Saturday, September 28, 2013

Identity

What does identity mean to you? How do you identify?

If someone asked me to identify myself I would say...
I am a:
1. Woman
2. Christian
3. Mexican
4. Sister
5. Daughter
6. Writer

I could have a long list of ways that I identify but I guess the real question is why? Why do I identify as these things?

I am a woman - this is a huge statement. Now it's not the sex that you were born that dictates your gender identity. This is such a huge and interesting topic, but I won't go into it so much today. I just know that I identify as a woman and love the woman I have become.

I am a Christian - also a bold statement. This means that I have found and am following Christ. I am intentional about what I do and how I do it in order to express to others just how Christ loves me and how they deserve to be loved as well. This also means that I want to share this aspect of my life with everyone that I know and love!

I am Mexican - really I am mixed. I really am Mexican/Puerto Rican/Native American/American mut mix. I don't say that when someone asks me what my nationality is - I usually just say Hispanic or Mexican/Puerto Rican. It's difficult to get into all that mumbo jumbo when trying to describe it to someone. Also - most places I have ever lived identify me as not white - so that identification of others allowed me to make that decision a lot easier. So - I am a non Spanish speaking Mexican who didn't have a QuinceaƱera and who doesn't celebrate Cinco de Mayo... lol.

I am a Sister - to 9 siblings... eek! I know right... That's most people's reactions when they realize or hear that I have a large family. Then come the jokes about my parents or about me having a large family myself. Then there is always the questions that relate to where we lived or what religious background we have because obviously that all dictates how many children people have?! Whatever. I have lived my life caring for people. Being the example (always not the best but I do what I can) and trying to show them what they deserve and encourage them to know what they are worth! Life has not always been easy - so I have been the comforter, shoulder to cry on, supporter, etc. This is what I do.

I am a Daughter - again ... one of many. But, I know that I am also a supporter in this area of my life as well. I am the go to person to help out and the dependable one when support or help is needed. I am the one who is always there. But ... now they are moving and that won't be my role anymore. Even being the daughter has been difficult at times. Being respectful and loving has been difficult at times. Again - life has not always dealt the best hand and this causes stress and conflict. But, I hope that I am what is expected.

I am a writer - I love this! I am creative and trying to publish. I have so much to tell the world - I just have to figure out how to make this happen. I have published one book and am working on editing, reviewing, and possibly completely republishing with a new or different angle. This should be interesting - also working on something completely different at the same time.

I am who I am - and I am proud of it. I am beautiful, smart, caring, loving, confident, compassionate, etc. I do not say these things to sound conceited - I say them because I know who I am and I love who I am. I am not afraid or timid. I am not scared or afraid. I have come a long way - I know where I have been and I know where I am - this is a huge difference.

Can you identify yourself? Can you tell who you are? Are you proud of who you are? Do you love who you are?

How often do you identify with others but not know why?
How difficult is it for you to explain or describe who you are?
How hard is it for you to love yourself and who you have become?

It has taken me a long time to get here. It has taken me a long time to love myself and be okay with where I have been and how I have become who I am today. I know this is difficult for many people and so many people cannot even define their own identity.

Work on it. Know who you are. Know where you have been and where you are now.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Yes

Say Yes.

What have you said yes to lately? What are all the things you can think of that you would say yes to right now?

I have always been a "say yes" kind of person, willing to help others and put everyone else in front of myself. I will go as far as sacrificing my own time or my own self in order to follow through on a "yes" that I have given someone else. Unfortunately, I have missed out on all the times I should have been saying yes to myself or to God.

Fear rules us... It shouldn't, but it does. I will admit that something that has always been a struggle for me is trust. Trusting others with my self, my belongings, my thoughts, my emotions, etc. Such a huge aspect of a relationship is trust. Yet, I have been unwilling for so long to trust the church... trust God... trust the people he has placed in those leadership positions to lead and mentor me. It has been a long journey and this Sunday I was reminded that I have to take that step and trust others completely or else I will always be a step behind everyone else.

My struggle - along with many others I am sure - has been trusting the people in leadership positions to do what is best with the resources I provide. Therefore, for quite some time I have held onto those resources and distributed them how I thought was best. This unfortunately never put me in a place of risk, sacrifice, or vulnerability in my relationship with God or the church (the people of God). I know that giving back is such a crucial aspect of my relationship and yet I have just been turning my head this entire time and justifying why I couldn't or wouldn't give.

