This is Not Famous to Me…

One time, when I was a freshman in high school, my mom was driving my sister and me home from dance class. This happened several times a week, so it wasn’t out of the ordinary, but this particular time stands out. Back then, in our community, we could safely pick up people who needed a ride. Typically it was an elderly gentleman with Alzheimer’s who lived near us, but this one night sticks out because it was a woman and her son who we picked up. It was dark, and they were walking on the side of the road, a few bags of groceries in hand. We couldn’t just leave them–they looked terrified. My mom asked if they wanted a ride, and the woman accepted. When we asked where they were going, it was clear that English was not her first language. “Blackberry nine”. Her address*. Where I grew up, most of the street names had something to do with nature. I had ridden the bus for a few years, and the street name sounded familiar from my bus route, but I couldn’t quite pin it down to an exact neighborhood-there were dozens of streets named after berries. We headed in that general direction, but when we got there, this woman’s reaction became a household quote: “This is not famous to me.” What she knew in the light was not enough to help her in the dark. After a few more tries, we found it. Relief swept through the car. We found Blackberry nine!

I say this to highlight the importance of truly knowing something. This woman knew what her street looked like. She probably left for the store in daylight, and felt prepared to get home. But she didn’t know the surrounding areas with enough confidence to actually bring her to her front door. I will never forget her huge grin as she ran with her precious little boy to her house. Her fear subsided, and she was back to the “famous”.

Familiarity in prayer is a beautiful thing. I was recently asked how I just pray out loud and know what to say. As I have come to understand, prayer is an ongoing conversation with God. I’m just picking up where I left off with my Father. The more time I spend in prayer, the more I understand His character and the more confident I feel in His presence. Don’t get me wrong, I’m learning each and every day. I’m learning  how to pray scripture. I’m learning to pray out loud. I’m learning to write my prayers. It’s a beautiful thing, and it comes with time.

Look at it like this: The way I talk to my husband is different than the way I talk to a person at they gym. The way I talk to my coworker is different than how I talk to a new patient’s mother. How I converse with my sister is…well different than anyone.(Mostly in movie quotes, voices, and emoji-worthy facial expressions) It’s the familiarity that turns “God is great, God is good” to “Father God, You are beautiful”.

I never thought I would use Will Ferrell in a blog post, but there’s a time for everything, right? Remember in Elf, when Buddy sees Santa, and yells “I know him!!!”, only to realize it’s a fake? How did he know the Santa in the store was fake? He knew the real deal. He was so confident in his relationship with Santa, that he spotted a fake right away. That is how our relationship with God should be. That familiarity allows us not only to come into His presence with a deeper understanding of who He is, but it also allows us to recognize when something doesn’t line up with His word.

On the flip side, just think about how familiar our Creator is with us. Psalm 139 is a beautiful song of God’s love for us. Verses 1-6 say:

O Lord, You have searched me and known me.
You know my sitting down and my rising up;
You understand my thought afar off.
You comprehend my path and my lying down,
And are acquainted with all my ways.
For there is not a word on my tongue,
But behold, O Lord, You know it altogether.
You have hedged me behind and before,
And laid Your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
It is high, I cannot attain it. (NKJV)

I would definitely urge you to read the chapter in its entirety-it’s short, but so full! I love this passage because it shows us the understanding God has of us, and it displays an awesome example of familiarity with God from the writer, David’s perspective. How did David write such an intimate song? He knew his Maker. God put that understanding in David’s heart through a lifetime of prayer and devotion. As David has been considered to be a man after God’s own heart, we should also aspire for the same closeness.

Know your Bible so well that you could navigate scripture in the dark. When you’re troubled, know where to turn. When you’re rejoicing, sing the songs of David (see James 5:13). When you hear someone speak about the Bible in a way that seems unsettling, know the Scripture so well that you can refute it if it’s wrong, or wrestle with it if it’s true. God (and His word) should be “famous” to you.

“Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16 NKJV)

 

 

*Changed for her protection, on the off chance you are a stalker, and she still lives there.

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Rejected

Today I got rejected. It was just a little rejection, but it immediately triggered memories of past rejections. Book proposal refusals, not making a dance team, Twitter unfollowers, not receiving a solo in a choir show– we’re talking “way back when” here. Healthy, right? Thankfully, I now know how to stop that thinking dead in its tracks (Jesus), but for a moment, I felt a little crushed.

