Thursday, April 25, 2013

Tender And I Know It



I’ve been labeled many different things in my life, but the one that has seem to stuck over the years is “tender” (or “tender bear”, if you will). I seem to have developed this reputation of being tender by consistently wearing my heart on my sleeve, and being unafraid to be transparent with my emotions (much to the dismay of my closest friends who’ve had to deal with me at my most tender!). What can I say, it’s just who I am. Whatever I feel emotionally, I feel incredibly strong. I’ll cry at commercials, I’ll laugh way too loud at the movies at a funny scene, I’ll raise my arms and cry hallelujah in Worship at Church. I will write on both sides of your birthday card and tell you how much you mean to me. I’ll cry when I read your birthday message to me. Perhaps I’m genetically predisposed to this condition. My mother and sister are the exact same way. It’s been so serious that we have made it a habit to read our birthday cards alone at home to spare ourselves from the awkwardness of a public tear-fest, as being a “tender bear” is not the most socially acceptable of traits. We’re conditioned by society to stifle away whatever our hearts start to reveal – to tuck away our naivety and vulnerability and wear your poker face. “It’s a dog eat dog world out there,” and  “You’ll never survive with a tender heart like that. Grow a thicker skin” are some common rebukes towards the tender bears of this world. But I disagree. I say don’t tame the tender. Don’t tuck away your vulnerability. To be “weak” is to be strong in my opinion.

A common human response to trauma or painful experiences in life is to harden your heart, to build up a barrier around yourself to deflect any future threats. This self-protective stance may escalate into bitterness, and unwillingness to trust. Or maybe you were always taught that “big girls don’t cry”, so you’ve conditioned yourself to stifle your emotions and hide them away from the world. They are never validated and felt fully, rather they are numbed out and hidden. This path may eventually lead you to completely numb yourself of feeling ANY emotions at all (even the good ones).  My take on this is the opposite. I feel that all emotions are valid (although sometimes unjustified, it still arises for a reason). The more you accept and recognize your emotions as they arise, the more you learn about yourself and the stronger and more self-controlled you become. You learn to avoid pitfalls in life by not acting on sinful emotions (jealousy, lust, envy, resentment, etc), and you gain the ability to truly feel joy and love in the present moment, which is so readily accesible to you. A person that is unafraid of revealing their emotions and vulnerabilities will eventually learn to be compassionate towards others, to love others fully, to be gentle, soft, kind, patient, self-controlled.  Compare this a person who chooses to stifle or invalidate their emotions, wherein they become cold, bitter, resentful, numb. Which of the two people sounds like the stronger person? Hmm….?

I don’t need to tell you that the world we live in is a mad one. Painful experiences and traumatic situations unfortunately are all part of the paths that each one of us is on. We can’t avoid them. We live in a fallen, broken world full of sinners like you and me. Choose to act counter-culturally and continue to be vulnerable. Tender bears of the world unite!  Put on only the armour of God, and live fully and freely, accepting yourself and all that you are every day every hour. Liberate yourself from the chains of bitterness. Let your heart beat wild and free – and wait for the joy to pour into it.  

"To share your weakness is to make yourself vulnerable; to make yourself vulnerable is to show your strength.” – Criss Jami

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Don't Miss Out

 "This is the day that the Lord has made;
    let us rejoice and be glad in it."
Psalm 118:24

It’s Friday evening. You are curled up on the couch with your favorite cup of tea. You are ready to enjoy some rest and relaxation after a long week of work. You are about to scroll through your list of recordings on your PVR, but first decide to scroll through your Facebook newsfeed. That’s when it hits you…BAM!  You quickly discover some of your friends are enjoying a glass of wine at a trendy lounge (hmm. Where was my invite? You wonder…) Then KA-BAM!  Your neighbour posts her photo album from her luxurious vacation in Fiji (*sigh* I wish I could travel more, you ponder...) Then before you pick yourself up from that deflation BOOM! Your co-worker announces her surprise engagement.  That’s it! You’re officially defeated. Your lovely evening of peace and solitude no longer seems as appealing as all of the other fun and exciting things going on with the rest of the people know. Your heart races, your eyes well up in tears, and your stomach twists. What’s wrong with me? You exclaim. I can tell you – you are dealing with a case of FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out).

