Life is a journey of it’s own, but life with God is on a whole notha’ level! From the moment of salvation God begins working on our lives; teaching us, convicting us and transforming us. People may think a life with the Almighty God would be a peaceful and easy one but on the contrary it is quite the opposite. Our fallen human nature wants to live by fleshly desires while our spiritual side desires to live for God… It’s almost like having an angel and a devil on your shoulders constantly fighting for your devotion. And on top of that this world we live in is perpetually slamming it’s selfish, superficial and materialistic ways down our throats every step of the way.
“Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” 1John 2:15
But despite all of this spiritual warfare, God is working on us, He is strengthening us and guiding us through it. God is sanctifying us. And that my friends is something to have confidents in. That is where my hope lies.
As I think about this, and think about the person I have become I feel an incredible amount of joy. You see, I used to feel unbearably inadequate. I felt as if I just didn’t measure up to those around me and that I really had nothing to offer this world or the people in it. Along with it came this deep feeling of hopelessness, as if I would never be able to become anything more than I was. And as sad as that is, I have a sense that others have felt this way as well, that it isn’t just me.
I felt like this for years but I just kept going like anyone else would, kept living a “normal” life - loving all the things that destroy our souls. But then God stepped in and He opened the eyes of my heart to see His Kingdom - a world where there is purpose and soul-nourishing fulfillment! And that’s when my life journey really began. That's when things got more difficult then they have ever been but more soul-satisfying than I’ve ever experienced.
Tom has gone through a similar transformation and getting married was one of the deeply fulfilling moments that God guided us to. And now that we are married God has been progressively moulding us into who He wants us to be, as individuals and as husband and wife. As of late God has been pulling us into His family of Christ and redefining our lives as Christians. We have recently joined a small group through our church and boy were we nervous going in the first day - we knew that we would be expected to pray (aloud) with our groups each meeting. If you know Tom and I, then you know we are the opposite of outgoing especially when it comes to group settings where we don’t exactly know anyone!
Our first meeting came and the dry throats and sweaty palms came with it! At the end of our discussion time we break up into 2 groups (men and women) and this is where we express praises from the week, prayer requests and then we pray aloud. The first meeting they told us we didn't have to pray if we didn’t feel comfortable yet, but God was telling me to just do it, start getting used to it right away! So I prayed - it wasn’t long and I stumbled on my words, said um too many times and I think I repeated the same prayer twice… But I did it! Phew! God got me through it and when we finished our meeting and went to the car I asked Tom if he had gotten the courage to pray and with a victory smile and a high-five he said he did! Woohoo! God is faithful!
It’s an incredible thing to watch your husband grow spiritually. In the first months of our marriage… Actually almost the first year or more we were spiritually complacent I would say. We prayed together occasionally and read the bible intermittently. Our marriage was good, we were happy, and in some aspects we were growing closer but we were missing that deeper connection. I remember feeling this fear and hopelessness that I would never truly be the wife Tom needed me to be, or as bad as this may sound I had fear that Tom might never be the spiritual leader I needed him to be. I feared we would want different things later in life and that Tom didn’t have a desire for God like I did. I had so many thoughts about the difference in opinions we might have on where to live, or how to live or how to one day raise our children. I had feelings of inadequacy and I was scared Tom would notice how I’m not actually as cool as he thinks I am… And these thoughts still sometimes pop into my head but now I know that my hope is not in Tom or in myself but it’s in God.
A year ago I would have never imagined that we would be joining a small group or planning to serve in the church. I would never have imagined that we would spend time in Gods Word together and then time praying for each other and for guidance in our crazy life, but here we are - doing exactly that and feeling more hope in God than ever before and feeling more in love and in awe of one another than we thought possible.
The more we chase after God the closer we become. God designed us to be this way and it’s an amazing experience. Growing together spiritually makes you fall in love with each other all over again. We learn new things about each other, we get to actively participate in one another's divine advancement and to top it all off we have hope for ourselves and each other that God will grow us into who He designed us to be. God is still working on us, He isn’t finished yet. That is where our greatest hope comes from.
