still in my life and others I've had to let go of. That's the way of life I suppose, but that's okay.

Anyone you let into your life will hurt you. I used to make the promise of never doing that, but I'm a liar if I can claim that I never will.

Here's the deal... any relationship you involve yourself with will be met with heartbreak and disappointment. But, don't let that stop you from letting people in. It is the response that will shine through.

One of my favorite relationships is one between a ten year old and her best friend. Now granted, all I see are the words and pictures, but those are enough to show the kind of friendship they have. The smiles are genuinely happy smiles and the words are full of love. That is the way I want to represent the relationships present in my life. I want people to see loving smiles and words full of love when they see me with others. I want to see people as the image of God; His creation.

There are few relationships in my life that are truly genuine. These friendships are ones that have seen me at some of my ugliest moments... some of my most vulnerable moments.... and some of my absolute worst moments. These moments are full of falling apart, spouting ugly words, and thinking the worst of thoughts. We've fallen into some heartbreaking places, but I am still welcomed and loved. I am still cared for and sought after. Even after those moments, time with these friends still bring me to life and stir my affections for Jesus. I can have a conversation about today, or one about what's truly digging at me and still feel just as loved and loving. I believe God designed us that way. In such a way that even though we are fallen and prone to hurt, we can still encounter life and beauty when we are in community with eachother.

That my friends, is the lesson for today.

Friday, October 24, 2014

This has been a post that has been a long time coming. I've been meaning to write about this for a while but, well I wanted to make sure that what I wrote was really how I felt and well, nothing has changed so here it is. I apologize first hand for blogging about something I post about often, and that is Dance Moms.

I know I know, it's ridiculous, but for some reason I happen to look into the deeper side of things. I always learn something from anything I engage in and, this show happens to be the recent one.

I first started watching this show because of Sia's Chandelier video. Before this video, I never knew this show existed or heard of Maddie Ziegler.. but seeing  this girl become a game changer in this world, of course that's going to get my attention. I love seeing people make their mark in this world, and I love it even more when I see them doing it through something they love. So of course, I started watching the show.. and as much as I love Maddie, it is her sister Mackenzie that I've become a fan of.

There are so many character qualities that I love about this show, as ridiculous as it is. I'm not sure how I can see these deep in meaningful qualities in the things I watch, but I'm glad I do.

First, I'm not a big fan of Christi, but I do love the way she loves Chloe. What I love to see about their relationship is that Christ doesn't make Chloe dance, nor is she willing to do whatever it takes to get her daughter ahead. In fact, Christi stands behind her daughter's passion and encourages it. I love to see that, and I think that plays a big factor in the way Chloe dances. If there is anything I love, it's to see someone encouraged in their passions.

When it comes to the girls, I love to see their dynamic with eachother. I see it a lot more in the earlier seasons, but I do still see it now. I think these girls show a lot of us believers up with how they love one another. They celebrate each other's achievements, and feel each other's pains. They are quick to rejoice with each other, quick to run and comfort one another, and quick to weep with one another. It's definitely something that challenges me to step up more and do with those around me. After all, it's biblical that we bear one another's burdens, weep with those who weep, and rejoice with those who rejoice. These girls who have been on the show from the ages of 6-12 or so until 10-16 show the exact model of what this looks like.

For example, in one episode Nia is doing a solo. She ends up forgetting her dance and runs off stage where Maddie and Chloe run to her.. When Nia's mom runs over to her, Maddie grabs Nia's hand and runs her to her mom. In the audience, we see Mackenzie cry for her.. I love that scene so so so much because it's a display of what we should always be doing for each other. When one is hurting, we should be running them to the one that's going to comfort them... we should be running them to the source of peace and understanding.. and we should be empathizing and feeling it, too.  I definitely don't do the greatest job at it, and it's a great challenge for me to see this.

