1.17.2017

Living for Applause

We all like to be wanted. We all like to be skilled, talented, sufficient and recognized. If you take a close look at your life you may find that a majority of the things you do are often in hope of recognition. We dress a certain way because we want people to approve of us. We say certain things because we want to feel smart. We spend time with friends to feel needed. We care for others in expectation to get something back.

APPROVAL FROM THE WORLD

Honestly, taking a look at my own life I've found many areas that I give, only to receive something in return. I look for approval from the world. I desire "applause" for the things I do. No matter how great we appear or how much recognition we receive, it never will suffice for our true heart's intent.

I hate to admit this, but I am a people pleaser. I believe a lot of us are. We want to feel accepted and wanted. We want to fit in. We want others to like us. When other people like us we feel better about ourselves. When we feel better about ourselves we feel happy. Even though at times this "happiness" may bring some temporary satisfaction, it often results in a downward spiral to discouragement. When we base our contentment and joy on something that is fleeting and fluctuating it is hard to remain steadfast in our view of ourselves.



When we live for the world's applause we are performing for the wrong crowd. We may get a standing ovation or we may be "booed" off the stage, but no matter the result we aren't defined by our performance. God sees our true intentions and we don't have to pretend or put on an act for Him. We are loved just as we are. No masks. No pretending. No disguising. We are loved just as we are.

HINDERED BY FEAR

I get so timid when it comes to being myself because I'm afraid that others won't like who I am inside. I hide my thoughts and ideas because I'm afraid they aren't worthy or insightful. I remain quiet because I feel less vulnerable when I don't express myself. Even worse, I do this with my faith as well. I become so disappointed with myself sometimes for my lack of transparency with the world. I want to be me, but sometimes I just feel like I'm tied back by my fear.

Satan is a great pawn in our performance act. He distracts us and gets our mind focused on people instead of the actual purpose of why we're here. He leads us into a way of thinking that gets us so fearful of what others "could" do that we ignore the idea all-together of stepping out and overcoming our fear. We let fear be the main hindrance that holds us back, instead of reminding ourselves that a rejection from the world is so insignificant in comparison to a "well done" from God.

ETERNAL PERSPECTIVE

We don't have to get applause for the work we do here, because God will reward those who follow after Him when we reach our eternal home. We may not get recognition here, but one day all things will be made known. The unseen will be seen. Nothing will go unnoticed.

You may feel like everyone around you is receiving applause in comparison to your behind the scenes life, but just remember that God sees the hidden acts of kindness we do for Him. He sees the willing heart that is trying when everyone else seems to be receiving recognition. He honors those who serve Him even when they don't receive anything in return. I believe that is what true love is. Giving with no expectation of anything in return.

Choose to live a life that is not living only for applause. Live a life that is living for a cause. A cause much higher than the common everyday tasks. A cause to show God's love to others. Maybe just a kind act. Serving others and letting your actions speak louder than your words ever could. Don't give up when you feel invisible. Let your life be your voice. Live for a cause, not for applause!

2 Corinthians 4:18
So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

 Note: I am hoping to publish a new study within the next few weeks entitled "Flawed." Basically it's a study on feeling invisible, less than and insignificant. I'm looking forward to sharing it with you all soon!

12.29.2016

Be Still & Know

Have you ever felt like your heart can't find rest from the weight on your shoulders? All your mistakes, mishaps, failures and insecurities keep you up at night and seem to dominate your thoughts. Your doubts and perceptions of others creep in and contaminate your positivity.

A MINDSET FOR FAILURE

Have you ever told yourself not to get to happy, excited or content with where you are because you knew it would end in dismay? Often times I discourage myself from getting excited or confident in anything because I know it will just let me down. I know it will lead to discouragement. I also intentionally worry so that I can go into situations with a mindset ready for failure, so anything short of making a total fool of myself will result in some sort of accomplishment. Yeah, I know, it's totally backwards and typing it out sounds even more absurd.

When we grow weary with our lives, struggles and circumstances we don't have to grow discouraged. When the world throws insurmountable pressures on us and we feel like we're not measuring up, we can remember these truths: Be still and know, you don't have to worry. God sees you. He will find you where you are. He is strong when you are weak. He is all you need. His love will never fail you. Trust Him. Just be still and know.


LET GOD TAKE OVER

I've realized that a big part of my worrying is caused by my lack of trust. I grow discouraged and upset in myself, and in my situations, because I don't trust that God has a perfect plan. I fear the future because I rely on my own strength and I don't trust that He will help me through. I worry because I forget the God that is by my side and I fail to trust that He is with me no matter where I go or what I do.

