Oaks Of Splendor

Sharing My Life's Story And Things That Inspire Me


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How Deserving Are You?

Over the years I have enjoyed reading. During my early twenties I started reading a lot of different types of non-fiction. I have always loved a good story, but as I was becoming an adult true life stories to over my fascination. I was in a time of my life when I was trying to discover the definition of self. I remember one particular book asked the question if you rated your life from one to a hundred ‘How deserving are you?’. What shocked me was my honest answer was not one hundred percent, no I would have loved to say in all certainty that I believed in myself. Instead I started with an answer of 85%, but then a small voice filled my head and said ‘no its lower’. Was it 75%? The voice didn’t agree, instead I believed that I was only 65% deserving of my life. At first I didn’t understand how I could believe such a thing about myself. I knew that self-confidence was important. It wasn’t like I completely hated myself. Although I don’t think a percent who doubts their own worth has true love for themselves. Instead I questioned my worth not because I didn’t have people who loved me and supported me. I like so many people often do, I could not trust that this frail small person traveling along her way could ever find favor in life. I lived in a word where no matter what I did, I would never be good enough.

I had grown up in the church. I was a christian from the young age of five, which is the first time I asked Jesus to come into my heart. I knew even then that no matter where I went in life I would always have him by my side if I only asked. I did not really understand this fully, but I felt like it was something I must do. Not because it was expected, but because it was what I needed. I took many turns in my life. I went out into the world, and even though my faith never fully left me. After all once you ask Christ in, his promise is to stay with you. I did however stop going to church, stopped reading the bible, stopped praying unless I really needed something. I am sure a lot of people pray like that. The pray only comes when something tragic happens and you have nothing left to do but pray. Or maybe you only pray to ask for things like a good job, or new car. Well, that’s what I did for a while. I became wrapped up in my own struggles and world.

Today I was reading Luke 15, the parable of the lost son. To paraphrase the story the son takes his inheritance and goes out into the world and basically blows all of his money. Then he has nothing. For a while he is too afraid to return home, but eventually he does. He thought surely his father would at least give him a job among the servants. To the son’s surprise the father rejoices in his return.

Luke 15:21-24

21 “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’
22 “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23 Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Letʼs have a feast and celebrate. 24 For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.

In many ways I can relate to how he must have felt. The son still loved his father as he went into the world. He just wanted to make his own way, have a bit of fun. He did things the father would not approve of. It wasn’t until after graduating undergraduate school that I walked away. As I look back at taking my inheritance, it became about trying to decide what I believed. I was no longer certain that I believed in Jesus because it was something I wanted or something my family and friends wanted. It was a time when I had to discover the truth for myself. I was not a bad person even though I was questioning my faith. I look at this time in my life as great growth. I spent all my inheritance in the world and had ups and downs.

Then as I looked around and had nothing left. Like the prodigal son, I turned to my father. I walked into a church that changed my life. The very first sunday God sent me a messenger, to remind me how much he loved me. At the end of the service as we sang one last song, a stranger came up to me and asked to pray for me. As she started praying, the words she spoke poured into my brokenness with love. She shared an image of a little girl wrapped in her father’s arms. She spoke truth about how Jesus had never left me. I was the prodigal daughter who had come back to my father’s house and he was sending his servant to bring me a robe of love. Over the last two years he has been there every step, as I healed, as I became whole, and as I said yes. I discovered my worth. I can now answer the question ‘How deserving are you?’ and answer 100%. My heart is full with his love. I am sure that there will be times I stubble like a small child he will always be there to scoop me up. To wrap his arms around me, and sing a song of celebration. I know it is because of him. I know with every breath I posses, that I am worthy of his love. Not because I am perfect , but because I am his child. Just as you are his child, have faith that you are 100% deserving. Run to the father’s arms knowing he too will scoop you up and carry you through.

Romans 8:14 For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God.