Another thing I love to see is Maddie watching Mackenzie dance. I love it because Maddie always has a huge smile watching her sister dance.. You see this a lot in the earlier seasons, but still... the fact that she can watch her sister with such love is an incredible thing to see. We as adults can learn a lot about that. On the other hand, anytime Maddie does a great job, Mackenzie always runs to her and gives her the biggest hug in the dressing room. I know they're sisters, but let's face it, how often do we actually see any relationships like this. Even now on the show and through social media, even though they do fight, I still see them encouraging and celebrating each other.

Now, there are many reasons I can give about loving Mackenzie, but the main thing is, everytime the group wins any kind of place, she is the first to jump up and go after the prize. I think that is exactly how we should be living our lives... leaping and chasing down the prize. In the end, the prize is going to be bigger and better than we ever could have expected even if it doesn't come in the place we hope. And because she does this, she makes me think of Peter... Peter was always leaping out of the boat to get to His prize... and His prize was Jesus. Even though His faith was shaky and denying, He was always the one to leap out of the boat to get to Jesus. That is exactly how I want to live... leaping out of the boat to chase after the prize when I see it right before me. Plus, Kenzie reminds me of my niece Anna.. and I'm thankful that there are young girls who set positive examples for girls like my niece.

So there you have it.. These are the reasons I love the show... I'm sure I'm always going to see something I cold learn about. As a believer, I'm always looking into the deeper side of things..

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

I had meant to write this blog before my friend had written about how messy love is. As much wisdom that her blog contained, I'm still going to share my thoughts even if they don't compare to hers.

I have a dear friend whose birthday is coming up. I've spent a lot of time wracking my brain on what I could do to celebrate her life. It hit me that I really love this friend. I've probably learned more about love through her friendship than any other.

Our friendship is not perfect. I get upset with her and she gets upset with me. We've both made mistakes. But it is these areas where I have learned that love does not have a capacity. It does not have limits. And love has no conditions.

I do because I am human. But excellent love does not.

To really know what love is capable of, you have to learn first that it is not easy. It's not meant to be because it is a choice, and it is a commandment. It is not in our nature even though we were created with it. But because we were created with it, we can choose to reflect what it really looks like. And my friend challenges me to do this.

"Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous, love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things hopes all things, endures all things"

That right there is from the bible and clearly states that love is not easy. Everything that it's about and that it's for and that it's against are things we all have to learn to do. I have failed showing what love looks like according to this description many many times. I'm sure I will many many more times.

But it is the very next line that keeps me wanting to show it... because it gives me hope. It keeps me going.. it keeps me wanting to love this particular friend even when I feel like I just can't anymore sometimes.

"Love never fails"

If there were anything I needed to believe about love, it's this. It doesn't fail when things are messy, dirty, chaotic, ridiculous, frustrating, hurtful, and circumstantial. It never fails and it transcends. And I learn this with the friendship I'm talking about.

I can speak words, bring gifts, do good, and give my insights...... but if these things are not backed up with love, it doesn't mean anything.

I guess the fact that it never fails is the reason why it's not easy, or in our nature. We will fail... but love never does and it's up to us to choose to reflect that.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Lately, my favorite words have been "it's not". Usually, this seems like an argument as to who knows better, but they've taken a new meaning for me. Mainly because of the awesome friendships I have. Some days I feel lonely and like I have nobody... selfish I know.. Especially since I know there are many people who love and care about me. But in the midst of this, I have grown so much more fond of the friendships I have. I'm constantly humbled by them.

So back into why I love the "it's not" phrase.

I don't know how many times I've felt so petty about letting certain things bother me. At least it feels petty. When I decide to be vulnerable and open up about something that hurt my feelings, it's hard. I don't like saying anything hurts my feelings. Maybe because I don't like the idea of being hurt, or looking like I've been hurt. So I tend to cover that up by saying it made me mad... or angry.. or pissed off.. or anything that will disguise the hurt.. And very rarely will I ever admit when something actually did hurt, or crush me. I mostly hated it because opening up meant that I would hear how everyone else gets hurt.. or how it could be worse.. or something to decrease me as an individual. I've learned not to approach others' hurt feelings with these suggestions. Mostly because it doesn't treat them as an individual who gets hurt..

