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

“in Love” – Day 1 of #12DaysofPoetry

On the 1st day of poetry, Mishy gave to us…

“in Love”

“Building up one another in love…”

I feel like Christians struggle with this as a concept because the word “love” is defined as something different.

In this world, we only love the people we like; we only love those who we think are attractive, who we think aren’t too loud or annoying or abrasive, yes,
The word “love” is only used to our own personal advantage or agenda.
Too often love is about ourselves, and not about others.
It’s not about sacrifice, but more about how it will benefit our lives.

But love was never meant to be this way.

It was never meant to be uprooted from the perfect example that Christ gave on the Cross, giving Himself up in our place.
Yet we took that beautiful flower by the streams of Living Water and
We potted it,
Enslaving it to how we want it to grow.
Confining it to the walls of our own definitions of what we know love to be.
Forgetting to water it when things weren’t going great, and instead, watering the weeds.
That poor plant of love left to our own devices didn’t stand a chance to bear fruit or seed…

How can we build one another up in love?

I think first we need to take ourselves out of the equation. We’re too stuck up in our feelings, too
Obsessed with our own frustrations that we forget other people’s emotions exist.
Instead of arms outstretched we
Hold our arms to our sides and
Tighten our fists,
Choking that love plant between our fingers and palm,
Denying that we’re seeing this love thing all wrong.

I admit that there are times I have decided not to love someone because of what they’ve done.
I hold it against them, holding back my love from them as if it were a punishment.
Then, I do something that I realize is worthy of the same judgment, yet
I feel no lack of love from those who strive to love me as Christ does.
Who am I to judge?
Who am I to withhold the love that is shown to me so faithfully on the daily?

No, it is not about me or you or
He or she or
They or we,
Our eyes should be fixed on Christ, first and foremost.
For we cannot build up one another in love without first building up the body of Christ
In which perfect love casts out fear.

oh beloved.

Be-loved. Be loved. Share love. Show love.

~ written on July 2, 2017 at 1:39pm

#MishyWrites #12DaysofPoetry

“no. 111517”

My feet shift under the quicksands of those too quick to commit,
And those too hesitant to even try.
I’ve fallen on my face one too many times and
I’m over it.
Yes, lessons were learned –
People came and went, some came back unexpectedly,
And yes,
I’m thankful for that.
How many times though do I need to find myself on my knees,
Asking God to please just have His way,
Knowing good and well that He’s going to, whether I like it or not?

The last time I adamantly prayed that prayer, you left.

And even though I convinced myself that I’d be okay,
That I’d be strong through it, and accept it for what it was,
I was weaker than I realized.

I crumbled.

And it took so long to rebuild myself again.
To allow the Lord to break me down just to show me what He could create in me,
Using me to mold something new.

Revealing someone I didn’t know lived inside of me.

And now that I it in this new skin,
This new form,
I can’t help but wonder sometimes who in the world could look at a creature like me and
Not be intimidated.
Who would dare take the risk of coming close to someone like me: someone so
Bold and beautiful,
Shining bright, laughing loud, speaking so much truth,
Who in their right minds would stand by my side,
Take my hand and
Love me?

Admittedly, there are days that the thought seems completely impossible.
But I know I have the comfort of my God,
Who knows my heart –
What it yearns for, what it needs –
He hears my questions,
My fears, my wonders,
He sees my fears,
And even though no one’s decided to
Step up and
Stand by me,
My God has always stood by me to gently tell me that
It is well. All is well with Him.
That He is capable of touching me deeper than anyone in this world ever could.
And even though my soul my waver between
It is well and
It is hard,
It is hurtful,
It is lonely…

I will wait.

#MishyWrites 🦋✨

Two Years Ago…

This morning, my newly downloaded Google photos app notified me that I should look back on this day, two years ago. Curious, I opened the notification to pictures of me, my sister, and my best friend Bria at Mojo Burrito and then at an Issues concert.

I remember the day like it was yesterday.

Two years ago today, it was a school night; a Thursday. I probably got someone to cover my library work shift so I could go to this concert. Before leaving town, the three of us got dinner at Mojo Burrito, then  made our way to Atlanta. I remember realizing we were going to be late to the concert, which meant it would probably be harder to try to find parking for the venue, and we might miss some good opening acts.

My usual self would be visibly frustrated, to the point in which my sister would attempt to calm me down, but only irritate me more, which would then cause Bria to truly calm me down. But I clearly remember making the conscious decision to just let everything play out instead of worrying and freaking out, which made the car ride down more enjoyable.

And when we got to the venue after sitting through some typical Atlanta traffic? A couple left their parking spot that was right across the street from the venue, and I was able to perfectly parallel park into it. When we got into the venue, we’d missed one or two opening acts, but we were still able to catch the main two bands we wanted to see (PVRIS and Issues), plus we got to meet Bad Seed Rising after the show too.

The night ended with a trip to McDonald’s for fries and a large sweet tea, what would become a regular post-concert snack for me. And once we got back to campus at like 2:30am, Bria and I were still awake enough to take a picture of us wearing our Issues shirts.

And I remember at the end of the night thinking and expressing to Bria how I’d just let go of the frustrations I was wanting to hold onto, and allowed God to move throughout the night, and He’d provided in so many awesome ways. He didn’t have to, but he did, and it was awesome to be a part of that amazing night.

Crazy how that was all two years ago; how I could remember all those details, and remember that that was probably one of the first nights I actively trusted God with a situation, and I watched Him provide. Two years later, and I would see so many more of these kinds of situations in my life, and I’m grateful for every single one of them, and how they’ve all shaped me, my faith, my perspective.

With me actively getting back to work with writing and whatnot, this was the type of reminder I needed: that I could let go of the fear, the worry, the frustration that this process has the potential to cause, and just have faith that God will work His way through every single detail.

