Category Archives: #Choose

Chasing Sunsets and Looking for Lovely

Sunrise

I love me a good sunrise or sunset.

My ONLY regret about the house we bought here in MN is that we can’t see the sunrises or sunsets very well. Homes and trees block the majority of our view, so while I get glimpses, I never get the full picture sitting inside my home.

But there is the rare occasion that I am bringing kids to school or heading home from church on Wednesday nights that I get to take in the beauty of a sunrise/sunset in its full glory.

I connect with God through His creation. There is something special about seeing the colors change across the sky, so brief and fleeting, but realizing the promise that they always return with each new day.

There are moments when I wish I could take time and just chase sunsets, every day, seek out that beauty and pause to take it all in. Because often times I struggle to see any light at all…

I have battled with depression for probably longer than I’d like to admit.

I do a pretty good job of disguising it for those I come in contact with. I can fix myself up and pretend that I have got it all together. But the banter that happens in my head is anything but put together and lovely.

It is often negative and oppressive, filled with comparison and littered with envy and jealousy. I want what I think you have and have to fight to see the many (obvious) blessings in my own life. I know that I have so many things to be grateful for but sometimes the knowing isn’t enough, it seems.

Recently I got a book in the mail that has helped me feel less alone in this struggle, and also has set a path in motion to my seeking out the lovely in my day…even if it is small or seemingly insignificant.

In her book Looking for Lovely Annie writes this: “I had an addiction. For over twenty years I had taken all the pain and hurt and pushed it straight down my throat. For as much as I read the Bible, sat in Sunday school, and made church my second home, I wish I’d understood, “His ears are open for their cries for help” (Psalm 34:15) Instead of feeling any of the suffering, instead of pressing through the pain and taking it to God, trusting that He heard me, I escaped to anywhere that would feed me, and I stuffed my emotions down by covering them in layers of food.” (p.37)

In my book I have those lines underlined and where she has food, I crossed it out and wrote in anger. I could also have written shopping or any thing that I set out to do that fills me up and makes me “feel” more valuable…host a party so I get praise, work on the “perfect” blog post so I can encourage others and bolster my self esteem…the list could go on and on.

Instead of dealing with the heart of what’s at the center of the darkness I feel inside, I run to fill the emptiness with things that never fully satisfy.

In her journey to be “rebuilt”, Annie knew that “she needed the strength of heart to hold on until God could complete the work He had begun.” (p.47)

This rebuilding is hard, laborious work isn’t it? If you have walked through a time of self discovery yourself, you know that it is often painful and slow. There are days that I feel like I have taken several steps forward only to find myself right back in the muck of my old ways, full of mistakes.

In these times I need to take just a little time to focus on the lovely around me. A beautiful sky, the sound of the rain falling, a clean closet or some one on one time with one of my kids.

I loved what Annie had to say about it: “It’s not about pretending everything is beautiful and nothing is ugly and you have no questions or doubts and picking out the beautiful in your everyday is going to protect you from anything hurting ever. It’s about feeling the pain, letting the suffering be a part of your life…because there is beauty in choosing to feel that pain, in calling hurt what it is, and not pretending that everything is okay.” (p.76)

Ultimately I want to be able to be okay not being okay.

There is a freedom in being able to be transparent and honest, and I want that in my life. I want to recognize where I am still stuck, take responsibility for the things that are mine and find contentment and joy even if my life isn’t picture perfect.

Annie found that in many deep and meaningful ways. Her book is filled with both struggle and progress. As raw and honest as they come, she has walked this hard path and offers hope for those of us on a similar journey.

“It’s not that my life is all that different; it’s just that I see it differently. So it feels like a brand-new life.” (p.172)

So I am going to keep chasing sunsets, I will paint my fingernails a fun color and enjoy the little things that bring me joy. And I will also continue to allow God to refine me and my character. Allowing myself to be humbled because it brings healing. I don’t have to run from the hard, or stuff it away, or fill it with things of this world. Instead I will seek the lovely through it all and trust that even if my circumstances haven’t changed, that one day I too will begin to see differently as well.

I received an advance copy of Annie’s book as a part of her launch team. I LOVED this book and so I have a copy to share here with one of my readers. I think every woman needs to read this book – so leave a comment to be entered and I will pick the winner on Friday April 8th!

Empowered to Choose

Choose Elijah

I shared last week about how I had given my kids 3 words. Words that might encourage them to see how God created them. Words that would inspire them to be a blessing to others. I saw it working right away…it is pretty amazing actually and I only wish I had figured this out years ago.

I guess it has been born of my own recent self discovery.

I have been stuck for so long in a place where I felt defined by my failures, where I wanted to be defined by my accomplishments, seeking man’s approval and not considering how I was created in the image of God.

I have walked through life making choices, having responses, laying blame and not taking responsibility for who I was because I wasn’t able to see who I was in Christ. Yes I committed my life to Him and believed I was saved, but I always saw myself as the messy sinner that I was.

I thought I had an understanding of grace, but never really for myself.

But I am realizing that living in this way, full of lies and weighed down by past sins isn’t the life giving freedom that God wants us to walk in, through Him. It is exactly why He sacrificed His son…so we didn’t have to live this way.

I see my own kids responding to life in many of the ways that I have, and I wanted it to change. Yes they would continue to make mistakes, we all do, but what if they could fill their minds and hearts with truth instead? Would it make a difference?

It has and it does.

Elijah has been the most impacted. He held the door again after school for his classmates. He apparently volunteered in the classroom when his teacher was out for the day and his substitute sent a note home and said he was her hero.

