Monday, January 31, 2011

The Simple Life.

Pin It Now! All too often, our expectations in life lead us to believe that we need things to make us happy, we need stuff to occupy our time,  and we need success in order to define what we have accomplished. But what does all this stuff really do in the long run? It fills our lives with unnecessary baggage, stuff we need to carry around with us... just to have in our possession. 

Don't get me wrong... I LOVE all my stuff. I am your typical teenage girl, obsessed with the newest technology, my makeup collection, my stack of romantic comedies,  and my pile of books that I have read from cover to cover. I know I appreciate these material possessions as an important part of my life (and I do realize how blessed I truly am for having them all) but sometimes I wonder what life would be like without all the stuff. Don't you?

Sometimes, we even convince ourselves that we wouldn't be anything without our stuff. That's when things start to get scary... Can we really not live without our cell phones or laptop computers? I agree that these material possessions can truly enhance our quality of communication, our connection to the people around us, and our knowledge of our world, but is there a way to live with just what we need? Or is that simply asking too much?

After moving all my stuff to a new dorm, I realized how much stuff I brought with me to school... I kept asking myself, "How/why would I EVER need this much STUFF???" I was even tempted to throw some of it away, just because it seemed like too much work to move it all. I began asking myself... is there a way to live more simply? Would it help me truly appreciate all that I am blessed with.

I challenge you to evaluate how much you value your stuff? Is it devaluing more important things in your life? In the end, it isn't our phones that make us happy, it's the people on the other end.

"Don't you know that you yourselves are God's temple and that God's Spirit lives in you?"
1 Corinthians 3:16


Sunday, January 30, 2011

Family Love Away From Home

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There is something about being with FAMILY that is so incredibly beautiful. There is no need for deep conversation, planned activities, or gourmet meals... simply being with them is more than enough.

Family is something truly special. When I am around my family, I don't feel pressure to be someone I'm not, I feel like I belong, and I feel genuinely loved and appreciated. It is a place and a relationship unlike any other human relationship known to man. This weekend I got to see my MOM and SISTER. Being with them is like hanging out with my best friends. My mom and I can talk about anything, I can always count on her to make me feel like the most special daughter in the entire world. She is my role model, best friend, and the most incredible mom I could EVER ask for. I honestly don't know what I would do without her.

Being away at school, family time is something extremely rare (besides phone and text conversation of course). Being away from home has truly shown me how much I need my family, how much I depend on them, and how important they are in my life. I would be nothing without them. So when I do get time with my family, I try to laugh, smile, and just appreciate being with them. I am so blessed.

Take advantage of the time you have with your family. Use time apart to grow in relationship with them. Realize that you CAN depend on them.. realize that they are your best friends and the people that will love you until the absolute end. Realize that they will do anything for you. Love them each and every day like it is the last. And... don't be afraid to shed a tear when they pull away from the curb outside your dorm room. They will be back... :)

"We love because he first loved us."
1 John 4:19


Love Away From Home

Pin It Now! There is something about being with FAMILY that is so incredibly beautiful. There is no need for deep conversation, planned activities, or gourmet meals... simply being with them is more than enough.

Family is something truly special. When I am around my family, I don't feel pressure to be someone I'm not, I feel like I belong, and I feel genuinely loved and appreciated. It is a place and a relationship unlike any other human relationship known to man. This weekend I got to see my MOM and SISTER. Being with them is like hanging out with my best friends. My mom and I can talk about anything, I can always count on her to make me feel like the most special daughter in the entire world. She is my role model, best friend, and the most incredible mom I could EVER ask for. I honestly don't know what I would do without her.

Being away at school, family time is something extremely rare (besides phone and text conversation of course). Being away from home has truly shown me how much I need my family, how much I depend on them, and how important they are in my life. I would be nothing without them. So when I do get time with my family, I try to laugh, smile, and just appreciate being with them. I am so blessed.

Take advantage of the time you have with your family. Use time apart to grow in relationship with them. Realize that you CAN depend on them.. realize that they are your best friends and the people that will love you until the absolute end. Realize that they will do anything for you. Love them each and every day like it is the last. And... don't be afraid to shed a tear when they pull away from the curb outside your dorm room. They will be back... :)

"We love because he first loved us."
1 John 4:19


Saturday, January 29, 2011

Peace in 2011?

