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11.11.2018

Stuffing Emotions

I like to be real and authentic, but sometimes I catch myself faking a smile or forcing a laugh when I feel differently inside. Going along with the "crowd" is often easier than taking a stand, although I beat myself up for it later. I want to be real. I don't want to go along with everyone else to seek acceptance. I don't want to do something just because everyone else is doing it. It takes courage to stand up and hold fast to who you really are, and even greater, remaining faithful to God. I fall short in this area and shrink back in fear of being perceived as weird. I let the fear of being rejected keep me silent, and isn't that what Satan wants?

In this day and age it is difficult to live for God and not feel rejected by the world. As Christians, others should see a difference in us. They should see our lifestyle is different than theirs. Unfortunately since we are different, people will use our faith against us, resulting in us feeling excluded and alone. Others will use our faith as a reason to treat us differently because of Who we serve. Jesus warned us that rejection in this life would occur. Even though it feels personal, He said that we can take great delight in knowing that we are considered His royal children and it is because of this we are treated differently. We are chosen and accepted by Him, and that's all that truly matters. Others may perceive our intentions wrongly, but God sees our heart.

Matthew 10:22 
You will be hated by everyone because of Me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.

One of the primary ways I people please is through stuffing my emotions. I've often found myself feeling bitterly upset, hurt and broken within, while on the outside I can force a laugh while trying to hold myself back from the tears welling inside. I've found myself hiding how I really feel when my opinions differ from others and it could lead into confrontation or conflict. I avoid conflict at all costs. I'd rather suffer through the pain than face opposition. I've come to find that when I stuff my emotions deep within it builds up over time and some days it just explodes out of control. Sometimes I just can't take hiding the pain anymore and I need to release it all.

Stuffing how we really feel and hiding who we are is not healthy for us. God never intended us to hide our thoughts and struggles. While it is not intended that we go around expressing our every thought and opinion disrespectfully, we do need to express who we really are and not shrivel back in fear. I've allowed fear to become so debilitating that I have missed so many opportunities God was calling me towards. If only I could tap into God's power and rely on Him instead of my own strength.

I've often found that my standards and lifestyle is different from most. I was raised in a home with strong morals and a Christian upbringing. Growing up in a home where we didn't drink, dance or curse has caused my lifestyle to be different than most. I have to be honest in saying that there have been many times I've kept quiet and felt afraid of expressing my strong beliefs due to the fact that others don't have those same standards and would think of me as being too strict. I prefer to abstain from things that could influence my mind or walk with God in an inappropriate way or lead someone else into sin from my actions.

Being different from the world can be tough. I'm the type of person who hesitates in expressing thoughts or ideas due to the cost of rejection. I let my fear overtake my confidence. I stuff my thoughts, opinions and emotions deep inside so it doesn't cause any conflict or awkwardness with others. Sometimes I feel like remaining silent is the key to looking normal. Then I am reminded that God has instructed us not to become silent in us living for Him. I'm not here to lead a normal life and fit into every box that society has laid out. I don't want to live a cookie cutter life fulfilling all the desires and expectations others have of me because I'm too afraid to live out my faith freely.

I have found that the more we do to be different for God in this life there is more opportunity to be criticized, rejected and judged. It seems like day after day the same heart-wrenching lies eat away at my determination to keep living for God. Over time I've tried my best to develop thicker skin to combat the negativity this world attacks me with. Although, I've grown to find that there are many days that it only takes just one comment or hurtful action to rip open the walls to my frailty and let it seep down deep within. And once this wound is made, doubts, lies and insecurities all start flooding in. Thoughts from the present, painful memories from the past, and worries about the future all overwhelm me with indescribable emotions that I stuff deep inside so only I need to bear them. Some hurts have never fully left and continue to re-expose time after time on a deeper level. Sometimes I wonder if they'll ever fully dissolve or dissipate.

What I have found refreshing with stuffing emotions and hiding heartbreak, is nothing goes unnoticed by God. He knows exactly what those emotions are that you try to hide. He sees how you try to look strong even when you're welled up with hurt behind your disguised facade. He knows how those darkest moments caused your heart to never be the same again. He saw the weight of those harsh words or that terrible heartbreak that crushed your soul. God not only sees our pain, He wants to help take those painful burdens and all those stuffed emotions to ease our load. When we let go of them and release them into His hands we can find freedom from the nagging burden they have caused to wear on our soul. It may require us to do it time and time again, but He's there for us to turn to when our load is getting heavy and others don't seem to understand the deep impact they have caused us to endure.

Matthew 11:28-30
"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."

