The pressure is on, or maybe it’s off

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As if the pressure we put on ourselves weren’t enough, we face the pressures of society: to always be the best, to have every next step planned out, and always be put together. I don’t know the origins of these “standards,” but they kind of suck. (Sorry, not sorry.)

The problem with this is that it is completely unrealistic, yet as humans we feel like we have to live up to what society is saying. I’m here to hopefully offer you a bit of relief in this way of thinking.

You are not the only person who feels like they are running around with their head cut off. I have heard from so many people that they feel like they are a mess because they don’t know their next step. YOU ARE NOT A MESS. YOU ROCK. 

God doesn’t ever to tell us to plan out our entire life. He tells us to trust in Him to lead us where we need to be. Sometimes waiting on the Lord for our next step is quick; sometimes it feels like it is never going to end. During this time of unknown we can do a few things to relieve the pressure.

  1. Remind yourself that you are not the only one who feels like you don’t have it all together.
  2. Cling to the promises of the Lord.
  3. Pray. This seems basic, but bringing your mind back to the Lord brings a lot of peace.
  4. Be thankful for what is going on in the present.
  5. Focus on what the Lord has spoken to you and not what He hasn’t spoken to you.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5-6

What topics would you like to hear about from me in the future? I value your input and want to write something that you can relate to.

 

Love one another

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Two weeks ago I wrote about learning to love yourself. I am very passionate about women, especially, loving who God created them to be. I could talk about it all the time. But I don’t want us to forget the importance of loving one another.

We all desire to be treated with respect and to be loved despite our flaws. I believe God specifically put this desire in us. So if this is something everyone desires and everyone is aware of, why is it so hard to live out?

I could give you a very lengthy explanation of my personal beliefs and opinions, but I am going to try and keep it simple. I feel like we need to start from the beginning.

In order to love someone and love them well, even your enemies, you need to know what the word “love” means.

Now I know what you are thinking: “Sydney, seriously, we all know what the word love means, it’s the greatest feeling on earth.” You wouldn’t be wrong to define love as a great feeling; it is. Google actually defines it as, “an intense feeling of deep affection.” Also, not wrong.

These definitions are fine, but my favorite definition of love comes from 1 Corinthians 13. You probably know this verse, but I am hoping to make it a bit more applicable for you. This verse is my favorite because I truly believe love is more than a deep feeling. I believe that love is a choice backed up by a series of actions and reactions. This verse is the foundation of my beliefs.

1 Corinthians 13:4-7 says,  “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”

Ahhh, this verse is music to my ears. It is everything I desire love to be.

Just because I desire to love others, according to this verse, does not mean I do not fail miserably at it sometimes. To love your enemies is hard, and to love your friends or family when they are not making great choices, is hard.

So what do we do? How do we love one another better? I will tell you what I do when I find it difficult to love someone. Maybe it’ll work for you too.

First, I read 1 Corinthians 13:4-7. I read it a few times to let it sink in and to be reminded of what God defines as love.

Second, I write the verse down. BUT, instead of using the word “love” or “it”, I replace those words with my own name. For example, “Sydney is patient, Sydney is kind, Sydney does not envy,” so on and so forth. Typically I write the verse out in bullet points and create a check list of sorts.

Lastly, I take a long hard look at my new “verse” and see how I measure up. This is one of my favorite ways to self reflect on any situation. You can analyze how you are behaving towards someone.

Don’t be discouraged if you come to realize you are not being very loving in a situation. Nobody is perfect. It takes a great deal of effort to love. Asses yourself and think of ways you can change your actions towards the person you are struggling to show love. Don’t give up and keep trying.

“Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought to love one another.” 1 John 4:11

Has there ever been a time where you found it difficult to love someone? Tell me about it in the comments below!

 

 

 

Let go and let God

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Part of discovering who you are is learning to let goof things that are holding you back. Everyone has something they hold on to whether it be past or present. We carry these “things” around like millennials carry around their cell phones. For those non-millennials reading, that means we rarely let go of them and when we do we pick them right back up.

The thing about letting go is that it’s actually really hard. The things we hold on to, good and bad, often bring us comfort of some sort. But it is time to unload the backpack of “things” we are carrying and lighten the load.

I am honestly sitting here writing this post to myself. I have a few of things I’ve picked back up that I need to let go of. I’ve been carrying them around, even though I know I have a Father in Heaven who is desperately asking me to let go. He knows the burden is to heavy for me to carry and I honestly can’t carry them for one more day.

So today I am letting go of….

  • control
  • the anxiety caused by the unknown
  • the pressure I put on myself
  • doubt and distrust

I can sit here and spit out verses about what God says about all of these things. I know the truths of His word and I know the power of letting go. But I am a human, I am not perfect and sometimes I pick things up that I’ve already laid at the feet of Jesus.

Don’t be discouraged by the process of letting go and trusting God. It is a hard one. If and when you find yourself picking things back up that you’ve let go of, go back to the cross and lay them there. There are weeks, like this week, where I am frustrated at myself for picking things up that I’ve already let go of. It happens, we are human.

