God’s Laying the Ground Work ~ A Reminder About Patience and the Things Unseen

Home projects were created by the devil himself.  Oh my dear Lord in Heaven…help us!  Ok, I’m being dramatic.   Landscaping a retaining wall and patio isn’t nearly as bad as gutting out your kitchen.  Regardless, attention to detail in both scenarios is crucial.  It will be the determining factor in whether or not the project holds up over time and under pressure.

I’ve had this dream.  Ever since we moved into our new home 1.5 years ago, I’ve dreamt of creating this amazing space with our backyard.  Brick steps, patio, stone fireplace, soft cushy chairs, greenery, flowers.   You know, the pictures you see in Southern Living Magazine when the family is entertaining their friends with mint juleps and grilled shrimp with garlic cheese grits?  That’s what I saw every time I looked out into our rocky, dirty, sandy back yard.  We had a long way to go before I could send out those custom invites for my Southern Living-esque party.

Michael, my husband, finally agreed that this summer we would start the project.  I have been stalking checking in on the crew throughout the process and documented the growth with my iPhone.  Here is the before:

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Here is half way finished:

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I don’t have a picture of the finished product, because it’s not perfected yet.  It’s been a tedious and meticulous process.  Before we even called the landscaper to discuss the project, there were nearly 10 trees we had removed from the yard.  Space needed clearing for the new work to be done.  Congestion was created from the quantity of trees.  We removed the ones that didn’t promise further growth, that created gum balls, and seemed nearly dead.  Quality is what we desired.  Once there was room to grow, the workers then had to do an enormous amount of digging, throwing away, bringing in more dirt, leveling off, patting, and measuring before even one stone was laid.

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I would watch them level the ground, smooth it out, then level it again.  Anxiously awaiting the stones to be laid, I got annoyed and impatient when I saw them get their darn level stick and smooth it out just one more time.  Good grief people…it looks good…just start building!  Then, once two stones were placed onto that perfectly smooth surface, the landscaper retrieved his level and balanced it on both stones, ensuring they were exactly the same height.  He did this for EVERY.SINGLE.STONE.  If one was a tad higher, he got his rubber hammer and beat on the top until it lowered to the precise spot.  Oh my gosh, dude! I think it looks totally great, let’s move on.

My personality is known as ATF….Act, Think, Feel.  I typically act on something, think about what I’ve done, and then feel the repercussions later.  If I were building that back yard retreat, no digging would be done, I would start stacking up stones like I was playing with Lincoln Logs, and build that sucker without using a tape measure, level, or any strategic planning whatsoever.  Common sense would tell anyone that my patio would be uneven, crooked, have no drainage system for rain water, and my friends would trip and spill their fruity drinks and never want to come to any more of my parties again!  ;)

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I do this in life, too.  Maybe you can relate and make me feel better for not being the only one who is impatient during the process, and only wants to see results.  We (I’m going to assume you agreed with me) have dreams, like my backyard.  But more importantly, life changing dreams…like graduating from school, getting that job, saying “I Do”, having a baby, buying a house, running a marathon, starting your own business, mending relationships, repairing marriages, fighting illnesses, or overcoming personal obstacles.  We want the results.  Most of us want them immediately.  Some of us have learned some patience during the waiting.  Regardless, we all hope to see our desires come true.  We yearn for the finished product, but easily find ourselves questioning and doubting God’s building process.

Before God brings us to where he has planned, there is some ground work that needs to be laid.  Like the trees that required removal from our yard, things in our life need to be cut off, weeded out, and gleaned.  It’s not always about quantity, it’s the quality that counts.  The old must go to make room for the new.  God is prepping us for the good that is to come, but first he may have to dig away at our spirits, ridding us of the qualities and characteristics that are not of Him.  It looks ugly, and we would never want our friends to see that part, but it’s necessary for the finished product.  We may see nothing but dirt, but God sees a work in progress.