God never intended for us to hide ourselves in fear of being accepted by others, especially because of our faith. When you feel the weight of your troubles crushing you down, don't let the negativity, rejection or judgement from the world become so dominant that it drowns out God's voice. Seek God in prayer. Give it to Him. Look to Him for how you should handle the situation. Set free those lies and thoughts that others have of you and focus on God's never-changing love for you. It doesn't matter what the world perceives you as. They may have wrong interpretations, judgments, perceptions and gossip spread about you, but what God thinks of you is always true and His love for you will never change even when everyone else may reject you.

God should be who we go to first, but He also created others to help ease our load and provide us with encouragement through our struggles. Going to someone you respect and displays Godly wisdom is often helpful to express what you've been dealing with. Having someone to lean on during a difficult time can be refreshing, helping put things into perspective and supplying you with godly wisdom and truth. I have also found great encouragement knowing someone is praying for my needs and taking them to God in prayer.

God didn't want us to struggle alone. He didn't want us to suffer alone. He created us to be able to come to Him with our requests, struggles and troubles. He created others so we could turn to them in times of heartache. Even when it feels like others may not understand and choose to reject us, we know where we will one day be accepted. Even when it feels like God is farther away than you've ever felt, He's as close to you as He's always been. He's never left. He's right there ready and eager to hear the burdens on your heart. Take them to Him and refrain from stuffing those emotions that cause your heart to be weighted down in discouragement. He's waiting to take the weight and heavy burdens from you and accept you in with His unchanging love!

10.15.2018

Feeding Off Praise

I often define my acceptance through the compliments and praise I receive. When I feel admired and complimented it helps me feel wanted. When I feel undervalued and overlooked it causes me to look within and wonder what’s wrong with me. What have I done that I'm not receiving praise like others around me? I have found that I seek approval most often in my performance. When my hard work goes unnoticed and someone else gets the praise, it leaves me feeling undeserving and invisible. I often catch myself comparing my performance with others who seem to get more praise. I define my worth on the compliments and praise I receive, or the lack thereof. I find my worth in what has been said about me and even in words that have never been uttered. I allow my attitude to become so reflective of the way others treat me and it stems into the way I view myself.

Praise and admiration from others is something we all need, but it shouldn’t ever become something we crave. We shouldn’t be empowered solely by other’s approval that we let it consume our thoughts. We live in a society that craves acceptance and approval. We desire to get the most reactions, likes, shares, etc. and often forget to focus on the only One whom we should be serving. We don’t have to constantly rise to the top and check off all the boxes of perfection to be highly admired in God’s eyes. God doesn’t have expectations for us like the world does. He only asks that we love others and serve Him with our heart.

Being the introvert I am, it takes effort to speak up. If I finally find the courage to speak, I quickly find that I’m drowned out by the loud rambles of others chatting away while my quiet thoughts go unnoticed. In times like these it becomes ever so difficult to muster up any love left within my heart to display to others. I find myself clenching my fists in displaying gratitude or encouragement when I’m not given the same treatment in return. When I’m feeling overlooked and this world leaves me feeling invisible and unacknowledged I let it take root in my heart. I let it steal my joy and grow into bitterness. Jealousy. Discontentment. Frustration. I see others receiving attention while my effort and intentions seem to be invisible to the rest of the world.

I allow the screaming perceptions of society and the belittling silence of neglect to dictate my worth. Both of which are ideas and assumptions, not firm truths that God has provided me with. The main source behind all of this negative thinking stems down to one source - Satan. I can’t count the times that I have become so engulfed into negative thinking and forgotten who is the primary instigator behind my doubts, insecurities and anxiety.

I’ve allowed Satan to pull me so deep into discouragement and anger, that I’ve lost sight of God’s purpose for what I’m experiencing. I get so caught up in desiring to feel accepted, admired and acknowledged that I lose sight of what really matters. I truly believe that Satan is using the very things that I struggle in the most to be consistently infiltrated into every aspect of my life with purposeful strategy. He threads in lies of deception that correlate with the areas I struggle with the most which causes me to stumble without realizing the source of deceit.

Growing up I often found myself in the corner of the room, feeling ever so invisible to the world. I was the reject that nobody wanted as their friend. Being quiet and reserved I didn't feel qualified to open up and share myself with others. I stuffed all the deep feelings of hurt and rejection inside so nobody could see how broken I was underneath the surface. I tried to show love, compassion and care for those who called me their "friend," but I didn't feel that same love in return. Time did allow some of those deep scars of the past to heal, although I have often found those same emotions emerging into areas in my daily life today. Thoughts and memories quickly flood over me like it was yesterday, haunting me that I'll never overcome the past. As time goes by those memories compile, causing those negative thoughts from my past to be reinforced into lies that are impressed upon my heart. It's like my heart was permanently stamped with the lies of my past that endlessly entrap and hamper me from who I desire to become.

