Love Begins With Loving Yourself

Love Begins With Loving Yourself

For as long as I could remember, it seemed everyone around me had someone special in their life. All the while, I held on to what has kept me strong–my faith. I felt that my heart was ready to love someone, but felt like there was a hedge of protection on me that was saving me for what was coming. (How do I know this?) I could feel rather quickly by being around someone if we were going to hit off or not. Most of the time, I didn’t feel that spark everyone talks about.

When I gave up on searching for my special someone, I asked God to show me His love for me. I knew He was present in my life, but I wanted to SEE and FEEL the love He had for me. I wanted my heart to feel the warmth of affection and flutter of endless joy.

In return, I have seen hearts that have brought me to absolute tears knowing they were divine tokens from above. You can call me crazy, but I know this was an answered prayer. In addition to finding hearts in nature, my heart became soft for others. My empathy increased as I did what I could to turn other people’s sadness or emptiness into a newfound joy I had found. Sometimes I like to think I made someone’s day with a simple smile or few words of encouragement.

Love isn’t something you give to another without having it overflow into your own life. Love begins with loving yourself. Look from within yourself and learn to love yourself completely. Be nice to who you are and watch who you become.

If you are empty on the inside and rush to the world to fill you, you will always be searching for a refill. Trust me, when you can accept your own flaws and habits then you can start to share your love with another.

My Heart is Willing and Know Great Things Are Happening

The sudden news of Dick Clark’s passing on Wednesday was unimaginable. Many of us did not know Dick Clark personally, but we were all familiar with his word on American Band Stand, New Years Eve shows, and other TV specials. My thoughts are prayers are with his family and friends now who may find peace during this difficult time.

When I heard the news of Dick Clark’s passing, I did not have to Google information on who he was or what he did–I just knew. These thoughts stirred inside me wondering what do people know about me. I know, I wrote a blog asking you, “When Was The Last Time You Googled Yourself?” but this is something more, much more. These waves of thoughts started my search for who I am and what I represent in my every day life. What do people know about me away from the internet and social media?

First and foremost, I am a Christ follower. I am not religious, nor am I “super spiritual”. I have a personal relationship with Christ who has saved me by His grace, and by faith I know I have security in Him. When I work at my part-time job, I am able to share wisdom and encouragement with fellow believers and non-believers in subtle and bold ways. The Lord has given me a gift of empathy to feel people’s emotions just as much as a person is feeling them. By working in customer service, I have learned quickly I can get just as “heated” as unsatisfied customers can, or I can stay calm and approach each situation with grace and impart them with a softer emotion than they are experiencing.

In March, I went to a church conference called Campus Harvest. I have gone for three years now and this past year was a little different. I was expecting to be a room leader or “in charge” of some responsibility, but to my surprise I wasn’t. I had room leaders who were ok with me being their age and not in an authority position. Throughout the weekend, I was pursuing the next season of my life through God’s hands. During one of the services, there was an altar call for those who had a call for full-time campus ministry to come down. My heart was eager to go, but the words “campus ministry” did not sit well in my stomach. I prayed and asked God to reveal to me if this was my call. He gave me peace to sit and not answer this call. Later that evening, there was another service and this time a campus minister gave another altar call. “If God has put a call on your life, please come down.” He repeated himself and I said another prayer as my heart was eager to respond. The Lord revealed to me He has put a call on my life, so I went down to respond.

When I went on stage with the others who answered to this call, I felt compelled to offer hugs to those around me. This might not sound like a big deal, but for me–that’s huge! I am an introvert and often a wallflower, so this was definitely God taking my insecurities and making them His own. I remember hugging a few girls and rubbing shoulders with a few boys who just looked scared and overwhelmed with emotions. I had an overwhelming sense of peace knowing I was in the right place at the right time. When we were giving our contact information to this guy in the red jacket, I could not hold back my excitement so I started talking to him. “So… I’m not this minister, preacher type person…but I like the marketing and social media aspect of things. Is there a place for me in the ministry?” He perked up and asked for my personal information aside from the database we were entering our contact information in. This is how I met Gene Mack.