So... I have decided to take up my cross and give back. I know that I have the relationship and the commitment needed. I know that I serve and give back in that way. But there is just something bigger about sacrificing your finances, giving to the unknown, and trusting that the best will be done with it. I have decided to give.

Now for some of you this may be routine and something that you have been doing along. For others this may be something you are shacking your head at and thinking I am crazy. Some of you know how big of a deal this is and others are laughing thinking I am silly.

For those who know how big of a deal this is... I applaud you for also making the sacrifice, giving up that hold on your finances and trusting that He will provide for you. I know he does. Giving back is such an incredible tie in to seeing how the church helps the community with what you have given.

For those of you who think I am silly... Well... when was the last time you sacrificed something for the greater good? When was the last time you sacrificed something at all? How do you intend to live your life and utilize your resources provided to you?

You cannot take it with you when you are gone! This doesn't mean that you should save for the future or plan ahead. This doesn't mean that you should go willy nilly and just blow all the money you have and forget about the purpose of it. You should be intentional about every dollar you spend and make sure it is worth it.

Is this how I should be spending what has been provided to me? Is this how He would spend it if given the chance?

I have been thinking about this a lot lately and it really makes me think about how I spend...

Are the manicures and pedicures a necessity?
Is going out to eat a luxury I need to partake in as much?
Can I conserve what I have in order to use it differently later on?
Did I give back?
Have I saved?
Am I investing in what is benefiting the greater good or just a greater self?

This is huge for me. I am not saying that I know everything, it all, or anything at all. I just think that saying yes to this is going to open my eyes to an even greater picture that I could never have imagined on my own...

Will you Say Yes? What will you Say Yes to?

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Transitions

When life is in transition it can be awkward sometimes. You never know where you are coming from or where you are going. Sleeping in new or different places and seeing new or different faces. It's just odd sometimes to try to figure out the normal schedule you once had and fit it into this new schedule, new places, new time frames.

So my commute to work is generally 1.5 hours now in the morning and then depending on where I am going after work the commute differs, but generally about an hour or more... ugh! I am getting re-acquainted with traffic and I cannot say that I am enjoying it. But, it does give me quality phone talk time which I am enjoying. So on the plus side ... I get time in the car to eat breakfast, drink coffee, talk on the phone, and think about what's next.

Yesterday I had two meals which consisted of Pop Tarts.... umm... really?! So breakfast and lunch yesterday were pop tart lunches. It's not to say that I cannot go to the grocery and buy food, but generally my life runs a little differently and I haven't had time or desire to do so. I was at the grocery a couple nights ago and should have just bought a couple of things to have, but my new on the go life until 10/15 hasn't really allowed for that. So, my diet lately has consisted a lot on boxed foods, take-out, or dine out style meals... with a few home cooked thrown in there which were AWESOME!

I am counting down the days till I move into my own place, not because I don't appreciate this time I have now, but because I am ready to be back on my normal routine. Not to say I will grocery shop more, or do homework more, or anything of that sort, but this transitional period is just odd.

Silly of me to even mention this, but my shows are starting this week... generally I DVR everything, but I gave up cable for the transition month because I only watch what's on my DVR and because it's saving me $100. I am so crazy that I even text my brother and asked him to record for me so I wouldn't miss out on anything... umm... this means I am addicted to television and really should be taking this time away.

Transitions are full of unexpected changes and turns of events. This is probably the longest lasting transition I have had in my adult life and it is throwing me off. It's odd to realize how routine your life has become until something mixes or shakes it up. It is also funny how silly things seem that bother you when you actually call yourself out on it. Like my missing my shows, or travel times to and from work, etc.

I wonder sometimes what life would be like if I just stopped being so routine. I know I am spontaneous and spur of the moment with my decision making, but my lifestyle is very routine and expected. What if I threw all that out the window? What if I cancelled my cable and want tied to the couch for a set amount of time every week? What if I woke up fresh every morning with extra time to live and enjoy life? What if I set time aside in my schedule to write and learn to play guitar? 

What would life look like if you stopped being so routine? If sports weren't more important than loved ones? If television wasn't more important than exploring the outdoors? If eating out/fast food wasn't more appealing than cooking a meal at home? 

