A Lasting Legacy

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Another theme that has been running through my life lately has been “living with the end in mind.” I’ve heard these words many times and didn’t really pay much mind. In fact, it seemed a bit morose to think about death. Picking up “Living the Intentional Life” brought to life why it is so important to think NOW about what kind of legacy I want to leave behind.

When you are up to your neck in survival mode and busyness, it is difficult to think about “things that last.” You just want to keep trying to put one foot in front of the other without tripping. I have been in and out of this mode for longer than I’d like to be. When this year began, I picked the word “Forward” to focus on. I desire to look ahead instead of staying stuck in the pastin mistakesin failures. I don’t want to let those things cause me to flitter the days away and cause me to say things like, “Where has this year gone?”

This book reminded me that it is never too late to re-create the life you want to live. To live with passion and purpose. To make a positive impact on the world around you. We need to stop just taking up space on this planet and start being people that make the world a better place because we are in it. Each day we are given is a new chance to focus on our legacies. To focus on what we are called to do regardless of the life stage we are in.

Don’t wait until _______ to be the person you want to be known for or do what makes you excited to get out of bed in the morning. Start doing it NOW!

Learning from my Moments

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There has been a recurring theme throughout the last few months. Am I living the life I want or am I letting life live me? Am I being purposeful with the days I’m given?

Life can be full of twists and turns. I’ve noticed that I did not live out the first half of the year as well as I could have (or should have). Relationships are different. Dreams are still just beyond my reach. I’ve been frustrated and disappointed. Sometimes acting like a two year old and throwing temper tantrums. 🙂

There were also some amazing momentslike “Friendpalooza 2014” in April which included spending 2 weeks from Nashville to CA with my best friends and ended with this moment….

 

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My people… they are beyond amazing!

As always, spending time with the people that know me best, left me refreshed and ready to press into whatever adventure was next. To move forward in spite of setbacks and delays. While on this trip, I began reading “Moment Maker” by Carlos Whittaker. This book talks about looking at all the various moments in life and making the most of them not only for ourselves but for those around us.

Sometimes our moments crash and burn at the speed of a fighter jet plummeting toward earth in a fireball. At that velocity, sometimes there is nothing else you can do besides eject, but if you can hold on, sometimes you are presented with an even more incredible moment than what you thought was possible.

Those words just washed over me and caused me to pause, realizing that I just needed to hold on. Pushing the eject button is easy, holding on takes courage.

If you are in a season of feeling like things are crashing around you, or that you have spent time messing up moments for those around you, please realize that as long as you are on this earth, no moment has to be final. There are second chances; ways that you can take moments by the teeth and create something much better. Be present in the moments that you have. Don’t let life just pass you by, but be an active participant!

 

If you want to check out Moment Maker for yourself, you can buy it here.

You Matter

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Do you struggle with feeling invisible? Getting picked last for the team, your invitation for the big event gets “lost in the mail,” or your social media sites can go days, weekseven months without any interaction. Do you find it hard to “have a voice”? To let people know how you feel and what you think?

One of my earliest memories was my fourth birthday. I recall walking into the kitchen after playing outside with my friends and seeing my mom and next-door neighbor making my birthday cake. To my horror, I noticed that PEEPS were being placed all over the cake. (I hate PEEPS) My first instinct was to say something, and hope that this oversight could be made rightsurely my mom knew I wouldn’t eat those and would agree that we can take those off of my cake. I was wrong. As soon as I voiced my opinion, I was told to keep quiet and eat the cake because something nice was being done for me.

For so long I would look back on that moment and think that I was a selfish little girl. I should have been grateful that someone would have worked hard to make something special for me. Now, I look back and realize that it also helped shape me into a people pleaser and someone who has a difficult time speaking her mind for fear of hurting others. I believed that I was making others happy by not speaking my mind. I believed that making others happy was more important than my wants being validated. Therefore, at my worst, it is easy for me to shrink into the background, and be invisible in any situationto simply let life happen around me instead of having the bravery to call my own shots.

