Friday, December 12, 2014

Catastrophizing My Future World

Do you ever ponder about future events and get yourself all worked up over the things that could go wrong… perhaps even catastrophize all of those possible imaginary scenarios? You too?! Ah man, I am so glad I am not the only one. I mean, I am so sorry you have to deal with an over active imagination that runs wild, but I do find comfort in knowing I am not the only catastrophist in the world. Welcome…

I can totally surrender the past; as well as, the here and now. Where I get tripped up is that all too broad and unpredictable future. The anticipation of future events… whoosh… that’s my kryptonite.  By the Grace of God… I have overcome anxiety in my life, but every once in a while, that nagging anxiety likes to rear its all too familiar face. And… every once in a while, I say hello and embrace my old companion. In doing so, I allow myself to indulge in the lies of anxiety which inevitably leads to me catastrophizing my future world.

In order to stop this old companion in his tracks, I’ve had to become familiar with the sounds of anxiety coming. Sometimes it sounds like a tip toeing toddler. Other times it sounds like a roaring train. But it ALWAYS sounds lonely… so very lonely.

You see, when anxiety arrives to catastrophize my future plans it is because I imagine myself all alone taking on my future world. Little ol’ me verses the great big world of my future. I forget Whose hand I hold. I forget Who has gone before me to prepare the way. I forget to include God in the midst of my future plans.

So, when I hear anxiety coming my way, whether he tip toes or roars, I stop him by mediating on the vision of God being in that future place already… He meets me there in the future and says “I’ve got this, girl! We’ve got this together!”.

I’d love to be able to declare that I am a recovering catastrophist, but the truth is that I might always fight this fight. But I fight it with God by my side… here and now and in the wonderfully unpredictable future.

Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Rungs of the Ladder

I wait in patient anticipation to see where God will lead me. I can say with certainty that God has me in this waiting place to grow me, stretch me, and test me. Just when I think I have reached maturity in my walk with Christ… there is another level to ascend on the ladder. Below you will read about the rungs of the ladder I am currently climbing.

1.      To just BE in this present moment; knowing fully that this is just a temporary season. I tend to not lean into situations that are temporary. As if I don’t want to invest too much of myself because I know soon the situation will change. But I am learning to fully BE in this present season of my life. This time is a gift to me… a gift to figure things out, to find my place, and to create a new me. I am loving every minute of this season and I am beyond grateful for this time. Soon enough this season will end and I will be back into a career, on track with my life’s purpose, and living out God’s will. For now, I am here in THIS place and I am going to BE in this present moment… giving myself fully to this moment. I surrender to the now.

2.    To enjoy the joy and peace that I am feeling without apprehension that something bad is lurking around the corner. My automatic response is that if things are going good in my life, then there must be something bad on its way to steal my good away. Perhaps I have been conditioned by life’s lies and trickery to believe this to be true. With this knee-jerk response, I don’t allow myself to fully enjoy the good. I almost sabotage my own joy. It is as if I am scared to feel this good. I am learning to soak it all in, allow it all to wash over me, and savor the beauty of joy and peace. Sometimes the joy and peace is so overwhelming that it brings me to tears. I remind myself that I am worthy of this good that has been bestowed upon my life and accept it into my life with an open heart. God’s blessings are welcome here.

3.    To approach each fresh new day without expectations. When I was teaching, every second of my day was planned. I could tell you what I would be doing at exactly 9:38 AM. I had expectations of how my day would unfold. In my new season, I have a to-do list, but, for the most part, it is fluid and just mere suggestions for what the day will hold. If something doesn’t get done, then it goes on tomorrow’s to-do list. Without the urgency of having every second of my day planned, I can freely enjoy the blessings of each day on my own time schedule. For someone who is a “checker-offer”, this concept is a HUGE lesson. I have prided myself in all that I can get done during the day… checking things off on my to-do list gave me a sense of accomplishment. Now my sense of accomplishment comes from things that you cannot check off of a to-do list.

4.    To trust and have full faith that my personal journey is unfolding as it should and it will continue to unfold in God’s perfect timing. Period.

5.     To give something of significance to the world by being a blessing. I have gifts to offer the world. And those gifts need to be given to the world; whether I am getting paid to share those gifts or not. So, I have looked for ways to volunteer my time and offer something of significance to the world as I wait for God’s plan to unfold in my life. My family became a host family for the school year to a high school student from Sweden. I started volunteering as a yoga teacher and mentor at the House of Hope. We are blessed to be blessing.

6.    To understand that sometimes we get stuck and we don’t know which way to go on the path so we freeze… it is okay to freeze. God will give me clues and bread crumbs and dangling carrots when the time is right. I want to always be moving forward and going in the direction of success and growth, but it is okay to just BE frozen… to just BE still… to just BE in this moment.

