Thursday, October 30, 2014

Hiding & Acceptance

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As believers who have personal relationships with the God of the universe, we sometimes have a tendency to revert to what seems most natural: HIDE!

Often if there is something (anything) in our hearts that we're ashamed of, we instinctively want to conceal it and ourselves from the eyes of God. Within the last month, I've been feeling that desire to stay hidden and avoid any confrontation with the Most High. It was over this attitude: I want to take care of myself. I want to be in control. I don't need Your help, God. I got this...

There is no greater lie than "I don't need God." There is never a more prideful attitude than "No thanks, Lord." And after thinking that way for a while, I constructed a wall in our relationship.

The interesting thing is, any walls I construct are really only affecting one person in the relationship. There isn't any wall where God's concerned. His power and love are ever active in my life, no matter what. And while I'm allowing guilt to keep me from him, he never stops extending grace and mercy to me.

___________________________


After feeling convicted of my pride, I confronted my wall and did the right thing: I took responsibility for my actions, repented, told God it would never happen again, that he could expect much better from me in the future, and that I was now a person he could be proud of. Because that's what God wants to hear, isn't it? Isn't it? No, no it's not, and that's not what I did. I repented, but I realized that "There is now no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus our Lord." And, "The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise." All he asks of us is humble acceptance of his love and provision for our sins, and reliance on his work to make everything better. Acceptance is really all that faith is.

It was a little hard to do that. Even though I knew I had nothing to add to what Christ paid, it was still difficult for me to be okay with it (after having just been convicted of having a prideful attitude, too!) God handing freedom to you and me, no charge, is hard to accept. Just like we would love to be able to handle our lives on our own, we would love to do something, anything to deserve his forgiveness. We can't. He has to do it all, and he has done it all. We're responsible for receiving it and nothing more. The overwhelming thankfulness and love we feel when we finally accept it is what changes us into people who honor Him.

Like this quote I shared with you on Tuesday, we try to gain understanding and love from the Lord, but it only truly comes when we just receive it... freely and abundantly. Hiding when ashamed is unnecessary and trying to live in our own strength is fruitless. He is the only one who can overcome our struggles and who loves us despite our flaws. We just have to accept that. And when we do, we are free to enjoy the overwhelming security, peace, comfort and joy that is always ours for the taking...


-Song (thanks to Amy!) :)

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Inspired to be...Courageous: Leia of Leia Bryn


Today's guest is a new, sweet friend of mine! A woman with a passion for encouraging others, Leia of Leia Bryn has been so wonderful to work with, and her blog is really going places. I have high hopes for her. :) Leia works alongside her husband in campus ministry and in the month of October she wrote 31 days of posts focused on all aspects of writing (she and I share a common love). She's telling the story of the man (the first male to be featured in an Inspired post, by the way) who inspires her to be courageous today. Take it away, Leia...

We are more courageous than we lead ourselves to believe. Courage is defined as the ability to do something that you know is difficult or dangerous - and don't we all experience difficult circumstances in our lives? For some of us courage can be as simple as getting out of bed each morning to show up at a job that we've been called to do but struggle to find the muster to give it our all. For others, courage may reveal itself in more exciting ways, like launching a new business, deciding to start a family, or moving to a new city. Courage has many faces, friends.

There are however those individuals in our lives that inspire us to be more courageous beings. They're the friends, family, and strangers that venture into new territories of life not allowing fear or difficulty to stand in their way. These individuals make us all more brave, brave to pursue our passions and giftings, or very simply, brave to show-up and do the job we've been given that day.




My husband, Guy, is one of those individuals. To explain I'll have to take you back a few years in our relationship. Back to senior year of college to be exact. Guy and I were recently engaged, just babies when I think back on that time in life, and both preparing for our post-graduation careers. I was stubborn and eclipsed by fear. My career was a choice I made because I wanted everyone else to be proud of me, I wanted approval of others, and those gleeful congratulations when you shared you landed that dream job. Guy went about the process far more thoughtfully than I. He pursued God's will in the decision and ultimately made an incredibly faith-filled, courageous decision to work full-time as a missionary in college campus ministry.

Over the course of the following two years I witnessed him remain faithful to his values and calling. When others didn't understand his decision to be a missionary and verbally expressed their disappointments in him, he remained unwavering in his choices. He showed true courage, not allowing fear or difficult circumstances or hurtful words to stand between him and the role he knew he was called to pursue.

