Shine Brightly (…On Purpose)

Shine Brightly (…On Purpose)

Have you ever been called out? Have you ever been told truths of which you didn’t want to hear or even acknowledge? Have you ever had someone love you so much that they challenge you to live up to your full God given potential? I have and when it happens, it is the best, worst thing ever.

Here’s the thing: I can be scatterbrained and a bit forgetful. It’s true. I used to pride myself on flying by the seat of my pants and “making it work”. I preferred terms like “flexible” and “easy-going”. But, let me tell you something, it took someone speaking some serious TRUTH into me to realize that my “identity” of being “flexible” was simply an excuse for laziness. Ouch.

After immediately becoming defensive, I did something crazy. I listened. After a bit of listening, I realized something- it was true. My so called “identity” was not an identity at all but merely a bad habit. By living in a state of constant distraction, I was not living up to my full potential. I was meandering through my daily life in high speed and hoping that somehow it would all work out. It usually did by the way; but at the expense of something or someone else…which isn’t good.

You see we’ve been given this precious gift in life called time. It’s beautiful but it’s fleeting and temporary. It’s our job to use that time to live with purpose and intention-even in the small things. Even in the things that “don’t matter.” Trust me, they do.

Now I’m not saying every single minute of every day has to be perfectly planned and scheduled. That’s not what I’m talking about here. I’m talking about the precious gift of time that you’ve been given and intentionally utilizing that time.

I think all of us are familiar with the phrase/song “Jesus take the Wheel”. Go ahead and implement that. It’s great. Hand it over. Jesus will take the wheel, but my sweet friend, you still have to push the pedal to drive. You still have to keep your eyes on the road.

You still have to look at your GPS and listen for directions. Where do you need to turn next? You won’t know without a map.

You still have to look in your rear view mirror and acknowledge what’s behind you. Be honest and vulnerable about your past. Share it with others. Your past is a crucial part of your journey and destination but please don’t dwell there. Keep moving.

Keep an eye on each side mirror. This way you won’t surprised if something tries to sneak up on you. If you ignore this small detail, if you just simply press ahead thinking you’re invincible, you could be side-swiped and end up in ditch. I’ve woken up in a ditch before. It’s deep, muddy and all around zero fun. On top of that, it takes a lot of climbing to get out. I highly recommend steering clear of it. Be aware of your surroundings and of what you surround yourself with. Pay attention.

Drive the speed limit. Man, this a tough one for me. Can I get an AMEN? Many of us are rushing, rushing, rushing. We have places to go and people to see. We just want to get to our destination. Be okay with the transition. Endorse the unknown. Things may be moving too slowly(or quickly) in your finite mind. Rely on God’s timing for your life.

Lastly, your car has to have fuel. You have to delegate time to stop and refuel. Prayer, friendship, rest and recreation are not optional, they’re necessary! You can’t fulfill your purpose without filling up. Fill yourself up with what is GOOD.

You see, it is absolutely necessary for us all to evaluate the intentions of our hearts. Take a moment and ask yourself these questions: Where am I now and where am I headed? Who’s at the wheel of my car? Am I listening to His direction? Am I using my past as a crutch or as a tool? Am I paying attention to my surroundings? Am I trusting God’s timing? Am taking the time to refuel? Evaluate and adjust as necessary.

Every single day has purpose. If we’re not careful, distractions can easily direct our path. If we choose live intentionally, it enables us to live out that purpose each and every single day.

Lets live our lives on purpose. Let’s shine for Him- intentionally and brightly.

— xo —

Keep Swimming

Keep Swimming

There is just something wondrous about the ocean; the soothing waves, the salt-ridden air, the beautiful landscape and the horizon of which the sun kisses at the end of each day. For me, its a place of calm, of clarity…a sense of belonging.

When I was about seven months pregnant, I was in desperate need of some calm and clarity. I jumped (well, waddled) into my car and headed for the coast. I drove to a new site, not knowing what to expect. The choice of an unfamiliar location ironically fit the season of my life during that time. I was living the unexpected- although I certainly had a hardy dose of denial about it. I was desperately trying to rewrite this chapter in my story but I was failing desperately. My family was falling apart.