You see, I was running errands, and I figured I would ask the manager of a local store if he could carry my book. I know this store is a small part of a large chain, and I know the decision to carry a book could be a corporate decision, but it never hurts to ask. Except when it does. The manager was very nice, and he suggested I ask my book rep to contact their corporate office. The slight problem with this is that as a self-published author, I am my book rep. I smiled and nodded, and thanked him for his time, but I could feel myself deflate. Rejection is hard. And it’s hard to get back up and try again.

This past Sunday, I had an opportunity to see my church family welcome a prodigal son of sorts into worship. We have several “prodigal children” within our church family, and I can say without hesitation that we welcome each and every one back. Are we disappointed in the decisions they make? Yes. Do we let them know we are disappointed? Yes. But do we hug them when they return? Always. And almost always with happy tears in our eyes. I love that our church is a safe haven for those who have lost their ways. It’s home base. Yesterday, our returning member came back, and he brought friends. He came to worship, acknowledging that God was more important than circumstances.

There could have been drama, there could have been rejection; he’s experienced both, yet he came back. Remember when I said I knew how to stop that rejection mentality? It’s Jesus. Yes, the most basic, Sunday School answer there ever was: Jesus. And this man knew it.

Unfortunately, the church does a lot of rejecting. This isn’t new. For goodness sake, we rejected Jesus. In Luke 4:14-30, Jesus returned to his hometown of Nazareth to preach. He was literally “thrust out of the city”. Praise God, Jesus didn’t stop at rejection. We reject those who aren’t like us, those who sin- but really just sin differently than us, those who speak differently than us, those who look like someone who did something terrible, those who hurt our feelings, etc. But that isn’t what Jesus modeled for us. Jesus did not reject the rejectors, and He gave us the perfect example of how to handle rejection: We look to the Father.

Today, instead of having an all out meltdown, I can bring my disappointment to God. I can pray for Him to restore my courage and my emotions, I can thank Him for future opportunities and for comfort. I will continue to shop at this store, because there is no reason to hold a grudge. I was not wronged in any way, I simply did not get the answer I wanted. God gave me the avenue of words to prayerfully process, and maybe have a milkshake on the side.

I’m grateful for His truths, and I’m grateful for a body of believers who gracefully models what it is to give second and twenty-seventh chances. Whether you are feeling rejected, or maybe you are the rejector, your answer is Jesus. “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34-35 NKJV)

 

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Faith Like a Pecan Tree

When Daniel and I moved into our house, one of the things we liked best was the beautiful pecan tree in the front yard. Seven years ago, we had been married for a little over a year, I was pregnant with Hudson, and we had big dreams of lots of pecan pie in our perfect home. That first year, Daniel spent a day cracking pecans on the back porch and made our first pecan pie. It makes my mouth water just thinking about it.

The thing about trees is that they are finite. As with all living things, they are susceptible to disease, weather, old age, etc. Ours found its kryptonite in the form of a lightning bolt. It took us a while to realize what had happened. We noticed it didn’t produce pecans our second year. Some friends said it may only produce every other year. We made sure to fertilize it, and we waited patiently for the next season. Only, we didn’t see growth. No leaves, no pecans. It was looking pretty dead. Then the limbs began to fall. We would notice a small branch in the yard after a storm, or a larger one after particularly strong winds. We thought about calling a tree service multiple times, but then the tree perked up with leaves again. It did have life! But still no pecans and still one solitary dead branch. We discussed the situation with our neighbors, who had a lightning stricken pecan tree, and we came to the conclusion that our tree had met the same fate.

Branch after branch continued to fall, creating some close encounters with our roof, the road, and the flag on our house. A neighbor with a chain saw offered to cut the tree down for free, in exchange for the wood, and we thought it was too good to be true. Turns out it was. He did cut up a large limb, but we never saw him again after that. The tree still stands. It really made me wonder, “What can I learn from this? This tree has roots, metaphorically and physically speaking. I hate to see it go, but I can’t risk a hole in my roof or damage to my house.”

I started thinking about how we hold onto things that aren’t good for us because we fear what life might look like without them. Sin is hard to give up. Sinful behaviors can come along with our family and friends. They can become what we feel defines us. They can be our hobbies. Sin can be what we use to look good or exciting. When we feel conviction to stop doing something that has been part of our nature, we get uncomfortable and defiant. “How can I stop gossiping? I’m the one who ALWAYS knows what’s going on!” “How can I stop using drugs? It’s how I cope and my friends do it with me.” “How do you expect me to stop using profanity? It’s not that big of a deal.” We find excuses and justifications to avoid the tug that God places on our hearts.

