January 2nd

So how many of you set goals and have already slacked on them?

Ha. I know it’s January 2nd and you may feel behind. Or that you’ve failed.

I mean I had resolved to not write this year. I felt I was being led away from writing, and yet, here we are. But when you have these deep seeded goals for your life, not just this month, this year, you find yourselves coming back to them giving them another go, right?

I think that’s why people set goals on better health-whether dieting or working out-around this time of year because we know we want to feel better, and our health drives so much of the rest of our lives. When we feel good about our health, we naturally let it flow into other areas-our relationships, our families, our work.

I was chatting with a member of my class yesterday before we started about how I like to work out first thing in the morning a few times a week (I teach after work the other days) and she was floored that I get up that early to run or lift weights. I told her it’s a direct correlation to how I feel. If I don’t, I am typically in a funk, shaming myself for sleeping in or choosing “I don’t wanna” over a good day. I will inevitably eat worse, I’ll feel sluggish throughout the work day, and frankly, I tend towards grumpiness.

That may not be for everyone, but how you start your day flows into what choices you make throughout your day. It’s something I learned much later than I would have liked. It would have saved me alot of wrestling…and I will be honest with you, I didn’t make it this morning, but I consciously told myself today would be a rest day because I had already prepared out my week for working out and other plans with friends.

Be intentional about your week, your days. If you set out with a plan instead of cannon-balling into them, you’d be surprised how much extra time and energy you can make for yourself to accomplish those goals.

And yes, it is work. You have to put effort into what you want. It took effort for you to get where you are now, and if you want to be at another marker or meet a goal, you’ve got to do the work. Only you can do it, and you have to figure out the map for you specifically on it.

That Insta-model or celebrity you follow has trainers, they have time because they put in the work elsewhere. They can spend three hours with a trainer in their home because of other factors that just aren’t applicable to you. Maybe for you, it’s two visits to the gym this week. Or taking one group class instead of getting on the dead-mill (yes, I use it but I prefer running outside). But it won’t just happen in your schedule.

You have to prepare and you have to work for it. Pack that bag the night before while the kiddos pack their lunches–and by the way, pack your lunch too. Prep out so you aren’t leaving rushed from the house. I never feel more like an adult than when I have set the coffee brewing timer the night before and have pre-packed my lunch before I go to bed.

Because on January 2nd you’ve not failed. You’ve only given yourself room for growth and opportunity. So don’t shame yourself today if you feel like you’re already behind on your goal for 2019, or for your self.

It’s Day 1 for you. And you are the one that matters to you. Your goal is the one that matters to you. You are the one who has to do the work to make it happen for you. Be intentional. Put in the work.

 

Creating for the Creator

“To create is to be more like the Creator.”

 

Ever read something and find it’s never occurred to you to see it from that perspective? That is exactly what happened as I read those words from Lysa TerKeurst this morning.

When we create we are moving into a deeper relationship with our Creator, we reflect a bit more of Him and can identify just a piece more of who He is. And if you’ve ever created anything, whether it was a recipe, a piece of art, a blog post, or song, it can also be incredibly scary. You’re putting a part of yourself, that you’ve been given a glimpse of in your mind’s eye….you have a peak at the Creator’s vision, and now it’s in your very human hands to put it out there.

And the devil will do all he can to tell you that you aren’t enough in the process and once it’s finished. He’ll point out every flaw and disappointment from your past to shut you down and draw you from His Presence. His voice will start to sound alot like your own if you aren’t careful.

But when you create, not only are you drawing in closer to God’s Presence and His character of Creator, but you are also showing others the vulnerability of your creation, of your life born out in such a way that it points right back to Him if you allow it. If you live in the part of yourself, the part of the God who created you in fact, that longs to bring Him glory through what you create, what He has given you within your very specific being to point to His divine creation.

So when the whispers or even shouts of the devil in your life want to silence your creation, sing louder, write longer, dig in to creating more for you are living out a piece of who God created you to be, so you could reflect Him a bit more.