7.     To not care if others understand my journey. I share my personal journey and my story with the world because I believe than in sharing we inspire one another and we, essentially, change the world. But, I do not care if others understand my journey; it is not theirs to understand. It has taken me a lifetime to reach a point where I no longer people please. When I felt lead to leave the yoga studio where I thought I was meant to be, it took me two weeks to listen to that direction because I didn’t want to let people down. I was worried others wouldn’t understand my journey. I had to decide what was more important… pleasing others or following my personal journey. I knew I had to trudge ahead, listening to what my heart was telling me regardless if others would understand or not. This is my personal journey and it’s kind of personal between me and God.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Bless One Person A Day

For my son's 12th birthday, I wrote him a book of letters about life's lessons. Here is one of the many letters...

Dear Beloved Child,

            I try to bless one person a day. Maybe it is with a kind word or a simple smile. Maybe it is something big like a helping hand. In doing so, I find that I am the one who ends up feeling blessed. In order to help teach you, my Beloved Child, this lesson as well we made a pinky promise together to bless one person a day.
            So, each morning we pray for God to present us with the opportunity to be a blessing to someone. Then, at the end of the day we share with each other how we received the opportunity and were a blessing. There have been several moments when I well up with tears at how you have blessed someone during your day. I am so proud of the man you are becoming.
            There was one blessing that stands out in my mind because. You might remember it too. It was when we just started letting you ride your scooter around the block alone. It was a baby step to encourage you to be more independent. You go around the circular block several times… it is fun to watch you be so free. Like a little baby bird learning to flap his wings. You would ride your scooter, talk to yourself, sing songs, and your hair would flap in the wind that you created with your speed.
             One day you took a little bit longer to go around the block. Your dad went to peek around the corner. You had stopped your freedom ride and were picking weeds from a neighbor’s yard. We don’t even know that neighbor. And you were picking their weeds!!!!
             When your dad asked why you stopped to pick weeds you said, “A proper man finds a way to bless one person a day!” A proper man… give me a moment… I cry every time I think of this. We didn’t ask you to pick weeds. You were just out enjoying your own freedom, on your own time… just you, your scooter, and your wind. You stopped on your own to bless someone.
            As parents, we teach these lessons so that our children can grow up to be contributing members of our society, so that they know nothing is beneath them, so that they learn to do everything without complaining and arguing, so that they can work as if working for the Lord (not for man), and so that they can bless one person a day… because, to quote a child of God… “A proper man finds a way to bless one person a day!”

Beloved Child, I pray that you continue to bless one person a day throughout all of the days of your life.

Your Beloved  Mom

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Dangling Carrot

As I followed the bread crumbs to embark on this new chapter in life, I really thought I knew where God was taking me. I really felt like I had it all figured out. Come to find out those bread crumbs were more like a dangling carrot.

I have been thinking about this journey that I am on and trying to wrap my mind around it… it is what I do before I can finally surrender to “what will be, will be”. I know in my heart that I had to close my last chapter because it wasn’t good for me or my family. I found myself stressed out and, at times, depressed in my career as an Art Teacher. I wanted a better quality of life. I wanted to strive to live a life I love and love the life I live. I wanted to live in accordance with God’s purpose for my life… in harmony with His will. In order for me to close one chapter, God knew I needed something to entice me… a carrot dangling in front of my face to motivate and encourage me to accept the beginning of a new chapter.

That carrot was becoming a yoga instructor. God knows me soooo well!

I snapped my pearly whites at the carrot and kept at it… until it didn’t feel right any more. I have said all along, “I go where God goes”. I felt God had detoured; therefore, I stopped in my tracks and waited until I felt His guidance once again. 

I prayed. I meditated. I sought God’s guidance for where to take my career as a yoga teacher. Many ideas ebbed and flowed through my mind in this past 6 months. I felt like I was being lead in the direction of teaching at the yoga studio where I practice; however, after two weeks of teaching there, my heart felt heavy and burdened. Therefore, I slowly backing away from my obligations at the yoga studio and I am back in the business of seeking guidance. I am searching for the trail bread crumbs once again… or a carrot on a stick.

As you can imagine, this was very hard for me swallow at first. I felt shame. I felt like I was a failure. I felt like I made a mistake. I worried I disappointed people. After I allowed myself to feel those emotions and stopped over identifying with those lies, I saw what was really happening… God is working in me. That’s all I truly ever wanted in this new chapter of my life… God’s purpose and will.

I am using this free time wisely. I am focusing on being a better wife. I am focusing on being a better mom to not only my one-and-only child, but to the foreign exchange student from Sweden that we are hosting as well. I am focusing on my health and fitness. I am deepening my faith and relationship with God. 