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I’m so glad God takes his time with me, carefully inspecting me and meticulously molding me into the woman he sees.  I can choose to look at the circumstances in my life like a big pile of bricks and a horrible mess.

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But God sees the finished product.  He knows where he is taking me and knows the method that is required to get me there.  He’s laying down the ground work in my life in order to build up a woman who reflects Christ.  It’s a process, but I know I can rely on Christ to provide patience, grace, understanding, and wisdom while I am waiting.

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Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Romans 8:28 “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

Hebrews 11:1 “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”

Not Good Enough – Guest Post by Ana Bright

{Guest Post by Ana Bright from These Bright Ideas}

You are not good enough. You never will be.

And that’s okay.

Not Good Enough

I’ve spent most of my life not feeling good enough. Two of the three memories of my biological father are filled with fights and anger. In the other memory, he picked my little brother and me up at our daycare (I was no older than 4) and we rode in a taxi with him. I found out years later that it wasn’t a taxi and he wasn’t supposed to be picking us up. He kept my brother and I for a week and he refused to tell my mom where we were. When he finally brought us back home, he made sure to tell my mom, “Just so you know, I can get them whenever I want.”

I haven’t seen or heard from him since then nor do I care to. But that doesn’t mean I haven’t spent years wondering why I wasn’t good enough for him to stick around and why he didn’t love me. I guess you could say I have daddy issues. And those issues have been transferred to most relationships in my life. Most of all my relationship with God.

Not Good Enough

Always in fear of being abandoned, I took the mentality of ‘leave before you’re left.’ It’s a mentality that seemed to protect me most of the time. Looking back now, one that probably played in my divorce.

After a 6-month span of craziness and bad choices, I finally started to forgive myself. And about a year after the ink dried on the divorce papers, I came to Christ and was baptized. That was 6 years ago. I’ve been remarried now for four but I still struggle with not feeling good enough. It feels like I have to earn love and acceptance, even from people who love me the most. And especially from God. He knows everything I’ve done and thought about doing in my life. Some things I’ve never told a soul. How could He possibly love me?

But He does.

I don’t have to get to a place where I’m lovable. I don’t have to be the perfect Christian. That is an oxymoron after all. Romans 5:8 says it so perfectly, “but God demonstrates His own love for us in this, while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

There are no exceptions to this.

I am loved. Exactly where I am. Exactly as I am. And so are you.

Not Good Enough


 

ana brightMy name is Ana Bright. I’ve spent my life as a daughter, wife, mom, high school math teacher and now a stay-at-home mom of three great kids. It is the most challenging and most rewarding role I’ve ever undertaken. Since early 2008, I’ve called myself a daughter of the King of Kings, by far, my favorite title. Once my brain turns on, my mind moves a million miles an hour. To keep myself sane, I spend time having mind dumps through my writing at These Bright Ideas and hurling around heavy stuff at the gym.

I Removed Facebook, Instagram, and Safari From My Phone

My connection to the world.  My creative outlets.  My entertainment, interaction, and source of information all gone…

For now at least.

idols

I have a smartphone, like the majority of you do.  I have my favorite apps on there that I use daily. To no surprise, it’s Facebook, Instagram, and the included internet feature of Safari. These are awesome tools for sharing pictures, communicating with friends, doing business, and reading up on the latest news.  I love them, maybe a little too much.  Or maybe it’s my love of photographing my children…and sharing online…that I love too much.  It could be the feedback from friends, family, and followers that I love too much.  What if it’s the feeling of worth and value I get when I see how many “likes” a picture received that I love too much?  Should I continue? I think you get the picture.

These apps are cool things.  They are good things.  Their uses are profitable and CAN BE beneficial.  But where does it go wrong? When does the GOOD get in the way of the BEST?

