Blogger Recognition Award

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Hey there, faithful readers!

I am so honored to have been chosen for the Blogger Recognition Award. I want to thank Hannah from Life as Mrs Yolo for nominating me!

In acceptance of the award, there are a few things I need to do.

  1. I must thank the Blogger who nominated me and provide a link to their blog.
  2. I must write a post to show the award.
  3. I must write a brief story on how my blog started.
  4. I must give two pieces of advice to new bloggers.
  5. I must select 15 bloggers to pass this award on to.
  6. I must comment on each of their blogs to let them know they have been nominated for this award and provide a link to this post.

How did your blog start?

My blog was birthed out of a journey that I have been traveling for many years. As most of you know, I was handpicked by God to carry multiple chronic illnesses. Over the years, I have learned that I am not expected to carry them by myself, because my Heavenly Father is the strength within me bearing my burdens for me out of love. I have been unable to work for a year so I spend the majority of my time at home—alone. I felt a strong call from the Lord to use my story as a beacon of hope for those battling struggles in health or everyday life. Each post I write is given to me by the Holy Spirit; and I pray each time that just the right person will read it at just the right time! It is also my hope and prayer that we as Christians will live “beyond the noise” as we navigate our voyage towards an eternity with our Savior!

What are 2 pieces of advice to new bloggers?

I am no expert when it comes to blogging. Honestly, I don’t have a huge following or have thousands of views every month. So if you’re looking for blog growth advice, you should look else-where! However, I do have a couple pieces of advice I would like to share.

  1. Write about what you’re passionate about. Obviously, it would be silly for a single woman with no kids to write about parenting; but it is just as counter-intuitive for you to write about topics that you’re not passionate about. Your tone and lack of excitement will be conveyed through your typed words and readers will see right through the disingenuous nature of your posts. I would suggest taking some time first to seek out what it is that you enjoy and are knowledgeable of and progress from there. If you take this advice, my next piece of advice will be that much easier!

 

  1. Don’t quit when you’re discouraged. I know this is easier said than done, and I went through this not too long ago. I was putting in the time and effort to make my blog a place of hope and I was aware that in order to make an impact, it obviously needed to be read. Some of my posts had between 100-300 views, while the majority didn’t even break the hundred-mark. Does God Really Care What I Wear? reached 982 which was incredible for my blog, yet the following posts dropped back down to my normal low view counts. I began thinking and believing that this was all a waste and maybe I should just quit. I expressed these feelings to a friend and not 5 minutes later my phone buzzed with a new follower notification. It was only one, but it was a little nudge from the Lord reminding me that this is a calling and I can’t quit a calling! The next post I wrote called Why I realized Marriage Is Not for Me got 1400 views in 2 days; and I received so many personal messages, texts and comments thanking me for my honesty and vulnerability! It was a reality check and example of why not to give up when the going gets tough. Remember you never know how your next post will impact someone!

 

So, now to the part you were all waiting for!

*Drum roll please*

In no particular order, here are my 15 nominees for the Blogger Recognition Award.

Nikki from Grief To Hope

Angel from Living Life Well

Stacey from Gracefully Overcoming

Jackie from Haute Mess Life

Emily from Emily Lofgren

Diane from Worth Beyond Rubies

Lauren from Friends with God

Millie from Homemaking with Millie

Ellen from Scripture Confident Living

Alisha from Become Less

Lois from Live Nourished

Sarah from Christ Centered Mama

Sara from Sara Lauren Lewis

Bailey from The Thin Place

Nicole from Simply Nicole

I believe a “Congratulations!” is in order to all the nominees! Please, please, please check out their blogs. Each one of these writers bring something special to the blogging world and it is my pleasure to nominate all of them!

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Why I Realized Marriage Is Not For Me

Most women begin dreaming of and planning for their wedding from the time they are young girls. They dream of a fairy-tale day with their prince charming. This couldn’t have been a more accurate statement for me. I knew I wanted an outdoor beach/nautical themed wedding with coral and navy-blue accents. I knew what style dress me and my girls would wear and what songs I wanted incorporated. I knew that I wanted it to be in the evening and that I wanted ice cream incorporated in some way. Essentially, I had everything besides the groom!