So when I open up, I feel petty... or selfish.. or arrogant.. or like I have no right to feel the way I do. And that's why I say.. I say things like...

I know that's selfish..

I know that sounds arrogant

I know that's petty

And then there are those words, "it's not".

When I hear those, I feel like the friend I'm being vulnerable with is on my side.. they care about my feelings.. they care about what happened to me... and it matters to them. They are being the friend who listens to me, and who knows me, and understands that I was hurt. And it helps.

Maybe we should start putting those two words more into our vocabulary. If we care, we should let them know that their hurt feelings matter to us. Their pain moves us. Maybe we should start being that safe place for others to feel vulnerable because let's face it, we don't like to admit when we're hurt.

"It's not"

Those are the words that have created a safe place for me. May I do the same for others with these same words.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Why People Just Like You Can Be Dangerous

One of the wisest things I've ever done, was associated with people who are far more wise than I. Many times (more than I'd like to think about) this has been an amazing contribution to my relationships, my job, and my life. These things have been saved because of the loving yet sometimes harsh wisdom given to me by these friends. It's how I like it.

One of the most foolish things I've ever done, was rely on someone who was going through the same battle as me. This was me and my former best friend. When I was knee deep in self-injury, my best friend at the time was going through a different form of it. And we relied on each other to keep each other accountable.. Let's just say that only lasted so long. All it did was turn into a manipulative friendship full of lots of anger and resentment. We made a pact to not harm ourselves as long as the other didn't. But at that time, I still didn't understand that battles aren't something to just walk away from. That's why you struggle with it. You may have moments of weakness and fall, but when your accountability comes from someone struggling with the same things.... there are a couple things that could result from that..

1. Your friend will not give you the wisdom you need.. they will give you the words they want to hear.

2. Your friend will look at that as an enabler for themselves.

These things don't always happen, but in most of these situations I've seen, they have. There are always going to be people who don't understand what you're dealing with, and there are always going to be people who do. But if the people you are seeking wisdom from are not firm in a foundation, you really won't be getting the wisdom and accountability you need. Instead you get people who pour sugar over the wounds instead of helping to clean them.

This doesn't always pertain to just battles. If you only associate with people who are just like you, there is no room for growth. There is no room for new experiences. There really is no room for anything other than hearing the things you want to hear..

Most of my friends are completely opposite of me and I like that. Those friendships have turned into some of my greatest friendships. I'm constantly learning new things.. Things like gratefulness and appreciation. You really don't know how much you can be grateful or appreciate something or someone until you learn from it.

I'm not saying it's bad to have things in common... I'm just saying be careful. If you're not learning, you're not growing. And there is always room for that.

Monday, July 7, 2014

I'm definitely not one to like having uncomfortable talks. Especially when it's something I have to confess. Actually, I hate confessing a lot... I hate confessing how something made me feel, how I don't like something, and something that I've done. There is something about being vulnerable that we want to avoid.. I think it's because we believe people will eventually stop liking us. We are hard wired to believe everyone goes away in the end. Maybe that's why so many of us are desperate to be in relationships, not giving room for loneliness.

I was just thinking, this morning, about a conversation I needed to have. It's a confession on something I've done, but it hit me that I don't like it because of fear. I fear what the outcome is going to be even though it's not that serious of a situation. But it had me thinking the worst was going to be the end result anyway. Turns out, that's why I hate these things.

As much as I hate these kind of scenarios, there have been many times when I forced myself to do it. I don't want to be the type of person that will say about you what I can't say to you. At least I try to remain in this kind of character. Sometimes I still fail at that... like a couple months ago, when instead of telling my friend that I didn't like something she was doing, I told her I was done talking to her. And instead of explaining why when she asked, I ignored her. I know I know, good friend, right?
It was two days of this until I finally gave the long explanation as to why I didn't want to talk to her anymore, and she responded fairly and kindly...... and accepting of my wish. It did suck, but I felt I had to do it.

