“One Word” Update

Do you remember when I blogged last week about my church going through a series about finding our “one word” that the Lord has placed on our hearts to really focus on throughout the year? Well, I feel like I may know what my word is – “brave.”

There have been so many words that have come to mind through this past week – the ones I’ve blogged about, and a couple of others have also come up. And I just couldn’t feel the Lord pulling me in one direction or another. And this past Sunday, as I sat in church and listened to my pastor preach about sowing and reaping, the word “brave” came to my mind.

If I were to look back on my life, there have been moments in which I was brave, and moments when I wished I was braver than I was. And even as I think about where I am now, and what I strive to accomplish and learn from the Lord this year, the word “brave” really just fits.

For instance, right now I’m dealing with a website that I launched in the middle of last year that is in need of some recovery, revision, and reboot. I was honestly really discouraged about it towards the end of last year, and it’s taken me a lot of motivation and reminders to get back into picking it up off the ground. In other words, I feel like I really need to be brave during this time, and dealing with this situation.

Yes, I do want to do things this year that I’ve never done, and that takes courage/bravery. One of the major things I want to do is delve into who the Lord is, who Jesus is. That may sound so silly to some, but I feel like I’ve heard about God and Jesus all my life, and unfortunately, it’s just become a common topic of my day, not anything earth-shattering, even though it’s the basis of my faith, my life. It takes courage to get out of the mundane, the typical, and admit that I don’t know everything, and need to learn more about Who my Savior is, and how deep His love is.

One reason I didn’t think “brave” was my word in the first place was because I am currently reading a devotional book revolving around being brave, and I’m even going through it during my #MotivationalMishyMondays on Instagram live! I figured it was too simple for me to say that “brave” was my word when I was reading and learning about it every day. But God doesn’t try to trick His children; I think my word’s been under my nose this entire time, and I just haven’t realized it until recently.

I’m still going to pray on it though, make sure that this is the word that the Lord has for me to focus on. But I just feel like bravery is rooted in so many things I need to focus on.

I’ve expressed several times here that I’m a worrier, and I’ve always been a worrier since I was a child. Thankfully, the Lord has helped me through my worry as I’ve gotten older, but recently, I’ve felt the same type of worry that I used to as a kid start creeping back into my life. It’s so weird how you think you’re over something, but then when it’s brought back into your life, you can feel the familiarity of it; you remember what it was like in all the ways – emotionally, spiritually, mentally, physically.

As I thought about my worry, I thought about the root of it – why did I worry about certain things, people, situations? And I thought, My worry is rooted in fear – Fear of the possibilities of things going a certain way, or people doing/saying things, etc. And if I am to face my fears and worries…I need to be brave. Brave enough to remember that the Lord knows my heart, knows my fears and worries, and is with me no matter what happens. Brave enough to continue to live without fear, because fear holds me back from doing and saying so much.

Just because my word for the year is possibly “brave,” it doesn’t mean that I will totally learn to conquer fear by the end of the year. But I have faith that the Lord is capable of doing that in me, if I trust in Him to teach me how to be brave, and obey Him when He calls me to be. And even if my “one word” isn’t “brave,” I still feel like it’s something I need to continue to learn as I go throughout my life.

So, this week, I pray that the Lord would continue to conquer my fears and worries, and that He would show me in specific ways how to be brave.

#MishyWrites

No Matter What

This morning, I was reminded of God’s love, which might sound extremely cliche and boring to some Christian readers. But the first words I read out of the current devotion book I’m reading (100 Days to Brave by Annie F. Downs) were, “God loves to love you.”

And even though we preach, teach, and claim to believe that God truly loves His children, I find myself hard to grasp that sometimes. I find it hard to see His love as unconditional because there is so much in this world that is conditional, and love sometimes seems to be one of those things (search my spoken word poem I posted titled “in Love” to read more of my thoughts/beliefs on the differences between the love of this world, how Christians should love, and God’s love).

The devotion continued on with some powerful sentences like…

“Our God, the One Who is breathing life into your life, is full of love for you – no matter what you have done or where you have been.”

“Consider the fact that in God’s eyes, through Jesus, you are holy, chose, dearly loved – wow.”

I read these sentences and the rest of the devotion, and I thought to myself, Do I ever live as if I’m loved like this? And honestly, most of the time I don’t. I feel like I usually base my love level off of what I’ve done today – did I get my to-do list for the day done? Did I work on these specific things? Did I open my Bible or pray at all today? It’s unfortunate that I think God’s love level changes based off of my actions, when that is completely unbiblical.