My fairy-tale came true, and on April 2, 2016, I married my husband in a gorgeous botanical garden in Bradenton, FL just miles from the beautiful gulf beaches. It rained all morning (and when I say rain, I mean monsooned!); but, the Lord in His goodness, dried up the skies just in time for our pictures and ceremony. My dad gave me away and turned over the “key to my heart” that he had held and protected for over a decade to my new husband in an unforgettable ceremony, we said our vows, exchanged rings, shared communion, tied a three -stranded cord to symbolize the strength of a relationship between God, Trent and myself and then sealed it with a kiss! Within just a few moments we were now husband and wife!

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As we headed across the ocean to St. Thomas for our honeymoon, we were quite frankly clueless about the journey that we were about to embark on. We loved each other, that much was certain; but, we didn’t realize the sacrifice and adjustment that was about to ensue. The same can be said for most couples. The majority of the time, like Trent and I, two people are raised in two different worlds with two separate ideas of how to accomplish the same end goal—happily ever after!

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As I left that magical day as a brand-new wife, I was unaware just how much my world was about to change. The expectations that I had conjured up over the years were borderline unrealistic and unfair to my new husband.

The first year of our journey together looked different than most. I carry the burden of chronic illness and although my husband was aware of that prior to our engagement and marriage, neither one of us were prepared for the way that it would affect us. He promised to walk with me and hold my hand through the worst of it, and he was provided plenty of opportunities to make good on his vows. Hospital stays, surgery, inpatient rehab, disability, meds and consistent pain quickly became our normal. Because of this, it was easy to fall into the trap that this marriage was for me because I was the one constantly “in need”.

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You see, I care for my husband, I love my husband, I want him to feel respected and valued just as much as I want that for myself; however, I found it difficult to live out when I was stuck in my ways and didn’t always feel like my needs were being met in the way I planned. This brings me back to my unrealistic expectations.

I am a few years older than my husband and I honestly believed that I had most of the “tools in the toolbox” to make a good marriage. I didn’t claim to be perfect or have all of the ideas, but I had witnessed enduring love lived out between my parents. The fairy-tale of newlywed life slowly began to wear off and we began having difficulties in our communication and in the exploration to find common ground; but, at the same time, we both desperately wanted our marriage to not only survive but to thrive!

We reached out to a few mentors and we were encouraged to seek professional help. So, that’s what we did!

**Let me throw this out there. Counseling often gets a bad rap. It carries with it the stigma that it’s only a measure you take if you’re in deep water and are holding on by a thread. Many times, people who go are in that place; however, counseling can be used as preventative measures as well. If you feel like your marriage could benefit with an outside party’s input, don’t wait until it’s too late!**

Okay, now that I got that out of the way, let me continue.

Not only did we see the counselor together, but I chose to see her on my own. It was in that first appointment that I came to the startling realization that marriage was not for me!

No, I’m not divorcing my husband and vowing to stay single for the rest of my life. Rather, I am divorcing myself and the ideas I had of marriage in order to never be single again!

Let me explain. Marriage is not 50-50. It is both of you giving 100% of yourself to the other person regardless of what you receive in return. You do not look to your spouse to complete you, but rather to compliment you—to bring out your best and lovingly support you through your worst. Marriage is sacrifice, flexibility, unconditional love and patience.

My husband is amazing. He loves me unconditionally and will never give up on me; but, because my expectations were unrealistic, I was afraid that I wouldn’t get what I truly believed I needed in return. When I left that appointment that day, I decided I would be the one to step off the hamster wheel we were stuck on—regardless of how he responded. And, just as my counselor predicted, when I took the first step and relinquished control, everything else fell into place.

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We are not perfect. We have a long way to go—which is normal! But we are taking the necessary precautions and steps towards where we desire to be in 50 years. Old, wrinkly, happy, and so much in love!

So, marriage is not for me; but, I will still be married to my best friend until one of us meets our Lord. And until that day, I will give all I have to him expecting nothing in return— that way, whatever I do receive will be a blessing and not a disappointment!

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4 Things You Should Stop Doing Right Now

As a chronic illness warrior, there is a lot on my plate. Normal life responsibilities, additional medical struggles that most don’t have to worry about and the desire to enjoy life and all that it offers. The last thing I need is to do more than what is absolutely necessary and to do things that don’t really carry any weight in improving my life.

