The need for compassion

Honduras changed me.

I’m sure it will be quite some time before I truly figure out all the ways in which it did, but I’ve been home for two days and my heart is so torn. Full, broken, confused, angry, excited, unsure, overwhelmed, indifferent…

My four-year-old son got in bed with me this morning, happy that I am home and there to cuddle with. He stroked my face as he always does and said, “momma, I hope your tummy feels better today, I don’t want you to feel bad anymore”. I turned to him sweetly and said, “I do too baby, I don’t know what’s causing it to hurt…but I hope it’s better today so I can play with you because I missed you so much”. He exclaimed, “it’s probably the food you ate”. “The food I ate”, I said? “Yeah mom, the food you ate while you were gone last week…it’s probably why your tummy has been hurting”. “Oh, yeah, that could be it. You are so smart”! He said, “Yeah, well, I’m losing my smartness because I don’t get to watch YouTube anymore. YouTube is what gave me my smartness, and now since I can’t watch it, I’m losing my smartness”.

This kid…if he only knew!

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Honduras countryside

I haven’t felt well since I got home. I’ve been tired, having zero desire to do anything, and pretty much have been trying to distract myself with Netflix and Facebook to keep my mind off…well, being back home. I’ve been here before. I’ve come home from a mission trip and been in a daze and it’s taken time to get back into the swing of things. I realize it’s only been 48 hours. But this time it’s different.

Every time my stomach starts to hurt, I think of Honduras. I wonder if it was the food. I wonder if my body is simply trying to adjust back to American food. I wonder if my emotions are so overwhelming that I’m subconsciously making myself ill. I wonder if I just picked up a small bug on the way home from my travels. Who knows.

Every time my kids come up to me, I get excited because I’ve missed them so much, but then suddenly so very sad, because I miss the kids in Honduras. My heart aches that I am not there to hug them and love on them and be even a fraction to them what I am to my boys a 1000 times a day.

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Some of the little ones in the children’s village

When I scroll through Facebook and see all the hate and filth and greed, it makes me sick. When I scroll and see the war going on in politics and how much hate the media has stirred up for those in Honduras, I want to scream at each person and their ignorance in what is truly going on. I want to tell them about the families I met while I was there and their loved ones who joined the caravan out of desperation to simply feed themselves. I want to tell them about the mother who was eight months pregnant and starving, who left three children behind to join the caravan and have her child on the road and who may not even be alive today, because she was desperate and searching for anything that could save her family and pull them out of the hell that they have been living in.

Honduras is so broken. The country is so corrupt. The people who live there were born into a broken system that they can’t escape and it’s not their fault. Of the 9.4 million people who live there over 66% live in poverty, that’s over 6 million human beings who are suffering on a day to day basis. That’s 1 in 5 human beings that are potentially starving, homeless, sick, being abused, neglected, and that feel hopeless.

It’s easy to turn a blind eye, to ignore it, to simply say “not my country, not my problem”. It’s easy to look at a caravan of 7000 and pictures and videos from the media and stamp “criminals” all over it and forget about the nearly 5000 in the crowd who are simply seeking refuge, food, anything…and harden your heart to human beings that are suffering.

This is what the Lord Almighty said: ‘Administer true justice; show mercy and compassion to one another. Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the foreigner or the poor. Do not plot evil against each other.’
— Zechariah 7:9-10

The reality of it is, you don’t know what you don’t know and it’s hard not to base your feelings off of human emotion and the ability to only make an opinion off what you see (through the media). I did it too.

Here’s the kicker.

When I was eating lunch with an 11-year-old last week whose father is in jail for drug trafficking and mother is MIA; I tried my best to answer his questions about America, the caravan, our government, and why the only hope he’s ever known is not the shining star he thought he could always count on (America).

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Dunia, one of the 100 who has been saved. She is 3 years old and was completely malnourished just 1 year ago. 

He didn’t understand why 7000 people trying to come through a border to seek refuge, to find food, to find a job, to find hope for their families…would just be turned away…or worse. I tried to make him understand that there is a right way and a wrong way and it’s when one is done over the other, then that’s where the problems arise. But all he could see was that someone was hungry and needed to be fed.

I couldn’t argue with him.

I still stand behind what’s right and what’s wrong. I still stand behind walking through the doors and not violently knocking down walls to get in. I still stand behind protecting our home and protecting our borders, because America wouldn’t be this place of saving grace if we didn’t.

But I can’t stand behind turning a blind eye to the hungry, turning a blind eye to the poor, turning a blind eye to an entire country that is suffering and living in a continuous cycle of defeat. I know it’s not our country’s fault, I know it’s not our President’s. I blame it on the broken system in Honduras. I blame it on the prince of darkness and his desire to steal, kill, and destroy…an entire nation.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us all in our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.
— 2 Corinthians 1:3-4

My hurt is hearting so badly for so many and all I can do is pray, keep loving, spread awareness, and continue to develop a relationship with those who live there. God is alive and well in Honduras and even though there is a spirit of brokenness and poverty in that nation, He will prevail, and He is the ultimate victor!