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The Root of Understanding

Like there is a river that runs into the sea, or the flower that blooms on the tree later to transform into a leaf, as the one leaf becomes many. There is you and there is me sharing this blog. I ask who are you the reader? I can not know you directly unless you introduce yourself in a message or email. But even in that do I ‘know’ you? So instead, you are who I imagine you to be, the person I imagine that I am writing to. You are tall and have blue eyes, or you are short with brown eyes. Both descriptions could describe the person on the other side of the screen that is right now reading what I have written. Maybe you are not these physical descriptions at the same time but in equal parts of my imagination you are all descriptive adjectives.

You are ‘every man’. Not to say you have to be a man, I myself am a woman. However, I too am ‘every man’. I like you have fears, even if those fears seem to be different. That which we identify as fear is still fear whether it is of a spider or rejection. I like you have hopes, hope that traces through the very center of who I define myself to be.

Some time ago I was sitting in my room alone, much like I am now. I was writing in a journal while listening to music. I find that my greatest moments of inspiration come from music and the lyrics artist write. I find inspiration from others, but also from God. I have been trying to hear God more clearly in the past years of my journey. I feel like I have gotten better at this, not perfect though. During the night mentioned before, I was also reading scripture trying to understand the direction that God wanted me to take. I have more clarity now but still I find that the answer is not as clear as I would want. Or maybe I am just not receiving it as clearly. I don’t know, but I am ok with the unknown.

I use to have so many plans of my own. Plans that were mapped out to what I believed would bring me my greatest joy. Like you who are reading these words, the things I wanted and planned did not turn out as expected. Nor did they even happen. In my youth I used to believe that someday I would be a great performer on broadway, then once in college after realizing that I suffered from stage fright. I dreamt that I would be a great lighting designer on broadway. I went as far as going into one of the top-level lighting design programs in the country. I had applied twice to the same program, because they only accepted two people a year. I know that I had talent, and I still know this. I even had passion for what I dreamt of achieving. The problem came though once I had walked through the door of accomplishing my goal of getting into graduate school. Have you ever desired something some much that it ached through your bones? The day I received the acceptance letter was one of the happiest days. I literally jumped for joy. My mom heard me yelling and thought something was wrong, I couldn’t even get the words out at first because I had lost my breath. I was happy crying uncontrollably. Finally the words “I got in” sprung forth with such force that laughter replaced the tears.  The year changed me. I learned a lot about lighting design. I also learned a more important life lesson, one I never planned. Life lessons are like that though, always unplanned. I came to realize the plan I had for my life was not who I was. The direction I had been swimming towards, no longer defined who I wanted to be. Nor who I was intended to be. It was a hard lesson to realize. I kept struggling through the program, not because I lacked the talent. Maybe I lacked the experience, but that is the least of the source. I achieved a goal I had worked so hard for. However, once I stepped through the door of achievement the image I saw was not me. It was instead the imagined me I had used as the adjective to define myself. I still love the things I used to dream of, and it will always hold a place inside me. The fact remains that while I was trying to define myself as theatre lighting designer, I didn’t leave room for anything else. I am so much more than one adjective. You are so much more than blue-eyed or brown-eyed.  You and I are alike because underneath it all we have the same desires.

The nights I sit in my room alone to write I find honesty in my continued evolution. I like most have been shaped by my experiences. These experiences at the core are the same as yours. They are the roots that help us understand our lives and its purpose. The root of my life has given me an understanding that LOVE is the purpose of life.

1 Corinthians 8:3 But whoever loves God is known by God. 

1 John 4:8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is Love. 

 

 

 

 


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4 Things About Holidays You Didn’t Know When You Were A Kid

Turkeys cost money. I found out today that my brother and his family didn’t have enough money to buy a turkey or other groceries for thanksgiving day. When I was little I don’t think I ever thought about how much a Thanksgiving Day dinner really costs. According to google the average cost of a 16 pound bird will set you back 23 dollars. Not to mention the cost of all the other ingredients for things like stuffing or mashed potatoes. What’s a Thanksgiving dinner without all the sides? Luckily my brother has his family who can send money so that he and his wife can go shopping to prepare a family thanksgiving. Others may not be so fortunate, so you may rely on a local food pantry. I am grateful for the provision of a Turkey and sides on this Thanksgiving Day.