Pin It Now! Life is crazy. It is full of ups and downs. It changes in the blink  of an eye. Perfect sanity can switch to mere insanity in a matter of moments.
The question becomes... do we try to change the world, or do we change ourselves to accommodate the world around us? It's a tricky situation, because we have to admit that the world is not going to become a peaceful place over night. It may never be a peaceful place. But in order to deal with the craziness and trouble, we have to learn how to have a calm heart.

What does it really mean to have a calm heart? It means having faith that everything is going to turn out okay in the end. It means letting go-trusting that God has you in the palm of his hand. It is learning to live life appreciating the little things- acknowledging the people around you, giving thanks for everything you are blessed with. It is learning to step away from the insanity, and recognizing that YOU are in control.

Take 5 minutes to unwind and think about how often you are running around in life, playing catch-up, "rushing" from one thing to the next. What are we trying to catch up to? The truth is, we will never really catch up... because we were never really behind in the first place.

I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
—John 16:33 


Friday, January 28, 2011

Be Vulnerable. Open Up.

Pin It Now! Do you have emotional walls up? Are you always scared to let people in? Who is the real you, what do you stand for, what do you believe in, what holds you back, what makes you smile? I love the quote above because it is so true. We often think we are afraid to "end up alone" (any woman will probably say that is at the top of their not to do list), when we are truly just scared to let people in. 
Being vulnerable is something I constantly struggle with... and with good reason. It may not be the smartest thing to open up to people 5 minutes after you meet them, but it shouldn't take me years to finally get beyond generic conversation. 

So how do we push ourselves to get beyond the word acquaintance and to develop true friendships? I think the answer lies in trust. Learning to trust people, and believing that by telling someone who you are will not only bring you closer to them, but will benefit you individually as well. Opening up to others can take mounds of pressure off our shoulders, can confirm that we are loved, and can give us a sense of belonging.

If I would have been afraid to open up in college... I wouldn't have the incredible group of friends I have surrounded myself by. I would be left alone.. in the dark. And life is so much happier with people to share it with, trust me. So if you find yourself constantly battling those voices that tell you to hold back, tell them off. Be vulnerable and be open. It WILL change your life.

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you."
Deuteronomy 31:6


Thursday, January 27, 2011

Break FREE.

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What's holding you back? Is there something in life that seems to have such a tight grip on your life that you couldn't even imagine one day without it? Does it control you to the point of disappointment? As human beings, we have habits.. we become comfortable and complacent with the person we become. We are wiling to accept negative actions, attitudes, and behaviors simply because they are impossible to break. 

But are they really impossible to break? Absolutely not.You are capable of being any person you want to be. So, I encourage you to evaluate what you are making excuses for- what can be fixed in your life? And believe me, I know it is hard to admit that you have faults... but also believe me when I say this, you are NOT ALONE. Everyone has something they hide, something they are ashamed of, something they hate sharing with others.

Why not let it go? Why not start fresh? Let go of all the worry, the obsessive behavior, the control that "things" have over your life. It is the path to happiness. I promise.

God promises to love us no matter what. He is there for us in times of trouble, and he desperately seeks to heal... all you have to do is let him in. Be vulnerable and devote your life and worries to him. You will be so thankful you did.

"To put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness."
Ephesians 4:22-24


Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Breathe In. Breathe Out.

Pin It Now! Do me a favor... close your eyes, count to twenty, breathe in and out slowly, and let your mind go completely blank. 

Seems simple enough, but it was harder than you thought it would be, wasn't it? Why is that? Is it because we simply don't appreciate just "being" anymore? We are constantly looking for ways to fill our lives with stuff. Stuff that can get in the way of taking a few seconds just to breathe, to relax, to remind yourself that you don't have to move a mile a minute. As much as we may want to believe we are... we aren't superhuman. We are normal human beings living in a world that tells us we need to live up to expectations, to make people proud, to "prove" ourselves...

If only we all took a little time out of our day just to relax, to focus on being in the moment... we could stop running around like chickens with our heads cut off, constantly trying to catch up in the fear of falling behind.

I am here to remind you... you ARE enough. Anything you do/anything you achieve/ anything you stand for... IS ENOUGH! You are worth more than any amount of money, any job promotion, any romantic relationship, anything that seems to demand your time. So, next time you feel like you just can't catch up, ask yourself this:

What exactly are you trying to catch up with? Life is right here... It will give you all the time you need.

"Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect."
Romans 12:2


Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Before the Healing

Pin It Now! Just thought I would share with you... MY NEW FAVORITE SONG by Josh Wilson (well the chorus at least):

Would dare you, would you dare, to believe,
that you still have a reason to sing,
'cause the pain you've been feeling,
can't compare to the joy that's coming

so hold on, you got to wait for the light
press on, just fight the good fight
because the pain you've been feeling, 
it's just the dark before the morning

Life is unfair... it is a fact of life. But it doesn't have to be as unfair as we make it out to be. We all have disabilities, we all have things in our lives that we pray each and every day to fix...I honestly believe that, Tonight at Younglife college, my favorite night of each week, we talked about healing. What causes some to be healed, and others to be sick for a lifetime? Why are some miracles due and others never considered? 

1. There is a God-given reason that we are who we are and that we live the way we do.
2. God is fully intent on COMPLETE healing once we enter his kingdom.

Those last two statements give me shivers... thinking of a world where there is absolutely NO pain, NO suffering. A world where all is morning and darkness ceases to exist. 
So in the meantime, look for those people who may have physical/mental disabilities that are more severe than your own. Reach out, lend a hand to others... And most of all, be grateful for your LIFE, and the fact that in the end all we will be beautiful, and all will be right.

"My child, be attentive to my words; incline your ear to my sayings. Do not let them escape from your sight; keep them within your heart. For they are life to those who find them, and healing to all their flesh."
Proverbs 4:20-22


Monday, January 24, 2011

What a LONG day.

Pin It Now! Do you ever have days like this? Days where coffee just won't keep you awake? Days where the work just won't get done? Today was rough.. I moved all of my stuff across campus to a new room- a total of 7 hours of moving/re-orgainzing/breakdown/and complete JOY when it was over. Of course, I had to be on the top fourth floor in both buildings I moved into/out of.And to be honest... I am surprised I am even staying up to write this post, but I made a commitment to write everyday, so here I am in the library writing at 11:18 (40 minutes early even!).

Truth is, we all have rough days. We all have those brief "mental breakdowns" where it does truly seem like the world is doing anything in it's power to keep you from success (or in this case, moving in!). But how good to I feel now that it is all done... INCREDIBLE! If I weren't in a library, I would probably scream. When we have those days that seem to drag, that seem to gradually get worse as time goes on... all we can do is have faith that things will get better. And rest assured, they will.So if you are in a time of mental/physical exhaustion... please take my word for it, thing are going to get better.

I would not have gotten through today without the help if some of the most INCREDIBLE people I know here at school. The people I lead Younglife with are the most generous, loving, supporting, amazing, genuine people I have ever met. I cannot be more grateful for them sacrificing their time to help me today. Alright, my eyes are barely open... time for BED! More to come tomorrow...

""Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable."
Isaiah 40:28


Sunday, January 23, 2011

Even Michelangelo Works Hard

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"If you knew how much work went into it, you wouldn't call it genius."

I love this quote for a few reasons. Firstly, nothing great is ever achieved without hard work. Secondly, although we praise Michelangelo as a true artistic genius, it is nice to know that even he had to work extremely hard for his success. Too often, we think that successful people are simply "lucky," and that those people achieve great feats by being who they are. Not true. Anyone who has ever achieved something great has worked hard for it... hands down.

I hope you are as inspired by this picture as I am. Even though I am not a huge sports person, the emotion, the happiness, the sense of total accomplishment, the joy... it almost gives me shivers. I use this picture and the quote above to inspire you to work hard. If you want something in life, be active, seek it out, make it happen. YOU CAN DO IT. And believe me, it IS worth it. The feeling after you have accomplished a life goal is exhilarating, thrilling and incredibly fulfilling. So work hard, sweat, be proud of all that you are capable of. I believe in you.

"Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest."
Matthew 11:28


Saturday, January 22, 2011

Don't Regret A Thing

Pin It Now! You are your own worst critic. A cliche phrase... but without a doubt true. The question is then, why are we so critical of ourselves? Is it because we feel pressure to be perfect, to live up to society's unwritten expectations, to feel a sense of accomplishment and pride? Whatever it is, the never-ending cycle of evaluating our every move, every decision, every thought and can be tiring and extremely hard on our sense of self.

While "critiquing" ourselves, we tend to evaluate the decisions we have made in life and view them with an inevitable sense of guilt. We regret our actions, our thoughts, our decisions, every aspect of life we consider less than perfect.