Please give yourself some grace through this process. God does not demand that we are perfect in our efforts of trusting him, He just wants us to continue to try. So keep trying and let something go this week. Big or small, the Lord wants to carry the burden of His children.

What is something  you need to lay at the feet of Jesus and how can I pray for you this week? 

You are so loved, my friends. .

 

You should go and love yourself

Darling, don't forget to fall in love with yourself, first..jpg

“You should go and love yourself….”

These words may rest in the lyrics of a catchy Justin Bieber song, but I am taking them out of that context and encouraging you to really go and love yourself.

I am a firm believer that people can never fully give and receive love until they learn to love themselves. Some would argue that loving yourself means you are self-centered and selfish. I define loving yourself as being secure and confident in who the Lord has made you to be. Loving yourself is being kind and encouraging to yourself, not tearing down and comparing yourself to those around you.

Today’s society is filled with so much hate talk. We talk hatefully about others and we spend endless amount of time talking hatefully about ourselves. We aren’t pretty enough, smart enough, muscular enough. You name it and you probably don’t believe you are enough.

I’ve spent more time than I would like to admit hating myself. I hated my looks; my attitude, my past mistakes, I even hated my intelligence because it made me “nerdy.” Stupid, I know!! I buried this self hate under a lot of fake confidence and cockiness throughout high school.  On the outside I was a beautiful, smart, funny, a cheerleader, and on the inside I was a hateful mess.

It wasn’t until I got to college that I realized that the more I hated myself the more of mess my life was becoming. I made bad choices, bad grades, had bad relationships; I was a mess. I realized I would end up self-destructing if I didn’t learn to love myself for who I was and who God says I am, despite my flaws.

Making the decision to start loving and respecting myself is a pivotal moment in my life. It’s been a long hard journey to get where I am now, and there will always be room for improvement.

Maybe you’ve find yourself in similar boat as I was in. You wonder why people don’t respect you, you wonder why you are always doubting and lacking trust, you wonder why you aren’t enough.

I am here to tell you two things. One, you are more than enough. Don’t just take it from me; take it from the man who created you. Two, maybe it’s time to stop focusing on the negative, to stop the self hate and to start loving yourself.

So how do you learn to love yourself, you may ask? I am going to give you a few of the many things I did when I started this process almost two years ago.

Changing your attitude toward yourself is hard; trust me. I’m confident that you have probably stood in front of a mirror and ripped yourself to shreds; I know it can’t just be me. This is the hardest habit to beat. And yes, it is a habit. So what can we do instead? I used to stand in front of a mirror and thank God for everything about myself, good and bad.

This is the most practical to love yourself. Write down ten things you are good at. For example, “I am a good listener.” Hang them all over your room, bathroom mirror or wherever you will see it and read them once in the morning and once at night. I believe that you are what you think, and if you are thinking about the good things instead of the bad, you will love yourself a little bit more each day.

My favorite way I have learned to love myself is by trying new things. This can range from learning to paint or going hiking at an unfamiliar spot, volunteering or even trying new foods. Exploring is fun and it is a great way to find something new that you love doing, that might turn into one more thing you love about yourself. You might even find a new passion along the way.

These are just a few of the many ways you can learn to love yourself again. It’s not an easy journey, but take heart; God is with you and I am cheering you on!

What are some other ways you love on yourself? Big or small, I want to hear them all. 

Also, please feel free to contact me or leave a comment if you have any questions about my journey. This is a very brief snapshot of a very large picture. 

Let yourself rest

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Does anyone feel like they are extremely needy, tired, irritable and grumpy the past few weeks? Maybe you feel that nothing is going right, no matter how much effort you are putting in to school, work, [ect.] Or you find yourself feeling like you need more attention from your friends and family than usual.

You aren’t alone in these feelings. I am right there with you. We’ve hit the middle of the semester, and I am exhausted–mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually. My to-do list is continuous, and there are never enough hours in the day.

A sweet friend reminded me a few days ago that I needed to take the time to rest. “In order to fill an empty cup you have to slow down and take a break,” she said. I knew that I needed to rest, especially in the Lord, but where am I going to fit that into my schedule?

This got me thinking. “What are some practical ways I can spend a few minutes each day resting in the Lord?” This is what I came up with:

In the car. I commute to school and spend a ridiculous amount of time in the car each day. Most people spend some time in the car, every day. Why not take advantage of it? Turn off the radio and just drive in silence thanking God for the beautiful things you see along your journey.

Put it on your to-do list. Write in five minutes of free time into your schedule or to-do list. Take this time to just breathe. Sit outside, lie down in the grass or on a comfy couch and just be still. Don’t think about everything you should be doing, just do your best to focus your attention on the Lord.

Turn off your phone. I am the world’s worst about being on my phone. The second I get a little break I switch it on and aimlessly scroll through social media. I am making it a personal goal to keep my phone off during at least one of my small breaks during the day, in order to bring my attention to the Lord. This could be walking to class, during lunch, between projects at work, ect.

God created the Sabbath so that each week His followers were “forced” to take a break from their stressors and given time to relax in His presence. In today’s culture, taking a break from daily tasks is considered unproductive and often times lazy. But the Lord knew we would need rest, so he set a side a whole day for us and made a commandment to keep it holy.