Satan likes to dig deep into our past and select things that he knows has caused us affliction in the past. Like me, I know Satan too is targeting you in areas that he knows he can defeat you in. We all have felt overlooked and unaccepted. Satan likes to use the very things we rely on the most for happiness to cause us to get tripped up and messed up. He will use anything that will hinder us in our relationship with God and displaying His light to the world.

Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. // 1 Peter 5:8

Amidst dealing with the frustrations people pleasing brings I have to remind myself of this truth. I’m not living to please others. I’m living to display God’s love to them. I don’t have to be accepted by them. They don’t have to like me. I’m not here to be admired, liked or loved by the world. I’m not defined by their opinion of me. Their perception of me isn’t truth. My mistakes don’t determine my worth. Jesus was rejected and despised, but that never defined who He was. It defined those who were treating Him wrongly. When we display love to others and treat them how we would be treated, it displays what is within our heart.

If you find yourself craving for admiration, approval, praise or appreciation, you are probably looking in the wrong place. We never need to search for scraps of acceptance because we are fully accepted by the only One who truly matters. We can take that weight off of trying to please everyone, because it is humanly impossible. We weren’t made to live up to the expectations of everyone and cause it to inhibit us from who God created us to be. God never intended the thoughts of others to be so dominating that it overtakes our joy and self-worth. He provided us with His promises that He would always love and accept us so we wouldn’t have to run to the approval of this world.

When you feel like Satan is pulling you down a road of despair and you feel neglected by others, remember you don’t need to be defined by how you are treated, but rather how you act, react and treat others during difficult circumstances displays your true character. You can’t control how others treat you, that is up to them, but you can control how you react. Choose to let go of the lie that praise defines your worth. Rest in the firm truth that God’s love for you is all that matters and He knows your heart, even when others fail to see you, respect you, choose you, admire you or appreciate your effort. God sees and it will all be made right in time. What matters is the intentions of your heart and how you react when difficult situations arise. Choose to show your light to others despite how you are treated. Take all the mistreatment and injustice and let it be released into God’s hands for Him to seek justice. He’s got it and is taking care of it. Go and be the example of Christ that you long to see in others.

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. Anyone who does wrong will be repaid for their wrongs, and there is no favoritism. // Colossians 3:23-25

9.22.2018

Searching for Direction



Have you ever felt like your future was so unclear? Like every aspect of your life was uncertain? Lately I have felt like God has me in a season of fogginess. I don't know what the future holds or where God desires me to be. I don't know what God wants me to do in the here and now and I'm not sure where He plans to lead me.

Prayer is an important piece when dealing with uncertainty. Lately I have found myself lagging in my prayer life. Life gets crazy and this world we live in moves so fast. I get caught up in the busy day-to-day schedule that I forget to go to God in prayer. I try to take things into my own hands and make decisions based on my own knowledge, without going to God first. Things seem to move along faster when I can take control and not spend time praying about it, but I quickly find that I get myself into messes that could have been more successful if I sought God first.

Living can become quite tough when we're unsure of where we're going. I've struggled with uncertainty, waiting for God to provide me with direction when the road seemed to come to an end. Giving God the control when I didn't know what He was desiring me to do in the present has been quite humbling. Finding that I'm not meant to decide my future on my own has been challenging, yet relieving. I've grown worried that I'm not doing what I should be where God has me. I've become anxious with how to plan for the future when I don't know the next step and what lies next. Although even when I was in the midst of worry and anxiousness, I felt peace knowing that I didn't need to have it all together and in control for God to be working.

Maybe your life right now feels uncertain. Maybe each area of your life feels like you don't know what God desires from you to be actively doing. Maybe you feel like you've done all you know to do and you're at a dead end. Sometimes God wants us in a place of uncertainty with no way out so we look up and seek after Him instead of establishing our own path.

If you're in a place of uncertainty and feeling like you need direction, go to God in prayer. Prayer can be something that often seems cumbersome, but is a mighty tool that God has used since He walked the earth to display His power. Prayer might seem like it is a slower process of finding direction, but if things came easily we wouldn't appreciate them as much. No good thing is appreciated as much if it comes along easily.