I propose to forget regret. Forget all that it stands for: the sense that we should constantly be aware of all that we have done wrong in life as if it were possible to somehow fix it now. The truth is, the past is in the past... and as much as we may want to, we can't go back to fix it. We can only go forward. By forgetting regret and considering our mistakes some of our most valuable life lessons, we can live to take advantage of what we are doing today... what we are doing right now. If we focus on the past, the present may fly right by.

So whatever has been bugging you, making you doubt yourself, I encourage you to let it go. Focus on today. Focus on living in the present. Regret can be a monster... don't let it control you.

"But now thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. "
Isaiah 43:1


Friday, January 21, 2011

Forgive and Forget

Pin It Now! Remember back in elementary school, when we were all taught to forgive and forget? Even if you never really considered your elementary school lesson plans to be valuable, hear me out. The truth is, the stuff we learn way back when can be very useful. Forgiveness can be one of the the hardest skills to learn in life, but it can also be one of the most rewarding. I am sure we have all experienced something and told ourselves it was "unforgivable." What usually happens after that? All too often, we lose friends, we stop talking to loved ones, and we forget about relationships we have spent years establishing. 

Yes, there are a few things that can truly damage relationships. I am not saying to forgive someone for ruining your life... but give everyone a chance. Everyone makes mistakes. (Another one of those valuable elementary school lessons- for another day maybe). :)

Consider other people's imperfections and mistakes as a way to learn lessons yourself. Be forgiving. Accept people for all that they are (imperfections and all). Be flexible. Be encouraging. It will make you feel so much better about who you are as a person, and it will show people just how BIG your heart is. It takes courage and strength to forgive... don't be scared. So do me a favor, save the relationships you considered lost forever. Be open to forgiveness, and it will benefit you in the end.

"Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you."
Colossians 3:13


Thursday, January 20, 2011

How Blessed Am I?

Pin It Now! It is human nature to focus on everything in our lives that tends to go wrong and to take advantage of everything that goes right. We often overlook the positive things in life and choose to dwell on the negative. 
If only I could have a little more money... If only I could be a little happier... If only I could get better grades... If only my house was a little bigger... If only I had a few more friends... 

The phrase If only can truly kill our sense of thankfulness.
Today, instead of focusing on what I don't have, I am going to acknowledge and appreciate all that I do have. I am going to be grateful for all that I take for granted.
To be completely honest... my blessings jar is probably overflowing. 
I attend one of the best educational universities in the country.
I have the most incredible group of family and friends supporting me. 
I have experienced love, joy, and happiness.
I have all the material possessions I need... and more.
I have a solid relationship with Jesus Christ.
I have people in my life who push me to succeed and to be the best person I can be.
I am highly motivated and goal-driven, by the grace of God.
I know that despite the bad things in life... everything will be okay in the end.
I have a place to call HOME.

Whoa. I have it all. Why do I constantly find myself wanting more.. wanting something else that I don't have, believing that it could potentially make my life that much better?
The answer is easy... because everyone else does it too. We all follow each other, believing that we need possessions simply because "everyone else has them."

I encourage you to list your blessings... yes, actually write them down. My list could be ten times larger, and probably keeps growing each and every day. Take a moment to ask yourself...

How blessed am I? When you really ask yourself, I am sure you will find out that your life is actually pretty great.

“And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.” 
Philippians 4:19


Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Live What You LOVE

Pin It Now! What do you love to do? 
You can often tell a lot about a person when you ask them that simple question. How do you enjoy spending your time, what do you consider most important in your life? All too often however, we trade what we love to do for things we believe we should do. This trade can mean living to please others and to "get ahead," instead of living for what makes you happy. Don't get me wrong, living with others in mind can be one of the most rewarding ways to spend your time, but I encourage you to find a balance. You only have one life to live... Don't be afraid to be selfish and think of yourself sometimes. 
I love reading. I love writing. I love my new-found desire to update my blog every day. I love talking with family and friends. I love having starbucks coffee dates. I love spending hours flipping through magazines in Barnes and Noble. I love learning new things. I love baking. I love digital photography. I love laughing and relaxing with no intention of feeling rushed. I love giving gifts. I love feeling loved

