The difference between judging someone and holding them accountable

It is amazing what we can do and think in this world based off of what we have been told from a lie. It is even more amazing how much of us are walking around in denial believing that the lie is the truth and refusing to see anything else for what it truly is. This is the reality we live in today, and it’s sad. I am no exception to this, as much as I would love to say otherwise.

I have been talking back and forth with different people about this subject and decided it was time to touch on it from my view and what I perceive to be the truth. If what’s true for you is true for you and what’s true for me is true for me, what if one of my truth says your truth is a lie? Would it still be true?

Think about it.

If you live in the same world that I do, whether you are a Christian or unbeliever, you have at some point been in the argument or read one regarding opposing views on just about anything that someone can come up with to oppose someone else on. Some of the more popular arguments surround religion, race, politics, and health. In any case, a large majority of our population cannot disagree with someone in a calm cool and collected way without ultimately ending up with hate in their heart or a burnt bridge, all because of a matter of difference in opinion.d80125d67887cf6531dda39f4864b568

When arguments like this ensue, they might not start around religion, but almost certainly always end in it and the end result is usually that Christians are too judging and are not loving the way they are supposed to if they can’t accept the way someone else is living or behaving. I am here today to put an end to this argument and settle this once and for all, if you will let me.

My mom and I were recently discussing the difference in judging someone and holding someone accountable for their actions. The line between the two often gets blurred when someone is doing something they do not want to do and need an excuse to keep doing it and ultimately make them feel better about the choices they are making. But here is the thing that most Christians do not tell you or often leave out in the heat of the moment.

We sin too, no differently than you do. There is no greater sin than another and we all fall short of the glory of God, and that’s okay,. No matter how hard you try you are going to continue to sin because you are human and sin is in the world and we are in the world with it. The good news is; Jesus came to save us from that sin so that we do not have to be condemned by it and if we so choose, get to spend eternity with Him in Heaven. What once used to separate us from God, sin, no longer does because He sent His son to die for our sins and because of His blood that was spilled, we are no longer bound by it. Pretty amazing right?

8735fdedffc50f86276711edfaa114e0With all of that in mind, here is where the tricky part comes into play. As a Christian, you, simply put, deny yourself and choose to believe that Jesus died on the cross to save you from your sins. In believing this you are choosing to start a relationship with Him and follow the rules and instructions that He has laid out for you. This does not mean that everything you have ever done has instantly been erased. That does not mean that you are now a perfect human being with the inability to sin or do no harm. That does not mean that the you who once was will automatically become someone different.

It does, however, mean that everything you have ever done in your past has been forgiven. It does mean that you are accepting the fact that you are a broken sinner who needs a savior and will continue to sin but live your life in a way that pleases God and in doing so will over time start to sin less and less out of love and obedience for Him. It also means that although you are still who you are; through the reading of His word, prayer and beginning to walk in a close and personal relationship with Him, you will be transformed by the renewing of your mind and in that, become a reflection of Christ Himself. It also means that this is something that you have to choose every single day to do over and over again because if you do not, then your flesh will win and the picture that people have in their heads when they hear the word Christianity or Jesus will remain to be what it is today.

So what is my point? Where am I going in this “argument”?

There are many things, that we as Christians, are called to do as we follow Christ and the example He set before us. One of which is to hold others accountable for their sin so that they can to be saved from it. Not judge them for their sins so that you can feel better about yourself because you can’t and you won’t.

ef64a817b5d4d01bbf30b273a695e7dbMatthew 7:1-5 says, “Do not judge others, or you too will be judged. For in the same way that you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Why would you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take that speck out of your eye’ when all of the time there is a plank in your own? If you do this, you are a hypocrite, and you should first take the plank out of your own eye so you then will see clearly enough to remove the speck from your brothers”.

That is pretty straight forward if you ask me. This passage simply states, that we are all sinners and my sin should not go unnoticed simply because someone else’s sin is apparent and out in the open. I should work on my own sins and pray for and be an example to my brother so that he can work on his too. If I do not do this and instead judge him for his sins, then I will reap what I sow and it will not be pretty.

We are also called to restore our brothers and sisters gently. Galatians 6:1-2 says, “Brothers and sisters if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves when you do, because you may also be tempted. Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way, you will fulfill the law of Christ.”

Again, a pretty straightforward request that gets skewed time and time again. This passage says to me if someone you know is doing something they should not be doing, as a loving friend, tell them what they are doing that is wrong. But watch out, because it is easy to get caught in the same sin with them. Regardless, we should carry each other’s burdens and support one another and in doing so we will be doing as Christ has asked us to do.

7fe53896390fe213704b7d0d50cdfa4dThe last one I am going to share with you, which is pretty stinking important, and is the one that gets messed up the most. Matthew 18:15-17 which says, “If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won the over. But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses. If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or tax collector.

God intended for us to look out for one another and to help each other when we lose our way. This passage tells us to go to our friend if they are doing something that is harming themselves and to tell them what is going on, just to them and not to someone else. If they do not want to listen to you, then try it again in front of two or more people so that the effort does not go unnoticed and you have witnesses to strengthen the argument. If they still will not listen, take the matter to the church so they can handle it there and if even then they will still not listen, then walk away because there is nothing you can do about it and you cannot let them bring you down and brought into their sin with them.

This is the moment you have all been waiting for, my point.

When someone is trying to live their life, holy and pleasing to God and they find fault with a choice that you are making in yours, it is not because they want to judge you or condemn you for what you do. They first, don’t have the power to and they know that they don’t. But more than anything, are just trying to hold you accountable for something that has been made clear to them that is not right and that is displeasing to God. If Christians watched their family and loved ones make decisions that they know are against Gods will and say nothing about it, they are no better than the person that is committing the sin. If Christians just kept their mouths shut and never told you that something you are doing is wrong and that there is a better way to live your life, the world that they too live in would soon become hell on earth, but worse, you would never get to know about Jesus.

Therefore, let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling-block or hindrance in the way of your brother. – Romans 14:13

Let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.  – James 5:20

Here is the thing y’all. God put us on this earth to love and be loved because He is love. There is not one single individual on this planet that God does not love and that He would not want to spend eternity with Him. But the cool thing is that He gave you the ability to choose, free will. He is not going to force you to love Him.  He is not going to force us to all get along or to do the right thing and because I know that, I want you to know it too. I want you to feel the same love and peace and hope and joy and blessings that I feel every single day. I want when I go to Heaven, to see you there too. But I cannot do it on my own and neither can you. Iron sharpens iron as one man sharpens another (Proverbs 27:17), I need you to tell me when I am in the wrong so that I can tell you when you are in the wrong and no matter what love each other through it, deal?

