Friday, March 11, 2011

You've Encouraged Me!!... Signed, Anonymous

Ever been so encouraged by someone, yet they don't have the tiniest clue???

Frequently this happens in my life.

I stumble across a profile as I'm aimlessly surfing facebook in the boredom of my afternoon. 

Look at her. She's so beautiful! There's a light in her eyes. About me: realizing that instead of serving others I ultimately need to serve the Lord. Favorite quotes: a Bible verse. Religious views: Jesus Christ. Notes about me: wanting/needing to grow closer to the Lord. 

I read this and I desire the exact words she has typed. She is not only gorgeous on the outside, she is a beautiful woman on the inside, I just know! 

Instantaneously I search my heart. Where are my priorities? Who am I serving? Am I striving to deepen my walk with my Savior? I say I want these things, I say I am a Christian, but am I walking the walk? 

I have been encouraged. Does she even know? No....and in all honesty,  I think it's incredibly beautiful that she is oblivious. 

I have been challenged by this woman. She gave me a little "boost", if you will, to keep on keeping on.

Life is full of valleys for us as Christians. We are imperfect human beings; we are never expected to be perfect. We fall, we fail, we stumble. Yet, we also succeed, rejoice, run, and make great strides up to the mountaintop of faith! Oh what bliss when we feel close to our heavenly father. 

Lately, I feel as though I haven't given the Lord the time he deserves. I allow distractions to come in my life from the time I open my eyes to the minute my head hits the pillow. Now, don't get me wrong distractions are a wonderful gift in the midst of a busy day, but discipline is needed. In order to grow in the Lord, one must spend time with the Lord. 

I find that distractions keep me from seeking my Heavenly Father, but more so, I find that my imperfections and areas in my life that I don't have "quite right" stop me from growing in my faith. When I know there's a struggle, I back away....

Hmm... That's interesting since Jesus is the epitome of grace and mercy. Grace and mercy allow me to come freely before the Lord with blemishes, bruises, scars, scrapes, breaks, tears, bumps, and yes, even messed up hair! I don't have to be perfect! All I have to be is me. You know, he DOES already know everything....

This girl, who will remain anonymous, encouraged me beyond words the other day. Her simple facebook statements, reminded me that I can come openly before my heavenly father just as I am. I don't have to be perfect. (She's not perfect either.) I cannot let my imperfections stop me from deepening my walk. When I come, just as I am, the Lord honors my honesty. Even when I feel like I'm not willing to give up a certain area of my life to him, he knows...he sees...and I truly believe he understands. He desires for me to completely surrender, but does see my heart seeking him still even when I'm holding on to that one thing. What he wants is for you and me to come before him with all our messed up lives and open ourselves to him. We are not made to "figure it all out"before we come into his presence. 

So, I stand today saying, I will come before the Lord and seek him despite my failures and despite the areas of my life I don't always feel ready to surrender. I won't allow my imperfections to distance me. I love him, he is worthy, and he deserves an open honest heart who longs to know him more. I will seek him in the midst of the dirt, scum, and grime and he can work out the details! :)

Let's try to live a life where others might be able to say "You've encouraged me!! Signed, Anonymous"...even if it has to be through something as silly as facebook!

Monday, February 28, 2011

Faith Arriving at the "T"

Life is a journey. A journey full of winding roads that, at times, abruptly come to a "T". There is no more moving forward; all that's left is a choice. Shall I turn right or shall I turn left?

Sometimes we don't have time to think clearly before deciding which way to turn. We are left to follow our gut feeling, hoping the decision made will provide the best outcome.

Over the past couple weeks, I find myself having arrived at that dreaded "T". There is no road ahead, only road on either side. I must choose. I have to decide. I can't stay idle, or I will for sure run out of gas. But what to do!? Either way provokes a slight sense of fear. I can either turn the wheel to the left and be "______" or I can maneuver to the right and be "_________". Grrr.... Nothing seems too promising in my mind. I realize my inclination to try and bury this dreadful decision, hoping that it may just vanish before my eyes.

Yet, reality is, it lingers. Frustrations arise. Stress reaches a new high. I pace back and forth wondering, just wondering. I feel so constrained. No doors are being opened, but at the same time doors are not necessarily being closed.

Finally, I feel a slap across the face. Reality check numero uno. "Turn to me!!! Let me give you peace. REMEMBER me!" In the midst of my tears, fears, stresses, and messes I forgot to turn to my heavenly father. My mind calms down just enough to hear the holy spirit whisper the softest, but most powerful words, "Trust me." At once, although faint, a sense of peace washes over me. "Trust me."

Although my walk with the Lord has some deep valleys, I have boldly stated that my faith doesn't teeter. I may not be on a mountaintop, feeling on fire for God, but I have never once believed that he is not there or that he does not care. My faith is so strong-I believe!!! I know!!