With that said, I recently sat down and thought about what needs to go, and I want to share those with you today!

WORRYING

I know I fall prey to this often, and I’m sure you do too! Worrying has become a common mindset and we are daily replacing faith with fear. I heard it said that F.E.A.R. is False Evidence Appearing Real. We are afraid of things that haven’t even happened, and worry about the outcome. I do this with my health, finances, future and so much more.

 Let’s adopt Philippians 4:6-7 “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

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COMPARING

Ooh! This is a big one! How often do we look at other people’s picture-perfect Instagram marriage, life, family, health etc. and wish we had it like they do? We see their best and compare it to our worst; believing still that they have it better than we do.

STOP!!! This is a horrible trap that the devil puts in front of us! (Instagram is not the trap, how we decide to process what we see, is!) The only person we should compare ourselves to is God. We should strive to model our lives after His and use Him as a measuring tape for our spiritual growth. Galatians 6:4 says “Pay careful attention to your own work, for then you will get the satisfaction of a job well done, and you won’t need to compare yourself to anyone else.”

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TRYING TO DO IT ALL

Here’s a little PSA for you—You are not going to be able to do it all! There are 24 hours in a day and with sleep and work taking up most of those hours, you’re not left with many more. So, stop trying to do it all! You’re probably driving yourself crazy which makes you, even more so, less efficient!

As someone with a substantial amount of physical limitations, I have found that there are certain tasks or responsibilities that I must be okay with letting go for a day or two until I have the time or energy. Let’s be realistic and identify what we are truly capable of completing in a day and give those tasks our best—just like Ecclesiastes 9:10 instructs; “Whatever you do, do well. For when you go to the grave, there will be no work or planning or knowledge or wisdom.”

Feeling guilty for situations you can’t control.

This is the hardest one for me. I frequently, maybe even daily, struggle with the feeling of guilt. Guilt for the financial strain my inability to work full-time (or even at all) brings. Guilt for the restrictions my health puts on the activities I’m able to participate in whether with friends of family. Guilt for “holding my husband back” from the dreams he has/had. I could honestly go on and on with reasons I feel guilty, and I’m sure you can add to the list as well.

Here’s what I have to remember, and so do you:

  1. We didn’t choose these illnesses—we were hand-picked by God to carry them because He trusts us to remain faithful amidst the trial and ultimately give Him the glory.

  2. Our lives are not over, they just look a little different.

  3. Most of our friends and families are understanding of our situations and don’t blame us for the “inconveniences” we feel like we cause.

This type of guilt is not from God. He doesn’t want us to dwell on the negatives before us, He wants us to see the blessings amidst the storm and focus our minds on that.

Phil 4:6 And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.”

 I am working on myself to remove these things from my life—will you join me?

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7 Reasons God is AWESOME

So often in life I get caught up in the “here and now” and in the process, I get wrapped up in the situation before me and fail to acknowledge what my Father is doing behind me.

Sometimes, it’s helpful to stop and really ponder who God is, what He has done and what He is capable of doing in our lives. We need a change in perspective!

5 years ago, I made a Facebook status (or should I say mini blog post) on a night that I couldn’t sleep. During that season of life, my sleep cycle was completely backwards. No matter what I tried, I couldn’t sleep at night. That unfortunate phase of my life was actually a blessing in disguise. It was because of that medical “issue”, that I had plenty of time to talk with my Father. I learned so much about Him throughout that period of time!

During those personal moments, He brought to my attention the old song “Our God is an Awesome God”. That night (or perhaps morning!) I realized that despite my situation, He is, in fact, AWESOME!

Below, I am going to share my Facebook status from that night (slightly edited). It’s an acrostic for the word AWESOME, and it describes who He is!


A– He is Always Faithful.

Faithful to love, forgive, protect, save and so much more!

  • Psalm 100:4-5 Enter his gates with thanksgiving; go into his courts with praise. Give thanks to him and praise his name. For the Lord is good. His unfailing love continues forever, and his faithfulness continues to each generation.

W– His Ways are more than we can understand.

I may never fully be able to comprehend what He is doing amidst the storms I trek through in my life, but I can rest assured that His ways are perfect and better than anything I could’ve asked for!

  • Romans 11:33 Oh, how great are God’s riches and wisdom and knowledge! How impossible it is for us to understand his decisions and his ways!