Stay blessed,

Beautiful Southern Heart

7 Years and Counting…Sobriety Wins

I was raised in the church, from the womb to the crib at the church nursery, and from then on out. The church was all that I had ever known and understood as the way of life for everyone, and because of this, I came to know Jesus from a very young age. I believe I was seven years old the first time I asked Jesus into my heart and then about eight the first time I was Baptized. I was a young girl that was ignorant in so many ways, truly naïve to the world and all that it had to offer, and blind to deceit or the reality and the weight that I would soon learn that it held.

In a nutshell, I was a very happy-go-lucky kind of girl! Trusting to everyone and knew no stranger. I had a huge heart that wanted to help anyone in any way that I could, you know, a save the world kind of girl! That was me, the best friend, the teacher’s pet, the girl who wanted to do anything and everything as long as it put a smile on her face and everyone else’s around her.  I continued to attend church regularly with my family and then with my friends as I got into middle school. Then before I knew it I was thirteen, and that’s when everything started to change for me.

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This was my freshmen year, Queen’s ball, RIGHT before my life started to change..

I guess you could say I became your “typical teenager” with a few quirks here and there. I was involved in sports and was on our high school drill team. I had a ton of friends and was in most of the advanced classes, as well as the top 10% of our class. I was super active in the youth group at the local church in our town and until then, I was just living life and enjoying being a kid. You could say it all changed when I fell in love with a boy, although, the changes had already started happening to me before then and I just hadn’t noticed it yet. A year before this time, my sister got married and had a baby. This, in most people’s worlds, is a huge blessing and a happy time in life. But for me, it felt like I was being left behind, that my sister was being taken away from me, and that no one really cared about what I had going on anymore. Silly to think about now, but it was a harsh reality for me then.

So here I am, thirteen and deeply in love with this boy, like head over hills crazy in love, do stupid stuff with a boy in love. That’s right, at the very young age of fifteen I lost my virginity. Instead of living my life for Christ like I was born and raised to, I started living my life for a boy and pretty much worshiped the ground that he walked on. I would have done anything for him, seriously, anything. Anything at all that I felt would make him happy or have him love me the way that I loved him. I went as far as to give my body to him, something I said I would never do until I was married. I completely blew off anyone and anything that had ever mattered to me so I could devote myself to him, and before I knew it, I wasn’t just in love with a boy anymore, I was on drugs and had fallen in love with them too.

The drugs were my choice. I want to make that abundantly clear for anyone who may every think or feel otherwise. He hated the fact that I did drugs or that I changed an ounce of who I was as time went on and our relationship grew. But it didn’t matter, I was going to do what I wanted to do because I wanted to do it no matter what it cost me. I lost all of my friends, I dropped out of school. Not once, but three times, before never going back at all. Then, once it was too late and I had dug the hole so deep that I could no longer see the light anymore, I turned back and he was gone too. All that I had then was the drugs and the friends that I found through doing the drugs and all of the people and places that came with it. When he was no longer there to devote myself to, I just found something new or someone new to devote myself to and every single time, it turned out to be a huge lie and a waste of my time.

I had this way of finding “new projects” if you will, something that I could devote all of my time and pour all of my energy and focus into.  These projects usually consisted of the new boyfriend who I loved so much and that was so amazing and had every problem under the sun. But I never let that get me down because I was there to save him! I was going to make it all better. I was going to fix him. I was going to make all of his problems going away. Or a friend, that was “worse off” than I was and that too needed to be saved. This was a constant in my life. No matter what I did or all of the crazy that I put myself through I did not see how badly I was hurting myself in an effort to save someone else, or how bad I was hurting those who truly loved me and cared for me instead. Regardless, I continued down this path and no matter what had happened with the other people before them I kept pushing thinking it would be different this time. I could never understand why it always ended in defeat and why no matter how hard I tried, I could never save them, it never worked. It would be a long time before I learned the powerful lesson as to why.

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One of the many pictures of myself back then..high..but smiling.

This went on for years. I found myself constantly complaining and whining about how all I ever did was give of myself and I would never expect anything in return, yet I was continuously getting stomped on and let down by everyone and all I could scream was why?! Sure, my family was always there to tell me exactly why, but I never wanted to hear it. They were the last people I wanted to listen to because I didn’t think they would understand and there was no way I was about to admit to them that what they were saying was true and that I was wrong. At this point, I was in a continuous cycle of deceit. All of which I had brought upon myself and as far as I was concerned there was no way of coming back from it, plus, I didn’t believe I was doing anything wrong. Even though I was lying to my family, my friends, to myself, and most importantly to God. Even though I was having sex,  and doing drugs like there was no tomorrow, had dropped out of school, and everything stupid I could think of in between. I was only doing it for a good cause! I was trying to help people here. What was wrong with that? I never went out of my way to hurt anybody and in the times that I did, I never meant to do it. The only person I truly ever thought I was hurting was myself, and that didn’t bother me because I was strong and kind and I had God on my side! I could handle everything, right? Give me a cape and call me superwoman! That was what I thought. But I was wrong, so so very wrong.

Fast forward six years down the road, I had now been to jail and was put on probation for a year, a year that would soon become one of the worst years of my life. What once had started out with me being young and in love and on a mission to save the world, ended up with me being promiscuous and having sex out of wedlock, smoking pot every day all day and living life as one of the biggest potheads in Gladewater, Texas (I’m sure there were bigger, but you get my drift). On top of that, I had spent the last six years in what seemed like a continuous party, sleeping on whoever’s couch would have me and coming home after being gone for days at a time. I had eventually tried every drug in the book at least once, if not a couple of times, and had lied to every single person that I had known in some way or another. In my drunken stooper, I was raped, twice. I put myself in the most dangerous situations that one could imagine. I was stealing, cheating, lying, abusing others, and being abused, I was prideful, stubborn, conceited, unemployed, and I had eventually lost my car. I was slowly losing my family, on top everyone else in my life that I had already pushed away. I didn’t care if I was alive or dead. I attempted suicide once, or twice, gosh I lost count, but at that point, I just didn’t care anymore. Before I knew it I was eighteen years old, and before the clock had struck twelve on my eighteenth birthday, I was on meth (it was literally a birthday gift to me). This started the downhill spiral that led me to my bottom, which I would discover over the next two years.

I sounded like a trooper if you ask me. All the crap I put myself through and I was still here. Never once forgetting who Jesus was or where I was headed if I kept up that life.

Honestly, I cannot say that the life I was living didn’t bother me because that would be a lie. All of it did. No matter how far I took it or how much time had passed or how much I said or showed differently, I cared. But I was lost. I was so far beyond being buried in deceit, I had dug a hole so deep and ran from God for so long that I truly believed there was no turning back, that I could not be saved.

Looking back, I cannot tell you the first thing that sparked my mind or heart to want to change and just take that first step. I give credit to a lot of different things and some very important people in my life that were a part of this time, and a part of what got me to that point. The reality is, I was tired. I was past the point of giving up, and in my experience, I had discovered giving up had gotten me nowhere, because after I had given up I was still here. I was still alive, and I knew there had to be a good reason why. So, I finally decided the bad was bad. No, it was horrible beyond words or human belief. It was the bottom of all existence and everything I ever was or thought I could be. I was done.