Now that you know a little more about me, I encourage you to make a list of some of your favorite things in life. It can be random, categorized, short, long, whatever you want... It's your life. Take advantage of each day you have, and do what you love. Enjoy yourself. You deserve it.
"There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love."
1 John 4:18


Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Big Things In Small Packages

Pin It Now! If there is one thing I have learned since coming to school, it is that each and every day holds a promise for something great. Some days I get to have coffee with good friends, some days I get to relax in my room with a good book or magazine, some days I get to talk to my family on the phone... and others, I get to spend my day locked in the undergrad library. Whatever it may be, being away from home has led me to believe that each and every day here is an absolute GIFT. I am getting an incredible education, at an incredible school, in an incredible city, around incredible new friends, and truly finding out who I am as an individual (although I am still far from ultimate self-discovery). :) 

So today's quote has to do with appreciating the little things in life.. living each day with appreciation and thankfulness. I am learning to thank God everyday for blessing me with such an incredible life. I don't think I deserve all that I have received sometimes. I am beyond blessed.

So whether it is taking time to call a good friend, enjoying a cup of coffee in the afternoon, watching your favorite television program, or just spending time being quiet... I encourage you to ENJOY today. Breath it in. Relax. Remember that each and every day can be great. Each and every day IS great.

"It is of the LORD'S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness."
Lamentations 3:22-23


Monday, January 17, 2011

Happy MLK Day!

Pin It Now! Happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day! Apart from having no class today (no one complains about a three-day weekend), today is also a great day to remember that one person truly can change the world...

Love can work miracles. If we only learned to love those around us, forgetting jealousy, hatred, and judgement, the world could be a completely different place. Yes, I am aware that the phrase is awfully cliche, but I truly believe that if enough people made a significant effort in trying to be more accepting of others, we can change the world. Martin Luther King Jr. made a difference and he is only one person. Surely, we can try. This quote is one of my all-time favorites. I love how the words light and love are emphasized as the cure for darkness and hate. As human beings, we tend to believe that darkness and hate are a natural part of our lives. They exist because we accept them as something beyond our control. Therefore, we subconsciously refuse to eradicate them... but why? 

So I encourage you to "love a stranger" today. That doesn't have to mean engaging in a serious conversation or donating your money, it could simply mean smiling at someone in the grocery store, thanking someone for their help, or letting someone know that they are loved. Make a difference. Have faith. Be courageous. Be inspired by the man who devoted his life to changing the world.

"The sun will no more be your light by day, nor will the brightness of the moon shine on you, for the LORD will be your everlasting light, and your God will be your glory."
Isaiah 60:19


Sunday, January 16, 2011

Dreams Really Do Come True

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I wish I was one of those people who wakes up remembering every single detail of my dreams, but I'm not. To be honest, I can't even remember that last dream I actually had. Although I can't remember them, I know that all of us dream whenever we're asleep. What is the purpose of these dreams- to simply entertain our subconscious while we are sleeping, the bring our worries to life, to creatively express what we wish we could say aloud? Although I do not know the exact purpose, I do believe that dreaming is important in life. Not only dreaming while we are asleep, but connecting our hopes and desires in daily life with what we can call waking dreams.

A lot of times we attribute a sense of impossibility to our waking dreams. We believe that they simply exist as a fantasy, and do not actually take the steps we are likely capable of in order to achieve them. Dreams should not be unattainable. In fact, I truly believe that any dream is perfectly within reach. All you have to do is believe that you can/will do whatever possible to get there.

I dream of having an incredible relationship with the Lord.
I dream of having a loving, devoted family.
I dream of success. What is success? Who knows. 
I dream of experiencing a miracle.
I dream of seeing the world.
I dream of taking advantage of every single day.
I dream of making lifelong friendships.
I dream of learning to love unconditionally.

So what do you dream for? No matter what it may be, know that it IS possible. And also remember, our waking dreams do not define us.. they simply propel us to a live a life fulfilled.
Happy sunday :)

"And the Lord said to them, “Now listen to what I say:
“If there were prophets among you,I, the Lord, would reveal myself in visions. I would speak to them in dreams."
Numbers 12:6


Saturday, January 15, 2011

Love Never Fails

Pin It Now! LOVE. 
A basic human emotion.
A feeling that is hard to describe.
Something inherent in each of us?
According to the dictionary, a profoundly passionate affection.
What does it mean to you? For some, LOVE is probably connected with thoughts of family, heartbreak, connections, romance, friends, relationships, pain, joy, sorrow... the list goes on and on.
I like to think of love as a way of connecting with others. I love the Lord, my family, my friends... of course all in different ways, but still under the same title. How is it possible to think of love as divided into so many different categories? I think it is because love is so pervasive. Love is the perfect medicine for loneliness. Love can help us open up to other people, break down boundaries and emotional walls. Love can make us feel incredible... like nothing else matters. Love can come and go. But, despite the fact that love may seem to "drift" in and out of our lives... I truly believe that true LOVE never fails. 