I am so thankful that God dangled the carrot and I took the bait. This is not where I thought I would be, but I am grateful for where I am. AND… I can see what God is doing in me and through me in this new chapter. I wait patiently for God to lay the next bread crumb… or dangle the next carrot.

“Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him.” Psalm 37:7 

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Fish Out Of Water

I almost feel abandoned or traded by my own feelings. I didn’t expect to feel this way. Here I am pursuing a dream and what I felt like was God’s purpose for my life. Yet, I am feeling so inadequate, so not enough, so unworthy… which is so unlike me. You know me. I am self assured, confident, enough, and worthy just as I am… perfectly imperfect. In this new season of life, I feel the opposite.

I am floundering and flailing like a fish out of water because I am out of water… out of my comfort zone.

I read inspirational quotes like…

“Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” Neale Donald Walsch

“You can choose comfort or you can choose courage but you can’t choose both.“ ― Brene’ Brown

“Move out of your comfort zone. You can only grow if you are willing to feel awkward and uncomfortable when you try something new.” Brian Tracy

I nod my head with a resounding YES to those quotes… that is, when I am IN my comfort zone. When I am out of my comfort zone, I nod my head in uncertainty at the irony. Assuming that they must have written those statements on the flip side of being back in the water… back into their comfort zone. Because when I am so far out of my comfort zone that I don’t even know who I am… my feelings sit in my chest and I feel like I am going to throw-up.

You know that feeling?! Where your emotions are filling to the brim of your heart? You read something touching or you hear a song and you cry like a hungry baby because you just need to get those tears out. You know those tears aren’t about the thing you read or heard. Those tears are overflowing from your already too saturated heart. Your heart cannot handle one more drop of emotion.

I am a fish out of water… yet saturated at the same time.

Marco… Polo… one mist… one splash at a time… I will find my way back in the water.

Monday, August 4, 2014

My Friend, My Teacher... Greg

After a 6 hour drive, we arrived at our vacation rental house in Mission Beach. It was exactly what the pictures depicted. Just steps to the beach and walking or biking distance to anywhere we wanted to go. Right away, we went for a quick visit to the ocean to say hello and announce our arrival; as if the ocean had been expecting us.

 The next day, I spent some time doing yoga on the beach and then we enjoyed the beach as a family.  About mid-afternoon we took a break and sat on our front porch to relax… soak in the beauty of our surroundings. About that same time, a homeless man stopped and sat on the wall across the sidewalk. He was probably about 60 years old, but perhaps the streets ages a person faster. He mumbled a few words to himself, smoked a couple of cigarette butts that he had obviously found on the ground, and a couple hours later he walked away… as if he had somewhere important to go.We put him out of our mind and went about our vacation.

On the third day of vacation, our day started out the same as the day before. In the afternoon, my husband and son went out to explore some of the shops and Belmont Amusement Park. This gave me some free time. I sat on our front porch to watch the people walking by. The homeless man came back again. I decided this must be his usual daily stop, on his normal daily walk. He and I sat there awkwardly for a few minutes. We resided in the same space, yet worlds away. 

I called out to him, “Hey, man! What’s your name?”
He responded, making eye contact, “Greg.”
I said, “Nice to meet you. I’m Melissa.”
As he was pulling something out of his backpack, he was saying, “I have something I want to read you.” He shuffled through the pages of a worn Bible. As he read to me I was so intrigued by this man and the Bible verses flowing so eloquently from his white bearded lips...

1 John 4:7-12

God Is Love

7-10 My beloved friends, let us continue to love each other since love comes from God. Everyone who loves is born of God and experiences a relationship with God. The person who refuses to love doesn’t know the first thing about God, because God is love—so you can’t know him if you don’t love. This is how God showed his love for us: God sent his only Son into the world so we might live through him. This is the kind of love we are talking about—not that we once upon a time loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to clear away our sins and the damage they’ve done to our relationship with God.
11-12 My dear, dear friends, if God loved us like this, we certainly ought to love each other. No one has seen God, ever. But if we love one another, God dwells deeply within us, and his love becomes complete in us—perfect love!

I paused for a moment and replied to Greg, “God is love! That’s beautiful. Thank you for sharing.”
A friendship had begun! I looked into his beautiful blue eyes and they told a story. A story that I needed to hear… a story that needed to be told.

Greg lost his wife to breast cancer, but he told me… even though, he was still married. Greg’s child had also passed away. With two devastating losses, he gave up on life. After being homeless for some time, in 2010 he was sleeping under a bridge and woke-up to being beaten by teenagers with crow bars. He spent time in the hospital, yet still has no feeling in his right hand. He sleeps on Bay front property near a hotel. The sprinklers come on every night at about 1:00 am; except form Sundays. He reads his Bible every day.