Growing up in the church I had always heard that God would never allow me to go through more than I could handle, even if I dragged myself through it, He was still in control. I have later learned that it is just a twist on His truth, but it has definitely got me through some hard times over the years.

The following summer I decided to visit my sister in St. Louis. At the time, her living so far away was a sweet escape for me when life was kicking me down. I could always count on her to take me in and love me exactly the way that I was, plus it didn’t hurt that I had a key. On this trip, I got the chance to take myself out of “my world” and be in a completely different environment. This, of course, was not the first time I had done that. But this time I had a completely different motive in mind. I attended church with her each Sunday while I was visiting and her church was doing this mini-series on super sizing your life. I cannot remember the significance of the lesson now, what was said in which moment or why, but I do remember everything just starting to click for me.

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This was the same week I sat in my sister’s church. Just a couple of days before this picture my hair was down to my butt (a normal for me), I decided to cut it all off to symbolize that the old me was dead and gone. This was a new girl 🙂

Through all the insanely horrible things that I had put myself through, God kept showing me mercy, time and time again. He was always there, watching over me and keeping me safe. No matter what new dark place I could find to try and run and hide too, He was there. I was running from Him and He was chasing me, wanting so badly for me to come back to Him, just waiting for me, patiently. It didn’t matter how badly I had stomped on Him or how many times I had rejected Him or how long that it took for me to come home. He was still there. Ready and waiting, with arms wide open, just waiting for me to accept.

All of the years that I had spent hurting myself, I blamed the devil. I blamed everybody and everything for what was going on around me, for where I was at in life. Then that day, in my sister’s church, it all made sense to me. Are you ready for it? In order to be changed and to leave it all behind and to be happy and peaceful and full of life, with Jesus Christ himself, to love Him and to have a beautiful relationship with Him, I had to let go; of me.

and I did y’all. That same day and I have never been the same again.

Today marks seven years of my sobriety.

They say that after seven years that every cell in your body has died at some point and regenerated, so to me that means I am a brand new person today, just like I was seven years ago when I decide to stop running and give it all to God. Seven years later I am happily married with two gorgeous boys that I am so very much in love with, and our family dog Charlie. I have graduated from college twice now and am now working on my third degree, my masters! We bought our own home a few years back, we own two cars, and we are still in debt, but it’s just a footprint from the life we are living. We attend church regularly as a family and are all very involved in our community. Every year God continues to mold me and grow me into this beautiful human being that I never thought I could be and the best part about it is; I am human. I am not perfect. I stumble, like every day y’all. I fall. I make plenty of mistakes and yet, every time I do, my God is there to forgive me. He is there to dust me off and pick me back up again and that is something that will never change!

This morning I woke up late because I had a bad dream, it was a dream about my husband doing horrible things to me and my world crumbling back down to what it was before, it was a nightmare and it woke me up in bad mood. After I got up one thing after another kept happening to me to make me upset. My son peeing all over the middle of the floor, my water bottle spilling all over the counter because I forgot to put the cap back on, it was payday and my check had not come in yet, and from where I was standing my day was going to suck.

My husband urged me to let it go and not let it ruin my day, he’s a smart man.

But then God reminded me. You have a son! You have a job! You have a counter and water to spill on that sucker. You are blessed beyond belief and today you are a new woman! Hallelujah!

When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child and I reasoned like a child; now that I am a woman, I am done with my childish ways and I have put them behind me! 1 Corinthians 13:11

Stay blessed,

Beautiful Southern Heart

The truth will set you free, or burn you, one of the two

Have you ever went through life assuming you knew how someone else felt about a particular situation or thing, based off of what you know about that person or how you felt at that time. In that assumption, did you take your word for it and never venture to find out if it was true and move on with life because you were satisfied with the truth that you had given yourself, even though you were not 100% sure that it was the truth at all. Even after not knowing and feeling whatever type of way your truth left you with, you still did not try to dig deeper or simply ask to see what the real truth was, maybe even letting years go by before eventually finding out the truth and then feeling dumb because you were wrong the entire time. It didn’t happen that way. Things could have been different. But you stuck with your truth and here you are now and there’s nothing you can do about it, but accept it.

I have.

This past weekend I got to go on a trip with one of my childhood friends to see our best friend so we could make plans for her upcoming wedding, and get away for a couple of days. It was a pretty great trip when it was all said and done and I am glad that I went on it. It was an experience I was not planning on, to say the least, and something that ultimately left me feeling satisfied yet indifferent.

1 (1)The trip started out with me spending five hours in the car with a girl that I had not been around alone, or much at all for that matter, for over ten years. This same girl used to by my best friend. We grew up with each other from a small age and were nearly inseparable through middle school and high school. We had a lot in common, similar personalities, and had this overwhelming need to compete with each for everything (in a healthy way of course). She and I and three other girls (including the one who is getting married) ended up in a group referred to as “the fab five”.  Awful I know, but I cannot make this stuff up. We did not give ourselves that name if it makes it any better, but if you saw one of us you saw all of us and the name got stuck with us so we ran with it. Right before her sixteenth birthday (my friend in the car with me), found out she had cancer. This was a devastating time in our lives and the initial shock of it all was overwhelming, but like any normal teenager (speaking for myself) life keeps going on, with or without your friends, whether or not cancer sneaks up and bites you.

As I have told you all before, high school was not an easy time for me. Which you are probably curious as to how now that you know that I was in a group called “the fab five”. Everything started out great for me, for us, but after she got cancer everything changed. We all changed. I’m sure this change was starting to form long before the news, but this event marked a new time in history and looking back, things were never the same after.

I dropped out of school by the time cancer was gone from her life. Meaning, I wasn’t there when she came back and I have no idea what it was like or what she came back to, I just know what it was like for me and why I was gone and how I felt when I left and why I left. I always assumed there were other reasons why she quit being my friend and “gave up on me” like everyone else, and this weekend I felt out I was completely wrong. It was totally my fault, well most of it anyhow, and had I not been in such a crappy point in my life she would have still been there and she wanted to be there, but I made that an impossible thing to do and it took me over ten years to find that out.

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Ours wasn’t as classy, but you get the picture.

When we got to our best friend’s house we wasted no time getting the party started. We immediately went out and bought pizza and wine and spent the rest of the night reminiscing about when we were younger, the people we hadn’t seen in years, and filling in the gaps thereafter and in-between. We did our wedding planning like we were supposed to, but the majority of the trip was spent with us just enjoying each other’s company and hanging out like cancer never came and our lives hadn’t changed. It was an overwhelming feeling to be around two people who I know so well and have such a huge history with and that I do not get to see every day, but love so much and so deeply. It was truly refreshing to be around two people who you can just laugh with and at and never skip a beat and make you miss all the years that have gone by and cringe at the reality of how old we are getting now.