Think about all the extra quality time you would tack onto your life! What would you do with it? How would you down it? 

Recently I have uncovered this new crazy concept of quality over quantity in a new way. It honestly doesn't matter how much time or energy you invest in something or someone unless it is intentional and quality time. If you are intentional about what you do and say then you will move mountains! If you are not intentional then you will keep taking baby steps and walking around the mountain. 

Are you ready and willing to be intentional about living? Can you set quality time aside? Are you willing to sacrifice something consuming time in your schedule now that doesn't offer that intentional quality? 

What would transition look like for you? How would it throw you off? Can you make it happen? What are you willing to sacrifice so that you can have more?!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Solace

Have you ever needed to find comfort in a bad/sad/difficult situation? Ever needed that person or visit to a place in order to help you close one chapter and turn the page to start another? 

Comfort is such a large part of how we function on a daily basis. We all want to be comfortable in our own skin and a lot of times that requires comforting from others. You long to find that solace within. We need reassurance and guidance. 

Who provides you solace? 

Romans 8:28

28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

2 Corinthians 1:3-4

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort,who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. 

When we are in need, often we search for others around us to fill that need or void. Most of the time others are able to offer some kind of comfort to us, but we still feel like something is missing. Know this - God's comfort is never ending. He will fill you up endlessly. 

I am a pretty independent person - but as independent as I am - I know that I must depend on others for certain things. This is difficult to accept but it's necessary. I cannot do everything on my own and there are times I have tried and failed. 

We were not created to be alone. God crated everything and saw it was good, until he saw man lonely and couldn't have it that way. In the beginning God recognized that we needed others and that's why he created a partner for Adam. 

We need community. We need interaction. We need other people. This is obvious to us and should be important to us! 

When you are in need of solace - of comfort - who do you go to? Do you have someone you can depend on? Someone you can lean on? Someone you can trust with anything knowing they will love you and understand that you are human?

It has taken me years to accept that I need someone. That it is okay to accept love, comfort, praise, support from another person. But as soon as I opened my eyes, mind, and heart to this concept ... Oh let me tell you! It makes a world of a difference. 

Are you being comforted? Have you found solace? If not - why? Who do you have that you can depend on? 

Everybody needs somebody sometime! 

Be open - Be vulnerable - Be trusting

Allow yourself to receive comfort!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Who do you see in the mirror?

Image - What do we portray of ourselves and show to others? What do we see in ourselves? Who are we really and how frequently are we hiding behind a mask of who we think others want us to be?

Who are you to tell me I am less than what I should be? It's not easy to be perfect! Perfect is a relative term because we are all perfect in God's eyes because he created us uniquely and then he broke the mold! Unfortunately society tells us that we all need to be the same or like other people. We need to strive for this physical perfection or this image created by others - this is what society is telling us.... We are so lost!

Why do we allow others to try to define us? Why do we allow society to define us? Why do we allow commercials and name brands to define us?

Who is staring back at you in the mirror every day? Are you proud of who/what you see? Are you ashamed? At what point in your life did your reflection change? What happened to you that you started looking at some strangers eyes staring back at you in the mirror?

This morning I saw a music video and was disheartened.

(I am purposefully not posting the video, name of video or artist because I do not want to support this media or behavior. I also do not think it to be appropriate material for most of my readers. I am sure you all will know what or who I am speaking of.)

A young woman who used to be a role model for young girls has recently put herself on display for the world in an attempt to become more famous, of a higher ranking, and someone who everyone is talking about. Some say her attempts are to become the next Madonna - but honestly Madonna was risky, but had better taste and more respect for herself.

The first thing I said out loud was - "WOW" .... then soon after I begged the question ... "How damaged does one person have to be in order to get to a point where they pull a stunt like this?"

How important is your image? Remember that when you actually decide to become a responsible adult or decide to take a step in your current career ... these things are out there and online forever. It is ironic the images young women are willing to post on their online profiles such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. Think about whether or not that is something that you want your children to see, your parents, the people who love you... and mostly... is that something you would want God to see?!