I think people have preconceived notions about those who are homeless… they must all be on drugs, they can get a job if they want to, they are different from me. Well, maybe some are like that… but not Greg. I believe that I too might be the same person under similar circumstances. I too might have given up on life.

I think people look the other way when it comes to those who are homeless because it is too difficult to realize that there is a little bit of Greg in each of us. We might be a few circumstances away from this life of homelessness… this life of throwing-in the towel.

For the remaining days of our vacation, my husband and my son got to know Greg too. We learned that he missed having a cup of coffee in the morning… so we gave him money each day to go buy a cup. We left him goodie-bags if we were going to be gone when he arrived for the day. We gave him food. We bought him clothes and a towel. He was always thankful and grateful. He always respected the boundaries of our friendship.

We learned that he missed having an am/fm Walkman… so after spending half a day unsuccessfully walking around and riding our bikes across town, we finally ordered him a Walkman on Amazon and had it delivered to the rental house. It arrived late on Friday, after Greg had already left his wall for the day. Since we were leaving the next morning, I was worried I wouldn’t see him to give him his gift. My husband went for a bike ride and saw Greg. He told him that I had something for him. Greg walked back to our house, sat on his wall, and waited for me to approach him. He couldn’t believe I got him a Walkman. I explained how it worked and gave him back-up batteries. He put the headphones on his ears and immediately pulled them off and said, “Have you heard how great these sound?!” I agreed that they did sound great. I told him we were leaving in the morning and that this was our good-bye gift. I told him that it was nice to meet him… but that was an understatement.

I truly think that Greg is one of the greatest blessings in my life! He taught me so much... He taught me that the greatest blessing we can ever give is one that can never be repaid. He taught me to not judge people by their outward appearances or circumstances in life. He taught me how to be blessed by being a blessing. He taught me that it isn’t about me. He taught me how to truly love others how God loves us. He taught me that everyone has a story to be told and heard.

Since we’ve been home, I have thought about Greg every day. I told my husband to not be surprised if there is a charge from the local pizza place delivering food to Greg on his wall.

I began volunteering at a local shelter, House of Refuge House of Hope. Funny thing is… or should I say, God thing is… I had already committed to volunteering here before I left for vacation… before I even had my Greg encounter.

I feel as though maybe this vacation rental house chose us rather than us choosing it because had we stayed in another house, on another block, in another part of Mission Beach… we would have missed out on an amazing opportunity to meet a friend who changed our lives forever. If you are ever in Mission Beach and you meet a homeless man named Greg with beautiful, storytelling, blue eyes… tell him Melissa from Arizona says hi! And, if you ever have a chance to bless someone who can never repay you… trust me; you will be the one who is blessed! 

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Trail of Bread Crumbs

I am waiting for answers to many questions about this new journey in my life. As I walk by faith and not by sight… God is leaving bread crumbs along the path to guide me. I know that God is not giving me the entire loaf of bread all at once because the weight of that would bear me down. The weight of that would halt my progression towards God’s purpose for my life’s journey. If I saw the whole loaf now I would not feel prepared for the weight of it… by the size of it. God is preparing me and growing me as we go down this path… as I am finding the bread crumbs to lead the way.

I do get hungry for answers… so hungry for another bread crumb along the path. In those times of hunger, God’s promises fill me with hope and remind me to trust and have faith.

For two years the bread crumbs have lead me to pray and trust and grow in my faith. Then the bread crumbs lead me to not renew my teaching contract. After that, the trail of bread crumbs guided me to become a Christ-Centered Yoga Teacher. Now that I am in training, the bread crumb path has gone cold… for now. It is not that I think God has abandoned me, He has just gone before me to chart my path and prepare the way. I understand the journey will unfold at the right time… His perfect timing. Until then, I wait to find my next bread crumb along the path of my new journey in life. 

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Picture Perfect and Pinterest Worthy Body… NOT

As I was looking through Pinterest the other day, I found myself desiring to look like the women doing the yoga poses. You know the 20-somethings who have no fat, who are tan, and who have obviously never had a child.  When I caught myself with that desire on my heart, it was brought to my attention that I have desired that since I decided to become a yoga instructor; as if it was a requirement to look like “them” in order to be successful yoga instructor.

I’d look at my unclothed body in the mirror and wonder why God was asking me to be a yoga instructor when I don’t look like those women. Maybe he had the wrong person for the job! I was allowing my outward appearance to define my ability to be a Soul Shepherd for God. Silly me!

I decide to take a deeper look into who those women are in the yoga poses on Pinterest (and anywhere else on the internet). Well, those women are yoga models. Who knew? In a method that is so focused on self acceptance and peace that they would put out the same sad message that the rest of the world is lying to us about… that skinny, young, and tan are the only options for beauty… and the only options for a successful yogi.