I parked and I started walking. I walked and I walked and I walked some more. Pleasantly enough, the landscape just kept getting prettier. It was unexpectedly beautiful, unlike my current mindset. My life had seemingly become an ugly mess but here I was, unknowingly walking into something beautiful.

The wooded pathway I walked, full of twists and turns, led out into a secluded, section of beach. Although rocky, the big picture was breathtakingly beautiful.

I suddenly became brutally aware of how exhausted I was- both physically and emotionally. I planted myself on a huge rock and I came undone. I sobbed, I wept, I completely lost my cool. And then something remarkable happened-I prayed. For the first time in years, I genuinely talked to God.

I prayed for strength. I prayed for peace. I prayed for guidance. I had been micromanaging my life for so long. It was in this moment that I realized something; it was okay to let go. It was okay to stop trying to micromanage my life. It was okay to accept the outcome of my life, no matter what that may be. This was no longer my burden to carry.

Teary-eyed, I looked up and something even more remarkable happened. God painted me a perfect visual that day-one of which I will carry with me for the rest of my life. The beach I was sitting on was full of rocks and obstacles but the oceans crystal blue shade provided a sense of clarity. I looked past the ocean into the horizon. I noticed that there was a lighthouse in the distance. That lighthouse signified hope. The message I received that day still gives me chills.

The terrain I was on was rocky, the water was deep and hard to tread but full of clarity. All the while, the lighthouse was right there…providing light in the darkness, providing guidance in the storm. A safe haven of hope was always there, even when it felt so far away.

I wanted to share this story so that if there is anyone sitting on that rocky beach right now, begging for hope, begging for answers…please know that the rocky part doesn’t last forever. It hurts and it bruises you but as long as you keep swimming and keep believing in that hope- you will get through it.

Today I feel free. I live with true contentment. I have peace. I have joy in my heart. I made it to the other side of the beach and I am immensely blessed.

No matter how far away the rocks become, I will never forget the glimmer of hope that was paid to me on that day. I never, ever stopped believing in it and I never will.

So if you find yourself in some pretty deep waters-keep swimming, friend. Who knows, you might just find yourself somewhere unexpectedly beautiful.

–xo–

Contentment not Complacency

Contentment is not complacency. Being “Fearlessly flawed” does not mean simply settling for some lackluster, less than God’s best version of ourselves. Being fearlessly flawed means addressing your flaws, your bruises, your “baggage”, and fearlessly facing them dead on. It means looking at yourself in the mirror, addressing all the scary bits and pieces by name and proudly declaring that they don’t define you. It means understanding that you have been granted the incredible liberty to use these specific and sometimes messy experiences as a tool to learn and grow. What the devil intended to be a ditch or a grave has now become simply a bump or a hill (okay or maybe sometimes a mountain…) Either way, you aren’t getting stuck there. You refuse to be. You refuse to settle for complacency or temporary gratification. It means that in spite of whatever you trip over, in spite of any struggle or adversity, you still show up for battle and fight to follow Him.

This will involve you throwing your hands up and humbly admitting that you don’t have it all together and yet still striving to be more like the One who does. Sometimes this means that life will be really, really hard.

In a culture that tells us to “do what makes us happy”, we have to remember that sometimes doing what is right doesn’t make us happy. It’s not about being happy all the time. In fact, I can guarantee you that if you make happiness a destination, you’ll never fully arrive. You’ll actually probably be the most miserable person on the planet. It’s a greedy and far from gratifying mentality.

Happiness is temporary and ever changing. It’s not consistent. It never will be. Imagine if we used this as a template for our relationships? My parents have been married for over 35 years. I can guarantee you, they haven’t always been happy. Relationships are hard work, even with the right person. No marriage would ever last based solely on this premise. So why are we implementing this as a standard for our lives? This standard causes us to meander through life, always searching for the next best thing. It’s exhausting, disheartening and ultimately leaves us feeling shallow and empty.