When his new role as a missionary required him to raise his full support, a process not for the faint of heart, he showed up daily, and diligently raised his full support. Ultimately this was God at work in his life and the life of others, but it required Guy to trust God and remain faithful to the job he was called to do. Having now joined him in raising support I firsthand know the kind of courage this activity requires.

I sat on the sidelines watching this courageous man for almost two years. Each and every day he would wake, drive into campus, and share Jesus in discipleship, during large group weekly meetings, and with inquiring strangers on campus. His very job in life requires great courage as it stands entirely counter-cultural to popular society today. I know that his courage does not come from his strength alone but rather very literally comes from God alone. I guess I've realized that courage very closely relates to our trust in God's faithfulness and our willingness to submit our will to His.


Guy has quite literally inspired great acts of courage in my life and very few days go by that I don't wonder where I would be today if not for his display of courage. Almost two years ago, as I sat in an office, in a job I had accepted for the reasons I shared in the beginning, I made the monumental decision to stop allowing fear to control my life. I very clearly saw what living out a courageous life meant because of my husbands daily acts of courage and I wanted in.

Today, we work together as missionaries, in a new city, and I have the immense blessing of watching him being courageous day in and day out as we work together on the many college campuses in our area.

Guy's courage reveals itself in very small moments of his everyday routines. If you're not looking closely you might even miss it altogether. But like I said in the beginning, courage has many faces. Sometimes courage will mean taking major steps of faith and radically shifting your life, but other times, and I believe maybe most often, courage happens in the small decisions we're making daily.

Do you see moments today where you've been courageous? Or do you feel like you're sitting in the office chair I once did two years ago; eclipsed by the fear of others, fear of walking through difficult circumstances, or fear of failure? What might it look like for you to take courageous steps today? To submit your will to God's will? Courage, I believe, requires great faith. And being courageous won't mean we will be without failures, painful circumstances, or disappointment, but I do believe if we are stepping out in faith, trusting God, and abiding in Him, we will not regret being courageous with our life.

What does courage mean to you?


Blessings to you and Guy, Leia! I'm so thankful you were able to share your story with us today! It's a beautiful one.

Follow my new friend, Leia, blog readers. She's one of my favorites. :) Have a great day and value courage!


Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Well Said...


I've been thinking about the truth behind this quote a lot and will be sharing my thoughts soon. His grace is amazing. :)

Meanwhile, today's my mom's birthday (Happy Birthday, Mom!) and I'm headed to the kitchen to bake her a cake while she's at the bmv getting her license renewed. :) Hope you guys are having a great day!


-Song

Monday, October 27, 2014

Fall Trends


Happy Monday! Rarely, do I have to retreat into the weekdays for some peace and quiet, but that's kind of how I feel this week. It was a lovely, but crazy weekend that included  a 5am bed time one night in order to fill a jewelry order. (My goal for October was to get up at 5, not go to bed at 5! :)) But, honestly, here's hoping more of that happens in the next couple of months. The holiday countdown is real. How are you preparing for it? 

Segue, into a fluffy subject...

In all of it's "haute-ness" and "couture-ness", the fashion industry has been right in sync with what I've been drawn to this fall. I'm seeing trends like these everywhere:

1. Black & White


2. Sporty sporty


3. Burgundy



4. Blush




5. Florals ("for fall? groundbreaking.")




6. Zippers



7. Trench




Feeling any of the above? :)

-Song



Photo creds: 1.1| 1.2| 1.3| 2.1| 2.2| 2.3| 3.1| 3.2| 3.3| 4.1| 4.2| 4.3| 5.1| 5.2| 5.3| 6.1| 6.2| 6.3| 7.1| 7.2| 7.3

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Inspired to be...Courageous: Katie from Life Is...


Hey Everyone! It's Inspired Wednesday again! :) Today's guest is lovely Katie from Life Is..., a blog I always enjoy visiting for encouragement, inspiration and excellent writing. When I first found Katie, I sat and read the story of her sister's battle with cancer and was incredibly touched by their relationship (and reminded of my own "sister-ship"). It made an impact. It would appear that Katie has many courageous people in her life, and I'm so happy she decided to share one of them with us this morning! Here are Katie's words:

I believe the most courageous people aren’t those we always suspect. We have all seen our favorite superheroes on the big screen: fighting evil, standing tall, being courageous in the face of danger. But real superheroes don’t wear capes or masks, they don’t have a special nickname, or defeat darkness every single time.

