Caroline Webb Helps You Have a Good Day

If I told you I was impressed by Caroline Webb’s How to Have a Good Day, I’d be lying. I was by far MORE than impressed. For those of us that find ourselves stuck in the arbitrary torture known as mundane work, Webb fulfills the title of the book and offer some insightful advice on how to have a good day. It is full of applied psychology, written in a format that is quite easy for the average reader to understand. Webb doesn’t use an assortment of scientific phrasing or intense vocabulary because she doesn’t need to—the information is direct, understandable and concise. Her background in economics can be seen as a helpful undertone and is scattered throughout her psychological findings. While the book itself doesn’t necessarily present “new” information on attitudes in the workplace, the structure of idea is fresh. This is a read that can be enjoyed by janitors and CEOs alike. It can be considered a happy-medium between a psychology textbook and a self-help manual. If you’ve ever had a difficult time getting out of bed in the morning to fulfill your role in the world of work, give this book a read and prepare yourself to have a good day whether you want one or not.

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ROOTED in This Book

 

 

“I can already tell this is going to be good.”

Those were the words I said aloud when I opened the package containing Banning Liebscher’s latest book, Rooted. I absolutely love reading books—and with that comes a little bit of creative territory.

For starters, the general presentation of the book is simply outstanding. Banning’s name is clearly stated at the top, looking very clean and simplistic. His credentials are listed under his name. The word “rooted” is placed in the middle of the cover, in a nice green. With the book cover being white, I feel like the green really pops! Of course, the little green sprout photo at the bottom of the cover was not only adorable, but also gave the book a simple charm. I was intrigued at first sight.

Knowing that Banning Liebscher is the founder of Jesus Culture, I was really excited to get my hands on this book! I have looked up to Jesus Culture for years now, and anything that has come out of that movement thus far has been nothing short of awesome.

I feel like the general theme of this book is portrayed on the back cover (again, in that awesome green highlight color). It states, “God is not interested in developing your vision. He’s interested in developing you.” WOW. That’s all I can say about that statement. So often, we truly feel like we have these grand plans. That we are just waiting for God to sweep in and put our plans in place. That’s not always the case—in fact, God wants to use our vision and line it up with the plan that He has for us! I feel like Mr. Liebscher does a fantastic job of portraying that.

The three key points of this book really make it the good read that it is. Like the cover art, the theme is simple. Intimacy. Serving. Community. All of these are big traits that Banning is bringing into his new Jesus Culture church plant in Sacramento.

In all honesty, I thought this book was a fantastic read for anyone that feel like God has planted a vision within them to do something great (which is everyone!). God is developing us on a daily level, and if you really want to learn what that is all about, I encourage you to pick up a copy of this book when it hits shelves on May 3rd, 2016.

 

FTC Disclaimer copy:

***I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.***

 

 

The Problem with Christian Radio

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Before you completely freak out on me and think I’ve gone off the deep end, let me just make this statement: I listen to Christian radio.
That being said, I completely understand why a lot of people don’t.
When I was a kid, Christian music was pretty limited to Michael W. Smith and DC Talk. Don’t get me wrong… “Jesus Freak” is still my jam. It always will be. I have also been known to scare off my acquaintances by singing Michael W. Smith’s “Friends” when someone accepts my request on Facebook. I grew up listening to 4HIM, Plus One and Jump5. It was apparently really cool at the time to include a number in your band name.
In middle school, my musical interests changed a little bit. I started getting into some hard stuff…you know…Hawk Nelson, Barlow Girl, and the top of the Christian rock pyramid…Skillet.

I was in youth group anytime the doors were opened (and sometimes when they weren’t). When a new youth trip was announced, I signed up immediately. My school life revolved around when the next Winter Jam Tour or Rock and Worship Roadshow would be in town.
As I got older yet, my musical taste changed a bit more. This time, I started to lean more on an Indie vibe. That included NEEDTOBREATHE, House of Heroes and The Brilliance.

With this apparent appreciation that I host for Christian music, why would I have a problem with Christian radio?
The problem that I see with Christian radio is that it is repetitive. When I have KLOVE or Air1 playing in my car while I have a guest, this is what I always get: “Oh, you still listen to Air1? I used to in middle school. They are pretty much still playing the same songs.”
I get it. There is actually a lot of truth to that. I’ll have to admit that it cracks me up when a song off of tobyMac’s Diverse City album comes on. I definitely appreciate a good throwback jam session, but not particularly every single time I turn the radio on. I also have to turn the station when Mandisa’s “Good Morning” comes on anytime that is NOT morning. I’m talking about the fact that I heard it during dinner time last night, people. NO.