Hey Singles, Check Your Heart

Last year I wrote about how you can lean into the life of a single individual through the holidays, and I believe that still holds true today. The year prior I wrote about having a solo thanksgiving as I had done for several years.

But what if you’re navigating Thanksgiving with family and friends as a single, and you can feel the anxiety or the loneliness mounting?

I have been there, and it’ll surely sneak up on me at some point over the holidays too. The whisper of loneliness, of desiring someone special to share in the joy of the holiday season with, the nudge of anxiety of facing a holiday party solo or the questions of far-reaching relatives on the why of your single status.

Deep breaths…prayers….and forced smiles. That’s how you may have navigated it before, but let’s be honest, you didn’t really face it or the feeling that welled within you. You merely dodged it or pushed it aside. But eventually the feelings of anxiety and loneliness will come flooding forth, maybe while you binge Hallmark movies or are out shopping for one more gift on your single budget.

Even as you begin to journey to your Thanksgiving destination today, or are looking ahead to the next month of holiday festivities start to look at where these feelings are originating. Are they from a place within you? Are you feeling the pressure from outside sources? Is it anxiety? Is it hope for the season you are in? Find the thread of your emotions and dig deep, seek out where they lead you. Do the hard work of figuring out yourself in this season and these holidays.

Why does anxiety well up when you are faced with your marital status? Where and when are you feeling loneliness? What do you use or abuse in coping with those feelings? How could you better address them over the next month with intentionality and focus instead of packing them away for January?

Don’t let another holiday season pass where you overeat, undereat, hold a thin smile and secretly get crushed inside when Aunt Marjorie asked for the thousandth time just exactly why you are still single. In the words of comedian John Crist, “Check Your Heart.”

What is it to you?

Earlier this week I was fortunate to be at my home church in Knoxville, a place I hold very dear in my heart and my was instrumental in my faith journey. The Senior Pastor is retiring and to hear Hollie Miller is a treasure and a delight. I am so thankful I was able to sit under his leadership while I lived there. He pointed to a Scripture in his sermon on Sunday that was something I’d forgotten about, and ultimately reminded me of where I’d been for a hot minute myself.

As much as Paul is my Bible boyfriend, Peter is who I am ultimately fashioned after. So much of my faith journey, my life journey is lived out much like Peter’s walk. Never was it truer than at Christ’s return, after Peter’s denial (multiplied by three y’all) while Christ was being taken to the cross. So it’s afterwards, they’ve been out fishing, back to the lives they knew before encountering Christ, when He appears on shore with some wise words on how they should be fishing.

Recently, someone (and by someone, one my beloved sisters in Christ Amy B.) showed a clip of Tom Hanks as Forrest Gump seeing Lt. Dan on the dock as his shrimping boat is coming in, and with utter glee and joy Forrest jumps off the boat to swim to the dock to see his friend. That image is liken to how Peter reacts to seeing Christ…and then Peter slips into his old self again. Christ is giving him instruction through the question of “Do you love Me?” and Peter is adamant about that fact, multiplied again by 3. And then he turns to see John, whom Christ loved, and points to him, asking “But what about him??”

It makes me laugh…and then we see Christ’s very direct and pointed response.

“If I will that he remain til I come, what is that to you? You follow Me.”

Not just to Peter, but to me. To you. To each one of us who is really good and going “But God, what about them??!!”

What is that to you?

Ouch. That one hurt. What is it to us what God has given, told, or blessed someone else with? But we do it. We have since before Christ, and we have since His return. But Peter is getting a lesson straight from Christ Himself here just for us. To help us out. To show us too that we are easily susceptible to the comparison trap, even when we are followers of Christ, even an original disciple.

We sling judgement, whether via social media, our friends or internally. But what is someone else’s pursuit of God’s will to us? What is driving our insecurity and our need to compare? What is telling us it’s okay to cut down someone else’s pursuit or gift so that we can pursue ours instead? Check your motives and your direction on why you’d feel the need to make any sort of judgement on how God has asked, directed, willed another to bring His Name glory.