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.” – John 3:16 (ESV)

His love has nothing to do with what I’ve done, and EVERYTHING to do with what Jesus did – died on the Cross, completely sinless, so that those who believe in Him could have eternal life with the Father. And yet, I struggle daily thinking that He’s still somehow holding His love on a scale of my accomplishments and failures.

More and more this morning, this message was revealed to me, as a song that used to be my favorite when I was growing up played through my speakers as my playlist was on shuffle. “What If” by Jadon Lavik discusses this same topic as he sings and asks God, “What if I climbed that mountain? What if I swam to that shore? What if every battle was victorious, then would You love me more?” and “What if I ignored the hand that fed me? What if I forgot to confess? What if I stumbled down that mountain, then would you love me less?”

Of course, this doesn’t mean that we get to do what we want; just because God loves us no matter what we do, it doesn’t mean we can do whatever we want, like disobey Him and His Word. As a Christian, I still have an obligation to express my love and adoration to Him by following Him and His Word.

With all of these thoughts in mind, I am grateful for the reminder that God’s love is unconditional, never changes, no matter what. I want to strive to live my life in such a way, knowing that the God of all things loves someone like me who messes up at times, who forgets that He’s even there sometimes, who bases His love on a totally messed up scale that doesn’t even exist.

Along with all this, I’ve decided to join this social media challenge on Instagram called #deeplyrootedchallenge, in which each person takes paint chips from the store, and writes down a truth, some encouragement, a belief, etc., and shares it on social media. And because of what the Lord has been speaking to me today, this is what I wrote on mine…

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#MishyWrites

“One Word”

Yesterday, my church started a new series called, “Discover Your One Word,” and as we study the Bible, everyone in church is actively praying, seeking, and listening for the Lord to reveal one word in their life that they are to focus on for the year.

I wish I could relay all of the points of my pastor’s sermon yesterday about goals, visions, resolutions, hearing vs. listening to God because everything he taught yesterday was so extremely vital and important to following Jesus, even if you aren’t trying to figure out your one word for the year.

Being challenged together with the church to ask, seek, and listen to the Lord for one word is exciting and a little intimidating, if I’m honest. There’s always the question of “What if God doesn’t give me my word, but gives everyone else theirs?” or “What if I choose a word, and it’s what I personally want to work on this year, and not what God is calling me to?” But I believe that, as long as I am actively pursuing, seeking, and asking the Lord to reveal to me my one word, He will do so in His timing.

But I just wanted to share a few of the words that came to my mind yesterday during and after church that are things I can definitely work on this year, but am unsure if they are exactly my “one word”…

“Time”

Time is always something that people want to figure out in their lives – how much time to give to specific activities, when time can be carved out for self-care, spending more time with family or friends. When I thought of the word “time” yesterday, I thought about being present. I feel like my mind is always thinking about the next thing instead of actually thinking of where I am / what I’m doing in the moment. I’m already planning for tomorrow instead of living today. So, I could definitely do better at being present in this way.

But I also thought about being present with where my life is – working as a preschool teacher; having the friends and connections I have right now; having my writing, blogging, and other projects currently where they are. It can be a little frustrating to think about where I am right now because I’m not where I ultimately want to be.

Currently, I’m reading the book of Esther and, although this phrase is such a cliche in the Christian realm, the phrase “for such a time as this” kept coming to me, and making me think that maybe I am where I am in my life “for such a time as this” – for a specific reason, a specific purpose. The reason / purpose doesn’t have to be huge like it was in Esther’s life (to those unfamiliar with the story, the Lord allowed her to be queen to give her the opportunity to save her people from annihilation), but maybe I am where I am to learn a specific lesson, or to help a specific person, or simply to be content with where I am, and serve the Lord right where I am.

Thinking this way doesn’t mean I shouldn’t pursue the things I want to, but it does mean I don’t have to be frustrated with where my life is right now.

“Pride” or “Humility”

As I sat in my seat at church, the Lord brought these words to my mind.

Lately, I’ve been told that I’m really good at certain things, be it writing, dancing, singing, etc. And I truly appreciate the compliments – they really are a part of what keeps me going. However, I just felt the Holy Spirit telling me to “be careful.” Because yes, maybe I am good at all those things, but I don’t want them to go back to the glorification of myself. Because I’m not the one who made me a good writer or dancer, or a lovely singer; the Lord is the One Who created me, and gave me the talents and gifts that I have. And I feel like lately, I haven’t really thanked Him for that; I’ve simply been taking the compliments, and moving on to boost my ego.

