FAN FOR LIFE

FAN FOR LIFE

“Be joyful always;  pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”-1 Thessalonians  5:16-18*

Friday night lights.  The band is playing, cheerleaders are psyching up the crowd, and then the high school football team takes the field.  For the next two hours, you have the fans and students cheering for their team, yelling their heads off.  The electricity and excitement you feel in the air is passion, for their home team, and for the win.

I would love to be able to bottle the passion released in a high school football game.  It starts with the players who have the intensity and drive to play the game.  Students who exemplify commitment by listening to the coaches, running the drills, working on strength and agility and focusing on their grades so they can be on the field.

Then there are the fans.  The enthusiastic crowd is made up of proud parents, talented band members, graceful dancers, spirited cheerleaders, and the animated student body. They all participate by singing, cheering, clapping, and demonstrating true team spirit. The passionate crowd is positive their team will take the win and spell victory at the end of the game.

What if I could wake up every morning, excited and enthusiastic to greet the day like a peppy fan at a football game?  You know what, I can.

I will choose to be excited and passionate about every day.

I know it is easier said than done, but it is by choice.

The first thing I do before my feet hit the ground is whisper a simple prayer.  “God, thank you for today and make it a great one to glorify You.”  Now I will be honest, I am not a morning person.  So, I have found if I get up before anyone else, drink my first cup of coffee and wake up, I am much more pleasant to be around.  While I am waking up, I make a choice to read something around God’s word.  It could be a devotional, actual bible verses or some passage reading for my bible study.  No news, no social media, no games.  I try to put my focus where it counts for me and this would be developing my relationship with Jesus.

As my day unfolds, there are many choices to be made.  One of my daily challenges is driving in traffic and choosing to extend grace to the other drivers who may not drive fast enough, DO NOT use their turn signals to alert others of their intentions, or pull out in front of me because obviously, I am so stealth like and invisible!  Believe me, this is my struggle and I work on it EVERYDAY.  I passionately want to react better to others, so I choose to try to behave better than the day before.

I know there will be the failure of my attempts, but I have to continue to try and be better than I was the day before.  I think back to how I felt during a Friday night football game.  The excitement of the unknown, the love for my team, and the positive vibes felt throughout the crowd.  I have a strong desire to choose to be as positive as I can be in all aspects of my life and to improve on my shortcomings.   I believe with this type of focus and passion in my life, I definitely will score the win for God’s team and be a fan for life.

* The Holy Bible, New International Version Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

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Living Out Passion

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“Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying:  Who should I send?  Who will go for Us?  I said:  Here I am.  Send me.”  Isaiah 6:8*

It is exciting to start a new year!  No goals for me, but a new intention.  I have selected the word “devotion” and I am applying it all facets of my life; my time with God, my relationships, and my writing.  I have decided to take twelve synonyms of the word “devotion” and apply it to my writing calendar.  For the month of January, I have chosen “passion” as my word of the month.

PASSION-Strong liking or desire for some activity, object, or concept**

Growing up I regularly noticed my father with his nose in a book.  I would ask him what he was reading and he would show me the front of the book with a whimsical title of “Quantum Mechanics, the most exciting theory using mathematical interpretation”.  I would try to hide my puzzlement with a poker face, but there was no fooling dad.  He knew I was clueless.

My dad grew up in a small community in Ohio.  He learned early on his love of learning would open up opportunities for his future.  My dad used his passion for knowledge to gain several bachelor’s degrees in mechanical, petroleum, and chemical engineering along with a master’s degree.  When he passed away in September 2014 at the age of seventy-four, he was taking online courses to complete another degree in electrical engineering.  His thirst for knowledge was evident not only in formal education but in everyday activities.

When computers became a way of life, my dad taught himself how to use a computer, how to write code, and how to build one from parts.   He also learned how to work on cars and rebuild them, how to tackle plumbing issues, and later how to build furniture out of wood and scroll pictures into wooden keepsakes for the family.  My dad had a passion for learning, growing, and challenging himself.

Later in life, dad began to pour his passion for learning into his bible.  He would read, discuss with his bible study class, and share his thoughts with family and friends.  His favorite book was Isaiah which documents how God reveals His judgment and salvation.   When we are willing to learn about Him, accept Him as our Lord and Savior, and repent of our sins, we are extended God’s grace and forgiveness.  Isaiah showed his passion in a proclaimed message of repentance from sin and hopeful expectation of God’s deliverance of Judah in the future.***  I am thankful my dad was able to be open about his personal relationship with God because it assured his family where he would be for eternity.

My father led by example in following his passion to learn until his last breath.  I am inspired to follow in his footsteps, not so much about engineering, but pushing myself to learn about the subjects which interest me, like writing.  I look at learning as an opportunity to challenge my brain and discover and develop my God-given talents to witness to others of God’s love and grace.  I want to thank you, dad, for living out your passion and leaving the legacy for your family to carry forward.