However, arriving at this "T" took me back a step last night. Even though my faith never died, I realized I was far from depicting a woman of faith. Worry. Fear. Stress. Frustration. + relying on myself for answers did not equate to faith. I was reminded ever so clearly that faith means FIRST and FOREMOST  leaning on God and expressing my fears, frustrations, and worries to him. For I find rest in him and him alone.

You see, I believe I have faith half right, but the other half is a work in the making. True, I never once have doubted my faith in the Lord. I believe that he is real, that he is good, that he is love, that he is peace, that he came for you and for me, and that he cares about every detail of our lives. I got it; 100% got it. I believe! (Step one.) On the other hand, though, faith is action-oriented. To be a person of faith, you must act. To act in faith means to act on what you believe. It's the next step. For me, it would mean to approach a situation resorting to God first because he is a God of peace who is GOOD. Turning to him, because I have faith (believe) that he is in control and wants the best for me, will result in my best interest because God has my best interest at heart. In a nutshell, faith is believing, but beyond believing faith is doing.

So to continue on in my journey of faith, I want to refresh my mind with some verses to remind me of God's faithfulness and his promises:

"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." Psalm 23:1-3a

"I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you." Psalm 32:8

"Be still and know that I am God." Psalm 46:10

"Therefore do not worry about tomorrow for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." Matthew 6:34

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God." Philippians 4:6

I could go on and on, as there are countless verses teaching us about God's faithfulness. However, I will stop here and encourage you to, instead of breaking down and stressing out....

have faith arriving at the "T" in your life.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

The Beauty of Transparency's been months since I have posted. Inspired last night by my beautiful sister who "picked up the pen", I decided maybe I should try and restart what I thought was going to be my new hobby back in September. Like my sis, I believed blogging could be a therapeutic escape. Yet, my seemingly great idea soon fell face first on the ground. A total of four posts and my awesome, "therapeutic" hobby came crashing down! Oops...

Thanks to "happy bean" I'm going to brush off the dust and pick myself back up! So here we second attempt at a great journey....


If I were to ask you to share your first thought after I said the word transparency, how would you respond?

Fear? Beauty? Impossibility? Freedom? Arrogant?

Maybe these words came to mind for the following reasons:

Fear- Unveiling yourself might make you want to curl up in a ball and hide under a desk, hoping never to be found.

Beauty- Showing the true self to another, might have proved to be the most beautiful aspect of one of your relationships.

Impossibility- There is no way someone can be completely transparent, I mean, some things you just have to keep to yourself.

Freedom- Being real gives you a sense of freedom within relationships.

Arrogant- A person who exposes their core seems arrogant to me, like they are striving for attention.

I find that in life I have probably held all of the previously mentioned thoughts and feelings. However, over the past few years, one word has proven to be real in my life more so than any other. Beauty.

I love honesty. I adore realness. I thrive on knowing people to their core. I cherish depth in a relationship. I find beauty in transparency.

I have a beloved friend whom I met in college, EL. She and I have the most transparent relationship I have ever experienced. We share our fears, our joys, our struggles, our accomplishments, etc. with one another without hesitation. There is no shame. There is no judgement. There is only love, encouragement, and a listening ear. EL is transparent with me and I am transparent with her.

There has been immense beauty in our friendship because of the transparency we both possess. Now, don't get my wrong, I know transparency isn't easy and sometimes there are prices to pay if we choose that path. For example, we could be rejected. We could be condemned. We could be the brunt of coarse jokes as well as many other horrible things. However, when transparency is proven right, there is such beauty in the outcome.

Lately, I have been blessed with another friend ST who has shared her heart and her life with me in such an amazing way. She tells me her struggles, her boundaries, her fears, her thoughts, her confusions, her joys, her silly moments, her crazy dog stories, EVERYTHING. She has been transparent in our deepening friendship.

Both EL's and ST's stories have allowed me to see the beauty of transparency. Our relationships have blossomed in tremendous ways. We have connected far deeper than that skin deep, superficial connection many acquaintances and some friends have. We have exposed the depths of who we are, risking being ridiculed and condemned, in order to chance being loved and accepted. Let me tell you, being loved and accepted after exposing your struggles, mistakes, fears, and failures is the most joyful feeling you will ever experience. It is at that point you know you have a true friend.

Everyone needs that person to lean on whom knows them inside and out. I believe girls need other girls and guys need other guys. We need support. We need encouragement. We need to be loved despite what may be going on in our life. We are not meant to be in life alone.

I am thankful for having such a transparent conversation with my friend ST today. She is a gem whom I will never forget. I love her with all my heart. Thank you, ST!

I encourage you to be wise, but to offer the gift of transparency to a friend today. May you find the beauty of transparency that I have!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Letting the Lord Lead...