Sadly, I think this is how we handle a lot of situations like this. We tend to think that the best thing to do is shut out and cut off. The result is always the opposite of what we really want. Did I really want to cut my friend out? No, I didn't.... but it seemed the easier thing to do than to be honest and vulnerable with her. I didn't like how things she did made me feel, so I chose to stop being her friend. The whole thing could have been avoided if only I just talked to her. The sad thing is, I loved her enough to feel that safety.... and I rejected it.

This whole thing played out over a course of maybe four days altogether because it hit me that I was being extremely selfish. I wasn't respecting her enough to share what was bothering me, and if I hadn't brought up the situation, I had no right to cut her off. In turn, I ended up apologizing for my actions and words while listening to her thoughts as well.

And we forgave each other.

The beauty is that even though I handled the situation the way I shouldn't have, our friendship remained.... and the best part is, that thing that bothered me.. well, she loved me enough to respect that and do differently.

I think we tend to forget that sometimes the uncomfortable things push us into bigger and better. We miss out on so much because we're not willing to be uncomfortable at all. Then we never get to see how things work out in the end.

But as Tara-Leigh Cobble once said,

"You don't love something if you're not willing to be uncomfortable for it"

Well, she said something like that and it's true.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

There are times when I think about the horrible things I've done. I think about all the ways I've messed up and what I could have done differently. That, my friends, is called regret. 

I was thinking about regret the other day, but in the form of shame. Shame is an ugly monster and not one of us can escape it's claws. We all feel it. We all deal with it. None of us want to be found out.. and when we are, we cover our faces. All shame really is, is a ploy used by someone else to make themselves feel or look better. How many of us have done something that someone else has said they'd never do? I face this quite a bit and it doesn't feel good at all. 

I think of the adulterous woman the pharisees brought before Jesus. Of course this isn't the only instance where they tried to make themselves look good, but I like this story for many many reasons. 

This woman was caught in an act I'm sure she was trying to hide. We don't know if this was a one time act or if it was something she did regularly; all we know is that she got caught. And her getting caught was made public by a bunch of people who wanted to test Jesus.... that was their agenda. And for that, they publicly shamed a woman for her mistake. I imagine her on her knees on the ground with her face down not wanting to look at anyone. I would feel the same way. If that were me, I probably wouldn't have minded facing the stones that would take my life. 

What Jesus did was the most beautiful form of acceptance and forgiveness. He didn't address her first; He addressed her accusers and basically told them they were no better than she was. Her sin was not greater than any of theirs. He defended her and stood by her side. I love this. 

Many of us have felt shamed both publicly and privately.... I have many many times. But I have been the accused and the accuser. There have been times when I've questioned relationships because of their mistakes. My mistakes have ended many relationships. 

I love the story of redemption. Jesus didn't just display this at the cross.... He didn't hold back on it and wait to show it in some grand display... His life on earth was the beautiful story of redemption and it led Him all the way up to the cross.. which was His purpose. 

I want to be able to extend the same grace that was given by Jesus to everyone He went to, healed, forgave, and spent time with. Because shame is an ugly monster... and my life is no more important than anyone else's. 

May my life show the beautiful story of redemption. 

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

I was watching a video of another soldier's homecoming the other day. One of a dad surprising his daughter at her school. I've seen many of these and they never get old. I love it. I love the welcoming of someone who has been away for a long time, because their presence has been waited for.

This last video had me thinking, though. I imagined God waiting for us in the same manner. I pictured Him waiting for me. In every single one of these videos, the returned doesn't have to go far... The person waiting for them sees them, and runs to them. They run to them. Can you just imagine feeling that kind of welcome? Just like in the story of the prodigal son. The father sees his son returning and runs to him. Doesn't wait for him to come, he sees him and runs to him.And he embraces him in all the dirt and filth and mess that he's covered in, and welcomes him back home. I imagine many tears were flowing.

What I think we don't see in this story, is the prodigal only returns as a very very last resort when he has lost everything. In his riches, he partied and was irresponsible. Then famine hit just when he lost everything.

