Impossible beauty from volcanic ashes

Beauty from ashes

I have a hard time grasping the reality of the phrase, “He makes beauty from ashes.”

If you’ve been through the fire and all you really do see around you is ashes, then your soul feels burnt and deadened.

Seems to me that seasons of ashes can’t really coexist with beauty.

But then I had a very eye-opening encounter recently. And that happened in a place where there is only beauty, no ashes, surrounding me — Hawaii.

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Not to make you jealous or anything, but Hawaii has got to be hands-down the most spectacular, radiant, glorious place on earth. And it’s not just one kind of beauty; it’s a wide diversity of everything from white sandy beaches, to towering waves, to staggering cliffs, to brilliant coral reefs, to jungle forests, to commanding landscapes. And it all takes place in about 80 degrees of weather — all year round.

Now I know you want to go there, I loved my time there, and people all around the world talk about visiting there. This little, tiny speck in the Pacific Ocean has everyone a spectator and counting down the days until a live encounter.

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However, Hawaii wasn’t always paradise. During a short educational film we watched before going to Hanauma Bay to snorkel in the coral reef, I learned how the Hawaiian Islands actually came to be.

Beneath the surface of the islands is what is called a “hot spot.” If you remember anything from 7th grade Earth Science, you’ll recall that the Earth’s outer crust is made up of tectonic plates. Sometimes volcanos will form in the middle of a plate where magna rises until it erupts on the sea floor — this is the hot spot. The Hawaiian Islands were formed by such a hot spot occurring in the middle of the Pacific Plate. While the hot spot is fixed, the plate is moving. So, as the plate moved over the hot spot, one by one the string of islands were formed.

How utterly fascinating.

Volcanos produced islands.

Ashes scripted beauty.

Destruction prophesied redemption.

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I was thinking about this as I was snorkeling in Hanauma Bay. This particular bay was created from a volcanic explosion which created a crater and all the sediment from the destruction settled into the bay which made this perfect environment for a coral reef. And how beautiful the brightly colored coral fish were. And how perfect the sand and hot the sun.

What this nature story is telling is even deeper than first impressions (you know, the seemingly cliché “All things work together for good” stuff).

You see, this beautiful, perfect island was formed after time and time again of volcanic eruption. Again, and again, and again. The magma rising, the sediment building, volcanic bursts, and, after a long time, this paradise place started peeking out into the pacific ocean — much to it’s own surprise, I’m sure.

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But what about us?

Moving away from this paradise, let’s look at our own hell, our own volcanos, our own life explosions. I get it — life isn’t easy, there’s hard times, there will be pain, and somehow we become better people through it.

But what really irks me is the “Really? Again??”

When your own history repeats itself. When you can’t shake the despairs of the past. When you think you’ve healed and then something seemingly minor (or major) triggers something too deep in your mind and emotions, and it’s the same story, like nothing has changed.

The magna rises.

The sediment builds.

When pain comes steamrolling through your door, it’s not just dealing with that pain. It’s having to relive all the other ones that happened previously. People may say, directly or indirectly, “Ok, let’s heal already. It’s time to move on,” because they can only see that isolated experience. When someone has deep wounds and scars, it’s literally harder to move on each time because you have to relive each previous one and they stack up uncaringly. Now it’s not just getting over this pain; it’s getting over 2, or 5, or 10. It keeps building up. Each time it gets harder, and more seemingly impossible. And I think, “I can’t take one more thing, go through this experience one more time.” The future is terrifying, because the choice to live is this risk, and full expectation, that this just may happen again. Some way or another.

The magna rises

The sediment builds.

I think of friends who are going through deep waters, trials that keep repeating so much it hurts my heart. A beautiful couple and good friends of mine who have recurring pregnancy loss and have gone through the loss of 5 babies already. Another friend who lost her mom to cancer as a child, lost her dad to cancer in the past year, and now received the news that her fiancé at age 26 is diagnosed with cancer just 3 months before their wedding. My aunt who lost her dad to a car accident years ago, and then her 3 month old grandson 5 years ago, and how her own 30 year old son several months ago.

It’s not just the one time. It’s the repetition. Over and over and over again.

Once again.

The magna rises.

The sediment builds.

I felt resilient years ago. Obstacles and hurts didn’t have much of a past behind it, so I was able to jump back pretty quickly. But each deep hurt is like losing a limb. Go through it once, and sure, you can keep walking ahead. But 3-4 times? All you can do is lay limb-less on the ground with hardly the will to live again.

