I Am the Grinch

There is a deep pain in carrying one another’s burdens. The strange thing, though, is that you want to.

My time in New Hampshire, though not as long as expected, was not for nothing. I have come away with fruit born out of tears and pain not understood. We are a family, and we care deeply for one another. When one laughs, we laugh with him. When one is hurting, we feel his pain. I have learned in my three months to look beyond myself and feel that pain.

I’ve always been self-focused. I’ve always been worried about my own problems. I was often too concerned about what was going on with me to see what others were going through. I had a heart for people, but looking back now, it was extremely limited. I thought I loved people, but now I’m not really sure if I did.

As I said, we are a family. We laugh together, play together, cry together, eat together, fight together, mourn together, and pray together. During my time, we watched as many of our family chose to leave and it struck us all deeply. I remember listening one day right after someone had left, and one of our brothers was especially struggling. Raw emotion choked his voice as he cried out to us and to the Lord for prayer and comfort for not just him, but also for his brother who had left. I felt burdened. I felt this deep pain in my heart for my brother who was struggling. I wanted to take this pain away from him, heap it on myself for Pete’s sake…just give him a sense of relief. I cried and advocated to the Lord on his behalf with a heavy heart. That’s when things began changing.

I began to view people differently. I felt more loving and forgiving towards them. Something that would once annoy me, didn’t. I felt a tugging on my heart when I saw my brothers and sisters struggling.

And it hurt. It hurt so bad.

I felt as though I really was taking on their pain. But it was something I wanted to do. I wanted to help them, I continued praying for them. I mourned alongside them. I loved them.

I loved them.

God works in mighty ways. He’s been deeply working on my heart. People have stories. They are hurting. You never know what’s going on in their lives. Encourage one another, take time to listen. Pray together. We are called to be in fellowship with one another, and it is a powerful, beautiful thing. Take care of your brothers and sisters in Christ. Cherish them and build them up. Love them, as He has loved us.

 

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What Do Moms Want for Mother’s Day?

I’m constantly seeing ads that advertise their products by saying things like “Make this Mother’s Day special…….” They want you to buy their products and spend money, because obviously the amount of money you spend decides how special or not so special your mom is.

Well I find that rather funny.
Rather hysterical, actually.

I know for a dead-stinking fact that my own mother, and every single one of my friends’ mothers, feel differently. Think about it. What are your moms always saying? Stuff about how they just wish everyone could be home just ONE night for a REAL family dinner. They’re the ones making comments during family activities about how nice it is, and how awesome it is that you’re all spending time together. They encourage you to spend time with your siblings, and they always welcome time spent with you.

So let’s ponder on that for a few minutes.
When it comes to Mother’s Day, what do you think is truly the thing that will make her feel special?

Do you think that our moms base it on the amount of money we spend?
Do you think they base it on how fancy an item is that we bought?
Do you think they base in on all this material stuff that one day will rust away?
I, for one, don’t think so.

I think our moms cherish the love we show each other. The time we spend together.
I think our moms feel special when we show them how much they mean to us.
Tell your mom you love her. Not just once, or twice. A lot. And say it like you mean it, because trust me…you do. And trust me on this, she will remember it forever.
Our moms love knowing that our families are together, happy, and making memories. Laughing and making jokes.
Our moms love teaching us about God as a child, and helping us grow in Christ as we get older. It brings them so much joy to watch our walk with Christ continue to grow.
I think our moms wouldn’t necessarily want a gift that screams “I’M SO EXPENSIVE!” but instead, they cherish the gift that calmly whispers “I love you.”

So….how are you going to make this Mother’s Day special?

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Better Than A Hallejuah

I’m tired of people who are struggling emotionally being judged for their actions. They’re called attention-seekers. They’re called being dramatic. They’re looked down on and scoffed at. They don’t get a chance to explain. I think it’s time that stopped. To the best of my ability, and putting aside my awkward tendencies and often not having the right words, I want to clear some things up.

Self-harming is not done for the attention.
Self-harming is not done for the drama.
Self-harming is an act of desperation. It’s a cry for help.

Think just how bad you would have to be hurting to want to inflict more pain on yourself. It’s almost hard to believe. But it’s true. Those who self-harm do what they do because of the pain they’re already in. They’ll pick up that blade, needle, flame, or whatever is within reach, because the inner turmoil is too much to bear.

Some people do it because they believe they deserve it. They think they deserve the pain. They think it’s all their fault.
Some people do it because they need a way to get their anger and frustration out. They don’t want to hurt anyone else so….they take it out on themselves.
Some people do it simply because they hate themselves, and it’s a way for them to punish themselves.
Some people do it because they want to…they need to…feel the pain. It’s an addiction. The sting of physical pain takes their mind off their emotional pain. It distracts them and gives them temporary escape from their mind. Again, that is another thing that is nearly impossible to explain if you haven’t felt it yourself….something that I hope you never have to.