If you feel like you're heart is broken and your stressed beyond what you can handle, trust God, be still and know. Trust that God has got it under control. Give it over to Him. Let Him take over. Don't let doubt cloud up your view. Look at your situations knowing and trusting God will be with you - He will strengthen and help you through. You're not in this alone. Remember Who you are praying to. Remember who He is. He is an all-knowing, everlasting, never failing, never changing, faithful, loving, caring, understanding God. He is in control of all things and His plans are entirely for your best.

We can say all we want that we trust God, but trust comes when we have no doubts. No worries. No fear. Yeah, it sounds like a fantasy world, but true trust is when we have faith in God, knowing He is working and will help us through, even when there seems to be no hope. It's entrusting our biggest "if's," placing them in His hands and realizing He knows better than us. It's giving Him total control and not second guessing His power or plans.

IN CONCLUSION

Take whatever burden is on your heart and give it up to God. You don't have to carry it anymore. Cry out to the Lord, He's there to offer you rest and a refuge in the midst of your storm. He sees what you're going through and understands. Give the burdens of your heart to God and trust that He will help you through. He will guide you when your path is dark. He will be your strength when you are weak. He will be your stronghold when all else fails. He will remain with you even when everyone else abandons you. Trust Him. Be still and know He is working!

I found this song recently, and it actually inspired my post so I thought I would share it. I hope you enjoy it!

12.14.2016

Desiring God

Have you ever wondered why your prayers seem to go unanswered? Have you questioned why God hasn't met the desires of your heart? You've prayed, waited and trusted but you still feel like your life is foggy.

I've had these thoughts run through my mind before and allowed them to discourage my outlook. I've let doubts run through my mind that cause me to wonder where God is and what He is up to. When things seem silent regarding my requests I question His ability to hear me.

Recently as I was listening to the radio in my car this past week I heard a testimonial along with a verse from Psalm 37 that really impacted me. I had heard the verse many times before but it touched me in a different way.

Psalm 37:4
Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.

As I took a deeper look into this verse that I had often skimmed over, I found a truth so applicable to my own life. How many times do I find delight and contentment in other things (possessions, success, talents, people, etc.) and I fail to find contentment in the area it truly matters. Before all else, I should desire God. Only God. If I can find true contentment in Him, He will then fulfill desires that He sees fit to be met. It doesn't happen in reverse order.

Delighting yourself in God isn't something that you should only do when times are good. It's not something you should only do for a short period of time, but it is something you should constantly find yourself engaging in. When you delight in something you are solely focused on, and it is done effectively, all else fades into the background. We should be this way with God. We should be so focused on Him and trusting in Him that even when plans fall short and we may feel like an utter failure, we can still have joy because our focus (our delight) is in God and not temporal things that will pass away.



When you fully delight yourself solely in God, you can let go of those things you hold onto so tightly. You don't have to have control over them for them to become fulfilled. It's kind of odd, but by letting go of those things you desire so strongly, it actually gives you a peace and affirmation knowing God will work things out for the best. He knows the best timing and what you truly need. Letting go of our desires is definitely not an easy task, but when we do, it reveals our trust in God with the things we value and seek the most in our lives.

It has taken me so long to let go of things in my own life and give God the control I once thought I needed to have. Although I still struggle with trusting Him in that area (and many others) I have found a peace knowing that He is working and has His best plan for my life, even when it feels like I'm in a waiting period. I know that God is using every season of my life for a unique purpose and I can find contentment knowing He is working and doing great things no matter how insignificant they may seem.

Let your life be so focused on God that you see things through a perspective that allows you to let the worries and desires of this world fade away. When we can find delight in God we realize we don't need the pleasures and satisfactions this world makes us think are so vital to be happy or live a fulfilled life.

I may not be in a relationship. I may not live on my own or have my own children. I may not have a lofty job position. I may not be as intelligent as some. I may be plain and ordinary. I may not have the latest phone or own a sports car. But I can find my joy and contentment in the One who loves me the way I am and doesn't care where I live, how many friends I have or how much money I possess. He looks deeper than that. And I want to look deeper than that too. I want to focus on the God who is present in my life even when I don't see Him. I want to be so focused on Him that my outlook on life changes and I can find opportunities to share and show His love to others.