Often we do things, say things, or portray ourselves to be something we are not just to make a career move, a societal step, a friendship circle move or jump... We don't think about the consequences of our actions when we are doing this and how it will affect our futures. Most of the time we are blinded by what is directly in front of us - whether that be an obstacle or opportunity. We see what we want to see and dismiss everything else .... We have to stop this!

One of the most healing exercises I performed when I was dealing with image issues included washing them away.

1. Take a piece of rice paper - write down all the things about yourself that you are ashamed of or self conscious about.
2. Place a mirror against a wall so that you can see your whole self.
3. Place a bowl of water at the base of the mirror.
4. Stand in front of the mirror and read aloud all the things you have listed on the paper.
5. Drop it in the water and watch it dissolve and wash away!
6. Friends start to immediately write positive uplifting things on the mirror for you so that when you look back up and see yourself in the mirror you also see what others see.
     - Beautiful, Smart, Funny, Loyal, Unique, His, Created for a purpose, Driven, Strong, Uplifting, Compassionate, etc...

Now let this bring a tear to your eye and imagine yourself experiencing that... It's like nothing else. Even as an adult when I think I am not good enough, perfect enough, beautiful enough, etc I just think back on this moment/experience and remember how that made me feel.

Psalm 139:13-14 
For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.

There is no point in your life where you should feel so defeated, broken, or damaged that you have to climb your way back up in a way that will be further damaging to you or your image. When you look in a mirror you should see all the things that make you unique because that is the way that God purposefully created you and designed you to be. You need to know that he wanted you to be a certain way and you should love yourself for who you are because He loves you exactly the way you are.

If you are defeated, broken, or damaged - rest easy my friend because there is nobody better that can help you climb your way out and hold you all the way. You will heal and the scars left behind are just considered beauty marks that remind you of how far you have come and how much you have grown.

Fearfully and wonderfully made.... How can you imagine anything more impactful? He had passion in his heart and purpose in his hands when he pieced you together... and He will continue to piece you together whenever you need him to!

Who do you see when you look into the mirror? Do you see someone you are proud of? What would it take to get you to a place where you love and respect yourself that way that God does or the way that everyone else does?

You are smart - You are funny - You are beautiful/handsome! Know this and believe it! You have a purpose greater than that which society leads you to believe.

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.

You may not know it yet. You may not see it yet. You will someday.

Who do you see in the mirror?

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Forgiveness

We have all been forgiven, we have all forgiven - but what does forgiveness mean to you? Is it the same that someone else thinks it is?

CS Lewis said, "Everyone says forgiveness is a lovely idea, until they have something to forgive."
God said - forgive 70x70 - ie... you should always forgive.

So just like CS Lewis says - we all love the idea of forgiveness and always want to be forgiven for our wrong doings... but the real question is... are we always forgiving others for their wrong doings toward us or others that we love?!

Forgiveness is a really hard topic and it drudges up the past and bad memories. Forgiveness is important for each of us because in order to remain whole and forgiven, we must first forgive others or possibly even ourselves.

There are many times in my life that shoot straight to the front of my mind when I think of forgiveness. When I think of how someone has forgiven me or I think about the times I have had to forgive someone else or even myself. It is a rough and rocky road, but I know that when I look at the days, weeks, months, or even years after that - all I see is growth and healing.

So - what does forgiveness mean to me?

Forgiveness is the act of letting go, healing, and moving forward. This means that you forgive someone else or yourself. You allow yourself to heal from it and then you move forward. Not holding grudges or holding an event/action over someone else's head or your own - this is what causes baggage and tears at your heart. Now, just because you have forgiven someone does not mean you have to forget how it affected you, your life, and those around you. Forgiveness doesn't mean that you have to sweep it under the rug and keep letting someone else bring you down or yourself be beaten! Forgiveness does not mean that you have to keep allowing that hurt to consume you.

So - If forgiving something/someone means that you need to make a phone call, a visit, or just write a letter and burn it - then that's what you should do.

I have written a few letters in my life. Letters that are written to someone that I cannot communicate with any longer, or that it is not safe to communicate with. I have made those phone calls and visits when necessary, but I also know how difficult it is.

There are times when I sit with pen in hand and just don't want to write those words. There are times when I sit in my car outside someone's house because I just don't want to take that first step and approach the situation. We all know this feeling and we all have been here.