Love can heal us when we are broken.

So, even though it may be scary/intimidating/terrifying, let yourself be open to the possibility of love. Don't go running in the opposite direction when you start to sense it. Yes, love is powerful, but it is so worth it.

And always remember... YOU ARE LOVED.

"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son,[a] that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life."
John 3:16


Friday, January 14, 2011

Ice Cream is Good For the Soul

Pin It Now! Seeing as how I have some extra time between my friday classes, I was roaming the internet in search of today's inspirational topic. I usually love using pictures and video as inspiration, but today I thought I would use something a little different... a story. Sometimes stories can tell us something that a picture simply can't. They are relatable, realistic, and draw you in with a series of "events." So give this one a chance... it may even make you re-evaluate the way you think about ice cream.

Ice Cream
Last week I took my children to a restaurant.  My six-year-old son asked if he could say grace.

 As we bowed our heads he said,  "God is good. God is great.  Thank you for the food,  and I would even thank you more if  Mom gets us ice cream for dessert.  And Liberty and justice for all!
 Along with the laughter from the other customers nearby I heard a woman remark,  "That's what's wrong with this country.  Kids today don't even know how to pray.  Asking God for ice-cream! Why, I never!"
 Hearing this, my son burst into tears and asked me,  "Did I do it wrong? Is God mad at me?"
 As I held him and assured him  that he had done a terrific job and  God was certainly not mad at him, an elderly gentleman approached the table.  He winked at my son and said,
 "I happen to know that God thought that was a great prayer."
 "Really?" my son asked.
 "Cross my heart," the man replied.
 Then in a theatrical whisper he added (indicating the woman whose remark had started this whole thing), "Too bad she never asks God for ice cream.  A little ice cream is good for the soul sometimes."
 Naturally, I bought my kids ice cream at the end of the meal.  My son stared at his for a moment
 and then did something I will remember the rest of my life. He picked up his sundae and without a word, walked over and placed it in front of the woman. With a big smile he told her,
 "Here, this is for you.Ice cream is good for the soul sometimes;  and my soul is good already."
 If that story doesn't make you smile... I don't know what will. What could possibly be cuter than a little boy giving his ice cream away? I think this story represents something beautiful; the idea that you can want something for so long... and in the end, giving it away may make receiving it that much more special. So, I encourage you today to let go of your own desires... and buy someone an ice cream cone. It could be the first step towards good soul.

"For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it."
Mark 8:35


Thursday, January 13, 2011

Power of ONE

Pin It Now! "I have not been given a spirit of fear but of power, love and a sound mind."
2 Timothy 1:7

We have all said it. "I am only one person; what I do or don't do in life will never make a difference." It is this mind set that prevents us from believing in ourselves. If we believe that we are insignificant, that we have nothing valuable to contribute, it becomes a part of who we are. 

Every great idea, event, or change in the world started with one person. Even though it may not have seemed possible at the outset, it truly does only take one person to have a significant influence on the world. 
I can sit here and name off example after example of incredible people who have individually influenced society, but what good what that ultimately do? In fact, it makes you compare yourself to those people... and to be completely honest, to compare yourself to Martin Luther King Jr. can be rather disheartening. Instead, I want to encourage you to take advantage of your own strengths, your own passions, your own desires... to make a difference. And I am not talking about world peace or anything here; even something as small as smiling to someone in the grocery store or opening the door for someone with their hands full can make a significant difference. So today I encourage you to keep your eyes open for opportunity, and in the end, you will find yourself feeling a lot better about who you are as a person.

"We can do no great things, only small things with great love."
Mother Teresa


Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The HEART of it all.

