New Year, New Me

Do you want to live out the phrase, “New year, new me”?

Of course you do! You’re likely following my site because you’re interested in personal growth, and this means we’re continually trying to improve ourselves in order to be the best human beings that we can. (Which, of course, involves giving ourselves lots of grace. Grace on grace on grace. 🙂

So here’s my big insider tip: Make goals. 

Dig within. Write down what you want to happen in your life this year.

What do you want to accomplish? What good would you like to attract into your life? What blocks do you want to remove? Where do you want to grow? Where do you want to go? Be specific!

This is how you do your part. The rest takes care of itself.

See, goals give us direction. They send out a powerful message to the universe on a conscious and subconscious level. They serve as an affirmation for us, our life, and our ability to choose.

New year, new me? Make goals.

Do Not Be Afraid

It is written, “Do not be afraid; you will not suffer shame. Do not fear disgrace; you will not be humiliated…” (Isaiah 54:4-5)

Why are you anxious, my precious child? Have I not promised you good things? What are you afraid of? Shame? Humiliation? Of not being good enough? Of not being able to manage the busyness of this season? Of other people? Of the direction in which this world is going? I’ll tell you again, do not be afraid!

Instead, meditate on my word. On my promises. It is your armor. And as more and more piles onto your plate, you’re going to need it. Collaborate with me as I grow the gifts that I’ve seeded within your heart. Rejoice and delight in the work that we’re doing together. I’ll say it again, rejoice! The journey only gets more exciting from here.

Beware of the devil. He prowls around like a lion, looking for someone to devour. Do not listen to his lies, which only serve to distract you and take you off course. Reject these lies and arm yourself with the Truth.

That still, calm, quiet voice that comforts and guides you, that’s me. I’m always here for you. Do not be afraid.

Uncertainty

It is written, “A man’s steps are directed by the Lord. How then can anyone understand his own way?” (Proverbs 20:24)

Can’t you look back now and see the ways in which I was at work during times where you felt uncertain in the past? Hindsight often allows you to see my goodness and grace with more clarity. Have I not proven that I am good and graceful?

Take comfort in knowing that the uncertainty you feel is to be expected. In fact, this uncertainty about the path before you is actually a necessary faith booster. The less certain you are, the more you must cling to me. The more you cling to me, the straighter your steps will be.

I have big plans for you! Be excited about all that I have planned for you! Trust in my ways. Hold my hand through your days. We can partake on this adventure together, just as I intended.

Until one day, we’re reunited in the physical form for all eternity. This is the hope you have to look forward to. This is the hope you are to share with the world. In the unique and specific way that only you can share it. My will in your life will be done! Nothing and no-one can stop what I have planned for you. You play an important role in my master plan.

But since you cannot understand my ways, you must walk by faith rather than sight. Clinging to the one who loves you best and knows your heart. Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you.

You Can’t Understand My Ways

It is written, “A man’s mind plans his way but the Lord directs his steps and makes them sure.” (Proverbs 16:9)

My beloved, I’m in complete and total control of your life right now and in the future. Let this bring comfort and assurance for your weary soul. Nothing can separate you from the love I have for you. Not only do I direct your steps, but I also make your steps sure.

Let that sink in.

Let that be nourishment for your hungry, longing soul.

No, you can’t understand my ways. But you can trust and rest in my promises.

Give Thanks in All Circumstances

It is written, “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18)

Happy Thanksgiving! Thanksgiving is a funny holiday to celebrate, because we’re called to give thanks every day, in ALL circumstances. That means even when we’re in the dark, and we can’t see how God is at work, we give thanks.

Here’s a simple list to get us started. I’d love to hear what you’re thankful for, too! Let’s start with the small things, because truly, there is so much!

I’m thankful for waking up today.

For the ability to breath and walk and laugh.

I’m thankful for fresh air. That when I walk outside I feel safe.

I’m thankful for other people. Old friends with whom I share a history and strangers whom I have yet to meet.

I’m thankful that I can trust people, because I trust myself.

I’m thankful for clean drinking water and that I never have to worry about when my next meal will be.

I’m thankful that I have a warm place to sleep at night and a roof over my head…

Okay, your turn!

5 Ways to Avoid a Holidaze

The holidays are upon us and it’s the busiest time of the year! Maybe you dread this season because it’s stressful for you, or lonely, or triggering. Whatever the case may be, here’s 5 ways that you can ensure your holidays don’t become a holidaze. I hope everyone has a joyful thanksgiving!

1. Manage expectations. We can’t be everything to everyone. And we can’t be in multiple places at once. So once you have your plans in place, learn to say no. Try spacing plans out when you can, allowing yourself even more room to just be. 