Later that evening, we continued to have a worship service and I felt a tap on my shoulder. A sweet young woman asked if she could pray for me. This act of obedience on Anna Johnson‘s part has blessed me with a new friend. She encouraged me to use my voice to help the next generation and explore God’s love. Her bold prayer brought me to tears realizing my life is not my own. With these new-found connections, I met up with earlier connections. I had the privilege to worship next to Mrs. Lynette Lewis and meet her assistant, Whitney. In a group session, I met her husband, Pastor Ron Lewis who has encouraged me to pray and seek the Lord to where He is calling me. I am in the middle of his book “Answering The Call” and receiving new revelations for my life.

Am I called to full-time ministry? Am I called to enhance His kingdom? Nothing has opened a door to where God is leading to through, but I am using my voice to reveal my heart is willing and know great things are happening. I found a new friend from Every Nation Ministries, Joey Carranza  on Twitter where had told me, (paraphrased) “Social media is only but a tool to bring the next generation to Christ.” It is a tool I am using to influence others for His glory. What are you sharing with the world? Online?

My presence online is only a glimpse of who I am, but shows you a piece of the bigger picture God has created for me. May this blog give you a lasting impression of what God can do for your life.

I’ll Tell You Once, I’ll Tell You Twice

If you have experienced déjà vu, then you can relate to what is going to be said in this post. If you haven’t, déjà vu is an occurrence or illusion of experiencing something that was encountered for the first time. This is to suggest that the realization comes from the real event taking place reflecting on the thought that it had previously occurred. Others might call this intuition or fate taking its course, but I believe it’s God giving me guidance.

Reading those words might shake up some people, but be patient with me. For as long as I could remember, I always had this insight before I took any action. I would be lost in thought and something would interrupt my thoughts, which took my previous thoughts further. To give an example, I will share a story with you.

A few weeks back, I was working in the front office and a female customer came up wanted to play lotto. As she got her tickets out to check, she made a gesture to pray but in a way I knew that was not sincere. Ok, most people would not think twice about this but I am not like most people. I started to think to myself and knew she was not really mocking God, and then something gave me the thought it was possible she was lacking true faith that goes behind her prayers. At first I ignored my thoughts, but as I told her she had did not win any money, she said, “Well the Lord doesn’t want me to win this time. Here, play these” as she handed me more tickets. I am not suggesting her faith would have given her a winning lottery ticket, but her prayer was an empty promise. The words empty promise burned in my mind. Before handing her the tickets she had played, I had spoken out in faith.

In a kind, gentle voice I said,  “Please forgive me, but I know you weren’t mocking God earlier, but I think you are putting your faith in the wrong things and are actually winning in other areas of your life other than the lottery.” I could tell I had hit a nerve and had made a connection with this woman because her eyes swelled with tears as I spoke each word.

“You know…you’re right. My bills are paid and there is food on the table to eat and a little extra for things like this. I just want more…” she said.

I nodded and asked, “Have you tried talking to God about your needs and wants instead of doing it this way?”

“I need to talk to him more. I have put my faith in my own hand’s and he deserves more,” she had said.

***

By the end of the conversation, I knew those thoughts were not my own but had come from God to share his love for Wendy. Now, when we see one another we encourage each other and see where God is playing in our lives.

I hope that gives you a better understanding of what I am talking about when I say my thoughts get interrupted and are taken to a new level. God does that do me and he did it again this morning. I read a Joyce Meyer: Promises for Your Everyday Life and reread the same devotion from yesterday today. I could have skipped it and I told myself to go on and read today’s devotion, but my thoughts got interrupted telling me this was meant to be read twice. With the encouragement I have received the past two days, I want to share this with you:

God could be telling you right now to get up and get on with your dream or vision, your assignment, your life, because He is giving it to you. Your part is to walk it out. 

Do what you need to do. It may not be easy. It might take some time. But trust God and go for whatever it is. Look from the place where you are right now – and go! (Genesis 13:14)

I told you once, I’ll tell you twice about another event that took place in my life. Just about two hours ago I was getting my books for my two post-graduation classes I start today. As I was checking out with Amanda, she noticed I was purchasing a writing and fundraising book and asked if I was taking a non-profit class. I told her the title and how I had experience with an advertising agency and now wanted to try the other side. I thought,  a balance of both worlds. She proceeded to tell me about a club that meets and aids classes like this to give students opportunities to network and career shadow in the non-profit sectors. We both had business minors and felt led to help those in need.