Take time and seek God in prayer. Ask Him to provide direction in the areas you feel uncertain in. List out the areas you are worried or anxious about. Be precise and detailed. God loves to listen to your heart, He doesn't get bored. Bring them to God and hand over the control you desire and let go of the burden it's bearing on you. Ask God to lead you in the direction He has planned for your life and that He would reveal to you what you need to do right now. Let Him guide you in the way He has established for your life. When things feel like they are out of your hands, that's the perfect place for them to be because they are in His!

9.05.2018

When Life Doesn't go as Expected

Expectations of who I am and what I'm supposed to become are broadcasted each day into my mind. Lies infiltrate into the deepest areas of my heart and resound so loudly that I tap into the deception. It doesn't take much for me to be deceived into believing they are truth.

I've felt the pressure to be perfect. I've tried to attain it with all my heart. Day after day it feels like a losing battle when I constantly fall on my face and feel like an utter failure. No matter how hard I try I won't be able to please everyone. If I were trying to please everyone, I wouldn't be pleasing God. I become so focused on pleasing others and are pulled into who they expect me to be that I lose focus on just being me, and even greater, pleasing God.

Society places pressures on us daily, in fact, momentarily. I have found the perceptions and expectations to be unbearable at times. I've grown discouraged with how far my life feels from the perfection society desires. I should be more successful at my job. I should be married. I should have children and a beautiful home. I should be smarter. I should have more friends. I shouldn't be honest. I shouldn't expose my flaws. I should have my life under control. I should have a 5 year plan. I should be achieving all my goals.

I have many desires for who I am and who I want to become, but I often find myself anxiously discouraged with where my life is currently stuck. I've prayed and tried to take steps in directions I've desired, but it seems like God keeps closing doors. It's difficult to be patient with God's timing when society has a strict timeline on when things should be occurring. I find it difficult to get my life together when I have no idea what direction God wants me to take or where He's leading me.

I look to the timing society has brainwashed me into thinking, and I have to remind myself that my life isn't decided by society. I get so caught up in what is "normal" or "popular" and lose sight of what God views as perfect for me. God's plan is unique just for my life. Not for my family or best friend, but just for me. Why am I looking to society to know what is best, when I have a God that knows my heart, desires, intimate needs and necessities better than I ever will?

When I look to society and the perceptions that weigh down my heart, I've grown to realize that I don't need to be placed into the tiny box of what is expected. I have a God who is capable of doing the impossible and working outside the box of the expected. He's using even the dormant stages of my life for something fruitful and prosperous. I shouldn't desire to live a life in expectation of every plan being certain and secure, when I'm living a life of faith in God. Faith requires trust. It requires us to experience difficult opportunities to truly prove if that trust is real or if it will be broken by the harsh winds of difficulty.

Do you feel caught up in the expectations of society, leaving you feeling anxious and discouraged when they don't fall in line with what is expected? Don't lose heart. We weren't made to fit into the plans that society has established. We were called to live a life that has a deeper value than what others are living for. We have a God that is capable of working through the darkest valleys and most helpless of circumstances and allowing something miraculous to arise.

The next time you feel dominated by what others think or perceptions that this world has deceived you into thinking, ask yourself if it is based on truth? Does God think that way about you? Is He placing those expectations on you? Is He perceiving you that way? I believe you'll find that the answer is not Him, but rather us and Satan putting those burdens on ourselves.

I've fallen into the trap of yearning to please others and not look like a fool for letting them down. I've tried to seek perfection, hoping that others wouldn't see my shortcomings. I've allowed others to take advantage of me because I was afraid to make a stand. I've acted like everything was okay because I was afraid of admitting my need for help. In the end, I don't have to be accepted by this world. I'm not seeking approval from anyone here on this earth. I only need to live my life to glorify God. Nobody else. If others reject me or aren't accepting of me, I don't have to feel consumed by their disapproval, because I know that I have a steadfast love from God that will always welcome me in. He understands the deep ache rejection can bring, because He experienced it firsthand. If we're rejected or unaccepted in this world because of Christ, we are considered blessed. We have great reward in heaven.

Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. // Matthew 5:11

Choose to focus on striving to live for God and not the world. It is a difficult task to strive for in the dominating society we live in that seems to attack us everyday. Even more than we may realize. Seek God in prayer and ask Him help keep you focused. Strive to live for Him and let the perceptions that tangle your thoughts be cut loose from the truths that God has instilled upon your heart. Don't ever lose sight of doing what is right. No matter how different the world is from what it once was, what is right and wrong still remains. Society doesn't change truth. God established it and what He promised will never change across time.

And as for you, brothers and sisters, never tire of doing what is good. // 2 Thessalonians 3:13

But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. "Do not fear their threats; do not be frightened." // 1 Peter 3:14

8.20.2018

When Life Feels Small



Another week goes past. The same struggles. The same issues. Some things just never seem to change.