What I’m not saying is that I should deny the compliments to act humble, but that when I receive a compliment, I should give thanks to God right then and there, to remind me that I am only who I am, and I can only do what I do because of Who He is, and who He created me to be.

“Fix your eyes” —–> “Focus”

My pastor said this phrase near the end of church, and it made me think that I should write it on a notecard, and tape it to my bedroom door so that I can see it right before I step outside to interact with anything or anyone. Because it’s a reminder for me to check myself: what am I focusing on before I walk out of my door? What do I plan to focus on throughout my day?

In order for me to really tune in to what God wants to reveal to me, I need to focus on Him. There are way too many outside distractions, especially during this time of year. My pastor mentioned that people are so focused on what their outside looks like right now – their health, their finances, their relationships – that they’re not fixing their eyes on what their inside is like. They’re not focused on Christ, and what He would have them to work towards. And if I’m honest, part of me has been focused on God, but a whole lot of me has not. So maybe “focus” will be my word this year.

 

No matter what my word is (even if it’s not any of the ones I just wrote about), I am excited to see what God is going to reveal and do throughout this year with my word, and I’m also excited to have the accountability of my church family to guide me through this. I’ll have to keep you all updated as to what my one word is / how it came about / when God revealed it to me!

#MishyWrites

Being Brave with My Food

I’m currently reading this little devotional book entitled 100 Days to Brave by Annie F. Downs, and after each short devotion is a challenge to be brave, or reflect on bravery in some way. A couple of days ago, the challenge was to journal about a couple or a few experiences in which I or someone else would consider brave.

Well, let me tell you right now…I’m currently doing this 28-day reset challenge with my sister that involves cutting out certain foods, and it’s been a struggle. The first couple of days, I was unsure of what to eat, so I barely ate anything. Yesterday (my third day), I cheated by eating a little snowball cookie (I have such a sweet tooth, it’s not even funny), so I’ve decided to start all over which will set me back to the very end of the month.

I bring this up though because, personally, this reset challenge requires some bravery. The point of this challenge is to cleanse the body of things like dairy, gluten, sugar, processed things, and alcohol, and afterwards, slowly bring them back into the diet to see what your body can truly tolerate and not tolerate. Honestly? I’m really nervous about day 29. What if I can’t eat pizza or ice cream anymore because, surprise, my body actually can’t tolerate dairy like I thought? Or what about bread and pasta? I love me some good pasta. What if I try to eat it, and I can’t anymore? What if I get sick from trying to implement that stuff back into my diet?

No lie, I texted my sister yesterday trying to see if she’d give me some leeway on this whole cleanse thing. On only the third day. After I cheated already. All I was asking for was for my coffee to be sweet; I’ve hated the way I’ve been drinking it so far.

But after feeling guilty about our conversation, and thinking about the benefits for my body, and also realizing that this would be a time for me to be brave, and not give up even when it got difficult, I have decided to keep going with this. Because ultimately, I want what’s best for my body, the only body that God gave me. I am continually striving to better myself spiritually, mentally, and emotionally, but rarely do I strive for it physically. And this is my opportunity.

Now, I’m not saying that for everyone to strive for their best physical self they have to go on a diet or cleanse, or become a vegan or whatever. And I’m not saying that I’m not satisfied with the way I look. I am just personally convicted that I haven’t been taking care of my body as best as I could be, and this is one way for me to do that. And with this cleanse comes an exercise plan as well, so I’m also covering that base, don’t worry!

Those of you who may be concerned about if I’m eating at all, yes, I’m eating very well now! Had to take a few trips to the grocery stores, but I got what I need! I’m still missing french vanilla creamer in my coffee though…I’m trying Stevia and unsweetened vanilla almond or coconut milk with my coffee to see how it goes. Pray for me, lol.

#MishyWrites

A Struggle with Sleep

Last year, there was one night in particular in which I found myself struggling to sleep.

Now that I think about it, I may’ve blogged about it – how I was in this state between awake and asleep. How I wasn’t able to really get to sleep without listening to some gospel music, and praying that the Lord would just put me to sleep already since I had work the next morning.

Well, with the new year here, I’ve experienced two more nights like this, and it’s honestly quite troubling. The last time I can remember ever struggling with sleep was the fall semester of my sophomore year in college, and it was just as frustrating then as it is now.