I happen to chase a lot of things that don't fulfill me the way Jesus does. I chase things that I put before him, and I make time and effort for those things. The person who gave His life for me is also the same person that I put at the bottom of my relationship list. But still, He sees me returning and runs to me. And He embraces me in such a welcome that He calls all the best out for me. For me, of all people.

When you're at your worst and think that you can't be taken back.... watch those surprise homecoming videos... and you will see how God feels when you come to Him. Even though He knows the exact second of your arrival, the welcome stays the same.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Just the other day, I was reading a book, and I started thinking about why I read the books I read. You see... I like reading books that help me understand people better. As someone who wants to be an advocate of love, I'm constantly learning what it means to do so. I realize that a lot of things I do are things some people don't understand. I'm okay with that because love doesn't make sense. At least it never has to me. The more I do understand it, the more I realize how much I don't know the extent of how it works.

I love people... And sometimes, I do want to give up on them... I do want to walk away and say, "I'm done". And when I resolve to do that, something happens and it hits me how selfish I'm being. When I want to give up, it's not because I don't see the potential... I want to give up because the person is not falling in line with what I want them to do. Most of the time, all it really is that they're not doing is giving me attention..

So I'm constantly praying... and reading the bible and blogs and books by people who I see model love in ways I want to. I'm always looking at ways I could learn to love better. When my selfish nature gets the best of me, there goes God sending something along to humble me. I am more of an advocate for pride than I am love... It's why I need faith.. It's why I believe in Jesus. It's why I'm desperate for His grace.. I mess up all the time. Sometimes in grand obvious ways.. sometimes in subtle unseen ways. And yet grace covers it all. It covers me when I can't understand why I keep messing up.. and it covers me when I feel like I just can't get it right. The more it covers me, the more I can be honest in my relationship with God.. and I believe He hears me. I believe He listens to the matters of my heart. I believe He wants to break me away from the shame and guilt that sometimes creeps in.

How crazy is it that someone loves me that much in spite of all my mistakes. It's kind of a scary thing but at the same time, it's comforting. It's a comfort to know I don't have to be perfect to approach Him. He takes me as I am, full of mess and all, and restores me. I feel the change in my heart beginning to take place, and for that I'm grateful. I'm tired of living like He's not in control of things.. And He loves me anyway.

I guess what I want to say is that... Jesus loves you. I know that's cliche but, He does. If He can take me as I am, there is nothing you could do to separate you from His love. There is no better news than that.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

One of the things I hate is when someone claims I'm not doing something that I really am doing. That seemed to be very common with my last four jobs. It started at a daycare I was working at. The director sat me down and told me that a lot of the parents were concerned I wasn't having circle time with the kids. I was supposed to come up with my own curriculum, and since I fall short in coming up with ideas, I did circle time almost all day everyday. Needless to say, I was very upset. 

Another job I was at, I was told how I was never seen doing one of my daily tasks.. The thing about that, was that I did that all the time, too. 

The last time I was told anything like that, I was told I acted like I didn't care about my job.. and that was bogus considering I was probably the only one that actually cared about doing my job. 

Being told I'm not doing something I knew I was doing started making me question whether or not I needed to do more. Maybe I thought I was doing all these things but really wasn't. Either way, it was always just as crushing to hear it. 

I was reflecting on this all today and then it hit me, I think we do the same thing to God. We want Him to move and change and work in our lives... but when we don't see the results, we just resolve that He's not doing anything at all. We don't see it, so He's not doing it. We hear He's not doing it, so He's not doing it. We don't get the results we want, so He's not doing it. 


That's not true. 

The fact that we see no evidence does not mean that something isn't at work. It doesn't mean it's not happening. That's just what we like to conclude because we don't see it, or someone else tells us. The talks I received bout what I wasn't doing were given based on hearsay. Someone is always zoning in at the wrong time and not seeing what goes on when they're not around. 