So…why do I still listen to Christian radio?
The answer is simple. You have to be careful what you listen to. It’s the same principle that I try to use with movies and books. When I am contemplating whether or not I should watch or listen to something, I always ask myself the question: “Will it hurt me?” A lot of times, I seem to justify the answer. I think, “Well, it’s PG-13, but it’s mostly for language. That isn’t that bad.” Okay, so I’ve just answered that question (and that most definitely isn’t always the right answer). If I feel like my choice has passed that question, the next question I ask is, “Will it help me?” OUCH. So…what will I benefit, exactly, from watching that movie? Yeah, that song only has one cuss word in it, but does it help me? Does it benefit me at all? Not so much.
This principle doesn’t just apply to movies and music. It can apply to anything. I think it every time I go for that extra dessert or when I’m contemplating a purchase that I don’t even need. Maybe that one cookie won’t necessarily hurt me, but it definitely won’t help me. That Amazon purchase isn’t going to hurt me, but it isn’t going to help me when I’m trying to save money.
By no means am I perfect at this. I mess up more than I care to admit. I’m working on self-discipline. One of my biggest initiatives involves what I allow myself to see, hear or read. Call me sheltered if you’d like, but cursing still bothers me. I don’t personally use profanity, and it is hard for me to listen to. Unfortunately, most popular movies these days include a heavy dose of profanity and sexual humor.
I’ll admit that I love a lot of pop music. If it is popular, I have probably heard it—I absolutely love music, and that includes all kinds of genres. I will always agree that the beats behind an Usher song are better than those in a tobyMac song. I love Indie music. Taylor Swift is my homegirl. I know every word to every Justin Bieber song ever made.
To me, Christian radio provides another source of encouragement in a world that doesn’t create it on its own. I know for a fact that I can turn my radio to Air1 and receive some positivity. Instantly. I never have to question the content of the lyrics, and even the commercials advertise church events and local outreaches. I appreciate that.
With my own journey of self-discipline, I have been consistently listening to Christian music. My experience has been wonderful. If you’ve really been going through a tough time…whether that be depression, personal struggles or loneliness, do yourself a favor and find a Christian radio station near you. I promise that you won’t regret it.
I have Christian radio playing all the time—in my car, in my house and on my laptop. If you come to my house, and we’re just chilling in the living room, you might hear Mandisa’s “Good Morning” in the background. That’s just the type of environment I want to live in. One of positivity. What used to bother me is now what I have grown fond of.
When I truly think about it, I have to realize that while I have struggled with the repetitiveness of Christian radio, how could I not with pop stations? I can’t tell you how many times I heard Kelly Clarkson’s “Breakaway” as a kid. Enough times to make me want to bang my head against the wall. What about One Direction’s “What Makes You Beautiful,” or The Zac Brown Band’s “Chicken Fried?” If those aren’t some of the most repeated songs EVER…
Maybe this post hasn’t convinced you that Christian radio has gotten any better than what you have previously experienced. I hope that it at least encourages you to try it out again. There is something about constantly listening to uplifting music that changes you. It will change your outlook on things. Your perspective will shift. It’s simply good for the soul.
Lastly, I have to say a huge thank-you to stations like KLOVE and Air1. They always provide family-friendly music, and for that I am forever grateful. I have met several people within my lifetime that have said a specific song or Christian artist has helped them walk through a hard time in their life. That is so encouraging to me!
I hope you’ll now excuse me. My favorite Newsboys song is on, and I need to go jam out.

Here’s a list of some of my favorite songs right now:
1. “It’s Not Over Yet” –for King and Country
2. “Who I Am” –Blanca
3. “He Knows My Name” –Francesca Battistelli
4. “Grace Wins” –Matthew West
5. “First” –Lauren Daigle

ten things to do for yourself this week

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This week, I just want to encourage you. That’s it. No gimmicks, major life changes or traveling required. Nope. Listed here, you will find 10 things (all reasonable) that you should really do for yourself this week. In all honesty, you should do them every single week. For someone like me, that’s pushing it. I have a hard time committing to lists over a long period of time. However, I created this list with myself and YOU in mind. Get ready to have a good week.

 

1.) Get some sleep.

As I said before, a lot of the things mentioned in this list include struggles I battle on a daily basis. If you’re anything like me, I think it is safe to assume that this is something that you can work on too. As important as work and productivity are, rest is equal. You aren’t as good at doing whatever you are called to do if you are not well-rested. How many hours do you average a night? I’m at about four hours of sleep. Instead of committing to getting a full eight hours every night, I am going to start small. I am going to say that I need more than four hours. That will hopefully put me at around six hours, guaranteed. That’s a start!

2.) Have an honest conversation with someone.

This doesn’t even have to be someone you know. Being “honest” with someone doesn’t necessarily mean that you tell them how much you like or dislike them. Rather, pick a topic that is important to you and talk to someone about it. Some examples are: how you feel about something that has happened recently at work, your dreams or goals for the future, or what your thoughts are regarding American Idol: the Farewell Season. Whatever your topic may be, just be open and honest. Let down all of your guards and fronts. Be truthful, and be willing to get a differing opinion. Talking about stuff is important, and it is healthy. Push yourself to do this. You’ll be glad you did.

3.) Get rid of something.

Shoes or clothes you don’t want anymore? Notebooks you’ve kept since your junior high science class? T-shirts you haven’t worn in a year? Get rid of it. You might be surprised at how much you begin to get rid of once you just START this process. Get ready to have more closet space.

4.) Read the book of Ephesians.

Haven’t been in your Bible in awhile? Anytime is a good time to start. I encourage you to read the book of Ephesians this week. Come on! I promise—it isn’t that long. You can do it! You’re going to find all kinds of goodness in this short book.

5.) Substitute a meal with something healthy.