* The Holy Bible, New International Version Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

**https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/passion

***The Study Bible for Women Copyright 2014 by Holman Bible Publishers Nashville, TN

Goals For 2018-NONE!

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“Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers.  But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on His law, he meditates day and night.”-Psalms 1:1-2**

No disappointment.  No unfulfilled promises.  No guilt.  I have decided to tackle setting goals for 2018 in a different way.  Not going to do it.   BUT, I want to start a new habit.

If you Google search ‘how long does it take to start a new habit?’ there are hundreds of responses anywhere from one to eight months to build a new habit.  This is based on many variables including the person, behavior tendencies, and surrounding circumstances.  The key to building a new or “good” habit is to repeat the habit daily and be accountable (journal, partner, small group, etc.).  So what is my 2018 habit?

Devotion

I was challenged to pick a word for my focus in 2018.  I prayed and wrote down several words which I thought “needed” me to dedicate my time and effort.  No one particular word was screaming at me, until a few weeks later when I picked up my bible.  It is titled “Women’s Devotional Bible-New International Version” but the word “Devotion” is what was glaring in gold color to me.  Lightbulb moment and yesssss, my word was chosen.

I have decided to use this word as my theme for the year; in my quiet time, writing, relationships, and in my health and wellness.  I’m excited to see where this assignment will lead me.

The online Merriam-Webster dictionary* describes devotion in three different ways:

  • 1a: religious fervor: piety
  • b: an act of prayer or private worship —usually used in plural during his morning devotions
  • c: a religious exercise or practice other than the regular corporate (see corporate 2) worship of a congregation
  • 2a: the act of dedicating something to a cause, enterprise, or activity: the act of devoting
  • the devotion of a great deal of time and energy
  • b: the fact or state of being ardently dedicated and loyal her devotion to the cause
  • 3obsolete: the object of one’s devotion

Most are familiar with devotion pertaining to religion such as reading devotionals, praying, and bible study.  I am intrigued by the second definition-the act of dedicating something to a cause, enterprise, or activity.  That’s what I am talking about, living out devotion daily in all my circumstances.

  • Devotion to my God
  • Devotion to my family and friends
  • Devotion to my job
  • Devotion to my volunteer efforts
  • Devotion to my writing
  • Devotion to my health
  • Devotion to my hobbies

How am I going to tackle this endeavor?  I will ask myself three questions before I invest any time in a particular activity:

  • Does this activity fall into one of my categories (listed above)
  • Would God approve?
  • Is this a beneficial choice for someone?

The first two questions are obvious but I want to make sure if I am investing my time, talent, and energy into an exercise, I want it to benefit someone, including myself.

I know the reality; this will be a challenge, and I will make mistakes and neglect it some days.  What excites me is I have a game plan and if I implement it every day, hopefully, I will make it part of my natural routine.  Bring on 2018!

So what will you do for the New Year? Sets some goals?  I challenge you to go a little deeper and pick some action, which if you commit to accomplishing, then perhaps, we can all make a contribution to improve ourselves and bring joy to our communities.   Merry Christmas ya’ll!

*https://www.merriam-webster.com/

**The Holy Bible, New International Version Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

 

Why Can’t Grief Take A Holiday?

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“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”-Psalm 34:18 NIV*

For me, it is so easy to get caught up in the festivities of the season.  I love to watch cheesy Christmas movies, go shopping and buy presents, and curl up on the couch under a blanket with some hot cocoa.  Okay, living in southern Louisiana maybe it is curl up with some iced tea and running the air conditioner on high.  But, as I move through the holidays, there is a corner of my heart which is melancholy and raw.  I can’t help but think of my loved ones who are not here to celebrate Christmas with me and the family.  Why can’t my grief take a holiday during this wonderful time of year?

Unfortunately, grief doesn’t take a break.  For me, I can experience happiness and sorrow at the same time.  I know what an oxymoron, but it is the best way to describe it.  I want to remember and honor those who have died and enjoy the family and friends I do have here physically with me.  It is indeed a balancing act which I don’t always handle gracefully.

I have experienced feelings of emptiness and solitude during my journey, especially around the holidays.  In a previous blog, Grief Completes Me, I shared some of my thoughts about my grief journey and what I accept as true in my life:

  • I will not “complete” grief – It has been almost seventeen years since my husband died and three years since my father passed. When I lose someone or comfort someone who lost a loved one, I feel the same intense deep, raw, pain and sadness.   It will forever be a part of me, and I have become more compassionate with others because of my losses.  I know what to expect in my feelings, and guess what?  I know I will not feel this way each day and the intensity will subside, until the next time.