Honduras is just 1 of 195 countries in the entire world.

Just one country, with over 6 million human beings who are suffering in our world today.

I met a little over 100 beautiful souls this past week who were saved from that suffering. Who were given clothes to wear, food to eat, a warm bed to sleep in, an education, and the hope of Jesus.

That’s 5,999,899 souls that are still suffering.

In just one country.

There are 7.5 billion people in the world.

Over 3 billion who live in poverty. Even in America.

However, the homeless in America are wealthy in comparison to those in other countries with access to clean drinking water, food, and shelters.

What can we do to change it?

What can we do to even put a dent in these facts and make it better?

What can we do to bring awareness to other’s who simply don’t know?

What can we do?

Have compassion.

It’s like I said, Honduras changed me. I’m still processing. I’m still praying. I’m trying so very hard to be still and see what God has in store. For me, for those in Honduras, for those in my community, for those in the church, for those in America, for those around the world.

I encourage you, to step outside yourself. Step outside your pride and your opinions and your comfort zone. Show compassion, to just one person. Then do it again, and again, and again.

If you are unsure what that looks like, I can show you. You can look Him up in the Bible, His name is Jesus.

Oh, my heart.

Stay blessed,

Beautiful Southern Heart

 

 

My Father’s Heart

It’s been three months since my last blog, four months since I quit my job and six months since I came home from Jamaica for the second time. Yet somehow, it all seems like it was yesterday.

I recently made a post on my Facebook page reaching out for prayers and some general support for all that I’ve been going through in this time and what lies before me that I want to be strong for when the time comes.

My father called me a few days after I made this post to sort of follow up with my thoughts and feelings and to do what he’s been best at for the last decade, being my biggest accountability partner. You see, before this last decade, I didn’t have the greatest relationship with my father. He was very much a part of my life and someone who has always been kind to me and loved me more than I’ll ever know or understand. But for the better half of my childhood, he was missing, and although I don’t resent it or wish it had been different. I am thankful for the lessons I learned as an individual about who I did and did not want to be, and what I think a daddy should look like, and what I have learned that a father is.

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My daddy and I at the zoo when I was a little girl

It was towards the end of the years in my addictions that I really started to bond with my dad or even truly have a relationship with him at all. I was very young when he and my mother divorced and although I would see him growing up, we didn’t really have time to get to know each other like one would when you see them day in and day out. Because of his past and what was then my present state of mind, we were able to relate to each other in a way that I am now very grateful for, and that played such a big part in my becoming sober and maintaining my sobriety over the last 8 years. My dad, even as a “stranger”, has always been my biggest fan. I can literally walk into a room and hear him say, “whoop whoop, that’s my daughter, go Kristen go Kristen go”. As silly as that may be, he is always rooting for me and has always been there to tell me how much he loves me and how special I am, and how proud he is of me (even on my worst days). Which is why, even though I only saw him sparingly throughout my childhood, I always felt like I had the greatest daddy in the world and I was proud of that. I was his princess, and I still am, and I always will be.

It wasn’t until I was on the brink of becoming an adult that, I met my father.

My addiction got really bad around my eighteenth birthday, so much so that I was hanging by a thread in the relationship department with most of my family and really anyone who knew me if they hadn’t cut me out of their lives entirely at this point. It was hard to physically be around me, from just how unhealthy I looked, and how insanely terrible my behavior was at this point. I was truly past the point of giving a damn about anyone else other than myself and my need to get high that day.

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My dad and I after my college graduation

But this didn’t stop my dad, this didn’t deter him away from me, and this didn’t make him for even one second of one day give up on me or my potential to “come back home” and be the person God created me to be. No, instead, he just acted as if everything was normal every time he saw me, he acted as if I was his same special princess that had never done anything wrong as he always had, he continued to speak life and love into me even if I didn’t want to hear it, or in doing so, just pushed me away further through the disappointment in myself and feeling as if I wasn’t capable of being all of those things that he thought about me, ever again. At my lowest, when it felt like the entire world had turned it’s back on me, my daddy chose to love me just the way I was and never for one second turned his back on me or made me feel less than.

It would be years before I fully understood this love or where it stemmed from, and truly be able to appreciate it, for all that it was and all that it still means to me to this day.

But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. – 2 Timothy 3:14-15 (ESV)

Fast forward to today, the present, and the last eight years.

My father is not a blameless man. He too has a past that would probably haunt most, but by the grace of God, has made him into the man that he is today, the man that continues to walk a walk that I can look up to and that has helped me become the godly woman that I am today.