If you’re a college student, you’re probably pretty used to eating junk food. Fast food seems like the only option when you’re busy. It isn’t! You have plenty of healthy options that are good for on-the-go. Fruit, cheese sticks and smoothies can replace French fries, tacos and energy drinks. You’ll never end a day saying, “Man, I wish I hadn’t have eaten healthy.” You will ALWAYS be glad that you made healthy choices.

6.) Put down your phone.

You’ve probably heard this before. Your mom, teacher or boss has probably mentioned this at some point. Try doing it for YOURSELF this week. While it is good to be respectful in all situations (home, school, work, etc.), try putting your phone down for your own sake. You’ll be amazed at how much time this frees up for you to do other things. Fold your laundry, for goodness sake. Start reading a book. Pick up a new hobby (knitting, ukulele, painting, etc.). Try going without your phone for one hour at a time. Put your phone in your purse and vow not to look at it for an entire hour. As ironic as it is, set an alarm on your phone to go off after an hour has passed.

7.) Talk to God.

If you haven’t developed a good prayer life with the Lord yet, THIS IS YOUR WEEK. God is the best listener in the whole world. Universe, actually. NBD. He wants you to talk to Him just like you would a friend. You talk to your friends often. You talk to your friends candidly. You talk to your friends late at night, when you are especially hurt or upset. You talk to your friends first thing in the morning when you see them at school or work.

8.) Drink a good cup of coffee.

This one is simply because coffee is good.

9.) Treat yourself.

Do something this week that you just honestly enjoy doing. Go to the movies. Listen to your radio on full blast. Buy a magazine. Go get a haircut. Take a nap. Do something for yourself this week.

10.) Go on a walk.

Walks are my favorite. There is something so magical about spending time outside. Walk around your yard. Use a hiking trail. Walk down your street. Wherever you choose to do it, take some time and just walk. Sometimes it is good to just clear your head and heart.

 

These are all things that I plan on doing this week to improve my life. I hope that you pick up a few of these for yourself—and I’d love to hear about any additional ideas you may have! I am praying for you—thank you so much for reading! Have a wonderful week, and go kick Monday in the face!

2015 Didn’t Suck

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With the end of the year being among us, I have come to a conclusion.

2015 didn’t suck.

I read a lot of blogs and do a lot of internet browsing (probably more than I should). It seems a lot of social media outlets and blog posts have been about how glad people are that 2015 is over. While I am like the rest of the world and am excited at all the possibilities that a new year brings, I can’t say that it is because I have negative thoughts toward this past year.

2015 has held a lot of change. For starters, I moved. Again. If you’re a twentysomething, you know how all that goes. I also went an entire year without attending college of any form. I never thought I would be the person that didn’t finish a college degree, but alas, here I am. I got a new job. I’ve been really involved with different departments at church. I’ve made new friendships.

2015 also held a lot of heartache and devastation. Our world has mourned the loss of  lots of innocent people, killed in terrorism. I’ve seen friends and family members go through really difficult circumstances. I have combated loneliness and loss of purpose.

When truly taking a look back at the year that has just come to an end, I have to say that although 2015 has at times seemed like a roller coaster of events and emotions, I have seen God in everything.

In the heartbreak of tragedies, I have seen the people of God come together and help one another. I have been there for friends, and they have been there for me. I have fallen and picked myself back up to keep going. I have struggled, and then I have found success.

To have progress, you must go through a process.

If you really think about it, you will see that most negative feelings about the year only show up at the end. People don’t typically say “this has been the worst year ever” in June.  For many, the thought of a new year brings the chance at a new start.

May I please say something? My intention is not to offend.

YOU DON’T NEED A NEW YEAR TO HAVE A FRESH START.

Every single day brings a fresh start with the morning sun. When you wake up, you begin the choices that navigate your day, week and life. As a Christian, I am so thankful to know that even when bad things happen, I have the Lord to get me through it.

A verse that I want to keep in perspective this year is:

ROMANS 8:28 (NIV)

And we know that in ALL things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.

I added the emphasis on the word “all.” That is because it is vitally important. I believe that little word is there on purpose. I think that sometimes we, as Christians, assume that everything is supposed to be sunshine and rainbows because we love Jesus. We’re confused and hurt when we don’t understand why our families seem to have issues, why everyone seems to be married but us, why others are able to have babies when we struggle. As Christians, we don’t know why we have a hard time paying our bills each month, begin dozens of diets to no success, or have disobedient kids. As followers of Christ, we’re supposed to have everything together, aren’t we?

I don’t think so. I think that’s exactly why God made sure the word “all” was included in Romans 8:28.

God is real. So is the enemy. We know what the devil’s mission is (John 10:10—to steal, kill and destroy). We also know Jesus (John 10:10—He has come so that we can have a life, and more abundantly).

As a Christian, bad things might still come up. God tells us in His Word that He will take ALL things and use them for our good. If you are here on this earth, that means that you are called according to God’s purpose. He put you on this planet for a specific purpose, and He is going to take everything around you and use it for your good. Because we live in a fallen world, heartbreak and tragedy are everywhere you look—but don’t lose heart—God is everywhere you look, and BEYOND.