I kind of think God works in the same way... We zone into what we asked Him to do at the moment we want a result and don't see it.. so we write it off as it not happening. Maybe that was His way of gently trying to tell me that's what I do to Him. Or maybe He just wanted me to realize that just because I don't see it, it doesn't mean He's not at work. Whatever the case, I see that I've done this to Him many many times and I will be the first to admit it. 

Relationships don't go as I planned, so I give up. 
Work doesn't go as I want it to, so I give up.
People don't act like I want them to, so I give up. 
God doesn't answer me, so I give up. 

You can name any situation in my life that is strong and long lasting, and I can tell you I was ready to give up on it many many times in the beginning. I admit it, I'm incredibly impatient.. 

But this realization today is something I hope to carry with me. I hope it's something you can carry, too. Just because we don't see what we want to in the moment we want to, it doesn't mean the results aren't going to happen. Chances are, the results will be bigger and better than we would have imagined it... had we gotten what we wanted when we wanted it. 

Just a thought. 

Monday, April 28, 2014

There really is something to be said about words. Some I like, some I don't. Last week I heard a lot of words I didn't like. They weren't mean words, they were actually compliments. 

I was told that I was more intelligent than I make myself out to be. 
I was told that I had a leadership mannerism
I was told I was very personable and approachable. 

All this was said by people who don't really know me, but said it based on simple conversations. 
Nope, I didn't like it and I don't share this for agreement or attention. I say it because it makes me think of a few things. The first is the fact that I couldn't argue these things because of a deal I made with a friend. I told her I wouldn't argue the compliments or nice things said to me. It is definitely something to get used to. I suppose it comes from hearing how awesome and funny and talented and caring everyone around me was..... but never me. This took place in my home. I never heard anything good about anything I wanted to do... or the person I am.. but I did them anyway and stayed who I was. So I just figured, everything I did just wasn't good... 

But as I get older, I learn that there are things you have to unlearn. I have to unlearn that I am not good enough. 

The point I'm trying to make is... that it is hard to accept the opposite of what you think about yourself when it is said to you. No way would I ever consider myself intelligent or leadership material.. But people see these things in me from the way I speak or act or whatever it is they were looking at. Either way, they see it. And I have to digest it no matter how bitter it tastes.. and trust me, it really is bitter. 

There are lots of people who have no idea how much they're worth, and I know a couple of them... and they are some of the most amazing people I have ever met in my life. I truly believe that God designed us with eyes to see the greatness in others. I believe He designed us with ears to listen to the greatness in others. It's not always easy to see it in ourselves, but if others can see it in us, there really is something there. But it's up to us whether or not it will sink in or be rejected. If I am going to live my life valuing others, I have to actually value myself and act like it. In other words, I have to let it sink in more. 

The next time someone says something awesome to you, instead of brushing it off, just remember they were designed with eyes to see the greatness in people... so if they see it in you, it's because God sees you the same way, and maybe He just wanted to let you know it. 

Monday, March 31, 2014

The other day, I was at lunch with a friend. In the middle of our conversation, she noticed I didn't have my lip ring on. It's funny because I always tend to wonder if people pay attention to little things like that, and she did. She told me how I always play with my lip ring when I'm deep in thought or just concentrating on something. The irony of this, is that I rarely hang out with her.

Not long after that, a friend of mine came through the drive thru at work.... and I took her card as she paid for her order.... I had to walk to a different register so it took me a bit. Jokingly, I told her I was taking her credit card information, and she responded with, "that's okay, I trust you". She said I'd probably use it to buy something for someone in need.

Another friend told me he loved my passion. He mentioned how people can know a little bit about a lot of different things, but I will know a lot about one thing.

These things are kind of a big deal. Maybe not to most people, but I'm not most people. I'm a deep person that appreciated even the smallest things like that. I appreciate it when people who love me actually know me. It makes me feel like they value me enough to pay attention to me... but it also had me thinking.

I wonder how much I actually pay attention to these trivial things in others. If you were to give me a quiz about you, I wonder how many answers I would get wrong. Makes me wonder how people can love me enough to notice these things when I don't know how much I actually notice about them.