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My dad and I dancing at my wedding ❤

Even though my father didn’t raise me and wasn’t there to tuck me in bed at night or sit around the kitchen table with me each evening or help me to do my homework or teach me about relationships. When he was there, he showed me what a father should look like, and he strived to be the daddy that our father in heaven has always been to him. My daddy has never raised a hand to me in anger, has never punished me with spankings or harsh words (even though I probably deserved it a time or two). He’s never raised his voice to me or spoke low to me in any way. My daddy has always opened up the door for me, never let me talk to him with anything less than respect, and he’s tried in every way to protect me when he could and to teach me about the Lord, and to love me the best that he could like Jesus does, even when he couldn’t love himself. My daddy has prayed for me every day and has always been the first to let me know that my flesh is showing (when I am not walking right with the Lord). He doesn’t lie to me or pretend to be perfect, and when he’s having a hard time in life, he never makes his burdens my burdens, even when I want to be there for him in the same way that he’s been there for me. He will give me his last dollar if it means putting food on my table, or gas in my car, or a smile on my children’s faces. But the greatest thing he’s ever done and continues to do is in teaching me about the Lord.

Father’s, do not provoke your children to anger but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. – Ephesians 6:4 (ESV)

Train up a child in the way he should go, even when is old he will not depart from it. – Proverbs 22:6 (ESV)

As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him. – Psalms 103:13 (ESV)

When my dad called me the other day to check up on me and just talk to me on his way home, he took my feelings of doubt and confusion and encouraged me with the truth.

You see, coming back from a mission trip can be tough. Really tough. Not only are you reeling from one of the greatest high’s you could ever have, after spending a week with Jesus. But you are working through and trying to understand all of the things that God taught you while you were there, and what He’s trying to show you after you come home.

It can take months before you feel “normal” again and you begin to truly see the changes that God has made in your life and the path that He has laid out for you. But, when you have great accountability partners, like my dad, it’s much easier to stay on track and gain perspective when things don’t seem to make sense anymore.

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Dad and I during Easter this past year

When I talked to my dad that day, we talked about how nothing was really “wrong” with me and that I instead was just feeling off and I didn’t know why. After coming home from Jamaica and quitting my job, and becoming a stay at home mom again, I couldn’t find the peace that I once had and with all the changes going on around me. I didn’t know why or what had changed. But he showed me that, I have changed. I allowed myself to become distracted by all the changes going on in my home, that the routines I once had in my day and my walk with Jesus, had changed because of me. That in fact, nothing was truly wrong, and I just needed to give it to God and allow my thoughts to line up with His will. I needed to ask the spirit to make my ways, His ways, and for my heat to bear His fruits.

He always has the funniest metaphors for everything, but they really help to make things stick when I’m just not getting it. Things really are simple with God, but we are always trying to complicate it and that’s where my dad comes in to help me, when I am not getting it.

My daddy said you know when you go shopping for something that you need? You will go to the store that has exactly whatever it is that you are looking for. Well, it works the same way with the Holy Spirit. When you need fruit; love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and self-control, you have to go to the Spirit for it and He will supply all of your needs.

DUH DAD.

He left me with this.

It’s important every day that we guard our hearts because everything you do flows from it. Proverbs 4:23

And when things aren’t making much sense and you feel like you have lost your way, just remember…

His word is a lamp unto our feet and a light for our paths…in all our ways if we acknowledge Him, He will direct our paths to line up with the accordance of His will. Psalm 119:105 & Proverbs 3:6

My dad has mimicked those verses to me over and over again in my life, and somehow, I still forget. But that’s okay, because we have a good good father that shows no condemnation and forgives us of our sins and is always, always there waiting for us to get back on the straight and narrow path that leads us back to Him.

I am thankful, and so very blessed that I not only have a Heavenly Father that has chosen me to spend all eternity with Him, but I have an earthly father that resembles Him and is making sure that no matter what happens in this life, that I will get there too.

Sorry I made you cry dad, I love you, Happy Birthday – your princess.

Stay blessed,

Beautiful Southern Heart

 

via Daily Prompt: Simplify

Dear America,

I want to know…

Why?

What’s the point? What are you truly trying to accomplish? What are you fighting for? If you could hand someone a list of demands, wants, needs or what have you. What would be on it? In all your anger, anguish, persecution, oppression, being misunderstood, undervalued, belittled, mistreated, misused, abused, neglected, ridiculed, and shamed, what are you trying to achieve? What is the outcome of all your pain, hours of fighting, arguments, and unending division in your hearts and communities?

Do you want to change history, the history of today or tomorrow or from the past? Would taking down a monument, changing the name of a school, changing facts in a history book, or how things are addressed make you feel better? Would rewriting history as a whole do it or just certain parts?

If your list of demands was met 100% with no questions asked, no push back of any kind, just checking the boxes and making the changes, would you then be happy?

I truly want to know what the ultimate end goal is here, because I am failing to understand.

Is your identity found in the words of another human being or even the actions? Does your joy come from what someone has said or done to you? Do the actions or words of another human being play a part in your eternity?

What type of mark are you leaving on this world?

What are you doing to change it or make it better?

All that I know is this.

We live in the top 1% of the world. Yes, all Americans do. We have a longer life expectancy rate. We have reasonable access to safe drinking water. We consume more calories than any other nation. We have some of the most stable soil in the world. Even the homeless, having just one dollar and access to shelters that can feed them and cloth them and give them a place to sleep, are richer than those in many other countries. If you are unsure of what I am talking about, visit another country outside of the United States, it doesn’t even have to be a third world country, and you will see that American’s got it good, regardless of your ethnicity, religion, or gender.