The New York Times defines FOMO or “fear of missing out,” as “the blend of anxiety, inadequacy and irritation that can flare up while skimming social media like Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare and Instagram.”  This immediate connection to hundreds of people’s lives often leads us to the discontent of our own lives, when they pale in comparison to others. Succumbing to these unhealthy FOMO feelings caused by a virtual world will often penetrate through to real life, and affect the quality of our relationships and how we view ourselves.

It’s important to adapt with the changes that different stages of life will bring you and the people in your life, and not to get caught up in comparing. It seems that we are constantly stimulated through social media and made aware of all the ways our life COULD be different than it is now, instead of simply being grateful for all that we are blessed with currently and enjoying our own personal journey.

The other side of this issue is that when we are suffering from these fears of missing out on something great, we often over-commit ourselves to the point of burn out. We eagerly accept every invite out, we plan event after event to keep our calendars full and exciting, we come home from one vacation and promptly plan the next one. Why can't we just SLOW DOWN? Why can't we be OK with where we are in our life with who is in it? Why can't we just LIVE each day fully and passionately, accepting whole-heartily the fact that we are exactly where we should be, doing exactly what we are doing? Often our expectations of how things should be cause a restlessness in the way things actually are. The more we resist the way things ARE, the more pain and frustration we feel. Less joy. Less peace. "If you could only keep quiet, clear of memories and expectations, you would be able to discern the beautiful pattern of events. It's your restlessness that causes chaos." – Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj

In this day and age, it’s more important than ever to make peace with the peace. Make it a priority to disconnect yourself from the digital world and from engaging yourself into the social lives of others. Live each day joyfully and gratefully. Appreciate the simple pleasures, notice the small things. When you live this way, even the most ordinary routine days are something to celebrate. In my post “Keeping Up”  I spoke about the dangers of comparison. Don’t miss out on your OWN life. Slow down. Trust that God is working in your life right now in the exact moment. Trust His timing, and trust His process. In the meantime, make peace with the peace.
“To live your best life now, you must learn to trust God’s timing, you may not think He’s working, but you can be sure that right now, behind the scenes, God is arranging all the pieces to come together to work out His plan for your life.” - Joel Olsteen


Wednesday, December 19, 2012

He's Coming to Town

He’s making a list, he’s checking it twice! That’s right friends; Santa Claus is coming to town. As the song says, we must be on our best behavior or you just might be on the naughty list this year and get a lump of coal and no presents! Yikes! What a terrifying thought! If that doesn’t strike fear within a child in order for them to behave, I’m not sure what would. Wouldn’t it be nice if there was an adult equivalent to this theory? Something to strike enough fear into us to have us smarten up, straighten out, and prepare for a much-awaited gift? Well I’ve got good news for you… there is!

Although the Mayan’s believe the end of the world is happening on Friday, we can rest assured that Scripture provides otherwise. No one knows the exact date but the Father (Matthew 24:36) but there WILL come a glorious day of Christ’s return. Without diving into what this will all entail (read Revelations if you are curious), instead I thought I could pose this question – if children innocently prepare themselves for the joys of Santa’s gifts, why can’t we also prepare for our coming King? If the world as we know it is to end at some point, why are we not sensing the urgency of this remarkable event that is to take place? I’m not talking about stocking up on bottled water and generators. I’m talking about your life. Why are we not preparing ourselves to meet Him? Are you even remotely ready?

Maybe you are still spiritually searching and this all just sounds strange and scary; let me put it in a different context. Picture this: You are sitting at home in your pajamas enjoying a lazy day in front of the television. You get a phone call from a relative that happens to be in town, you haven’t them seen in years! They are excited to catch up, and wouldn't you know it -  they happen to be in your neighbourhood!!  They annouce that they will be over in 5 minutes – what do you? Well, if you are like most people who are met with unexpected company, that “5 minute warning” will queue you into warp-speed mode! You race around the house quickly cleaning, freshening up, making coffee, and making yourself presentable to your guest! So let me ask you this – if you somehow had a “5 minute warning” before your life as you know is going to change  forever – what would you do with your precious time? How would you prepare yourself? I don’t know about you, but that thought does strike up a sense of urgency inside of me. Here’s what I would suggest that you do in your “5 minute warning” period:

1.    Drop off your baggage: Don’t take your pain with you. What an awful feeling it would be to go through life harbouring feelings of guilt, shame, unforgiveness, and resentment. Seek forgiveness where you need to be forgiven. Forgive yourself. Forgive them. Forgive everyone, everything. Why carry these burdens with you? They weigh you down, they hold you back, they block your heart. Set yourself free. Let it go. Now.
“As smoking is to the lungs, so is resentment to the soul; even one puff is bad for you.” – Elizabeth Gilbert

2.    Bring a road map: Are the days blending into each other? Are you waiting for your “big break” or some other major event to happen in order to feel live again? Take some time to soul-search your purpose in this life. What were you created to do, and why on earth are you not doing it right now? There is a bigger picture, and sometimes it takes tragedies for us to start thinking eternally. Don’t wait until disaster strikes to run to your Savior. I urge you to start the journey today.
“Being successful and fulfilling your life’s purpose are not at all the same thing. You can reach all your personal goals, become a raving success by the world's standard and still miss your purpose in this life.” – Rick Warren

3.    Keep your eyes on the prize: Life can be cruel, unfair, savage. It’s a real war out there – between good and evil. Hold tightly to what is good and True. Stand firm in the faith and put on your battle gear. It was never promised to be easy. This isn’t Heaven after all.
      “From start to finish, this movie is obviously about God. He is the main character. How is it possible that we live as though it is about us?” – Francis Chan

Life is not about how many items you can check of your proverbial bucket list. It’s not about how good of a person you are compared to other people. It’s about so much more. And if you miss that, you miss life. There is unspeakable joy and freedom found in our Lord. Through healing your wounds and living a fulfilled life with direction and purpose, your joy will overflow. And joy is something that should extend far beyond the holiday season. Your 5 minute warning period has already started. Company is coming, and He’s got gifts far better than anything you put on your wish list this year. Get ready.  

Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written in it, for the time is near – Revelation 1:3
 


Monday, November 26, 2012

Mind On Your Manners


“The hardest job kids face today is learning good manners without seeing any.” 


My husband and I were blessed to be able to have our honeymoon in one of the most romantic places on earth – Paris, France. I can go on for hours about the architecture, beauty and romance of this remarkable place, but that’s not what this post is about. Although it was outstanding in so many ways, it took some getting used to the lack of manners and general politeness of some of the locals; they really were quite rude! By the time we returned back to Canadian soil, I had a much bigger appreciation for the warm and friendly people of our Country.

The experience got me to thinking about what sort of rules of manners and politeness we adopt into our everyday behaviours. Although we live amongst generally very friendly and polite people, there are always a few in every crowd that will immediately void that reputation we have. It baffles me at the level of rudeness that some people thrust out every day; it’s hard for me to understand why people live that way. Maybe they simply have got caught up in the bitterness and cruelty that the world may offer and decided to fight back. Maybe they feel entitled to a better life than the one they are currently living, and they want to show their disapproval. Or maybe, just maybe, they simply don’t realize they aren’t practicing good manners.

I’ve thought of a few easy ways you can practice good manners and politeness in your life. Try to catch yourself the next time you find yourself doing any of these, and try to make a change for the better:

-       Do not end a sentence in “so”. It conveys a message of superiority; you essentially one-up your listener. For example, if someone says “I’m really looking forward to my trip to Jasper this weekend, I haven’t been before”, then do not respond with “I’ve been to Jasper several times, so…”. That doesn’t sound very polite does it?   “Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves” Philippians 2:3
-        
-       Don’t snuff your nose up at food, or pronounce your dislike and disapproval of it. Like your mama always told you when you wouldn’t eat your vegetables, there really are starving children in Africa. We are fortunate enough to have an innumerable amount of choices with what we can eat, our options are endless. That is a luxury that many families and children throughout the world will never know. Whether at a restaurant or at someone’s house for dinner, do not let your disapproval for their food be known. If you are allergic, or simply do not prefer something, then kindly don’t take it on your plate. Instead of your disapproval of what is being offered to you, offer your gratefulness of having have food to eat in the first place.