January 1st, 2016 is just another day. Don’t be discouraged if you make it to the end of January and still haven’t gotten that job promotion or lost those ten pounds. God is doing a work in you.

To have progress, you must go through a process.

I’d love to say that I don’t bother with New Year resolutions or anything, but I would be lying. I can’t help it. I anticipate new seasons of life just like the next person.

In making resolutions, I have realized a pattern. When you make it a point to get closer to God, things around you begin to shift. It’s hard for human behavior to change on its own. We need an outside source of strength. That strength can come from the Lord. Relying on your own strength and resources will only get you so far. When you work with God, He works ALL THINGS. The good, the bad, the ugly. He takes all the crap and makes a creation. He brings you through the hard times and shows you His goodness.

Remember that tomorrow is just another day. After all the hype is gone, and you are left alone again, thinking about your successes and failures, DON’T GIVE UP. Even when you don’t see immediate progress, stay patient through the process. God is doing a good work in you. Daily. One day at a time. He sees you right where you are, and He loves you far too much to leave you there.

Get ready for 2016 to be big–not because something magical happens with a new date on the calendar, but because you commit your life to letting Christ be known. Let 2016 be the year that you hit your knees the most. That you blare worship music and sing your heart out the most. That you volunteer at church the most. That you help others the most. That you read your Bible the most. Work on it. It’s a process.

I believe in you. Now go kick 2016 in the face.

 

 

 

If you’re interested, my resolution for 2016 is to GIVE GENEROUSLY. The idea of giving money, resources and time away is something that is constantly on my heart. I can’t wait to see all the opportunities to GIVE GENEROUSLY that I run into this year! I want to be in constant prayer for those opportunities. I have been so blessed, and I want to bless others as much as possible!

 

 

 

 

 

This photo was obtained from the following website:

http://orlandolocalguide.com/magic-kingdom-new-years-eve-fireworks/

NO COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT INTENDED

WHAT DO I DO NOW?

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Do you ever feel like you’re not really making much of a difference?

I had a run in with this feeling just the other day.

I was on social media and saw a photo of an organization that I support. In the photo, the founder of the organization was helping Syrian refugees at the Greek border. Even though I was very happy that the organization was reaching out to those that were hurting, I couldn’t help but feel a little empty inside.

Where was I, while this photo was being taken? Oh, that’s right. I was sitting at home, scrolling through Facebook and Twitter. Sitting on a comfortable sofa, I hadn’t really done anything spectacular that day. I went to work. I ate lunch. I cleaned my house. I watched television. I browsed social media. While I was doing all of that stuff, there were people going out and helping people in crisis.

I instantly felt unimportant. I felt like I didn’t make any difference to anything. My hands were not working hard to help those that are lost. They were holding a phone or TV remote.

Maybe you know where I’m coming from on this. Perhaps you don’t. If you’re someone that gets out all the time and uses your spare time to physically help those in need, I commend you. I’m proud of you, and—a little jealous.

If you are like me, however, then you understand the sense of guilt or failure that can overwhelm you. I always feel like I should be doing something, but I don’t know what. I don’t feel like God has given me this overwhelming feeling to go overseas and become a missionary. I don’t feel led to start a church right now. I don’t feel creative enough to begin a non-profit organization. In all honesty, I’m writing this blog post from a coffee shop inside my favorite bookstore. If that isn’t a portrayal of how I feel like I constantly spend my time, then I don’t know what is.

When I saw this certain photo on social media, I had to stop myself. All the negative feelings I had toward myself had to stop, and I knew it. I put my phone down and simply prayed. A simple prayer, but a meaningful one. I prayed that God would open my eyes to His mission for me. While I know that He has an amazing plan for my life, I sometimes lose myself in the struggle to find out the details of it. In reality, I’m not supposed to know all the details of everything all the time. That’s something very hard for someone like me to accept.

“Lord,” I prayed. “I want to do something. A big problem is that I’m not sure what yet. Will you help me? I don’t want to be a failure, God.”

This prayer may seem kind of silly to you. Maybe it is. The thing is, God doesn’t think our prayers are silly. And while I may laugh about this now, in that moment, these were the most earnest of words.

After saying this simple prayer, I got a wonderful sense of peace. I looked at the photo again and started crying. I saw the photo with new eyes. The organization pictured is an organization that I give to regularly. As I sat there and stared at it, I realized that in a way, I myself was there in Greece, helping refugees.

It didn’t have to be Kayla Fletcher in Greece. That’s not where I feel called at this moment in time. However, because I (along with thousands of others) GIVE to this organization, it helps make service projects like that one possible. You see, it’s not about me at all. God uses all kinds of people for His purpose. While my purpose isn’t directly to be doing what was happening in that photo, it was most definitely someone else’s purpose. MY purpose in that photo was to donate money. I’m just a small part of something big. That’s wonderful.

I sometimes get exhausted with the thought of “waiting” for God to use me for something. I don’t think that’s a thing. Instead, I think God is constantly wanting to use us—it’s us that have to be WILLING. Sometimes what He has in store for us isn’t conventional. It isn’t normal. It isn’t comfortable. I can tell you though, from experience—it is impactful. No matter how small a God-given task may be to you, it’s big to Him. He has a divine purpose for it. I’m not “waiting” around for God to finally decide to do something with me…He’s constantly doing something THROUGH me, and I’ve got to be willing and open to see what He has planned.

