This is for me.

With frustrations, fear, and distractions all around, it gets really easy to become so focused on ourselves – our fears, insecurities, or items we have before the Lord to change and workout on our behalf. If left unchecked, being so me-focused can cause us to run the risk of becoming selfish, self-centered individuals, and that is so anti of what being an effective Believer is all about.

Unfortunately I have spent some time engulfed in self, but thankfully, I’m choosing not to stay there.

Since shifting my focus back to being Christ-centered, the softness of truly caring for others has returned, I’m building relationships, and my days are so much brighter.

Getting and living beyond self – This is for me. 🙂

Keep pressing on!

I choose peace.

I’m recognizing that in this life, trouble comes and goes, but even in the midst of those troubles, I can choose to remain secure and at peace, because God is in control.

As believers the Lord offers us peace in Him (John 16:33a), which surpasses all understanding (Philippians 4:7). So if you find yourself panicking (tripping) over the troubles and cares of this life, remember that peace is a choice, I doubt you’ll regret making – I know I don’t…

Please note – I am not stating that choosing to be at peace makes all of your troubles disappear, but I believe, and am a witness, that it will have a positive effect on your outlook and attitude, as well as remind you of whom you are putting your trust in.

Stay encouraged!

Better not bitter.

When I spend the majority of my time (even just a quick moment) keeping naysayers, hurtful experiences and people, or those who no longer associate with me (or vice-versa), at the forefront of my mind, it hits me that perhaps I may not truly be unbothered by their absence in my life.

I STRONGLY am down with being able to keep it moving in life, but while moving forward I think it’s a mistake to make your focus all about how others were never for you, or you knew they were whack, or they were only holding you back, etc. Even if all of that is true, glorifying those hurts or people of old, is still making them a prime factor in your life.

Being truly better, for me, involves forgiveness and keeping it moving – no extra comments, no hoping they get what’s coming to them (although reaping and sowing IS a principle). Just trusting and believing that all things are working for my good, and making sure I’m doing what’s necessary to get/stay right (maintaining the right attitude, and working on the character flaws in ME), and pressing on, free of regret, anger, hurt, and bitterness.

That to me is an example of truly living better not bitter, and I’m down with that!

DISCLAIMER: There are stipulations to all things working together (See Romans 8:28). Also, I am not in any way stating or encouraging anyone to pretend being dissed doesn’t hurt, but I am a witness that letting it go (releasing those painful experiences, people, etc.) is far more beneficial, than holding on.

Stay encouraged!

Let me explain.

I am a recovering people-pleaser. Part of this recovery is continually working at being free from always feeling the need to provide an explanation for decisions I sometimes feel lead to make.

In my personal experience, the times I get so wrapped up in trying to justify choices or decisions that do not line up with cultural “norms”, I begin second guessing things, then fall into double-mindedness, which of course leads to emotional instability, all due to trying to make a decision make sense to others (James 1:6-8) – It’s madness, trust me!!

Not trying to get super deep, but sometimes, as a Believer specifically, some choices just will not make much sense to others, sometimes even to ourselves, but we still make them.

In instances like this, let me explain – No explanation required!

DISCLAIMER: I in no way am saying not to be accountable to anyone, but keep in mind, in the end, you only are truly accountable for yourself, and the choices YOU make (Romans 14:12). Stay encouraged!

Much love to all!

One thing I do.

It used to be, and honestly, sometimes still is, extremely hard for me to have peace regarding some of my past actions, whether years ago, days ago, or even an hour ago…

The horrible habit of always critiquing yourself, and thinking about what you could have said or done better in a situation can be a VERY draining occurrence. Don’t get me wrong – I think there is often great opportunity to learn and grow from mistakes, but I think it is very damaging to negatively and/or obsessively dwell on them (I’ve been guilty of both!).

Strive to be a better person – grow, and mature, but in the midst of trusting the Lord (and taking the necessary steps to become better), one thing I do, and will continue to remind myself to do, is forgetting those things which are behind, and pressing forward to what lies ahead (paraphrase of Philippians 3:13b)!

DISCLAIMER: In NO WAY am I saying one should not take responsibility for their actions. You slip up, hurt others or even yourself, be accountable and try to get it right! I just think it’s counterproductive and toxic to one’s growth, to continually dwell and mope about where you are or what you did. With love, and a virtual hug, I say, dust yourself off, and try again! That’s what I’m deciding to do!

Much love to all!

Let’s try this again.