Obviously if you have been reading my blog long enough or have read my book then you know that I have had many opportunities to forgive - and let me tell you that it is not easy and sometimes takes a lot of counseling or coaxing to make it happen. But I know that I cannot be forgiven or heal properly unless I forgive and let it go.

A little over ten years ago I was sexually assaulted. At the time I would have told you that I was ruined but I know better now. But it took me years to forgive him. I had to make peace with the situation and open myself up to the idea of forgiving someone that "ruined" me. I cannot even tell you how long it then also took for me to forgive myself. Not that any of this was my fault, but I felt guilty and I needed to forgive myself and rid my heart/mind of that guilt in order to heal and move forward. Now when I look back on those years and see that brokenness in my heart, I wonder how I made it from there to here. I know that forgiving him and myself allowed for that healing that brought me to a much better place. A much stronger place.

Around that same time I struggled with forgiving God - I know this is crazy and most people wont say this out loud, but I will. I blamed God for what happened to me for a while. I didn't understand why he would allow such a bad thing to happen to me and why he would allow such brokenness in my life. But I had to continually remind myself that sometimes bad things happen to good people. And - God gave us free will to act as we wish and he will not interfere with that. I cannot control other people's actions, and even when trying to control my own, sometimes life throws you a curve ball and you cross paths with someone who is up to no good. This affects you. You have to know and understand that this is not God's fault. It is not my fault. It is just a bad situation that needs time and healing in order to walk away whole.

For so long I longed to be whole. I waited and waited for healing to come. I waited for the weight of the world to drop off my shoulders. But I did not do anything to allow this to happen. All I did was sit and wait. Eventually I realized that healing only comes through forgiveness.

What do you need to heal? What/Who do you need to forgive? What does this look like?

I can guarantee that forgiveness will put you on the right path to healing and growth. I know that it has for me and when I see how much stronger I am I know that it was because I made that first step. I know that it was because I forgave.

Say what you need to say.... Just say it! Forgive or allow yourself to be forgiven. See where this takes you!

Friday, September 13, 2013

Vulnerability

To be susceptible to attack - to physical or emotional injury... You are basically saying - here I am - come hurt me. 

When I think of being vulnerable I imagine a lone soldier in the middle of a grass field with no cover. I imagine the feelings rushing through the mind when you know the enemy is all around and just waiting for the right moment to take you. Why would anyone willingly place themselves in the middle of a field vulnerable to the surroundings not knowing what's ping to happen next? 

The thing to remember is that a soldier is never alone - there is always an army nearby or at least a partner that is there to serve as nothing less than protective guard. 

So - I step out into the field and suddenly feel bare, naked, vulnerable. I am trusting that I will be guarded and protected. I am trusting that all is well and there is no enemy to find me. I've left all my armor behind and knocked all the walls down and all that is left is me. 

How scary and thrilling all at the same time?! How is it that the idea of being vulnerable or completely trusting is so foreign and off putting to so many of us? Is it foreign because we are trained not to trust? Or is it foreign because we've all weighed ourselves down with baggage from the past? 

Being completely vulnerable means knowingly placing oneself in harms way - you aren't asking for it but you are saying that the journey, the field, the battles ahead are worth the risk. 

Can you risk it? Are you willing? What does it take to walk into the open field and be completely vulnerable to all your surroundings? 

I recently shared something that put me in a completely vulnerable state. When you know it's the right thing to say but you have been holding it in for fear of the reaction you will receive - I'm sure we have all been there. I almost don't say it. I had the opportunity and I froze the first time and blurted out nonsense - but the second opportunity came and I knew that it was now or never. 

Often in our lives we allow fear to control is and we miss out on so much because we hide in the woods, cower closets the ground, or stay silent. What are you missing? What are you hiding from? Could you be completely vulnerable and take that leap of faith? Can you put yourself out there and trust? 

Take the leap - live a little - what if you only had 30 days left to live? What leaps would you take? What life would you live? 

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Writing

It's been a while, I realized last night, since I have put the pen to paper and written some poetry. This morning I started and I almost couldn't stop. I had to peel my pen off the paper and start getting ready for work. 

But I wanted to share one - it's nothing crazy and really a unique style, but it's all about being and living. 