Maybe you struggle finding contentment in your season of life. Maybe you've been waiting. Hoping. Praying. And nothing seems to be happening. Take your focus off the problems, worries and stresses you are encountering. Focus on God. Look only to Him. Remember He has great plans for you. Let your delight be in Him. Find joy in knowing He will not be disappointed in you or what you do, because He understands and still loves you. His love never fails. Delight yourself in His promises and in His truths. Let them be what lifts you up amidst the storms you may be facing. Look to the One who can help you through and will never leave your side. When you place your satisfaction in God, your desires will match up with His and you can have a hope in your foggy future because you know God is in control.

11.12.2016

Armored Against the Enemy [a free PDF download]

A few months back I felt God bringing up a specific topic to my attention. It was something I wanted to grow deeper in and focus more in my life. God kept bringing the armor of God up in my devotions so I decided to take a closer look. Upon delving deeper into this topic I really have found it personally encouraging and wanted to share some of my thoughts regarding it with all of you. Actually in the process of writing out all the pages and nearing the end of my study, I ended up losing almost all my work and I had to go back and rewrite everything. Hopefully God allowed me to add something I may have missed beforehand and it allowed me to apply the truths even more into my own life.

Anyways, while studying, I've realized how often this topic is applicable to our everyday lives. We often forget that we are living in a spiritual battle. Satan is out to get us and we need to be aware of his targets of discouragement. I've definitely grown accustomed to his deceptive tricks and it truly does take initiative to fight back and focus on God's perception of us.

In this world it is so easy to get caught up in negativity, complaining, doubts, discouragement, worry, fear, shame, the list could go on and on. Once Satan starts infiltrating our minds with these thoughts it just keeps flowing in deeper and deeper into our mindset and hearts. It becomes second nature to complain about a bad day, beat ourselves up over our mistakes, feel guilt for sins that have already been forgiven and worry over what could happen.

http://bit.ly/2eOGQst


I wanted to create a short study of the seven pieces of armor that God has given us to withstand the devil. I believe they are vital to use in our Christian walk, and quite honestly I didn't even understand the full purpose and importance of them all until I studied them deeper.

Our world is a difficult place to live in with society and things constantly changing. Our perspectives are easily sidetracked to all our problems and we forget who our true enemy is. It's not our struggles, people, government, or circumstances that is the problem, it's Satan trying to get our focus caught up in all those things so we lose sight that he's the source of all the evil we encounter. We need to have a battle plan to fight his deception, and God has given us the necessary tools to do so.

I'm including a link to the thirteen page PDF of my thoughts and ramblings on the armor of God. I hope it can be an encouragement to you and help you take defense as you try to withstand the devil and live for God.


Download THE PDF >>

10.31.2016

Get it Together

Get it together. Have you ever said these words to yourself? Sometimes I look around and it seems like everyone I see seems to have things "together" and life seems to be cooperating for them. I look at my life, full of mistakes, failures, mishaps, broken pieces, loose ends and insecurities and I wonder why my life can't be like the rest. Why is my torn up road filled with bumps, ditches and valleys, when it seems like everyone else's is smooth and easy.

Sometimes I feel like my life is stagnant. I feel like I'm trudging through water and I'm getting nowhere fast. I feel like I try and try, and no matter what I do, I'm left in the same ditch as when I started. I look around and see others who continually move forward, passing me by, while I'm stuck behind that slow poke in the right lane. Sometimes I question what God's trying to do in my life. Why? Why me? Why this? Why now? Why did this happen? What is Your purpose?

I've told myself to "get it together" many times recently, and quite honestly, I don't think it was a thought from God. Satan is a pretty good deceiver and loves to make us doubt. He loves when we get discouraged, angry or upset. When I tell myself to "get it together" it's usually a result of me not feeling good enough, messing up or comparing myself to others. All of which are things Satan tries to infiltrate into our minds to make us think that they are important, instead of remembering what God tells us. He tells us we are valued, treasured, enough and unique.

When Satan succeeds by discouraging us, it hinders us. Not from only living a joyful life, but a life for God. When we feel like we constantly need to "get things together" we are focusing on how we appear. How we perform. How we act. We get distracted to focus on our heart. How is my heart? How is my example? How is my testimony through this?

When we get our focus off the "appearance" of things and focus on the "meaning" of things it often gives us a different perspective. I don't have to meet up to the expectations that everyone (and myself) have for me. I can look at my intentions. My heart. My motives.

Instead of focusing on what I'm doing, I can focus on my pure intentions. Am I working as hard as I can, even though I may make mistakes? Am I trying to follow and seek after God even though I feel like sometimes I lose my focus? It's nice to know that if I don't constantly have things together God will never stop loving me or accepting me. God does not love us based on anything we can or cannot do. His love isn't opinion or action based. It's not conditional or dependent on what we can offer.