We set ourselves up for failure when we twist the concept of “loving ourselves” into accepting a state of complacency. The “take me as I am” state of mind can be dangerous. It can cause our growth to be stagnant and for our hearts to become arrogant. Yes, Jesus accepts us exactly as we are but if we accept Him for exactly who He is, it causes us to want to live differently. It causes us to want to bloom and be planted wherever He wants us to be. We are going to be constantly evolving and growing. We should be different than we were six months ago.

In this walk, you won’t always be happy. You may have some pretty difficult seasons. You may experience anger and sadness. You may grieve a loss. You may never make sense of something seemingly so senseless but you’ll have assurance that Someone so much bigger than you has a plan far beyond your understanding. You’ll find hope in the most hopeless of times. Through all the grit in life, there is so much grace.

Be content but never complacent. Work through the grit, embrace the grace and grow, grow, grow. 🌸

–xo–

The Heart is Where Your Home is

I sat in an empty house two days ago. I sat on the floor and listened to my voice echo. The walls were barren. The areas of which pictures used to hang were still etched in the walls with spackle. It felt cold and almost eerie. A distant memory; this house used to be my home. Now it was simply nothing more than walls and windows. I should have felt sad I think but I didn’t.

I had purchased this home three years ago. Although it was small, the potential was there. I turned an office into a walk in closet, I had fencing installed, I laid down hardwood floors, I painted, I decorated, I updated hardware and appliances, I reworked the space. Several hundred trips to HomeGoods ensued, and voila-my house became a home. At least it appeared that way….but what makes a home, really?

I dressed up my house, I filled it with beautiful things but at the end of the day, that didn’t make my heart full. You could have a perfectly organized, custom walk-in closet and still be a mess. (Seriously-I promise you it’s a real thing.) I was too busy filling up my house that I didn’t take the time to fill up my heart. I became distracted by so many things that ultimately didn’t matter- not in the least bit.

In this moment, as I sat alone on the kitchen floor in my empty house, I realized something. This is something that I will carry with me for the rest of my life. I spent three years filling this house and about a month emptying it out. I sold some things, donated most, kept a little. I looked around once more and I realized; My house was empty but my heart was so full. This is why I was not sad! I wasn’t losing a home, I was gaining freedom from so many distractions that held me back from being the person I was intended to be.

It was at the moment that I knew I had arrived. I had arrived at a beautifully, unexpected place in my life. What would have otherwise been viewed as a loss had become a beautiful gain. God has a way of doing that doesn’t He?

Have you ever heard the phrase “Home is where the heart is.”? Given my recent epiphany, I’d like to flip that script a bit and say that the heart is where your home is. Matthew 6:21 says “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Because of Who I carry in my heart, my physical home could be empty and shallow but my heart would still be oozing over.

That night, as I opened up the door to my new apartment, I knew that I was not opening the door to a new home but to a new perspective on life. Home is the pitter patter of my sons feet as he is learning to walk. Home is connecting with an old friend over coffee. Home is in the arms of a much needed hug from the incredible man the Lord has unexpectedly blessed with me with. But ultimately, home is wherever I’m walking with Jesus. And that my friends, is never a destination but a journey. There’s so much beauty and wonder in the unfinished. Keep walking. You may go to some pretty unexpected places but your heart will always be home with Him.

I may not have a walk in to fill but I have a heart that sure is full.

It doesn’t get any better than that.

Xo

Dear Single Mom

Dear Single Mom

Dear Single Mom,

I know you’re tired. I know you’re overwhelmed. I know that sometimes you don’t know how you are going to make it through the next day or sometimes even the next hour. Just breathe.

I know you never asked for this. This is not the life you pictured for yourself or your oh, so precious baby boy or girl. Beautiful, jaded single mom, I know you have lost faith in so many things-especially men. You’re done with being hurt, lied to, cheated on, disappointed, disrespected and abandoned. You’ve built up walls of protection around your heart. You don’t depend on anyone other than yourself. You don’t feel like you can.