 

  • I am not alone – There is a huge difference between being alone and feeling lonely. I am not alone in my grief, but in the middle of grief, I can feel lonely.  I know the loneliness is only temporary and I talk with others who feel the same way, so it validates for me, I am not alone.  God is with me, every step of my life.  He knows my pain and works through it with me. Surrounding me with others such as a grief group was the support I needed to connect with others with similar circumstances.  It is a reminder all people embark on a grief journey at some point in their lives.

 

  • It is okay to grieve anytime – I know some individuals are uncomfortable around people who are experiencing a loss. I have come to the conclusion if I need to cry, it is okay to cry in private or public and release my emotions.  I actually feel better after a cry fest and it allows me to refresh and renew.  When I need to grieve, I do it.  No apologies.  No holding back.  I let it out and know God is also grieving with me.  God knows grief.  As humans, we have grieved Him many times with our actions.  In addition, He watched His Son sacrifice and die for our sins.  I know He is an expert in this field and can totally relate to my circumstances.

 

Perhaps you are sad and burdened with grief during this holiday season.  My hope is for you to realize you are not alone.  God is always with you and you can turn your pain and sorrow over to Him to handle.  If you invite Him into your heart, He can give you peace and comfort during this difficult time.

I have been there; brokenhearted and crushed in spirit.  God has placed it on my heart to reach out to those hurting from the loss of a loved one.  This is why I write about grief and have a prayer request on my blog.  If you need some support, please feel free to send me a request so I can pray for you.    Blessings to you, and praying for a peaceful new year.

*The Holy Bible, New International Version Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

Hope In My Grief

Hope In My Grief

“ So with you:  Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy.” John 16:22*

It has been seventeen years since my husband, Scott died.   Since 2001, I have lost other family and friends.  The holiday season stirs up many emotions for me.

For those of you who are on a grief journey, I get it.  It is extremely difficult to celebrate the joyous season while feeling so empty and raw on the inside.

Grief is exhausting, debilitating, messy, and draining.    It stinks.

I am here to say you will get through this in your own time.  It is not quick and it is not easy.  But there is hope.

I discovered early on in my grief walk I needed to take care of myself.  I was of no use to my three little ones if I couldn’t function in day to day life.  My first and most important step was to lean on my faith.  There were days when I could not pray, much less think about God, but I called on Him abundantly.  Even if I could not muster a complete thought or sentence, I could cry out and He listened.  I was reminded often God understood my heart because He too had suffered loss and grief.

God surrounded me with the right people during my grief walk.  I plugged into my church’s grief group and it was comforting to be around others who were in similar circumstances.  I eventually let my guard down and shared my thoughts with others without fear of judgment or regret.   The church became a safe space for me and my family and I was fortunate to meet and forge some wonderful friendships with other Christians.  I felt God’s protection over me at this most vulnerable point in my life.

My second step was to take care of my physical being.  For months, I had neglected my appetite and developed a horrible sleep pattern (meaning very little).  I visited the doctor one day and she was concerned about my declining weight and elevated blood pressure.  She started asking some deep questions and came to the conclusion I was depressed.  I argued with her because I was functioning; getting out of bed, going to work, taking care of my children, paying bills, and maintaining the house. There was no way I was depressed.  She disagreed and pointed out my vitals reflected a different story.  She convinced me to try some medication, and see if I developed a better sleep pattern and healthier choices around food and exercise.  You know what?  It worked.  I am so thankful for my doctor who took the time to help me get back to the right physical balance in order to be a better mom, daughter, friend, and co-worker.

This leads me to my third step in nurturing my emotional and mental health.  Depression can be a real component of grief and there is no shame in seeking counsel or guidance from a licensed professional.  My doctor helped me with medication to right my sleep pattern which in turn enabled me the stamina to increase my physical activity.  It also gave me clarity of mind and I made the decision to seek individual therapy.  My church grief group was a wonderful support, but I needed more self-evaluation.  In seeing a therapist I was able to uncover roadblocks encountered in my life.   Grief led me to seek a therapist but I discovered there were other benefits in confiding with a professional.   I learned and developed coping skills to make informed decisions on navigating through the hazards encountered in my life.

Those early days of grief were a bungled up hot mess which quickly consumed me.  When I made conscious efforts to focus on me, it helped to maintain my sanity so I could get through the everyday mundane and SLOWLY gain back my life.

It was a new normal for me.

I still experience the pain of grief.  It does not consume me all day or night, but it is as deep and real as it was the night Scott died.  The intense sorrow I feel keeps me grounded so when someone suffers the loss of a loved one, I can relate.  Because I focused on my spiritual, physical, and emotional components, it has created a firm foundation of who I am and hope for my future.  God has brought me through the fire to a point where I am able to comfort others, empathize with their situation, and support them on their grief journey.  If you are in the midst of a grief journey, I would love to pray for you.   Please go to the prayer request tab on my blog and let me know how I can pray specifically for your needs.  Blessings.