Not all cranberry sauce is the same, round. Sometimes even if you dress it up on a crystal plate it still came from the can. I think Holidays are often dressed up so to speak and everyone plays nice just for the show of it. When you are young and sitting at the table surrounded by all your aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents you don’t realize how dysfunctional your family can be. When you become an adult and see how other families act during the holidays, you see all the freakouts that happened on Thanksgiving for what they were- dysfunctional. No matter how it was dressed up it was always going to be drama. As a kid I just thought that’s what all families did on holidays, argue.

Great Grandma use to turn to each of us around the dinner table and ask in german….”Is it Good?” She would expect you to reply in german “This is good.” To this day it is the only german I know. After dinner my great grandmother would sit in the living room and randomly sing christmas songs in german. As a kid, all I thought was how cool it was she spoke another language. I found it silly that she would sometimes put german words in the middle of her sentences. I thought she was being silly. So I would laugh. What I didn’t realize was that she was starting to get dementia and she probably didn’t mean to speak german words in the middle of a sentence. Memories you have are not always the truth. Sometimes when you are young you see the world one way, like an old lady intentionally trying to be silly and make you laugh was really a woman who sometimes couldn’t remember what she was trying to say.

Colossians 3

11 Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.

15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. 

17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Over the summer I lived with several internationals who came to Boston to study or work. One roommate in particular, from Peru, had only been in the US two weeks before she moved into the apartment. Since she didn’t have a car which is a more convenient way to go to the grocery store, I often would offer for her to tag along as I ran my errands. On saturday like most I liked to rest from the long work week. I remember one specific saturday where it ended up being more restful than any other. It wasn’t like I went to the spa and pampered myself. Instead what I did was simple. In the afternoon I went to a park with my roommate to enjoy some live music, we then went to the grocery store, followed by coming back to the apartment and making dinner together. I think what made this day a different kind of peaceful wasn’t what I did but rather my state of mind while I went about my day. I woke up that day feeling full, not a physical fullness but a spiritual one. The night before I put down the netflix and decided to read the bible. I then followed it with journaling describing how I felt in that moment. While background music played I wrote down every worry,and let it go to God. Thanking him for ruling my heart and bringing peace. Something changed in that moment when I let the spirit of christ come into the all of me. When I woke I felt a difference. I walked through the day with a deep Thanksgiving in my heart, and every deed I did knowing that Jesus was with me. I did not know this when I was a kid. I did not know that being full in spirit was a better feeling than when you over stuff on Thanksgiving day and have to let out the top button of your pants. When you cook a meal with thanksgiving in the heart it brings a peace unlike any other.  The simple deed of cooking is transformed, and what used to be stressful becomes a source of joy. The words of what you are thankful for this year has more meaning than you could understand before. Feel Christ in you- through you, and be grateful.

 


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Countdown to Thanksgiving Day 5: Thanksgiving Ingredients God Has Put in Front of Me

I am happy to see that I am getting visitors to my new blog and people are responding to what I have to say. I only hope that the words I write glorify God, and inspire those who read every symbol I type. This week I reached out to a few friends back in Boston, it just reminded me how much I miss them. However, I know that they will always be a part of me because they are more family than just friend. I didn’t live close enough to my family during my stay in Boston, so I found people who like family would show up when I needed help. Some of them became a choice, and others God led me to.

