Several succulents, cacti, and other beautiful plants were given as gifts on my birthday. I was thrilled with my new little collection because they made my counter so much happier!

Not too long after, the petals wilted, the succulents started to dry up and the cactus even leaned over! I knew nothing about how to take care of them. I mean seriously, who kills a cactus? Poor little guys had no chance.

It wasn’t until someone educated me about the right amount of water, proper soil and perfect exposure to sunlight. Each needed to create the perfect conditions for thriving plants.

Much like these plants, we need the right conditions to grow, too. We go through life trying to survive— my dear you were made for so much more. Learn to thrive! Here are two questions to get you started.

1)How is your soil?

The environment we plant ourselves into does matter. We so often overlook this critical aspect and are confused as to why we aren’t thriving.

Sometimes we find ourselves wilted, dry or overwatered. In the event that any or all of these things happen, we become diseased or even worse, dead. There isn’t much help for a dead plant, except to reseed and replant. Start over. This time, with more knowledge.

You, my friend, have a purpose. Plant yourself and learn what it takes to help you grow to your fullest potential. Maybe it looks like finishing school, getting a certificate, finishing a project, beginning something new, learning to fail or maybe you need to step out of the sunlight for a moment and rest in the cool of the shade. Whatever the perfect conditions are for personal growth, learn and apply them.

2) Who is pruning you?

Pruning is a process in which the “gardener” will trim (a tree, shrub, or bush) by cutting away dead or overgrown branches or stems, especially to increase fruitfulness and growth. Yet another important aspect of healthy plants I was ignorant to.

We all have areas that need to be trimmed. Maybe we spend too much time on social media or in the mirror, in front of the TV or on your phone? Maybe you complain too much, are lazy or say too many negative things about yourself? All areas that might need pruning.

I ask who is pruning you because we can allow others to prune us too much. We give them the power to cut us down until there is nothing left. Or are we doing it to ourselves? Pruning is intended to help growth and fruitfulness, not to uproot and destroy!

My friend, plants are beautiful and have so much purpose. They breathe in the negative and exhale life. I challenge you to learn more about yourself so you can grow and reach your best! Not only for yourself but so others can enjoy, too!

Happy Planting.

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Several years ago a few of us girls got together to play games, eat a ton of food, and hang out. My friend lived pretty far, about 45 minutes on the outskirts of town. It was such a cute place, and in an area, I had never been to. There were rows and rows of orchards and almond trees that were just starting to bloom.

It was well past midnight when I left. I pulled out of the driveway and confidently made my turn as I drove out of this unfamiliar neighborhood. I started to realize that I had been driving for a long time and still couldn’t make out the main road. Normally, it wouldn’t be a problem except that my phone had died and there were no lights.

Suddenly, the rows seemed longer and the night grew darker. The roads were dirt…literally no pavement. What kind of neighborhood doesn’t have lights?! Oh, yeah, the kind I thought was really cute during the day, with horses and other farm animals.

I could feel myself starting to panic. I pulled over to the side and conveniently every horror movie I had ever watched came to mind. The Hills Have Eyes, The Ring, Texas Chainsaw Massacre… I wish this wasn’t so dramatic but I swear I was in complete freak out mode.

There I was, without a phone, GPS, or any sense of direction. Lost, in the middle of a beautiful and somewhat creepy orchard. The lines and rows of trees all looked the same. I had been here before. Not in this exact place but, lost. I felt like I was going in circles.

Maybe so have you. You feel stuck and like you aren’t getting anywhere in life. Maybe that relationship you hoped for left you feeling rejected, or the job you were promised fell through. Maybe you feel like you should be further ahead in life but can’t seem to find your path?

It genuinely stinks that there isn’t a roadmap or GPS that leads to our purpose. I wish I had answers for you but, instead, I have this story. It’s clear that I made it out alive. I wasn’t chased by a giant, mask-wearing creep and I actually learned a few things from this experience.

1. Find something familiar.
I had to make a U-turn and drive a while but, found something I recognized. On the way to the house, I remembered a fence because it had a cute little rooster on it. So, I followed it. When you find yourself lost, stop going in the wrong direction. Go back a few steps and then move forward.