When we come to Christ, we are not expected to change every detail about our lives all at once. As our relationships with God grow deeper, we start changing little by little. Some major things might change right away, but the rest come in time. Jeremiah 18:6 says, “Family of Israel, you know that I can do the same thing with you. You are like the clay in the potter’s hands, and I am the potter.” This message is from the Lord.” A potter doesn’t just pick up a lump of clay and have a masterpiece. He molds, he chisels, he smooths, he kneads. It takes time and a lot of work. It takes great effort to eliminate imperfections.

Sin is kind of like our tree.

  • We didn’t recognize the problem at first. It still looked good and the leaves were still green, but it didn’t produce fruit. Sin hinders our ability to bear fruit also. Some sins are easy to hide. We think we look like we have it all together and that no one will notice our sin, but we don’t tend to witness well to others if we are disobeying the very Word we are trying to preach.
  • Our branches began to fall one by one, leaving a mess to clean up, but nothing devastating. Like I said, we have not experienced any major damage from the lost limbs. Breaking a sinful habit might be hard, but it will not be damaging; in fact, it will make your relationship with God, and probably others, that much better.
  • Once one limb falls, another tends to follow suit. Like sin, when we recognize one area for improvement, the other problems become more apparent.
  • Our friends may have good intentions, but it is ultimately up to us to make a change.
  • The pecan tree does not make or break our house. We love our home. We have made memories here, we have an amazing back yard, and we have the best next door neighbors. We are not defined by our pecan tree, and we are not defined by our sin.
  • Once the tree is gone, we will have a clear view of our house. Without sin, we have a clearer picture of God. We aren’t impeded by our own shortcomings. 1 Corinthians 13:11-12 says, “When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.” When we meet Jesus, our eyes will be opened. We can have a glimpse of that on earth if we depart from sin. Will we be perfect? Of course not. But we can strive to be like Christ. As Philippians 3:14 says, “I press on”. 

Needless to say, I think we may have a date with a chain saw pretty soon. You get to a point when enough is enough. You realize the risk does not outweigh the benefit of putting it off. God has gently broken the branches of our tree, and He gently urges us to eliminate sin in our lives. Sin separates us from God, and there literally is no benefit to pursuing it. When the tree is gone, we won’t have to worry about pulling in the driveway to find a hole in our roof or a branch through our window. When we stop sinning, we stop worrying about getting caught. We stop worrying about the negative effects of our actions because the only thing to do is replace sin with God.

Are you at a point where you need a tree trimmer or a stump grinder? My prayer is that it will become evident in our lives. A close relationship with God is the most beautiful thing—more than any tree or pecan pie. Don’t miss what is best for what is good.

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Be Strong in the Grace

Strength. We associate it with being tough. Being hard. Being physically fit. We typically don’t associate it with grace; but in 2 Timothy, that is what Paul asks Timothy to do: “be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.” The first time I read it, I wasn’t sure what it meant. But then God worked to show me the meaning behind His Word in a way I would never expect.

Not too long ago, my friend made a mistake– a big mistake that could have cost a life. It could have been anyone. Moms, think about little mishaps that happen each day that make us stop and thank God for His protection. Teenagers and former teenagers, think about stupid choices you made that didn’t result in the consequences they could have. Anyone in the medical field is faced with life altering calculations and decisions each day of work. If we want to be honest, each time we sit behind the wheel of a car, we are entrusting our lives to others and have the potential to make deadly mistakes. Accidents happen. Mistakes happen. But sometimes it leaves us feeling like we have rocks in our stomachs. Sometimes the thought of “what if” can be paralyzing.

My friend struggled to forgive herself. She felt like a failure and was struggling to move on. The fact of the matter is that Satan wants this in our lives. If we are choosing to follow God’s calling on our lives, if we are making a difference for the Kingdom, Satan will try to thwart our efforts. If a nurse stopped practicing because of a near miss, if a financial advisor quit his job because of a miscalculation, or if a musician stopped playing because he played a wrong chord, no one would be in practice very long. Our mistakes truly do help us grow and see more clearly the next time.

In one of my favorite movies, “Elizabethtown”, the main character is a shoe designer who makes a design mistake, causing his shoe to be recalled, resulting in an overwhelming loss for his company, and the loss of his job. He finally confesses this faux pas to a girl he’s seeing, expecting her to join in his enormous pity party. Her reaction? “So you failed. Alright you really failed. You failed. You failed. You failed. You failed. You failed. You failed. You failed. You failed. You failed. You failed. You failed. You failed. You think I care about that? I do understand. You wanna be really great? Then have the courage to fail big and stick around. Make them wonder why you’re still smiling.”

