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Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Look at Me!



You're on a ship. It's been smooth sailing for a while and you've thoroughly enjoyed the voyage. Beautiful skies. Magnificent ocean. Lovely breeze. You decide to walk to the stern of the ship, but upon turning you see the skies behind you aren't looking so blue. You run for the helm, but quickly realize that the storm is traveling at a much faster speed than you. Before you have a chance to figure things out, the sky turns dark, the waves begin to crash all around you, and it takes every ounce of energy you have to control the wheel. You realize this monster is too much for you to try and ride, so you go for the one thing that's designed to keep you secure despite the turmoil going on all around you.

Whether you know much about ships, or only a teeny bit like me, you know the word "anchor" is getting ready to be used right about now. And, right you are. The very definition of the word is this: a device, normally made of metal, used to connect a vessel to the bed of a body of water to prevent the craft from drifting due to wind or current. Pretty ingenious piece of equipment for seamen. There's no telling just how quickly and how horribly off track just 5 minutes in a terrible storm can get you.

Although calling a person, a goal, or a faith an anchor for your life is often viewed metaphorically, there's a lot of truth to it, also. We Christians reference Christ as our anchor on several occasions. There's even a Scripture that says it in such a pure and poetic way:

Hebrews 6:19- We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope...

I can testify to the fact that without this hope of Christ in my life, I'd be drifting way off somewhere alone, confused, and with no aimed destination. Life can get crazy stormy sometimes! And there's always going to be some wave that catches you off guard. But, that's why we always need to remember the very thing that can hold us steady.

I can't help but think of the story of Jesus walking on the water. He did, ya know. When his disciples saw Him, they were freaked out. They just knew He was a ghost. But, Peter had an unbelievable amount of faith. He said, "Lord, if that's really You, tell me to come out there to You." And... that's exactly what He did.

{Now, the majority of you reading this already know this story. And it's likely that you're going to the part where he starts sinking. But, hey! He stepped out of that boat and took a few steps! That's more than I've ever done... You?}

Anyways- Peter steps out. He takes a few steps. Eyes solely fixed on Jesus. No doubt his faith was soaring at that moment. Can you just imagine the smile on his face? There may have even been some tears welling up in his eyes. He was doing the impossible. He reaches up to wipe a tear, and realizes, this isn't from crying! This is from the sea. The waves were crashing all around him. ("Peter, look at Me.") Water is getting in his eyes! He can't see clearly. ("Peter, look at Me.") He can't hear well. The wind is going crazy. He brushes at his eyes but he feels himself sinking slowly into the water. ("Peter, look at Me.") Fear clutches on tightly and panic sets in. His arms start swinging and reaching for anything that he thinks may support him, but there's only water! ("Peter, look at Me!") I can't do this! He thinks. I'm going to die! There's no way out of this! Why am I here? I should have known better! 

("Peter! Look at Me!")

And- finally- Peter looked at Jesus. "Lord, save me!" he cried out.

Matthew 6:31- "And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him..."

That's exactly what He'll do for you and me, too. But... we have to look at Him! We can't let ourselves get focused on the winds and waves that are crashing on every side of us. You can't look back at your past and focus on hurts and disappointments. You can't look too far ahead and feel overwhelmed at the progress you're lacking. Don't look at all the bills, the sicknesses, the people who hurt you, the demands of the job, or the needs of your family... Look at Him!

I felt Him say that to me so clearly a little over a week ago. True story. I won't lie and say I'm always thrilled with the way my life goes. I was so tired of being sick, and still it lingered. I was still trying to figure out why everything happened the way it did with our sweet babies. There were so many unanswered questions that laid in front of me regarding those we love. I was letting the past creep into my mind and frustration was gripping on tight to me. I felt hopeless for a few days. My "prayer time" turned into "whine time" and I felt more and more isolated and annoyed.

Then, Wednesday on the way to church, I could sense those little whispers trying to interrupt the argument I had going on inside, "Kristi, look at Me." I wrestled with the decision to even go that night. I love my church and the people in it, but I felt so distant from myself... I knew I'd feel even more distant from them. "Kristi, look at Me." It just didn't feel fair. So many crazy and weird, unexplainable things have happened to us. Why?!?! "Kristi, look at Me." God, I just don't understand. I feel alone... unimportant... It's like there's no way for us to win. "Kristi! Look at Me!" We've tried this, done that, attempted those... We've tried to do our best, stay faithful, be wise stewards... We're kind and honest... We're available and willing... Why are we allowed to endure so much?!