Happy Saturday, luvvies, aka my favorite day of the week! Whatever you’ve got going on today, I pray that you’ll release any fears, worries, and frustrations; call on God; and watch Him work through your circumstances. He hears you. He knows your heart and your desires. Trust in Him.

#MishyWrites 🦋✨

Changes…in Blogging/Writing?

So, clearly it has been a minute since I’ve blogged. The past several days have been crazy, and last night it culminated into me being extremely tired and just needing sleep.

And during those past several days, I’ve been wondering if I should change the way I blog to you all. I’ve been seeing the way some of my favorite bloggers blog – writing a post or two here and there, maybe once or twice a week, and their content is so relevant and real and truthful, and I’m sitting here wondering if the way I’m blogging is just too much for me, and isn’t the best way to blog.

A little over a year ago, I challenged myself to blog every day, forcing myself to write every day so that I could get better at writing. And granted, I’ve missed a good amount of days throughout, but overall, I’ve blogged so much more overall in the past year than I have in the past maybe four or five years since I’ve started blogging.

But I’m wondering if me just trying to rush a post out to you every day is really doing anything. Is it really giving you the best of me as a writer? Am I just getting sloppy in the writing I’ve done / am doing? Am I only giving half of myself over to you as I try to work on other writing projects I have, and if so, is that fair to you? Is it fair to me?

I’ve been wrestling with these thoughts, and here are some conclusions I’ve come up with…

It’s My Fault

The way I feel about blogging every day right now – like it’s rushed, like the content I’m putting out isn’t enough, like I’m boring you guys with insignificant details in my life – it’s all my fault really. Truly, if I could just prioritize the things in my life correctly, maybe blogging things won’t be so hard or painful for me sometimes. Not that there won’t be days in which I sit at my computer and think, “Dude…I have nothing to write about, what am I going to write about??” But I feel like less of that would come with better planning on my part.

Yet what do I do? I don’t plan. I work and write I feel on a whim, and I sometimes feel like it’s all rushed. Maybe I work well under pressure. Who am I kidding, I say that, but while I’m working like that, I’m stressed as all get out!

So, as always, some priorities need to be shifted. I write this, yet will I actually shift anything? Hopefully. Someone keep me accountable, please, I beg.

A Break

Blogging to you guys only two or three times a week would be an amazing break for me, honestly. It would give me more time during the day to do other things I need to do. It would give you guys an expectation of when the blogs will be coming out and when they wouldn’t (because right now, y’all may be expecting a blog post every day, and clearly that isn’t happening).

Better Content

Only blogging a few times a week would give me the chance to write better content for you guys, I think. Especially when it comes to deeper subjects – I can’t even tell you how many things I want to write to you all about, yet I feel like I can’t just crank it out in an hour or however long I have in my day to blog. Maybe I just need to do it to challenge myself. I just feel like I want to make sure what I’m writing to you all is understandable, and reflects my thoughts and opinions as best as it can.

And when I’m trying to write a blog every day, I feel like it isn’t my best sometimes; I feel like I’m just throwing some words out there for you all so I can say, “Yes, I blogged today! Another day in a row that I’ve done this!” I don’t want this to become a checklist thing, or a thing that I dread doing; I want to do it so that my writing and communication is growing and being challenged.

#JustStartWriting

Truly, the whole blogging every day thing was based on #JustStartWriting, which is now it’s own thing – it has its own website, and still has the same meaning and motto, it’s just now out there for more writers to be a part of. It’s no longer a solo thing of mine that I do.

However, this is where my thoughts on actually just posting whenever I have “good content” stop. Because when I look back on the year I’ve had with my writing, #JustStartWriting really shaped my writing – it got me actually writing instead of just wishing I was writing. It challenged me to really think about my day, and pay attention to what was happening in my life so that later, I could write about it. Just because #JSW is now it’s own separate thing, it doesn’t give me permission to drop the way I personally write.

Why am I going to have a separate site based in just starting to write to get past the fear, the laziness, the whatever else to write if I’m not willing to do that myself? Granted, I could “just start write” in my journal, or you know, on this book I’ve been wanting to write.

But I think blogging is just in my blood; like I feel so weird skipping out on writing here (except Sundays, that’s a given). I honestly think it’s because of gotten busy and lazy. Busier with trying to keep up with the new sites I’ve got, and also trying to work on and release spoken word poems I’ve been writing. More lazy in the fact that there are times in which I could blog, and I just don’t feel the draw, or I don’t feel like I have something good enough to write about. Also lazy in the fact that I haven’t been paying that much attention to my surroundings as much as I used to. I feel like my days run like clockwork, and I don’t take the time to really take in what’s happening. Therefore, my writing is lacking.

 

All this to say – I’m still going to try my best to blog every day. I won’t succeed all the time, obviously, but I still want this to be a priority of mine. I want it to still be an important part of my writing journey. And if I’m encouraging other writers out there to just start writing – to not let the fear of their writing not being good enough, the laziness of only dreaming of writing and being great at it, or the other worries or excuses that conjure up in their mind keep them from writing – then I need to keep on writing as best as I can.

So, no changes in the vision. Changes in the execution of the vision, however, are in the process of being made. Stay tuned – I’m going to try to do this better than I have been.

#MishyWrites 🦋✨

growth.

This is gonna be short because I lost track of time.

But tonight, I recorded some spoken word poems, and the friend who helped me record truly encouraged me tonight. After going through both of the poems, he told me that he could see growth in the writing and speaking I’d done.

And he said four words that made me feel on top of the world, if I’m being honest: “Mishy, you’re a writer!”

I can’t express how much those four words meant to me. And even before I heard those words aloud, as I was speaking those words, I could feel it.

#MishyWrites