Here’s what I would like to add: Admit failure, but then admit forgiveness. It can be hard to accept that God has offered forgiveness, but when we fail to forgive ourselves, we place our opinion over God’s. If God has deemed us worthy of forgiveness, we are worthy. End of story. Being strong in grace is hard. It’s choosing to stand back up and try again. It’s living like we have been forgiven. It’s sharing what happened to us with others to encourage them and potentially save them some heartache later down the road. Being strong in grace means being strong enough to identify the devil’s schemes.

We are, by no means, perfect. We have made mistakes, and we will continue to make them until our last days on earth. Ask for forgiveness when your mistake was due to sin (ignorance is a sin); praise God when your mistake doesn’t end in devastation; apologize when necessary, and by all means, get back up.

Just like with the muscles in your body, strength doesn’t happen overnight. Being strong in grace requires practice. It requires an ongoing relationship with God. We can’t just decide to be strong in grace if we don’t have solid foundations of understanding grace. Daily prayer and communication with God and a firm understanding of Scripture is how we become strong; admitting weakness and our need for a Savior is how we become strong (see 2 Corinthians 12:9). Less of us, more of Him equals strength (see John 3:30).

Strength and grace may seem like opposites, but grace can be hard, not only to accept, but to give as well. Grace is not a sign of weakness, by any means. Accepting grace is working against the devil’s agenda, and that is no easy task. If you trust God, accept His grace, live in His grace, and overflow with His grace.

Be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.

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Feet Down

“He only is my rock and my salvation; He is my defense; I shall not be greatly moved.”- Psalm 62:2 (NKJV)

Last weekend our family made an impromptu visit to the beach. Just to let you know how often we go to the beach, I’ll just tell you, I hadn’t donned a swimsuit in two years. I know, it’s sad, but true. So it was kind of a big deal, and we had the best day. It wasn’t too hot, my sunburn wasn’t too bad, and the breeze was perfect. I’m still amazed by God’s handiwork every time I watch the waves. The Bible talks about the water a lot, and God definitely used the waves to teach me a thing or two during our visit.

Harrison was barely one year old the last time we visited the beach as a family, so he was basically experiencing it for the first time. He was ready to go as far out as we would let him. He was prepared with his life jacket, and I had a firm grip on his little hand. He was safe. We waded out in to the water, about knee deep for me, and tummy deep for him. A small wave came, and he giggled in his chipmunk voice. A few more, and he was hooked. I noticed a bigger wave coming and told him to get ready. It splashed over his face, and his feet went up. “Mommy, I got fish water in my mouth”, he spit as I lifted him back to an upright position. I reminded him that when the waves come, we keep our feet planted. We played for a few more small waves, but another big one came, and he lifted his feet again. Same scenario, more fish water. It really knocked him down a few times. I was grateful for his life jacket and Daniel’s arms to trade out with. No matter how we explained it, Harrison couldn’t grasp the concept of keeping his feet down.

It was then that I realized the symbolism: When our feet are not planted in God’s word, we fall again and again.

As children, we sang the song about the wise man who built his house upon the rock and the foolish man who built his house upon the sand. The rains came down, the floods came up, and ultimately, the house in the sand washed away. A faulty foundation leads to big trouble. No matter how “good” we are, or faithful we are, or how smart or wealthy we are, we will be faced with trials. James 2:2 is very specific when it says to count it all joy WHEN we fall in to various trials, not if. Isaiah 43:2 says, “WHEN you pass through the waters, I will be with you” (NKJV). The waves don’t stop. They may be predictable in rhythm, but they certainly vary in size and strength. Harrison could hold his own (with a little help) during the small waves, but the second they got some oomph behind them, he was wiped out. When we try to hold our own during trials, we may be okay for the speed bumps, but if our feet are not secure in God for the major roadblocks, we will be wiped out, too.

Having a firm foundation means we know His word. We have Scripture hidden in our hearts (Psalm 119:11). We have a peace that surpasses all understanding (Philippians 4:7). We know that all things work together for the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28). We know that many have faced trials in weakness, but they become strong through God, and God alone (2 Corinthians 12:9). How do we know these things? We read our Bibles. We go to church. We fellowship with other Christians who not only make really good casseroles- they hold us accountable for our actions. We pray to God like He is our Heavenly Father and not a genie in a bottle, and often.