E– He Encourages us when we’re discouraged.

I have been here more times than I count-brokenhearted with nowhere to turn; but when I make that choice to choose Him, my worries fade and His goodness rushes over me with a peace that is unexplainable!

  • Psalm 34:18 The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; He rescues those whose spirits are crushed.

S– He Strengthens us when we are weak.

I am weak often. Physically, mentally, spiritually- you name it and I am right there with you! I can honestly say, however, that I would have NEVER been able to make it through the 24 years of life I have already lived had it not been for His strength! Can I get an Amen?!

  • Isaiah 41:10 Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.

O– He has an Opendoor policy.

This one I am so thankful for. There is never a time that He is not available. He never says that He is too busy or that I’ve done something to tick him off! He is ALWAYS willing for me to lay my burdens at His feet- in fact, that’s what He desires!

  • Matthew 11:28 Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.

M– He Meets our needs which include physical, emotional, mental and material needs.

There is no need too great that He is not able to handle. He does work within what is best for us, and for that we should be grateful. If we only got what we asked Him for, we would miss out; and if we got everything we asked Him for, we would get hurt!

  • Philippians 4:19 And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.

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E– He promises Eternal Security.

In my opinion, this is the one we deserve the least. We fail, fall and fumble all day long yet He says that nothing- yes, NOTHING, can take us from His love. As Christians, our eternal destiny is sealed with His blood. I don’t know about you, but I am so thankful for that!!!

  • John 10:28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one can snatch them away from me.

So, friend. Don’t forget that He is AWESOME!

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Does God Really Care What I Wear?

Does God really care what you wear? What the Bible actually says about clothing!

Modesty, dress code, pants vs skirts, what to wear and when to wear it, and Christianity seem to go hand in hand and often carry an extremely negative connotation. I grew up in a Christian culture where this was common and I now live a life of Spiritual freedom including a deeper connection with my Father built on a relationship rather than rules. Although I could write a whole blog post (perhaps even a book) based on the physical side of clothing, I honestly believe that this isn’t what God is actually concerned with.

The Bible says in 1 Samuel 16:7b “For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” We as humans (and Christians) immediately judge others by the clothes they are wearing, yet God makes it very clear that He “judges” us based on the condition of our hearts. Though it is not my place to judge a person’s heart condition, I am certain that it is completely possible that someone could wear what would be considered the most modest outfit possible, yet their heart is still not aligned with God’s heart. At this point, they are no better than someone who wears something deemed “immodest”.

As I have pondered this topic for the past several days, the Lord has been revealing to me several traits that He speaks about in His Word, and how He actually desires us to be clothed. If you’re wondering right now where I’m headed or you’re curious to know what I believe about this topic, let me give you your first hint- it’s not that women should wear dresses and not pants, it’s not that you should never wear tank tops, only certain length shorts are acceptable, and no flip flops are allowed. As our Father, He genuinely cares about our hearts and that is what He desires for us to be concerned with clothing- first and foremost

Proverbs 31 is widely recognized as the passage which outlines the characteristics that a Godly woman, mother and wife should possess. In verse 25 David writes She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future.” I find it interesting that her dress code is not spoken to, but rather her character traits of strength, dignity and joy!

Colossians 3:12 goes on further to say “Therefore, as God’s chosen ones, holy and loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience.” This scripture is addressed to a broader people group, not just the women striving to live like the “Proverbs 31 woman”. This is for God’s chosen ones, His children who are holy and loved. He says to clothe yourself with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness and patience! I wonder today what we’re more concerned with. Are we so consumed with trying to please others by what we wear on the outside that we overlook what our Father sees?

You see, when we adorn ourselves in these “articles of clothing” mentioned through scripture, by default, our hearts will desire to present ourselves well before God. When we adopt the mindset that we are required to wear certain things to approach God in worship (at church), we are essentially excluding ourselves from approaching Him daily- whether that be at home or in our car.

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I spent my quiet time in prayer, worship and devotion this morning in my pajamas, with yesterday’s makeup smeared around my eyes and the messiest messy bun you’ve ever seen! I didn’t feel the need to put on something specific in order to approach His throne, and I certainly didn’t feel like I connected any less with Him! Yes, I wore my pj’s, but I also took the time to dress myself in compassion as I prayed for those hurting around me, humility as I prayed for God to change me first and joy as I reflected on, and thanked the Lord for, His ever-faithful presence in my life!