2. Practice gratitude. Take time each day to recognize what you’re thankful for. Better yet, write it down. And watch how your day improves. Practicing gratitude can relieve stress and deepen joy, so why aren’t we doing this every day?!

3. Serve others. The holidays are a wonderful time to give back and help others who are less fortunate! Volunteer opportunities and donation needs abound. When we serve others, we’re less likely to become absorbed in our own problems or preoccupied with our own stressors. It’s a win win! 

4. Take time for yourself. Self care is always important, but especially so during the busy holiday season. Even taking just ten minutes a day for yourself, can do wonders for your mind. How are you supposed to be there for others, if you’re never there for yourself? 

5. Avoid hot topics. These past couple of years have left us more polarized than ever. The holidays are a time to come together, so don’t ruin them by bringing up hot topics. Everyone is allowed to have their own opinion, and it’s important for people to research, think critically, and form their own opinions. But the holiday table just isn’t the time or place to be sharing them. 

The Greatest Tragedy in Art

Too often, artists begin to perceive their work as a product of their own intellect. We forget that the mind is the great deceiver. That creativity is, in fact, a gift entrusted to the artist. 

Suddenly and inevitably, the work becomes more about ego and less about art itself. This is the most common pitfall for artists. Our work suffers.

If it goes on too long unchecked, the artist transforms into the ego maniac. Which is, of course, the greatest tragedy in art. Our world suffers. 

A Story from The Costco Gas Pump

As anyone who gets gas at Costco knows, the wait is long and people’s patience often wears thin. I’m third in line now, with the two cars in front of me each pulling up to their respective pumps.

The first guy gets out. He’s young, black, and wearing a mask.

The second, I’m frustrated with because he’s taking much longer to get out of his car. I see his door open and two feet slowly touch the ground, one and then another. He’s at least 90 years old, white, and contrastingly, not wearing a mask. 

The first guy is noticing him too. He doesn’t exactly look steady.

Then the first guy begins emphatically waving down a gas station attendant. I know he’s seeking help for the older one because I watch him peek around the pump for an attendant and then quickly back to the guy. As we both now wait for assistance, he appears to keep his eyes on the older gentleman, as if standing at the ready, should he need some help. 

My own eyes start to well up. The first guy isn’t in a rush to get gas and get gone, like I am. He’s present, and caring for a fellow human being. He doesn’t care that the guy is white. He doesn’t care that he’s not wearing a mask. He cares because he sees a man in need. 

If I were a news journalist, perhaps my headline would be, “Young Masked Black Man Comes to Old Maskless White Man’s Aid at Costco Gas Pump.” 

But do any of these details really matter? In today’s times, yes. They shouldn’t. But because we’ve been so increasingly divided over the past 18 months, we rarely hear these stories. We see them all the time, but we barely acknowledge them, and we certainly don’t hear about them. Sadly, these stories don’t sell. 

I think they should, though. Because to me, this story is what America (and humanity) is all about. 

When You Start to Feel, Do.

Recently I have been reading, Carry On, Warrior by Glennon Doyle Melton. Over the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing some of my favorite passages from her book, ones that I find especially wise and/or inspirational.

The below is paraphrasing but I think her point remains.

“When you start to feel, do… When you start to feel unloved, go find someone to offer love. When you start to feel unappreciated, go find someone to appreciate and acknowledge. When you feel unlucky, make yourself write down two recent blessings.”

The point is, to not let yourself wallow. This strategy of, “When you start to feel, do” is fascinating and new to me. It seems to be based on the underlying premise that we’re all connected, a belief which I hold dear. It makes sense to me as a concrete and tangible way to sidestep wallowing and overthinking ourselves into despair.

When you start to feel, do.

Control vs. Letting Go

There are really two ways of going about our day to day lives.

Either we’re striving and trying to maintain control (a fruitless effort, by the way, which leaves us exhausted). Or we’re relinquishing control to God, and trusting that He will bring us what we need each day.

There’s a distinct and noticeable difference between how good our days are, depending on which mode of being in which we’re acting.

When we’re striving, the people around us can tell. It says to them that there is something more important which we need to accomplish. Something more important than being present with them and letting God work. When we’re trusting God with all of our needs and desires, we’re at rest. And people around us can see this, too. They wonder how we’ve found such peace within the whirlwind of our daily lives. We’re a living testament of what it’s like to know God.

What it really boils down to, is that all of our striving and trying to gain control, makes the statement: “I don’t trust God.” And that hurts Him.

He’s already proven to us His goodness, grace, and love. Why would we not trust Him to take care of us on a daily basis?

Life becomes so much easier when we learn to let go, and let God. With every single aspect of our lives.