I think there is a certain freedom that comes with being open to having relationships with others (not just romantically). It seems so easy to allow all of the pain, heartache, and regret of failed relationships to hinder you from even wanting to step out and let people into your world again. The crazy thing is, when you build a wall to protect yourself from getting hurt, you of course are keeping out the bad, along with the good. Soon, you’re “protected”, but on an island all by your lonesome.

I guess the risks that come with getting to know people, and allowing them to get to know you, could possibly outweigh the reward of protecting yourself so well, that you never get hurt.

It’s been a bit for me, but I think I am finally ready to let go of ALL of the past relational hurts I’ve held onto for so long, and actually trust, and look ahead to the possibility of some pretty cool connections with others.

To opening up more, and taking the risk to get to know people, while allowing them to get to know me, I say, “Self, let’s try this again”.

DISCLAIMER: When deciding who you open up to, it is always best to use wisdom, and guard your heart (Proverbs 4:23). This is different from being cold and suspicious, but it is being mindful of who you allow to sit in a place of influence.

Much love to all!

You do know how to love.

After a conversation where she is kind or shows someone love, one of my best friends under Jesus often says “I do know how to love”. A paraphrased line Forrest Gump says to Jenny, before he walks out to his porch and awkwardly places his hands on his hips.
She and I giggle about this, but there is truth to the statement; we all are equipped with what we need to show, and be love.

I remember I heard a wise woman speak on love, and she brought up the common excuse phrase of “I do not even know how to love myself, how can I love others?” There is some truth to this, as far as treatment, but this wise woman said in response to that, you wake up and get dressed, you use the bathroom, you make sure you eat during the day (I am sure there are some exceptions to this, but I am speaking to those who can and do these things for themselves). If you can do the bare minimum in showing yourself love, you can do the bare minimum in showing someone else love.

Some examples of these bare minimums are: greeting someone as you pass them, excusing yourself if you bump someone, apologizing if you are in the wrong (apologizing DOES NOT make you a weak person), and at the least, SMILING!

Showing love does not always have to be the extreme of providing a luxury car or an expense free vacation. A lot of times, consistently showing little pieces of love builds stronger bridges, than grand gestures ever could (even though mixing in grand gestures from time to time is definitely not a bad idea 🙂 ).

The point here – don’t make excuses to not be kind and show others love.

You DO know how to love…

Stay encouraged :)

Loose ends can be burned.

If you are like me, you can look back over your social life and think of a time or two (in my case, more like 10!) when you left things, in your eyes, unfinished. You read old journals, or reminisce, and then you’re on Facebook, doing “research”, and looking to link back up.

Again, if you are like me, you’ve found that in most of those cases, it would have been best and better to have just burned those loose ends, vs. trying to tie them up.
By that I mean, our memories sometimes can primarily focus on all of the good stuff. We forget about the senseless arguments, wasted time, etc.

Example time – Back in 6th/7th grade there was this fella that I was really cool with. I felt comfortable to just be myself – Goofy, random, cute, etc. 

Well, in my mind I “remembered” us just falling out of touch because my family and I moved, and I just did not remember his contact information. So I sought after this fella to try and rekindle the friendship we once had. Big mistake.

After linking back up, I began to witness ALL of the old issues again – The selfishness, self absorbency, and the mind frame of physicallness without an actual commitment to me was ok (Oh hecks no!). If I would’ve taken more time to continue to read through old journals to my 10th grade year, I would’ve found that he and I did reconnect (he found my number through the white pages – I am aging myself here), and the issues listed above were some of the major reasons I initially sang the “Good-bye to You” song to the whole situation.
*Please note, I am not, nor do I claim to be a perfect person or friend.

Good news is, this time around I came back to my senses, not as quickly as I’d hoped, but very thankful that the senses came! That connection all together has since ceased. But that situation, along with a couple others that are similar enough that I do not have to go into great detail, taught me that not all loose ends need to be tied up/have a complete “closure” ending. Some are just as well to be burned without explanation.

My suggestion to you is to not be afraid to keep moving forward. If you have fallen out of touch with someone from your past, really think about whether or not it’s not such a bad thing. If you are still thinking about them after, just know life has a funny way of bringing opportunities back around. Just make sure you’re ready…

Stay encouraged 🙂

The importance of being real (even if unintentionally).

I remember a time when I was gradually easing my way back into being involved at church. Like many, I found myself out of the consistent flow, due to outside circumstances – work schedule got out of hand, and one missed Sunday turned into a whole month, and so on, and so forth. I am sure I am not the only person who has been there… 

Anyway, I was invited to attend a young adults Friday evening meeting. Due to my lack of church attendance, I already felt pretty out of place. But I figured, thankfully I would have some pretty close girlfriends there, so I wouldn’t actually be all alone.