2. Everyone gets lost.
Some more than others but, no one knows where they are going all of the time. If this were true, GPS wouldn’t have been invented and even then, there is a re-routing setting because we all make wrong turns and sometimes outright ignore the plan because we want to stop for coffee.

3. There are several roads to take.
Most destinations aren’t a straight shot. In fact, there are back roads and side roads, main roads, highways, and even alleys in some cases. The point is, take the path that is right for you. We get so caught up on how someone else reached their destination quicker and end up missing the point. Maybe yours is the scenic route? So stop and enjoy the view.

My friend, don’t allow this “lost” feeling overwhelm you. If there is anything I can say- it is to keep trying. So what if you end up somewhere unplanned? Life is meant to be explored and maybe, just maybe, you’ll actually like where you end up?

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One Well of a Woman

Willing to share it with anyone willing to lie. To lie in her arms, to lie in her bed. Her well runs deep with love. Spilling every bit of herself, quenching the thirst of any man while dehydrating her own.

She avoided confrontation. The looks and stares, she got what she needed to survive in the heat of the day. Away from the other women who would indeed degrade.

But there was one man unwilling to lie. To allow her to lie to herself. A man who saw past the shallow response and committed to diving deep into her soul. Without a bucket, He got to the bottom of that well of lies she so effortlessly spilled. Drenched with shame, her well, remained dry.

He told her everything she ever did. Who is this man?

A man who needed to go to this place just to meet this woman right where she was, in hiding. This man who left His friends and their opinions behind to look into her eyes and tell her that she was worth more. Worth so much in fact that He would soon die for her.

The once harlot branded woman was let in on the secret. A secret she believed and was given permission to share. She went on to confront the men who accepted her lies and she told them the truth. That she was changed, that she was loved. Her newfound boldness dragged out of hiding and into the crowd, making her one well of a woman.

What kind of love is this? The kind that brings life to a thirsty soul. A love unconditional enough to change our condition.

Broken, ashamed, filled with regret, and blocked from a community with others. We hide out just like this woman. We exert more energy than necessary just to stay hidden. Avoiding the confrontation that could set us free.

But Jesus, the one who calls us deeper still and who meets us where we are. Who wants us to dig into our own well of lies. The ones we so easily shrug off as unimportant to mention. The decision is yours to make, to dig deep or to stay in hiding.

Want to dig deeper? Here are a few challenges to help get you started: 

Read  John 4 and take a few notes of what sticks out to you. 

What do your five husbands represent?

Make a list and write it out. If you are having a difficult time, ask Jesus to show you. This is a list to be shared between only you and Him. A list of things that you avoid and hide or that may be keeping you from having a community with others.    

Admit that you have been messing up

It may be keeping you from living a full life. Admit that you may have been wrong so you can do something about it.

Ask for forgiveness.

There is no right or wrong way to do this. Just be open and honest with Jesus as you talk to Him.

Accept His love

Part of truly knowing Jesus is knowing that He loves YOU. That He loves you so much that He won’t allow you to stay the same. He wants you to let go of the compromise and to accept a life full of freedom. Oh, and please know that just like this woman, Jesus died for you, too. There is no sin too great or too big for Him.

Step into community

Realize that NO one is perfect. The more open and honest you are with yourself and others the deeper friendships can go.

It will not be easy

Actually, it can prove to be really embarrassing and honestly hurts. No one likes to admit that they aren’t perfect. I promise you will be okay and you can get through this.

Repeat. There is always more that Jesus wants to bring out. It’s not fun but it is necessary if you want to know Him more and to live your life to the fullest. Never stop digging deep.

P.S. I love you and will be praying for YOU as you challenge yourself.

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The Mat- 4 Lessons Learned from John 5

To paraphrase a story from the Bible, John 5 tells of an invalid man at a healing pool. Many blind, lame, and paralyzed would lie at this pool and wait to be healed by stirring waters.

Imagine being unable to move for years, 38 to be exact. You watch as people leave this pool, able to walk again, regain their sight, tongues loosed and able to speak, while you helplessly lie there. When Jesus asks if he wants to get well, the man responded, “ I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me”

Isn’t this just like life, not only is this man an invalid he was alone and people kept stepping all over him. When you are down, circumstances often keep you down. So, that’s the end, life is hard, we stay waiting for another 38 years living in despair.

