Tag Archives: faith

Striving for a set-apart life.

Today’s Girlfriends in God devotion spoke straight to me today (pasted below in full, my favorite sentiments bolded), I am pretty convinced. It’s about living a set-apart life. And part of that is living a life free of distraction…of the ‘e’ variety. Electronic.

I feel as though I am getting back into the too plugged in variety and this is the kick in the ass reminder I needed to let.it.go. I’ve made some good strides in this area, but I need to make more (writing these posts always reminds me of one of Alicia’s that I still refer to quite often!).

I am, now, more than ever, striving for a set-apart life. It’s as simple as that. No grand gestures or specifics on how I’ll do it, I just will.

Happy weekend, friends. Live it up. Set-apart. 

~~

Today’s Truth
Be very careful, then, how you live – not as unwise, but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. (Ephesians 5:15-16)

Friend to Friend
As Christian believers, we are called to live set-apart lives. To be holy as God is holy. To be in the world, but not of the world. God is the source of all holiness, and in order to live a set-apart life, we must spend time with Him so we can be fueled by His Holy Spirit.
I don’t know what your days look like, but mine are pretty full. They start early and end late. Once the sun rises, it seems that coffee isn’t the only thing brewing in my house. An invisible competition brews daily that vies for my time and attention. The competitors are often “good things” that end up to be “time-robbing things” that keep me from God’s best and God’s presence.

Today I’d like to put our computer lives under a spiritual microscope. I’m an e-girl. I love my MacBook Pro computer, my iPhone, email, instant messaging, and the World Wide Web. Though I’m admittedly fully immersed in the e-life, I’m also cognizant of the fact that the e-world has become a dangerous addiction and spiritual deterrent to many. I struggle with this personally. These electronic forums host a new and efficient opportunity for us to connect with other people 24/7. While much of the social networking, online surfing, and emailing is innocent, encouraging, and fun, they clearly present us with opportunities to sin and be distracted from set-apart living.

Over the past several years, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, blogs, instant messaging, and texting have replaced many face-to-face conversations and, for some, devotion time. They have become a new source of temptation for us, an opportunity to live a fantasy or a momentary escape from the daily grind.

A friend of mine recently said, “My computer whispers to me.” Yikes! Mine does, too! Though it’s embarrassing to admit, I sometimes don’t manage my time efficiently because I’ve given in to the lure of e-life by responding to the audio alert that indicates “I’ve got mail” or the notification that someone has left me a message on a social networking page of mine. As a result, I’ve robbed myself of productive time. Time I have wasted and spent unwisely.

We are warned against this in Scripture. “Be very careful, then, how you live – not as unwise, but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:15-16, NIV).

Now, hear me clearly on this. I’m not saying that electronic forums or computers are bad or evil in and of themselves. (For goodness sakes, you’re reading this devotion because of the amazing electronic world!) I’m simply suggesting that it would be wise for each of us to pray about the amount of time and energy we devote to these things.

How can we be set apart in our e-life? How can we establish healthy e-boundaries that will protect our purity and our time with God? Perhaps we could start by taking an honest look at the amount of time we commit to our social e-lives versus the amount of time we commit to spending in God’s Word and in His presence each day. (Did that sting? Rest assured it stings me, too.)

The good news is that we can turn to God for direction and wisdom in all of this. “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him” (James 1:5, NIV). Our gracious Lord longs for each of us to choose His best and live each day in His strength.

“God, make a fresh start in me. Shape a Genesis week from the chaos of my life. Don’t throw me out with the trash, or fail to breathe holiness in me. Bring me back from gray exile; put a fresh wind in my sails!” Psalm 51:10-12, MSG

Let’s Pray
Dear God, Please help me to “live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light” (Colossians 1:10-12).
In Jesus’s name,
Amen.

 

The power of letting go: freedom.