All by God’s Grace!
I was suppose to post this yesterday... But life happened and it was beautiful outside and we wanted to hang out with our friends! Her it is though, a day late...
April 23rd... Last year on this day we were beginning our hike on the Appalachian Trail. We had drove for roughly 15 hours to get down to Georgia, and we were finally at Amicalola Falls, where the AT's approach trail is located. I was so nervous, my stomach was doing flips, I could barely eat... I was so scared of the unknown world we were diving into!
Tom's Mom and Step-father had taken the time to drive us all that way, we had lunch with them at the big fancy lodge in the park before they saw us off down the trail. We didn't get started until 3:00pm. We had 7.9 miles to go before we would even step foot on the Official Appalachian Trail - at the top of Springer Mountain. It took us 4 hours to hike the approach trail and many exhausted rest stops - I complained a lot that I was tired and couldn't go on... says Tom... Pfft... I don't remember that!. When we finally made it to the top of Springer Mountain, the sun was setting and we were feeling extremely awkward. Where should we set up our tent? Where do we get water from? Where do we hang our food bag?? What do we wash our dirty dishes with??? WHAT DID WE GET OURSELVES INTO?!?!?
We felt like everyone else up on that mountain were experts and we didn't have a clue what we were doing. But we were there and we were doing it. And that's what I would like to dedicate this post to... Getting out even when you feel awkward, inexperienced and scared and just doing it! Whatever the it is that you want to do!
Fear is the number one reason why people live the okay lives that they do. People are scared to take risks because they're scared of failure. And I don't blame you... failure is scary! Who wants to waste time and energy on something that you're just going to fail at? Who wants to look like the person who just couldn't do what they set out to do? Who wants to look incapable and unachieved? Nobody. We all yearn for success, and if we give ourselves smaller, easier goals then we set ourselves up to be winners, we set ourselves up to feel satisfied.
But then are we really living the lives we WANT to live? Lives that are soul changing and passionate? Or are we just settling for what is comfortable and easy? Now here's where things get complicated... Or maybe not so complicated?
We have a God, a God who promises to provide for us in every circumstance, He promises to provide shelter, food, clothes - all the means necessary to live... But wait.. most of us have these things... whether you believe in God or not, whether we have a relationship with Him or not. We are capable of providing these things for ourselves even when we are against God. Or are we? James 1:17 says "Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father..." So whether we acknowledge it or not God is our ultimate provider.
God promises us something else though, He promises us true Joy, Happiness and Confidence when we come to know Him and let Him into our lives. He promises that our lives will be filled with Purpose, that we shall not fear because He is with us. He gives us the courage to take risks, knowing that He is in control and will ultimately govern our paths. God is constantly knocking at our door, asking if we will let Him into our lives so that He can radically change us... All we have to do is open up our hearts and invite Him in.
Tom and I have done this, we have accepted Jesus into our lives to transform us and guide us. This is how we had the courage to begin the Appalachian Trail and He is how we finished it. God is the one who kept our legs moving for 2,189 miles, He is the one who kept our spirits alive even when we felt exhausted and far from the end. Yes, other people have finished the trail without being believers, but God was still with them, God was still keeping them going, even if they didn't acknowledge Him. But guess what? They missed out on experiencing His Power and Grace! They missed out on the close relationship we experienced with Him, on the joy we felt when we knew He was guiding our steps and putting circumstances in place so that we could keep going.
We got to grow in our faith and be completely changed by His grace, we never had to worry about anything because we personally KNOW the God who created the universe and who has all the power to change circumstances and bring opportunity to those who follow His plans. We rested in knowing the author of all things was with us and for us. We get to team up with God and rely on His plan for us - We get to feel the excitement of doing life with Him and He abundantly blesses His followers!