I’m trying to avoid complaining because I have friends who’ve struggled with sleepless nights longer than I have, and I don’t want to be insensitive to the frustration they’ve endured. But it doesn’t make my experiences any less exhausting (no pun intended), and I’ll be honest, a part of me is a little afraid to go to sleep nowadays, afraid I actually won’t fall asleep as easily as I used to.

This morning, I thought about how, despite my lack of sleep and constant restlessness, I was thankfully not as tired as I thought I would be. And God definitely showed up as I read Psalm 3 as part of my morning devotions. A part of a verse in this psalm is actually lightly engraved on the inside of one of the rings I always wear. It was a ring given to me during the fall semester of my sophomore year college by my Pa (my stepdad), who told me about some specific verses in Psalm 3 to go to after I expressed to him my trouble in sleeping. And the comfort was still there as I read the same verse this morning…

“I lay down and slept; I woke again, for the Lord sustained me.” – Psalm 3:5 (ESV)

Even though this psalm is talking about David running from his own son Absalom, and how the Lord continued to protect him even in sleep, I can still pertain to David. During my sophomore year, I was dealing with some major academic, social, and mental stress, and, since I have been a well-known worrier, all of those things were affecting my sleep patterns. Reading this verse reminded me that the Lord knew those situations, and was working in every aspect of those situations, even as I slept, and that I had nothing to worry about because He would sustain me. He would give me peace enough to lull me to sleep, and the grace, mercy, and strength to wake me up again in the morning.

And now, as I struggle again with sleeping once again, I am grateful for that lesson I learned during my sophomore year, and for the sweet reminder in Psalm 3.

Not only was I reminded in Psalm 3, but I was given a few verses in Proverbs 3 this morning as well. I had to actually stop and re-read the verses several times, because I was blown away at how the Lord would speak to me in the same time frame through His Word to just reassure me…

“My son, do not lose sight of these – keep sound wisdom and discretion and they will be life for your soul and adornment for your neck. Then you will walk on your way securely, and your foot will not stumble. If you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet.” – Proverbs 3:21-24 (ESV)

A set of instructions that follows with a promise if the instructions are obeyed: to not lose sight of wisdom and discretion, and the Lord will grant me peace – in the journey AND in sleep. Hallelujah! It was only a little part of a verse, but reading it brought peace to my mind, heart, and soul.

I wrote all this to give a reminder to anyone who’s struggling with something – maybe it’s also sleepless nights – that the Lord truly does care about it, and about you. About the things that seem so minute compared to other things going on in the world right now. That He will perfect the things that concern you and me. That He will speak little promises to His children at the exact time He knows we need comfort and reassurance.

The reminders and promises in God’s Word don’t necessarily guarantee automatic resolutions to our struggles, problems, and worries. But they do open us up to the peace of God; the assurance He gives that we are not alone through those things.

Am I still a little nervous to go to sleep? Of course I am. But I go to sleep reminding myself of those verses, those promises. Reminding myself that, even if I can’t get to sleep in the time I want to, the Lord is still good, He’s still working on me, and I can still spiritually and mentally rest in His peace even if I’m not physically resting the way I want to.

Thank you, Jesus.

#MishyWrites

Gold

I always thought that when people would talk about the Lord confirming something to them, it was sort of a magical experience. I didn’t imagine extremely drastic things, but I did think that confirmations were pretty special events.

In 2017, the Lord did use special events to confirm things for me, but more often than not, He would speak in whispers, or in ways that would seem simple and normal to some, but were significant to me personally.

My beliefs about God showing people specific things, or specific themes in their life were about the same as Him confirming things for people; I always thought that only special, specific people would be revealed certain things, but God truly did speak something that may seem small to you, but was pretty big to me.

In the last days of 2017, the color gold started showing up more and more in my day-to-day. I already had notebooks with gold-lettering or gold designs on them, but the color gold showed up in another notebook I got that will now hold poems I plan on writing every day this year. When my grandpa told me that I could look at some jewelry that a passed relative had left behind, and take whatever I liked, I found a gold butterfly pin with a stone in the middle of it. And when I went to Plato’s Closet with my sister, I found a pair of metallic gold, slip-on Vans in my exact size for a really good price (yes, I bought them).

Maybe you read all that, and think I’m just making a bigger deal out of all those things than I should. And if I am, then that will be revealed to me. But I can’t explain the feeling I got when each of those objects in the same color presented themselves to me. I’m not trying to be superstitious, and I’m not stretching for a subject to write about. There was just a particular feeling felt when I saw each one of those things. Maybe it was a bit of confirmation, I don’t know.