Maybe you’re working two jobs; maybe more, maybe less. You’re doing your best to balance it all. Somehow it never seems like enough. Your to do list is growing and your wallet is shrinking. It’s not easy wearing two sets of shoes on one set of feet but here you are… and you’re not just walking, you’re sprinting. You don’t have a choice. There isn’t enough time in one day. There never is.

Your heart is either breaking or has been broken–but here you are pushing through it. There isn’t anyone to pick up the pieces so you pick them up yourself. You pick yourself up every day and fight to be the best person for your child. You are so strong, single mom, but oh, how sometimes you just desperately want to be weak in someone else’s arms.

I know you, because sweet, single mother; I am you. I’ve been you since my sweet baby boy was just three weeks old. I know what it’s like to feel unwanted, abandoned, heartbroken, helpless, overwhelmed and alone. I know what it’s like to feel like your world is upside down and spinning out of control.

I felt like I had lost complete control of my life. Let’s face it, I did. But something so incredible happened once I finally accepted that loss of control. I gained freedom. I gained peace.

In a time of so many unanswered questions, I was free from having to know all the answers. To this day, there are still things I do not know and many things of which I cannot control. That’s okay. Do you know why? It’s because I’ve come to know the One who does.

You see, you don’t have to do this on your own. Honestly, you don’t. A man has let you down but there is someone who loves you. There is someone who died for you (yes, you). His arms are open wide. He’s waiting patiently.

I know it’s so hard to trust, I know it’s so hard to be vulnerable, but His word is good. It is so good. He’s ready for you to take off your armor. It’s heavy wearing that every day isn’t it? I know it is. He’s ready to take that for you. He’s ready to take the burden you’re carrying on your shoulders. He’s ready for you to fall into His arms and to be weak so that He can be your strength. You aren’t alone. You feel like it, I know you do, but you’re not.

It’s never going to be easy. The bills aren’t going to pay themselves. I understand, trust me I do. If you trust Him, I mean if you really trust, listen and walk with Him, I can promise you that He will always provide. It may look different from what you initially anticipated but He will.

You may feel forgotten or unloved; you aren’t. You may not feel worthy; you are. You may feel like you’ve run out of chances; you haven’t. He’s here to help heal your wounded, tired heart. He’s here to give you peace, love and joy so that in turn, you can share that peace, love and joy with that precious little one of yours.

A single mother who walks with Jesus will never raise her child alone. Please know that. You are so, so loved, dear one. Never forget that.

–Xo–

IG: @fearlessyflawed

You are More than Enough

How many times in your life have you been told you are “too much” of something. If you are anything like me you’ve heard it a lot. Sometimes I am too girly, too passionate, too open, too bubbly, too over the top…too this, too that. Sound familiar?

When someone says you are “too much” of something, what they are really saying is that you are not enough of something else. Maybe you aren’t thin enough, serious enough, funny enough…whatever it may be. Pleasing people is exhausting. I grew tired of it. If you are in the practice of pleasing people, I know you’re tired too.

Anytime I feel like I’m too much of something or not enough of another, I am reminded of exactly who I am and to Whom I belong. You see, my identity is not based off of anyone’s perception or opinion of me. My identity is in the One who created me, the One who rescued me, the One who loves me recklessly and unconditionally. I’m enough. Just as I am. All my quirks, all my bruises, all my scars. Everything.

This does not mean that I’m perfect and that there aren’t areas of which I could improve upon (ahem, patience and self control.) (That tub of ice cream tasted so good in the moment though…) It does mean however, that I am confident in the fact that I was created and specifically designed by my Creator for a purpose.

My identity is secure because I am a daughter of the King! How great is that? How beautiful is it that I can stand here in confidence and proudly proclaim that I am not defined by the what others think of me, the items I possess, the money in my bank account, or any other material thing. I am simply me. I am defined by WHO I AM because of WHO HE IS!