No…. thankfully, there is a Jesus in this story who says, “Get Up! Pick up your mat and walk,” and he did!

While this is an extreme comparison, we may also find ourselves invalid to some extent. Stuck and in need of physical, emotional or spiritual healing. Here are some things I learned from this story:

We often lean too much on others
This man’s reasoning was that no one would help him. I believe Jesus asked him if he wanted to get well because, after 38 years, you would think he would fight his way out of it.

People aren’t always willing to help
When I read this story the first time, I found myself angry. It is hard to believe that after all these years, not one person was willing to help the guy out. It wasn’t until reading it many times that I realized, the others were all in need of healing, too.

Learn to encourage oneself
The mat in this story was his comfort. He slept on it, it kept him from scraping his legs as he dragged himself to and from the pool. When he was healed, Jesus told him to pick it up and walk. To move on. Learn to comfort yourself, to take it with you because life will get difficult again.

Stop comparing your relationship with God to others
Whether it is thirty-eight days or thirty-eight years, God will move in your life when He sees fit. His ways are not ours and as a follower, you must trust in that. He has perfect timing and never lets us down.

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Lessons Learned from the Three Little Pigs

I was driving home the other day and for some reason was reminded of the familiar story of the Three Little Pigs. For those who may have forgotten, it tells a tale of three pigs who each build a house. One of straw, one of the sticks and the other of bricks. The antagonist of the story is a wolf who wants to eat the piggies. As the story goes, the wolf visits the first two houses and blows them down with little effort. The third home made of brick, however, remained.

Although it is a child’s tale, I find deeper meaning in between these lines. Breath. That is what the wolf used to destroy these houses. Ever hear the saying, “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me?” I don’t know who made that up but it is a load of crap. Words…breath… have meaning and the things we say to others or things said to us matters.

It is easy to point the finger and blame the big, bad wolf but those pigs were responsible for their own homes. Just like these little pigs, we are also responsible for the home and foundation we build for ourselves.

Wolves will come, that is a guarantee but what are you made of? We often become unraveled by words people say and give them power over our thoughts, security, and self-esteem.

Start with a strong foundation. Gather the right materials and crew and finally, build a home that is worthy of living life inside. Don’t blame the wolf because you already know he’s coming, be ready for when he does.

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There is a common analogy used to compare perspectives. The question asks, “Is the cup half empty or half full?” The person responds and a lesson taught about having an optimistic or pessimistic viewpoint. But What if in that cup was a black, sticky goo used to sweeten food called, molasses? What if a fly fell in and got stuck in it? Would it matter whether or not the glass was empty or full? Either way, that sucker is stuck.

It has been five months since a blog has been posted to the site. The process has become somewhat tedious when the initial intention had been for a purpose. A series of excuses pour out anytime someone asks why I haven’t written. After each conversation, I leave feeling defeated because my reasoning is far from accurate. The embarrassing truth is that I have become more focused on what people think about me.

I have watched encouraging videos, read, prayed, written, deleted, criticized and even though it’s been so long, people are still kind enough to say nice things toward the blog. My point is this, no matter how you look at it, sometimes in life, you are that fly.

Life’s “Goo,” in this case, my insecurities often leave us feeling trapped. After a while, it seems easier to give up and stop trying. Unlike that fly, we thankfully have more options.

I honestly wanted to quit the blog. It seemed easier to let it go than to stress so much about its success. Isn’t that a joke. I would rather give up before I even really tried. I would rather not try than to face the possibility of criticism. I am genuinely embarrassed to share this with you. This flaw that has had me stuck for so long and kept me from living out my dream and purpose. But I have to finish what I started.

The desire for making a difference in the world has to be louder than my fears. My passion has to be the antidote to the paralyzing feeling of being stuck. It hasn’t been an easy five months. Needless to say, I have beat myself up more than I probably should have. Here are my two nuggets of advice for those who may be feeling stuck, too.

Move Forward
Even if it’s an inch, eventually the inches turn into feet, then to miles. Just don’t stop.

Prepare for Criticism
No matter what you do or how you do it, someone may hate it. It’s okay not to be liked by everyone. Be YOU and be the best at it.

Happy Flying.

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