 

On the car ride home, it’s like we were two totally different people. Nearly strangers with fond memories as we rode to our destination, to old friends who have known each other for a lifetime, catching up after years of being apart.

There was a lot of healing that came with finding out the truth, a truth that I did not even know existed as anything less than what I thought it was, a truth that I was not even looking for and thought I already knew. There was also a lot of pain that came with finding out that truth, pain from allowing myself to assume that I knew what was true instead of taking the time to find out for myself, years ago, and missing out on having someone so near and dear to me in my life.

I cannot go back and change the choices I made or the action of allowing myself to assume I knew better. But I can move forward with knowing I was wrong and change it if that is what is in store for us now. I learned a powerful lesson this past weekend that I know is true with so many other situations in my life and throughout the world. We should never assume anything, even when the pieces look like they fit so well together, we can still be wrong if we do not take the time to find out the truth. I for one do not want to go through another experience like that again in my life and hope that the next time I am faced with a choice to assume or ask, that I ask. The outcome could possibly change my life or someone else’s. Do yourself a favor, do not assume.

Stay blessed,

Beautiful Southern Heart

Put Together Like Perfect Puzzle Pieces

Do you want to know what one of my most favorite things in the whole entire world is? It is watching God’s plans unfold right before my eyes, in the smallest of moments to the grandest. It is amazing to see His hand in our lives and watch Him work!

Getting to say; God did that. That was all Him. You can thank God for that. That was totally God. That had Jesus written all over it. That was an answered prayer right there! are truly some of my happiest moments and fill my heart with tremendous joy every single time that it happens. Which is often, and happens more and more every day, the closer I get to Him!

I’m not sure if I have shared this with you before, but one of my biggest struggles has been letting go and letting God. I have an overwhelming need to be in control, at all times, in every situation or I get intense anxiety or frankly just really upset that it’s not “going my way”. That is not an easy thing to admit, but it’s just a part of being human I think, and I have learned to accept it and grow from it and even slowly to relinquish that control, to Him. In doing so, I am seeing God’s hand more in more in my life, because I am stepping out of His way, finallythy-will-graphic

It is incredible what God can and will do for you if you just step out of His way and let Him be God. Being able to step aside and have something amazing happen in your life and know that it was God who did that, is the greatest feeling in the world, and it can only happen if you let Him.

There have been multiple occasions over the past couple of weeks that I have seen his perfect work come together in my life. Every time I experience something like this, I get an overwhelming sense of peace; because I know I am exactly where I am supposed to be, doing exactly what God designed me to do, walking in perfect sync with His will just as He would have me do.

download (1)It’s like a puzzle, every time you find that piece that fits, which for me are those moments that I get to say “that was you God”, you are getting closer to finishing it and seeing the beautiful picture that has been created!

It is not always an easy thing to do and it is a choice I have to make daily, to surrender to His will and not my own. Being human, we have this need to know what is going to happen next and what the outcome is going to be before we put our foot in front of the other and take that first step. But with God, you do not know and you cannot see it, until it happens. You have to trust Him and fully rely on Him and His sovereignty, that everything He does in this world He puts together for your good. That even though you cannot see the first step you have to trust that rest of the stairs are there, through blind faith.

It sounds incredibly scary when you think about it and in your case when you read it in black and white, and it can be. But every time you do it, it gets a little bit easier and a little more exciting and a little more real until you aren’t even thinking about whether or not you trust God anymore, but instead are trying to remember to put the car on autopilot and let go of the wheel.good

I have an incredible example that I want to share with you all on this very thing. Yesterday I was the only one in our office holding down the fort because everyone else was out of town or out in the field. Normally this isn’t so bad, but we have a lot going on this week and there were many things that needed to be taken care of and made sure that ran smoothly. Needless to say, I became overwhelmed by mid-day, and by the time I was supposed to take lunch to my sister at her school, I was totally frazzled and unfortunately unable to enjoy my date with her because I was trying to calm my nerves (in a school full of teenage children, ha!).

Before I walked into her school I was sitting in my car and I took a deep breath and said “Jesus, please still my heart. Yes, steal it and still it and help me find peace in this moment”. By the time lunch was over I was much calmer, but still a little frazzled and on edge. When I got back to the office I checked the notifications on my phone to see a woman had commented on an article I wrote a couple of weeks back. She wrote and I quote, “As I was reading I felt God prompting me to tell you that as someone who has made it through your season of life, and has learned from many mistakes, we need to be intentional about making room for margin in our lives so we can have time to just be still, breathe and rest in His presence.” She wrote that at the exact moment that I prayed to God for that very thing! How cool is that?! He not only heard my prayers, but He chose to tell me through someone I do not even know, I hear you baby girl, you can find rest in my arms, just be still.

God is so good y’all. He truly finds you in the darkness and pulls you back together, if you let Him. He’s a loving God, who gave us free will, to choose Him. He is not going to force Himself upon you or force you to love Him because that’s just not nice and it’s not in his character and it’s not who He is. He is a good God, a good father and if you do not know Him, you are missing out.

Stay blessed,

Beautiful Southern Heart

 

My trip to Harmons, Jamaica

Last year, God decided He was going to shake my world up in ways that I could have never expected. In December of 2015 I answered the call to join the Jamaica Mission Team for 2016 (JAM Team)! In six short months God was going to prepare us spiritually, mentally, physically and through all of our other needs to travel to Harmons Jamaica and spend a week doing whatever it is that He asked us to do. Spreading His love through building relationships and changing lives forever (especially my own).

Over the next six months God really did a number on my heart. My relationship grew with Him in leaps and bounds and my trust and faith in Him and all that He is was greater than I had ever known, I was over the moon and ready to take on the world! But I would settle for a week in Jamaica! During those months we had to raise the money that we would need for the trip as well as donations that we would be taking with us. Including plane tickets, airport fees, passport fees (since I had never been out of the country before), trip insurance, food while we were there, things we would need to “survive” while we were, as well as the money that is used to help employee the people we would be working alongside during that week.  I honestly do not remember exactly how the money came or when it did, I just know that God provided every cent of my needs and I never had to think twice about where it would come from or if I would have enough to go. I trusted Him completely and He provided all of my needs!

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Miss Kimberly at our packing party.

As the days grew closer to us leaving, our team gathered together a few more times to square away the details and just get in some good bonding time. Then a few days before we left we took all of the donations that we had gathered over the last six months and packed them in two 50lb suite cases (twenty in total). Once this was done we were ready to go and just two short days after that we gathered at our church at four in the morning to load up and head out! We were on our way!!