-       Stop complaining. It’s not the most pleasant thing to listen to. We complain about the weather, about our health, about our partners, about our jobs, about our finances, about our kids, about everything! I think people complain so much regularly that they don’t even notice it anymore.  Make an agreement with a close friend to have them hold you accountable to your complaining - for each complaint you put out into the universe put a quarter into a jar. Donate the money to those starving children in Africa.

-       Don’t Gossip. If someone is vulnerable and trusts you enough to share personal information with you, do not share it with someone else, and do not silently rejoice about how much “better off” you are than they are. Do not repeat anything you wouldn’t sign your name to. Maintain your level of trust and integrity in all your relationships. “Gossip is black magic at its very worst because it is pure poison.” Don Miguel Ruiz

-       Don’t put off saying “yes” to an invitation to something only because you want to see if something better comes along first. Or worse, don’t cancel on an invite because something better DID come along. Both show a lack of respect and integrity, and class.

-       Get off your phone when you are speaking with someone face-to-face. I’m sure your Facebook newsfeed can wait a few minutes, but your husband or mother or best friend can’t. Make eye contact, and invest in your relationships. They are the most important asset you can have. (See my post “What About Your Friends” for more on the importance of investing in your friendships.)

-       Pay your dues first. If you owe someone money, stop at nothing to get the money returned to them immediately, not when it is most convenient for you. Again, a matter of trust and integrity. Make arrangements with your gracious lender, and assure them of your repayment if unforeseeable circumstances come up.

-       Don’t start or end a sentence with “no offence”. We are entitled to our opinions and views, but the general idea of thinking before you speak goes a long way in not offending people and avoiding a lot of personal drama. THINK before you speak, is it True, Helpful, Inspiring, Necessary, Kind? If not, then maybe keep that little nugget to yourself.

I know life isn’t always rainbows and butterflies and sunshine, and sometimes it is so hard not to completely forego all of the above suggestions. Make every effort to take the high road and don’t succumb to the all-to-common way of behaving without manners.  All those tiny surrenders to your negative energy will slowly dictate your overall mood and approach to life. Instead, aim to always approach life and all it throws at you with gratefulness, humility, integrity, and class. You will be surprised at how many rainbows you will start to see in your day, once you have the eyes to see them. J
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful. 1Corinthians 13:4-5
 

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

What About Your Friends?


"Be not deceived, bad company corrupts good morals" 1 Corinthians 15:33
When I was growing up in elementary and junior high, I had a hard time finding good friends. At that age, it was more important to me to be friends with someone cool, pretty, or popular, then someone kind, honest, and with good morals. I remember getting in several arguments with my mother about the friends I chose to spend time with. I can still hear her saying “I don’t want you hanging out with that girl. She’s a bad influence on you. You are not allowed to go and spend time with her this weekend. NO!” I would be so livid at my mother, thinking “you can’t pick who my friends are! You don’t know anything! You are sooo mean mom!” Well thank God for my mother. I have carried those high standards through to my adult life, and I am now surrounded by the most genuine, honest, stand-up, life-long girlfriends a girl could ever ask for.  You see, when I was younger I thought it was more important to have 100 “friends” to have fun with and be seen with, because I thought it would make my life seem more fun and fulfilling. As I got older, I realized it truly is quality over quantity, and that the friends you choose to surround yourself with really does play a major role in your future success and quality of life.

Time is such a precious commodity in our lives. We have barely enough time to eat and sleep properly, let alone spend any quality time with our friends. Time is valuable. Time is a gift you can give to someone. Who are you spending your time with? Who do you value in your life? Apart from spending time with my husband and family, I personally choose to spend my spare time nurturing those friendships that continue to grow and blossom, with those friends that are for life.

The old saying is true, people do come into your life for either a reason, a season, or a lifetime. Your future happiness and quality of life strongly rely on your ability to decipher what person fits into which place in your life. I’ve spent many unfortunate years hanging desperately onto partners that were only there for a particular reason (to learn). I’ve also enjoyed summers and winters and entire school-years with wonderful friends that were placed in my life for a short season. Think carefully about who are your LIFETIME people, and chose to prioritize your time with them.