The Sabbath is a blessing the King of Kings created for us and we all kind of just look over it and say, “Ain’t nobody got time for that.” In my own life I can’t imagine taking a whole day to rest and just do nothing. But, I can take a few minutes out of each day to have “mini Sabbaths.”

For me, I see a difference in my attitude when I take the time to spend a few minutes with Jesus and be still. These are just a few ways to create space in your day for a short time of rest.

Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” Matthew 11:28

What are some other ways we can spend a few minutes resting in the Lord?

 

 

 

 

You are what you think

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Have you ever heard the saying, “you are what you eat”? For example; if all you eat is donuts you are eventually going start looking like a donut, or if all you eat is junk food you are going to feel like junk.

I believe the same is true for your thoughts. The things you think about really can shape who you are and your outlook on life. It is easy to let your mind get carried away with random thoughts good and bad. I am very much of a dreamer. My mind is constantly churning. While this can be great, it can also take a toll on you.

I remember a time in my life when everything I said and thought was negative. I wasn’t smart enough, pretty enough, I was stupid. I thought every outcome in any situation was going to turn out bad and  nothing good was going to ever happen to me. Honestly, my freshman year was though because I truly had a horrible perception of how it was going to go before it even started.

Once you start down the road of negative thinking, it’s a long journey back to “normal.” Many things influence a negative mindset, the way you see yourself, the way you feel others see you, ect. You have to train your mind like you would train for a marathon. Persistence and dedication are key. No one can do thins for you, just like no one can run a marathon for you.

You are probably thinking one of two things right now. Either, how do I change my thought patterns or you think that my belief in the power of positive thinking is ridiculous. For those doubters I dare you to come along this journey with me and try it out. You have nothing to lose.

The first way I learned to control my negative thoughts was to write down everything good or bad I believed about myself. For every negative thing I wrote down I found a bible verse about who God says I am and did my best to memorize them.

Second, I put sticky notes all over my bathroom mirror with positive things that I had to recite out loud every morning. If I did this everyday for a week I would reward myself with a treat. I wrote things like, “I am fearfully and wonderfully made, I am smart, I am kind, I am going to have a good day.” I didn’t just put them on my mirror. I put them in my car, my notebooks, basically any where I would see them throughout the day.

Next, I had to learn to learn to counteract every negative thought with a positive one. This was the hardest for me because no one can really hold you accountable for what goes through your head. To make this more tactile I made a journal and wrote down everything good and bad about my day and then thanked God for both the good and bad encounters.

These are just a few simple ways to create a positive environment around you and ultimately take back the control of your mind. When I put these behavior modifications into place in my life, my attitude and mindset turned around. I believe its important to try to see the good in every situation and it is very hard at times. But being able to control your thoughts and not let them run wild really helps bring a different outlook to the table in every situation.

These are a few verses that really encouraged me to change my mindset and think more positively.

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” Philippians 4:8

 

“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:2”

 

What are some things  you do to keep a positive attitude and good thoughts?

 

Five things God says about who you are

What do you think God thinks about when He thinks about you?

Most of you will answer with broken, unworthy, not good enough, lonely, sinful and doomed. The list could go on; selfish, lustful, unforgivable, impatient and angry. If I were to answer that question two years ago that would have been my response.

I truly felt that God thought of me as a horrible, broken, unworthy person because of choices and mistakes I made in my past. I saw myself as too far gone. I believed there was no way that God would be able to use me or even want to use me or love me again.

Maybe you feel that way too. Maybe you, like me, really believe there is no hope for you.

Well I have news for you. You are NOT too far gone. It is never to late to turn around and run directly too a heavenly father that welcomes you with arms wide opened. There is no mistake or choice you can make that will take away God’s love for you.

I have been where you are. I have felt what you are feeling now. It is hard and not fun. Actually it sucks. You likely feel all alone, but you are not. I am with you. I have walked where you are currently walking.

These are five verses that I cling to when I start to buy into the enemies lies about who I am. I believe that resting in and meditating on these verses will start to change your outlook on what you think God thinks about when he thinks about you.

You are redeemed and forgiven. No mistake you have made can keep you from God’s grace.

In Him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace” Ephesians 1:7

Imago Dei. It is Greek and means “created in the image of God.” God created you just the way he wanted you to be. Your hair, your body, your personality. HE created EVERYTHING about you, and he calls it good. Be careful criticizing yourself, because you are really criticizing the work of God.

“So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” Genesis 1:27

You are loved. God loves us enough to send His son to die so that we could live an eternal life in Heaven.

“But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ— by grace you have been saved.” Ephesians 2:4-8

You are accepted. We all want to be accepted in one way or another. Well, there is good news! We are accepted by the King of the World; how amazing is that?!

“Receive one another, then, just as Christ also received you, to God’s glory.” Romans 15:7.

You are healed. You are healed from your brokenness. You are healed from your anxiety, depression and sickness. Whatever is hindering you, you have been healed by the blood of Jesus.

“With His wounds we are healed.” Isaiah 53:5

What other truths and verses do you cling to when you start to question who you are in Christ?