Life with God is fearless and purposeful. He is constantly revealing Himself to us in even the smallest mundane things. He changes our hearts and loves us like no other. He is perfecting us to live a bold life without boundaries. To not settle with an "okay" life. To live with MEANING and PASSION. Jesus lived an EXTRAORDINARY life and we are called to do the same through Him who created us.
Since the trail Tom and I have noticed the lives people are settling into, we have noticed that the "American Dream" lifestyle is ...well.. BS. The whole white picket fence, fancy house, nice car, "successful job" thing is completely overrated. Seems as though people dedicate their lives to creating this perfect image but wind up unhappy and stressed out trying to make payments and keep up with everyone else. Now I'm not saying having a nice house and a nice vehicle is BS, what I'm saying is that people nowadays think that their stuff creates worth. That having the "American Dream" image shows that you are successful and even if you aren't living a life of purpose and passion, you still look good on the outside, you're still checking off your imaginary life checklist. A life like this is an okay life. It is an achievable goal. It is living for the weekend, for vacations, for better times... It's living for the future. And when the future comes, it leaves again just like that and then guess what? You're back to living for the future, to living an okay life.
We miss out on life when we focus on the future - I'm guilty of this. I do it all the time! I think about the life I want to live instead of focusing on the life I'm living. God is working in me though, changing my heart so that I can see the blessings He has given me, so that I can appreciate every day I live, so that I can take risks and live with meaning. Our hike was a huge wake up call for us, we had to focus on our day-to-day survival, if we looked too far into the future it felt like our hike would never end and even though it was an amazing experience that we sometimes didn't want to end, it was also extremely HARD! And looking at a map that would tell us we had not even gone a quarter of the way was EXTREMELY intimidating! So we focused on getting through each day, one day at a time and God gave us JOY in that.
These are the lessons that God wants us to learn, He wants to mold us into human beings who have a zest for each day of our existence. He wants us to find joy in our everyday lives. And it's only through taking risks and relying on Him that we can achieve this.
God has put it on our hearts to build a life worth living, not a life filled with worthless things. People have these fancy houses that they pay a small fortune for and spend their days outside of their house working to pay them off. They spend evenings and weekends in these expensive homes but the rest of their time is spent trying to afford them. People buy vacation homes, vehicles, toys, fancy clothes, the latest devices... All in attempts to look and feel successful. Oh but don't you look at them and think "Wow, they must be successful to have such nice things." It's strange how we measure success by the amount of money we make and how we spend it. The strangest thing about it is the amount of time we put into being able to afford such luxuries, we end up working our lives away in order to "live our lives"...Our okay lives.
We are brainwashed every day by media to believe we "need" the latest thing or that these things will bring happiness, and we fear that if we don't follow the certain steps to success then we will fall behind everyone and miss out. We won't feel secure and happy.. Because money buys happiness right? But we are being fed lies. It's all to keep us from our true calling, to keep up so busy and distracted that we never have the time to find our passions and really LIVE HAPPY!
If we can refrain from buying such expensive and superficial things, if we can focus on living a frugal and intentional life then we can spend less time working and more time on our passions. More time with God, following His path - He did create you, He does know how to make you thrive... 1 John 2:15-17 says: "Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever."
Tom and I have began minimizing our lives, we keep going through all of our "things" and getting rid of everything we don't need. We lived for 5.5 months with the bare minimum, with only the things we needed to survive and now we want to bring those values back home with us. We are working on paying off our school debt and then planning on building ourselves a small home... We want to live with the least amount of debt and expenses as necessary so that we can focus on the things that matter, like spending time and shining God's light on the ones we love. We want to go out on a limb for God, to show Him that we trust Him and to show others that He is ALL we need. We want to rely more on Him and less on this world...
The things of the world will not bring true joy and meaning to your life. Only God can do that. And maybe you won't be called to hike for 163 days, or to try and live a self-sustaining lifestyle. Maybe it will be a call to get into a new field of work, maybe God will want you to speak up about a cause or adopt a child... The possibilities are endless! God made us unique because He has a different purpose for each of us. He doesn't call us to settle into a comfortable and easy life. He calls us to a life-changing, unforgettable existence. So lets stop settling and lets start trusting God and taking risks so that we don't miss our chance at an absolutely amazing life!