As an aspiring designer seeking to grow my business and attain personal goals, I find myself often feeling unaccomplished. There are days that pass that I feel unsuccessful. It is a hard balance to achieve all that I want to become while still living my life to the fullest intent God has for me. It feels like a constant battle to reach a larger audience, while still remaining faithful to God and not getting caught up in the publicity side of things.

While I seek to reach others and use the talents God has bestowed upon me, I have to continually remind myself that it's not about the likes, comments, followers or popularity. It's all about having the right heart while doing what God calls me to do. Sometimes it's hard to remain patient in times of inactivity. We may be putting in the effort, but we don't see any results.

I've been comparing my life to successful friends and entrepreneurs and feeling discouraged at times. Where I would like my life to be in comparison to where I currently am is so distinctively different. Things that I wished would have occurred by now have become far-fetched dreams. Things that I wonder if they will ever be fulfilled.

Maybe you've been seeking God for guidance or answers, but it seems as though you have not gotten the answers or direction you've been pleading God for. Currently I'm enduring through a season of uncertainty of what God is expecting of me. I've been seeking Him for direction, but I feel like I'm headed nowhere.

I've often wondered how am I supposed to know what to do with my life now, if I don't have any direction? How can I plan out my life if I don't know what God has in store for me?

Maybe you feel discouraged with your life. Maybe you feel like every aspect of your life feels uncertain or unknown. Although it's not an enjoyable place to be, I think it is where God desires us to be the most. When we aren't relying on our strength to establish our plans or determine our steps, we need to rely on the only One who can work through our uncertainty and lead us in the path He has established for us.

Can I just be frank in saying that I've often felt as though God's plans lead me down a path of difficult terrain that leave me feeling broken and tired. I look around and see others on a different route full of happiness and success, while I feel like I'm stuck in a rut. At times it has felt as though God was trying to strip away my happiness. It was like He didn't want to see me happy. I've grown weary in the wait and wondering if the unexciting life I seem to be leading will ever turn out like I've dreamed. Although I've felt these emotions before, I know they are not based on truth. God never delights in seeing us suffer. He may allow suffering, but He is doing it for the sole purpose to strengthen us, not to ever harm us.

I've come to the conclusion that God has never called us to plan out every detail of our lives and feel responsible to determine our steps. I've burdened myself with the duty to plan out my future so that I could find success in my career, relationship status or personal walk with God. Although my aspirations may be filled with good intentions, it has quickly taught me that my plans are not God's plans. I may think I know what I need, but God knew what I would need before time began and intricately knows my heart better than I do. He knows the effects of the things I desire and how I can only see a tiny piece, when He sees the end result.

God just asks us to have the faith of a mustard seed. Being that it is one of the tiniest seeds created puts into perspective what God intends our faith to look like. He doesn't expect us to have an extensive amount of faith, but finds joy in even our tiny forms of faith. In fact, once planted, mustard seeds can grow to become the largest of all garden plants. Even the tiniest seeds of faith can blossom into the largest victories.

If we have the willingness to "plant" our seed of faith, God will sustain it and allow it to grow. Even when it feels like nothing is occurring and we're awaiting our opportunity to grow, we can rest assured that God is strengthening us through the unknown. In times of uncertainty it is best to seek after God and closely walk with Him. Spend extra time in His Word. Surrender your plans to Him. Ask Him to direct your paths. When we submit to Him, He will do what He has promised, to direct and lead us in the way we should go. When we know that God is leading us, we have no need to be anxious or afraid. We can rest assured that in the uncertainty and foggy future, that feels like it is taking forever to get us to any sign of hope, is God leading us directly in the way that He has deemed us to go. And when planted, the tiniest of seeds can produce an abundance of fruit that only could be grown with both sun and rain.

Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, "Move from here to there," and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you. // Matthew 17:20

8.01.2018

In Prayer [Free Download]


I’ve found the discouragement of my situations debilitating at times. It feels as though I’m losing the fight and my life is crumbling into pieces. I’ve grown discouraged in feeling God near and working in my circumstances.

How often I forget that God never intended us to carry the weight alone. We have a powerful tool to help equip us against the enemy and struggles of this world. I have to admit the excessive amount of time I’ve spent discussing my problems with others and my thoughts running rampant, instead of handing them over to God through prayer. How I overlook the power of prayer and handing my needs over to God so He can work through them effectively.

 I decided to put together eight prayers that have been on my heart recently. Prayers I have prayed in intimate moments in my own personal walk with God. I hope that you could find them as encouragement in your prayer life as well!

Download the Free PDF