The good gets in the way of the best when Facebook is the first thing you reach for in the morning before you wipe the sleep out of your eyes.  The good gets in the way of the best when checking your Instagram news feed is the last thing you need to see before dozing off.  The good gets in the way of the best when surfing the internet for mindless poop is an automatic reaction to the silence in a room full of people, and you don’t know how to fill that awkward void.

When life is calm, there is a breathing moment, and time has slowed down for just a millisecond….and your body itches to pull up Facebook because you have nothing to do…that’s when the good gets in the way of the best.

Don’t even get me started on how these apps on my phone have taken away attention from my children, husband, and quiet time.  I don’t need to tell you what a distraction they are from work, chores, and the BEST things in life.  We know that already.  This isn’t a post on what a horrible person you are for looking at your phone while your daughter is twirling in her dress at the park.  That’s already been written.

What I’m talking about is how these apps on my phone have become my idol.  Ouch.  Yep…a direct offense of the First Commandment that the Lord gives:

Exodus 20: 3-6 (The Message)

“3 No other gods, only me.

4-6 No carved gods of any size, shape, or form of anything whatever, whether of things that fly or walk or swim. Don’t bow down to them and don’t serve them because I am God, your God, and I’m a most jealous God, punishing the children for any sins their parents pass on to them to the third, and yes, even to the fourth generation of those who hate me. But I’m unswervingly loyal to the thousands who love me and keep my commandments.”

My phone became my idol.  I served it first, I served it most, and I served it above the one true God who created me! He loves me so fiercely that he is jealous of my attention, my loyalty, my time, and my love.  Why? Because his love for me is so great and grand, that he gave his son to die a brutal death on a cross just so I can be in God’s presence for all of eternity.  He has a right to be jealous of my worship.  The apps on my iPhone, not so much.

Removing the apps from my phone is temporary.  I’m on a cleanse.  I’m reprogramming my automatic tendencies to stare at my phone most of the day, and instead reaching for scripture, praying, studying my children, hugging them with both hands empty of any distraction, and replacing the good with God’s best.

The Lord will tell me when the time is right to install the apps back to my phone. He will tell me when, and HOW, to use these forms of social media for not only my benefit, but for the benefit of others and his kingdom.  Please don’t think I’m saying Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or whatever form of social media you love are bad or evil.  They’re not.  They can be used for good.  But when the good gets in the way of the best, that’s when we are really on the losing end of the deal.

I will still log onto Facebook from my computer, but I’m not on there NEARLY as long or as often compared to when I browse it on my phone.

What has become your idol?  Maybe you can directly relate to these apps becoming your primary focus over the better things God has for you.  What if it’s work?  Volunteering?  Crafting? Exercising? Money?

I don’t know.  But God does, and he can reveal that to you if you pray and ask him to.  God has so many blessings ready to give you, but he can’t if you are worshipping another god.  That other god (idol) that you worship cannot fulfill your needs the way God can.  Repent from your sin of allowing something else to become an idol over God, and ask for his power to help you change. Only through Christ can you transform your mind and live differently from what the world says is normal, what the world says is good.  I want God’s best.  How about you?

Romans 12: 1-2 (The Message)

“1-2 So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. DON’T BECOME SO WELL ADJUSTED TO YOUR CULTURE THAT YOU FIT INTO IT WITHOUT EVEN THINKING (emphasis added). Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.”

Because You Want To Be Called “Daddy” – A tribute to all dads.

Dear “Daddy”…

As Father’s Day draws near, it reminds us all to stop and pay tribute to our father.  Every single one of us has a father.  We wouldn’t be here if we didn’t ;) !

Fathers deserve a little recognition and “thanks” for what they’ve done for us, but DADS deserve more.  It doesn’t take a lot of effort, sacrifice, or commitment to be a “father”.  Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a “father” as this: a man who has begotten a child. The definition of “daddy” is this: a father.  Merriam-Webster, while your definition of “daddy” is true, it’s not accurate.  DADDY is not a synonym for father.  They are totally different.  And you, DADDY, are more than just a father.