As I stated before, this was my first time out of the country which was a big deal for me! It was also my first time on a plane, which was another huge deal for me! As well as my first time on a mission trip and my first time seeing the ocean! The whole entire trip was filled with first for me and I was so excited and so ready to experience them all!! Ain’t God good!

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Waiting to board the plane! I ❤ these people soooo much!
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Katie on the left, me on the right.

It is really hard to describe all of the feelings that came with this journey. But I was super glad that I was getting to share it all with my sister, Katie. Not that I was unable to go on my own, but having her there with me made it easier for sure. Plus, who wouldn’t want to experience such awesome stuff with their sister!! The plane ride wasn’t as bad as I expected, I mostly tried to ignore the fact that I was on a plane and had no way to escape to until it landed again. It was only a two-hour flight, which was awesome and coming into Jamaica was one of the most beautiful things I had ever seen!  The second they opened those doors we knew we were in Jamaica, the humidity hit you in the face and you realized, this is the air that I will be breathing for the next week, Jamaican air baby!!

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First site of Jamaica!

We had a little mishap when we got to customs, because we were in a large group and because we were each bringing in 100lbs of goods that we didn’t plan on taking back home with us. But just like anything else in our lives, God took care of it for us! Instead of searching us like they were supposed to, they did a once over through each bag and sent us on our way! We were free!

It took us 3 ½ hours to get to Harmons from Mobay (Montego Bay). We had prepared ourselves for one of the worst rides of our lives going up into the mountains (from stories we had heard from other’s who had previously been on this trip), but we ended up taking the toll roads (which wasn’t so bad) until we go to the mountains and then experienced the scariest ride ever at nighttime up a mountain on the opposite side of the road going 80 miles an hour (I might be exaggerating it a little bit, but I am not too far off). Once we finally made it to the Harmony House we were greeted by the summer staff who we would be spending the next week with and unknowingly falling in love with before it was all said and done.

 

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The summer staff ❤

 

It was 9 o’clock at night and we had just spent the last sixteen hours traveling, so of course taking a picture was the way to go and unpacking all of our things to get ready for the week ahead of us! Yet none of that really mattered because as far as I was concerned, I was home!

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Straight off the bus!!

Over the next week I got to spend every moment with God, literally, from the time I woke up until I closed my eyes at night I felt like I was walking hand in hand with God and experiencing the most peaceful week that I had ever known before. I was up on the mountain with God and I never wanted to come back down! I know you are probably wondering why it’s not like that for me every day, here at home. The answer is; it is. God never ever leaves my side. But we have so many distractions here that make it hard to focus on Him like I need/want to and I have to struggle every day to keep my eyes on Him and Him alone. But, it is so worth it and I will live every day doing just that!

I’ll try to summarize the week as best as I can for you…

Day Two (first workday):

We went on a walkbout (a walk about) around the neighborhood and we got to meet Gonga!

I spent the day with the house ladies sorting through the clothes that we brought getting them ready to go into the Harmony House Store!

Then that evening we had a party at Son’s which was so much fun! I got to meet so many amazing people that day, and I cannot wait to see them again this year!

Day Three (second workday):

We built a foundation! You guys! It may sound silly to you, but this was the coolest thing ever! Literally from the ground up we put in the rocks and dirt and concrete that began the foundation of the home that someone would soon get to live in. Priceless.

On this day I saw a million different fruit trees; star wrapper, jack fruit, kens berry, tangerine, mango, avocado, (which is a pear to the U.S) and oranges (truly my favorite thing about Jamaica!)

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We did not cordinate all of the blue and green. haha

Day Four (third workday):

My sister and I got to go to the greenhouses. I spent half of the day with Maxine pruning tomato plants and just talking about life. It was amazing how much we had in common, but more amazing to see how much she loves God! She really touched my heart that day.

Later that day we went to the infirmary in Maypen. The infirmary is like a nursing home/orphanage where people go when they do not have anywhere else to go and they can’t survive on their own. It was a humbling experience, to say the least. My most favorite part was getting to meet Ms. Mary Patrick and listen to her quote entire books of the Bible without skipping a beat!

That evening we had a party at the crawl and enjoyed some relaxation in the community dancing the night away!

Day Five (fourth workday):

I got to meet the girls and get my hair braided! The entire week the rest of the team had been on their land building their new homes, and in another day we would get to dedicate them. I fell in love with this family and am blessed to still be in contact with them today! I hope I get to see them when we go back this year!

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Day Six (home dedication):

That morning we got to dedicate the completed homes to the two families that we were helping that week. It is really hard to explain what it feels like to hand the keys to a family and know that they will now have a roof over their head for years to come! It was a blessing to get to experience that and I am so thankful God allowed me to!

This was our last day in Harmons, bitter sweet for sure.

We spent the rest of the afternoon just hanging out; climbing mountains, playing soccer, getting our hair braided and nails done and some of our team even got some awesome designs cut into their hair!

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Climbing the mountain was amazing. The absolute hardest thing I have ever physically done. But so rewarding!!

That night we had one last party with the community before saying our goodbyes and getting ready to leave in the morning. Best night ever.

Day Seven (back to Mobay):

As much as any “normal” person would look forward to the part where you spend the day on the beach, it was definitely the lowlight of my week. Amazing, in every way I’m not denying that. God really showed out when He created the ocean and all things in it. It was beautiful in every way and I could have stayed there forever, but it was nothing compared to the six days before in the mountains with Jesus.

That night we had one last hoorah with the team (and the team that was with us there all week from North Carolina…too much to tell about them all…but so much love and such great memories!!) The next morning we made our way back home.


Going to Harmons, Jamaica was truly one of the greatest experiences I have ever had. It is insanely crazy to think that it is just the beginning for what God has in store for me! It wasn’t just the seven days that I was gone either, but everything leading up to it and even the lessons I had to learn once I came home. Coming home was much harder than I expected it to be, coming back to the reality that we live in and hating the way that the world is, it was hard. It is still hard. But I am thankful to have a different perspective on life and the world and all the things in it.

I have so much more to learn and experience, I know that. But this experience will be one I never forget. We are going back to Harmons this summer with a different team and I am so stinking excited and grateful that God has called me to go again! I cannot even begin to tell you how excited I am and how much I cannot wait to see everyone there!! God really showed up big last year, I can’t even fathom what He is going to do for us this year!! Keep me in your prayers, and my team that is going. We will definitely need each and everyone one of them. Thank you for taking the time to read this all the way through to the end. If you every really want to hear the details, I would be glad to share them with you! Plus I have more pictures 😉

Stay blessed,

Beautiful Southern Heart

 

p.s. The organization that we partner with on this trip is Won by One – check them out!

If you want to help donate for this year’s trip you can do so here (or click on the picture on my sidebar)

I want to go back

I want to go back to the basics. I want to be like a child again. I want to live in a world where this is the same for everyone. Through the way that we act and the way that we treat each other and the way that we see others, the world, and Jesus.