You see… without even realizing it, I was believing the same lies that I have heard my entire life about beauty. I was fortunate enough to catch myself and to remember the truth that I am beautiful and enough just the way I am. I needed to find the facts that those women are models before I could remember my truths.

God doesn’t call the equipped to do a job… He equips the called. I was not chosen to become a yoga instructor because my body is picture perfect and Pinterest worthy. Nope! I was chosen because my heart is on FIRE and God needs me to share that flame with the world… through Christ-Centered Yahweh Yoga!
Maybe you feel the same way about trying a yoga class for the first time. Maybe you see those same Pinterest pictures and think that those women are the only ones who take yoga classes. Well, let me clear that up once and for all… those yoga models are not in yoga classes… yoga classes are full of real people just like you and me. Christ-Centered Yahweh Yoga classes are full of imperfect people who are just looking to make space in their lives to clear their minds, relax their bodies, and be intentional about their relationships with God.  And those reasons, my friends, are why God chose imperfect and flawed lil’ ol’ me to teach yoga… I am so glad I remembered that!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Parallel Universes

Right now I am living in two parallel and opposite Universes. I strive to remain present in whichever Universe I am in, but I certainly do have a preferred Universe.

Universe #1 is my job as an elementary school Art Teacher where I am required to give and give some more all day long. I give to the demands and needs of almost 600 students weekly, as well as Administration. By the end of the day I am drained and have nothing left to give… not to my family or to myself. I am empty.

Universe #2 is my training to become a Yoga Instructor where I am required to learn about theories and concepts. These resonate within me as truths and I recognize myself within them. The practice of Yoga is a healthy relationship of give and take for my mind, body, and soulful relationship with God. They fill me full of life and allow me to pour into others from that never ending cup of peace, joy and love. I am full.

Just a couple more weeks of the school year left and I will get to live in Universe #2 forever! I feel so blessed that God has given me the direction and guidance to take a journey into a new Universe where I can share His Light, Love, and Life that resides within me.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Blessings in Disguise Mother’s Day Gifts

I was thinking about what kind of day I wanted for Mother’s Day. I already said that I don’t want any gifts… and I truly meant it. My boys treat everyday like Mother’s Day with love, hugs, and kisses. Their quality time is worth more to me than any diamonds or pearls!

When I was daydreaming about what kind of day I wanted, my mind went to a day without laundry, without dishes, and a day without resistance to my requests. Then, it hit me… to have a day without those things would mean I was not a Mother. Not that those things define being a Mother. But that those things come with the territory of being a Mother. Those things are the blessings in disguise.

To not have loads of laundry to do would mean that my boys and I didn’t share a home. To not have dishes to clean would mean that we didn’t share healthy, nourishing, and home cooked meals together. To not have resistance to my requests would mean that my one-and-only son was not trying to flap his wings and learn to fly on his own. I wouldn’t trade any of those things for anything in the world! I am beyond blessed to be a Mother… I thank God for that daily.

I decided that the kind of day I wanted for Mother’s Day is one full of blessings in disguise! Please and thank you! 

Thursday, April 24, 2014

What’s next?

I practice quiet time with God while I am in bed; before my feet hit the floor in the morning. I lie in bed and observe my thoughts. They generally turn to the day that lies ahead. As my mind rushes through my to-do list, my “quiet time” becomes more of a check list of obligations and responsibilities than an actual quiet time.

Last week as I lie there in bed in my early morning fog, I spoke with God and began to reconcile my to-do list with His for the day… and He stopped me. God’s direction was for me to be still and just think about what I needed to do next. Well, what I needed to do next was rise out of bed and begin my yoga/devotional time. Once I finished that step, God directed to me to just simply think about what needed to be done next. And so my morning, extending into my day, went… I only thought about and acted upon what needed to be done NEXT.

God is training me to be present in THIS moment and, instead of taking on the day all at once, before my feet even hit the ground, God simply just wants me to think and do what is next. One step at a time… one foot in front of the other… dependent upon God’s peace and guidance.  What’s next?

Tuesday, April 22, 2014


Have you ever questioned how the sun rises and sets each and every day? Yeah, me neither.

Without fail, the sun does exactly what I expect it to do… rise and set.  Nothing has ever happened in my lifetime or in the history of the sun to make me doubt whether or not the sun was going to rise and set. It kind of just promises to do its work every day. I don’t question whether that is going to happen or not. I just have complete faith that it will happen because of my prior experiences with the sun.

When I think about my faith in God, this is exactly how I feel about Him. Without fail, God just does exactly what I expect Him to do. Nothing has ever happened in my lifetime or in the Bible to make me doubt whether or not God was going to fulfill His promises to me. I don’t question whether God’s promises are going to happen or not. I just have complete faith that His promises will happen because of my prior experiences with God... and because that is who He is.