The Bible says in Romans 12:1  “And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice–the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him.” He said a living and holy sacrifice that He will find acceptable. When I ponder what it means to be a living sacrifice, I picture a daily pursuit to be closer to Him, laying aside anything that keeps us dead inside. Being holy refers to being dedicated and consecrated to God. As far as what He finds acceptable- we studied that earlier! Paul says that this is how we can truly worship Him!

I am not an expert, by any means; but I have read the Scripture and have personally experienced the freedom that is ours as His children. I have encountered His manifestation of peace and joy as I worship Him throughout my day- even in my pj’s!

So, I’ll ask you this- are you wearing compassion, kindness, humility, meekness and patience? Are you clothed with strength and dignity? Or, are you solely focused on your outward appearance that man sees expecting that your efforts will please your Father as well?

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What To Say When You Have No Words

Often-times, in the hustle and bustle of daily life, we find ourselves in a bit of an emotional and mental blur. We recognize we have feelings and thoughts, but seem unable to express them either in a verbal or written manner.

Lately, I have found myself in this exact place. The last article I wrote was entitled “In the Stillness”. I have been living there, digging deeper and deeper into God’s word, seeking His clarity in my life. I still don’t have it all together, but matters that were once blurry have started coming back into focus.

In my last post, I spoke about remaining still while you wait for God to do His work in you, and in this post, I want to encourage you during that stillness.

There are many times when my heart is overwhelmed, and I don’t know what to say to God when I pray, to my husband when he asks me what’s going through my head, or a friend when they notice a slight pull-away from normalcy. It’s during this time that I wondered what to say when I have no words.

Romans 8:26 says, “And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words.” This is where I have found myself many times in the past month- well, year- okay, years! We don’t have to have it all together in order to come to God in prayer. We can sit in the presence of our Father in compete silence, or simply utter the “groanings” of our heart, as the Bible puts it, that the Holy Spirit prays on our behalf.

The next 2 verses in Romans 8 go on to say “And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will. And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.”

When we are in direct communication with God, we aren’t required to have words. When we are in daily communion with the Father, He will not only know what we are trying to say, but He will align our desires to His will.

Remember the story of when Jesus was tempted in the wilderness? How did He combat the devil’s attacks? He spoke the truth of Scripture! He was tired, hungry, weak, and just as much human as you and I, yet His first response was to speak Scripture! The only way we as believers will be able to respond in the same way, is if scripture is a priority and consistent component of our lives. When this takes precedence, it is like the Bible says in Matthew 10:20- “For it is not you who will be speaking–it will be the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.”

So, my answer to “What do you say when you have no words?” is nothing. Say nothing at all. Let the Holy Spirit intercede on your behalf and you will begin to experience a voice within you, and words spoken through you, that you know are not your own!

In The Stillness

For the past few months the Lord has been speaking to me clearer than ever. I have sensed that He been asking me to simply “Be still and KNOW”. So, I have been doing just that. I have rested in the fact that I know that He is good, He is faithful, He loves me, He will provide for me, and the list goes on and on.

However, in the past week, He has laid a new verse on my heart. Exodus 14:14 says, “The Lord will fight for you, you need only be still.” It’s as though He is telling me that “In the past I told you to simply ‘know’, and now I’m going to reveal exactly what you should know.”

Sometimes we can get so caught up in the moment and trying to understand the “why” behind our struggles, but sometimes, the Lord wants us to only be still.

Now, I will be the first to admit that this is extremely hard when we are unable to see the entire picture surrounding our circumstances. So, for the past few months, I have been focusing more on who God is rather than what God is doing. It’s much more peaceful that way- believe me!

The promise shown to me last week was Him revealing what He is doing- He is fighting for me, on my behalf. This is a precious promise! Since I have already been focused on WHO He is, now I have no doubt in my mind that He is capable to fight for me! He was preparing my heart in the past so I would trust Him  when He ultimately gave me this promise.

The other amazing thing I have noticed through all of this, is that right now, in my situation, I see nothing happening- and when I say nothing, I mean literally nothing! So exactly when, in my flesh, I needed reassurance that I will, in fact, be okay and that my situation can be overcome; He reminds me to still be still with the reassurance that He loves me He’s fighting for me behind the scenes.