And we all have those, “Again, God??” moments. When will I ever learn that living and loving means losing everything? How in the world am I supposed to help other people when I’m incapable of controlling myself when I am at my weakest point? I can’t even think or accomplish things. I can’t even communicate with God. God, I can’t. I can’t. I have nothing to offer. I’m lost.

The magna rises.

The sediment builds.

And then…

What is that, peeking through the surface?

Is that something green, something alive, something …. beautiful?

Can’t be. Because I know that all there was before was destruction and ashes.

But something’s rising, something … new. Totally new. Shockingly new.

What once was a calm sea is now this attention-drawing island. And with such variety. Depth. Creativity.

The magna rose.

The sediment built.

And paradise bloomed.

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That corner of the ocean would never be the same again.

And that’s the hard part too. We can’t ever go back. Ever. After all the things that we have gone through, we cannot reach back into the past and regain our innocence, the times of a simpler life, the heart that is unshattered.

You see, God’s not creating the next better version of the Pacific Ocean. He’s actually building a whole new island.

He doesn’t make things better. But he does make things new.

Because that’s what love does.

New things

This ocean would never be the same. It had to accept the change. It lost one thing to gain another. Redemption is actually written into creation.

And what’s incredible about Hawaii? I get to enjoy this because something a long time ago went through fire and destruction. And it turned into something beautiful that continues to give and attract people from all over the world.

Because beautiful things will attract attention. And every beautiful thing has a past that includes a lot of ashes.

I think … I think … I want to be like Hawaii.

And I think …. that has been God’s plan all along. But there comes a time of agreement, of “yes and amen.”

That means, though, I have to embrace the trial and fire and heat and hurt and pain. It’s part of the process, the journey, the sanctification.

When it’s all said and done, when something new is starting to burst out, the point isn’t what I lost. The point is what I gain. By losing what I had, by losing my claims to my life, I gain a new one, a fuller one.

Only Love can come up with a story like that.

Inside the lava-like fire are hurts and pains that we don’t understand or think we really deserved. Yet we recognize it. We receive it. And we proclaim “Amen”. In that seed planted, we in turn receive a harvest of righteousness.

And so our life becomes an island alleluia.

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To read more of the stories of my friends I mentioned above who are going through difficult but beautiful stories, read their blogs below:

Lindsay And David Blair – My Journey With Recurring Pregnancy Loss http://lindsayablair.com/2016/02/12/my-journey-with-rpl/

Bobbie and Ray – Neatly Wrapped Packages  https://jeanbobbi.wordpress.com/2016/02/18/neatly-wrapped-packages/ 

Lean In To Loneliness

DeathtoStock_NotStock10Soul, be thankful for these lonely days when you only have your heart and time to be responsible for.

Maximize the loneliness.

Go deep.

Discover yourself through God’s eyes, for the time will come when your life will be full of pouring out what you have been soaking up in the quiet days.

The amount that I am able to impact and pour into other’s lives in the future is in direct correlation to the amount and discipline that I pour into myself.

Immerse yourself in God’s word.

Think deeply. Create unbridled. Give extravagantly.

Prepare, prepare, prepare. Arm yourself for battle. Wield the weapons of warfare. They aren’t made overnight.

Remember that my strongest weapon, my character, is forged over long lengths of time and fire.

Feed richly, but only those things that promote health and energy.

Learn to listen well when no one is talking.

Discern what is God and what is noise.

Love his voice above all others so that you can love others better.

So love your loneliness, for it is a gift from God for a specific season for a specific purpose.

It is not your fault, but rather a king-sent mission.

Lean oh so strongly in to loneliness. For the longer and deeper the lean, the stronger and greater the soul muscle.

Making Judgements About The Moon

Moon

The bright moon is rising

Captivating only my quick glance

Before I move on

Because I think I understand it,

That just because I see it

Means I “get” it.

But if only I studied– if I distrusted my initial judgment–

If only I dug deeper than my first impression

I would be floored and humbled

By my arrogant assumptions.

To think I know anything about the moon

When I never heard it’s story

When I only read books about it

When I only listened to gossip about it.

It seems that my perception could be vastly different

If I changed my method of judging.

If I stopped and considered the moon’s realities, I would see that

It’s closeness is great only because of it’s sheer mass.

It’s light is not selfish, but simply reflective.

It’s marks are not defects or self-inflicted, but massive craters

That tell of depth and time and beauty and experiences.

I think I can hold it

But I cannot.

I think I can define it

But I cannot.