"Kristi! Look at Me!"

I finally paid attention to that still, small voice. I shut my mind's mouth and listened for a change. "You're looking at people, situations, yourselves, your goals... Take some time to look at Me."

So I did. My sickness didn't look like much of a threat when I was looking at my Healer. My future goals didn't seem so unattainable when my eyes were fixed on the Author and Finisher of my faith. The fear of going another 20 years unable to bear children was quickly shrugged off when I was staring into the face of the Creator and Giver of life. My past? Ha! It became nothing more than shouting ground when I viewed my Deliverer! The people that consistently hurt me became a little less important when I remembered He was the friend that sticks closer than a brother.

I felt Him pulling me to a place of closeness I hadn't been in a little while. Just as certain, there was a piece of me longing for a relationship deeper than I'd ever had. My pastor says it all the time- "We too often walk outside of the realm of the blessing and power God has ready for us." I don't want to do that anymore. I'm ready to walk by faith... and I mean really walk by faith. No Plan B's or C's. It's past time to pick up the plan He wrote for my life and follow every step. No "and's, if's, or but's" about it.

To get there, I have to do more looking at Him. I need to amp up my prayer life. My devotions need to be more devoted. I have to be willing to put aside my plans for His purpose. That's truly the only way to feel completely happy and fulfilled, anyhow. Our youth pastor preached on Sunday morning about people who are determined to change the way their family has done things in the past for the better, aka "Transitional People." It was such a great message! One of the things he said that I needed to hear was,

"We have to quit trying so hard to define ourselves and accept the definition that God has for us."

That hit home with me, for sure. While I know God will use the talents and passions He's given me, I don't always understand how or when. Instead of focusing so long and hard on trying to "make it" or figure it all out, I need to rest in Him with the assurance that He will get me where I need to go and open up some crazy awesome doors. That's just what He does! So, instead of researching the best route for this or most successful path to that- I'm going to close my door, kneel beside my bed, and talk to the One Who sees the end from the beginning. That makes more sense after all.

I encourage you today- If you're feeling confused, bewildered, and lost without a sense of direction, take some time to look at Him- Who He is and what He's done- and what He's capable of. The stress of life fades when you understand that He's the one calling the shots for you... and there's no one who wants you to prosper more than He does. Trust Him. Relax. Enjoy the ride. There's really no reason to fear. He's looking at us, too... always. We're going to be okay!

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Tuesday, June 14, 2016

How We Nerdy People Stay Positive



If you've followed my blog for any amount of time, you've seen my many references to the efforts I make to maintain a consistent state of bliss and whimsy. There's just no better way to live, right? Of course not. We all share that opinion, I'm sure. But what do you do when times are just loaded down with chaos and unpleasantries? How long can you keep smiling past the stress that's invading your life? Can you keep your mind's attention off of the unwelcomed setbacks that are knocking at your door for a few more days, weeks, months, years?

I've asked myself that same question! That old saying, "When it rains, it pours" has proven to be one of the most accurate statements ever passed down from one generation to the next. I've experienced it myself and I've witnessed it happening to those around me. And it's during the torrential downpour that keeping a skip in your step usually results in slipping somewhere and busting your rump.

Natural instincts come alive inside us and we start running search queries in our brains for just some way to fix, end, or at least soften the blow that's aimed directly at our faces. But just as soon as we realize we can duck to miss this one, we get hit in the gut by some other problem. I don't care how sanguine a person is, after facing enough punches anyone will start feeling some kind of sting.

Now, I can tell you to do all the things you've already heard before and have more than likely already done:

1) Pray about it.
2) Realize God's in control.
3) Do what you can.
4) Leave the rest up to Him.
5) Move on.

I did want to throw in one scripture that's too awesome to be overlooked when talking about battles of the mind: 2 Corinthians 10:5- "We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive..."

When you've entrusted your life to Christ, you have the power to do what the aforementioned verse describes. The moment you recognize yourself entertaining negative outlooks or unsettling emotions- bind those things up and toss them overboard. Life will continually make waves for us, but you don't get very far on a silent and unmoving sea. Ride them out! Find a way to enjoy the journey. In the meantime, don't dare let any circumstance, any person, or any memory from the past pull you under by flooding your life with any feeling of defeat or discouragement. Ain't nobody got time for that!