We teach our children to act this way, we teach our children to follow these rules, we teach our children to believe in these things, yet somehow we do not expect the same from ourselves. In simple things like;

Please
Thank you
No Thank you
Yes ma’am
Yes sir
No ma’am
No sir
You’re welcome
May I
Excuse me
I’m sorry
Forgive me
I forgive you
Treating other’s as you wish to be treated
Respect your elders
Listening to understand, not to respond
Waiting to talk and not interrupting others
Asking permission when the person, place, or thing is not yours
Being kind by thinking before you speak
If you do not have anything nice to say, then you probably should not say it all
Acknowledging someone in your presence
Knocking before you enter
Opening the door for others
Waving back at someone who waves at you
Returning a smile
Offering to help, even when it’s not needed
Using language that is pleasing to God, essentially anything that is good and anything that is true
Not calling people names, even if you think it is “just a joke”
Giving someone your full attention, even if you are bored and uninterested (in any given situation)

The list undoubtedly goes on and I would have let it, but hopefully something in that list struck a chord with you and made you think twice about how often you do that in your own life, or if you do at all. The answer should be always, every day, at every opportunity and I know for a lot of you, it is not.

This goes far beyond just face to face interaction, but as adults this can mean on the phone with a bill collector or someone from your job, at the store while you are shopping and passing people down the aisle, in your car driving down the road as you let someone onto the road or take turns in a parking lot without having to be the “most important person on the road”.

Taking the time to remember someone’s birthday, and calling them or texting them to tell them so (instead of simply allowing Facebook to do it for you).

Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praise worthy — think about these things. Phillipians 4:8

All of these things seem may seem trivial, yet have such a profound impact on our world and the way that it is today and what it will be like in the future. You truly can help make the world a better place by doing any one of those things, every day. Imagine if you did them all, without question or a second thought. Imagine what the world would be like. Imagine what your world would be like.

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Not only are we setting good examples for others around us, but the most important of all is the children who watch us and mimic our actions. What kind of example are you setting? How are your actions changing the world?

There’s more.

God expects us to act this way. Matthew 18:2-6 Jesus called a little child to him, and placed the child among them and said, “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven, and whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.

Jesus is not calling us to be perfect. He is just calling us to be kind, honorable, loving, and to treat each other with respect. That is why my children teach me the most about God, because they allow me to see myself through His eyes, through theirs.

My friend sent me a song yesterday that really summed this all up for me and was exactly what I have been feeling for quite some time now. Listen to it.

“I wanna go back to Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so. I wanna go back to this little light of mine, I’m going to let it shine. I want to go back to yes, Jesus loves me.”

I want to go back to blind faith, as small as a mustard seed, yet big enough to move a mountain. I want to go back to pure joy, for no reason. I want to go back to being enamored by the stars and thinking my daddy hung the moon. I want to go back to smelling every rose. I want to go back to jumping in puddles and watching the clouds for hours. I want to go back to singing random songs I just made up and dancing to the music in my head. I want to go back to walking around in circles in my front yard and talking to God. I want to go back to never knowing a stranger. I want to go back to thinking I could save the world, with just one hug, and then trying to. I want to go back to the basics. I want to go back to being like a child.

Stay Blessed,

Beautiful Southern Heart

Important Choices

Lately, I have watched people suffer for reasons that ultimately could have been prevented. Not just lately, this has been happening for forever but lately, it’s been bothering me more and more and I want to talk about it.

I will start off by saying, I am well aware that there are things in our lives that we have absolutely no control over and in those moments, the following does not apply. But in the grand scheme of things and as we go through life day to day, the things that happen to us are a result of the choices that we make. Simply put; we have control over our lives and what happens to us and whether or not we are happy or sad, healthy or unhealthy, rich or poor, kind or not.

choices

Each morning when you wake up you have to make the choice whether to stay in bed or get out of it. For those with jobs, staying in bed could mean missing work and potentially losing your job. The same as choosing to get out of bed would mean that you do go to work and in return keep your job. For those without jobs, staying in bed could mean that you continue to not have a job and suffer the consequences that come with that, whatever it may be. Choosing to get out of bed could mean countless opportunities of productiveness depending on what you choose to or not to do with your time. No matter how you look at it, your end result is defined by a choice that you made.

Now that we have that out of the way, let’s move it up a notch. Making choices applies to everything we do in life. Yes, everything. In addition to making choices, there is a need to take responsibility for the choices that you make. Responsibility? What’s that I say?

The state or fact of being accountable or to blame for something

You heard it here folks. When you make a choice, no matter what that choice is, no matter how great it is or how bad that it is, you are responsible for it. You are responsible for whatever ripples from that choice. i.e. the example given above when choosing not get out of bed when you have a job and you then lose said job, it’s your fault. Just as, if you chose to get out of bed even when you do not have a job and that choice leads to the finding of a new job or a clean house or whatever it is that you decide to do, it’s also your fault.

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Now you are wondering; what’s the point, where I am going with this? The point is that we need to do a better job at taking responsibility for our choices. By doing this that means that you accept the repercussions of your actions, no matter if they are good or if they are bad. In doing so, a lot more foolery would end, because 99% of the time a person does not want to take responsibility for their actions when it gets them in trouble, hurts them, hurts someone else, or ultimately causes harm and not good. Which means, if you took responsibility for your actions 100% of the time, you are a lot less likely to make bad choices.

There’s more.

You are not responsible for someone else’s actions.

This one is undoubtedly the harder one for most people, I believe. For some insane reason, people want to blame themselves or take responsibility for someone else’s actions. Which is crazy, because you cannot. But still, people try and in doing so tire themselves and wonder why good does not come from it, and the reality is; it just does not work that way. Sure, you “can” take responsibility and you can suffer the consequences of their choices, but why would you want to, especially if in doing so causes you harm?

Which brings me to my next point.

You do not owe anyone anything in this life. I am so serious, nothing.

Do not get me wrong again here. Out of love and respect and the desire to make others happy, we want to give what is given to us in return (the good anyhow). But you are not obligated to and there is not some unwritten rule, or written for that matter, that says that you have to keep someone in your life simply because they have been a part of it and have “done something” to deserve it.

Yet again, I tell you truth. If someone is doing more harm than good in your life. You do not have to let them stay there. It does not matter if that person is your mom or dad, your sister or brother, grandmother or grandfather, aunt or uncle, boss or co-worker, or even your best friend. You have the right to choose to have a better life, even if that means one where that person is not in it.

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I get it, making a choice like that is hard. Like really hard. I have been there before and had to make that choice and it was not fun and it really has been hard to live with at times. Not from regret, but because I do not wish for anyone to not be a part of my life, especially family. But sometimes, for the sake of your own well-being and your children’s, if you have them; you have to make hard choices. It is necessary, and in the end, you will be so much better off for it.