I’m starting to realize the uncomfortable truth that

The only way to have intimacy of the moon

Is to visit

And listen

And discover

And study

And commit

Over a long period of time.

Only then do I dare tell you

What I think the moon is like.

 


 

Sometimes I think we make experiential assumptions about people around us.

Sometimes I think we make educated guesses about cultural issues.

Sometimes I think we try to figure out someone else’s story through the lens of our own.

Maybe it’s time to meet the person behind the statistic.

Maybe it’s time I need to stop thinking my story is “best of many” and starting thinking it’s “one of many.”

Maybe it’s time I commit to one concern, one group, one person, instead of trying to be an authority on all.

I’m starting to understand that it’s vastly unfair to speak my opinion with authority when I have no intimacy with what I’m trying to speak for or represent.

I also had no idea that this internal confrontation would happen when I sat down to watch the blue moon last week.

You never know what will trigger new questions and realities.

And sometimes they happen only once in a blue moon.

Since When Was It All About The Results? Do Good And Love Well Anyway.

mother-teresaPeople are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered. Forgive them anyway.

If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives. Be kind anyway.

If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies. Succeed anyway.

If you are honest and sincere people may deceive you. Be honest and sincere anyway.

What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight. Create anyway.

If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous. Be happy anyway.

The good you do today, will often be forgotten. Do good anyway.

Give the best you have, and it will never be enough. Give your best anyway.

In the final analysis, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.

These words are credited to Mother Teresa and this is the version found written on the wall in Mother Teresa’s home for children in Calcutta.

This is so simple. So clear.

No matter what. Let’s do good and love well.

Anyway.

And there’s no way that this is easy.

Personally, during the past year or two I feel like I have run into walls depicting each of these phrases.

People, life is hard. At each and every point of goodness that you sincerely work towards, there is an equal or greater amount of resistance.

And sometimes you are knocked down and beaten.

It’s so unfair.

But — it doesn’t matter.

Do it anyway. Learn, adapt, and lean into the hard things with purpose and hope that sees beyond the small world that others project over you.

Can I give you hope is a weirdly honest way? These things are going to happen, no matter what. No matter how pure your intentions are, no matter how good of a person you are, no matter how wonderful of a cause you are pursuing.

But here’s the cool thing. Only movement instigates opposition.

Opposition is actually proving that you are doing worthwhile things.

Are there boundaries around movement? Of course. Evil actions will also face opposition eventually. But we must constantly test ourselves and our hearts against the law of love: is this pure, healthy, right, true, good, excellent and honorable?

If yes, then think on those things, and what you think on you become. And what you become you do. And what you do proves who you are.

So let’s keep moving forward and tell opposition that it can pick a fight with us as much as it wants. We’re already promised the victory.

The Power of Saying “Yes” to the Greater Things

Self control is having the opportunity to think on lesser things, yet choosing to think on greater things.

Self control is knowing I can think negatively about someone, yet choosing to think positively and hopefully.

Self control is knowing I have the freedom to think and act impurely, yet choosing to think and act purely.

Self control is not the power to say no, but knowledge of what is even more powerful and the choice to say yes to those things. Self control is the power to say “Yes” to greater things. And living with that kind of power is a strength no one can steal from you. Because you’re choosing your self to live in a certain way that thinks and acts beyond the short-term moment.

Lack of self control, or the choice to choose the lesser things, helps nobody, not even you. It teaches you to take the easy route and fulfill your immediate desire with no thought to others or your real identity or your future. Being uncontrolled or freely admitting that something else controls you is simply selfish. And selfishness will destroy you over time. It will destroy your generosity, compassion, love, peace, joy, faith and goodness. Self-centered living will destroy your self-freedom. You will be a slave to yourself, ironically. And then it will hijack your world around you. One day you will wake up and realize you have no true friendships, only ones you facade into your life because they facilitate you getting what you want.

And then I really will have sorrow for you. Because now you have to live with yourself everyday. And it’s not that I or anyone else is better than you; it just that many people who want to have controlled lives evaluate decisions one at a time and think, “Does this control me, or do I control it? Which is the greater thing to choose?”

You are tomorrow who you choose to be today. Though don’t be arrogant to judge those who have narcissist tendencies, who use everyone around them as tools in their game, or make life and all conversations and relationships about themselves. You or I could be there too, and very simply actually.

The difference is in the decision. Every decision is to say yes to one thing and no to something else. The thing is, though, you’ll never know what path you could’ve had if you had made different decisions.