And believe me, I am fully aware that if you do all of this perfectly, there will still be times that at least one teeny tiny little thing will somehow find a way to creep into your newly-peace-filled-boat. So, here's the rest of my ingenious plan. Ha! But, seriously though, it's worked for me every time.

I don't care a bit to admit that I'm probably the biggest nerd of all. It only seems necessary for me to physically do something weird to shake the unwanted leeches off of my oar. So, these are a few things I've done that help me get over things quickly. And, in all honesty, the end result is usually better than I expect. I find myself crying from extreme laughter, nodding at the realization that the good far outweighs the bad, and I get determined all over again to rise above the storms of life and make it count. So what's my recipe for success? Glad you asked...

I've found it best to talk things over with myself... out loud. Laugh. Go ahead. I'm sure I sound hilarious. Still, it's just a minor little thing that I can do that, for some odd reason, helps me view my circumstances a little more clearly. If I'm home alone, perfect. But, sometimes I have to get the keys and go for a drive. I used to get annoyed that I had to pause the conversation at red lights... I mean, I didn't want to look clinically insane. But, thanks to bluetooth, people are none the wiser. And I won't hold back this piece of amazing knowledge- I've actually held my phone up to my ear at times just so people would stop trying to figure me out. I get with it sometimes, and the stares were totally killing my vibe, so I had to find a way around that... I did. And, yes, I'm okay to share this embarrassing piece of myself... I think.

If you can't bring yourself to adore the idea of looking schizo at times, (or even if you grow to thoroughly enjoy it)- Get a notebook. And get one that just feels right. If you're a nerd, you'll understand what I mean. If you're not... welcome to the family. (You'll never be able to look at notebooks again without thinking of this.) Here are the beauties I adopted:


Introduce this special journal/diary/notebook to yourself by jotting down other times you felt as much unease. Then comment how you're feeling about those times at the present. You'll start to see just how small of an effect those "horrendous" setbacks had on the entirety of your life. Once you've scribbled down all the previous rendezvous with unwanted issues, go ahead and add the one you're currently battling. It's a little annoying when you think of all the frustrations you've had to deal with - but - it's just as comical when you realize how dramatic you were over something that literally turned out to mean nothing to you.

And now... for my favorite therapy Rx... watch Jimmy Fallon on YouTube. I mean... it's Jimmy Fallon! I cackle to the point of tears running down my face and my tummy getting tight and sore. It's an incredible way to cope. I beg of you... try this out. It really doesn't matter which segment you choose to watch, but "Wheel of Impressions," "Wheel of Musical Impressions," "Lip Sync Battles," and "Box of Lies" are my favorite... just to name a few.

And finally, after you've talked to yourself, written a book or two, and watched hours of 3 minute Fallon clips, end your session by reading a couple of inspiring quotes. I thought about sharing a few of my favorite here for you, but that's like me giving away my meds... and I think we know how people feel about that. But seriously, what inspires me may not effect you in the slightest. So, find your own inspiration... and go with it.

I look for some shape or form of it daily. This life is amazing and full of so much magnificence. The potential of what it could be is limitless. Reminding myself of this on a regular basis keeps me excited and filled with an undying zeal to make the most of every day. And I promise you- this stuff works. I started writing this post feeling blasé and a little isolated... but now... this nerdy gal is back to her happy-go-lucky self.

Not only is life amazing... You're amazing. Remember that.

And just because I'm feeling a little like living on the edge today- I'll share one of my meds...

"You are not just a drop in the ocean... You are the entire ocean in one drop."

Even in the disgusting, frustrating, sticky, and chaotic moments, you have so much to offer the world. Don't let circumstances make you blind to that. Embrace your nerdy, odd, and awkward self.

Somebody needs your smile.

Love!

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Saturday, June 11, 2016

Can I Survive without Social Media?



So I challenged myself and I accepted.

Aaron and I lowered our data package on our phones, canceled our cable, and even disconnected our wifi... We went OLD. SCHOOL. It's been two weeks now, and I have to say I don't know if I'll ever want them back! We both figured this would be the case. So, after too many months of talking about it, we took the plunge. Life feels so much fuller now! Already. Seriously, that may come across cheesy, but it's the truth! We've went on nature walks, gotten new bikes (and used them!), spent time at the library, coffee shops, parks, worked a lot in the yard and around the house, visited more friends... and planning movie night is fun again! Oh, and let's not forget the fact that I've had a ton of energy to fuel my new active self that didn't seem to be there before. Less technology + More of everything else = A simpler, yet more exciting, life.