If Harrison would have planted his little feet in the sand, he would have remained upright. He would have swallowed a lot less “fish water”, and my arms would have been a lot less sore! Relying on his own faulty instincts left him waterlogged.

By the end of the day, he had it figured out. He bent his knees and braced himself for each crashing wave. He needed us to keep reminding him, but even grown-ups need reminders of our own vulnerability sometimes. Here’s to hoping we have an opportunity sooner than later to help him practice again.

 

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45 Days

“If you don’t know the Lord, we’ve been praying for you for 45 days.”

A few weeks ago, I posted that our church was observing Lent this season as a way to pray for the lost. I have been eagerly awaiting this post to tell you just how much of an impact it had.

So often, our hard work includes a lot of sowing but less reaping. We may plant seeds in God’s name, and have to trust that He has a plan for fruition. Other times, beauty grows right before our eyes. Our pastor stood with tears in his eyes last Easter Sunday morning as he told us of two men in the lives of our members who made decisions to follow Christ. Men in their sixties and seventies who have skirted the edges of relationship with God. Men who have been around Godly examples–immersed even, yet they did not take the plunge. In these 45 days, they said yes.

I had the privilege of seeing one of these men baptized this morning. His excitement brought him across the country to be with us today. It didn’t take a major life event, just lots of prayers and fasting of the faithful. Our sacrifice of soft drinks, candy, peanut butter, fast food, etc. were not in vain. Although with the eternal significance of their omission, they sound so trivial.

One man does appear to have a more urgent need to call Jesus His Savior. Just like we prayed for his salvation, we now pray for healing and comfort.

Our church is a body of praying people. If you have ever been the recipient of these prayers, you know this well. It was amazing to see how God answered us when we kicked it up a notch. My prayer life will be forever changed, and I will always practice fasting during Lent. Jesus tells us in Matthew 18:20, “For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.” As for the other countless people, named and unnamed, they have been prayed over for forty-five days by a whole congregation of believers. I fully believe we have only seen the beginning of the fruit.

Our baptisms are concluded with the words, “Many have come, and yet the pool is still not full”. We have a lot of work to do! Matthew 17:20 talks about moving mountains with our faith. Many of our family members and friends who do not know Christ can seem like mountains. They may have placed their faith in something else, or they may be missing the mark by a mile. These “mountains” can certainly be moved. God is still in the business of performing miracles. Commit yourself to praying for these people. Pray Scripture over them. Fast for them. We serve a faithful God who wants every last one of us to come to Him. Our prayers will not be in vain.

We praise God for His faithfulness, for answered prayers, and for our new brothers in Christ.

If you don’t know Christ, you’ve been prayed over for 45 days. And we aren’t stopping now.

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29 Before 30

I’m closing out a decade of life. I’m turning thirty tomorrow, and I’m okay with it. I have a feeling thirty will be good. As Jenna Rink says, “thirty, flirty, and thriving”.

So many of us are scared to get a year older. We panic when our children start growing up or we grow a year closer to the senior citizen’s discount at Applebee’s. But I’m so thankful that I’m not who I was ten or fifteen years ago. I’m grateful for the lessons, even the hard ones, that have molded me into who I am today. So here are twenty-nine things I have learned before I turned thirty.