Just as relationships can be toxic and unhealthy, so can friendships. Friendships are relationships just like any other. They are a two-way street, and involve trust, compromise, understanding, honesty, and integrity. Friendships are give and take. Ideally, friendships are a gift from God, given to help you grow, to pick you up when you are weak, to cheer you on when you are rising, to build your character.  Hanging onto unhealthy friendships can cause negative impact on your life. They may hold you back from growing and excelling, they stunt your growth. They may criticize or make fun of you as you make positive changes in your life. When a friendship becomes one-sided, or unhealthy in any way, have the courage to realize that taking a step away and creating boundaries and distance is a very wise decision.

I’ve heard of several instances of people that were on a path to healing from past addictions. As they got clean, they often lost many friends, and found themselves lonely. The friends they had while struggling with addictions no longer had anything in common with them as they went clean. Sometimes, those friends would even discourage them from quitting, and put pressure on them to have “just one more” and to lighten up. The results of keeping these friendships are obvious. In my case personally, as I got older and stronger in my faith, I had firmly in place a set of moral codes and standards that I chose not to sway from. It became crucial to me to surround myself only with people that would hold me accountable to those morals – and not lead me in the other direction.  I had a tough job of establishing boundaries and distance to those people that I felt were unhealthy for me to spend time with, those that would possibly lead me astray, or into a situation that is tempting and against what I now morally allow into my life.

With all of this being said, please take to heart that it does not mean you should be rude to people that were once your friends, or to be disrespectful or unloving in any way to someone who has different beliefs than you. We are called to be the Light of the world, and to love your neighbour! It’s not wrong to hang out with people that are on a bad path, that need a good friend, and to be a positive influence in their life. Rather, it’s more important to have the awareness of what sort of role people are playing in your life, and to maintain your boundaries, and choose how you spend your time wisely.

I cannot say enough about the quality of friends I have in my life. A very small group of women, that have seen me through many of life’s battles. They shared countless fun times with me, they have picked me up off the ground and dusted me off, they challenged me, they helped me to grow, they taught me things about myself and about life, they made me a stronger more patient and compassionate person, they were my biggest supporters when I stepped out into my faith, and they were there wiping tears of joy at my wedding when I moved forward into the next stage of my life. My girlfriends are for a lifetime. And each one has the hugest place in my heart and my life. There is nothing I would not do for my friends. Thank you girls, you know who you are, I love you dearly.

“A friend is one that knows you as you are, understands where you have been, accepts what you have become, and still, gently allows you to grow.”  - William Shakespeare


“Do not set foot on the path of the wicked or
walk in the way of evil men. Avoid it, do not travel on it; turn
from it and go on your way.” Proverbs 4:14-15 NIV

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

A Year of Going His Way

One year ago today, I made a public declaration of my faith in Jesus Christ by being baptised. It was a choice I made for no one but myself, in obedience to what I felt the Lord had placed on my heart to do so. I will never forget the day, sunny without a cloud in the sky, surrounded by my closest friends. By taking this step to rid myself of my past once and for all, I felt so LIBERATED and free, and so excited to start a whole new chapter in my life.

It is exactly one year later today, and I can't begin to list the gigantic changes that have been in my life. I have been transformed in every possible way. I must clarify however - I am still very much ME, with all my quirks and failures and weaknesses, but, there is something remarkably DIFFERENT about myself that I cannot articulate at all. To be in line with God's will for your life is a peace that nothing else in this world can provide you. Lord knows (as do my good friends) that I am a planner, I like details and being organized and prepared. But once I found myself smack dab in the centre of God's will for my life, all my planning worries merely drifted away…as HE made the plans for me.

God's plans are perfect, through and through. My plans are messy, frustrating and complicated. God's plans are simple, easy, like a walk in the park on a sunny day. My plans are stressful, tense, and usually end in tears and arguments. Once I let go of MY plans for my life and let God write the script, the story unfolded gracefully and easily - like a fairy tale come true. You see there are certain things you cannot plan in life. The sooner you surrender your plans to the One who is in control the sooner you are on your way to peace and fulfillment.

I must disclose however - God's plans do not guarantee me a free ride, and a life of unicorns and rainbows. Oh no. Quite the opposite in some respects. But the peace of knowing you are finally in the right spot and right where He needs you to be far surpasses everything else YOU think will be fulfilling to you.