I can’t tell you what the Lord is saying to me through the color gold; I don’t know what it means, although I could make so many speculations and guesses based off the goals I’ve been reflecting, meditating and, most importantly, praying on…

Golden Notebooks

Since one of my goals is to write one poem a day, I’ve decided to write them in a notebook instead of keeping them on my phone. And the notebook pictured above has a subject line and date line on every page, which helps me keep all my poems organized.

If the Lord is going to bless me with more words to say, I say, “YES, LORD, I’M READY!” I look back on poems I wrote last year and think, “There’s no way that came from my own mind. There had to be some divine inspiration.” And I wonder if that’s how some of the writers of the books of the Bible felt too.

Golden Butterfly Pin

As some of you might know, I associate myself with the butterfly – the emoji, the insect, the concept, everything. Hence why my latest project is going through the three growth phases of the butterfly.

When I saw that golden butterfly pin, I immediately thought of The Butterfly Project, about what the butterfly symbolizes for myself, and what I hoped to portray through the project. I thought about my goal to speak my poems in public. And I felt a glimmer of hope despite having to face some huge fears of mine in going forward with these projects.

Golden Shoes

When I think of shoes, I think of walking, and when I think of walking, I think of directions and paths. I haven’t been sure for a very long time of where the Lord was leading me, and I’m still not 100% sure despite many things being revealed to me. But I know that I can trust Him enough with my story to follow Him wherever He calls me to be. That doesn’t mean it will be easy, but I know it will be worth it.

Again, these are just speculations and feelings of what I feel these golden objects represent for me. I’m honestly really excited to see what the Lord is going to reveal to me through this color, through those things.

I got so excited, I even got my nails done with a sparkly, gold accent. I mean, look how cute that is…

#MishyWrites 

A Writing Type of 2018

“I feel as though I am always writing my first draft. As though my life is a series of edits that I never have time to complete.” – page 184, Pillow Thoughts, Courtney Peppernell

First of all, HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!

I hope you brought in the beginning of 2018 with people you love and care about, and ones who love and care about you. I’m really excited for this year, and what the Lord has planned for me and all of you!

This will be the last post in the “Type of 2018” series, and I wanted to end it with this subject because, let’s be honest, I feel like in 2017, I did pretty terrible at writing, at least on my blog. To the Brim was constantly abandoned for weeks, sometimes it seemed like months at a time, yet I was still writing outside of it in journals and on my phone. I tried to comfort myself, knowing that some of the best writers and bloggers I know don’t blog every day, but only blogged about important topics and events in their lives, and still had a decent following, and decent writing.

And Peppernell truly has captured how I feel as a writer sometimes: I feel like I start writing all sorts of poems and blog posts and stories, and then I never finish them. And then I feel lost as a writer, and then I feel terrible as a writer for feeling lost.

But honestly, it’s okay, and I plan on embracing my status as a writer as so in 2018. One of my goals this year is to write a poem every day (I know, it seems crazy, right? Like how can I write a poem every day if I can’t seem to get it together to blog every day?). But, as I’ve said in the past when I began the whole “just start writing” mindset, I think that in order for one to become a better writer, you’ve got to keep writing every day. Tons of writers and teachers of writing have said it, and I believe they say it because it works.

So, along with writing one poem a day (at least), I plan on blogging every day for an entire year, and seeing where this takes me. I say this with all sorts of pride because I am proud of myself: I crushed the blogging game at the end of 2017. Like, I almost posted every day in the month of December, and that is amazing. And I think I’ve found a good system to keep me blogging like that for the rest of the year. I just need to have the discipline to keep it up.

I will admit, I am a little nervous about this goal I’ve declared. As I was reading a blog post by a favored writer of mine, I thought to myself, See, you don’t have to write every day. It’s okay; ease up on your goal so you’re not majorly disappointed when you don’t achieve it. 

But I also don’t want to doubt myself and my abilities; like I feel like me and my mindset are the only things stopping me from making this blogging and writing a poem every day thing happen. And if that’s the case, I don’t want those things to stop me.

And I also know I’m only human, and I may miss a day or two. I truly don’t want to though, so I will try my best. I look forward to all the words I’ll be writing onto pages, saying in my voice memos, and typing on my keyboard, either my laptop or phone.

What about you? What’s one thing you really want to push yourself to do in 2018? If you think it’s impossible to accomplish, what is a solution to truly doing your best to making it happen?

Again, happy new year, everyone! I pray that this year brings you all sorts of adventures, learning, observing, writing, or whatever else you’re into!

#MishyWrites #Typeof2018