Being More Than Just Okay by Trish

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Have you ever noticed that in typical greetings followed by a simple “hello”, is the question “How are you?” asked? Casually and almost immediately a positive reply is given providing the assumption that all is well in our worlds. Even social media provides the illusion that life is perfect and every day is full of endless fun and adventure larger than life.

However how many of us have taken the time to pose the question “How are you?” and stopped long enough to read between the “okay” reply?

Life is not always perfect. There are days when you want to crawl back into bed, pull the covers over your head and pretend that what is waiting for you in the outside world is not your reality. But as humans and, sadly enough, as Christians, we’ve often conditioned ourselves to “fake it until we make it” and sometimes in the process, we force ourselves into denying the reality that not everything is okay. So we force a smile all the while hurting and bleeding inwardly.

This article is not intended to be full of doom and gloom and authorize self-loathing and self-defeating behaviors that support pity parties. However, I find that there is something very healthy about admitting when things are not okay in our world and taking ownership of how we feel about the situations we are facing. Emotions are good, and feelings remind us that we have a beating heart. Just because I’m a Christian does not mean I don’t hurt and my heart is never disappointed.

My faith does not give me a pass on hardships or disappointments, it gives me courage and strength to know that no matter what I face my God is greater!

Recently, I heard someone share a life situation they were facing and I was shocked because truthfully, this person’s life seems perfect. In that moment of vulnerability, it showed me that EVERYONE is carrying a burden they hadn’t planned for and it gave me a greater compassion for this person.

So, how do we deal with days that are not okay? Can I offer some suggestions that may be of help?

1)      Find your “dream team”

Identify your core group of friends. You don’t need a large group of friends, you just need the ones you have to be faithful! Your close friends/family should be your support group. They should be your safe place at all times.

2)      Admit you’re human

It’s okay to cry, to be mad, and to have emotions! It’s healthy to acknowledge how we feel! Suppressing how we feel leads to a bigger explosion later. We are not perfect but we serve a God who is, therefore I must depend on His strength to help me in my weakness! It’s possible to deal with emotions without allowing them to control your life.

3)      Work your faith

Faith becomes alive when you have to put it to action. It’s easy to say you have faith until you’re faced with a mountain that needs to be moved. Faith is a heart posture that says, “No matter what I see with my eyes, I still believe and I stand on God’s word to bring my solution to pass.”

4)      Control the zone

By this I mean you get to set the tone for the atmosphere around you. If you choose to push through the obstacles you’re facing, you will need to make sure you keep yourself in an environment and around people that will help your faith grow and your spirit stay encouraged. This is why it is important to have a good “dream team.” Real friends will listen to you and help you carry the burden, but they will also encourage positive growth and not allow you to digress or participate in negative behavior. Find music that inspires you, watch a movie that makes you laugh or take a walk that invigorates your senses. Do SOMETHING that creates a positive environment for your faith to thrive.

God desires for us to be whole in all areas of life. My friend recently said that we must learn to really “see” people. In other words, take time to hear the words they are not saying. Look past the general greetings and small talk. Ladies, let’s be of those who bring encouragement and healing in even the smallest of ways. If we want to change the world, let’s truly love the people in our “world.”

 

Photo Credit: © Wrangler | Dreamstime.comSad Young Woman Daydreaming Photo

Good Riddance! by Kenika

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Although I live in sunny Orlando, FL where the only two seasons are hot and hotter, I still have a really great appreciation for the fall. Growing up in both Illinois and Michigan, every natural season is easily identifiable. Winters are cold and brutal, springtime is beautiful and promising, summers are hot and always too short, and then there is fall. During the fall months leaves start changing into what seems like an infinite palette of colors. The air, while not yet cold, has a noticeable crisp to it. Fall fashion is my favorite of all seasons. It’s not too cold where you need that Eskimo-like winter coat, but just cool enough to wear a light sweater, a cute scarf and boots. As we are approaching the first official day of fall, in the middle of this blazing hot Florida summer, I find myself so grateful that every season has an end.

During a Sunday evening service my pastor said something really simple that helped me have peace in a very difficult season of life.  He said, “Every season has an end.” I know what you’re thinking, “Duh,” but to me it was something I really need to hear in that moment. After enduring loss, heartache, betrayal, and a barrage of other life obstacles I found myself asking God when it would all be over? Each day seemed more difficult than the last, and I clung to the Father like never before. This season seemed endless. It just went on and on and on. I felt like I was at my wit’s end, then comforting, timely words arrived on the scene, “Every season has an end.”

In the natural you can always tell when people are fed up with cold winters, or tired of sweating during the hot summers, because they start complaining about it. One thing is for certain complaining never causes the season to shift. There is a preset time for that part of the year, and it isn’t going to change until the Creator of the seasons says so. It’s the exact same way with spiritual seasons. They have an allotment and a purpose to fulfill and, sometimes, there is nothing we can do about it. Oh but when it’s over, what a sweet, glorious ending it is! Occasionally a season has been so wonderful you are sad to see it go, but the way my season was set up, I couldn’t have been happier to see it leave.