So on this one year anniversary, I just want to give a big HALLELUJAH to the One that set me free! And the least I could do on this special day is share the good news with others, in hopes they may find their way as well. :)

AMEN!!!! xo

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Keeping Up



Then I observed that most people are motivated to success because they envy their neighbors. But this, too, is meaningless--like chasing the wind – Ecclesiastes 4:4
The other day I went for a bike ride with my fiancĂ© around our neighbourhood. We ventured off into some beautiful older areas of the City and saw some stunning homes and landscapes. I would stop and say “Wow! Look at that one!” and in a matter of minutes later I would find myself saying “But oh my, would you look at THAT one!” They kept getting nicer and nicer, more appealing and luxurious. It got me to thinking, when is enough enough? When are we really satisfied with what we have, and do we every really stop wanting to improve and get into something bigger and better? What is really motivating all our hard work in the first place? Are we really just trying to out-do our neighbours, or “keep up with the Joneses”? Looking at one’s neighbour as the standard and benchmark of success will leave you feeling dissatisfied and unsettled, a trap you do not want to find yourself in.

You can simply flip through any magazine or watch any commercial break on tv and you will be met with a steady stream of images which will confirm the fact that there are much nicer houses, cars, outfits, and bodies then yours. No sooner than a few days after you purchase that shiny new car and feel that beaming sense of pride and gratification, will you see someone drive by in the deluxe edition that is just that much nicer than yours. That instant gratification we feel when we buy something new feels great, but alas, wait a little while and it will surely wear off. When we are constantly striving to achieve more and more, it robs us of our joy in the present moment. We are no longer satisfied with what we currently have; we are discontent. We get caught in a hamster wheel when we start comparing ourselves to others, and comparison is the biggest thief of joy. The joy of embracing the things and the people we DO have in our life are overshadowed by what we do not have. “Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for.” - Epicurus

I’ve found that I am most happy, at peace, and content when I take time every single day to thank God for what He has provided to me, and where I am in my life right NOW. The easiest way to do this is to simply write out a Gratitude List. I’m a big list-taker, but this one is the most important over any to-do or to-buy list I’ll ever make! It takes only a few minutes, and is incredibly rewarding. I know what some of you may be thinking – “Yeah sure that’s nice and all, but I’m having a really bad year, everything is going wrong, all these terrible things have happened, I don’t have much to be grateful for right now.” Well I can assure you, I have been there too. There was a time in my life where my gratitude list had items on it like “I’m grateful I have toothpaste” and “I’m grateful I have breathe in my lungs”, when it seemed like I didn’t have a lot else going for me. Being grateful for all that you have will grant you the peace that you so desperately need in order to truly enjoy your life.

Let’s stop this vicious cycle of wanting more and more, and start accepting what we have. Give yourself days filled with joy and peace, not dissatisfaction and discontentment. Soon enough you’ll come to understand what I finally have – that the best things in life are not things. 

"Be content with what you have;
rejoice in the way things are.
When you realize there is nothing lacking,
the whole world belongs to you." – Lao Tzu




Thursday, June 7, 2012

The New Chapter


"Other people are going to find healing in your wounds. Your greatest life messages and your most effective ministry will come out of your deepest hurts.” - Rick Warren
First of all, I want to say HELLO to all my dedicated readers and supporters. It’s been a while since my last post, and I thought I would reconnect with you first by catching you up on where I am and where I am going with this blog.

The last 6 months I’ve been blessed with a completely new stage of life. It is as though all the hard personal work and healing and praying I did for the past year and a half all came to fruition at once. My prayers have been answered in such a way that I cannot even begin to articulate. I feel blessed beyond measure. The only way I can describe this period of my life is “a miracle”. Problems that I thought to be impossible to fix vanished overnight. Questions that I had about how things would ever turn around suddenly made perfect sense. Dreams I would ponder on and add to my proverbial “bucket list” were being ticked off at record speed. Not only did the Lord connect me with my life partner and future husband, He completely transformed every facet of my life in the process. Needless to say, I’ve been on quite the whirlwind of an adventure and haven’t had a lot of time to post on my blog!

With all this being said, I am happy to be in a position again to have some time to share with you. If you haven’t read any posts of mine before, here is an idea of what it’s about:

I’m not a professional writer, I didn’t go to school for this. I don’t know anything about web design or how to make it successful. I don’t have any desire to make money online or sell anything for personal gain. All I know is that God placed it on my heart to serve others through sharing my stories.