Stop
Stare
Breath 
Beware 

Heart
Jumps
Blood
Pumps

Think 
Hard
Start
Guard

Tear
Down
Walls 
Around 

Trust 
Believe 
Fear 
Leave 

Stop 
Stare
Ease
Care

Laugh
Smile 
Stay 
Awhile 

Enjoy
Being 
Feelings 
Freeing 

Hold
Tight 
Through 
Night 

Wake 
Smitten 
Future 
Unwritten 

Stop 
Stare
Forever 
I dare 

Monday, September 9, 2013

Trust 2.0

It's funny how you think you have it all down and then you are shaken and everything you thought just comes to an abrupt end. My last blog I spoke about trust and the importance of this in every relationship. How does trust affect you and effect the way you live? How does the lack of trust or even deceit affect the way you live and the outcomes you experience?

The one thing I didn't talk about was the way other people's deceit affects your foundation....

No matter what you do, how honest you are, or how strong a foundation you build... someone can come along and start taking a hammer to it.

Matthew 7:24-27 - Build your house on the rock and not the sand.

I am not unshakable - I am not unbreakable - I am merely a girl

There will be times when, even if you are standing strong, you will feel an earthquake. You will feel someone coming along and taking a few whacks at that foundation you have tried so hard to build. You might feel the aftershock of this - you may feel like you're going to come tumbling down. But remember that you are on rock and not on sand.

The most important thing to remember is that you are not alone. When you build your house on the rock, it will withstand anything.

Trust is such a vulnerable state of mind. You open yourself up to someone or to an idea and you have nothing left to do, but trust. If that hammer comes along and starts whacking away at that foundation, you may feel shaken, broken, beaten... But do not allow that crack to allow distrust and doubt to seep in. The allowance of distrust and doubt causes caution and fear. You automatically put up a guard/wall/sense of hesitation. You are removed from the idea of vulnerable trust and placed in this sinking sand where you feel it is inevitable that you are foolish and cannot go back.

James 1:5 - if you lack the wisdom - ask for it...

It is such a weird place to be in - when doubt starts to play a role in a relationship.... Will you ever recover? Will you ever completely trust again or be completely trusted? Where do you go from here?

Don't be the hammer bearer - Don't be the sand sinker - Don't be walled or guarded.

Even if I am shaken - I know that there is peace to return to.
Even if I am broken - I know that there is healing to come.
Even if I am just a girl - I know that I was uniquely created.

I know who I am - I know where I have been - I know what I have done

But I have to allow for the idea of others partaking in this life - in this build - being affected by what happens around me and to me.

Have you sat back and thought of all the ways you need to appreciate those around you that are vulnerable and trusting to you? Have you thought about the ways that people see you and react to you? Have you considered how your actions affect others and the way they live?

Have you truly trusted lately? Have you been there to blindly trust someone even when others told you you shouldn't?

Trust is not just about me and it's not just about you.... Trust is about us. It is about us working together to build strong foundations and help each other heal and repair what is shaken and broken.

Trust....

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Trust

Trust: assured reliance on the character, ability, strength, or truth of someone or something.

Trusting blindly and completely - what a neat concept. There is something that just generally goes unsaid about people and relationships. There is a beginning level of innocent trust between people when a relationship initially forms. We believe what someone says and trust that they are being honest and unveiling all the information to us. We build an entire foundation on that trust and confidence in the other person's character.

Sometimes trust is broken. We uncover a lie, a small level of deceit, or sometimes something even larger. That once innocent trust no longer exists. Now there is doubt in it's place. There is this question always lingering in your mind - Are they being completely honest? What are they hiding?

Trust is such a hard concept to base a relationship on when there isn't any or there is a lack of it. Such a foundational aspect to relationships and without it I could say there would not be a relationship.

Recently I have discovered that without trust you have nothing. Trust has such an impact on a relationship or lack of trust causing a loss in a relationship....

Respect: a feeling of deep admiration for someone or something elicited by their abilities, qualities, or achievements.

I think it goes without saying, but I will say it anyways. Trust is all about respect. When you respect someone enough that you do not allow anything to get in the way of that trust factor. You say what you want to say and need to say even if it isn't what the other person wants to hear. You are up front and honest from the beginning because it's not only the right thing, but it's also the best thing for your relationship.