Real superheroes face darkness every time and even if they don’t defeat it, they rise each day to face it again. The courage comes from fighting to live a life you love, despite the things that make it difficult.

                                                                  _______________

My aunt has faced more dark nights than most people. Sometimes I feel like the hardships are lined up for her one after the next. Hurdles she just barely manages to jump over each time. But the point is, each time, she jumps.

When I was younger, my aunt would fly from New York to our home in Las Vegas a few times a year, and each time I would think to myself “I have the strongest, most beautiful aunt in the world.” She did the things she wanted to do and she always took care of those she loved. As I grew older, my aunt still lives fearlessly. She finds beauty in the messy parts of life, and loves and cares for others endlessly. 

My aunt’s life has been about being brave. Courage is weaved into her bones, making her stronger than anyone I know.

Me, my sister and my aunt (left to right)

My aunt was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis several years ago. Her body has done things she cannot control. MS affects the central nervous system, and disrupts the information the brain tries to send to the body. No matter the limitations my aunt’s brain and body has, her heart remains courageous, her love remains steadfast.

My aunt has donated her kidney to a cousin in need, she’s stood by both her parents through old age and illness, and she always finds some way to help others.

My aunt and uncle’s five-year-old daughter recently got sick after her appendix ruptured and a slew of stomach complications followed, and I watched as my aunt put on a brave face and stood up for her daughter. Through tears and shaking hands, she remained fearless.

The thing is, there are always going to be things that scare us. Things that frighten us to our core, and events in our life that make us question everything. My aunt has taught me the way to face these things it is to have to courage to live anyway.

Despite the fear, despite the hardships, despite the dark nights, she has taught me to seek the light and bask in the good days.

She has taught me we are all so much braver than we think.


Wow, thanks so much for being here, Katie! Your aunt sounds like a person who inspires everyone she meets.

Y'all check out Life Is... and have a wonderful Wednesday!

-Song

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Validation


My friend, Abby, sent this video my way last week. I thought it deserved its own post. It's a very well done short film on the importance of smiling and the power of positive words. (There's a familiar face from Bones, if you're a fan.) :)


Enjoy! You look great today, by the way!

Monday, October 20, 2014

Salon Chair Conversations: Blogging Burnout

Last week, I had a hair appointment. No drastic changes here, just a trim. But y'all, I happen to have one of the sweetest hairstylists ever! She's so easy to talk to (no awkward salon pauses in the conversation), and we have lots of fun. Thankfully, she's also talented! At one point in my life when I had a different hairstylist, I would sometimes walk out of the salon feeling like this:


But now, oh happy day, I always feel like this:


I would encourage you to find the hairstylist that makes you feel like Audrey. Don't settle for being a mad little girl with a brush.

Anyway, on to the main topic... One of the many conversations we had while I got my hair trimmed was around blogging. My stylist once blogged regularly, too, and we were discussing how so many bloggers just seem to be getting burned out these days. I myself have been seeing tons of blogs, large and small, going on indefinite hiatus because writing became too stressful and time consuming. Life online is only a small part of everyone's world, after all. This is even more true for those of us who can't claim blogging as a full-time job or as a source of any income.

But, as we were talking, I voiced my feeling that "blogging burn out" has to be preventable. If we truly enjoy this means of sharing and communicating online, there have to be boundaries we put in place that keep the online world in its place, so we don't become overwhelmed and drop out of the fun. What are they?

I honestly, don't know that I can answer my own question. I'd love to know your thoughts. I'm sure the answer will be different for each person, but I think it's important that we all try to answer it for ourselves because, quite frankly, this should be a no-pressure environment. Whatever else blogging is nowadays, it's always been about writing and sharing and making friends and having "you too?" moments and enjoying our worlds in a public way, not stress and competition. If you can only blog two times a week while managing the rest of your life, do that! If you don't have the time to make all your own graphics or do DIYs or write a life confession that's football fields long, that's fine! "Do your best and forget the rest" as Tony Horton says. But, don't get overwhelmed. Don't feel stress over something that's supposed to be enjoyable. And, if this really is your source of income, and you're drowning in blog-related work, think of maybe finding someone to help you out! The abundance of work is probably a sign you're doing a great job with your online world, just don't sacrifice the physical one for it.

Am I the only one who's been thinking about this? Please do share your thoughts for "blogging burn out prevention," and have a great, stress-free Monday! :)

-Song