I think it's a major component on how we love people. Love is in the grand and the small details, and when applied, the tiniest details matter. Just think of God. He knows the very number of the hairs on our head. That's not really a detail that seems important to me, but for someone to love me enough to know that about me... well, it changes how I see myself.

If we want people to know they matter, we have to show them that they do. That takes time and effort and won't always be easy. But we shouldn't treat it as if they were projects either. That's what makes me love these responses from my friends. They made me feel like they value me enough to know me enough. I can only hope to live out a valuing nature toward others just as much.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

My niece, Elizabeth, was only three months when I moved away from Arizona. My first visit home was when she was six months old. Then again at nine months. I didn't get to see her live these months the way I did her older brother and sister. But she still knew who I was. She recognized my face and smiled at me when she realized who I was each time. My latest visit was the one where her and I got to really bond. She just turned three and is an absolute beauty. I love her laugh and when she smiles. I love hearing her tell me she loves me. I love when she sits with me to watch a movie. I love what she teaches me.

One of the days during my visit, I went with my sister and all the kids to a church picnic. Elizabeth wanted to go into the bounce house they had, so I walked with her there. She climbed in with no problem, but as soon as she was inside, she was scared. Other kids were having a blast bouncing around, and there she was scared to do anything. She's tiny, so it was hard for her to try to stand up. She sat there until I had this idea. I stuck my hands through the net and told her to hold on to them.... so she took hold and stood up and bounced. Not once did she let go of my hands, but she had a blast jumping in that one spot.

The last day I was there, we were at the park and the kids were playing. I noticed Elizabeth was on this little platform that spins, and she was crying. I went to her and picked her up and asked her what was wrong. She said she was spinning too fast and got scared. So I told her I would spin her very slowly... She stood up and took hold of one of my hands as I spinned her.

I wanted to paint this scenario for you because I think that her trust in me gave her an unwavering confidence. She was able to do what she was scared to do as long as I was holding her hand. It was such a bonding moment for me..... but also a great lesson.

You see, I tend to think this is how our relationship with God works. We fear but when He holds our hand, it feels like we can do anything. Even more, I think He takes delight in us taking hold of His hand. I loved it when Elizabeth held my hand... It made me feel needed and it comforted her knowing I wouldn't let her fall. I truly believe that God delights in us the same way..... I believe He delights in us allowing ourselves to need Him, and not wanting to take one more step without Him... And when we do take His hand, we can have the time of our lives and experience true joy in the things we step up in. So hop into the bounce house, take His hand, and jump like you've never jumped before.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

This post is a bit overdue since it's almost the end of February..... should have been written at the beginning. But anyway...

This month marks six years free of self-injury.  I still can't believe that. Never thought it was possible. No, it's not easy.. in a whirlwind of depression and anxiety that likes to pop up and show ugly heads.... no, it's not easy. But it is possible. I used to hate myself at one point. Crazy to think about it. I remember believing that hurting myself was deserving. I hated every fiber of my being and held on for someone, anyone to love me. But hating myself only hurt my relationships. I said things irrationally all the time in bouts of anger.. until people got sick of me, or used to it and stopped believing me. That sucked.

Here I am years later still free from it. And being free taught me to accept that I am flawed in every way... that I will disappoint.. that I will hurt others. But that's not where the story ends anymore. My desire to find things to cope with still has me diving into anything that will accept me.. and I'm only recently understanding that after many drunken nights at the bar, and making stupid mistakes. I'm still capable of falling deep. I get it.

Often times now, I'm mistaken for having low self-esteem but that's not the case. I just know what I'm capable of.. but I am confident with who I'm becoming. Yes, there are things I'd like to change but I accept that I can't. It's not an easy process and it is a journey..... but the fact that I can look at my life and see how far I've been brought, that really speaks volumes. And why would I not want that to grow?

Just another reason why I believe in Jesus even though my actions don't always reveal that. He's not done with me, yet and somehow I find nothing but hope in that. I'm not defined by my mistakes but I do make them.