Think about a relationship you have; new or old. Think about those questions that build a relationship and lay bricks to the foundation. What would happen to the future if one of those bricks were faulty or went missing? What would happen to the foundation if there was a huge crack through it? Imagine what life would look like if one day the foundation caves underneath your feet? What will you do then? Think about the old friends and loved ones that you surround yourself with. Why are they still around? Can you trust them with your life? Do you respect them? Do you invest everything you have into those people because they are the committed ones?

When you are in that moment - a question is posed - you have a choice to make. You can either be honest and allow that trust to grow.... Or, you can tell a white lie, a big lie, etc and take one more brick away from that foundation you have built. Eventually there will be nothing left and it won't be worth rebuilding because there will always be that shadow of doubt laying over your head. How it is that more people than not choose to take away a brick than lay another one?

I am laying a foundation .... it will be nice and strong. I am adding bricks to make it stronger and healthier. There will be no cracks in my foundation and it will not fall out from underneath me one day....

Will yours? What does your foundation look like? Are you adding bricks or taking them away?

Friday, September 6, 2013

Head vs Heart

Often we have this struggle - head vs heart. Which do we follow? Which do we listen to?

As a younger person I prized myself on being a person that followed my heart. On a whim I would make decisions and justify them because I was following my heart. Soon enough I realized this was not the way to go because my heart, over the years, has gotten me stuck in the mud and in a lot of bad situations.

How often do you sit and ask yourself if the decision you are about to make is a wise choice? Is it at all frequent? Or are you that person that follows your heart because it is fairy tale like and just makes you feel the best? How often do you consider what God has to say about things - or seek out the wisdom of another person - or even just sit back and think about the decisions you are making instead of chasing after that tug you feel on your heart and the direction you think it is leading you?

I know I have written about this struggle before, but I recently listened to Jeanne Stevens from Soul City Church speak on this topic.

Jeremiah 17:9 The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?

It is so very difficult to sit back and think about our hearts being deceitful, but then if you ponder on all the heart decisions you made and look where they have brought you - you will see that fruit of that. Sit back and think about all the decisions you have made with your head, the wise decisions. Look at where that has lead you and see the fruit of that. I can definitely speak for my experiences and say that I see more fruits of my labor in the wisdom category than in the heartfelt category.

What is a wise way choice or a my way choice? Have the decisions/choices I have made been what I want solely based on the flutters in my heart? Have the decisions/choices I have made been based on wisdom, solidarity, etc?

Ephesians 5:15-17 Be very careful, then, how you live - not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord's will is.

I have been more careful in my decision making because I know what a heart choice will lead me toward. I know what a wise choice will lead me toward. Do you? Have you examined your life recently? Are the choices you making selfish or wise? Are they heartfelt? or thought out?

So often I have battled with what is the right or wrong decision in my life. I have questioned even after a decision was made whether it was the right one to make. But I think this is a great way to really sit back and think of those decisions before they are made. Are you making a "my way" choice - or are you making a "wise way" choice? Have you thought it out and sought counsel on it? Have you considered what the decision you make will do? How will it affect you and others you love?

From small things to big things... this is a great question to ask. I have thought long and hard about my life and I know that the wise choices to make are the best choices to make. They might not always be the easiest but they are definitely the most fruitful and rewarding.

Think on it.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Playlist

It's been a long time since i had a mix tape or cd. I remember when I was younger and I would pop a tape in the stereo and record my favorite songs off the radio. Haha - this is totally bad but that was before all this sharing, burning, copyright mumbo jumbo started. That was when cds were starting to become popular and I think I got a walkman for Christmas, but was upset because I couldn't record songs on it... I have made a few playlists in my life, some for other people to give away and some for the people I care about. I have never gotten a playlist or a mix tape before. It takes a lot of time and effort into creating one and just the thoughtfulness alone is remarkable.

Have you ever considered making a playlist for your life? What would it look like? Sound like? What would the sequence of the songs be? How would you decide what parts of your life to share? What would you put down for the world to hear and what would you leave out? What lyrics mean the most and what phrases do you want to stick out? 

I have a playlist on a cd playing in my car. There is at least one phrase that jumps out at me in every song. There are parts to the music that I cannot even describe - but they make me feel good. How is it that music can move you? How is it that something as little as a one line lyric can become something bigger than you may live by. 

