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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Hasta La Vista

We tend to be creatures of habitual rituals. Some minor, others so ingrained that we identify with them on a personal level, eventually becoming part of who we are as individuals. Relationships, hobbies, religion, politics, dreams or goals just to name a few things at the core of who we are. The problem is not within the topics alone, it is identifying with them so much that we are unwilling to admit when it’s time to quit.

In quitting, in saying goodbye, doesn’t make you a coward. It means that you realize “it” isn’t working for you anymore and instead is time to say, hello, to something new.

In fourth grade, I wanted to play the flute and join the school band. My mom rented one and signed me up at school. It didn’t take long before I realized that I actually had to practice and do it during recess. It would have been easy for my mom to force me to stick it out and maybe she should have but whatever, I wasn’t good at all and hated it. During the same time period, I discovered a love for soccer. Something I was actually good at. Again, my mom signed me up but instead of quitting it became a ritual I lived out for over 15 years.

I share this story because as a kid, I didn’t care what people thought about me. I cared that I was missing recess and hated what I was doing. I dared to try something new and it worked out for me. At what point do we stop trying new things and become afraid to say, goodbye to things we don’t actually even enjoy?

Take a moment for yourself to examine your reasons for doing something. IF it is for a purpose then put your whole heart into it and don’t quit. But if you are doing it because you are afraid to move on then say, Hasta La Vista and let it go.

Find a new dream, open your heart to a new love, make plans and actually follow through with them. This year get out of the rut, stop caring so much about what others think and find a new passion.

P.S. I would love to hear what your dreams are for 2017 and cannot wait to watch you live them out. Leave a comment here or find me on Facebook or Instagram.

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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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Molasses

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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Holes

Society has been frustrating lately. News articles, Facebook feeds, radio talk and dinner conversations are filled with tragic topics. I generally avoid them because it is too hard to think about. Plus, I don’t need that negativity in my life.

There is a story in Mark chapter 6 that clearly depicts my relationship with Jesus at times. After a long day of ministry, people were hungry. “Send the people away so they can buy themselves something to eat,” said the disciples.

Jesus blows my mind with nothing profound. He simply says, “ You give them something to eat.”

These men were caring and had compassion for their hunger which is great, but they wanted someone else to do the job.

Our world is falling apart. We often complain about a situation and expect someone to do something. I want to ask, why not you?
We get caught up in doing something great but the more I live life, the more I see the importance of the small and overlooked.

I want to challenge you to fill a hole in some of the most uncommon places. When the grocery carts are in parking spaces, take a moment to collect and put them away. When a place is filled with trash, put your complaints aside and pick it up. If someone is hungry, feed them. If a family is hurting, go out of your way to see them through it.

As Christians, we aren’t called to stay away from the negativity. In fact, I think we are called to be right in the middle of it. Negativity will only be combatted by acts of positivity. Along with praying for change, pick up a shovel and fill in some holes.

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Fish

“Come, follow me, and I will send you out to fish for people.”

  -Mark 1: 17

I’m no fisherman, but Jesus knew who he was speaking to when He gave these instructions. You see, these men were on the job and knew the trade well.

Around the world are many different styles of fishing. Each requires a unique method and bait. Depending on the species, depth of water, and other various factors will determine the approach to be used. A major variable lies within the fisherman himself. Some do it for a living, others for sport. Both have a purpose and that is to catch some fish.

Jesus wanted these men to share the gospel with others. He didn’t seem to give much instruction because they were the experts, even if they didn’t know it yet. All the tools they needed were already within themselves because they had been doing it for years.

Commercial fishermen aim to capture in bulk. They often throw out a net and have the ability to capture many at a time, similar to what a pastor does as he speaks to the congregation. Whereas a retired individual at a nearby creek is equally important for he may reach the scarce and often overlooked.

Each of us is also called to fish. To share the gospel with others but not as fishermen, as whatever YOU are. Often times, we focus too much on another’s calling, not realizing that He has given us our own set of instructions. The goal is the same but the method should be unique.

Ready…Go Fish.

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Freckles

I cannot keep up with the beauty industry. Instead of pulling out our own, they push to mold us into their idea of what beauty is. The worst part is; we fall for it every time.