It's still crazy to me.. six years later and I'm left with lots of scars... but I'm okay with that. I'm not where I want to be, but I'm not where I used to be. I think that goes for all of us. Even though we feel stuck... we can still look back and say "I'm not there anymore". I think that's pretty darn fantastic and you should, too.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

I once had a best friend who I'm no longer best friends with. There are a lot of factors that play into why we're not friends anymore, but one of them was how we used to fight. She didn't respect me enough to defend me, or to watch how she said certain things. It seemed she was always hurting my feelings and not even trying to hide it. This led to feeling like I was always doing everything wrong... which in turn, made her feel like she was doing everything wrong. It was hard for me and her to tell each other anything because we felt this way. I know, I don't understand why we were best friends if we were destroying each other. But it wasn't just her I felt this way with. I felt this way in general. Anytime someone presented an issue to me, it felt like I was just failing left and right..... but sadly, this didn't even happen often enough for me to be constantly failing. 

However, this all changed when my then best friend told me something.  It cut so deep that I couldn't help but swallow and digest it. But I will say this, it helped my friendships so much. It also helped the way I entered into the world and looked at it. It taught me to stop holding back from things I love.... and to accept that sometimes things are the way they're going to be. I'm still learning this process.... but that's where it all started. I'm betting you're wondering what she said. It's probably the simplest sentence, but it was the most profound.. and it was simply something to the effect of, "stop thinking that my intention is to hurt you". 

I didn't walk around carrying the baggage of thinking everyone is out to hurt me, but that's what my problem was. I couldn't accept constructiveness because I was doing it wrong. Friends couldn't be honest with me because I was doing it wrong. Things weren't happening because I was doing it wrong. It opened my eyes to see that I was playing victim with every sincere intention. 

Sometimes, this mentality likes to creep up.... but I have a better handle on it. Hearing the hard truths is never easy to swallow right away, but I'm able to. When we can approach the world knowing that it's not everyone's intent to hurt us, it really does have a great affect on everything. It helps your relationships... it helps your passions.. It helps you get over your fears a lot more than you probably could think. People will fail.... yes. That's inevitable. But when you start to understand that not every intention is to harm..... that can be the very place healing from this mentality can begin. 

Thursday, January 9, 2014

I've determined to make my word this year, "gratitude". I like this word because it challenges me. I hate it because it challenges me. But it's an attitude I want to possess even when I don't like my circumstances. That tends to happen more than I'd like it to, so practicing gratitude seems kinda fitting.

The other morning, it was definitely put into practice in a way I wish it hadn't. I suppose that's how these characteristics work when you want to learn them. I found myself frustrated at how something had worked out on my way to work one morning.... Everything that was included in that frustration came through my mouth in a bout of telling God I couldn't understand why. Hmmmmmm..... Yup, I still have tons of those moments.

But then I thought of gratitude. Stemmed from a message I heard or a part in a book I read (I can't remember which one it was), I started thinking of how I have a job. I have a job I can walk to. I have a paycheck that pays for the roof over my head. I have legs to walk with, lungs to breathe with, and a place to call home. As you can imagine, I was frustrated with the transit system. The bus was almost thirty minutes late, which put me into a panic to get to work on time. I was still recovering from being sick and the cold air had made it hard for me to breathe before that. So, I decided I was going to take the bus because I wasn't sure how I'd do walking after having two days of rest. Only problem was, I decided to walk because of my panic... and of course, the bus flew by me a mile later. Luckily I made it to work on time anyway, but I'm not sure I'll try taking the bus again for that matter.

This situation got me thinking a lot about how we approach things. Our attitude is our choice to make. We can be unhappy about how a lot of things work out, but that wasted energy does not change the situation. If I had my guess, we huff and puff because we want something done differently. It's almost manipulative of us to act this way until someone or something bends for us. It's another reason why I want to practice gratitude. When we put things into motion as habit, it becomes our nature. And it stays our nature as long as we choose it to. It's crazy how much we can change if we just make the choice. I want to be more thankful for what I have... And I want to be thankful for it even when there doesn't seem to be anything to be thankful for.