I’m an open book. I am transparent and I am not afraid to express anything I’m feeling. Above all, my compassion for others is something I cannot justly articulate. My heart longs for others to live a life of uncommon joy, peace and love.

I don’t claim to know it all, and my life is not perfect. I do know, however, some of the Truths of life that are unchanging. I do know the word of the Lord endures and that my life has completely changed by welcoming Him into my heart and into my life. I do know that some things in life happen so perfectly that they could only be explained as a “divine intervention”. I do know that although we each have the freedom to make our own choices in life, the plans God has for you FAR FAR exceed your wildest dreams and goals. I continue to be shocked and amazed almost every day at how He worked literally every angle of my life together for my good, and far beyond anything I ever thought was achievable in my circumstances.

As my life changes started to arrive, so did the opportunities to put into practice some of the lessons I’ve learned. I will continue to make mistakes and poor choices. I will continue to fail and fall short of all that I know I am called to be. I will never be perfect and neither will my fiancĂ©. This new chapter in my life has blessed me so greatly, and I am also very grateful for the challenges that have and will come up – as I know I am continually being shaped and prepared for even greater things.

It is my goal to have my blog encourage you along your own journey - to help you escape from self-defeating cycles, and to take the high road. To comfort you in knowing you are not alone. To share with you the love that overflows out of my own heart. To inspire you to live a life of inexpressible joy, as I am. I hope you enjoy reading it. J
  
This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! 2 Corinthians 5:17

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The Green-Eyed Monster


“Jealousy, that dragon which slays love under the pretence of keeping it alive.”       – Havelock Elis
We are all familiar with the story: Boy meets girl, they start dating, fall in love. They enjoy the warm fuzzy feelings of newfound love - the butterflies in the tummy, the excitement of new experiences, the anticipation of things to come. This is the fleeting period of time where caution is thrown to the wind and you’re head over heels in love. You feel on top of the world and enjoy the validation of your new identity as a “significant other” to someone else! Fast forward about 6 months, however, and the dynamic has changed. The butterflies in your tummy have been replaced with tight knots. The carefree feelings in your mind have been replaced with paranoia and anxiety. Jealousy has taken its toll and has poisoned your relationship. Your love starts to feed on the required sense of need and possession, as opposed to the freedom and trust it once had. Now your sense of security is at risk. The poison has clouded your judgement. You start to compare, you feel threatened, you imagine the worst-case scenario. The poison of jealousy is getting stronger, and you are teetering on the edge of being altogether toxic. There is a reason why my post, Passion/Poison has been the most-read and shared post of all time – toxic love relationships are dangerously easy to find yourself in; and jealousy is the biggest trap of all.

At its core, I believe jealousy is plainly and simply a personal insecurity. We perceive the appearance, personality, or strengths of others as threats to our own well-being. To have this distorted perception in life is to be lacking in self-worth and value. Maybe you were hurt badly in past relationships, or perhaps you are healing from growing up with an absent parent, or maybe you were wounded by addictions or abuse – the unfortunate truth of the matter is that we all have been hurt and wounded in some way, and we have the emotional scars to prove it.

The problem with letting these past hurts effect our current lives and relationships is that we choose to continue to be a victim. We continue to believe the lie that was told to us in the past that made us start to question our value and worth. You carry the lie with you into relationship after relationship, and therefore the cycle continues. You believe you are unworthy of being treated properly because you were not shown this in the past, so you believe that your partner will find someone better than you to love. This is a lie. This is a poison that will slowly but surely kill your love and your relationship. When you feel that familiar emotion of jealousy creep into your tummy – recognize right away and own the FACT that it is never about the other person, it is always about something deep inside of you that still needs to be healed. Hold yourself accountable for your reactions and turn your attention inward. Replace the lie with truth. “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” Romans 12:21