As a matter of fact, after enduring this brutal time, nothing felt better than to watch it go. Good-bye, Adios, Au Revoir, all that to say, good riddance! The season served its purpose, hopefully I learned every lesson that I was supposed to learn and I found strength in areas that I didn’t know I had. Therefore it was not a complete waste and even though it was painful, I will absolutely never be the same after experiencing it. No matter what we go through, no matter how unbearable it may be at times, it can’t last always. Whatever you have been going through, be encouraged, it will end, it absolutely has to. Wave goodbye to that old season and prepare your heart and your life for the new!

 

Photo Credit:  © Aspenphoto | Dreamstime.comBiracial Young Woman Sitting In The Grass Photo

 

Don’t Worry Be Happy by Sonya

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Remember the song, “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” by Bobby McFerrin? It is a catchy song that just puts you in a good mood. I need this song playing in my mind to remind me to be happy and to not let worry consume me. Why do we worry? Doesn’t it sound so simple to just be happy? Happiness and worry cannot be in the same place because you can’t think of positive and negative thoughts at the same time. It is impossible to think about two thoughts at the same time. You have to think one way and really where does worrying get you if you choose that way?

Matthew 6:27 ask the question, “Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?” Think about that question, does any amount of worrying add or enhance your life in any way? The answer is of course not, but we as a society worry about everything. This world wants us to be concerned about our needs and what is in it for us. But God’s word says in Philippians 4:6, “Don’t worry about anything but instead pray about everything.” Does it say to pray about the big stuff and worry about the small thing? No, we are not to worry about ALL things. This is a hard concept, my oldest daughter struggles in this area, and we are working through her fears and worries, which can consume you. Our mind can get the best of us and cause us to worry about the silliest things. I believe we need to take captive of our mind and thoughts and focus on the thoughts that are true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and worthy of praise as Philippians 4:8 continues on saying. Fixing our minds on the things of God gives us no room for worry and fears because our focus is on heavenly things. I know after we pray with our daughter and over her mind she starts to have a peace knowing that everything is going to be all right and God clears her mind to experience the joy. The joy of the Lord is priceless and worry can rob that in a heartbeat. The enemy wants us to worry and be caught up in this sin because it prevents us from keeping rooted to God’s word. So don’t think about things of this earth, but let God take over our minds and find relief from our fears as we cling to our salvation and His promises for us.

GOD is in control and He will take care of us. “Give your worries to God, for He cares about you.” (1 Peter 5:7) God cares for you so “Don’t Worry, Be Happy!”   Enjoy the peace today that comes from not worrying and be happy in the joy of the Lord!

Photo Credit: © Mimagephotography | Dreamstime.comPortrait Of A Happy Young Woman Laughing Outdoors With Hand In Hair Photo

Entitlement by Bombi

 

 

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I don’t like to think of myself as a selfish person but really, everyone has a selfish nature. Sometimes I think I’m living fine and free then BLAM, I hit a wall of offense. Especially when it comes to the topic of “friends.” I am passionate about my friends. My favorite scripture is Proverbs 17:17, “A friend loves at all times.” I will fly across the oceans just to see my friends, or set up Skype dates if I can’t see them in person. Although I’m not perfect, I try to make sure they know I love them. I have been blessed with wonderful friends, and when I’ve been able to live out that friendship in community, I am happy so happy!

Rewind to a year ago when I was newly married and living in a new state. I stepped off that plane with hope and full confidence that I would undoubtedly find a community to wrap my arms around as I learned to love my new home and life. I’ve lived in a few different states and I’ve never had a problem finding some type of community. Even if it’s a small group of people I met from work, or a few people I met at a play group from Avery’s old toddler days. But this time, it’s different. This time, all the things I’ve known to do to find community, well they don’t seem to work.

Have I met some pals? Yes, I sure have. Are there people here that love me deeply? Yes, thank God there are. Have I had the community experience I expected to have? Not so much. How have I handled that? Because of my social nature, community comes somewhat easy for me, thus I came to expect it wherever I’ve lived, and because I felt that I’ve done my due diligence, I came to feel even entitled to it. Now expectation is one thing, but entitlement can be a tricky evil.

I believe entitlement has evil roots. One of the most entitled beings I’ve ever learned of is Satan. Yes, Satan thought he had certain rights. He felt entitled. What about Eve? She found her entitlement when she was convinced that she had the right to know the difference between good and evil, even though God commanded her to leave that fruit alone. Betrayal, murder, theft, and other crimes; somewhere in there if you look close enough entitlement, in all of its selfishness, was at play. That’s scary. Entitlement tells us that we deserve special privileges in life but really, what do we deserve?

If we were given all that we deserve in life, we would probably find ourselves dead, maybe friendless, or even cast out of heaven like Satan. When we’ve surrendered our lives to God we don’t get what we think we deserve, we get something so much better. We get undeserved favor. We get grace. By the way, just because I haven’t found the community I was so used to finding in friends doesn’t mean I haven’t found the community God gifted me with in my family. By God’s grace I have a husband, daughter, and son. We do life together every day. We eat together, play together, pray together, and keep each other accountable. I didn’t deserve them or even expected to have them all, but God gave them to me anyway.

Entitlement: a belief that one is deserving of or entitled to certain privileges

Grace: Undeserved favor

 

Photo Credit: © Cristianzamfir | Dreamstime.comYoung Lady Posing Somewhere In Industrial Ruins Photo