It’s a shift in your attitude. It’s a shift in your perspective. Pastor Steven Furtick of Elevation Church in Charlotte, North Carolina says something that I greatly admire. He states that “your perspective will either become your prison or your passport.”

Isn’t that an awesome way to look at things? He goes on, saying, “it will either confine you to the way things are, or launch you into the way things are meant to be.”

Amen.

The Lord led me to donate to this specific organization. Even though I am not able to give millions of dollars (wouldn’t that be awesome?), I am still giving. That’s more than nothing. I have to constantly remind myself that God’s grace is easily transferrable, and that being a small part of something big is a beautiful thing. I thank the Lord that I am blessed with finances that make me capable of giving. I feel like an attitude of generosity is a part of a perspective that is a passport…not a prison.

As I wrap up this post, I would like to share with you a magnificent story that I recently heard recounted on a podcast I frequently listen to. Again, this story is quite simple. It’s amazing how much it has changed my perspective.

John Kavanaugh, known as a professor of philosophy, spent an entire year in the mid-1970s in India. There, he did humble ministry, taking on the life of a Jesuit and working closely with Mother Teresa in Calcutta. They served the poor and worked alongside those that were hurting.

Kavanaugh was struggling with a big decision. He was wondering whether he should continue to work abroad with the poor or go back to America and teach. He sought out counsel from Mother Teresa. He asked her to pray for him.

“What do you want me to pray for?” she asked him.

“Clarity,” he replied. “Pray that I have clarity.”

Like so many of us, John Kavanaugh wanted to know what was next for him. He knew that things in his life were going to shift, and he wanted to know the Lord’s plan ahead of time. Don’t we all?

“No,” Mother Teresa replied. “I will not do that.”

At this, Kavanaugh was most likely confused. I would have been! Clarity seems like the perfect thing to seek when making a big decision.

“Clarity is the last thing you are clinging to and must let go of,” Mother Teresa explained.

Kavanaugh was confused by this and questioned her about the clarity that she always seemed to have when it came to figuring out what to do next.

She laughed and replied, “I have never had clarity. What I have always had is trust. So I will pray that you trust God.”

How would our lives change, if instead of always seeking clarity regarding what God has next for us, we simply began TRUSTING His future plans? If we would put our trust in the Lord and not in ourselves, we would see new opportunities. We would gain new interactions with people that need our help. We would find organizations to donate to and volunteer for.

This little experience over the past week actually did give me a lot of clarity—clarity that I need to continue to trust God. God uses me every single day, and I just wasn’t seeing it. My prayers have changed from, “God, I don’t want to be a failure.” They are now, “God, how are you going to use me today?” Then I watch. I don’t wait anymore. I watch as His plan unfolds in my life daily. I watch as new opportunities arise and new connections are created.

As usual, God has taught me a lot this week. He’s got big plans for me, and HE HAS BIG PLANS FOR YOU. Trust Him to take you there.

These websites helped me with the Mother Teresa story:

http://www.christianitytoday.com/le/2013/november-online-only/confidence-without-clarity.html

https://taylorlyall.wordpress.com/2008/04/09/clarity-vs-trust/

http://www.catholiceducation.org/en/faith-and-character/faith-and-character/jesuit-philosopher-recounts-time-with-mother-teresa.html

When Being Alone is Okay

I’m an extrovert to the core of my being.

As a child, I can clearly remember constantly wanting people around me. It didn’t matter where I was—church, school or home, I didn’t want to be by myself.

Now that I’m an adult, I have had to face the reality of aloneness more than ever before.

My first couple years of college, I lived in the dorms. Eventually becoming an RA, I was always surrounded by like-minded people…people that had come to the same small Bible college to get the same type of education. It was great. I rarely had to eat dinner alone. Every day at mealtime, someone would walk through the hallways and let everyone know that they were going to dinner. Anyone could join them. I often did. Sonic and Starbucks runs were the norm. If you wanted to talk to someone, all you had to do was open your door and walk out to the lobby.

As my life changed and I transitioned into a new job, new city, and new house, things have been interesting. My first year in a new city, I lived with one of my best friends. It was a great time, and there was never a dull moment! Once again, I rarely had to venture to Walmart or church alone. We always accompanied one another.

Just within the past couple of months, I have made yet another great shift. Moving once again, I now have a new job and home. This time, I live alone.

For some people, this is a nightmare situation. Trust me—it was one of mine. The thought of having to live alone was terrifying. Who was going to go to the store with me? Or make ice cream runs? Or be there when a spider needed to be killed? Or freak out when we heard a strange noise? Or laugh about funny Youtube videos? No one.

While I am slowly adjusting to living by myself, I must admit that it has been a challenge of sorts. I have had to kill my own spiders. I have sat in dead silence. I eat dinner alone, cooking for one. I clean up after myself.

While writing it, I see that it can sound a little bit depressing. In all reality, it isn’t! If you live alone, you know some of the simple joys that can come from a life of solitude. I’d like to give you a couple of lists…one funny, and one more serious.

PERKS OF LIVING ALONE

1.) You can jam out to Taylor Swift at all hours of the day, and in every situation. I’m known to have a dance party while doing dishes, journaling, and baking.