Today I was sitting in the living room listening to an open playlist on spotify as I filled out job applications online, and I recognized one of the songs I used to love by Alexi Murdoch called Orange Sky. It was a song that had been on the soundtrack for the movie Into the Wild. If you haven’t seen the movie I definitely recommend it. Anyways, the movie which is based off a nonfiction book about a man who gives up everything and sets out on a journey  through America to the Alaskan wilderness. What inspires me about his choice is how he begins to live his life whole-heartedly. He took life by the balls, so to speak. It’s something I admire, because in this season I want to learn to live with such boldness.

The boldness I seek is not to leave everything to travel across the world in search of something. My boldness comes from a realization that God has invited me (and you) to a banquette. The things he wants of me to savor are sitting right in front of me. I ask myself….. Do I really have things to figure out when I need to instead see the bounty sitting right in front of my spot at the table. I can take a bite out of allowing my body to be a temple, and taste what it’s like to be a runner. Maybe that is what I have been looking for to be healthy. I have tried a few things but have never been consistent. Instead I let the lies I was told when young hold me to being a person unmotivated.

I now believe Jesus has been asking me to take a heaping spoonful of writing. However, up to this point I was to afraid to share my voice. Yet, he has showed me my voice and understanding are unique. The Lord has given me a gift of understanding, this includes not only what I know but what others know. I feel him saying take a piece of dessert child, the dreams and possibilities await you in the future are sweet. They do exist and can become a reality, even if they seem silly or foolish. Don’t forget the gravy on all of this is the Lord’s grace and love which make all things true, good, full, possible, and even worthy. The lies you have clinged to don’t have to be what you believe about myself or the world. You can let it all go to be renewed through love.

Some months ago before I was laid off, I had chosen to start on a journey towards volunteering for a mission project overseas. I went through the whole process. It was a lengthy application where I was asked questions about my moral values and character. I was accepted into the program. Next I went to a week long training session the first week of June. I felt like this was something God was strongly asking me to do. For the first time in my life I truly said yes, I said yes to this calling with every ounce of who I am. At the training retreat where we learned about support raising and what the eight month program would look like, I agreed to get rebaptised. I had been baptised when I was a child but never as an adult, where it was my decision and no one else’s. I will share the baptism story another time, but just know that I did feel renewed after stepping out of the river. I ended up slowly raising money when I returned, putting in the work to go. Then four weeks before I was to leave, the assistant pastor at my church sat me down and explained to me why he felt like it was not my time to go yet. Because I needed the sponsorship from my church to attend the trip, I was not be allowed to go . The money that had been raised up to that date will still be available for me to use at another time. However, I did not leave as originally intended.

I was angry and confused. How could someone say I could not do what I felt God calling me to do?  I can still be thankful for God using the journey of going as a way to transform me. To draw me closer to him. I know that the promise he gave me to go overseas is still relevant. I see now how he had some other ingredients to offer before me, ingredients in my thanksgiving feast that will become a dish which many will find filling. However, he still has some things to teach me before I start mixing. I think about a souffle in this case. If everything is not perfectly mixed together and the recipe not followed to the exact measurements then it falls flat. Once you get everything how they need to be, and then bake it, the end result is a golden crust gleaming on top of a mound of yummy goodness.

I was excited about the transformation I knew that I would go through on a trip overseas. Now I feel like God wanted to show me that transformation does not have to take place half around the world. Instead you can transform right in your own backyard. He continues to call me to throw out the past lies I held so true. Instead replace them with the fresh ingredients of his bounty , a bounty that sits right in front of me. I can be healthy, happy, and fulfilled. The first measure is a commitment to write with the Lord’s glory during the next year. The second measurement is taking action towards living healthy. Third measurement is a continuation of daily devotion that was started this summer. Fourth measurement I see is to listen to God as he continues to teach me the instructions and call out additional ingredients each step on my journey. I want to see the golden crusted mound of yumminess as my life comes forth from the oven to be shared with all those around me. Including you who are reading my words in this moment.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Countdown to Thanksgiving Day 4: The Unconventional Guide to Thanksgiving

We all have our traditions in our family of what we will eat on Thanksgiving Day. In most American households turkey with mashed potatoes and gravy are inevitable, same with pie and ice cream. The other variety of sides always vary from house to house but a common theme always is that of the bountiful harvest produced over the growing season.