This goes against the life that God has called us to. Each one of us is called to live a life with purpose; to know that your story (no matter what your story is) needs to be told. You (and I) have significance and need to share that with the world (and/or the person next to you). Personally, I’ve seen time and time again that when I am vocal about my opinions and participate in the conversation, I have been instrumental in seeing positive change happen around me. Dreams come to fruition. Life becomes greater than I could have possibly imagined. These things serve as reminders that I (and YOU) matter. Don’t shrink back from what you believe, feel, want. Have the bravery to step into the person you are meant to be!

 

 

 

A New Light on Grace

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Last week, I was reading about Jesus hanging out at a friend’s house and a woman named Mary started pouring perfume on him. (This was just a few days before He went to the cross) Not a new story to me. I’ve read this several times, so it’s pretty easy to just let the words flow on the page. Yet, as I was readinga few words leapt off the page and have rocked my thinking. This is part of John 12:6:

but because he (Judas) was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it.

Hold up! We know Judas was the one who betrayed Jesus. So, he has always gotten that “dirty bird” reputation in my mind, but his betrayal was happening long before the Cross. He was STEALING from Jesus and the other disciples. That is insane to mebut that is just the beginning of my head spinning.

So let me get this righthere’s this guy, Judas, who is stealing from Jesus (and it sounds like this was normal for him to do) and yet right up until the very end, he was still in Jesus’ inner circle. He was STILL a disciple! John (another disciple) wrote the verse above, so obviously this information was known by the other guys and yet, Judas is STILL hanging out with them. STILL in charge of the money.

As I read thisone word washes over my mind over and over…

GRACE.

This isn’t grace as I’ve known it. This is above and beyond anything I can imagine. It brings a whole new picture of Jesus to me. He kept someone in His life who was hurting Him over and over. Judas was allowed to learn more about Jesus. He was part of so many amazing miracles that happened during Jesus’ time on earth. He wasn’t turned away. He wasn’t told to get his life together and come back into the fold afterwards.

I’m not a person who extends grace well. And now I realize, how poorly I show grace to others. If I want to live my life as Jesus did, I need to keep loving in the face of hate. My life needs to be a good example to those around me no matter the circumstance. I need to be better at extending grace.

Why I don’t Practice Lent

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Rip the wickedness out of your hearts; don’t just tear your clothing…. Joel 2:13a (The Voice)

Like many people who didn’t grow up in a Liturgical church, I had no clue what Lent was until college. During this time of searching for my own beliefs about God and the church, I dove head first into this new practice. I loved the idea of giving something up in order to focus more on God during the Easter season.

After a couple years, I found that I was making Lent an idol. That it somehow made me look good in front of other people to say that I was currently giving up ______. Because I could go a whole 40 days without _______ that I was “super spiritual.” No one knew that on the inside I was still the same person; I still had bad attitudes. My “sacrifice” wasn’t always drawing me closer to God or making me focus more on that relationship.

I still love the Easter season. I love focusing on what this time of year means to me as a Christian (and it’s pretty cool that it happens in the Spring when new life is popping up all around us). I just feel like this should be my focus all throughout the year. That I can make sacrifices any time and I don’t have to share that with anyone. Even more so, God doesn’t just want sacrifice, He wants my love. He wants a relationship that goes beyond what I can give upbut what I can add into my life. More love. More compassion. More gratefulness.

It’s not my outward practices that matter, but the state of my heart.

Has there been a spiritual practice that no longer makes sense to you? What did you do about it?

True Value

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It is easy to fall into the trap of finding our value and identity in things outside of ourselves: our friends, our career, our relationship status. When those things are chugging along just fine we feel like we can take on the world. When the thing we put our identity in comes tumbling down, it’s easy to feel like the walls are closing in. I have been there many times. I can look back and see those moments so clearly. I can also look back and see how each and every closed door led to something beyond my wildest dreams.