I've been planning to start a blog for a while now, just one about life and my experiences/opinions on things. I enjoy writing and have been told by a few friends that I should do more of it, so a blog seemed like the obvious choice.
I'm just going to dive in to some stuff that has been on my mind lately and see where I end up! So bear with me here as I begin my mini story...
So about 2 months ago I was approached online... (is it called approached if its not in person?) Anyways, I was messaged about an opportunity to work from my social media and have a chance to make a full-time income with part-time hours. I was skeptical... Like yeah, right that's a real thing!
But as I followed my recruiter, Sarah, I noticed that she was just a normal mom... Actually a kind of extraordinary mom; she has 5 kids, one is a foster and she is a stay at home mom/home-schooler! So basically her life is what I want for my future... maybe not 5 kids... but I would like to have a couple of my own, fostering is a dream of mine and I want to home-school my children. OK, I'm getting off topic... So as I followed Sarah, I realized she was real, she was making a full-time income and that this opportunity was also real.
I prayed about it a lot because I was still unsure if it was for me, but a time came when the kit you have to purchase when you sign up with this company had double the products in it, so I would be able to make my money back right away plus more! (it was a risk free opportunity). So I signed up! I took the plunge and became a distributor for It Works! Global, a Health & Wellness company selling all-natural products, I signed up to become a sales rep!
Since then I have been watching the training videos and listening to other distributors tips and tricks to get the most customers and how to hire more distributors (you make a percentage of the sales from the distributors you sign under you). So really you want to have customers plus distributors under you who are also gaining customers - this is how you can make a full-time income with part-time hours.
I have been focusing hard on doing the things that make other distributors successful; posting on my Facebook/Instagram EVERYDAY about the products and the business opportunity and also cold messaging people to see if they will purchase my products. I have been messaging all of my potential customers and learning how to word my messages and keep them interested. I have been adding new people to my Facebook and growing my following on Instagram. I have actually recruited a good amount of loyal customers and am quite close to a promotion!
BUT... I have spent this last month OBSESSED with It Works! It has been all I think about and all I work on. I am CONSTANTLY on my phone... But wait, I thought this was suppose to be part-time? Ok, ok.. so there is this thing called the Power Hour where you can get everything done in one hour. So I did that... But then you still have to message people who are interested in your products, and then follow up with previous customers and answer questions that you get asked... So then I end up CONSTANTLY on my phone! (Maybe I'm not good at time management?)
Let me tell you something else about myself... Before this, I was considering switching to a FLIP PHONE because I hated wasting my time on social media. I wanted to be productive with my time, like studying my bible, or learning something new or spending time doing tangible things! I wanted to spend less time in front of a screen and more time in the real world doing real things! And one day I want to be a role model to my children, raising them without that obsession with technology. I want to lead by example, which means not sitting on my phone all the time. I mean I did hike for 5.5 months straight last summer without a cell phone and loved it, so I have been craving the disconnection again!
Another thing about myself... I am totally against consumerism! I get we need things for survival and occasionally we can buy things that we desire to have but we are always being PUSHED to buy this or buy that; we are surrounded by ADS! I feel like it melts my brain!
... And now... I've become an Ad. My entire social media presence is an advertisement, trying to convince people to get on board with my products/company. I get that this is how you run a successful online marketing business, I get that people are consumers and they enjoy consuming and I get that in order for a consumer to buy something they need to know about the product through an ad. BUT, I feel like I'm going against my own beliefs, I am pushing something that I don't even believe in. I feel fake.
Let me clarify one thing though, It Works! Globals products are top of the line, they are amazing quality and they really do work! Hence why the company is doing so well! I do believe in the health benefits of the products. Also, the men and women working as distributors use the products and they are normal people making an income while staying home with their children/traveling/doing whatever the heck they want?