Pin It Now! Don't you wish it was that easy? If you could simply follow a sign like the one above to make decisions, to understand that your deepest desires are already inside you (you simply have to allow yourself to admit them). 
 I consider myself a guarded individual. I put up walls and have a hard time letting them go. It takes me a long time to trust in my relationships (not the people themselves- I am actually one of the most gullible people you will ever meet). It takes me a long time to believe that people are in a relationship "long-term." I second-guess everything, constantly evaluating my decisions and actions, my thoughts and beliefs. But what if I could learn to let that all go- and simply listen to the pull of my heart strings when forced to make decisions?

What do I mean by "pull of my heart strings?" Yes... I realize it is a very cliche phrase, but it seems to do justice for today's theme. Is it a physical feeling (the idea that you can feel something in your stomach or mind that is propelling you forward), is it a preconceived notion that you  have already established- based on who you are as a person, or is it simply picking the idea that comes to mind first (the one that seems most obvious)? 
I think the answer is different for everyone. For me, I think it is being okay with making a decision because it simply feels good. All too often, I try to make the right decision, the smart decision. Don't get me wrong- it has gotten me far in life, but is this truly the path to happiness? 

So today's encouragement is to break away from the idea that your decisions and actions should be considered right or intelligent. Believe that your heart ultimately knows what's best- and that your heart will lead you to a fulfilling life. Let go, it's going to be okay.

"Trust in the Lord, and do good;
dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness.
Delight yourself in the Lord,
and he will give you the desires of your heart."
Psalm 37:3-4


Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Can the hardest person to trust be ourselves?

Pin It Now! Let's face it... we live in a very selfish world. Counting how many times each day I use the word "I," how many times I put my needs above others, or how many times I ignore other people in pursuit of living "my own life" is really scary. I challenge you, keep a notebook around for an entire day and just count them up- I wouldn't be surprised if most of our numbers were close (and extremely high). 

But selfishness isn't today's theme. Why, if we are so obsessed with pleasing ourselves, is it so hard to trust ourselves? Why do I constantly find myself evaluating every decision, every move I make, every conversation I have... judging what kind of person I am versus what kind of person I "should" be?
I love this picture and quote for a few reasons.
1. It is simple- simply learn to trust yourself and you will know how to live. Can it really be that easy?
2. I love spelling out the word trust in individual blocks, making it seem like trusting yourself is an equation- and a hard one at that.

Now is confession time. I am my worst critic. I expect the most out of myself, and quite honestly, I am disappointed when I fail to live up to my own expectations. I think the same is true for most of us- we don't trust ourselves enough to love and accept who we are (yes, even our supposed "flaws") to believe that we are beautiful and trustworthy, JUST THE WAY WE ARE. So today, I encourage you to overlook those voices that lead to doubt. I encourage you to trust yourself- trust that you are special, you are your own person, and through your flaws... you are perfect.

"But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation."
Psalm 13:5


Monday, January 10, 2011

Your chance to WALK again.

Pin It Now! Google. YouTube. So many places to find online sources of inspiration when my own "inspiring moments" look rather bleak. I believe video segments can be even more powerful than photographs when telling a story and capturing emotion. So yes, I do rely on YouTube for theme ideas... and today's story focuses on the challenge of learning to walk again.

Janne Kouri had it all. He was a great athlete and had a loving community of family and friends behind him. After his accident, his entire life turned upside down. Thinking about not being able to walk, to move, to control your own body any more... is so dismal. I don't know how I would do it. 

What's cool about his story is not only the fact that he is starting to walk on his own again (a complete MIRACLE in itself), but the fact that he is using his disability to help others as well. To go through something as traumatic as that experience, and to still have other people on your mind is truly extraordinary. He started Next Step to benefit those who needed rehabilitation, needed some kind of hope.

I am inspired by his story for so many reasons. He never gave up hope, still considers every small accomplishment a victory, and desperately wants to help others like him. So next time getting out of bed seems like the hardest thing you have to do... take a step back and realize how truly blessed you are. And if this post finds you in a state of mental/physical disability, please remember... it's never too late to learn to walk again.
"Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
Matt 19:26


Sunday, January 9, 2011

It's all in a day's work.

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To handle yourself, use your head; to handle others, use your heart.
-Donald Laird

Waking up at 5:30 am on a sunday morning, not my ideal way to spend a weekend. That's why when my alarm went off this morning, I was less than enthusiastic to leave my warm, inviting bed. To be honest, I wasn't thrilled to be spending my day with a group of 12 year-old volleyball girls (as cute as they may be). 