That evening there was a nice crowd – the whole front “meeting space” area was packed with a chair circle setting. I cannot remember the exact discussion in its entirety, but I know it got pretty heated between a young man and I on the action or lack of, the church should take on reaching out, etc.

At this time, I was a closeted Misty Menthol Light 120’s smoker (in the stage of trying to quit). But to all of the smokers, past and present out there, whether you smoke openly, or in secret, if the “right” situation sets you off, you will find a place to go light one up. This was the case for me that night, back in the early 2010’s.

I left the church property, and walked across the street to an unlit bus stop – It was about 8 pm during the tail-end of winter, so it was pretty dark out. I lit, and hit two of those dramatically long cigarettes off in less than 5 minutes. The whole time debating within myself whether I should wait at the stop for 30 minutes for the next bus and just be done with the evening, or shake off the frustration of that one heated moment, and head back in (all in all, it had been a pretty productive and unified evening).

I decided to return.

When I got back into the room, and returned to my chair in the large circle, I noticed two of my girlfriends low-key shift their chairs away from me – I forgot about the odor smoking leaves on clothes, especially right after a smoke!

There was one young lady to my left, who I was not particularly close with. We knew of each other, and were definitely cordial and friendly toward one another, but not that close friend status. This young lady, who I’ll call “Joss”, surprisingly did not shift her chair. She did not give me a dirty look of judgment either.
She just sniffed the air, looked at me and said “[my nickname], you smoke cigarettes?”. I nodded my head in sheer embarrassment. But all I got from her in return was a smile, and a “Well, we’ll just have to believe the Lord for your deliverance from that”. I gave her one of the most genuine smiles ever, and I sat upright in my seat for the rest of the evening, girlfriends shifted away from me and all.

I share this story to say, you cannot get help or true acceptance, if you are determined to hide your struggles from everyone. Like me, you may have those close friends that will shift away from you when it’s discovered or shared what you’re dealing with. But I pray that you will have a “Joss”, who will look at you with a smile, and believe with you, for your deliverance and breakthrough.

Stay encouraged :)

Keep moving forward.

At a certain point in our lives (I do not limit this to a specific age because you have 30 year olds who may get it, and then a 58 year old who may still be totally clueless…) we get to know ourselves. What works for us, what doesn’t. What we can tolerate, and what we are willing to tolerate.

When this point comes, you will find yourself passing on, or walking away from things and people that to the natural eye, seem like a great find, but deep inside you know just will not work for you.

Like myself for instance, I am finding more and more lately that many of my past relationships were established and accepted off of my own fear of being alone. As well as a fear of actually getting completely real with someone. Not ever showing them the real me, but more of what I thought would keep them interested and around.

I am sure we have all been there before – accepting “less” vs. just being alone. Investing so much of ourselves into an individual or relationship with the hopes of somehting great coming out of it, inspite of that person informing us time and again that they are toxic or not looking for the same thing(s) out of a relationship – this can be shown by way of words, attitudes, AND actions. Yet we still worked at the relatonshps because we thought maybe they would change, or we could sacrifice our desires, and change a little for “love”.

But back to that certain point – after a while that selling ourselves short experience no longer suits us. We want more, we realize we deserve more, and want to give more to an authentic relationship. It’s great to realize this when you are alone, and have no active prospects.

But if you are in a similar boat to me, this great realizaton may have hit you smack dab on the head right at the early stage of putting yourself through the “settling for less” wringer once again.

If this is the case for you, I encourage you to have a real (and quick) heart to heart with yourself. Do you want to gamble and waste time on a person or relationship that will just leave you broken, confused, and having to go through the recuperating phase? Or do you want to take a stand, leave the relationship/friendship, and hold out for what you really want?

Please note, I am not encouraging those who seek out a “baller”, or someone to take care of them the rest of their life, without them ever contributing anything.

What I mean by “what you really want” is, someone who will express their appreciation. Someone who is open to talking about a future with you. Someone who KNOWS that their is an interest in you, even if it is just a small seed at the time, and not fully bloomed. Someone who doesn’t leave you waiting by the phone. Someone who doesn’t have to talk to you non-stop throughout the day, but at least will send a word that they are thinking about you.
These are things you are worth. These are things worth waiting for in a relationship. The lack of these things, at least in my opinion, are cause to walk away (early in the “game”), or to not even begin in the first place.

It will not be easy to leave what seems like a great propsect (again, if they only seem great because the only other alternative is being alone), but I hope you will realize you are worth more, and like me walk away, and keep moving forward…

You’re worth it 🙂

Stay encouraged…