God has talked to me a lot this past year. I have done what I wanted to do, and now it’s time to follow what he wants me to do:  trust in him more. I graduated in Communications for advertising because I wanted to embrace my creativity. Through that I know I am uniquely made to enjoy left-brain and right-brain tasks like research and engaging in creative forms. During my internship, it confused a few of the professionals how I had strengths on opposite paths and encouraged me to pick one and stick to it. I appreciated their guidance, but I honestly could not decide. Instead of compromising and picking one over the other, I am embracing them both and giving it up to God. Right now, God has assured me that “it all works together for his greater good.” In a nutshell, I am the type of person who can research and propose ideas to engage with people all while putting on the hat of leadership.

——————

How does this apply to you? Has God or something instinctively interrupting your own thoughts? Take the first step to walk out in faith and see how God will continue to move in your life.

Everything is a Test of Faith

As I write this out, I glance at the top of my screen and see the clock. It’s going to be another late night, but how many times does I stay up late doing other unproductive things? Always. I promise you everything is a test of faith as I tell you a story.

I am not perfect. I don’t have three months of bills saved up in my savings account for a “rainy day.” I saved up enough money for a computer program instead of saving for my future. I’m 24 years young and sometimes I am naive. Should I be more proactive about saving? Yes. Am I worried about where the money is going to come from? No. I have put one of the hardest staples in my life up to God. Money. I don’t fear losing it or not having enough. I have been tested in the past to choose between buying myself lunch or giving money to a mother who was short money for a child’s birthday cake. Guess what? I felt compelled to give her half my money, but not all because I thought I needed half for lunch. No more than 15 minutes later, my boss tells me I have a check from a claim for a lost dividend from two years ago came in. I was given a check amount about three times as much as I could have given the mother! Coincidence? Hardly!  Through this experience and wisdom from God, I have learned I failed this test. I failed by putting my trust in my own hands instead of his.

Monday.

I was driving home from college to go to work when my car started to overheat. I pulled over and popped the trunk (to get the gallon of water I keep for reasons like this) and the hood. I could have been worried, but I felt calm. I got the water out and closed the trunk to check my radiator coolant level. It was moderate, so I added more water. I got back inside and waited for my car to cool down. Soon a Road Ranger pulled up beside me and I told the nice man what had happened. He was a sweet, older man who asked me to pop the hood so he could do what I had just done. He said there wasn’t much I could do but carefully drive it home and do what we had just done. I figured as much and carefully got back on the highway. I didn’t make it two miles and my car started to overheat again. I forced myself to go to the next exit to park in a public parking lot and call my parents. After about three hours of waiting to coordinate schedules, I was back home as my car stayed where in a public parking lot.

Was I upset? Sure. Was I worried. Honestly, not as much as I thought I would be. I realize this was a way the devil could keep me back from doing the things that make me who I am. I am not a missionary knocking on doors or traveling the world, but I am making a difference in my small world. When I am in my car, I am free to go where I am led to go. Without a car, I am stuck at home and at the mercy of fate. Fate knows I believe in something deeper, more meaningful so it can be pushed aside.

Tuesday.

I tried arranging a car situation to get a ride to where I needed to be today and guess what? It didn’t work out. Was I upset? It goes without saying I was, but there was nothing I could do. I didn’t fret or worry myself with the weight of fear or doubt. I told who I had to about the situation and left it in God’s hands. I worked from home and got assignments done. In the middle of working from home, I felt sick. I started to feel cold chills and my feet felt started to feel heavy. I must have eaten something awful because I was starting to feel really weak. If I was at the office of where I should have been today, I would have been uncomfortable. At least I was at home in pajamas enduring the nauseated experience. After eating something solid and medicine, I started to feel a bit better.

I ended up visiting my car with my mom to diagnose the damage. I was hopeful, but sadly my motor is shot. There was a rattle noise when we tried driving it around the parking lot. Obviously, driving it to next exit was dangerous to my car’s health, but smart because we were in the parking lot long after the sun had went down. On the way home, I was given options of what I can do with Betsy the Boat:  sell it to a junk yard, keep it for parts, sell it to someone looking for parts, and more. It was overwhelming, but my heart and mind were calm. Again. The rush of “it’s going to be ok” feelings filled me up with hope. Do I know where my next car is going to be? No. Am I going to have to work to produce a car fund? Yes. Does this scare me? Not really.