So still I ask, why?

I by no means live a perfect life or walk a blameless path, not even remotely. But I do choose to attempt to in the only way that I know how and that’s through Jesus.

Where does your identitycome from-My identity is not found in the words or actions of a stranger. It is not found through my husband or my beautiful boys. It is not found in the accomplishments I have made in my life or even the mistakes. It is not found in my work or my friends or my neighbor down the street. It is not found through the color of my skin. It is not found through the clothes that I wear or the car that I drive. It is not found through the place of my birth. It is not found in my parents or my ancestors. But it is found in what Jesus says about me and who I am because of Him.

I am chosen. I am worthy. I am loved. I am cherished. I am beautiful. I am free. I am forgiven. I am justified. I am redeemed. I am accepted. I am unique. I am righteous. I am holy. I am a child of God. I am a citizen of Heaven. I am the salt of the earth. I am the light of the world. I am made perfect in Christ, by Him and through Him.

That is the greatest truth I know and the only truth that I want to spend my life fighting for and fighting for others.

The word says, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable, if anything is excellent or worthy of praise, think about these things. Philippians 4:8

I recently had an amazing conversation with a new friend I met while I was in Jamaica. I told Him that I couldn’t wait to go to Heaven and that I would be happy if Jesus took me from this world right now. He looked at me very seriously and then asked me the following questions;

Are you sure you are going to Heaven? I said, yes. He asked again, are you sure? I said, yes, without a shadow of a doubt. I know Heaven is my home! He then said, then how can you say that you are ready to leave this earth? I stood there puzzled for a second, but shot back with, because this world is an awful place and I am so ready to be gone from it and not have to deal with all the hate, pain and suffering anymore. He then said, but that’s not what you were called to do. If Jesus took you home today, then you wouldn’t be here to share the good news to others. He will call you when it is your time, but until then, your greatest mission in life should be in helping others to get there too. You were called to be the light of the world which means God needs your light here on earth to shine through all of the darkness.

Talk about a reality check.

I was not lying when I said that I was ready to go to Heaven because of how awful the world we live in is, but I was wrong for wanting to leave it this way. Not just wrong, but selfish.

Colossians 3:2-4 says to set your mind on things above, not on things of this earth, for you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.

I could focus on all of the bad things going on in this world. I could get really mad and show my anger through arguments with others who do not agree with me, sharing memes of hate that make me feel better about my position in the argument, I could protest and riot, or demean others for how they think or feel. But if I did any of those things, then I would not be doing a very good job at furthering the kingdom and instead would be doing the exact opposite of what I have been called to do.

This is not me ignoring the things going on in this country. This is not me ignoring the way that you feel about those things. This is me saying that the only way I can truly fight back is on my knees through prayer and by shining my light for all of those around me to see.

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The battle we fight is not with each other. It is a much greater one that we cannot even physically see. The war that is raging should not be between our brothers and our sisters, but against the enemy that is hiding in the darkness waiting to steal, kill and destroy anything that you give him the option to. It is up to you, to stand your ground, to fight back with good and note evil and to be the beacon on a hill shining your light in this world of darkness.

You can so choose to be a part of the problem or do something to change it by being better and doing better. Not just for yourself, but for those around you who are watching you and do not know any better themselves. But this cannot happen if you choose to walk in your selfishness, your pity, your need to be fulfilled or heard. It isn’t about you and it isn’t about me. It’s about Him.

Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves, but do what it says.  James 1:22

So with that;

I am calling you to stand up with me, dust yourself off, ask for forgiveness and then forgive those around you, to fight the good fight and to shine. That is the only real way you are ever going to see the change that you want to see.

Stay blessed America,

Beautiful Southern Heart

The problem with missionaries

Last year I was blessed to go on a mission trip to Harmons Jamaica with my local church and a group of 9 others. It turned out to be one of the most amazing experiences of my life. That’s why this year whenever the opportunity presented itself to not only go on another mission trip but go back to the place where my heart was truly transformed, just a short year before, it was a no brainer for me. I leave in just under two weeks to go back and every day that we get closer to boarding that plane, the anticipation is growing inside me like a deep hunger that before last year, I never knew existed.

Before going on a mission trip last year, I have always wanted to do so and even started to join a group a time or two but never followed through for one reason or another. As the years have gone by I have looked at mission trips as a distant desire that maybe one day would be a reality for me, but I honestly didn’t see it happening and was growing more comfortable with the idea that it never would.

It wasn’t until last year when I started preparing to go to Harmons that I started to see how the world, not as a whole, but on a much larger scale than I realized, viewed mission trips overseas. I’ve read some articles that quite frankly missed the entire point altogether and really made missionaries look like bad people. Can you believe that? A person traveling to any location, whether it be local or in another country, to help others, is seen as a bad person. Totally blew my mind and flabbergasted me. Not only did I find articles on the matter, but the more I shared my upcoming journey with others that I know and love, I too found out that they felt the same way.