Along with insecurity, jealousy is often nothing more than the fear of abandonment. Be being jealous, we attempt to control our partner and as such prevent any possibility of getting hurt by them. In order for love to flourish, we need to allow our partner the freedom to be exactly who they are, and this includes allowing them to do anything they choose to do.  Sometimes we think we need to make our partner be a certain way in order for us to remain secure in our relationship. We try to maintain control of them with the clever use of flirting, manipulation, deceit, lies and games.  Sure, this may work temporarily, but it’s only going to get you so far before your partner starts to resent you due to their lack of freedom. Do NOT allow anyone to manipulate you in the name of love. It’s a matter of acceptance of what “is” and trusting the natural order of the universe and the will of God and His plans for you and your partner. “The one who loves you, loves you just the way you are. Because if someone wants to change you, it means you are not what that person wants. You cannot change other people. You love them or you don’t. You accept them the way they are, or you don’t. To try to change them to fit what you want them to be is like trying to change a dog for a cat, or a cat for a horse.” Don Miguel Ruiz, The Mastery of Love.

To cure jealousy is to see it for what it is – a dissatisfaction with self. Do not let this green-eyed monster poison your love and your relationship. Use every instance of jealousy in your relationship as an opportunity to turn your attention inward and heal, and to replace lies with truth. Only then will you truly be able to experience love in the way God intended it be enjoyed – love as a truly freeing and beautiful experience to be shared with not only your partner, but to everyone you encounter in the world.


"Jealousy is simply and clearly the fear that you do not have value.  Jealousy scans for evidence to prove the point - that others will be preferred and rewarded more than you.  There is only one alternative - self-value.  If you cannot love yourself, you will not believe that you are loved.  You will always think it's a mistake or luck.  Take your eyes off others and turn the scanner within.  Find the seeds of your jealousy, clear the old voices and experiences.  Put all the energy into building your personal and emotional security.  Then you will be the one others envy, and you can remember the pain and reach out to them."        ~Jennifer James

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Come as you are


“Our greatest strength as a human race is our ability to acknowledge our differences; our greatest weakness is our failure to embrace them.” – Judith Henderson
There is nothing that aggravates me more than one’s intolerance of another human being. Have you ever been hated just because you are whom God made you to be? That has got to one of the cruelest human acts I can think of. We constantly hear about the horrid details of bullying in schools or through social media. Children and teens have gone so far as suicide they could no longer cope with the unrelenting abuse and attacks of their being. And it doesn’t get better as you get older either. There isn’t an office in business that is without its share of office politics, cliques, and gossiping. Worst of all, there continues to be an underlying tone of intolerance world-wide of different races and religions creating multitudes of injustice, murders and hate crimes. Intolerance is a huge problem, and the problem starts with each and every one of us.

We’re all guilty of raising an eyebrow at the woman walking the street corner, the drug addict or alcoholic making a scene, or the homeless man begging for money. Or maybe you roll your eyes when you encounter people of a certain race or religion and are annoyed by the way they speak, drive, walk or even how they generally interact with others. We already have a pre-conceived notion about this person based on our own personal belief system, and we decide we don’t like them at all; and so it begins. It is much easier to judge and condemn than it is to understand and love. It’s important to understand the “why” in why person is a certain way. If you only took the time to listen to their stories, sometimes filled with tears and shame, you would be ashamed of yourself for not offering these people anything less than sincere compassion. Replace your judgements and criticism with love and acceptance, and you will reap the benefits of doing this. The results will not only bring you inner-peace, but also a moment of peace to the poor souls who are so deserving of it as well.

God sometimes puts different and sometimes difficult people in your life to challenge you, to chisel away at you and make you more like Jesus. Let’s face it - people are going to get on your nerves. People are going to annoy the heck out of you and there are going to be people you just completely dislike altogether. All I ask is that you think twice about what kind of energy and attitude you are expressing in these situations, and ask yourself if you are being intolerant.

When you encounter someone who you find difficult to accept as they are, replace your judgements and criticisms with love and acceptance. Pray for them. Let go of your idea of how people should be and accept them as they are. Acceptance of others brings you an inner-peace and tranquillity, instead of anger and resentment. Poor, sick, gay, straight, black, white, Jew, Muslim, the sinful, the broken, those on the wrong side of the tracks – love them all with the boundary-breaking love of Christ. If we all could only follow His example and love others like He did, there truly would be peace in our hearts, and in this world.

Love does not rejoice about injustice, but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. 1 Corinthians 13:6