A man becomes a father after biological reproduction.

A man becomes a DADDY by choice.

Fathers DayHaving your child call you Daddy is a privilege earned by love, hard work, sleepless nights, commitment, encouragement, quality time, and sacrifice.  YOU are a Daddy because you have chosen to be one.

You uncomfortably sat through the ultrasound visits…because you want to be called Daddy.

You helped pick out the name, even though your contribution of “Hulk” or “Hogan” got shot down quickly…because you want to be called Daddy.

Father's Day

(photo credit: Leslie Tate)

You spent hours in the floor, cursing Graco under your breath, as you assembled baby gear…because you want to be called Daddy.

You were there in the delivery room, coaching and encouraging, as you witnessed the miracle of your child being born…because you want to be called Daddy.

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(photo credit: Paperlily Photography)

…or maybe…You signed one million papers, raised what seemed like one million dollars, and waited what felt like one million days to finally hold that child in your arms and welcome him into your home…because you want to be called Daddy.

Father's Day(photo credit: Hannah Wood)

You traded in that Georgia red, lifted up, F-150 to buy the four door sedan…because you want to be called Daddy.

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You swallowed your pride, strapped on that baby carrier, and wore your child on your chest…because you want to be called Daddy.

You fought back the urge to vomit and pushed through that diaper change…because you want to be called Daddy.

You canceled on the guy’s poker invitation, fight night, or pick up game to spend time at home…because you want to be called Daddy.

Father's Day(photo credit: Christy Martin Photography)

You learned the words and can sing along to Dora the Explorer, Jake and the Neverland Pirates, and Bubble Guppies…because you want to be called Daddy.

You take off work to be at pre-school’s Donuts with Dad and you leave work early to be there for the t-ball game…because you want to be called Daddy.

You kiss boo-boos, give baths, brush teeth, clean up toys, and go on special ice cream runs…because you want to be called Daddy.

Father's Day

You go to work, provide for your family, and sacrifice financially…because you want to be called Daddy.

You cuddle, love, support, protect, guide, discipline, teach, and listen…because you want to be called Daddy.

I know you don’t do all of these things because you HAVE TO, because you’re their father.  You do it…and more…because you WANT TO.  Because you’re their DADDY.

And because you’re AWESOME!

Happy Father’s Day not only to a father, but someone who chooses, EVERY DAY….to be a DADDY.

Father's Day

1 Corinthians 13:4-7 “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”

Waging a War Against Time

I feel myself fighting against the clock, the flow, the unstoppable movement of life.  I am waging a war against time, raging against the busyness.

Somewhere along the road, people decided to glorify “busy”, “doing”, “accomplishing”, and “going”. The busier we are, the more important we are.  People must really need us, and we have a “life” because we have so much to do.  I’ve heard the phrase, “I’m sorry I have a LIFE!” used in really a sarcastic, degrading tone to belittle the person who isn’t as busy as the person who said it.

Ewing Family

We’ve found our significance and worth in being busy.  And if we’re not doing something, going somewhere, or planning our next adventure, then we are “lazy”, “losers”, “unaccomplished”, and “insignificant”.  These are ALL LIES! Lies that the devil uses to keep us moving, going, stressed out, unappreciative, complaining, anxious, and unsatisfied with ourselves.  Lies used to steal our joy, the joy that comes from being in the presence of the Almighty God, the author and perfecter of our faith, and the peace that comes from knowing we are a child of God.  Our title is not in what we are DOING, it is who we are BEING…co-heirs with Christ.