Why would you go to another country to help others and share your love for Jesus when there are plenty of people in your own back yard who need help and need to hear about Jesus?

I’m not going to support you going out of the country to “serve” God when you can do it in your own back yard, you can leave me out of it.

You need help raising funds to go on a mission trip to another country, well raise it yourself, you made a choice to go then you should make the money to support it.

I’m not going to lie. Hearing stuff like this come out of the mouths of people that care about you and that you care about most, hurts. Mostly because I feel that someone should know my heart and me as a person to know why I would want to go do something like this and even at the end of the day if they don’t entirely believe in it, support me simply out of love and their trust that if it is something I feel strongly about then nothing else should matter.

Here’s the thing. I think we should be missional in every area of our lives. In our homes, in our back yards, throughout our communities, across our country and overseas. I do not think there is a boundary, time or a place that it is not okay to be missional and ultimately further the kingdom of God. I fully believe in; if there is a need to be met and I can meet it, then I should. I would want the same done for me. I do want the same done for me. I pray that God uses me as His vessel every day and that I have the courage and heart to answer Him when He calls.

As I stated before, God has been tugging on my heart for years to go on missions and to do so overseas. I’ve pushed that away and ignored it for a long time simply because I did not think that I could. But last year, sitting in church that December morning when our pastor announced the trip to Harmons and the need for a team. The Holy Spirit told me, go. After the service was over, I looked at my husband and said, I am going, God told me to. He looked back at me and said, go for it, it’s about time…and I did.

The mission trip itself was a week long, eight days if you include traveling, Sunday to Sunday, a small blimp of my life in comparison to anything else. From the moment I signed up until the day that I boarded the plane for the first time was six months, equivalently 182 days. Day 1, the moment I put my name on that list and I said yes to the Holy Spirit, God started working in me in a way that I never knew was possible. Some days were more profound than others, some days were full of battles and attacks from Satan that would be enough to make any person run in the opposite direction. But on day 182, when I stood in that circle with my team praying before we left the church, and then for the next 7 days to follow, God was opening my heart to secrets that I never knew. I walked hand in hand with Jesus for 7 days with no distractions, basking in perfect love and that is something that I would never trade for the world (or anyone in it telling me that I should).

You go on a mission trip to help others and to share your love for God and His love for the world with anyone who is willing to listen if the moment presents itself. But what I have learned is that God did more for me, changed more in me, taught me more about my heart and who I am because of Him in that week and all the months leading up to it, than I ever thought was possible in my journey to “help someone else”. He taught me more about my life, my behaviors, the world we are living in and what I can do to make a difference in those short seven days than He or anyone else did on building houses or standing in a line handing out food.

I won’t pretend that going to Jamaica is filled with a week worth of saving souls and giving back to the poor through some great need that we can fill that would completely go unnoticed if we didn’t because it’s not. It’s filled with a week of building relationships with strangers and falling in love with them over a course of 7 days. It’s building two houses for said strangers while getting to know them and their family and their culture and their love for God. It’s taking a ton of donations with us to attempt to stock a store that caters to the community with normal items like clothes, shoes, and toiletries and barely making a dent in their needs, but doing the best we can with what we can and knowing that God is going to multiply in tenfold. It’s spending a day with the lost and forgotten in a place where the sick or homeless go to die, and putting a smile on their face by just simply loving them in the moment for who they are and everything that you have that is inside you. It’s leaving my home, my children, my job, and all my comforts to attempt to be a good steward for our Lord and allow Him to use me as a vessel in whatever way that He sees fit, and if at the end of the week I do not see an ounce of evidence of a job well done, I will still be satisfied in knowing that I am just a seed planter and God is the ultimate harvester and what seeds I plant for His good, He will grow. It may not manifest itself today, it may not manifest itself for ten more years, but it is all a part of His plan and I am just thankful to be used in it.

 

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Photo Creds: Tony

 

As I sat down this morning to do my morning devotional out of the book Jesus Calling He affirmed this for me.

Seek My face and you will find all that you have longed for. The deepest yearnings of your heart are for intimacy with Me. I know because I designed you to desire me. Do not feel guilty about taking the time to be still in My presence. You are simply responding to the tugs of divinity within you. I made you in My image and I hid heaven in your heart. Your yearning for Me is a form of homesickness. Longing for your true home in heaven. Do not be afraid to be different from other people. The path I have called you to travel is exquisitely right for you. The more closely you follow My leading the more fully I can develop your gifts. To follow Me whole heartedly you must relinquish your desire to please other people. However, your closeness to Me will bless others by enabling you to shine brightly in this dark world.

As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?
—Psalm 42:1–2

Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame.
—Psalm 34:5

So that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe.
—Philippians 2:15

My desire to be intimate with God is greater than anything in this world and if I can find that intimacy with Him in a week in Jamaica, you better believe I am going to take it!