Surprised, my mind comes to an abrupt halt.

Ever been thrown for a complete loop, totally unexpected?

Raising my hand, I join in agreement that this has been an experience I have encountered. In all actuality, just recently I have been stopped dead in my tracks with no warning as to what my mind was on the verge of pondering.

Where in the WORLD did this come from?

You try to shut the thought out as it cannot be true. I mean, would not I of taken small notice prior? You wonder, don't you?

It is what it is, so now it's time to deal with the cold, hard facts. You think. You reflect. You question. You look for a way to either negate or affirm what is rushing through your mind.

Will you ever come to conclusions? Is it a matter of time before you can stand with boldness and say whether the thought that stopped you dead in your tracks actually held validity?

But I always told myself no. I closed the blinds on this idea long ago. Surely my mind is playing games.

Yet, you sit and try to quiet your heart realizing the thought still lingers. You were not the instigator. If you were then certainly you would have perceived this long ago. Does that mean it's something deeper? Is there another hand involved?

Personally, I believe when life throws you curve balls or when wild ideas, out of no where, slip into your mind, you must stop and evaluate, reflect, and pray. Completely unexpected events can prove to be the mighty work of the Lord. I've heard life happens when you least expect it. Maybe it's one of those moments...

As I continue to teeter with my life's curve balls, I am letting the Lord lead....will you do the same?

Thursday, September 23, 2010

I Love Him so Much it Hurts...

She quoted him saying, "I love him so much it hurts."

A little boy of almost two, toddles to and fro melting my heart day by day, minute by minute, second by second. Maybe it's the blue eyes and blonde hair. Or it could be those cheeks! How cubby and cute! But wait, that smile...oh the smile that gets me every time. I could go on and on....and on and on...and on and on.

The love from a child...

None will ever compare!

I have been accused more times than I can count on my fingers and toes, that I will never pass a child without saying something to the effect of...."Awe! Look!!! He/She is so cute!!!!!" If every time I secretly wished to bring a child home with me came true, I would need mansions (yes, you heard right mansions plural) in order to have enough room.

Ever since I was a tot myself, I have been exceptionally crazy about babies. Initially the craze was baby dolls. What do you want for your birthday? A baby doll. What are you going to ask Santa for? A baby doll. You deserve a special treat today, what would you like? A baby doll. How many baby dolls can a girl have? Never enough!

 As the years progressed, the baby doll stage phased out. I found myself yearning instead for a little one in the family. A baby in the family would at least mean I could receive some tangible, real-life baby time! I wanted to hear the "coos" and "caas". I wanted to breathe in that one of a kind sweet baby smell. And yes, I even wanted to change a real poopy diaper.

Move forward a few years....The question now was how many kiddos could I track down to babysit? It took a few families and a handful of not so positive babysitting experiences, before I landed upon a family of four that will forever be remembered and forever be imprinted on my heart.

Two young boys. One about a year. The other about three. The youngest crawled around, chubby as a "chunky monkey", with a bottle hanging out the side of his mouth. The other cute as a button whose words on the first night were "cuddle me". He knew how to break down the walls a girls heart at quite a young age, if I do say so myself. I was in love from the moment I laid eyes on these two boys.

Six years passed with these guys at my side. Numerous times I heard the mom consider me part of the family. I was at their house nearly every Friday and Saturday night. Great memories were made, some which include, the youngest tossing a bowl of spaghetti on his head, going for a bike rides, watching Disney channel, having water balloon fights, making Christmas cookies, and racing Yoshi and Mario on Game Cube's MarioKart. Each night, however, ended the exact same way.....falling asleep with one or both of them by my side, on a palate in the family room at 930 pm. Pure bliss!

These two boys have forever touched my life. I was never fulfilled as I felt I always needed to see them again. Although their love was an amazing gift, I always wanted more...and more...and more. I loved them as though they were my own. They were "my boys".

Years have passed since I last watched "my boys". The absence of them in my life has forced me to search for ways to fill the void left within my heart. Pediatric nursing seemed to be a good start. Kids every day? Yes please!! What more could I want?? What more could I ask for??

Well, God blessed me with a great job. I see children of all ages at least three times a week. However, the fact is, I want a lot more. I desire those intimate ties between a child and myself; ties I cannot get being a nurse. Although pediatric nursing is great, I presently find myself longing for something so much richer.

Over the past eight months I developed a relationship with an amazing family. First they were a family of three, now they're a family of five. Three kids two and under. A little boy of two and a twin girl and boy of nine months. My heart hit the jackpot! This family has been and continues to be such a blessing. The children give me happiness I cannot explain. My heart overflows with love and joy whenever I am face to face with these angels.

Yet, two months have passed since I have seen this family and my soul is so empty! I miss these little ones more than you know, more than you can imagine! When, oh when might I see them again???? I am longing once again for more.......