So who are you? What does God desire from you? What is your purpose? Discovering your purpose is something that I believe to be constant and ever changing. Something that blooms, blossoms and grows with time and experience. Think of something you enjoy doing, one thing you’re good at and consider the journey you’ve been on. If you’re like me and don’t really know what you’re good at, do what I did: Ask a friend or family member. Sooner or later, maybe with a little help and a lot of prayer, you’ll find out your purpose. Once you figure that out, it’s your responsibility to not only accept it but embrace it and live it out.

Embracing who we are isn’t always rainbows and butterflies, however. In fact, it can be really, really hard. It may mean we have to embrace things that we think others don’t like or do things that make us uncomfortable. It may also mean letting go of an old dream or vision we had for ourselves. We don’t always appreciate or accept the gifts we’ve been given. We look at God and ask Him for something else, ANYTHING else other than the one uniquely incredible attribute, talent or gift we’ve been given. Please know that He made you the way you are for a reason. When you reject who you are, you are rejecting a gift. Embracing the person you were designed to be is endorsing God’s plan and purpose for you.

There are so many lies that the enemy will use to distract you from this purpose. Don’t believe them. You wont always please people. That’s okay.

You are gifted. You matter. You have a beautiful, one of a kind purpose. You are not too much of anything, you are more than enough. Now go out and shine like He intended you to do.

A Beautiful Mess

A Beautiful Mess

Flawed and Fearless.

If you told me even two years ago that I would be a mother, I would have laughed in your face. Better yet, if you told me that at twenty eight years old, I would be a SINGLE mom of a nine month old baby boy, I would have admitted you to the psych ward. Seriously. That would have never, even in my wildest dreams, EVER happen to me.

And yet, here I am. I am twenty eight years old, divorced and a mom to a beautiful nine month old baby boy. You could say that that my life certainly did not go as planned. That’s okay. Although, of course it seemed far from okay during the brunt of it.

Nothing made sense. None of it. Not one speck. I played the victim card many times. I threw myself mini pity parties. I wallowed. I felt sorry for myself. I didn’t know why or how this possibly could be happening to me. I played my cards right (or so I thought), I did everything I was “supposed” to do, so why on earth could this possibly be happening to me? It was unfair; all of it, every single piece…and didn’t want any part of it. I basked in denial for months. I was embarrassed and ashamed. There was no way I would ever accept it, none the less speak of it.

And yet, here I am, publicly sharing my journey. My magically crazy, beautifully messy journey. I’m here to share how something so seemingly tragic turned into something so beautiful. I’m here to share with you how Jesus filled all the broken cracks of my heart and opened my eyes to see the beauty through all of the fiery, painful ashes. I’m here to tell you that He was reckless in His pursuit of me. He came in swinging and knocked down walls that I didn’t even know I had. He loved me when others, including myself, felt unlovable. He accepted me and all of my broken pieces. Because of Him, I am beautifully broken, imperfectly perfect, fearlessly flawed.

I am unashamed of my journey and can only hope that some of my painful steps can be used as motivation for others in a similar walk to push though. I have grown so much and so will you. I promise you that. You just have to open your heart to the possibility of it.

You see, growth without pain is impossible. Sometimes our biggest growth spurts happen in moments or seasons of inexplicable pain. We have a choice to sit and wallow on the pain or we can choose to move forward in growth. The first step will seem like your foot is anchored in cement; in fact, the second and third one may feel this way too. That’s okay. Push through it. Even if you are moving an inch and you need to be moving a mile, keep moving. Don’t stop.

Sooner than you think, you’ll look back in awe of the person you have become compared to the person you once were. Not only that, but you will have a new level of respect and appreciation for where you are now. You will see beauty and purpose in your journey. You will take note of the little things. All it takes is one step-one painful step. And sometimes it will get worse before it gets better but it always gets better. It always does. Believe that.

So keep walking. Even when your foot is plastered in cement. Even when waking up and facing another day seems excruciating. You matter. You have a purpose. Your pain has a purpose.

Keep fighting, warrior. You are beautifully broken and fearlessly flawed. You are so loved.