Now, I'm thinking if I do away with the majority of social media... ... ... Only good can come of this, right?  Everything other than this blog - and anything that assists in my writing goals - frankly, has gots-to-go.

I've deactivated accounts, removed them from my phone, logged out of the apps in hopes that I wouldn't log in as often due to the extra effort. Still, they're always right there at my chubby little fingertips... and they know that. They always manage to open that app before my brain even processes their actions. I know you know what I'm talking about!

Me and my bestie were talking about how simple things were just a few years ago. Drama was a lot less common, relationships were fewer but better, life seemed to have more meaning. Today, you can't go 48 hours without someone being offended at you or someone causing you offense. You have hundreds upon hundreds of friends and followers on the internet, but have no idea who to call when you're having a horrible day.

A lot of people in my generation feel that life doesn't hold as much purpose and meaning as it once did... probably because we spend more of our time searching for validation and approval from a status than doing something that really matters. I know firsthand that this is something we do, but don't care to admit. I get it. Really. It's a little embarrassing.

I'm going to take a moment of silence to reflect back honestly on my run-ins with Facebook. How many times has someone's tactless comment caused me aggravation or pain? How many posts have made my blood boil because of the insensitivity streaming for all to see? Can I even count how many times I've seen a double standard going on right before my very eyes? On the flip side, how often have I opened the app just to see how many people like my new profile picture? Did anyone think my status was funny? Is anyone reading my blog? Just within the last couple of days I've gotten notification that a couple of people have "unliked" my blog page. Talk about "hot sauce in an open wound..." (Thanks, Jess. I'll forever use that now.) It crushed my spirit, made me long for support in other places, and did a good job convincing me that it's best to stay to yourself and expect nothing. But, you know what, I don't like those feelings. At all. And, if social media didn't so eagerly pass on all this information, I'd be none the wiser. And all the happier.  It's like a disease, people. One in which the symptoms slowly creep in and take a while to notice.

If that's not bad enough, look back several months and determine how much social media and phone time has cut into your goals and dreams. When I do, it makes me a little nauseous. Five, six, seven years ago... Well, I had more time to clean my house, more time to work on recipes, and more time to invest myself into things that I would be thankful for later. The recent past has more Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and Instagram than I care to admit. I'm definitely not saying they're bad things to have. They're not. However, with our natural need for approval and acceptance, I'm afraid social media is going to be the very thing that makes us feel like we'll never be good enough. It wasn't meant for anyone to have 300+ people know all about their day to day life. I mean, seriously. It's like Reality TV. How many of us think it would be better for those families to just keep their lives private? Same goes for us, I think? Some people are going to hate your new haircut, get annoyed by your food picture, and openly express their disdain of your last statement. Remember when times were simpler? When you only told like three people what you made for dinner last night? Your "approval" rating was probably much higher, right? You didn't have much negativity presented about your appearance, because there wasn't very many people looking at you! And your opinion was much more easily expressed and respected among your close family and friends than it is by someone you haven't really talked to in seven years. Needless to say, the very thing we seem to think we're going to experience more validation from is the very thing that's taking it away from us.

So- for the next 21 days (it takes 21 days to break a habit according to scientific study) I will be refraining from viewing Facebook or creating statuses. The only exception being, as I stated before, blog posts. BUT- I won't be checking to see who read them- unless you comment on my actual blog or Kristi Said It page. My personal life will be kept, well, a little more personal.

Once this time passes, I'll let you know how I did and how I'm doing. I'm pretty eager to see how much better I feel about myself and the people in my life. As the last two weeks have already proven to be much more exhilarating, I can only imagine how much more this new "simpler" couple of weeks ahead will be able to offer me. If you decide to try this, let me know and I'll include your statements on my next post. I'd like to take a poll just to see how many people thought life was better/worse/the same... So if you're interested- reach out to me! (Just not on my personal Facebook page!)

"There's gotta be more to life than chasing down every temporary high to satisfy me." - Stacie Orrico

Here goes nothing!

Love!

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