Picture it like this; your life is a garden of flowers and everyone in your life (or garden) is a beautiful unique flower. But, just like in any garden, there are weeds that can and will grow. You have to make sure to weed out the bad so that ultimately your garden as a whole will not die, but also by doing so you make way for all of the good flowers and have space for more to grow. Meaning, you have to take care of yourself and weed out the bad people and things in your life so that your life will be beautiful and full of good things and good people. By doing so, you make way for more beautiful things to grow and good people to come into your life.

Life is hard, I know. I live here too. But it does not have to be so bad and you truly do have the power to change it for yourself and those around you. It all starts with the choices that you make and your ability to take responsibility for them. Once you understand that, you are golden, and it is only up from here.

Stay Blessed,

Beautiful Southern Heart

Dear Women, this is for you

Today is International Women’s Day 2017. I am going to be honest with you I did not even know this day was a day, until today. But because it is and women everywhere are longing to feel appreciated, I just wanted to share some gems with you, to show you that you are and it should not take a day in March to show you that.

Every day that I am alive I feel special, I feel wanted, and I feel loved. Simply because I am a daughter of the One True King and He has chosen me to be His, for all eternity, and He has chosen you too.  I know this because;

I am a child of God.

As a child of God, I am a fellow heir with Christ.

I have been accepted by Christ.

I have been called to be a Saint.

I am chosen, holy, and blameless before God.

I am no long a slave, but a child and heir.

I have been predestined by God to obtain an inheritance.

God loves me and has chosen me.

It is because of those things that I rejoice, daily. No matter what is going on in my life, where I am, what someone said to me, what someone has done to me, what I have done, or what I am going to do, Jesus loves me. Today, yesterday and forever! I am His daughter, His beloved, and am more precious to Him than a pearl. Nothing can beat that, ever.

Because God loves me so much and because I am His, I want to live my life in a way that honors Him and brings glory to His name! Which is why I strive daily to be a woman of virtue.

Proverbs 31: 10-31

Who can find a virtuous woman, for her price is far above rubies and pearls? The heart of her husband safely trusts in her and will have no lack of gain. She comforts him and encourages him and will do him good and not evil all the days of her life. She seeks wool, and flax, and works willingly with her hands in delight. She is like a merchants ship, abounding with treasures, where she brings food from far away.

She comforts him and encourages him and will do him good and not evil all the days of her life.

She rises while it is night and gives meat to her house and portions to her maids. She considers a field before she buys it, then with the fruit of the profits she plants a vineyard with her hands. She equips herself with strength and she makes her arms strong. She sees that her gain is good; her lamp does not go out but burns continuously through the night (prepared for whatever lies ahead). She lays her hands to the spindle and her hands to hold the distaff. A woman's hand is touching the crop in  a field

 

She opens and extends her hands to the poor, and she reaches out to the needy. She is not afraid of the snow, for her household is clothed in warm wool. She makes herself coverlets, cushions, and rugs of tapestry. Her clothing is linen, pure and fine, and purple. Her husband is known in the city gates and sits with the elders of the land. She makes fine linens to sell and delivers it to merchants.

shelaughsStrength and dignity are her clothing and her position is strong and secure, she smiles at the future knowing that she and her family are prepared. She opens her mouth in wisdom and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. She looks well to how things go in her household and does not stay idle. Her children rise up and call her blessed, and her husband praises her saying, “Many daughters have done nobly, and well, but you exceed them all!” Charm and grace are deceptive and beauty is vain. But a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised! Give her the products of her hands, and let her own works praise her in the gates of the city!

 

A virtuous woman encompasses;

  • Faith
  • Marriage
  • Mothering
  • Health
  • Service
  • Finances
  • Industry
  • Homemaking
  • Time
  • Beauty

The Bible is full of many great women that can teach you so much about God, who He is, and what He can and will do for YOU if you let him! Check them out;

Mary of Nazareth: Mother of Jesus – (Luke, John  & Acts)

Ruth – The book of Ruth

Esther – The book of Esther

Eve – Genesis

Elizabeth: Mother of John the Baptist – (John & Matthew)

Rachel – Genesis

Hagar: An Abused Woman – (The Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke & John)

Mary Magdalene – (The Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke & John)

Martha: Mary’s Sister – (The Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke & John)

Rebekah: Isaac’s Wife – Genesis

I do not know where you are today or what your life is like or how you feel about yourself or how you think others feel about you. But I do know this; there is a man that wants so badly to love you and you love Him back and give you the world if you would just accept Him and allow Him to; His name is Jesus. He can take away all of your pain, all of your tears, and give you healing, hope, joy, and a love like you have never known before! My hope is found in Him. My worth is found in Him. All that I am and ever want to be comes from Him. I love Him so!

Today is International Women’s Day for the world, but every day is women’s day when you belong to Jesus!

You are beautiful.

You are worthy.

Stay blessed,

Beautiful Southern Heart

Through Their Eyes

When is the last time you looked at your kids like really looked at them? If you are like me you are probably thinking, I look at my kids every day! But if you are also like me you know what I am saying when I ask you the question, when is the last time you looked at your kids, really looked at them?

I have had the opportunity to really look at my kids quite a few times in the last week or so, the first being when my oldest and I went out to eat after his baseball practice last Thursday, just him and me. He sat across the table from me, so little yet so much older than I remember him being, beautiful in every way, talking to me like a normal adult sitting across from me on a dinner date, except instead of an adult it was my five-year-old son.  I honestly do not remember anything that he said to me during that dinner as horrible as that may sound, except for random chatter about how much he was starving as he shoved another chip into his mouth and how cold he was (because he left his jacket in the car even though I told him to bring it inside), all I could do was stare at him and admire him and think about how much I love him, so much.

He sat across the table from me, so little yet so much older than I remember him being, beautiful in every way, talking to me like a normal adult sitting across from me on a dinner date, except instead of an adult it was my five-year-old son.

The second opportunity was yesterday, I had to take my car to the shop to get new tires put on it because we were lucky enough to get a flat after driving through construction work on the railroad near our house. As sucky as that may have been, I was blessed with the opportunity to spend some more one on one time with my oldest in the waiting room as we waited for the car to be fixed. There was a pile of toys and books in the corner, and he chose to play with the toys first of course, so incredibly happy that he found the coolest toys ever (which I am sure were from McDonald’s) that were so entertaining to him because it was something he had never played with before and he was not having to share it with anyone else, especially his little brother.

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I love watching his imagination, the silly things he comes up with as he plays, but mostly how his eyes sparkle while he does it and then how he looks at me to find enjoyment on my face from all the fun that he is having. After a couple of minutes, he picked up a book and decided he wanted to read to me. Side note; he just learned how to read this year and somewhere in the last month he went from struggling with sight words to reading 60 page Dr. Seuss books without a skip in his step. I enjoy listening to him read. But again, more than the words that he was reading to me, I noticed how magnificently beautiful he is, how long his eyelashes are, how he has little freckles all over his cheeks, his big beautiful blue eyes and how he has the cutest little smile that he will flash at me when I least expect it. This time I decided I had to take a picture and savor him, in that moment, forever.