Stay blessed,

Beautiful Southern Heart

Easier said than done

It’s been awhile since I sat down to write something for my blog. I could give you a laundry list of excuses as to why, but I simply just haven’t had the time to and haven’t had anything inspire me to do so. With that being said, I have missed it. I have missed getting on each week and sharing my thoughts on life and things going on around me. I have missed the interaction with others and seeing how they have benefited or related to something that I wrote. I have missed the lessons that I inevitably taught myself along the way through writing something that was more for me than it was for you.

I have decided that I do not want to go weeks again without writing and am going to do a short series to keep myself motivated and make sure that I am writing something new each week. The series will be over my experience in recovery and the twelve steps that you can walk through to get there too. Without further ado…I want to discuss something that has been weighing on my mind lately and I have found brought up in discussion with my friends and family many times. The introduction to the series…


You have seen me talk before about my strong desire to help people, see people change for the greater good, for their greater good. In my life testimony, I talk about how it was one of my greatest struggles and quite honestly one of the hardest lessons that I have ever had to learn; that you cannot help someone who does not want to help themselves. As much as I would like to tell you that I have reached the full understanding of this notion, it is still something that I struggle with today. Thankfully on a much smaller scale, but even still I find myself wanting to help someone be a better version of themselves and come out of the darkness that they are hiding in.

I struggle more today with allowing myself to help someone because I know that they are the ones that have to help themselves and unless they want to, there’s a good chance I am going to feel like I have failed in the end. The struggle comes from feeling as if it is easier to just give up and walk away rather than extend a lending hand in their time of need. Learning to find the balance between supporting them and enabling them or ultimately harming myself in the process, is a battle that I feel I will rage for years to come.

It is funny to me because I know that the best way I could help someone who is determined to destroy themselves or unwilling to come out of denial that they are in; is through prayer. I know that I do not have an ounce of control over whether or not they put one foot in front of the other and move forward in their life, but I still cannot help but feel even more powerless when I do nothing at all. I do pray for whoever it is and whatever their situation may be, but then I give up too easily and find myself eager to walk away and just let it be. Saying, they’ll come around when they are ready, I’ll be here when they do.

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But I do not like that way of thinking. It makes my heart feel heavy and sad. It makes me feel like a bad person for allowing someone to wallow in whatever detrimental life that they are choosing and sit back and act as if I do not notice. It makes me remember how I wish someone would have pushed through my stubbornness when I was an active user and been there by my side, instead of waiting on the other. Do not get me wrong here. I am not trying to contradict myself because I know that I know, you cannot make someone want help and you cannot make someone follow the right steps that it takes to get better, do better, be better or have better. But at what point do you stop trying? At what point do you give up? At what point do you keep going? At what point do you choose another angle? At what point do you stay instead of walk away, without getting hurt in the process.

  • I have found that equipping others with the right tools that they need to succeed is a start.
  • Loving them unconditionally through their ugly without judgment is not only necessary but one of the most important things that you can do for them.
  • Not only praying for them but praying with them will impact them more than you could ever imagine and will give you the strength that you need to walk through this journey with them.
  • Being consistent and setting a good example that they can follow is not only important to them but important for you so you can remain firm in your foundation.
  • Setting boundaries and abiding by them, at all cost.
  • Holding them accountable and allowing them to do the same to you.
  • Never make promises that you cannot keep or do not intend to because they merely sound good in the moment and you think it will make it better. It won’t.
  • Do not be afraid to give tough love. It can be extremely painful and really scary. But in the end, even if you feel like you are pushing them away. One day, they will thank you for it.
  • Remember that respect is a two-way street. They deserve it just as much as you do, and you cannot allow it to be waivered from you or them.
  • Listen with the intent to hear what they are actually saying and then respond in love.
  • Be honest. Even if it hurts. The truth will set you free, and they need to see that so that it can one day do the same for them.

daniell-koepke-feel-guilty-toxic-people-7y3s.jpg_thumb_600w-squareKnow this. It is okay to walk away, it is okay to allow yourself to not be a pushover, a door step, an enabler, have a revolving door in your home, be used and abused or manipulated and deceived. Not only is it okay, but it is necessary for their healing. Rock bottom is a real thing and I wholeheartedly believe that sometimes it is the only thing that will save a person and give them the desire that they need in their heart to turn their life around or whatever situation they are in that is harming them. They have to become fed up with what is going on in their life to not want to experience it anymore. They have to get tired and long for rest. They have to decide that enough is enough and that they are done. You cannot do that for them, no matter how hard you try.

Here’s the crazy thing. I’m not only referring to alcoholics and drug users. I am referring to any person that has a hurt, habit or hangup. I’m referring to your friend who is in an awful relationship that is destroying them and you are waiting for them to walk away from it. I am referring to your neighbor who has abandonment issues from their childhood and it has manifested itself as anger or resentment and now that they are an adult and you get the blunt end of the stick. I’m referring to the bully who is screaming for attention and looking for it in all the wrong places.