I used be a part of a Community Shared Agriculture(CSA) in Boston. I would love going every week to pick up my fresh produce grown by a local farmer. In June the strawberries were so sweet they melted into your mouth with an explosion of flavor. The month of August always showed the most in our weekly share, my favorite were the heirloom tomatoes in the many vibrant colors. I loved drizzling a little bit of olive oil, salt, pepper, and basil on them. My mouth salivates just thinking about it. Of course with the fall season you saw so many different varieties of squash. As the months transitioned from one to the other there was a change in what you received. Not only was is different from month to month, but also year to year. One year the farm grew so many watermelons we would receive two or three a week. This last year the area was experiencing a drought, it was so bad one week they had to postpone pick-up because there was not enough ripened fruit.

Psalm 67:6 The land yields its harvest;God, our God, blesses us.

Life too resembles the changing seasons of harvest, sometimes you have more than you could ever expect and you start giving things away. Other times there is not enough water to make the fruit grow into plenty. That is when we might be faced with the decision to slow down the harvest of what we do yield in order to make it last through the drought. During both of these seasons of change we can find thanksgiving. Something that I have learned in my journey is that in the harsh times, even when life is not bountiful, we still have enough. Countless times I have seen that every bill got paid I first questioned how this would happen that month. I can testify to believing I did not have enough money to put gas in my car only to find a twenty dollar bill in unexpected places, like the sidewalk or the pocket of my coat. The thanksgiving we live becomes an unconventional ingredient in our lives when we believe God always provides what you need. No matter what the harvest yields it is more than enough, because all things are through him.

Philippians 4  12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.


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Mathew 12:36-37

Mathew 12

36 But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken.  37 For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.

 

Today I was reading a new book I ordered off amazon. The book is Love Does by Bob Goff, I have been really enjoying his voice. He has a lighthearted sense of humor that has caused me to laugh out loud a few times already. In the twelfth chapter he tells a story about how his little league coach made a huge impression on him because of a simple card that was sent to him in the mail with the words “Wow! What a hit, Bob! You’re a real ball player.Love Coach.” He makes a point to talk about what words of encouragement can mean and how they can leave a lasting impression. This made me think about the power of words. In the bible Jesus mentions the power of words and this passage stands out. Not only because judgment can be placed upon the empty words we speak but by our words we are acquitted. The definition of acquitted simply is to free someone from a criminal act or verdict of guilty. If words can free us or condemn us then they must have more power than we are often acknowledge.

I think back to the saying of  “sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me”….. and how often mothers or teachers would tell you this. Maybe you were getting teased in school, and the adult simply said to you that words do not hurt. Yet, children know better. I never thought this was true, because the words of that girl who teased me for something trivial definitely hurt my feelings and even made me cry. It was an emotional hurt that can sometimes cut much deeper than a stick or stone. Just as much as words can be hurtful they can also be a source of joy and wonder. I know that as I consider the power of words I hope that as I walk each day that the words I speak are used to lift those around me up.

When I walk down the road and see a person who is just walking the same as me, or perhaps in line at the grocery store…..I can often say something nice, maybe “I like that skirt you have on”. It’s a small compliment because it is not really complimenting the person at all but the object they are wearing. Could I not instead say something along the lines of “That is a beautiful skirt, you have really great personal style that I admire.” Seems more engaging than the previous compliment. I only use this as an example because like most I have walked through my day and felt compelled to compliment someone on an item they are wearing. It is an easy way to compliment someone. It is superficial really. But even digging a little deeper to the admiration of personal style I imagine would make a bigger impression. I want to dig deeper into the words that I choose to say to people. Even into the words I choose to write or think. I know that they have more power than I have acknowledged before. And in the end of my life when I am judged by the words , I only pray that they were not empty but rather full of the wonder that the love Jesus has for each of us. The words ” It is finished” as he bowed his head and gave up his spirit on the cross….stand always in my heart as words that have left a lasting impression on my life. Words are powerful, and to ignore this only condemns. So the challenge then is for each of us to dig deeper into the words we use. To remember the words that can encourage and forgo those that don’t.