The reactions and deep feelings I have for all the children of the families mentioned above are unable to be expressed through writing. They reach to the core of who I am. They saturate my soul. They leave me yearning for something greater. Yet, they are not even my own biological kids! I am in awe. If I love them this much, then what will I feel when I have children of my own?

Fervid! I will be fervid! Maybe even fervid x 10000, if that's possible! :)

I cannot wait for the day I become a mommy. The minute I discover there's a little one inside words can express what I will feel. Just be ready, because you will probably hear the loudest cry of excitement you have ever heard in your life.

This day will come, for I am hopeful, believing, and trusting. One day I will be a mommy and I will experience on a much greater level what it means to love a child. Although I genuinely feel this now, the day will come when I will be saying "I love him so much it hurts" with a whole new meaning.

I encourage you to allow children to bless your life, for you might find YOURSELF saying, "I love him so much it hurts"....

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Pray Before it's too Late...

Funny how things just "seem to fit"at certain crossroads in life...

I've been yearning to overcome a dry spell in my spiritual walk for a great length of time... I've welcomed even the smallest drinks of water with extraordinary gratefulness. I have felt distant, empty at times, and frustrated beyond words. However, over the past couple weeks I have noticed an ever so slight pull at the strings of my heart; a tug that is attributed to none other than my heavenly Father. This gives me great hope....a trusting spirit.....and a believing mind.

Late yesterday evening proved to be one of those "pull at my heart" days. Life lately has been nothing short of a drama between a friend and I whom I hold dear to my heart. (Take note...I hate drama.) I've struggled for days upon days trying to come to terms as to why our friendship is so hard. Yet despite my frustrations and agitations, I feel it's so worth the battle. A battle I'm willing to fight....A friendship I'm willing to save.

No one said a battle would be easy. In fact, I would argue the midpoint of a battle is the most challenging time. Maybe even the most painful. What now? How do we move ahead? When will we come to see eye to eye? What does he/she think? Questions pile upon one another and before you know it, a mountain clouds your mind of clear, rationale thinking. You become vulnerable. You fear what lies before you. You are uncertain. . . . . All equating to a road of doubtful thinking.

Vulnerability + doubtful thinking = Attacks from Satan

My life Monday, September 20th, 2010, 9:10 p.m.

Overwhelmed with a sense of inadequacy in regards to friendships and relationships, I called out to friends expressing my need for prayer. Through a battle I became vulnerable. Once I became vulnerable, I fell into Satan's trap of doubting my abilities to be a friend to others. Stemming from a particular circumstance, I found these thoughts of inadequacy crossing over into my other friendships. It was a snowball effect that ultimately led me face down in my pillows crying out for help. I KNEW I was under attack. Just when I started to feel God's presence more in my life, Satan got me. He knows the perfect time and place...he KNOWS when we are yearning for God and seeking his face...and that's when he strikes.

I praise the Lord for friends who care. Friends who will say a short pray. Friends who will call to encourage you. Friends who tell you, "you are a great friend and I love you." Friends who are there RIGHT when you need them. There's no other way to explain how four people were at their phones exactly at 915 pm last night,when a text of desperation came through other than to say it was God's mighty hand. I thank him for not ever giving up on a child who is dry and weary, but one who is yearning for even a splash of water.

Pray before it's too late...
To overcome this dry spell, I am trying to get at least a small bite of spiritual food daily. After work, I clicked on the Joyce Meyer link on my favorites page to find the title of the daily devotion, "Pray Before it's too Late." Before even reading this, I stopped mid-thought and remembered last night. If I am honest with myself, I believe I prayed before it was too late. I took notice of the devil's attack and called out to my brothers and sisters in Christ for help. We are all in the walk together, to encourage, to love, to motivate, to lean on, to pray for...before it's too late. Take note when Satan is stirring in your heart and do not be afraid to call out for prayer.

I am ever so grateful that God put these exact words of this devotional on Joyce Meyer's website today, at this particular crossroad in my life just "seemed to fit".

Monday, September 20, 2010

Picking up the "pen"...

I pick up the "pen" today to begin a new journey.... 

My thoughts run wild as I contemplate the pros and cons to such a modern day, computer-driven world concept such as blogging. I've always been a "let it all out" type person when it comes the matters of the heart as I thrive on genuine transparency. Yet, I stand back pondering the question of how much is too much to share? Do I dare reveal my inner being under an alias name? What if...., What if...., What if.... And certainly, is it safe? However, as many questions that might come to mind, I cannot help but believe this truly might be therapeutic for a girl like me. 

Girls yearn to express themselves. It's a fact of life. Through countless conversations with dear friends, that statement has proven itself true. I am not an exception. I long to express, hope to be understood, and wish for the reciprocal. With that said, I'm picking up the "pen" and seeing where it will lead....