Life gets really tough sometimes. There are days were you just can’t take it anymore. I’ve had a lot of time to think, just like many of you have during this time of social distancing, and I’ve thought about the events that have led me to where I am now. Looking back, I’ll be honest, there have been a ton of times where I wanted to quit. To just give up and let go. In high school, I knew God was calling me to be a pastor, it’s the clearest voice I have heard. I had a passion to help people and a passion to help young people especially step into who God made them to be. From that moment I felt very weird, I am still so passionate about it, but when I have pursued it, I get push back.
Maybe you have been met with similar pushbacks, you might not have enough experience, might be too young or too old in the eyes of the person in charge, or maybe you’ve been told you don’t have the right x-factor or cool enough. I’ve faced these exact same challenges, but in it, god has been with me. He always reminds me:
Never give up.
A few nights ago, dear Danielle and I set out to find some sunken treasure in the ocean. Okay, not really, but we did play an awesome escape room in a box game where we found treasure while solving a bunch of riddles. We found a pretty cheap game, made some pasta at home (you always need a good meal before clue solving), and put on a ten-hour ocean life video on the TV. We had an absolute blast, something we have tried to do on a consistent basis in our marriage. Fun is important to life, we all need to have fun. Sometimes though, we tend to let other things get in the way. When we do that we miss out on having fun, and having fun produces true joy; it’s time for you to create space for joy.
“fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10
Loneliness is a terrible feeling. We are now in the thick of this quarantine era of life, it’s a forced time of being alone. Dear Danielle and I have noticed how the days slip away and you have to create structure or time just melts. Hopefully you’ve found a rhythm, a way to make sure your mind stays active rather than become a zombie. This is a hard time for everyone. Whether you’re introverted or extraverted, we need connection, and when you can’t actively step outside of your home, the isolation turns to loneliness. Loneliness can be a dangerous place, it often leads to depression and a deep yet unknown sadness. I want to talk about this time, you may be grieving the way you used to live your life, but in this moment, know that you’re not alone.
I love taking pictures. People used to mess with me for how much I use Instagram; it’s one of my favorite things. I don’t like it or use it to try and become an influencer, I see it as a photo journal. I get to post highlights of my life and share that with others! I don’t share my entire life on there, but it’s a fun tool I get to use with my pictures. I take lots and lots of pictures every day. I think this love of photos started when I used to get on trips or to camp and I was given a disposable camera from my parents. I could take up to twenty-seven pictures!
The main reason I take so many pictures is that I want to remember moments so I can look back at all of the meaningful memories I have.
I think everyone has significant moments in their life. Moments that have shaped us and made us who we are, and often, these are not too happy of memories. It’s such a tragedy that our lives encounter terrible heartache, yet it’s how we grow and mature. It’s almost Thanksgiving, and while most of the time we are focused on family and delicious foods, I think it’s important during this time to look back at the moments that have shaped us. What you’ll find, and it’s something that I myself have found, is that these key moments, good and bad, have shaped us into a stronger person than we once were. I titled this post the way I did because I think living a life full of thanks, allows us to have deep joy and love well.
I was inspired by an Instagram post by So Worth Loving today. There was a picture that said, “no rain, no flowers.” Isn’t that just a beautiful thought? There are times where we just spin our wheels, and feel as if we are getting nowhere. We get tired, we grow weary, and we just simply feel worthless. It’s those rainy days where you just don’t want to keep going. The truth is, and this is the truly beautiful sentiment, without rain, we never get to see the flowers bloom. When it comes to our lives, there are hard days. Maybe you’re physically exhausted or mentally drained, but some days are just difficult. In these moments, don’t lose sight of the finish line. Don’t let the worries or feelings of inadequacy prevent you from stepping into your potential. Without the rain, or the storms, there are no flowers.
This past week was the opening of Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge at Walt Disney World, and it was a glorious day. Though, it started quite early, I needed to be there at three in the morning. That meant, in order for me not to be stressed, I had to be up at one. Of course, the excitement kept me from sleeping, and then once I was finally asleep, it was time again to get moving. In a groggy state I grabbed my phone from the charger. Now, if you have to go to bed at six-ish the previous night, you don’t turn down the brightness. As I looked at my phone, in a dark room, my phone lit up like the sun and burned my eyes till they were on fire.
It was rough.
Now, I may be exaggerating, but it’s amazing how such a small light can light up and entire room (and possibly blind you).
Have you ever done something you wish you could take back? Made a comment, did a thing, chose one option over another? It’s a pretty crummy feeling, what’s worse is that most of the time, we could have changed the consequence by our original choice. I love working in children’s ministry, and one of the main points we talk about is that we need to make the wise choice. But, how exactly do we make the “wise choice?” Sure, some options are easier to see, like, if I need to be up at 5, I probably shouldn’t get to bed at midnight if I want to be alert the next day. Pretty straight forward, but what about the other choices in our lives. Relationships, jobs, living situations, what we spend our time doing; the list goes on and on. It would be easy to say, just do what the bible says, and wash my hands with this question, but the reality is, the bible doesn’t say anything about if you should move or if you should pursue a relationship. Or does it?
I love jumping into the pool. There are different kinds of people, those who gradually ease their way in, those who test the water before deciding to go in or not, and then there’s me, diving in like a hooligan. My thought process is, if it’s cold, might as well get used to it quick and have fun while doing it than nothing. I hate long buildups. Danielle and I recently went on a roller coaster, it spun you all around, was really tall, and very very fast. My dearest Danielle loves adrenaline, and I enjoy roller coasters, the thing is, the waiting kills me. The lines always crawl and, in my head, I build it up to be worse than I know it is. What if I die? No one has ever died before, but what if I’m the sucker who kicks the bucket this time? What if my glasses fly off? I know physics literally says that they will stay on my head because of the force, but what if I defy physics? I have the best time when I just jump into it, and not allow room to worry.
My favorite quote from the great theologian and philosopher, Lemony Snicket, is, “Do the scary thing first, and get scared later.”
I think we need to live like this in all things, especially as we step into our calling.
“Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior.”
– Habakkuk 3:17-18
When we think of worship, most of the time our minds immediately go to singing on a Sunday morning. I mean church services are often referred to as worship services, there is a worship team and a worship leader, but today, I’d like to move away from this common idea. I’ve talked about worship from that perspective here before, but I want to talk about worship that we all possess. You may not be a singer, but you are fully capable of worship. When I look at worship, I think it’s better to see worship as a lifestyle, not just a Sunday morning state of mind (or an occasional mid-week service that happen). We’ve turned the concept of worship to no be a lifestyle but a “thing” we have to do. This often happens in the routine of our relationship with God. Read the bible. Check. Pray. Check. Listen to Hillsong on the way to work. Check. Listen to a church podcast on the way home (mainly to help the blood boiling anger of rush hour traffic, Orlando I4 what’s up). Check.
The thing is, worship was never meant to be a part of our checklist, it was supposed to be a state of being.
You are awake today and that means you should be living a worship lifestyle.