I am so looking forward to seeing what He does with this as time progresses. I am anticipating a God-moment where you can’t help but realize “Wow! My God did that for me!”

What is your situation today where you feel hopeless? I want to remind you that He is fighting for you- just be still. When you don’t know what to do or what to think, rest in WHO He is. I’ve heard it said that instead of telling God how big your problems are, tell your problems how big your God is. So, let’s do that this week- let’s tell our problems that they don’t stand a chance because our God is fighting for us!

3 Ways to Wait Well

Greetings from my new office space! My sweet husband allowed (and helped) me transform a section of our spare bedroom into a peaceful and inspiring work environment for me! I was having a difficult time being efficient and productive from our couch. Don’t worry, Duncan has made his home at my feet and seems to be just as content; so all is well in the Chupp household!

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As I have been readjusting to life after vacation, I was praying about what God wanted my next blog post to be about. He usually picks something that I am dealing with personally and then leads me to write about it for others to read as well. It’s actually a quite vulnerable position to be in; yet, somehow, even more so healing and therapeutic as well.

This year, one of my growth points is in the topic of patience. We live in a society where patience is an almost distinct virtue! We want what we want and we want it now- no exceptions!

As I was driving a few days ago, I was listening to music (as always) and the song While I’m Waiting by John Waller came through the speakers of my car. I’ve heard this song nearly a thousand times, and without fail I find myself shamelessly jamming out to it each and every time. However, something was different as I listened to it that evening. I felt the words somewhere deep within my soul as if they were written and sung solely for me.

The beautiful and powerful words are as follows:

I’m waiting, I’m waiting on You Lord
And I am hopeful, I’m waiting on You Lord
Though it is painful, but patiently I will wait

And I will move ahead bold and confident
Taking every step in obedience

While I’m waiting I will serve You
While I’m waiting I will worship
While I’m waiting I will not faint
I’ll be running the race even while I wait

I’m waiting, I’m waiting on You Lord
And I am peaceful, I’m waiting on You Lord
Though it’s not easy no, but faithfully I will wait
Yes, I will wait

And I will move ahead bold and confident
Taking every step in obedience

While I’m waiting I will serve You
While I’m waiting I will worship
While I’m waiting I will not faint
I’ll be running the race even while I wait

I will move ahead bold and confident
I’ll be taking every step in obedience, yeah

While I’m waiting I will serve You
While I’m waiting I will worship
While I’m waiting I will not faint

And I will serve You while I’m waiting
I will worship while I’m waiting
I will serve You while I’m waiting
I will worship while I’m waiting
I will serve You while I’m waiting
I will worship while I’m waiting on You Lord

As I heard these words and allowed myself to ponder them, I honestly believe that the Holy Spirit was working inside me giving me instructions during my time of waiting- waiting for change, improvement and my dreams to finally take shape!

Quickly I want to go over what I believe to be the 3 ways to wait well:

  1. Serve in the waiting. So many times we want things to be handed to us without having to work at or for it. This isn’t how God intended us to live. We need to be willing to serve the Lord and others while we wait for God’s perfect timing in our lives.  A real example of this is Jesus Himself. When He was on this earth as man, the Bible said He came not to be served but to serve. He was waiting for God’s ultimate purpose for His life to be fulfilled at just the right time, yet He used each moment of His life wisely serving others and in turn leaving a lasting legacy of change behind Him. I believe we should strive to do the same!
  2. Worship in the waiting. If you have read any of my blogs you are well aware by now that I thrive off of worship. It comes extremely easily and naturally for me. I have learned, however, that worship does not simply mean lifting your hands while singing along with a Christian song. Worship is an attitude of the heart. It’s surrender. Surrendering to the plan and path that your Father has for you. So while you’re waiting for that previously revealed promise to be fulfilled, or you’re waiting in the dark, worship- or surrender to- the only One who can provide the peace and strength your soul craves.
  3. Don’t faint in the waiting. I recognize first hand how easy it is to desire to give up on trying- or on everything in general. When things are darkest, it’s almost as though there is a piece of wool over our eyes making it impossible to see the proverbial “light at the end of the tunnel”. I want to encourage you to make a declaration today that you’re not going to give up- you won’t faint. Cling to what you know to be true. Memorize it so when you find yourself struggling to locate the path with the “wool” of fear, heartache, confusion or doubt pulled over your eyes, you can pull from the recesses of your mind that which is peace, love, clarity and certainty.