This kind of faith is how I can take a leap into the unknown of a new chapter in life. I gave my notice at my teaching job before I had an answer as to what’s next. I began the process of becoming a Christian Yoga Instructor before I knew where or if I will be teaching Yoga. And as I continue to walk into this new and exciting chapter of my life, I have complete and unwavering faith that God is going to fulfill His promises to prosper me and to give me hope and a future; the same kind of faith that we all have in the sun rising and setting each and every day.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

He refills my cup of strength

I was a coffee person. The kind of coffee person who if you talked to me before I drank  my cup of coffee in the morning you were risking your life. I would lie in bed and the only reason I rolled out was to enjoy a cup of joe. Then, I would refill my cup of coffee at about lunch time. I was dependent upon my coffee to provide me with the energy and strength to get me through the day.

I say "I was a coffee person" because I have given it up. It was one of the hardest things I have ever forced myself to do. Overcoming a coffee addiction is not for the light-hearted. I had a headache for days and I was grumpy… a hot mess, really!  But, I did it. I over came. After about two weeks, my body (and attitude) eventually re-adjusted.

You are probably wondering why one would do such a thing… especially if you are a coffee drinker yourself. Well, I did it because I felt God encouraging me to do so. God was jealous for me. Coffee was my reason to get out of bed. Not God. Coffee was my strength to get me through my day. Not God. Coffee was my dependency. Not God. My habit of drinking and depending on coffee put God on the back burner (pun intended).

I trusted in the strength of my coffee more than I trusted in the strength of my God.

Instead of drinking a cup of coffee and going onto Facebook first thing in the morning, I now drink a cup of decaf (organic) green tea, read my daily devotional from Jesus Calling, study bible verses, journal, apply my Young Living essential oils, and then I mediate on God’s Word as I enjoy my yoga practice. I truly look forward to this routine.  It fills me up and prepares me for the day that lies ahead. I am reassured that with God’s strength filling me, I can take on this day. When I feel myself dragging mid-day, I just pray for God to meet me in THAT place.

He refills my cup of strength.

I replaced my habit of rolling out of bed for a cup of coffee with rolling out of bed excited for God’s plan for my day. I replaced my attitude of begrudgingly being woken up by a new day with thanking God for a fresh start each and every day. God is my cup, my rock, my portion, my strength. Each day He renews my soul.

I’ll drink the strength of God any day over the strength of my coffee!

Do you have something in your life that is keeping you from a dependency on God’s strength?  Maybe, like me, you depend on a cup of coffee. God is jealous for you too!  

“LORD, you alone are my portion and my cup; you make my lot secure."
Psalm 16:5 

 “I love you, Lord, my strength.  The Lord is my rock, my fortress 
and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold." Psalms 18:1-2 

"You honor me by anointing my head with oil. My cup overflows with blessings." ~Psalm 23:5 

“My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever." Psalm 73:26 

“I say to myself, "The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for him."
Lamentations 3:24 

“I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:13

“… for the Lord your God in your midst is a jealous God.” Deuteronomy 6:15


Monday, February 10, 2014

CHOOSING to surrender and trust in God

God has me in a place where all I can do is trust Him. Sure, I have other options… I can worry, I can stress, I can obsess, and I can convince myself of negative outcomes. I can choose all of those, but the results of those choices are anxiety and fear. I am CHOOSING to surrender and trust in God because the results of those choices are peace and comfort.

The negative thoughts present themselves to me over and over again. I choose to either own them or I choose to surrender and trust in my Almighty God.

This is not a onetime choice and I dust my hands off. Nope. The choice to surrender and trust is an every second of the day choice… it is a choice I have to remake and recommit to every time the dreaded negative thoughts come to my mind… every time they haunt me.

The enemy wants to attack me with negative thoughts. He wants to wear me down. He wants to preoccupy me so deeply that all I can do is think about my situation; which, then, I am just going through the motions of my day. With this preoccupation, I cannot be present in this beautiful moment… I cannot be a blessing to others… I cannot be intentional about my relationships… I certainly cannot shine God’s light on the world. Wouldn’t that be oh so pleasing to the enemy... to have me preoccupied?! Look at all the enemy would gain!

I am CHOOSING to surrender and trust in my Father in Heaven. He will give me peace and comfort as His Word promises…

Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.
~1 Peter 5.6-7

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
~Philippians 4:6-7

The Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen and protect you from the evil one.
~2 Thessalonians 3:3

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.
~John 16.33

My comfort in my suffering is this: Your promise preserves my life.
~Psalm 119.50

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
~John 14.27

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.

~Psalm 46:1

The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever. ~Psalm 23

Sunday, February 9, 2014

A new chapter of life waits… I go where He goes, I stay where He stays.