You don’t want to be a self-absorbed, abusive person one day? Stop making uncontrolled, selfish decisions today. You were made to be so much more. Control what you eat, what you drink, what you wear, who your friends are, the words you speak, the words you don’t speak, the atmosphere you surround yourself with, and the deeds you do every day.

There are so many things that are out of your control to deal with as it is. You can’t control circumstances that are thrown at you, how others treat or mistreat you, or the general economy of life and culture. Maybe we should start controlling ourselves with those personal decisions and choose to live for the  greater things instead of the lesser things, the selfish things. It might not make a difference today, but it might create a legacy in 40 years instead of having a life wasted that has truly impacted nobody. It’s a harsh reality that you could one day be sitting on thrones of gold in fields of rubies and be totally and absolutely bankrupt.

Tell yourself what you will choose today. And please, love everyone who is in your present and your future enough to not be selfish, but to instead choose the greater things.

Why would I move to Chicago?

I’m convinced there’s two ways that you can live your life.

You can either…

a. wait until you are forced to make a decision due to strain and stress, simply allowing the inevitable to happen to you, or

b. think about and anticipate the next step and then move forward towards it on your own initiative.

The second one is definitely a lot more difficult because sometimes it doesn’t make sense or have a path of perfect logic all wrapped up in a pretty package ready to present to everyone that asks.

So…I’m moving back to Chicago is normally how I announced this decision, just kind of dropped the bomb because being subtle is not exactly one of my natural attributes.

Typical response? What?! WHY!?! You can’t go!

We like you here.

You’re successful at your job.

You’ve made an impact on lives.

You’re having fun and you’re happy.

We need you.

We didn’t get to do everything we wanted to do with you yet.

This is a great city.

Greenville is one of the most awesome, inexpensive cities to live.

It’s COLD up there!

But seriously, it’s FREEZING up there! You can’t survive!!!

You have really good opportunities here you can pursue.

You love this city.

It won’t be the same without you.

Yes. Yes, I do agree with every single one of those. I honestly do.

But you know what I’ve had to learn over my whole life? Those descriptions shouldn’t be true in just one place or location or season of life. Maybe it should follow you everywhere you go.

Because every person, place and situation I’m in I have decided to pursue leaving it in a better place than when I started. And what I want to leave behind is not really my name, but virtues and values. Like love, happiness, joy, peace, kindness, hope, honesty, strength, trust, humility, generosity, and faith.

Because those things last forever.

My life isn’t just about the here and now. I live the realities of the kingdom of God, and he came up with those values in the first place. So I just want to nurture them wherever I go, knowing that those will generate success with or without me.

So if I remember that this life isn’t all about me and always being known as the best, the funniest, the best trainer/manager, or the greatest friend then I am free to come and go as I feel because I’m not defined by what others want for me or say about me. I know who I am, and that’s a chosen, valuable, worthy woman and daughter of God, so I’m free to make a decision about what I want to do right now.

Will I mess up? Oh yes. And I have before. But life is about learning, not getting to a place of comfort and being too afraid to move because I might get hurt at some point. If that’s your view then get ready because life will throw trials at you anyway. You pretty much can’t ever escape hurt, pain or mistakes. So it can catch you by surprise as you’re living a stoic life, or you can take it in stride as you’re constantly moving forward and ahead. I’m very imperfect and make a lot of mistakes, but I’ve learned to move forward instead of living in a reality of my past, making it my present which distorts and kills my future.

Does that mean you have to move out of state? No. That’s just what is going to work best for me right now. I have always had a love for cities. I also have a sick amount of school debt that I need to really focus on paying off, so I’m going to try to get a job where I can pay off debt like a boss, develop my love for marketing, steward my bachelor’s degree and MBA… and guess what? Chicago, one of the cities I really like, happens to be where my relatives and family live close to! So I kind of just put two and two together. See what I did there?

And by the way, I’m really going to miss Greenville and all my friends and experiences there. This wasn’t the easiest decision and it took about 9 months from beginning to end. But I knew it was time, and because I have so many amazing people in my life that made it that much harder. I’m blessed to have to many influences in my life and such good memories to look back on.

So why Chicago? …you may ask

The easy answer to that is my family lives there and I grew up in a suburb of Chicago. I am definitely glad to live closer to family and be more involved than I have since elementary.

But the whole story? I actually went all “researchy” and decided to make a list of all the things I was looking for in a city and what I thought I wanted to do in life and find a place that lined up.