Even when we feel like things are out of control or seem difficult to understand, we can rest assured that God's "got it together." He's got our lives in His hands. And that's the best place for us to be! The next time you feel like telling yourself to "get it together" remember that you don't have to have things together. If you did you would be the one in control of your life. Having control means you make the decisions. Your opinion only matters. You are in charge. You are dominant.

As Christians, we shouldn't be the one's in charge of our lives. We should be giving that control over to God. He's our primary decision maker. He should be the one first in our lives. He's the one we should be going to for guidance, support and wisdom. He's the one who is sovereign and will lead us in the way we should go, not to hurt us, but because it is for our best. We may think the road we're on is difficult, taking forever to get us to our desired destination, or that it is headed in the wrong direction, but God's got a plan. We may think our life is a mess, but it is a mess that God can use for His glory if we are willing to be used by Him. Our lives may not turn out how we planned, but if it's according to God's plan, it far exceeds what great expectations we could ever have for our lives!

On a sidenote, I found this song encouraging that inspired my blog post. Hope you enjoy it!   

10.05.2016

People Pleasing

Do you ever feel like you have to make everyone happy? Do you ever try to please everyone? It's an awful hard job to undertake. If we tried to please everyone we couldn't possibly just be ourselves. We'd be trying to meet up to everything everyone else wanted us to be. To be honest I am one of those people.

I try to please others so much that I let what others think of me dominate the thoughts I have of myself. So many times I am kept up at night thinking over past conversations and stretching things way out of proportion. I take words said and I begin asking a ton of "maybe" questions. "Maybe they said that about me? Maybe they think I'm weird? Maybe they think I'm a failure? Maybe they won't like me anymore? Maybe I'm not good enough?" The list goes on and on.



How often I base my opinions and thoughts off overthought assumptions and speculations and I lose track of the truth. I think the worst of words said and multiply my problems, making me depressed and discouraged. This is when I have to take a step back and refocus.

I don't have to please everyone. I don't have to please myself. I don't have to get discouraged when I fail and mess up. I don't have to be defined my my mistakes. I'm not defined by what others think of me. I am not defined by the lies and rumors others spread about me. I only have to please one - God.

As long as I am doing my best and seeking after Him, that's all I can do. Others may not say it's good enough, but God sees my heart. I don't have to control my life or meet up to the expectations that everyone throws at me, because God is my boss. I live for Him and He is the only one that I will have to account to.

If you feel downgraded by your mistakes. Defined by the countless labels others put on you or discouraged about your performance, know that there's only one opinion that matters. God sees your heart. He sees the struggling you're going through. If everyone else doesn't understand, God does. If everyone else picks out all your flaws, God sees. Don't get discouraged. Don't beat yourself up. Find God's love and let that overtake your heart. Let all the stress, pressure and expectations be released when you only focus on following after God and letting Him take control!

On a sidenote, I found this song encouraging that related to this topic. Hope you enjoy it!  

9.22.2016

In Prayer | Free PDF Download


Have you ever been struggling through a difficult time and suddenly realized that you haven’t taken the time to pray and talk with God? Sometimes I fail to look at my problems from a different perspective and seek God with an open heart. I grow discouraged with my situations and fail to see them with a different perspective.

I’ve put together a 5 page collection of prayers on my heart that I have written from heart-felt experiences that I have encountered, which I hope will encourage you. I hope these prayers will deepen your relationship with God and possibly allow you to see a different perspective to your situations. They aren’t profound or ground-breaking, but simple reminders of Biblical truths that I have found to be so evident in my own personal life.



Please feel free to enter your email below to download the free PDF!

8.18.2016

Skipping Ahead

As I drive home from work, or wherever I'm headed, I often listen to my mp3 player to enjoy some of my favorite songs. Somehow I add new songs on every week, and yet, I still find myself tired of listening to the same old songs. I constantly skip through every song until I try to find one I want to listen to.

While driving home today I found myself skipping every song until I could find one in particular to listen to. I got to the point that I was determined to find this song, until I realized something. I was so determined to find that one song, I was skipping over so many others in the process. I've often found this in stages of life as well. I'm so determined to skip over parts of my life, in search for things I want or desire, that I'm missing out on big pieces and opportunities right where I am.

I desire for the day that I can be successful at something. I get impatient waiting for the day I can marry the man God has chosen for me. I long for a lasting friendship. I desire opportunities that I can be a vital inspiration in someone else's life.