When I began my blog in July of 2012, it was part obedience and part preparation for my next chapter in life. The obedience was to share my story so that others could be healed through “You TOO?!” moments… being a blessing to others. The preparation was to heal me, to prepare me, and to guide me. As a result, I knew a change was coming. I just had to wait for the right time… the right season.

Yeah… wait. I am not very good at that! I don’t have a tattoo, but if I was to get one… it would read “Be Still “… in a really pretty font… across my forehead! I need daily reminders to let it all go and to let God… oh, and to be still.

To be transparent, the suspense was killing me! I kept asking God if it was time yet. But, He kept replying… no, slow, grow, heal, be still, and stay. He said, “Stay!” and I stayed. I followed obediently. Living God’s Word…

“Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay.” ~Ruth 1:16

Well, by the grace of God, I actually survived the wait. The time and season have arrived. I am closing this chapter of being an Art Teacher. After all of that time of staying, waiting, praying, being still, and trusting in God’s perfect timing… He said, “Go!” Here I am, in this blessed place to be, with God’s permission to close this chapter in my life. What I have been praying for is here… it is now. I am scared. I am nervous. I am excited. I am blessed. I am comforted by the peace of God’s promises…

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” ~Jeremiah 29:11

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”~ 
Isaiah 41:10

“I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” ~Philippians 4:13

“The Lord is my light and my salvation— whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life— of whom shall I be afraid?” ~Psalm 27:1

 “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.” ~ Ephesians 3:20

A new chapter of life waits…

Here we go with that four-letter word again… wait.

I am not sure what my new chapter will be titled. I have some direction, but nothing definite yet. My knees are getting worn out in prayer, but my faith and trust are not worn out. I am going into this new chapter with blind faith and deliberate confidence in God’s purpose and plan for my life… radical obedience for His will. I am jumping into the unknown and believing that God will catch me and plant me where I am meant to bloom.

He is writing the story of my life and it continues in a new chapter.
I believe whatever God’s plan is for my life that He plans to prosper me, He will uphold me, He will give me strength, He is my stronghold, and His will for my life far exceed anything I can imagine! I am embracing my new chapter with God by my side… I go where He goes, I stay where He stays. 

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Bless One Person A Day

My son and I pray each and every morning for God to present us with the opportunity to be a blessing to someone. Then, at the end of the day we share with each other how we received the opportunity and were a blessing. It has been amazing how my son has responded to this! There have been several moments when I well up with tears at how he has blessed someone during his day.

There was one blessing that stands out in my mind because, as a child myself, I had the exact opposite experience.

We’ve been allowing our son to ride his scooter around the block alone. It’s a baby step to encourage him to be more independent. He will go around the circular block several times… it is fun to watch him be so free. Like a little baby bird learning to flap his wings. He just rides his scooter, talks to himself, sings songs, and his hair flaps in the wind that he creates with his speed.

One day he took a little bit longer to round the block. With my son’s ADHD, we worry he will see something shiny and end up in Mexico. So, my husband went to peek around the corner. Our son had stopped his freedom ride and was picking weeds from a neighbor’s yard. We don’t even know that neighbor. Picking weeds!!!!

When my husband asked why he stopped to pick weeds our son said, “A proper man finds a way to bless one person a day!” A proper man… give me a moment… I cry every time I think of this. We didn’t ask him to pick weeds. He was just out enjoying his own freedom, on his own time… just him, his scooter, and his wind. He stopped on his own to bless someone.

As I think back to my childhood, I cannot even relate to this. When I was a child, my father used to have me pull the weeds in the front yard. For the entire world to see! I am certain he had his legitimate reasons why, but in my young child mind I was certain it was because he was out to ruin me socially. All I could think of while I was begrudgingly picking weeds was “What if someone I went to school with walked by… I’d be mortified and ruined.” I truly felt my chore to pull weeds was an evil scheme or some sort of punishment.

And to think, here’s my child pulling someone else’s weeds… on his own!

Now that I am a parent, I understand why we have our children do chores and acts of service for others. But, when I was a child, the importance of chores was not explained to me. They were just demanded. I cannot stress enough how important it is to teach these life lessons to our children. There are so many life lessons to be learned with chores… if you take the time. I wrote about an opportunity to teach these lessons in Hard Moments.

As parents, we teach these lessons so that our children can grow up to be contributing members of our society, so that they know nothing is beneath them, so that they learn to do everything without complaining and arguing, so that they can work as if working for the Lord (not for man), and so that they can bless one person a day… because, to quote a child of God… “A proper man finds a way to bless one person a day!”

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Four Things About Marriage

One of my dearest and best-est friends is getting married; which has me thinking about marriage itself. If I could go back 20 years ago, when I met the man I married, I wondered what I would tell my Young Self about marriage.