I realized a few years ago when Avery was 3-years-old that I was bringing most of the stress and busyness upon myself.  I was creating the havoc by always saying YES when people asked, always volunteering, always adding more to my plate, and not taking an evaluation of where my time was being spent. It was after my husband had a talk with me about how insanely chaotic the playroom was and that Avery had colored with markers all over her table.  It was a simple question of, “Are you even watching her during the day?”  I felt a brick hit me my upside my head and a soccer player kick me in the gut at the same time.  My answer was, “No.  No, I’m not watching her because even though I’m in the same room with her, my face is stuck in the computer editing all of these photography sessions that need to get done.”  God spoke to me and said, “What is more important, your job…or your child?”

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That was a no brainer.  I instantly made changes to my business to eliminate the majority of where my time was spent.  I decided to cut out all family and children sessions and focus solely on weddings.  Also, the editing would now be outsourced.  I’ve never regretted reading a book with my daughter over sitting behind a computer.  NEVER.

Those kind of changes were my decisions to make.  It was in my control to make more time for what is most important. The stress dissolved and I could be there mentally and emotionally more for my daughter than I could before.

However, there are “busy seasons” in life that are beyond my control.  Like the month of May.  Holy Cow!! No one warned me how ridiculously crazy, busy, time sucking, and wallet draining that the end of the school year can be.  Avery is only in preschool, and thankfully God is teaching me this now, that May will always be NUTS.

Teacher appreciation, Mother’s Day, petting zoo, field day, class parties, pre-k graduation, dance pictures, dress rehearsal, dance recital, Avery’s birthday…and 2 weddings to photograph.  My time is being stretched and so is the bank account.  Money for this, payments for that.  I think I wrote 5 checks ALONE just yesterday.  I don’t say this to complain, because I’m not ungrateful, but it’s just a reality check of life.  The majority of these things I cannot control, and should I choose not to show up and overextend myself, then I’m missing LIFE.  Avery loves for me to be there…and by God….I WANT to be there.

mommy and avery

This season of life is the good stuff.  My baby is about to graduation from Pre-K in less than a week and then have her 5th birthday party a few days later. I want to relish in these moments.  I don’t want to just “survive” and “get through them”.  I want to remember the details, the smiles, the kisses, the pigtails, the lace on her dress, blowing out the candles, her baby teeth, and the way she still wants to sit in my lap and hold my hand in front of her friends.

I’m fighting against the clock and the pressure that says “Go!”, “Hurry Up!”, “You still have so much to do!”  I’m screaming back at it in my head saying, “Look!”, “Slow down!”, “Laugh!”, “Cuddle!”, “Pay Attention!”.  Because when I pick her up from preschool on the last day, I want to  see her face, watch her climb into my car, and excitedly show me the sticker in her notebook.  I need to hear her talk about who won Bingo, and what crazy thing Mrs. Sue said that day, and listen to her yell “bye” to her friends in the parking lot.

avery and mommy

I don’t want to rush through it because we need to hurry home and finish the laundry before dance class.  I can’t let the pressure of what hasn’t been done yet drown out the blessings and joy God sends to me each day through my children.

Yes, this is a busy time of year.  But this is the only time my children will look the way they do, talk the way they talk, experience these moments in their lives, and I don’t want to capture it all just to post on Instagram, I NEED to take a mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual snapshot for myself, so years down the road when she drives herself to the first day of school, or is too big to sit in my lap without it hurting, I can relive these moments, sounds, sights, smells, and feelings that are happening RIGHT NOW…in the busy season.

Ewing Sisters

Ephesians 5:11-17 (The Message)

11-16 “Don’t waste your time on useless work, mere busywork, the barren pursuits of darkness. Expose these things for the sham they are. It’s a scandal when people waste their lives on things they must do in the darkness where no one will see. Rip the cover off those frauds and see how attractive they look in the light of Christ.

Wake up from your sleep,
Climb out of your coffins;
Christ will show you the light!
So watch your step. Use your head. Make the most of every chance you get. These are desperate times!

