Thursday, October 20, 2016

From 26 year old me, to you.

The longer I live the more I learn about life, love and these beautiful creatures called humans that inhabit this earth. The longer I live, the more I learn about myself and where all of my mannerisms and behaviors come from.

Today, I want to share with you three random life things that I think are valuable. Things that I strive to keep in mind when flowing through this wild experience. All of these things were taught to me by people that I not only love very much but more importantly, that I respect and look up to. Check em out, put them in your volt if you think that they're valuable and feel free to leave them right here if you don't.

1. The power of a name.
One of the sweetest sounds to a person's ears is the sound of their own name. There is so much power in remembering someones name when you meet them and using it in conversation. When I have a waiter/ waitress I always make sure to ask their name and use it during the time that they're serving our table. When I call a customer service line, I do my best to remember their name and to thank them by name at the end of the call. Learning and using someone's name not only brightens their day and reminds them of their value, but it also empowers you to listen more than you talk and to ask more questions than you answer.

2. Treat the CEO the same way as the janitor.
I've mentioned this before in my blog but our worth and our value is not found in what job we do and what positions we hold. We are loved by the Father and he sent his son to die for every single one of us. Now, most people won't tell you this, but if you live as if everyone is important, as if we're all on the same playing field and treat everyone with care and respect you'll have so much favor in this world. So whether they own the company or they clean it, aim to treat them with as much kindness and respect as you can.

3. Listen more than you speak.
We live in a time where social media gives everyone a platform to express how they feel about every topic under the sun. Whether they're sharing their thoughts on politics or oppression or the latest celebrity scandal everyone feels the need to be heard. How many of us are taking the time to listen? I've been listening to a lot of speakers and preachers lately and the biggest trend I've noticed is a call for their congregations to aim to understand before being understood. To strive to be the type of person that takes the time to listen to the pain, anger and heartache of another before sharing your views. To be courteous enough to lend an ear before sharing a post. How many problems in this world would be solved by us taking the time to listen rather than taking advantage of every moment we have to speak?

In less than a week I'm going to be turning 27. I will be spending my birthday in Portland, Oregon exploring a new city by myself and I am beyond excited for my trip. As I phase into this new year of life I pray that I'm the type of person that doesn't just share my opinion, but values and listens to the opinions of others.

Thank you checking this post out and for supporting me on this blogging journey. The next time you hear from me, I won't be 26 anymore and what a glorious day that will be.

Until next time friends! Xoxo.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

The right to speak.

"You will continue to suffer if you have an emotional reaction to everything that is said to you. True power is sitting back and observing everything with logic; true power is restraint. If words control you that means everyone else can control you; breathe and allow things to pass."

Growing up the things that people would say to me would come in one ear, float around my heart and pull up a chair to stay forever. I was so easily moved by the words that my siblings would throw my way that even when they were kidding around, odds are that I would end up crying.

Years of experience, going to college, traveling the's all toughened me up a bit. I'm not as sensitive as I used to be. Words don't just fly by me but they definitely don't take root in my soul like they used to.

With that being said, lately, I've found the sensitivity and the knee jerk reaction to respond harshly or be easily angered trying to creep it's way back into my life.

When it comes to subjects that I'm very  passionate about like the Black Lives Matter movement, my faith/ the church community and our current political situation my patience has started to run so thin. I've struggled in engaging in conversations with people who have differing opinions and find myself mentally shutting down when I start to hear comments and views that I think are ignorant.

Saturday I went for an almost two hour walk in my neighborhood by myself. I went to my favorite coffee shop, got a large cup of coffee to go and just started walking. I laughed, I sang, I spent time with God and towards the end I felt like the Father was challenging my opinions and views and the way I express them.

I felt a soft nudge on my heart encouraging me to not only develop an opinion, but also develop a confidence. A confidence that allows me to engage in conversation with someone and still be passionate as well as open to the possibility that I may be wrong about some things. An openness that allows me to grow in my beliefs while still being grounded in my values.

If I'm being completely honest I think that sometimes when people disagree with me it makes me feel like my opinion and my views are wrong. There are times when I'm having a discussion, especially with men, where I feel like I need to provide irrefutable proof for every single view that I have and that I need to do it at rapid speed. If I can't express what I believe, in ten seconds or less, with facts and data to back it up than I must not have a foundation for my opinion.

Those feelings stem not only from insecurity but also from the subtle influence of a culture of oppression and the silencing/discrediting of women. They stem from the idea that I need to know everything about a topic before I can openly express my opinion about it and that's not true at all. The mindset that your opinion can't ever change about a certain topic and if it does then you probably didn't believe in it in the first place is so deeply flawed.

We as humans are not stagnant beings. If our minds never change about a topic it's because we're choosing to stay in that place. Life is all about growing, learning and developing and one of the ways that we do that is through conversations with people that make us feel safe enough to be wrong and supported enough to learn.

It's in those spaces that we develop the confidence needed to hold our own and not be rattled when surrounded by the angry, hurtful and often aggressive views that are thrown our way.

I'm only a few weeks away from turning 27 and as I approach that awesome day I do so with the resolve to become more open minded, loving and grounded in my convictions. I want others to feel safe to share their views and opinions with me, even if I disagree with them and I want to be able to have that same experience.

More than anything, I want to be firmly rooted and confident in who I am in Christ. Whether someone agrees with me, calls my opinion stupid, thinks that I don't have the right to speak up...whatever. None of that changes my identity and that should be validation enough.