Run away… really fast?! No, of course not… don’t be silly.

I would tell myself that there are 4 really important things to remember… okay, there are really between 24 and 29 really important things to remember, but, in all honesty, that’s too much to remember. So, let’s stick with 4 things and… you’ll just learn the rest as you go. It’ll be fun!

Number 1: Young Self, Keep God at the center of your marriage. Pray for each other. Pray for God to meet you in whatever place or season you happen to be residing. Whatever you do don’t pray that your spouse gets run over by a bus… that would be wrong!

Number 2: Young Self, Love is a choice… a daily choice! Sure when love is young and fun and hot… it is easy to choose love. But, when the youngness, fun-ness, and hotness all go away… far, far away… it is work to choose to love another person. You must choose love even when you don’t “like” your spouse. You must choose love even when you are praying for that bus to zoom by… really fast. I mean… NOT praying for that… NOT. Praying. For. That.

Number 3: Young Self, Marriage is all about hills and valleys. Sometimes the valleys between the hills are short. Sometimes the valleys between the hills are looooong… even years long. In the valley, is where you will pray the most and choosing to love one another will be the hardest. But, at the top of the hill is where you see your future… as far as your eyes can see (with glasses because you’ll be needing glasses by this point). Remember that hilltop view when you are in a valley, it will help. Most couples quit in the valley because they cannot see what is just beyond the horizon. It is also a possibility that they are too busy looking through their binoculars for that darn bus.

Number 4: Young Self, Be willing! Willing to say you’re sorry first, willing to love more sometimes, willing to put another person’s needs before your own, willing to remain friends, willing to communicate even when it hurts, willing to make the first move (whatever that might mean to you… wink-wink, nudge-nudge), willing to commit your life to another person for-EVER, and be willing to actually step out in front of that bus to save your spouse!

So, if I told my Young Self all of this 20 years ago… hopefully, I would still think it was “like a totally cool” idea to marry my wonderful boyfriend because I wouldn’t change that decision for anything in the world.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Shame Resilient

The other day a situation happened between me and one of my best friends. I don’t want to share details and conjure up the past, so we’ll call it the “situation”. This situation left me feeling unworthy and undervalued. It was an imperfect situation between two imperfect people. It happens.

The reason I am sharing this vague situation is not really about the situation at all… it is about what surfaced in me and how I dealt with those imperfect feelings… it is about my journey to becoming shame resilient.

When the situation occurred, I tried to tell myself that it wasn’t about me. But, those little shameful gremlins snuck up on me. The more I tried to push the feelings away and keep them to myself, the more they grew.

So within 5 hours of the situation… I was hurt to the core, I cried, and I confronted my friend. I felt as though I wasn’t important to her. I felt as though maybe I loved her more than she loved me. I felt I wasn’t worthy.

What I was feeling was shame. And that shame built up into misconception and lies.

 I leaned into the discomfort of the hurt I was feeling and recognized my shame trigger was pulled. I talked with my husband and I reached out to another best friend who both have earned the right to hear my story… who both can show empathy and derail my shame spiral. These are HUGE steps for me!

Pulling away has always been my default system and my defense mechanism. In the past, I probably would have allowed a situation like this to destroy my friendship. I would have shamed myself into feeling that I wasn’t worthy of love after all. I would have kept my feelings to myself. I would have pulled away and withdrawn from that friendship.

But… I DID NOT PULL AWAY!   I did not over identify with my hurt. I did not shrink. I did not own the lies of shame. THIS IS SHAME RESILIENCE! I did it! I overcame my unhealthy default system!

One of my favorite authors is Brene Brown. In her book “The Gifts of Imperfection” she lists the four elements of shame resilience:
Name it.
Talk about it.
Own your story.
Tell the story.

I named it when I realized what I was feeling was shame… fearful that I wasn’t worthy. I talked about it with my husband and another best friend. I owned my own story and saw the blessings that came from this experience. And now, I am telling my story.

My story is that I am loved, I am worthy, I am enough, and I belong. I chose to show-up, let my vulnerability be seen, and be real! I chose to believe my story instead of believing the shameful lies.

24 hours after the situation… I felt so blessed that I was hurt because through that I could see the work that God has done in me. I felt blessed that I have best friends that I can be real with. I felt blessed that my friend apologized. I felt blessed that I have a friendship in my life that is worth fighting for. But most of all, I felt blessed that all of my hard work to rise above my unhealthy default system has actually paid off.

Sharing my story is part of my journey to change, but maybe you have felt these feelings before too. When we have these “You Too?!” moments we begin to shine light on shame… and shame cannot live in the light, only in the darkness. Please share your shameful story with someone who has earned that right… with someone who will show you empathy. Become shame resilient.