Those with brown eyes want blue, people with blue eyes want the tan skin. People with tan skin want to be lighter, shall I go on?

Growing up I had a friend who was absolutely GORGEOUS. The kind we admire. She hated her freckles though and would use makeup to cover them up. I never understood why but have issues of my own.

My hair is crazy frizzy and wild. The flat iron has become a dear friend. It’s used 2-3 times per week and takes about an hour each time. Approximately twelve hours a month, one hundred forty-four hours a year have been wasted on trying to force this hair to be something it is not.

Our idea of beauty is far too narrow. Blotches, dark circles, stretch marks, frizzy hair, freckles, uneven skin, cellulite, and tan lines, are less than ideal; but should never give others the power to set the standard of what beauty is.

Sure, admire someone’s beauty but the moment it is used to criticize yourself is when you stop. No one in the world is exactly like you. Since freckles are here, why not connect the dots and make something beautiful.

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Baby Fever

Babies are popping out everywhere. Social media is filled with photos of tiny humans. First birthdays, first steps, first everything.

I imagine it’s not all cute because there are friends willing to expose the reality of being a parent. Sleepless nights, disgusting diaper stories and the feeling of not knowing what to do.

I wonder what that would be like.

When my husband and I got married, we decided to wait a year before starting a family. It has been three.

While I wait for a baby, many wait for a spouse. Some of you with children wait for a quiet moment, others for a job opportunity. This is real life people. Full of unfulfilled expectation.

I wish I had answers but don’t. Thoughts of jealousy, judgment and anger may cross our minds,however, it is our decision to feel sorry for ourselves or genuinely be happy for those living their moments. I choose the latter.

Through this, I have learned that my purpose in life cannot lie solely within these wants. A title of parent, friend, spouse, teacher, home- owner or rocket scientist may all fade one day. Your character and the way you handle life will not.

For now, I will enjoy my sleep and appreciate the relationships I am blessed to have.

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Umbrella

In a world filled with things, umbrellas are objects most people don’t give much thought. They can be used to protect people from rain and may also provide shade. Other than that, they are just umbrellas.

One day a bearded man went to buy ten of these seemingly inanimate objects. Without knowing who they were for or if they would be needed, he wanted to be prepared.

Driving through town, he noticed drops of rain begin to fall on the windshield. At just about the same time, a woman and young boy caught his attention. They were walking fast-paced, trying to avoid getting rained on. The man pulled over and handed the woman an umbrella.

There is nothing profound about this story. A man bought an umbrella and gave it to a lady. Somehow, though, in its simplicity, I find hope.

Earlier that day, he heard the forecast, which predicted rain. Instead of merely going about his day, he thought of others. These ten umbrellas will have ten different stories all of which will include this one bearded man.

Be someone’s bearded man. Use the overlooked objects around you to brighten someone’s day. You never know who is having a rainy day.

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6 Things I Wish I knew in my early 20’s

I spend much of my time with college age people. I sit back and watch them struggle with identity, love, breakups, financial struggles and a lot of anxiety. Within a couple of months, I will turn twenty-nine. Looking back to my early twenties, there are some tips I wish someone had shared with me.

Learn to love yourself
Other than improving some character flaws and getting healthier, there are not many things you can change about yourself. Learn to appreciate the quirks and imperfections because they are what make you unique.

Let go of past hurts in relationships
Carrying around guilt, shame and bitterness will only keep you from opening your heart to have healthy relationships in your future. If you were the cause of the break-up, learn to forgive yourself.

Forgive your parents
It took me years to realize that I was still angry for some of the decisions my parents made when I was a child. Now that I am older, I realize how easy it is to make some of those same mistakes. Cut them some slack and make memories with them.

Get rid of expectations
Life usually doesn’t go as planned. We place expectations on others and ourselves that are often unrealistic. I am not saying to settle; I am encouraging you to learn to change and make room for a plan B, C, D…..

Start a savings account
Learning to plan for your future is very important. Weddings, engagement rings, houses, cars and everyday things cost money. If you want any of these things in the future, why not plan ahead? You will never regret having extra money.

It’s ok to feel a little lost
We grow and change as people but don’t always realize it. I felt like such a failure because things weren’t the way I wanted them to be “right now.” You are building a future, and that takes time.

Hey. It’s going to be okay. I promise.

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