2.) The decorating. Oh, the decorating. The possibilities are endless! And—you are the only person in charge of it! Decorate your space how you’d like to!

3.) I’ve been able to spread out a little bit more than normal. All of my previous living spaces have required me to mostly maintain only a small area for all of my belongings.

4.) Every night is movie night. I watch at least one movie a day, and it is fabulous. It’s like I’m making up for all the times I wished I had time to watch one and didn’t.

5.) Having guests is an exciting event! You get to invite someone over and hang out at your home!

6.) Preparation for your future—now that you’ve lived on your own for a little while, you can be assured that you can pretty much live anywhere. You know how to keep yourself occupied.

7.) You get out more. Now that I don’t necessarily hang out with someone every day anymore, it pushes me to go out and actually do something.

THINGS GOD HAS TAUGHT ME

1.) Be satisfied with where you are. No matter where you are or what you’re doing, find your true satisfaction from the Lord…not other people or things.

2.) Appreciate nature. Go outside and breathe the fresh air! Look at the stars. Sit by the lake and watch the water. Sit in the grass and read a book.

3.) Learn more. Read more books. Watch more movies. Write more blog posts.

4.) Contact your friends and family. Your life isn’t too busy for this. Make an effort in friendships and relationships.

5.) Appreciate the now—your present is the only time in your life that it will be exactly the way that it is. Stop trying to rush things and fully live out what God has for you in this season.

6.) Be quiet and listen to the Lord. Seek His guidance and goodness in all situations.

7.) Make good choices. When cooking for yourself, take the extra measure to make sure you’re eating healthy. Exercise.

Living alone has actually been quite enjoyable, and I know that God has me in this specific situation for a reason! I’ve already learned so much about myself. I’ve learned about others. Most importantly, I’ve learned more about the Lord. I’m excited to see what He has for me next!

On a side note, this is a photo of the reading area I created in my house. I love reading, and I really appreciate having a special spot to sit and enjoy books!

readingchair

Summer at the Lake

summerlake

A fair warning—this blog post doesn’t necessarily serve any specific purpose. In fact, I am writing today just for the sake of writing.

Every summer, I live in a lake house.

Well, technically, I work at a church camp. On the lake.

This is my sixth summer working at church camp, and it is just as magical as it was my first year. The air is different. The friendships you make while you’re there are different. The way that you experience God is in a different format than it is anywhere else.

I love camp.

This summer, I have really been reflecting on the reasons that I love the place I work so much. Here is what I have come up with thus far:

1.) Throughout my six years, I have made some best friends. These are people that I do life with. Every day is a different day, and these people have stuck with me every single strange or crazy moment that has occurred since I’ve started working. These are people that I would do absolutely anything for, and I know they would do the same. We talk about Jesus. We go through hard times. We serve God’s people. We do it all together.

2.) Camp is where I have made my most unforgettable memories. I’m blessed enough to actually work at the same camp that I attended as a child. The memories that I have made as a staff member far outweigh the memories that I made as an actual camper. I’ve seen the other side of camp. I’ve been involved in pranks. I’ve helped lead little kids to a relationship with Christ. I’ve shared stories and s’mores around a campfire.

3.) This is where I’ve found God. I know that God is everywhere you look. I see Him in the people, the children and nature. I sit and read my Bible by the lake every morning. I wake up to birds chirping and the sun shining.

4.) It’s home. For six summers now, I’ve called this place home. I honestly can’t imagine being anywhere else. I’m so thankful that God placed the desire to work here in my heart when I was only seven years old. I’ve twenty-one now, and I’m still here! I would never have imagined that as a little girl. Here I am, still here. I still love it—just as much as I did when I walked through the gates for the first time fourteen years ago!

5.) I’ve changed. During my time as a staff member at camp, my life has changed—for the better! I’ve learned so much about myself and other people. I’ve grown in my relationship with Christ. I’ve developed leadership skills and served God’s people. I’ve seen the ins and outs of a summer camp, and I’ll never forget all of the valuable lessons I’ve learned through hard work and determination.

So far, this summer has been just as remarkable as all other summers I’ve spent out here. It’s the middle of June, and I already feel the sadness that creeps up when I know the end of summer is approaching.

Until then, I’m extremely excited to serve God’s people and help little kids find Jesus!

Searching for Meaning

Man-searchingWhat are you searching for?

I wish that I could tell you a direct answer. I wish that if you were to ask me at this exact moment, I could give you some life-altering, intelligent, mind-boggling, expressive, surprising answer. Instead, I’ll give you a cliche: I don’t know.

As we go through the daily grind (work, school, family, church, entertainment, friends, etc.), it seems that we end each day empty-handed. After we return home for the evening and kick off our shoes, we pour ourselves some coffee and think. Our minds go over everything that we did for the day. We begin to think about what lies ahead for us during the rest of the week.

At the end of the day, do you ask yourself questions? I do. Of course, I don’t ask them aloud (well, sometimes I am caught talking to myself), but my mind is swamped with reflections. I tend to focus not only on whatever I accomplished for the day, but also the gigantic list of other things that need to get done before the weekend. While I do take a moment to focus in on my accomplishments, I often overshadow those accomplishments with planning for what still needs to be done.