So here was my line of thinking: First, I’ve had a heart for helping broken women, specifically through freeing those that have been involved in sex trafficking and human slavery. So I researched the top 10 cities in America where that’s prevalent as well as the cities with the highest crime, since those overlap. It may seem like an odd way to research where to live, but if you are a child of God then you have the power of the kingdom everywhere you go, so why not go somewhere that actually needs change instead of a place to just blend in? Maybe we can try to live life on purpose?

Second, I googled the top culturally diverse cities. I love being exposed to and surrounded by a wide variety of cultures. It keeps you thinking, changing, and humble and I personally enjoy diversity.

Third, I searched which cities have the best cost of living. I’m not at a financial advantage right now in my life, so that was a very practical consideration.

The top cities that came up after all that consideration were Atlanta, Chicago, San Francisco, Tampa, Detroit, Phili, and Houston. After considering them, I crossed off ones that I legitimately couldn’t afford and ones that I did NOT want to live in (bad experiences in Detroit), and Chicago just made sense. I was familiar with it and had family there.

So thus the decision. Not sexy or glamorous or miraculous. Maybe God gave us a mind and resources so that we can use them to make decisions and maybe we get our panties way too much in a wad over the next steps in life because “I don’t know if it’s right or wrong.”

There’s no right or wrong. Just do something. Just start. That’s the hardest part because then you’re vulnerable. It’s much easier to stay put and be easily understood. Sometimes we care way too much about what other people think and want for our lives than what we want out of life and who we were made to be and do.

Leonardo da Vinci said something pretty insightful and I’ll leave with this:

It has long since come to my attention that people of accomplishment rarely sat back and let things happen to them. They went out and happened to things.

Leonardo

 

 

All Things For Good

Have you heard these words before?

“All things work together for good.”

It’s a phrase from the Bible. Something I’m sure you’ve read or heard spoken to you at one point or another, especially living in the buckle of the Bible belt.

But let’s get real about this.

Offensive words! Who would dare repeat that phrase after truly encountering the searing pain of this life? Is this really a reality? or a cruel, well-wishing joke?

that one phrase. the most heart wrenching battle to believe, to really accept.

We wouldn’t dare say we don’t believe that God is good, and we’re sure deep down at some point he has good for us. But to honestly take this whole phrase to heart?? Some situations there is just no realistic good about it.

So it’s either the most unrealistic admonition. or the most wondrous freeing truth.

How can it be, though? Surely, some things. but not all things. Right?

all things for good.

Lost job. Not able to pay bills. Car wrecked. House foreclosed.

all things for good.

Abused. Used. Sexual explotation. Selfish manipulations.

all things for good.

Failed marriage. Victim of crime. Slanderous words spoken against you. Slander you spoke to another.

all things for good. 

Stolen from. You stole. Lies you lived under and believed innocently. Lies you lived and spoke intentionally.

all things for good.

You were cheated on. You were the cheater. Got pregnant. Can’t get pregnant.

all things for good.

Your friend was killed. You tested positive for cancer. Your engagement broke off. She said no.

all things for good.

Because all things means all things. 

Yes, all things. Really too good to be true. Because the Gospel is the too good to be true truth.

And He makes beautiful things out of dust, out of rejected messes, out of dysfunctional, out of utter disrepair, out of uncontrolled emotional despair.

He makes all things new.

The rights renewed. The wrongs renewed. The intentional sins. The unforeseen disaster.

All of it.

And he is the only one that can. Because no one has the strength of love he has. You can’t surpass his love. You can’t break the tide, reach the depth.

Are you his child? He will make all things new. You want him to make all things new? Become his child. Be redeemed in his love. It’s his love that draws you to repentance, not the shame and guilt and repetition of your mess-ups or someone else’s.

And let me make one thing very clear: As his child you are not just some starry-eyed well-wisher who blindly states the positive of every situation just because silver linings sound cheery. You are a beaten, bruised worn soul who with eyes blurred by tears crawls through the present muck and raises your hands with hope undeferred yet faith feeble and cries with trembling wounded voice, “All things work together for good for those who love God! And I — I am one of those.”

Because you know who he is. Because once you meet him no other love will compare and your life is now wrecked to future lovers. Because he is the only one who has been completely faithful to you.

And his love has forever changed your eyes so that they look at the sinking mess that you’re dwelling in yet they see God, they see his love, and you have hope that doesn’t make sense, that defies logic, shaking your fist in the face of pain and the shame of it. That others wish they had but they can’t until they’ve encountered the Love you have.