Lately, M and I have been watching Joel Osteen on DVR on Sunday mornings and this week, though it was a rerun episode, it really struck home with me. The episode  (you can watch it here) was about letting go, and letting Him take the wheel.

Joel talked about how easy it is to fall into dissapointment, feeling bitter and let down, when something doesn’t work out. When you don’t get what you want. When life doesn’t go the way YOU want it to. But when you put your faith and trust in God, and let Him take the wheel to drive you towards your destiny, that is freedom

Emotional and spiritual freedom. 

Ding, ding, ding. You mean, trust that the RIGHT thing will happen at the RIGHT time? Yes, pray. Yes, have faith. Yes, try for your goals and dreams and aspirations, no matter how big or small. But when it doesn’t work out, when life goes in the opposite direction? Know that it was for the right reason.

When he said that, and gave some really good real-world examples of when live goes in the opposite direction you were praying it would, I suddenly felt calm. Joel said ‘it’s a freeing way to live. Not worrying. Trusting.’

Um, yeah, no kidding.

This goes right in line with my quest to quell my overthinking brain,to shift my focus, and to trust where life has led me, to know that anything I face, I can conquer. I think the biggest example of this for me, is two-fold. My divorce. Obviously. For as much as I try to recall the happiness in those ten years with my ex-husband (and can’t.), whatever happiness I had then, has NOTHING on the happiness I feel now, in a relationship with M, the man I truly believe I was meant to be with. As we drifted to sleep last night, I muttered to M, as I slid my face into the crook in his neck where it fits so perfectly, ‘I am so glad that we just ‘get’ each other so well. We have similar goals and interests and support each other so much. I love you.’ It’s amazing when I look back at the last 3+ years and think about how many times I questioned whether I would ever feel love again, and whether I’d ever meet someone that truly matched ME, not just sort of, not just mostly, not just in 9 out of 10 ways, but in every way. So to you, and to those I know are struggling with this very thing, let go. Trust. KNOW it will happen. And at the same time? Know that your decision, whatever it was/is at the time, was the right one. 

At that same time, going through divorce, when I was really struggling with defining (and redefining) who I was, what I wanted to BE and where I wanted to take my life (this is the two-fold part, for those following along!), it was easy to slide into resentment, frustration and sadness, and not see the big picture. To see, as Joel says,’ the bigger view from God. That He may have closed the door, because you were believing too small, because you shouldn’t aim for second best. Trust him enough to take the wheel, to bring you towards your destiny.  Don’t consume yourself with thoughts of bitterness, and unfairness, shake off the self pity, push aside the feelings of unfairness, let it go, move forward, confidently towards your destiny.’ <(paraphrased).

And now, looking back at what I have built up for myself, I know there were times where I may have been aiming for second best, or self-preservation mode (staying in a job for 2+ years too long, miserable, rather than pushing myself out of the comfort zone sooner, for a better, bigger opportunity, for example), or even, from a fitness perspective, forcing something that wasn’t ‘me.’ Group Kick…was not me. I thought it could be. But I’m no actress. My emotions are written all over my face. I’m naturally calm, deadpan (a little), and matter of fact. barre n9ne? Right. Up. My. Alley. One door closed, hurtfully, in a sense, at that time, but another door opened, just about 4 months later, and the rest…is history. I even think my ‘stint’ with running half marathons falls into this category. Wanting and willing for something that wasn’t me. That may never quite be me. Running for me, and my own challenges? Freeing myself of something that doesn’t fit? YES.

I guess I just have this topic in mind lately, as I have been talking to a few people, friends, family, etc, that are struggling with some goals, love, decisions, and change. And watching this episode of Joel Osteen’s ministry really reminded me, personally, to let go. Just a little bit more. To trust. And to those people struggling with some of these very same things? Please trust…whether you believe or not, trust yourself, trust this message, trust this premise. That everything truly falls into place at the right time. It may take patience, it may take courage, it may take shifting your focus and adjusting to the discomfort of leaping without a net or stepping out of the comfort zone. But no matter what? It’s almost always worth the risk.