*The Holy Bible, New International Version Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

Surrendering Daily

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“Search me, O God, and know my heart: test me and know my anxious thoughts.  See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting”.-Psalm 139:23-24*

I dug my toes into the cool wet sand as the water met the earth and washed over my feet.  I took in a deep breath and thanked God for this moment.  The beach is my happy place, where all my senses soak in the sounds, sights, and feelings of what a slice of heaven might actually be like for my eternity.

My state of mind is altered when I am around any water, but my favorite watering hole is the beach.  It allows me the downtime where I can renew and refocus on my priorities.  I find perspective in listening to the lapping of the waters, the rush of the wind, and the warmth of the sun on my skin. It is a great place for me to settle my mind and heart around what God wants from me.

I am able to surrender to Him.

Everyday life is such a distraction for me.  I am always in a rush, hardly ever pausing to listen.  When I am at the beach I feel so small and insignificant against the vast ocean, sky, and sand.  It reminds me I am but a tiny piece of God’s majestic tapestry.  I can focus on the many blessings in my life and give thanks.  I wish I could live full time at the beach, but is not my reality.  So how can I bring this same surreal reflection into my daily life?

Committing-It starts with me.  I have to commit to spending some quiet time every day with God.   For me, it is a good habit to form.  If I don’t read the bible or pray first thing in the morning, I feel off balance.  This quiet time is for me to re-center daily before facing the reality outside my door.

Unplugging-It is okay not to be hooked into technology all the time.  Many of my distractions are on the computer, tablet, and phone.  I work on a computer all day and find myself the rest of the time reading on the tablet or talking/texting on the phone.  Not to say some of it is necessary but I have to admit there is unimportant noise which robs me of my time.  Intentionally taking breaks from these instruments is now a high priority on my to-do list.

Giving-I can give thanks daily for all of my blessings and give of my time or talents to others. When my heart is grateful, it is a joy to do for others.  I can pray, serve, and comfort those who are in need.  It also opens the door for me to be more receptive to those who want to comfort me in my time of need.  I believe this is what God wants for all of His children, where we can think and do for each other and not focus on ourselves.

Practicing these steps will help me achieve the peace I feel when I am alone on a beach.  Ultimately, I can find calm and surrender to Him anytime.  It is a bonus for me when I can do it at my favorite place.  Good excuse to go back to the beach, don’t you think?

*The Holy Bible, New International Version Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

I Have A Choice

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My pastor’s sermon this past Sunday was centered on living life joyously.  A well-planned and appropriate topic as we enter into our holiday months which features thanksgiving, joy, peace, and love.  Normally I am right there with his sentiment, but I am falling short this time.

Generally, I am the glass is half full kind of gal.  I always look for the positive in any circumstance.  But recently, I feel like the cheerleader in me is sitting on the sidelines with a big pouty face, and no rah-rah left in her.  So starts the pity party.

I know, first world problems, right?

I am truly blessed.  I have a beautiful family, my health, a roof over my head, clothes on my back, and food in my belly (maybe a little too much).  So what is wrong with me?

I need a little perspective adjustment and to CHOOSE my attitude.  It is all about choices for me.

When I am melancholy (and we all experience it at one time or another) I have to face the fact I am not in a right state of mind and need to focus on finding my way back to appreciating my blessed life.  How do I do this?

PRAY-I don’t always feel like doing this, but it is a must.  It helps me re-center, recognize and find my joy.  I am able to lay down my blues and woes to Jesus and leave them at His feet.  I can release the sadness and worries and lighten my load.  It may not be overnight, but I eventually fill up with His truth and am reminded I am adored.

READ-Another choice I make is to read the bible.  It is full of stories of how others who have experienced similar circumstances chose God and walked with Him, regardless of the outcome.  Life is not perfect and the bible is full of examples of poor choices, forgiveness, redemption, and fulfillment.  God’s mercy and grace gives me the ability to acknowledge I have a pretty awesome life and should be thankful and humble about my reality.

ACT-A third choice for me is helping others in need.  Volunteering is a way for me to provide compassion and concern for another person and demonstrate God’s love for all of His people.  When I can feed the homeless, take supplies to hurricane victims, and pray for the sick and grief-stricken, I am reminded how wonderful is my situation and how I need to give back to the less fortunate.

Bottom line is I have a choice in my perspective and attitude and know what I need to do to keep myself positive and uplifted.  Guess what?  I am feeling more positive now after reminding myself of what I need to do in order for my desired outcome.  If you find yourself sometimes feeling the same way, give it over to God and see what He can do for you.  I would love to hear any suggestions which help you change a downer day into a grandiose celebration.  Please leave a comment below.  Blessings!

“Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.  Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer”. Romans 12:11-12

 

*The Holy Bible, New International Version Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society