Do you know what it does to a young child to be called a hero?!

This morning we were talking on the way to school and he said he wanted to add a 4th word to his list! He called himself helpful. Then he proceeded to name some strengths he saw in me.

He is looking for the good in others and then telling them. He is six. Imagine what a lifetime of hearing and affirming the truth about who God created him to be will do?!

In choosing 3 simple words for my son he is now empowered to choose more truths for himself and others.

He is choosing to see that God created him for good. At six he has a purpose, he believes these truths about himself. He won’t always get it right, but he is embracing the positive instead of believing the negative lies.

Oh how I want everyone to be transformed in the way my son has. We need to start claiming the truths of who God created us to be. Stop believing the lies that you are too dirty, too broken, too sin-filled to be used by God.

Name 3 truths about who God created you to be and start walking in them today. {<====Click to Tweet}

I have maybe shared this song with you already, but it is such a powerful song that I wanted to share it today. It is called Clean by Natalie Grant and the words so speak to who I have seen myself to be, and the the reality of who I am in Christ.

God is restoring my heart and my life piece by piece. I can see it in even the smallest of ways and I am just humbled by His grace in my life.

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#Choose

Choose One Word 2016

I wasn’t sure I wanted a One Word for this year. The past several years I have picked a word and then at the end of the year I found myself frustrated at my lack of growth in that area….I am one who can be easily discouraged so I thought that maybe I would skip out this year.

If you read my post about the word Depend for 2015, you will know that last year pushed me to limits I didn’t like and in many ways I felt initially like I had failed once again. But I couldn’t put the idea of not having a word for the year to rest so I have been thinking about it for the last few days.

And then this morning I sat down to read a book I was sent as part of another book launch team. Choose Joy – Finding Hope and Purpose When Life Hurts was written by Sara Frankl and Mary Carver. It is available for purchase on Tuesday January 5th and I guarantee this is a book that you want to read to start off the new year.

Choose Joy Cover

I read it in 3 hours, straight through, and have underlined so many sections so that I could read and re-read the truths within the pages.

It is so simple really and yet something that I struggle with in a deep way. How do we choose joy when life hurts?

And then I read these words from Sara….“I made a decision a long time ago that I was going to choose joy. I even painted a big rectangle on my wall and printed it in big letters so I wouldn’t forget to make that choice every day. The major word in that rectangle isn’t joy; it’s CHOOSE. It’s looking around me when life is difficult and trading every complaint I have for something beautiful in my life that far outweighs it. I know, it’s that Pollyanna thing again, but living joyful beats being cynical any day of the week” – Choose Joy

I had been thinking up until then that maybe my One Word should be truth or freedom…things I really want for myself in this coming year. But at that moment I knew that #CHOOSE was the word I wanted to start my 2016.

It is something that I can apply to any area of my life really. And it is so simple, I just have to Choose.

Choose to seek joy even when I feel unhappy.

Choose to find truth, my truth, and live in a more honest and transparent way.

Choose to see others for all of the good things that they embody, instead of focusing on any negatives.

Choose to be grateful for the growth in my life even if it is painstakingly slow at times.

Choose to trust God with the big and the small.

Choose to make time for a relationship with God.

Choose to be more patient and kind to those closest to me.

Yes it seems so simple, but for this human girl with her need for control as well as pride and anger issues….if I am being honest, at times it seems like I don’t have a choice.

But that isn’t true.

Sometimes I have to fight for it….but I always have a choice at how I am going to respond to the life I am living. For a long time I have played the victim. Poor me and how I have been hurt by someone, or life didn’t turn out the way I thought it might…boo hoo. If only things would have gone this way, then my life would be perfect. I have had unrealistic expectations for myself and others and when they aren’t met (because they can’t be) I find myself unhappy and discontent.

And then these words again from Sara – “He used the circumstance of my life to help me grow. He used those circumstances to change my heart. We are here to be changed, to be made more like God in order to prepare us for a lifetime with Him. And more often than not, being changed hurts. I’ve come to understand that the only thing I can control is whether or not I open my heart. Open it to embrace circumstances. Open it to be who He needs me to be in the here and now rather than assume happiness can come from the “If only…” and “When I get…” Open it enough to let Him in to change me here so I can be with Him there.”

Talk about a a smack in the face moment…such truth there!

I know that when I place my feet firm in the ground on a truth like this I am bound to find myself in situations in the coming weeks and months that will challenge my desires to choose well.

Maybe that’s one reason why I didn’t want to pick a word…because I have seen it happen to myself and others and I am so weary from this past year I don’t know if I have the fight in me to walk forward well.

But I realized that in this too I had a choice. I can choose faith or I can choose fear.

So today I choose to trust that God will be walking with me in 2016, guiding me, refining me and helping me to shed some of my old baggage so that I can better be used by Him.

I can’t say it any better than Sara did herself…“But what I have is a mission. A purpose. I am here to live the best life I can with what I have been given. I am here to live out this human existence as a spiritual being – a servant to God and His people – before I head back home to Him. I’m not worried about starting over in a new year. I’m not worried about what this year might bring. I am simply keeping in mind that this life isn’t about me and my goals and my wants and my worries. I am here to fulfill His purpose for me, and my job is to keep my eyes open so I don’t miss it.”

Yes it is simple if we let it be. What will you choose for this new year friends? It is my prayer that we choose to seek God and try and be the best we can be for His glory.

Did you choose a One Word for 2016? I’d love to hear it!!

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Linking up with Bonnie and #OneWordCoffee

 

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