CR-Hurts-Habits-and-Hangups-300x190We are all human. We are all imperfect. We all make mistakes. We all need help. But most importantly we just want to be loved, and be happy. When someone you know and love goes looking for that happiness or wholeness in all the wrong places, don’t give up on them. Be there for them. Set a good example for them. Pray for them, every day. Be the love that they need, and let your light shine.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. 1 Corinthians 13:4-8

Stay blessed,

Beautiful Southern Heart


This article is an introduction to an 8 pt series on Recovery.

Part 1 Admitting you are Powerless

Part 2 Learning to Let Go

Note: If you would like to find out more about faith-based Recovery programs in your area, visit Celebrate Recovery and click on CR Groups. Feel free to email me for more information on where to find a group in your area.

Confidence in things unseen

Complete trust or confidence in something or someone. – Faith

I recently attended a girls night with some of my close friends. Nothing crazy, just a night away from the kiddos where we could relax and unwind and catch up with each other a little bit. Interestingly enough we got on the topic of faith and different passages in the Bible amongst other things. Since that night and thoughts coupled over the past couple of weeks I have had the topic of faith running through my mind. Hearing people say, it’s so hard to believe in something that I cannot see or understand or I’m a very literal person who has to see it to believe it, anything outside of that just doesn’t make sense to me.

As I was driving down the road the other day I thought to myself, each day that I get in my car I am trusting the other drivers on the road to follow the rules and stay in their lane and drive according to all that they learned in order to receive their driver’s license. I am putting faith in the fact that if they get behind the wheel, I am going to make it to my destination in one piece, as will they.

Just like when a light turns green, as much as everyone should, how often do we look both ways before automatically pressing the gas pedal and moving forward into the intersection? If I had to bet on it, most people are simply having faith in the fact that their light turned green and everyone else’s light turned red so that means they can move forward and they will be safe and not get hit.

How about when you go to a restaurant and your order your food from a complete stranger. You go there doing so with faith that you will look at the menu and order your food and that the person will get your order right. You have faith that the kitchen is clean, the people that are cooking your food know what they are doing and have clean hands too, that the food is not expired and has been stored properly and will be cooked according to how it should, the dishes being used have been cleaned properly and no longer have the germs from the person before you, as well that when you eat it’ll not only taste delicious but won’t make you sick either when it is all said and done.

You also have faith in the people that are taking care of your children for eight hours a day, whether this is at the public school that they attend to get an education or the day care that they go to because you have to go to work and are unable to stay at home with them. You trust that they will get fed, be kept clean (for the most part), not get any injuries, and be treated with love and admiration in the same that you would if you were with them too.

Don’t forget about your doctors and the hospitals, when you are sick and in need of some sort of medical advice, these are the people that you turn to for help. These are the people that you put your faith in to keep you alive and help you get well when you are ill. These are the people that when something terrible is wrong and you’ve looked up every symptom you can think of, you turn to them for guidance and understanding to save you because you cannot do it on your own.

Just to make sure I am covering my bases here because I know everyone lives a different life. Maybe you do not own a car or have never driven one, so this doesn’t apply to you. Maybe you do not eat our at restaurants because you prefer home cooked meals or simply cannot afford them. Maybe you are a stay at home mom and you homeschool your children and never let them out of your sight. Maybe you do not go to the doctors and have found out how to naturally take care of yourself and none of these examples apply to you.

But what about when you wake up in the morning and you go outside. Without even thinking twice about it, I bet you have faith the sun will rise. I bet you know that the moon will be in the sky as will the stars when the sun goes down. In the same place, in the same way, never changing, every single day. I bet that when you breathe in deep you expect your lungs to fill with air and send oxygen throughout your body and to your brain. I bet that as you are reading this now and you put your hand across your heart, you are expecting to feel it beat and pumping blood throughout veins keeping you alive.

With all the examples given above, down to your breath and your beating heart, they all can fail you. In some form or fashion the things that you easily have faith in each and every day without question, can let you down.

A person driving a car could decide not to stay in their lane and in return drive into yours. A person that is going through an intersection and sees a yellow light could easily decide to go faster rather than slow down and in return go through the light after it’s turned red, and you could meet them in the middle. You could go to that restaurant and order your food and have it come out wrong and end up with food poisoning. You could drop your kid off at school or daycare and pick them up and find a bruise on them. You could go to the doctor and get sent home because they couldn’t find anything wrong with you, only to find out you had an illness the whole time and now it’s progressed and will be harder to treat. You could even take a deep breath right now and your lung collapse and you not be able to take another. Just the same as you could put your hand over your heart and not feel a beat and keel over dead right now.

All of that sounds terrible I know because it is. But we put our faith in all of these things every single day without question, and for good reason. 9 times out 10 these things do not fail us and go according to how we believe that they should.

So here’s my question…

If you can have faith in all of these things; people you do not know and have never met and probably never will or things that you literally cannot see or have no control over. Why is that so hard to do with Jesus? Why is it so hard to believe in God? Why is it so hard to believe that there is a creator of this earth that loves you beyond human imagination or belief and that wants you to love Him back and spend eternity with Him in paradise?