But as much as it makes them feel better, sooner or later that initial relief wears off. So often they’re left sitting there, staring at the mark engraved into their skin, wondering what’s next. As much as they need someone to notice their pain and to help them, as much as they need someone to save them, they feel ashamed. Ashamed of what they just did. They try to hide the very evidence of their pain, covering up the scar(s) at all costs.

It’s a vicious circle, knowing they need help, but being too afraid.
Afraid to trust someone with something that big.
Afraid of being judged.
Afraid of losing friends.
Afraid of being considered a freak.

I wish I were better with words so I could explain this easier. The only thing I want is for people to understand. When you see someone’s scars, don’t be so quick to judge, and don’t think of (or treat) them as any less of a person as you are. We all have our own battles we’re faced with, and we all fight them differently.

I’ve come to see scars as battle wounds, as evidence that you were faced with trials and you survived. You made it out alive. Yes, they do remind you of your past and often it can hurt. But they also remind you of where you are now. Scars hold stories of pain and desperation, but they also give hope that there is a chance of survival. Your scars make you beautiful. Don’t be ashamed. I’m not saying flaunt them and advertise them everywhere, making a point to make it all about you. But don’t be so afraid that you cover them up. Let them be a silent testimony of your life and your strength.

And no matter what you do, remember that God is stronger and bigger than anything you’re facing. He knows what you’re going through. He understands. He hurts when you hurt. His heart breaks when you cry.

Don’t ever forget that there is hope.
You are loved.

In the words of Amy Grant: “The tears of shame for what’s been done, the silence when the words won’t come, are better than a hallelujah sometimes. We pour out our miseries, God just hears a melody. Beautiful the mess we are, the honest cries of breaking hearts are better than a hallelujah.”

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God Is Good.

God is good.
He is faithful.
He is loving.
He is perfect.
He is constant.
He is indescribable.
He is forever.
He is forgiving.
He is caring.
He is understanding.
He is awe-inspiring.
He is truth.
He is unfailing.
He is gentle.
He is just.
He is righteous.
He is peace.
He is cleansing.
He is patient.
He is healing.
He is victorious.
He is knowing.
He is joy.
He is compassionate.
He is infinite.
He is worthy.
He is love.
He is holy.
He is everlasting.
He is merciful.
He is uncontainable.
He is incomparable.
He is powerful.
He is the Messiah.
He is the Redeemer.
He is Emmanuel.
He is the saving Grace.
He is Ancient of Days.
He is the Alpha and Omega.
He is Mighty God.
He is the Great I AM.
He is the Lamb.
He is the Bread of Life.
He is the King of kings, the Lord of Lords, and the Prince of Peace.
God is good.

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I Will Still Trust You

Life can be cruel. It’s a fact, one proven many times over. Too often we learn it the hard way. Life also seems to like playing tricks on us. You think everything is going good, then suddenly the floor under you just disappears and you’re plunged into darkness and confusion. Everything you once knew is suddenly either gone or changed, and you’re left sitting there, hurt and confused, wondering what happened.

It’s easy to trust God when things are going good. But when life hits you hard, all too often we seem to forget that He’s in control. We blame Him and get mad at Him, drawing further away. We start questioning His plan and purpose; we begin doubting what we once proclaimed to be living. I’ve done all those things more often than I’d like to admit. Just tonight I had a nervous breakdown, shaking and crying and stressing. Not once during the entire ordeal did I think to just try to calm down and pray. I completely forgot that God was right there with me, and all I had to do was reach out to Him.

I’ll leave you with this challenge…next time things go wrong, before you start doubting God or feeling betrayed that He could let this happen, stop for a moment. Remember that He can and will hear you, and that He’ll always be there, and just tell Him…”God, I will still trust You.”

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Een-spi-ray-shun

What inspires you? You stop any person on the street and ask them that question, you’ll probably get a long list of great actors, authors, key figures in history, certain people that were influential in their lives, maybe even successes that motivated them to push harder. And it’s a great feeling, isn’t it? Feeling inspired….there’s nothing like it.

Every now and then, though, it seems like there is just no inspiration to be found. Dead end. Writer’s block to the max. Your little flame of ideas has fizzled out and you’re left with a whisp of smoke that you can’t seem to rekindle. You sit for hours with the pen in your hand (or should I say, with your fingers poised above the keyboard)…..and nothing comes out. Naturally, we tend to get discouraged when that happens. But so often, the problem isn’t that there is no inspiration to be found….the problem is that you’re looking in all the wrong places. Everything in this world is temporary. The places we go, the things we achieve, the possessions we acquire….it all only lasts for so long. And we tend to search for inspiration in these things that only last a short while. We focus on things there on earth, on the worldly objects that hold no worth. Colossians 3:2 says “Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.” We need to shift our focus onto God. He is the ultimate source of love, hope, and so much more….all the inspiration you need. And THAT flame doesn’t fizzle out.