So this is me….remembering to loosen the grip just a little bit more. To let go just a little bit more. To embrace that freedom. 

I love this…and again, if you aren’t religious, the message is somewhat evergreen, isn’t it?

On overthinking.

Overthinking Ollie hasn’t made an appearance in quite some time.

For that, I am extremely proud. (especially as kicking that overthinking tailspin came at the exact right time in my life, because I was heading down a very ugly path in my head, otherwise).

But that doesn’t mean she doesn’t rear her ugly head now and again and I have to tamp it down ever so gently (yet firmly).

You see, overthinking leads to negativity.

Overthinking leads to going for the field goal, and not the touchdown.

Overthinking leads to comparison, fear and losing trust and faith.

All of these things I have worked so hard to quell and have honestly conquered pretty damn well, I do believe.

But sometimes, overthinking rears its ugly head and I need to remind myself just how far I’ve come. In life, love, my job, and my body.

Harness that, and not the negative, questioning, comparing that can be so ugly.

This is me reminding myself to keep that overthinking Ollie at bay. Cuz I got this. 

~~

PS check out this fantastic article from Emma…she interviewed me for the article and I am so proud of how it came out. Thank you for the opportunity to share my story and how I harnessed my divorce to turn it into an experience that shapes me to this day. When Overachievers Divorce. 

~~

Edited: WordPress.com made changes to commenting, out of the author’s control. If you have a WordPress account tied to the e-mail address you’re using to comment (even if it’s old, or one you don’t use), you mustsign in with that account to comment. Otherwise, just use a different e-mail? Or make one up. Frustrating and an extra step, but it seems to be the only thing that is working!

Feeling spoiled.

I am feeling spoiled.

…because I now live with the man I love in a place that honestly feels far too nice to be MINE. Too new, too luxurious, too…perfect.

(but we deserve it. We both work hard, we are driven, we have come a long way, separately and together, and this place will become our haven for our next chapter together)

…because I spend countless hours taking barre n9ne classes every week and though they are 10-12 person class size, the attention, the energy and the results make me feel like they are 1:1 training sessions. Each and every time.

(I feel blessed that I can afford to continue going as often as I do, continuing on this barre n9ne challenge with my sister. Last night’s class felt like somewhat of a breakthrough for us. I looked in the mirror and actually thought ‘wow, we look GOOD!’ and for me to think that and not want to squash down a compliment that I was giving in my head to myself – talk about crazy – is a sign that my self-image issues are waning with each and every day)

…because I’ve had an entire summer without work travel. Since MAY. And the flexibility to work remotely each and every day allows me to do things like get to many of the aforementioned barre n9ne classes as possible, to get stuff done during the day, multitask, errands, a walk around the block. You name it. So on those days where I am feeling blah from staring at a computer all day without much interaction other than the phone, I consider myself lucky to be ABLE to be so focused and productive. (I’m even having my first review next week…wow. And to think I am coming upon a year at this job? a YEAR? Didn’t I *just* start? January isn’t *that* far away!).

(so it makes the fact that I now have to travel on my anniversary with M – sniff, MY birthday – sniff, sniff and then on M’s birthday a few days later – sniff, sniff, sniff, a wee bit easier to stomach, especially because in three weeks, we’re going to wine country together AND I was able to get out of cutting that trip sort to go to an event in Austin because of aforementioned personal conflicts with travel. My job? Couldn’t be much better.)

Life feels downright spoiling right now, and it begs that sneaking worry that creeps in every so often…waiting for the other shoe to drop. I pray, I have faith, I do my best not to think of such negativity, but when life feels so blessed, it’s almost hard not to. But rather than worry, I am going to thank God for what He’s provided me, rejoice the spoiled blessed feeling and solider on.