Sometimes it's hard for us to express how we are feeling in a moment, how someone else makes us feel, or what we want out of life. Sometimes it's easier to use someone else's words. When you hear a song and it expresses how you feel - the lyrics as a whole or just one line take the words straight from your lips - a playlist is perfect. 

If I had to describe my life in a playlist there would be ups and downs - distinct artists and sounds. There would be sad songs, happy songs, love songs, angry songs. But I don't think anyone's playlist would be much different than that. We all go through life trying to be so elusive of who we are and what we are going through. We don't want anyone to know what's going on because we want privacy, security, or something else. The thing is - you are no different than I and I am no different than you. Our stories may be different but at some point in our lives we have all been at the same roadblocks, paths in the road, and in the same sinkholes. 

What gives you comfort? What brings you from that dark emotional or angry place into a happier more satisfying place? What puts a smile on your face and what gives you goosebumps or butterflies? 

For me - its music. I cannot explain it. All I know and always have known is that I feel this deeper connection to what is going on. I can close my eyes and picture it in my head. I can feel the music in my soul. Music can bring tears to my eyes or slap a smile on my face. There is something for everyone and I just cannot shake this feeling of making my own music. 

What if the playlist for my life was made up of all original songs? What if yours was too? What would that look like? What would it sound like? What would it feel like? 

Monday, September 2, 2013

Grace

Your past is your past

I don't want to fix you. I created you. I want just be with you. - God

John 8 tells the story of a woman who was caught in the act of adultery, strewn out in front of the town (likely naked) and accused of her sins in front of everyone. 

Have you ever had your dirty laundry aired out for all to see? Have you ever been drug out in front of the town, naked, ashamed, and vulnerable for all to see? Have you ever been accused and your life threatened because of a wrong that you have done? 

Ultimately the woman was forgiven and shown grace; the favor of God. She walks away and her past is her past. Even after such a wretched scene she can walk freely away with a clean slate. 

So many times in our lives accusations are thrown at us and we have to thwart them off, fight them, or lay in them. Sometimes we can feel like we are on a battlefield - waging war against others or even feel defeated as if the battle is over before it has begun. 

Imagine yourself in this woman's shoes. She was in bed with a man (we'll leave it at that). Her door was suddenly burst through and guards wrenched her from her bed suddenly without warning or cause. She just has enough time to possibly grab a sheet to cover herself, or maybe she doesn't. Drug through the streets, naked, exposed, vulnerable to everything and everyone around her. Thrown onto the ground at the feet of many. Many men who already have stones in hand ready to take her life. Imagine the feelings that would be rushing through you at this very moment. 

GUILT - SHAME - NEGLECT - UNLOVED - LONELY - DIRTY - HURT - LOST - FEAR

Now, imagine what it would feel like if suddenly all of that went away. Because you don't need to be fixed. You were beautifully and wonderfully made. Your past is your past and you can walk away with a clean slate. Wipe all that away and know that you can start fresh and unscathed. 

Many times in my life I have needed a do-over. I sit and think about the dumb/foolish things I have done and I know that I have been shown grace over and over again. I know that I have walked away with a cleaner slate than I began. I sometimes wonder what my life would be like if I didn't have this stirring inside of me to strive to be a better person. 

We don't have to be naked, on the ground, in front of many to feel any of the things listed above. Those emotions come tagging along for many reasons. Maybe we have something in our past we have not forgiven or forgotten. Maybe we are someone different in private than we are in public. Maybe the way we do business isn't the way that would make our families proud. 

I am sure there have been multiple instances in your life when one of those emotions creeped up and swallowed you whole. That is what they do - they consume us. Make us feel less and less, until we feel nothing at all - complete emptiness. 

The funny thing is - it takes only a second to feel whole again. Grace was shown and she was helped up. She was forgiven and she walked away. There are so many situations that I have been shown grace, helped up, and walked away. We struggle with history repeating itself and finding ourselves back in that same place over and over. How is it so that our past can be our past?

I don't want to fix you. I created you. I want just be with you. - God

How solid and reassuring is this statement. Someone that you can depend on who is not trying to fix all the things that are wrong with you because you are different, damaged, or scarred. Someone who will take you for who you are exactly where you are and just be with you. Now that is love. That is grace. That is God. 

What else could you possibly want?