17 Don’t live carelessly, unthinkingly. Make sure you understand what the Master wants.”

 

Be The Salt in a Tasteless World

“You are the salt of the earth.  But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again?  It is no longer good for anything; except to be thrown out and trampled by men.” Matthew 5:13

It’s a compliment to be called “the salt of the earth”.  People use this term when referring to someone who is faithful, full of great character, adds value to others, and uncorrupted.  These type of people just give you the warm and fuzzies and you not only want to be around them, but you strive to be more like them.

Jesus knew exactly what he was doing by choosing the term “salt” in his teachings.  In his time, salt was used as a preservative for meats and other foods.  It prevented corruption in the food and allowed it to last much longer.  It protected the meat from going bad and rotting, which would then make it inedible.

Salt was also used to sprinkle on “grain offerings” made to God in the Old Testament.

“Season all of your grain offerings with salt.  Do not leave the salt of the covenant of your God out of your grain offerings; add salt to all of your offerings.” Leviticus 2:13

A grain offering was offered as a sign of thanksgiving to God.  It also had to be pure, so the salt was necessary for “purification and preservation”.  Imagine during these biblical times if people didn’t have salt.  It may seem insignificant, but all of the meats would go bad, their grain offerings wouldn’t be pure and acceptable, and they wouldn’t have any salt for the rims of their margaritas. (totally kidding!)

Salt

The truths from Jesus’ teaching then is still applicable to us today, because his word never changes and doesn’t lose its power.  Here’s what’s up: We live in a tasteless world.  We must bring it flavor.

The music blasting from Katy Perry and Kanye West…tasteless.

The clothes sold in stores that cut too low and ride too high…tasteless.

The books promoting sexual fantasies in different shades of a dull color…tasteless.

The television shows glorifying dysfunction, drunkenness, and teen pregnancies…tasteless.

The movies targeting women to see how magical Mike’s moves really are…tasteless.

Are you catching on?  This stuff sells!!! Advertisers know it.  Producers know it.  Designers know it.  Just because it’s out there as the “new normal” and “everybody’s doing it” does not make it OK!  Common sense can you tell you if something is tasteless or tasteful.

As a follower of Christ and someone who claims Christianity, we are called to be different than the world.  God tells us “do not conform any longer to the world, but set yourself apart” (Romans 12:2).  We are called to be the SALT of the world.  Let me remind you what salt does:

Salt PRESERVES: Am I preserving goodness, honor, justice, mercy, and purity in my culture?

Salt INHIBITS CORRUPTION: Am I restraining the culture’s corrupting influences?

Salt CREATES PERMANENCE: Am I standing for truths that will last forever or change with what’s acceptable in my day and age?

Salt CREATES THIRST: Have I made anyone thirsty for God? Is my conversation “seasoned with salt” or do I overload it with too much and drive people away?

“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” Colossians 4:6

God tells us to “season” our conversations with salt.  A little salt creates a thirst, a thirst for more.  God doesn’t tell us to pour the salt on so thick and heavy that others are completely turned off and never want to try God again!

Be the zest and flavor in the world around you.  Spice things up a little bit.  You don’t have to be tasteless just because everything else is.  Be the salt.

 

 

An Open Letter To All College Girls

Hey Girl,

College, huh?  How much fun are you having right now in your life??!!  If you aren’t having much fun, then you should be! Because now is the time before you are thrown into the real world and then you’ll really see how much fun college was.  More importantly, I want you to know that your years in college are transition years.  It’s kind of like middle school, without the braces and boys shorter than you.  In middle school, you are way past the days of recess and nap time, but you’re still nowhere near driving a car and being a cool high schooler.  In college, you are way past the days of being under your parents nagging rules, but you are nowhere ready for the responsibilities that adult life has waiting for you.

You have not “made it” yet in college.  You feel so grown and mature.  However, there are so many more life experiences that will teach you more about who you are and what you are really made of waiting for you after graduation.  Slow down, sweet girl.  Why are you in such a rush?  Life is wonderful, but life is hard!  Don’t be in such a hurry to plan the next 30,50,70 years of your life in these 4 short years of college.