That, my friends, is the reality of all things for your good. You cannot reckon with the force of his love so lay down and worship. And accept his love. Or otherwise you will be overcome by the world and it’s pain and the terrors of people and of your own flirting fleeting heart.

Becaus once he is in your heart, greater is he that is in you that whatever is in the world. On your own there are no lasting victories, but in his love you are more than a victor, more than a conqueror, more than 100 Medals of Honor, more than the greatest warriors in history.

And there are warriors, there are great and mighty victors, there are those that are more than the greatest of conquerors.

And then there’s you.

More than all those. and his child in love.

And being in love is not a feeling. It is a position. A reality. A victory. And that is the kind of victory you have in his love. And you have yet to own it, to realize it, to live world changing life. Because before the world can be changed you must first be.

And being in love, living in love, bound up in it, is the only reality that is true and safe and comforting. He offers it, with kind eyes and tender hands. Can you see it?

Live it all. Live it well.

It’s hard to believe that 2 years ago I had just returned from the adventure of my life getting to spend a whole summer in Spain, England and Italy. I thought at the end of it I would be this well-experienced, wise traveler with complete revelation and vigor of what I would be doing with my life.

Reality? My life had been rocked and turned upside-down. I had a major identity crisis and had no idea what to do with my life. I was broke, jobless, displaced, vision-less and single. Dreams really do come true!

Yeah, not exactly the expectation I had upon graduating from 6 years of school and traveling the world. I thought I had to have things figured out before I could move forward. That I had to want something before I pursued it. That I had to make sure it would work out before I committed.

Wrong.

The truth is we will never know tomorrow’s plans but we live in faith of promises to be fulfilled in ways that our dreams can’t ever comprehend.

You may be a recent grad and wanna smack every person in the face that asks you either what you want to do with your life or what your plans are. Chill out. It’s just a question. Possibly one of the most natural ones to ask after you just spent $70,000 and the past 4 years of your life on a college education.

You may have just lost your job, had a career change, became an empty nester, got married, got divorced, moved across country, had major health set-backs, started a business, or ended one.

You can’t see the next step. You don’t know what will work out. Your fears from the past seem to be guiding you more than the desires if your heart.

Here’s what I’ve learned: just start. Somewhere. Move forward. Have courage. Pray to change your corner of the world and then go do just that to the person’s life in front of you.

Because you never have security of tomorrow. Today is the only chance you have to live today and then it’s over.

Last weekend a tragic accident happened while a church youth group was returning from a week of camp. Just a mile from church the bus overturned and 3 people were killed. The husband and wife that were killed were not only the youth leaders of the church, but they were also 8 months pregnant with a 2 year old left behind. I went to college with them. The other woman killed was the mom of one of my campers I counseled at a camp a few years back. Mrs. Weindorf went to give her young child with disabilities a chance to experience and enjoy camp. She has 5 children.

I am secure about a lot of things. I have a lot of promises I believe whole-heartedly in. However, I will never have the security and promise of another day physically on this earth. And this tragedy has been a huge reminder to do one thing:

Live.

Live life. Live it all. Live it well. Live my desires. Live without regrets. Live out love. Live for relationships and not for stuff. Live because my rock and love is Jesus. Live in the joy that is my reality no matter the circumstances.

2 years ago I could in no way imagined where my life would be today. God is fulfilling so many of my heart’s desires right now that back then I didn’t even know how to verbalize, much less intentionally pursue.

But that’s ok. And maybe that’s the whole point. Faith steps forward seeing realities that are beyond the physical.

Faith declares courage. And that’s our calling.

Take the first step. Live your “today desires.” Love the people in front of you right now. Because they could be the very ones that will be the movers and shakers in your life.

I just realized something: if I had given up on 9Round and stopped working out after my 6 month contract ended, if I had given up on being faithful in taking care of my physical body, if I had walked away after major change happened when our initial owners sold the store to corporate, then I never would’ve met Justin, the regional manager, and he wouldn’t ever have called me out about becoming a trainer during my 10th month. I wouldn’t have become a trainer and then a manager and an integral part of our corporate team and growth.

There’s something to be said for faithfulness and living well in the current circumstance. Tomorrow could change your life.

Chad and Courtney Phelps and Mrs. Weindorf were actively giving of themselves for the sake of others. You and I do the same by living love and faithfulness in our jobs, businesses, schools and homes. Don’t think your faithfulness is any less great just because it’s not “church” related. Because to live well in love is to spread the kingdom and change the world one moment at a time.

faithful