You follow Me.

Are we following Him? Are we keeping our eyes trained solely on Him and what He has for us?

I’m speaking to myself too here, so believe me when I say this is hard to work through…but how easy is it for us to follow someone’s Instagram, Twitter, SnapChat, or Facebook and think that’s what we should be doing too? How we slip into social theology rather than the Word? We can scroll and post, and never really dig into Scripture because we just don’t have the time. But yet, we make darn sure we get our workout in, our coffee chat, our three posts on social media that’s flowery and good feeling, but we aren’t doing what He’s asked of us.

Following Christ is hard. Following Christ didn’t promise ease or blessings on demand. It promised being in His will and knowing Him more. It promised goodness and joy, glory that is in Him and not ourselves.

God didn’t restore us through His Son’s death so we could concern ourselves with others’ wills. Nope. He wanted to restore us to Him so we could be in fellowship and relationship with Him, His Son, His Spirit. He wanted our full attention because He is worthy of it, and so is His will for us, individually.

May we learn from Peter, whether it is trusting Him when He calls us out onto the water, loving Him when others are questioning whether we know Him, or when the pull to look to our left and our right at others instead of Him pulls at our hearts, minds and eyes.

Discouragements

Sometimes you stare at a blank screen without so much as a syllable coming through your mind. The screen mirrors your mind. Blank. Empty. Without words.

It’s not as if you don’t have anything on your mind-the to-do list for your day or your week, future aspirations, current news, relationships with others, relationship with God. But we’ve maneuvered and compartmentalized so much of ourselves that we draw up to life with a big blank. No space really for any more boxes of things for our mind to dwell on, but plenty of white space filling in everywhere.

In that white space is where this year has been lived for me, alot of seeming noise but not quite distinct, just fuzzy. Not much intentionality or planning, just shoving boxes of life around to get through a day or a week. I realized in not making me choices or truly focused decisions, I’d made the choice for my life to just exist this year. To not really engage much mentally or use the excuse of one activity to define my whole existence.

Disappointments will come and go, but discouragement is a choice you make.

I was reminded over the weekend of this quote from Charles Stanley years ago. And it made sense that much of the white noise was discouragement over the boxes I’d put my life into only to revisit for nostalgia and wallowing in discouragement. I would look at the actions or assumptions I had put on others around me deemed it discouraging and just existed in it.

Over and over again.

I chose discouragement at every turn.

For 10 months, discouragement has crept onto the blank screen and the white space of my life. It was a record of habit, choosing it over fuel for pursuit, building a habit of packing it up instead of getting back up.

So what happens when you meet your repeated discouragement over disappointments? You have that choice to walk back into that room or begin to pick yourself up and go back to the disappointment and find ways of pushing through them or correcting where you were responsible. We have lost our sense of accountability and responsibility in many ways currently, but most of all we’ve lost our sense of responsibility to ourselves. To pursuing resilience and fight rather than discouragement and packing it all up. We flight alot more than we fight these days when faced with discouragement, when the disappointments get to be too much.

It’s how we respond that is on us. We can choose intentional pursuit of what we are given, facing disappointments and failures and going back the next day. Or we can pack that up in a box, shove it over in the corner, and then wondering why we can’t build a good habit of success for our lives.

Moore of Christ, Less of Them

I read the words of Beth Moore Sunday morning, 280 characters splayed across my smartphone. Words I couldn’t put to what I had been feeling and living in the last nine months. A heart conflicted and wondering. A heart struggling to rectify two pieces of life.

Emotions bubble up, along with my hackles. I’d get angry, self-righteous, and then remorseful. Over the last nine months it’s often felt like it was building to something in my life, a turning point…but it’s been more of a birth than anything. A birth of a heart and life that was becoming too dependent upon emotion and hurt feelings.