Wednesday morning.

I know when it comes to my faith, I am a warrior who has wisdom beyond her years. I have the gift to help others through prayer and words of encouragement. Sometimes those words are something so specific, it is much appreciative by the person I am helping that I had said something. Without my faith telling me to open my mouth and allow the spirit to speak through me, I would not have brought joy into people’s lives. Living by faith is not only following God’s word, acting in obedience, sharing his love but it’s a matter of trusting in God’s plan more than your own. All this is who I am and why the devil tries to attack me when life gets me down. Do you ever feel that way? It’s a downward spiral of doubt to more doubt until it’s a weight of an ugly slump. I know if I am down and shaken, I am not standing firm in God’s will. For the first time in years, I am certain the future is bright because I passed this test and know more will be coming behind it. Am I ready? More than I will ever be with God near my side.

Do you have a test of faith you passed or failed? Maybe we can learn something from one another.

Living Life Through Generosity

I look forward to Sunday because it is the day I get to set my own agenda. My calendar is set for me to do things like this—blog, talk to friends, grab a mid-afternoon coffee, and enjoy the outside without worrying about a deadline or appointment. I dolce far niente, or the sweetness of doing nothing in Italian. If you read the book “Eat. Pray. Love” by Elizabeth Gilbert, then it’s familiar to you or maybe you’ve discovered it on your own in another way. It’s been my theme because I am learning to be content in all areas of my life.

To be content is like giving up my worries and giving them to God because I know he wants what is best for me. (Even if I don’t know what is best for me at that time.) A few days ago, I ran into a friend I haven’t seen in months. It was good to share how my life has been since we last saw one another. He continues to encourage the best way by listening and sharing his wisdom of what he has done. (This is where God moves in powerful ways that are much bigger than my own.) Prior to running into this friend, earlier that morning I had made myself a quick lunch wishing I had more time to make something bigger or a little extra money to buy something. My budget has been cut back due to me not working at much as I go to school and intern, but I knew it would be like this going into this season of my life. Nonetheless, I trusted God would take care of me because there was nothing I could do on this day to change my situation. I could worry helplessly or trust in God time and time again. This is when I ran into my friend and as we got done talking, he shook my hand with a farewell smile and left me with $5. I felt bad and offered to give it back, but he waved me on and started walking away. I walked away feeling humbled (I am not one to ask for money/help from others… call it selfish pride) because God has been teaching me to trust in him and not carry LIFE on my own.

We are relational people because that is how God created us to be. Inspired by this morning’s sermon at Southpoint Community Church by Pastor Russ Austin, he encouraged us to be generous.

  • When the word generous comes to mind, many people think of money but not always. As you read above, I am not “wealthy” with the money in my life but I am blessed because of those who have been generous with theirs.
  • I am often encouraged by a word or message and I encourage others in hopes God can move in their lives in a similar way he has in mine. Out of all the people I tell, many one or two may actually need the encouragement. I am generous with my encouragement because I know it’s something I can offer to others.
  • Since the beginning of this year, I have been on this “lifestyle change” that has brought upon healthy habits I share with others. I cannot afford a gym membership, so I have an agreement with a friend who owns a gym to work on his social media in exchange for a membership. With the social media outlet and in other ways, I share with others what he has taught me about food. I share this knowledge because someone was generous with his time and passion to pass it on to me.
  • I received a phone call prior to typing this out from a friend who is in a rough season of her life. She has a lot on her plate and is seeking advice in her situation. What we talked about is private, but be rest assured her situation reminds me of my own a few months ago. When I was going through one of the roughest and busiest seasons of my life, I had received guidance that helped me get through it. I shared with her what I had done in a similar situation in hopes she could see how I “survived.” Someone was generous with their time to hear me rant and rave, so I continue to use what I learned to be generous with someone else.

What are you generous with that are withholding from others? Ask God to show you what more can you do for him and others. I hope anything I have said has been said out of love and encouragement for you to do the same. May your actions bring glory and blessings upon you as you give of your time, experiences, or in your own way to help others.