Losing the job that I had wanted most of my life, the fading friendships, and the unrequited crushes were all things that God used over the years to get my attention. They were lessons of how I was putting my value in something other than myself and how God sees me. Thankfully, I learned to allow those things to springboard me into a life full of crazy adventure. I still have to learn over and over that when I allow God to dictate my value, it is easier to take life in stride and not get caught up in what is not happening.

A few years ago, I stumbled upon the Twitter account of “The Single Woman.” Most of you know that I’m pretty anti anything to do with singleness. I like feeling as if I’m enough and if I don’t think about the fact that I’m single, then everything is a-okay. 🙂 Needless to say, I wasn’t expecting a whole lot from this Twitter page, but found that it was full of encouraging tidbits and wisdom. It was a breath of fresh air.

I had the chance to read her latest book, “I’ve Never been to Vegas, but my Luggage Has” and again, it was a breath of fresh air. The reader is invited to catch a glimpse of Mandy’s life with all of its adventures, and ups and downs. You see her victories and failures and all the lessons along the way. This book is not only encouraging and challenging for fellow singles, but for anyone with a dream they are running after.

This book releases TODAY and I would encourage you all to grab a copy ASAP. You can get your copy at most bookstores or Amazon.

 

 

Prosperity: Good or Bad or Something Else?

So the other day, I was listening to a sermon and misread the upcoming bible verse my pastor was going to be talking about. I turned my Bible to the verse I thought it was and came across this…

1 Timothy 5:17-18

Church leaders who do their job well deserve to be paid twice as much, especially if they work hard at preaching and teaching. It is just as the Scriptures say, “Don’t muzzle an ox when you are using it to grind grain.” You also know the saying, “Workers are worth their pay.” (CEV)

In other versions “paid” also says honored, respectetc. I find it quite interesting that the CEV says paid because don’t we normally see our value in a “job” by what we are paid. Don’t we feel honored when we are paid for a job well done? This brought a couple things to my attention.

The Church has been notorious for going on the attack when we see a pastor making the “big bucks.” We immediately look for what they could be doing wrong or that their motivation is. I totally include myself in this. I have been quick to judge when a certain pastor was all over the place. He had a best selling book with all kinds of products surrounding said bookour culture was gravitating toward the message and had made every kind of product you could think of reflecting sayings from this book. It wasn’t until years later, when I took the time to actually listen to this person’s sermons, blogs, tweets, etc., that I saw the ministry and life change happening around him. I was wrong to judge.

I realized that maybe; just maybe, God was providing a platform and success for this person because he was doing God’s work, spreading the message of Jesus.

I don’t subscribe to the “prosperity gospel.” (According to American culture, my life pretty much reflects the opposite of prosperity.) I don’t believe that my or anyone else’s “lack of” is tied to an amount of God’s love or blessings. Most of my life, I was one of those people that thought being in ministry was all about sacrifice, not having “nice” things, yet the more I dig into God’s word I see that is not always the case.

Our church budgets should prioritize preaching and teaching: 1 Timothy tells me that our pastors, evangelists, missionaries should be well cared for as they are preaching and teaching. As lay workers, we should want to honor these people that are reaching others on a larger scale that we can.

In my time as a booking agent, the one phrase that I have heard from youth pastors more than any other (and the one that grates on my nerves) is, “So how little can we pay so and so to do my event?” I get we all have these icky things called budgets that we have to operate under and youth ministry budgets are normally among the lowest in the church. I just find it sad that instead of seeking how we can most honor someone, we want to go for the deal. We expect sacrifice, but do we realize that ministers have families to feed and bills to pay just like anyone else. If a priority of your church is outreach, then your budget should reflect that whether in doing special events or finding out of the box ways to love on your community. Also, by making sure that our preachers are making as much as we can afford allows your pastors to focus on the task of preaching and teaching.

The Church needs to do a better job of celebrating each other and caring for each other so no one is in need. Yes, there are some bad apples in the bunch, but let’s not allow that to make us suspicious of everyone in ministry that has that big house or nice car. At the same time, let’s make sure our ministers are all able to have their needs met and are able to provide financially for their families.