When I got there, after a mug full of coffee, I was feeling a little better. The girls were all decked out in their jerseys, warm-ups, and hair ribbons, and their smiles and excitement actually warmed my heart. For some, it was their first volleyball tournament. Thinking back to my first tournament, I realize how big of a deal it actually was. Watching them take the court, come to the middle and scream (1,2,3 TEAM), and celebrating after their third game 16-14 victory, they inspired today's inspiration theme as the power of teamwork.

Teamwork is such an important part of daily life. We work in teams, play sports in teams, and have to coordinate activities with others constantly. Working in teams can also be challenging, especially when you are like me and consider yourself to be somewhat of a control freak. So, after watching my volleyball team celebrate together, as a team, I pledge to do better. I pledge to let people in, to trust others, and to appreciate that teamwork may in fact make my life easier.


Saturday, January 8, 2011

Leap of Faith

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I am going to be quite honest, I had a lot of fun finding images for today's post. I love photographs; something about the way they can capture a moment so beautifully and so truthfully is incredible. Honestly, some pictures can literally take my breath away. So do me a favor... relax, take a deep breath, and ENJOY the slideshow to follow.

You may have guessed from the pictures that today's theme is taking a LEAP OF FAITH. What exactly does that mean to me? Taking a leap of faith is letting go of fear and anxiety about potential consequences, and trusting that something good will follow. Sounds easy right? Wrong. Often times, I find myself holding back without even noticing it. I am scared of letting go of control, scared that everything will fall apart if I don't manage every aspect of my life perfectly. 

So why is taking a leap of faith so important if it's one of the hardest things in the world to do? Truly, it's the only way to move forward. It is the path to progress, knowledge, enlightenment, and to life itself. So whatever it may be in your life, I encourage you to take a risk... step off the platform and see where it may lead. Because ultimately, it may lead to something beautiful.
"If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes."
Mark 9:21


Friday, January 7, 2011

What is God Asking You?

Pin It Now! I found this while searching the web today, it may be one of the coolest things I have ever read. Everything it says is true. And despite the fact that I live a pretty good life, I rarely think about using my life to help and promote others. I rarely think about using the resources I have been blessed with to benefit someone other than myself. So, I encourage you... examine your own life, and ask yourself... what about my life lets me help someone else? That's my life lesson for today, and I know that I need help with it.

15 Things God Won't Ask
Author unknown, Source unknown

God won’t ask what kind of car you drove, but will ask how many people you drove who didn’t have transportation.
God won’t ask the square footage of your house, but will ask how many people you welcomed into your home.
God won’t ask about the fancy clothes you had in your closet, but will ask how many of those clothes helped the needy.
God won’t ask about your social status, but will ask what kind of class you displayed.
God won’t ask how many material possessions you had, but will ask if they dictated your life.
God won’t ask what your highest salary was, but will ask if you compromised your character to obtain that salary.
God won’t ask how much overtime you worked, but will ask if you worked overtime for your family and loved ones.
God won’t ask how many promotions you received, but will ask how you promoted others.
God won’t ask what your job title was, but will ask if you reformed your job to the best of your ability.
God won’t ask what you did to help yourself, but will ask what you did to help others.
God won’t ask how many friends you had, but will ask how many people to whom you were a true friend.
God won’t ask what you did to protect your rights, but will ask what you did to protect the rights of others.
God won’t ask in what neighborhood you lived, but will ask how you treated your neighbors.
God won’t ask about the color of your skin, but will ask about the content of your character.
God won’t ask how many times your deeds matched your words, but will ask how many times they didn’t.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

One Step Forward.

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I'm one of those people always looking ahead, worrying about things months in advance, stressing over exams weeks before... one of those people who often fails to see the value of taking each day one at a time. So right now... take a deep breath, enjoy this moment. Realize that you can control your every move. But also realize, you can't succeed without taking steps to get there.

When something overwhelms you, seems impossible, it is often hard to accept that everyone must start from the beginning. This is something that I am beginning to learn... very slowly I may add. When I start to stress, I use this quote to remind myself to take things one step at a time. 

"The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step."

I will get there, in time. And while this process takes place, don't be afraid to take a break, relax, unwind, read a good book, watch your favorite movie. 
I encourage you to look at the single steps you take, instead of staring fearfully down the horizon. Because it will be okay, I promise.
"We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps."
Proverbs 16:9

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