Whether I'm writing my blog or boldly standing up for something I believe in, I feel so blessed to be able to use the beautiful voice that God gave me to exercise my right to speak.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

A Better Way to Pray.

About a month or so ago my older brother tagged me in a post on Facebook. It was on the page of a well-known Pastor based in Colorado Springs and it was reaching out to bloggers and writers to give them the opportunity to review one of his books before it's re-release.

I thought to myself "what the heck, it's worth a shot," emailed them a link to my blog and my Facebook and waited for a response. A few days later I got an email telling me that they had reviewed my content and believed that it aligned well with their mission and message and that attached I would find a copy of the book.

The book is called A Better Way to Pray and it's written by preacher and author Andrew Wommack. I was introduced to Andrew Wommack and his teachings years ago by my father and I've followed his work ever since.

I'm really excited to share my thoughts about the content of this book but also to share with you some things that I took from it that I think are beneficial.

Let me just start by saying that if you've never heard Andrew Wommack preach or read one of his books before, he has a very distinct tone. His words, though filled with love, are quite direct. He doesn't hold back with his use of exclamation points and he words things in a way that makes sure that the message is always very clear.

I often found myself laughing out loud while reading this book because I could hear his voice jumping out from the pages and I couldn't help but to giggle.

With that being said the message within the pages, though at times convicting, is truly life changing. While taking notes I found that there were so many things that stood out to me that to try and write about them all would take up too much space. So instead I decide to point out three keys thoughts that really stuck with me from the book and last but certainly not least how the book has affected my prayer life.

1. The importance of thanks.

Whatever we focus on is magnified. If we focus on our issues, they grow bigger but if we focus on our gratitude it becomes the biggest thing in our lives. Prayer is a time where we can lavish God with our thanks and gratitude towards him.

Does God needs to hear us say thank you? No, not necessarily but when we spend time thanking God for what he's done for us and acknowledge our many blessings our problems become so small in comparison. Chapter 5 entitled Make a prayer sandwich emphasizes the importance of starting and ending our prayers with praise and thanksgiving. It's through that process that we magnify God and all that he's done for us instead of magnifying our problems.

When we begin our prayer time by expressing our gratitude by the time we get to our requests we're not only reminded of how small they are but more importantly how BIG God is. I encourage you to spend  the first five minutes of your prayer time thanking and praising God. I think that you'll be pleasantly surprised by the outcome.

2. The primary purpose of prayer.

The primary purpose of prayer is not receiving from God, yes that is A purpose but not THE purpose. Prayer is a time of fellowship, intimacy and relationship with Christ. God knows every single thing that we need in this life. The Lord knows that we need to eat and make money and provide for our families, he knows these things. When we come to him constantly making requests, he's not upset but we're missing the true blessing that comes from prayer.

Prayer is a time for us to commune with God. It's a time for us to share our lives with him, to laugh, to cry, to simply invite him into the most intimate parts of our souls. This book reminded me that God is not just some magical genie waiting to grant our wishes. Rather he's a father, waiting to be invited into the lives and hearts of his children. A Better Way to Pray emphasizes the fact that God wants us to talk to him not only about our problems and our concerns but also about the things that make us come alive.

God wants to be our closest friend and most intimate relationship and prayer is a time for us to build that dynamic with him. I invite you to explore the beautiful relationship that you can have with Christ by spending your prayer time getting to know him rather than just getting things from him.

3. Loving God is all that matters.

We were CREATED for intimacy with Christ. It's almost to simple to grasp but it's the truth,we were solely created for the purpose of loving and being loved by him.

Of course, when you love someone, you desire to do their will and to do the things that make them happy but if all we ever did on this earth was love God, he wouldn't be upset with us. Through this book I was reminded that God is love and everything that he does and everything that he calls us to do comes down to that same thing. It is and will always be about loving God with all that we have.

God sent his son to die on the cross for our sins so that we could spend our days in fellowship with the king. When we realize that Jesus is not our escape route but rather our invitation to community, we are then able to enter into a life filled with love and a relationship with our best friend, Jesus Christ.

Ways that my prayer life has changed.

After reading this book, I realized that the majority of my prayer life and my relationship with Christ has been spent seeking things instead of just basking in his love. I realized that though I claim 'Christian' as the most important title to my name that I rarely take God at his word believing that he'll do what he says he's going to do. I realized that though I'm willing to walk away from relationships for my 'beliefs' that I don't even truly know the God that I'm claiming to have devoted my life to.

I didn't walk away from this book feeling condemned or bad about myself but rather I walked away from it feeling like I was about to embark on a life changing journey. I finished this book and I honestly felt so much freedom. This book equipped me with the tools, the confidence and the knowledge of who God is to be able to pray in a way that's not only effective but also a way that edifies and glorifies God.

Now the adventure starts to make this not just knowledge floating around in my head but rather something that I believe and know to be true in my heart.

I know that this post was EXTREMELY long but this book has truly given me a new thirst for God and who he is. It's made me realize that in John 10:10 when it says that Christ came that we may have life and have it more abundantly that it involves so much MORE than what I've experienced with him so far.

For those of you who are interested in checking out this book, I have an extra copy and would love to send it to one of you! Comment your name and email address below and in a few days I'll randomly pick a name and send that lucky person a copy!

Until next time friends.