Paul wrote in Philippians 3:14 “I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.” When you think of this life as a race, you will be more likely to realize that there is a finish line. Something to look forward to and push towards.

As you press on towards that prize (whatever that is for you) I encourage you to, as John Waller so simply penned, “Move ahead bold and confident taking every step in obedience.” Do these three things I mentioned above with this attitude in mind and you will find yourself looking back at your season of waiting and realize that you did indeed “wait well”.

Why You Shouldn’t Make Any New Year’s Resolutions and What to do Instead

On the final day of 2016, I wanted to share some concluding thoughts before the new year is officially upon us! For the past week, my husband and I have been in Illinois visiting his family for Christmas. He has Amish family so we have been devoting most of our time catching up with them since they are unable keep current with us on social media. It has been a sweet time for me to spend with my new family and an even sweeter time for him, I know!

As I reflect on this past year, I am reminded that I weathered many storms and witnessed many rainbows. A few of those storms were hospitalization on many occasions, surgeries and procedures, mold in my condo forcing me to move on short notice, seasons of worsening in my health, in-patient rehab learning to re-walk, going on short-term disability and then having my long-term disability benefits rejected leaving us with one income.

All of that comes off as dreary and hopeless, yet I understand that you can’t witness the rainbow without first weathering the storm; and let me tell you! My rainbows were bountiful, beautiful and bright! I was engaged at the end of last year, married in April, went on a magnificent, fairy-tale honeymoon to the Virgin Islands, welcomed our fur-baby Duncan into our home, moved into our beautiful apartment, paid off $3,500 in medical debt and what was left on my vehicle, and I could continue to list the ways that I experienced God moving in our lives.

One of the scariest elements of New Year’s are the resolutions that for some reason we feel required to list. In January of 2016, I didn’t create any new year’s resolutions for exactly that reason. Now as 2017 is breathing down our necks, I want to propose a new idea for both you and I. Instead of labeling these ideas as “Resolutions” already knowing that when December rolls around we won’t have followed through, let’s call them “Growth Points”. This simple change, in turn, sets the precedence that there is no possibility of failure to meet your enormous goal, because as long as you are continuing to move forward in the right direction, you will be meeting your objective of growth.

In the next few moments I want share with you my 5 simple “Growth Points”. Perhaps if you are struggling to decide on yours this might spark ideas in your heart as well as provide accountability for myself as the year progresses.

  1. Mature Spiritually. I don’t suppose anyone desires or intends on falling backwards spiritually throughout the year; but as the life begins to demand our time and the months quickly pass us by, we often find ourselves in a bit of a rut or downhill spiral. Regardless of where you currently stand in your spiritual walk, God always desires a closer relationship with us. So, I will strive for that. No outrageous commitments that I recognize I won’t keep, simply a growing desire to walk with Him daily.
  1. Improve Organization. I’m already the queen of Excel spreadsheets, lists and planning in general; however, as I reflect on the last year, I am aware of certain areas that need improvement. Later today, I will be setting up a home office in our spare bedroom and last week I bought a new planner (The Happy Planner) that will help me manage every aspect of our lives in a more concise way. I don’t know where you are as you begin 2017. Perhaps you’re like me and have it all pretty much under control and simply need to fine tune what you already have going on, or maybe you are completely disorganized and know you need to make some drastic changes. It doesn’t matter where you are in your organizational skills- take a small step towards better!
  1. Expand My Blog and Writing. This point will certainly vary greatly for many of you as writing may not be on your list of “to-do’s” this year; however, this is my hobby, calling and prayerfully a source of income for my little family. Regardless of what came to mind when you read this, there is always room for improvement, growth or consistency in a hobby or business venture. Just like organization, a small step in the right direction is better than no step at all!
  1. Cultivate My Relationships. As I mentioned earlier, I got married this year and have learned more than I imagined was even possible. It has already been a beautiful time of growth and I have been incredibly blessed to embark on this journey with my best friend! Even though I have learned an exponential amount in just 9 short months, I am well aware that I have the ability to be a better wife, a better daughter, and a better friend. So, this year I will love in a way that is selfless and unconditional requiring nothing in return. I challenge you to evaluate where you stand in your relationships. Is there room for growth? I know there is in mine!
  1. Enhance My Patience. This quite possibly could be the hardest growth point of all. There are many aspect of my life that I wish change would happen right now, yet I have absolutely no power over the timing of that change. I am longing for the day that my body is pain free, and full of energy. I also yearn for the day when I get to be a mommy and of course I would desire to own our own home. However, it is imperative to accept that though one or more of these may take place this year, they also may not. I am deciding right now that I will be satisfied with the life I am currently living. God is in control. He alone can alter the course of my life and since He is the Author and Finisher of my faith, I can and must rest in the fact that He has already penned each chapter that I will open; and though it may look different than I’d like, it is still beautiful in its own way!