 

Never Say Never

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I have learned once again to never say you will never do something. Whether good or bad, it will come back to bite you. Last month, when the Scarlet Heart Editor mentioned that they were still looking for articles for the Feb. Valentines issue, I knew I was in trouble.

I hate talking about being single. In recent years, I’ve shut out anything in my life that talks about singleness…books, blogs, dating sites…you get the picture. I figure “out of sight, out of mind.” Little did I know that God had plans to break me of this stubbornness. It was time to take the leap and write about the one subject I said I would never write about. Time to truly put myself out there and share what I’ve learned and am learning during this time of life.

It’s that time of year again. Stores are decked in pink and red, and hearts galore. Commercials for flowers, jewelry, or cute personalized M&M’s flood TV screens. Yep, it’s almost Valentine’s Day. This day brings many different feelings to people. Some look at it as just another Hallmark-created day to get more cash out of the consumer. Some love the day and get all giddy about being able to have a special day to show their loved ones just how appreciated they are. Others can’t wait for the day to go away. They feel left out and even more alone than normal.

Join me over at Scarlet Heart and read the rest of the article over there.

 

What is something you’ve been asked to do that was totally out of your comfort zone?

Find Your Rest

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I am not so good about resting. You know, that intentional rest where you come out of it feeling revived and ready to conquer the world. When I say I’m resting, it’s more like just falling over in exhaustion and engaging in mindless activity. There is no feeling of relief. No feeling as if the weight of the world is being lifted, it’s just a few moments or hours of nothingness.

True rest is taking time to realign yourself. It’s getting back to your foundation. I am actually the most rested when I’m engaged in something that makes me come alive. Sometimes, it’s reading a book that speaks into my life, or spending time in God’s creation.

The beach is definitely one of my happy places. Last winter, I was able to spend a long weekend in So Cal. On my last day there, I decided to find the 101 and drive down the coast from Northern LA back down to Orange County. After a few missed turns and traffic adventures, there was the 101 and I hit Santa Monica. It was 7am…the place was a ghost town and it was so peaceful. Just some janitors, the seagulls, and me. I spent a few minutes watching the waves crash to the shore, letting my toes dig into the sand, and just spent some time being “still.” Serenity.

Unfortunately, I don’t live near a beach. I have to be a bit more intentional in my every day life to rest. Life can get really stressful. My job has many demands on my time and energy with ten new things added to the to-do list for every one that I accomplish. I’m learning to take time to read even just a chapter of a book or a few verses in the Bible, or roll around the floor with my dog, or have a life giving conversation to realign my focus.

It is very easy to just allow life to get in the way. To keep grinding away until there is little to nothing left. You can get lost in the hustle if you aren’t careful. Don’t let that happen to you. Be determined to find the time to rest and reboot.

Where do you find your rest?

 

This post was inspired by the Luminous Project. Luminous is a creative spiritual event in Nashville May 6-8, 2014. To find out more, check out luminousproject.com. You can use the promo code ‘BLOGtour14‘ to get 15% off the registration price. 50 spots available with code.

Welcome to 2014. The year of forward.

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I am so excited to take another year to participate in One Word 365. This tribe has taught me the importance to not just make “resolutions” each year, but to have a word as a lens through which you look at your year in a new and special way.

As I looked back yesterday at how “Anticipate” shaped my 2013, I realized the next step in my journey. It has made the hard times easier to have a new sense of hope; to know that the negative doesn’t have to define me if I keep looking ahead and hoping for the positive. Admittingly, this is not the easiest thing to do. It is natural to take the setbacks in life and allow them to set you back.

When a dream you have still has not come to fruition.

When a promise is broken.

When you experience another heartache.

When you still struggle to keep your head above water.

In 2014, I want to learn how to keep moving forwardeven in the “desert.” I want to keep my eyes focused on the dreams and hopes I have and keep going toward those things. I want to continue to move forward into the person God wants me to be and toward what He has in store for my life. (If last year was any indicationI’m in for some AMAZING things ahead if I just keep moving FORWARD.)

What are your dreams for the next 365? How do you want to look back upon this year? How do you want to be different?