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Isaiah 60:3

Nations will come to your light,
and kings to the brightness of your dawn.

 

The words sometimes seems so dismal. Often I hear people talk about the end of days and how they feel like the time is near. I just started a devotional class at church on revelations. It was really an introduction class this past Sunday, but this Sunday is when we are going to be digging into the material. I have read parts of revelations when I was younger but I am going to be honest that I often don’t read many passages in the book. Mostly because in the past I only viewed it as something that scared me, however when we were discussing it on Sunday it was brought to my attention that many people view the book as a source of hope. Knowing that the plan God has for the end overpowers any evil that may be in this world. That he has a plan much bigger than we can often understand.

The prediction of Jesus must have been like this for the Jews, a prophecy of hope of what was to come. The accession of the true church to make the nations and kings come to the light. It makes me excited to begin this study into something that used to scare me as a child. As i have grown not only in my physical self but also spiritual self, I know that the truth that fear is nothing to fear because everything that was has been overcome by the love of the blood.

I was born to two parents who loved me, but only one of them knew what the love of God meant. My mother brought us to church every Sunday from the time I was born, but my father did not believe back then. Instead he tried to escape the pain and hurt by taking drugs. My father had his troubles and I will never really know exactly because I was so young, and the things that a child knows and remembers is different than an adult. I only remember that he was often angry, angry at my mom or me or even my two year old brother. I remember what it felt like when you found your daddy passed out on the couch,and he wouldn’t wake up. So you just sat watching TV until your mom got home.  Yet, as I child you only think he is sick, which as an adult you know is true because addiction is an illness. The thing that moves me to tears is the fact that at the end of my father’s life after not speaking to him for fifteen years…..I found a changed man who had been brought into the light of God’s love for him. And as he slowly died from the cancer that had spread throughout his body, he found peace. I know that the eyes of a person who has the peace of God of their death bed is different than a person who has never known. There is a gratefulness that exists. The testament that often inspires those I share this with is that my mother prayed for my father everyday, even though they were divorced…..even though non of us had spoken to him in years. She prayed that one day he would come to know the Lord. As I spoke to him before his passing, I learned that yes her prayers had come to be answered. And so i know in my heart that God reaches down to each one of us and opens the door so that we as part of the nation can be brought to the light. Even so we come to this light by the love of Jesus Christ. The one who died so that we could know a peace unlike any other. I miss my father and miss that I never got to know the man he became after he came to know God. Yet, I know that one day I too will come to my end with the same peace and gratitude that he had before his death. Yes Jesus Loves me for the Bible tells me so. Jesus has brought me to the light that shines on all nations, as it is God’s great plan that each one of us know him.

 


Isaiah 61:3 – A hopeful prayer to pivot into the Lord’s favor.

Today is a turning point for the nation. The election will determine the shape of the country for the next four years. As I think about this, I then ask myself…What do I want the shape of my life to be for the next four years. I too am standing at a pivoting point where my next decision will shape the course of my future. I never thought that I would leave Boston and move back to West Virginia. Never did I want to be living at my mother’s house again. I was in this place six years ago before I moved to Boston. It was right after I got injured at work and got placed on workers comp. That was a waiting time too. The big difference though is this time around, my heart is different.