So, I encourage you today as you wrap up 2016 and settle on your Growth Points for 2017 to be brave. Be bold. Be the best version of you!

 

A Christmas Invite You Don’t Want To Forget

How is it even possible that Christmas is in one week? ONE WEEK, people! This is my first Christmas married and will also be my first one spent away from my family. Trent and I will be traveling to Illinois on Saturday morning– and by Saturday morning I’m fairly certain I mean Friday night. We are required to arrive at the airport at 4:50 am!

Who does that? Oh, that’s right, we do- that’s who!

Anyway, we will be spending the week there with his family experiencing all things Amish. However, I am a Cali girl living in Florida who is currently wearing a jacket in 70-degree weather. My poor body is not anywhere near prepared for the freezing weather it is about to endure!

Because most of my family lives here in Florida, we will be celebrating Christmas twice- once here on Wednesday evening and once there on Sunday! Seriously, no one told me marriage would be this awesome!

As the festivities approach, I began to think, as most I’m sure do, about the true meaning behind Christmas. I personally love all things Christmas. I would even be happy if December was 2 months long that way we could have more time to experience all the sights and sounds associated with the holiday season.

Though I love this time of year, the truth is that it’s not only about the trees, lights, music, yummy baked goods and gifts! These things are not wrong in any way and I believe they transform a small season of the year from ordinary into extraordinary!

There comes a point, however, when these things begin to overshadow the real “reason for the season”.

Christmas is not merely a season to jam-pack with holly jolly festivities, but rather a birthday party that lasts an entire month!

Christmas is a time to celebrate the birth of a Baby that would change the world! He came to earth fully knowing that He would eventually be brutally crucified in order to provide salvation for all, yet He still chose to come!

This season, I urge you to “send out” an additional invitation for the celebration you are so carefully planning. This invitation should be sent to none other than Jesus Himself. I mean, let’s be honest. You wouldn’t plan a birthday celebration for a friend and then forget to invite them because you got so wrapped up in the decorations, food, and gifts; so why do we often forget to invite Jesus to His own birthday?

We had several Christmas traditions while I was growing up. On Christmas Eve, we opened the gifts under our tree and then on Christmas Day, we would wake up and eat fresh baked (from the can) cinnamon rolls, read the Christmas Story from Luke 2, read the Christmas cards we had received from friends and family and then open our stockings. There were even years growing up that we would bake a birthday cake, light candles, and sing happy birthday to Jesus!

For me, the concept was instilled from an early age that Jesus is invited for Christmas. When I have a child of my own one day, additionally to or instead of writing letters to Santa (that has yet to be decided), we will also “mail” an invite to Jesus. I want my children to know that it is okay to celebrate Christmas with the traditional sights and sounds, but it bears no weight if the celebration takes place without acknowledging the “why” behind what we are doing.

So, I urge you. If this is a foreign concept, maybe you should actually drop an invite in the mail! (Don’t worry- I hear word travels to Heaven quickly so He’ll get it in plenty of time!) Or maybe, just plan on singing Happy Birthday before you open your presents on Sunday! At some point, gather around as a family or with friends and read the Christmas story from Luke 2. If you have children (or even if you don’t) go around the circle and take turns reading each verse! It will make the story come alive and even forces you to pay attention since you have to be prepared for your turn!

However it looks for you this year, please just pause and take a second to invite Him in. Thank His Father for allowing Him to come to earth as a baby and thank Him for making that sacrifice for you!