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Blogger Buddies

I’d just like to take a few moments to give a shout out to a few friends of mine who have been in the blogging world way longer than I have, and who truly have a gift for laying the truth out in a way people can understand and relate to. They’re bold about sharing Christ and they aren’t afraid to address topics that a lot of people tend to shy away from. These guys have been an inspiration to me, and I can’t wait for you to be blessed by them the way I have!

Jarrid Wilson:
http://jarridwilson.com/

Adam Swensen:
http://thenextgeneration.wordpress.com/

John Wylie:
http://ivoryjohn.com/

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Perfectly Imperfect

What comes to your mind when you hear the word “beauty”? Supermodels and actresses you see on the red carpet? Stars like Heidi Klum and Jennifer Aniston? All those make up companies that sell the newest brand of eye shadow or the lipstick that lasts the longest? True, they are beautiful and those products do give an extra touch when you’re trying to look good. But that’s not the kind of beauty I’m talking about. I’m talking about beauty that’s on the inside.

Now you might be wondering what the heck I’m talking about. How can you be beautiful on the inside? I mean, the outside is what people see, right? The outside is what counts the most….right?

Wrong.

True beauty…the beauty that really counts…is on the inside. It starts there and shines outward so bright that anyone can see it. Sure, make up is fine and there’s nothing wrong with wearing it. But at the end of the day, all that’s gonna come off. It doesn’t last forever. Inner beauty isn’t something you can take off or put on. It’s something that does last.

God really opened my eyes to this today. I’d been struggling a long time with my self-esteem and finding true beauty through Him. I’ve hated how I look for a long time now, and often I’d wear a lot of make up, trying to cover up what I perceived as imperfections. I was always jealous of all the other girls because I felt like the ugly duckling. But today I stood in my bathroom, staring at my reflection in the mirror. I stood there for a few minutes, thinking. Then I grabbed a towel and scrubbed my face clean. I wiped off all the mascara and foundation and powder….everything. When I looked up into the mirror again, I found myself smiling. I realized I didn’t need all that make up. And you know what? Neither do you.

You’re beautiful just the way you are. You don’t need twenty pounds of make up to look good. God made you just how you are, and He doesn’t make mistakes. You are how you are because He knew there wasn’t anyone who could be you any better than you can. You’re one of a kind. So I say, embrace your so called imperfections and see yourself as the beautiful person God made you to be.

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Birthdays and Gray Hair?!

Birthdays. What came to mind when you read that? Some of you thought of balloons and pinatas. Some of you thought of presents and cake. Others of you probably saw it as a grumpy reminder of how old you’re getting. Some people love birthdays, while some hate them. Everyone has a different opinion. I, however, see birthdays as a gift in and of themselves.

Being born is a miracle. A new life taking its first breath in this big world. A chance to be someone that can make a difference in somebody’s life. And each year, we have a special reminder of that gift. Each year that goes by is a year full of opportunities to be the best you can be. To live life to fullest. To live it for Christ and to share His love.

Sometimes we don’t feel that special, even when it is our birthday. We think “Oh, it’s just another day. Bah humbug. Nothing to get excited about.” Every time you catch yourself thinking like that, think about this: take a look at you and everyone around you. Imagine where you were five years ago and see the difference. Growing older is a gift. The Bible itself says “Gray hair is a crown of glory; it is gained in a righteous life.” (Proverbs 16:31). Treasure each day, and each birthday. Live each day as though it were your last. And even when you don’t think you’re that special? God does. Happy Birthday 🙂

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More Than Meets the Eye

I painted my nails yesterday. Bright green. Granted, it’s not salon quality, but I did a pretty fair job. As I was admiring them today, something hit me. From a distance, my nails looked perfect. They looked like a pro did them. But when inspected up close, you could see all the spots where I messed up.

Think about the people you know. You probably know at least one person who seems to just have the perfect life. Everything’s going for him or her. Great grades, happy family, gorgeous, perfect boyfriend/girlfriend, always smiling and laughing about something. It seems like everything you could want, he or she has. Your life seems so pale and much less joy filled than that person’s life.

Usually that’s all that people see. They see the outward appearance. Or in this case, they only see the nails from a distance. But what if they looked at the nails up close? So often the most broken people are the ones who seem the happiest. The ones who smile the most are the ones who cry themselves to sleep at night. The ones who check their friends’ wrists for cuts are the ones who never get their wrists checked for the cuts that are there. The ones who always are able to talk somebody out of suicide are the ones who try to commit suicide themselves, with no one to talk them out of it. The ones with the happiest laughter are the ones with the most broken heart.

Don’t make assumptions about people. You never know what’s going on inside his or her head. You don’t know what their family life is like. You don’t know what their past is or what dark secrets they harbor inside.

Now imagine the tables being flipped and YOU’RE the one who fakes the smile and the laugh? Wouldn’t you want someone to see past your masquerade and ask you how you really are, even when you say you’re okay? We all want someone to talk to. Even when we pretend to be okay, we want someone to realize that we’re not. Always be ready to talk to someone. Always be ready to listen. Your advice might not be the greatest, but sometimes just knowing someone’s listening is all that matters.

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