Have you ever wondered if you’re just missing something? Sure, we hear people talk about their “calling” all the time. There’s that kid in your second grade class that insisted he was going to be in the Air Force one day. If you look him up on Facebook, what is he doing now? He’s in the Air Force. Then you have the friends that discovered their calling while in high school. They had never really liked school, but one business class changed their life forever. They discovered what they’re good at and are now running their own company.

Then there’s you.

And me.

To most people, I am sure that I look extremely indecisive. I’m always changing my mind about what I’m going to do. I dream big dreams, and I dream them often. While I don’t necessarily have a specific career or vocation that I’ve stuck with throughout the years, I have had passion.

Passion is what gets you headed in the right direction. You honestly have to find something that you’re passionate about. The second step is to actually do something about that passion. If you’re really talented at baking, you’re never going to go anywhere in the culinary world by just baking cupcakes for your kid’s birthday party. Your dream is big…you want to own your own bakery (and maybe get featured on Cupcake Wars), but your passion hasn’t overpowered your will…yet.

I fully understand the difficulty in getting started. You have an idea or passion, but you have no idea how to launch it. Most people don’t go from having a huge dream to being a millionaire the next day. As difficult as it may be to hear, developing your passion takes work.

It takes initiative.

Your life will change and you will find some of the answers you’re looking for when you choose to get up off the sofa and do something that matters. If you’re really into graphic design, a job at McDonald’s may not necessarily help you launch that career. That’s okay. I understand that we often have to get any form of job in order to pay our bills and feed ourselves. Have you looked at who you surround yourself with, though?

No matter where you are, you have the ability to surround yourself with like-minded individuals. This is where innovation kicks in, to be honest. If you’re into graphic design, but you work part-time at McDonald’s, that’s okay! Keep going. Keep pushing yourself in any way possible to pursue your true passion. When you’re not at work, attempt to research as much as you can on the subject you desire. Take a college class. Watch tutorials. Find a group of people that also enjoy graphic design, and hang out with them whenever possible. Apply for jobs in the graphic design field. For the love of all things good, just do something.

Right now, I’m at a very interesting time in my life. I’ve gone to three years of college. I still have no degree, nor am I sure that I ever will. I’m currently attending a Bible college that is unaccredited. Am I panicked? Not really. I know that I’m going to be doing something in ministry at some point…I’m just not exactly sure of what or when. Even though I don’t have any details yet, I’m trying to do something. I know that if I just find a job and don’t try to become more educated and involved in ministry, then it’s possible I could let that passion die without ever having done anything.

I firmly believe that every single person has a calling. God hand-created each and every one of us for a grand purpose. Yeah, we might not exactly know all the little details in His intricate plan just yet. That’s okay. When God needs us to know, we’ll know. In the meantime, we need to trust in HIM, not in ourselves. If you constantly just trust in yourself, you’ll always let yourself down. If you constantly trust in God, He’ll bring you new understanding and awareness to the gifts and talents He’s given you. He’ll encourage you to pursue those passions.

If you don’t have any idea what you’re doing yet, don’t worry. Don’t panic. Take a deep breath. It is going to be okay. I promise.

I am a planner. I consider this a huge blessing, and at times, a huge personality flaw. Planning is good when working on a project at work, coming up with party ideas, or booking your next family vacation. It isn’t always a good thing when it comes to creativity. Sometimes I let my planning stifle my creativity. Instead of just “going with the flow,” I have to “find out where the flow is coming from, determine if it is safe to go with that flow, ask where the flow is going, make sure I have everything packed for the journey, invite others, save and budget money for the trip, explain to everyone where I’m going, and reluctantly let myself go.” Seem crazy? Some of you know exactly what I’m talking about.

Don’t overwhelm yourself with having to know where you’re headed. The thing is…nothing surprises God. The same God that made you fearfully and wonderfully (Psalm 139:14) created you for a specific purpose. He knows your future (Jeremiah 29:11). I believe that if we looked to God more often than ourselves for answers, we’d get a lot better feedback. He’s taken care of you this far…trust Him with your future! You won’t be disappointed!

If you’ve found your passion…the thing that makes you tick…the fire in your personality…the reason you wake up…then do something about it. I dare you. Pastor Steven Furtick often says, “dream big, and start small.” I love that. Have big dreams for yourself, but start out small. Don’t overwhelm yourself with all the details just yet. Find something that you love to do, and start working on it. If you love to write, start a blog. If you love to cook, start working at a restaurant. If you love to sing, start hitting up some karaoke nights. If you love to build, start sketching out some buildings.

To sum all of this up…if you’re not going to at least start doing something, you’re going to have a hard time finding meaning in anything you do. Continually seek God for His wisdom and guidance. He won’t let you down. When you’re confused about life, He is steadfast and unchanging. When it seems like our work schedules are hectic and we don’t know what to do next, He’s right there, hand outstretched, waiting for us to hold on and follow Him.

It’s going to be okay. Remember that life is full of seasons. You’re in the middle of a season right now. While you’re in this season, be thankful for where you are, remember where you came from, and pray in preparation for where you’re going!