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The most recent opportunity that I was so incredibly blessed to have although I fought not to, was with my youngest son, last night as he lay in bed next to me as I was struggling to get him to go to bed. He was not supposed to be in bed with me, I originally put him to bed in his own room but fifteen minutes later it was extremely quiet in the house and I knew that he had not fallen asleep that fast so, I sent my husband to check on him and low and behold he had my brand new stick of deodorant in his bed and had smeared it all over himself, thus destroying the entire stick and making a terrible mess in his bed that he now could not sleep in. Perfect.

He smelt lovely, but I was less than thrilled. However, he won the battle and was now lying next to me smelling fresher than ever and so incredibly happy to be next to his momma in her bed where he wanted to be in the first place. I turned to look at him as I told him what a huge turd he was for doing that, and he proceeded to stroke my face and tell me how much he loved me. My heart melted right there. He pulls that card often, doing something that will get him in trouble, usually when he knows better not to and then pouring his love on me just when I am most upset with him. I would like to say that I am strong enough to resist him and continue to be mad at him in those moments. But I am not, and I do not stay that way. Instead, I just lay there while he strokes my face and gazes at me with so much love and admiration, just loving on me his favorite person in the world.

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As I drove to work this morning, I was ruminating on these moments. Thanking God for blessing me and choosing me to be these two amazing little boys mama.  Wondering how I got so lucky and then realizing God feels the same way about me, the exact same way, if not so much more than that. He is constantly in admiration for me and just looking down on me smiling no matter what it is I am doing, and in those moments where I mess up, which is often, he allows me to come to Him and say I am sorry and love on Him and He just soaks it up and loves me back with a love greater than anything I will ever know. He uses my boys more than anything to show me that, He is my daddy and I am His daughter and there is nothing I can ever do to change that.

 

Stay blessed,

Beautiful Southern Heart

This song says it all.

via Daily Prompt: Ruminate

Beautiful Anxiety

I slept through my alarms this morning and apparently turned them off without noticing. I went to bed a little later than usual, which I am sure attributed to my tiredness, but the past few days and weeks have been overwhelming for me. The last two, in particular, have been the most draining. I hate when this happens to me, I have no control over it and it all boils down to my emotions.

I try really hard not to question God and why He made me the way that he did. In fact, especially when I do not understand it most, I attempt to appreciate the uniqueness that has been given to me and channel it towards Him and furthering His kingdom. The past few years have been the hardest in this area because my relationship with God has grown so deeply where He is stretching me and growing me as a person, in ways that I sometimes cannot keep up with or fully understand.

This past year I struggled with anxiety, really bad. Overwhelming anxiety that was so strong every day that even with medicine it was physically debilitating. Some days were better than others and some days I was so exhausted by it that I just wanted the day to end so I could go to sleep and be free from its burdens for a couple of hours, without interruption. The hardest part about it all was not being able to control it, not being able to pinpoint the cause of it so I could attempt to fix it or make it better.

My anxiety seems to stem from deep rooted emotions for things going on around me, most usually not even my own circumstances. I truly believe that God gave me a gift to be able to feel what others are feeling and be concerned for others when they need it the most. Romans 12:15 tells us to rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. This is something that I do, even when I am not trying to or honestly do not “want to” because I just do not feel up to it, yet it is a part of who I am and I cannot hide it or change it.

Romans 12:15 tells us to rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.

Towards the end of last year, my anxiety was peaking at an all-time high. With the upcoming presidential elections and all the hate and discord that happened during that time, to ongoing circumstances in my family that I could not change fix or heal, to everyday life with my children watching them grow before my eyes and all the wonderful activities that come with it. My anxiety medicine decided to just stop working one day and by mid-morning on each day that followed, I was usually having a full blown panic attack. Thankfully, through prayer and my favorite essential oils, I was able to get through those days and by the grace of God discovered a natural vitamin that took away my anxiety altogether, sweet relief.

That was in November and I can honestly say that I have been anxiety free since then, even through the madness of the holidays and all that comes with it. I was pretty chill during this time and able to get things done in a way that I had been neglecting for nearly a year straight. I was able to be in situations that in years past would have not been an easy feat for me. I have been doing things that I have always been incredibly scared to try, like leading a group of people in a bible study each week, cooking bacon for the first time in my life, or starting this blog.

You see, there is an overwhelming peace that comes with being keenly aware of your own emotions and those of others around you. There is also a sense of burden, confusion, and pain from not being able to separate it or turn it off. I am both humbled and honored that God would give me such a gift, and at times angry and tired and wish that He would just take it all away. But, I am thankful that I did not write my story or create the me that I am because I would miss it. I know God does not make mistakes and when He made me to care so much for others around me, He also gave me the tools that I would need to handle it and ultimately use it for good to bring glory to His name.

This past week, my anxiety returned. Not even remotely like it was before. But just enough to take my breath away, and drain me through utter exhaustion and bouts of confusion where I cannot think straight or do the things I need to do without struggling or taking twice as long to get it done. Although this week has been great in all aspects that pertain to me and my immediate family, it has not been so great for others around me; from the pain that they are enduring from loss of loved ones or the fear that comes with it once they have, to unforeseen circumstances added to an already stressful situation, it has been overwhelming.

“Blessed be the God and Father our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” 2 Corininthians 1:3-4

If you are still reading this, you are probably telling me; to stop. Mind your own business. You cannot let what is going on in other people’s lives affect you so much. It is not your problem so why are you letting it bother you. Get a grip. Focus on yourself and let other people worry about their own problems, you have enough of your own. Just pray about it, that’s all that you can do anyways.

Then I would tell you; I can’t. I was not made to. Oh trust me, I have tried. You try arguing with God and see if you win. Grow closer to God and see what he does to you. I have prayed about it and I will continue to, without ceasing, pleading with the Holy Spirit to intercede on my behalf when I do not have the strength or the words.  Because that is all that I can do, and quite frankly, what I was called to do.

“Praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints” Ephesians 6:18

Yeah, it sucks. But through prayer and trusting God, it will not last forever. I do not think my anxiety has returned and is here to stay, I just think that while I am dealing with some of the emotions going on around me I need to take my anxiety as a reminder to pray, hard, for those who really need it. The gift to love others so deeply that their sorrow becomes your sorrow and their joy becomes your joy is a beautiful blessing. Sometimes it is hard to cope with, especially in times of sorrow, but I think that’s why He allows us to feel their joy too, to remind us, that even though pain may come through the night joy will come in the morning.

Stay blessed,

Beautiful Southern Heart

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