Sure, as a human the latter is a much bigger pill to swallow especially because you cannot see it or begin to fully fathom it to understand it and you have to completely put your trust in it. But what makes that any different than the former?

Now faith is the confidence of things that are hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. This is what the ancients were commended for. By faith, we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible. Hebrews 1:1-3

It blows my mind all of the things that we will put our trust in confidence in and walk around with faith in, even when we have seen these things fail us. But have such a hard time in putting our faith in something good. Something wonderful. Someone that created you simply to be loved by you. The most beautiful love story that there every was and you are one of the main characters and you do not want to be a part of it. It seriously blows my mind.

Stay blessed,

Beautiful Southern Heart

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

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

Thirteen Reasons Why…and One Reason Why Not

As I am sure many of you have by now, or soon will if you have yet to discover, binge watched 13 Reasons Why. I came across an article about it and was intrigued by it, this particular subject hits home with me in more ways than one and I was curious to see how someone portrayed the topic through a mini-series.

“Thirteen Reasons Why, based on the best-selling books by Jay Asher, follows teenager Clay Jensen (Dylan Minnette) as he returns home from school to find a mysterious box with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers a group of cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker (Katherine Langford) -his classmate and crush-who tragically committed suicide two weeks earlier. On tape, Hannah unfolds an emotional audio diary, detailing the thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life. Through Hannah and Clay’s dual narratives, Thirteen Reasons Why weaves an intricate and heartrending story of confusion and desperation that will deeply affect viewers.” Written by Studio

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After completing 13 emotionally raw episodes as Hannah goes through the events that led up to her death, I was left with an empty feeling and an overwhelming sadness that even though this was just a television show, things like this happen every day. It happened to me. It happened to friends of mine as we were growing up. It has happened to close family and loved ones. It happens every day, all over the world and frankly is not talked about enough.

In case you choose to never read the book that inspired the series or watch it for yourself, I’ll shed some light on the “reasons” why she ultimately took her own life. (Potential spoiler alert)

She was a high school girl that was fairly popular who ended up losing all of her close friends and soon found herself feeling all alone. As a result of bullying through simple “normal” high school antics, it all struck a chord with her that left her feeling worthless. She was abused mentally, physically, and spiritually until she felt like there was nothing left of her. She even tried to seek help, but was made to feel as if she was not worth the help or that there was nothing that she could ultimately do about it, except forget it and move on. Every part of her was broken, lost, confused and she felt hopeless.

I have yet to share my story with you all and plan on doing it soon.. But, I have been there before. High school was not easy for me, as much as I was great at hiding it. I lost friends that had been in my life since kindergarten, which when you are 16 years old feels like your entire life. I was abused mentally, physically, and spiritually. I thought about suicide more times than I would like to admit and even failed at it once or twice. I got to a point in my life where there was nothing left for me and I was completely disgusted with myself and everything about who I was and what I was doing in this world.

and that’s when Jesus stepped in.

I won’t say it happened in one day or even in one moment, it was a collection of days that came to a head to make me decide to push for life, instead of death. No matter how long I had been running or how far I had run, Jesus loved me and He wanted me to live. I could have easily came up with 13 reasons why I did not want to live on this earth anymore, but it took me finding only 1 reason why I should surrender and stay, and that was Jesus.

We are not so different from Jesus in our trials and unfortunate circumstances. Jesus was blameless and yet He was still;

Betrayed

Abandoned

Rejected

Falsely accused

Mocked

Physically Abused

Spit on

Shamed

Crucified

All for us.

He loved us so much that He wanted to bear the weight of the world, the weight of sin, everything terrible thing that you and I have done, or have yet to do, or that has been done to us. He took it all so that we would be forgiven and if so choose, get to spend eternity with Him in Heaven.

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It was that truth that saved me. It is that truth that I want to save everyone with. It is that truth that has me sitting here writing to you today asking you;

Please, do not give up. Reach out for help. Even when it is hardest to think about your family and loved ones, especially in the moments when you feel like they could care less, it is not true. They care, they love you so much. He loves you so much. I do not even know you, and I love you so much. You are worth it. You have a purpose. You were chosen for something beautiful and you can only find out what that is if you stay.

For those of you who have never dealt with anything like this before, give thanks to the Lord that you have not had to experience such pain. But more than that, make sure that you are not a part of someone else’s pain. As hard as that might be to hear, everything we do or say impacts the world and those around us. It is our job to be kind to others, to love and be loved in return, to help those who need it, and simply be there for others who need someone. When someone gets to the point in their life that they are even thinking about taking their own, they will not tell you and you will not know, which is why we have to be proactive in making sure it never gets to that point.

If someone you know and love is going through a tough time, take a moment out of your day and reach out. It could possibly mean life or death. If someone you know is going through a hard time and is suddenly happy and content, reach out. Even if someone is not going through a hard time, reach out. If you are that someone, reach out.

Be there for others.

Love and be loved.

Choose Jesus.

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