<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet” data-lang=”en”><p lang=”en” dir=”ltr”>I’m just saying you can trust Jesus. Don’t let anybody who failed you confuse you about Jesus. Ain’t nobody Jesus but Jesus. Give the real one a real chance. You’ve missed Him so much. You just did not realize He was the one you were missing.</p>&mdash; Beth Moore (@BethMooreLPM) <a href=”https://twitter.com/BethMooreLPM/status/1046375475017383936?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>September 30, 2018</a></blockquote>
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I had allowed someone else-several someone elses-be the influencers in my relationship with Christ, be the key reason I’d distanced myself from my faith, my church, and from God. I’d supplanted looking to Jesus to looking at the actions of individuals for nine months.

Reading Beth’s words, I found they applied to me in a different way than she might have intended, but deep within I felt the Spirit stirring me to address what I’d been allowing to grow inside of me. Maybe you needed them too. Maybe you needed a reminder that people aren’t Jesus. Their words aren’t gospel and their actions against you are not serving Him, no matter their Christian status in the church or community. Christ is Christ to you, and for you, and wants to walk with you through the hurt of it all. He wants to speak to your emotions and feelings, that the devil will attempt to manipulate and use against you.

Traveling Light

It was about a year ago I went on my own bucket list trip. I think it is always interesting to hear about people’s bucket lists and the things and places they want to travel to, see, and do in their life. Sometimes the experiences are very similar to others and sometimes they are wildly different. Reflecting the uniqueness of every human being and the desires of adventure and curiosity of exploration.

In March of last year I saw one of my favorite musicians was doing a summer 40th anniversary tour, and living in Music City USA means we often get the concerts smaller towns don’t. Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers have long been my favorite band, probably because my momma raised me right. But I knew I didn’t want to see them in Nashville. (Don’t get me wrong, I love Bridgestone, but for the first time seeing my favorite musician?) So I looked at other cities and saw Seattle, a city I’d long wanted to visit but had 1-no excuse to and 2-no one to journey there with.

IMG_5110And that’s a hard rub as a single person. You know your other single friends are on budgets like yourself, and may not be up for traveling to the same place or seeing the same things as you. You don’t want to force people to adhere to your travel plans or destinations out of shear selfishness.

 

20953703_10105336340976795_4326938811749454304_nSo I went alone. To a city I have never been to. Staying in an AirBnB. Driving in a city I had never driven in (but hey, still on the left side of the road!). Because I wanted to see my favorite musician and visit a city I’d dreamt of seeing for a decade. I did research on some things to check out, bought a random city pass to see a bunch of sites I may not have otherwise have gotten to see. I went to two different distilleries for tours and tastings, saw the OG Starbucks, and even fell in love with an artist that I will not shut up about a year later (Chihuly glass!).

 

 

Chihuly Blue

Yes, there were times when I was apprehensive about being there alone. Loneliness crept in at moments, just like they do on a random Tuesday night at home. But I learned that I miss out on life, on living and adventuring if I wait for a boyfriend or spouse to come along to do those things with. Sometimes you do have friends who can make trips work, or you go on adventures with your family to places like I am doing in a couple of weeks with my sister to Chicago. But there are times, when you are single, that you just cannot make it work and you either sit by planning for the day when you might have a partner or you jump and take the trip.

If I had waited, I would’ve missed seeing my favorite musician live in concert. Maybe that’s what has really spurred my heart and passion for traveling as a single. Because if I had put off that trip, or opted out because of my marital status, I would never have seen him perform in person (and ya’ll it was so good….).

You still have to be aware when you travel alone, and probably more hyper aware than when with another person or in a group. But living your life means living it as it’s gifted to you right now. Not waiting for the “what if” days to come that may never come to fruition. As I shared on Instagram earlier this week, Flying across the country solo showed me the beauty of life, adventure and even my singleness while also reminding me that no matter what I may feel as a single, God’s designed my life and is very present in every bit of it. I have to choose to recognize my heart and desire for living out that life. Regardless of the lie of “less than” as a single, regardless of the loneliness, regardless of the emotion I attach to it or presume about it.