  1. It really doesn’t matter what people think. In the words of my friend, Maddie, “You do you, boo”. You want to be a vegetarian? Awesome! You want to get a tattoo? Cool. Breastfeed? Bottle feed? Have pets? Take medicine? Go on vacation? Do it. What you decide is best for you and your family is what’s best for you and your family. Everyone has an opinion, especially behind the veil of a computer screen, but their opinions are just that. Pray about your decisions, discuss them with a trusted friend who can hold you accountable, and live your life. In the words of Dr. Seuss, “Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.”
  2. Be careful when ordering online. Still waiting on a dress from Hong Kong, circa 2010. Check the reviews. This applies to hotels too. I’m looking at you, Jo Ann and Polly. (My bad.)
  3. Go see live music. Something about hearing a band play live is good for the soul. If you love listening to a band, find out where they are playing, and go. Support their efforts. Traveling to see them adds another layer of adventure. I highly recommend it. And get good seats.
  4. Go to the theater. We need some culture in our lives! Get dressed up, feel fancy, and see a play on stage. You can find one for just about anyone. I took Hudson to see Dancing with the Stars at the Saenger in New Orleans a few months ago, and I’m so glad I did. He and I put on our Sunday best, and Daniel taught him to hold the door for me and pay for our snacks. It was a perfect lesson in being a gentleman, and we loved every minute of it.
  5. Dance! This goes back to not caring about what people think, but I’ve had to learn to let go. Some of my favorite nights are when our family turns up the music and lets loose. Is it something I would want on YouTube? No! But we enjoy ourselves without embarrassment. We laugh until our sides hurt, and it helps let go of the stress of the day.
  6. Don’t text and drive.
  7. Life isn’t easy, but it’s good. Thirty years of living has brought its fair share of heartache, but there have been lessons learned in each step of of the way. Some of the darker moments I would never ask to repeat, but I’m grateful to a God who makes beauty from our ashes (see Isaiah 61:3).
  8. Call your grandma. You don’t have forever. There are innumerable words of wisdom from this generation. Collect them now.
  9. What you eat is important. We only get one body; take care of it. Moderation is key, so enjoy the foods you eat without obsessing over calories. But make your meals count, and pay attention to labels. Grow your own produce when possible, or buy locally.
  10. Find a job you love. It may not be what you went to college for, but find that job that makes you happy to come to work each day. Being miserable is no way to live. If finances are the issue, make a goal, and do what you need to do to accomplish it.
  11. Don’t rely on credit. Remember when you were a kid, and you had to actually save money to buy something? It was such a cool feeling to finally have enough money to buy what you wanted. It also showed us what we really wanted and what was fleeting. We should do that more, too.
  12. Set goals and work to meet them. Our busy lives tend to push us toward instant gratification. We want likes right away. We want food right away. We want results right away. But good things take time. Just ask April the giraffe. If you want to accomplish something, discipline yourself to make it happen. Run a 5K or a half marathon, learn how to play piano, lose twenty pounds, learn a language, publish a book. We can’t do these things overnight, and I think we need more of that. Philippians 3:14 tells us, “I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Above all, make glorifying God your highest goal.
  13. Say thank you.
  14. Read the Bible to understand it, not to check it off a list. Truly study the Bible. Pray over scripture, memorize it, ask God for understanding, and do it consistently. Not once a week, not on holidays, every day. We serve a mighty God, who has allowed us to communicate with Him whenever we want. Take advantage of that! His Word provides help in times of trouble (Psalm 46:1) and lights the way to go (Psalm 119:105).
  15. Seek purity over boundaries. We focus a lot on the rules rather than the heart. Pure hearts are shaped by what we look at, what we hear, and what we do. God’s commands aren’t to keep us from having fun, it’s to guard our hearts and mold us into Christ’s image. Check your heart before the rulebook.
  16. Apologize and forgive. Don’t hold onto bitterness and don’t be the reason someone harbors resentment. (see Ephesians 4:26, Colossians 3:13.)
  17. Spend time outside. We really need to appreciate what God created a lot more often. Fluorescent lights are depressing. But wear sunscreen.
  18. You have a voice. If you need to speak, speak up. If you have something to add, if you can advocate for someone, if you can share Jesus with someone, say it loud and proud. Don’t hide in embarrassment or shame. Use your God-given voice.
  19. It never hurts to ask. You already have a no.
  20. Pay attention to people. Let someone know you noticed her haircut. Compliment your friend’s new shirt. If your coworker lost ten pounds, tell her the hard work has paid off! Follow up with someone if he or she expressed a hardship going on-it’s not only about us.
  21. Always acknowledge when someone enters the room. I read this advice before I got married as a suggestion for a happy marriage. Even if it’s a smile with eye contact, recognize the other person’s presence. Say good morning to your coworkers when you get the office. Be a good human.
  22. Share. We have too much. If someone needs a baby crib and you’re not having children, let someone else use it. Let your neighbors share your lawn mower. Bring meals to the hungry. Let your friends borrow your tools and books. Let’s go back to community.
  23. A tattoo won’t ruin your life. I don’t have one, but I love people who do.
  24. If you want to know what’s going on in the lives of people at church, ask for prayer requests in children’s church.
  25. There is always something to be grateful for.
  26. It’s okay to cry. (I’m still working on this.)
  27. People may not remember your name, but they will remember how you treated them. For the longest time, a similar quote hung in the break room at work. And it’s true. When you genuinely care for someone, that’s hard to forget. Make an impact with your words and actions, not your name tag.
  28. Don’t be too serious all the time. Play, create, laugh, smile. It’s okay and encouraged to have fun.
  29. Do your best. No matter what happens, as long as you give it your all, that’s all you can do. You cannot give 110%.

Age is just a number, right?

A great way to say Happy Birthday!

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