Just as I've been skipping songs, passing them by in search of something better, I've been doing that with God too. How many times I think my ways are better than God's. I'm in search of my wants and desires, and God's plans get skipped over. I try to rush through seasons of my life, searching for something of more value. A lasting impact. I want more than the provincial circumstances God has placed in my lap.


Lately life has been filled with work, work and more work. While I enjoy what I'm doing, it often gets tiring when I feel like I have no deep connections with anyone. I desire to have a deep relationship with someone. I would like to help encourage and influence with my life, but it feels like God keeps taking things and people from me. I feel like all that I'm left with is empty hands and a broken heart. I desired more for my life than where I'm at right now, but I know God has a plan. I may be a mess, feel like a failure and make mistakes, but I know God is using all of the pieces of my brokenness for something great.

Even though I feel like everything has fallen apart, God is using these broken pieces for something greater, that I may not understand, from my shattered life. Even though I wish I could skip through this season of wondering and waiting, I know that God is teaching me, more than ever, to rely on Him. When things are taken from me, I have to remember that God is bringing me closer to His side. He wants me to grow closer to Him and not rely on the earthly possessions I often get twisted up in. He can use this pain and hurt for something far greater than I ever could imagine.

If you're experiencing hardship in this season of your life, don't try to skip through and search for something better. God has it right in your lap. He's doing something amazing with your life. Not just in your past. Not in the future, but right now. Let Him lead the way and follow after Him. It takes great faith to trust God when things are unclear, not just when everything is sunny and bright. Let your faith remain strong even through the most painful trials you may be facing. Remember, if you are hurting, God is seeking you to draw closer to Him in ways you never could have if things were perfect and put together. Hardships are God's way of telling us He desires to deepen our relationship with Him.

Isaiah 43:2
When you're in over your head, I'll be there with you. When you're in rough waters, you will not go down. When you're between a rock and a hard place, it won't be a dead end. 

James 5:11
As you know, we count as blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.

7.27.2016

Letting Go of the Past

Have you ever experienced a circumstance in your life and you were struggling through the pain? You finally reached a point where you could catch a breath. You could begin to start healing. You were finally able to give God the hurt, pain and wounds of your heart. You learned to let it go and you began to move on.

Just when you thought you were through the worst, something reminds you of your past and hints of the memories come back again. The good. The bad. You thought you just overcame the pain and suffering and the memories come flooding back in, taunting you to open that door again.

Often times I experience struggling in my life that really tests my perseverance. I question what God is doing in my life. Even through the pain of the situation, God somehow always seems to pull me through. There are times though when I just can't seem to let go. Memories come flooding in and it's hard to just let it go. To let go of what might have been. To let go of once was. To let go of the anger and frustration. To let go of how my life used to be. To let go of the memories.

I've been struggling to let go of things in my life. I've given them over to God, but I feel like they often times they keep coming back again, placing an ache on my heart that I wish I could somehow overcome. I've asked God many times "Why can't I let go of this? Why is this so hard?" It's been a struggle to move on, but most of all, it's been a struggle to know that God's plan is best. I've been reminiscing in my past and finding hurt in situations that didn't go as I had planned.



This is where I get stuck. I look at things from my perspective. I focus on the things that hurt and wonder why God directed me to where I am. I grow disappointed with my life and fail to see God's direction. When I choose to go where God instructs me to go I don't have to be discouraged with my life. I have to remember that God has chosen this time of my life to use my current circumstances to teach me something. To use my life as an inspiration to the people I come in contact with.

When you begin to feel discouraged with your life and you have trouble letting go of past circumstances remember something. God has a purpose. Not just a good purpose, but a great purpose! He chose to place you where you are right now for a reason. When we choose to do what is right, try our best and seek God we can rest assured that no matter what we face, it is for our best. It is helping us to grow. It is an opportunity for us to strengthen our character. It is a blessing (yes, I said a blessing) to grow closer to God through what may seem to be like a time of discouragement in your present circumstances.

Remember, don't grow disheartened in your present circumstances. When we are too focused on our past or future we are hindering ourselves in the present. We are missing opportunities. If you are struggling letting go of a circumstance, take it to God. Even if you've taken it to Him many times. God loves a persistent heart that is willing to submit and surrender. The pain and weight of the burden you are carrying isn't only yours to carry. God is there to take it away and relieve you from what is piercing your heart. Ask God to take all the pain. All the stress and worries. Remember, He is with you even when it seems like you are all alone. He is working.

Isaiah 43:18-19
Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.
 
Galatians 6:9
Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.  

Proverbs 3:5-6
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and He will straighten your path.