I have nothing against the company - and in fact I support consumers buying from an online sales rep because I would rather see support given to a family to help pay for their children's swim lessons, or a new car that they desperately need, or just to keep them home with their babies instead of leaving them for work, than support given to some CEO of some huge corporation so that they can buy their 3rd vacation home.
So I believe in the company as well. What I don't believe is the consumerism lifestyle. It's not the life for me. One day I hope to have a little self-sustaining farm where we can grow our own food and make my own soaps, where we can have honey bees and goats and spend our days in a slower more satisfying way. I want to rid myself of the busyness of this world and show my family how we can live with less things and more purpose and definitely a whole lot more God.
I thought that getting into this business was what God wanted for me, I had prayed but to be honest I jumped on the opportunity pretty quickly once I heard I could get double the product in my builders kit. I'm not sure I gave myself enough time to even hear an answer from God. I just thought since this opportunity came up maybe that was Gods sign for me take the plunge! Plus the company is Christian-based and Sarah is a Christian, as well as most of her team! I thought it was a perfect opportunity to connect with other Christian women, while making an income - plus I told myself I would use this business to glorify God.
Little did I know that I would find myself COMPLETELY DISTRACTED from God and focused only on myself and my business. Even the posts that I would add God into... I was literally doing only that - adding Him in as an extra. The weight of this business without me focusing on God is atrocious. My mind has just been in a jumble, racing around and never resting. Always thinking about the next post I was going to write, or what I would respond back to so and so. I was focused on the money I would be making soon and the freedom I would have once I started making it... My brain felt like it was going to explode.
I finally decided to make myself a prayer corner where I could leave all distractions (especially my phone) and just be with God, reading His word and praying for guidance. What I keep getting from Him is that I need to stay focused on Him and realize that He is the Lord of the ENTIRE UNIVERSE and my worries are only taking away the JOY I can have in Him and the rest that only He can provide.
The other night I actually had a meltdown thinking about working this business - Tom had gone out with the guys and I stayed home. It was about 7:00pm maybe when he left and I was on my phone (of course) working my business, I had been on it since 6:00pm probably, on and off earlier as well...I did not get off the couch or off my phone until somewhere around 10:00pm maybe? That's 4 hours of sitting on my phone!!! And this is something that was becoming a pattern! Once I realized just how much time I was wasting on my phone (making money or not) I just broke down, and cried to God - I can't do this anymore. This is not what I want, I am turning into a social media zombie! Please help me be FREE from this!
I gave it to God and went to bed. I have posted once this past weekend about the business. I haven't messaged anyone about it and I've been focusing on God and our relationship. Needless to say I feel so relieved and at rest right now, even though I am still unsure about where God wants me to go with this. Even if I am to leave it all behind, I feel like this last month has taught me an extremely important lesson and that is that time is valuable and you can either spend it on trying to get to a life you want or you can spend it LIVING a life you want. The life I want is with God, walking in a heartfelt relationship with Him. I want to live true to God, myself and my beliefs.
I know that one day Tom and I will have children and I will want to stay at home with them, but I don't have to worry about the future because Gods got us. He always has and always will. As long as we continue to walk the path He has laid before us then nothing can get in our way (I should know this! God brought us through the entire Appalachian Trail!). And maybe this short experience is what God wanted, so that I would turn to Him for the rest I so desperately needed and see that He needs to come first in my life in order for everything else to fall into place.
I am unsure at this time whether or not I will continue as an It Works! Distributor... I will be taking time to listen to God and see what His plans for me are. I don't want to spend my time the way I have been. I want to spend my time working for God, however that might be... Maybe just focusing on my actual full-time job as a supply Educational Assistant?? And you know, interacting with people face to face, building my teaching skills and behaviour management skills?... I know I'll need those one day!
God has given me a breath of fresh air after a month of holding my head under water. I am feeling very grateful that I have Him to cling to and set me free.