In 2008 when I was forced to rely on living with my mother, I was not only injured physically but I was still hurt from the failure I felt from the decision I made to move to California where I was injured on the job. I believed that it was my fault that such a thing would happen to me. I believed that somehow I had asked for that latter to fall on my head, causing trauma to my neck. I had asked to be injured. I felt like going to California was the worst decision I had ever made. I was so angry at myself. I did not know how to deal with it. So, I let myself sink into a deep depression. This was only compounded by the headache I had non-stop for over a year, and the pain and soreness I had in my neck and shoulders. I was wasting my days away sleeping all the time, living each day in my dreams and fantasies I would create in my head about all the things I would have when…. when I was _____ fill in blank with whatever I desired that day. I was living for the grass being greener on the other side. I was wallowing in my misery.  I allowed the fantasies that I created to hold me, not caring how crazy they were. It did not matter, it was my only source of happiness. Those few hours before bed when I got to imagine my life anyway that I wanted. Then I would wake up and reality would set in. I would imagine that I could live an extraordinary life, but never take time to create it in my reality.

Since I have been back living in West Virginia, things have gotten to the point where I started dreaming again like before. But its different somehow. I have often fantasized when my life is not how I want it to be. It is easy to imagine a story of extraordinary measures, but it is difficult to live one. So often people settle instead of take action towards a reality of extraordinary.

My heart wants more than anything to live an extraordinary life. There are so many things that I would love to do in my life. I want to travel, and I want to help others. I would love to have a book published. I want to be the best version of myself I can be. The person Gog has made me to be. I have often found myself only living for the imaginative. I want to start living for the reality that I know I can create with the love of Jesus.

I am a person who spent so many years focused on one goal. And six years ago I realized that it’s OK to let goals be fluid like the changing river! The river shapes the landscape, it cuts through rocks and opens up valleys to create beauty and wonder. I wast to start re-shaping my own landscape. Not because circumstances have forced me to make a decision, and then wallow into the effect of that decision. A decision that feels forced upon me. I want to live tomorrow for the grace that opens the blind eyes to see.

The biggest difference now versus last time I found myself in this pivot point, well that difference is I have found healing water. This past summer I was re-baptized in an actual river. Yes, I had been baptized as an infant but it was not my decision. I stood before God and asked for him to transform me. He has been changing me ever since, forcing me to dive deep into the inner depths of myself. Asking me to evaluate and examine the things that NO longer serve me. Those old habits that have not worked in making my light shine.

Living my life through some imaginary world I create in my mind before bed because my reality is nothing that I want or ask for; this does not serve the new me that I want to be. All it does is make me stuck in false lies and disillusions. So because I want to shape my landscape, I know that I can change this old habit. This old comfort which helped me escape moments in my life that were too challenging to handle.

One of the other challenges that I often avoid relates to my own health. I know that I want to change this, but part of me feels unready. Maybe I should focus on a few things at a time. Yet, a yearning boils inside to be radical and stop thinking about it. I know a time will come when this still small voice will become to loud to ignore. I want to excercise everyday, and I know that it is what you are supposed to do to be health. I find it challenging, and I am a person who has often taken the easy way out because that’s what I am used to. It was how I learned to survive my own life of self misery. I didn’t know any better though, that is how my mother learned to deal with the things in her life that she found to difficult. Now that I know better, I can do better. I so want to do better. I want to break this chain that holds me. Oh, Lord take this burden and transform it. I know that you took my yoke when I said yes. I rise to find the gratitude that I no longer have to live in my self-created imaginary world, which I used to use to escape. I used to use it to escape the problems and challenges that I had no control over. The things that were simply because. The things I did not want but was too afraid to ask for you Lord to change the landscape.

Prayer:

Lord, change my landscape, and give me the wisdom to follow your river. The light shines upon the shores of your beauty, and the joy that floods to create rich soil for my growth. Growth towards who not only I want to be, but who you made me to be. You have me in this place where I learned the things that do not serve me, so that you can change the landscape. You brought me to this place that has so many memories of the darkness, so that I no longer fear letting my light shine. Let it shine for the splendor of your righteousness.