 

Sometimes, you just need that reminder…

that at any moment, that happiness, that ever-constant happiness, could be gone in a flash.

I felt that the last two days. That intense ever-familiar fear. That your happiness that you’ve strived for, could be gone in an instant.

You see, my Nala, one of my kitties, fell ill. Again. In a mini-throwback, I’ll explain. Nala is one of my two kitties, almost 8 years old, sisters, and I love them so much. As if they were my children. Nala fell ill Thursday night. I didn’t really even notice. She had thrown up, but I thought it was just a hairball and brushed it off. I went to M’s for the night and came home Friday morning to more puke, some blood on my comforter and more in her cat litter.

My blood went cold.

Oh no. No, no, no. Not again. This cannot be happening again. I started shaking and worrying and thinking the worst. You see, my Nala fell ill last year, at this very same time. She was 5.5 lbs when I took her the vet, I was so worried. I hadn’t even noticed she was that sick a year ago, that skinny. I felt like a horrible kitty mama. It was months of tests, medications and more tests. I thought she was dying. She was dying. I thought it was over and I would have to make the toughest decision I’ve ever have to make…but she made it, she took the phrase ” When the world says, ‘give up,; Hope whispers, try one more time.’ and kicked the crap out of it. She came back with a vengence. Unexplained. Never knew what had made her near-deathly ill.

Fast forward to Friday. All of those fears were back. This couldn’t be happening again. She’s my miracle kitty. She’s eating, she’s fatter, she’s healthy. She isn’t sick. No, no, no.

But she was. She was lethargic, she was not herself, she was not eating.

My heart dropped.

I took her to the vet. He weighed her. 11.1 lbs! 11.1 lbs! Wow. One more pound heavier than last fall. A good sign..right? No fever. He gave her some IV fluids and a medication for colitis and sent us on our merry way. Colitis. Hmm. Explains her symptoms, right? I felt better. We brought her home, she slept for awhile.

But then, she didn’t seem to improve. She got worse. Her eyes glazed over. She didn’t move from my bed all night, except to use her litter box once. She barely ate. I worried all night. My stomach was in knots. I cried. I was worried. Weak. Afraid.

This morning, even worse. She was drooling. Eyes glassy. I feared the worst. I cried. And had knots in my stomach. All day. I called the vet. Waited in agony for them to call back. She wasn’t eating. Or drinking. Wouldn’t take her medication. More worrying. More crying. Thank God for M…the patience of a saint. He tried to keep me calm. But I couldn’t stop worrying or crying. I finally brought her back to the vet, sick with worry. He gave her more IV fluids and another antibiotic. This time, the kind that cured her last time. He sent us home with hope that a few days would help her. M gave her the medication (thank God he is so good at that. Reason #473 why he’s the best…truly). We left for a cookout, me with some worry, but a lot less than before.

Fast forward to tonight. Nala’s still on the bed. But her eyes aren’t as glassy. She’s not drooling. I give her a kiss, breathe a little sigh of relief.

I come downstairs. And to my surprise, she’s following me. I feed her and she eats. I wanted her to eat, so badly the last few days. And she was eating so willingly. She followed me back to the couch. And here she sits, next to me, her ever-worried kitty mom. I feel relief. I feel gratitude.

I wonder…as I have wondered the last few days….

Is this the reminder I need?

The smack upside the head that I should never take for granted the life that I have built, the happiness I have, the healthy kitties I adore? It felt frighteningly so. To some, it may be small…a sick cat…but to those that have pets and truly understand, this was jarrying. After the ordeal last year, her illness hit me like a ton of bricks.

But here she sits, feeling better, hopefully for good. Sometimes, just sometimes, you need that reminder.

Never take it for granted. You just never know what life will throw you.

And for me? It told me my faith is not as strong as it should be. Because my fear took a choke hold on my faith and never let go. I need to work on that. I need to have faith.

Sometimes, just sometimes, you need that reminder…