If you have any questions or concerns, I’d love to chat with you! Email lifelikeafairytaleblog@yahoo.com, or check out the Facebook page, Life Like a Fairy Tale Blog!

Be blessed!

Are You Positive?

balloon

Let me be honest about something: a lot of times, I have a negative attitude.

OH NO. SAY IT ISN’T SO.

You…have an…attitude problem?

Yes. Often times, I find myself thinking out the worst possible scenario rather than focusing on God’s goodness. In a lot of different situations that I find myself in, I have a tendency to let negativity creep up. Instead of my life being filled with rainbows and butterflies, it sometimes feels like storm clouds and tornadoes.

Does any of this sound familiar to you?

As Christians, it is very easy for us to be under the impression that we have to look good at all times. That means we attend church services weekly, post a scripture or two to Twitter, and buy tickets for whatever Christian band is in town. Sometimes, the “us” that we put out there for others to see doesn’t necessarily match up to the “us” going on within ourselves. While our mouth is turned upward in a smile, our heart is growing weary with the burden of negativity.

Negativity has a strange ability to creep up on us without our knowledge. Just like any other bad habit, being negative can become your first response to situations if you allow it to. We hold negativity toward our families, friends and jobs. Even as Christians, the list of things for us to be negative about is seemingly endless.

How is that possible? Aren’t Christians supposed to be happy, always testifying to the Lord’s goodness? Well, yes. In actuality, we are. However, because we still have to put up a fight against our flesh, we sometimes find ourselves succumbed to the grip that negativity can have on our lives. We let that attitude determine how we react to situations and whether or not we have a good day.

We all have that “pessimistic” friend. You know…the one that always complains about how long the line is at the grocery store, groans about your movie choice and consistently seems to hate the weather (regardless of if it is rainy or sunny). What if to someone else…YOU are the pessimistic friend? In reality, someone else, whether that be a close friend or relative, probably has to be the brute of your complaining. In our daily routines, we can always find something to complain about. We come home and dump out our “awful and exhausting day at work” to our spouse or friends. We gripe about all the homework we have. We insist that we never have something to wear. We can’t believe how much the cost of gas has gone up.

Trust me—I’m not stating all of these examples as if I don’t struggle with them. In fact, a lot of these examples come from things that I catch myself saying everyday.

Just the other day, when I was complaining to someone about something (I don’t even remember what it was…must’ve been really important!), I stopped myself mid-sentence. In my Spirit, I felt the question, Is it necessary for you to complain?

WHOA. WHAT?

Just like that, my perspective on some habits I had let myself form changed. Was it necessary for me to complain to someone? For starters, complaining rarely fixes anything. If you’re confiding in a friend about a problem you’re having at the school your friend doesn’t even go to, what good is that going to accomplish? I am all for talking things out with people. I don’t think that you should bottle things up when things are bad. You need to express concern to others. What I’m talking about is APPROACH. Are we approaching things in the right way?

A verse that I’ve heavily fallen on lately is in Psalm 34:8 (NIV). It states,

“Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in Him.”

No matter what my circumstance is, and no matter what negative thoughts I may have, I am able to look up and see that the Lord is good. He is. Always. No question.

When something negative comes up, go to God with it. He listens. He understands. He’s waiting for you to bring your problems to Him. Truly, He’s the only one with truth for answers. A lot of times, our good-meaning friends and family will instantly sympathize with our problem and agree that we have a right to complain. When you go to GOD with your problems, He will reveal things to you, whether that mean showing you that you are wrong, comforting you when you’re hurting or taking you out of your situation and opening a door to a better one. With God, the possibilities are endless. You can always trust that He is going to point you in the right direction.

Thankfully, I haven’t had anything happen in my life recently that has given me great reason to complain. I’ve been tremendously blessed and taken care of. I just started noticing in my own life how much I was complaining about little, petty things. I decided that I wanted to change that. God was the only person I could think of that could renew my mind on the subject.

You see, being positive is a choice. Because we are humans, we are going to experience some disappointment, anger and frustration at times. I can guarantee that not too many people (if any) are especially happy when they get a flat tire. If you do wind up getting a flat tire, does complaining, yelling or being angry really help anything? No. In this case, your instant reaction is most likely going to be some form of anger or negativity. YOU then have a CHOICE in how you’re going to REACT to the situation. You could call someone and rattle their ear off with complaints and anger. Or, you could pray about the situation, ask for favor when searching for a new tire, and try to possess a positive attitude while you’re dealing with it all.

At first, being positive in negative situations is a genuine struggle. Like anything else, practice makes you a lot better. When you continually tell yourself that the Lord is good, your circumstances begin to change. You see things from a new perspective. Doors of opportunity and provision are opened to you. Soon enough, that struggle of being positive will turn into a habit of being positive, and eventually, a lifestyle. Instead of being known as the friend that always finds something to complain about, you’ll be known as the optimistic friend. People will gravitate to you in hard circumstances because they’ll see that you possess a quality of positivity! I don’t know about you, but I would love to be known by that. I want a spirit of optimism, knowing that the Lord is always good, and I can lean on Him for refuge in hard times! He will always come through. He always has. He always will. With God by your side, who needs negativity? Move it aside and make room for all of the light and positivity that God brings!

Be blessed this week!