You have these amazing dreams, and I tell you…keep dreaming them.  Also know that God has even better and bigger dreams for you.  Greater than you can imagine.  It may or may not involve your degree.  It may or may not involve that boyfriend.  It may or may not involve ANY of your own plans.  If I could tell you one thing to focus on in college more than your classes, socializing, volunteering, or sports…

It would be to focus on knowing God.

When you know who God is, then you will know who you are.

You will learn that you are worth more in His eyes as a daughter of The King than you ever will be as an honor student, ADPi, DZ, PhiMu, cheerleader, basketball player, or editor of the school paper.  Those titles don’t define you.  Your major doesn’t define you.  Your boyfriend will never define you.  None of those things will ever fulfill those voids in your soul because you weren’t made for them.  You were made for God.

One day, you will no longer be whatever it is that you define yourself as now.  The sports will end, the sorority socials will be over, and your role as a student will turn into a graduate.  College is just a transition, it’s not the end all of life.   If you stripped away the titles that you associate yourself to, and had no other introduction other than, “Hi, I’m Paige”…not “Hi, I’m Paige and I cheer”…or “Hi, I’m Paige and I’m a PhiMu”….or “Hi, I’m Paige and I major in Mass Communication”; are you OK with that?  Can you say right now that you would be satisfied with simply being YOU?? Do you know where your worth comes from?  Trust me girlfriend…it’s not in worldly titles, it’s the fact you are HIS and HE is yours.  You are royalty!

That’s all you need.  You don’t have to chase after your dreams when you chase the God of your dreams.  He will bless you in all of your heart’s desires when you seek Him first with all of your heart, soul, and mind.

College

(Here are some iPhone pictures I took of prints from college.  This was me…about 25 pounds heavier.)   

college

(Whoah! Look at that hot stuff right there.  More like a hot mess.  I hated that I had gained so much weight.  I cared about my titles. I found my worth in my titles.  I desired to find a husband instead of desiring to know God more.)

college

(My weight came from unhappiness and voids.  The voids came when I no longer felt like I belonged in a certain place.  I was searching, and instead of being fulfilled in God, I was fulfilled through the comfort of eating junk.)

college

(What the holy heck is happening here? Well, apart from me being stupid…why did I own a Wizard of Oz purse?  And please tell me that sweatshirt was baggier in the front and it was not really my stomach.  This messed with my confidence.  Being a Christian doesn’t mean you’re safe from the devil’s lies that you are not good enough.  I am living proof.)

While we are talking about dreaming…stop pinning your wedding on Pinterest and start placing Post-Its in your bible.  Marriage is life long, the wedding is only one day.  If you want a husband, then be the wife he deserves.  That doesn’t mean putting all of your focus and energy into finding a husband in college, it means transforming yourself into a Godly woman that will make a wonderful wife one day. You are so young, sweet pea.  You have an enormous amount of goodness and talents to offer the world.  Your status, success, and worthiness of being loved isn’t determined if you have an engagement ring by graduation.  It’s ok if you aren’t married at 23.  Your maturity and confidence will sky rocket every year in your 20’s. Don’t think you’re a failure if you are single at 26.  The man of your dreams is worth waiting for.  I like myself so much more at 31 than I ever did at 21.  I’m a way better wife at 31 than I was at 22 when I got married.  Yes, I married right out of college.  Do I regret it? No.  Can I write to you from experience being on the other side.  Yes.

If you are engaged or about to be, congratulations!  If you aren’t, congratulations! Every season of life is a celebration.  Stop wishing your way through it to the next phase.  The grass isn’t always greener on the other side.  It’s greener where you water it.  Have fun! Be adventurous! Enjoy life! You only have 4 years.  Maybe 5.  Ok, 6!

Romans 12:1-2

“So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.” (The Message)

“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.  Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” (NIV)