So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.
Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.
Yesterday, was the last day of my 14 day fast. I am proud of myself for stick to it. Even though I had cravings, and found myself reaching for foods I was not eating on the fast. The motivation of doing this for God was the strength behind my willpower. I have decided to continue to avoid processed food and most added sugar for now on. However, I plan on making the exception for holidays and special occasions. I am also going to continue staying away from dairy, including cheese. I will make occasional exceptions to this choice as well. Make these exceptions will be about balance. So, if I make a conscious decision to eat a dairy product then I will not allow any other exceptions for that week. If I choose to eat a piece of chocolate which has sugar, then I will omit the fruit I may have eaten instead for the day. It will be about balance, and understanding my liver can only process a limited amount of sugar to remain health. I will only make these decisions if it serves me, and my body which is a temple of God. I am thankful for God taking this experience and transforming me by opening my eyes to poor past decisions. I was not eating a balanced diet. It was full of chemicals and sugar. I know this is one of the reasons why I have struggled to maintain a healthy weight for my height. I am 5’2 and weigh 190lbs, or at least last time I weighed myself. I have given up weighing myself, instead it is about being healthy not my weight and being skinny.
Now today was the first day of my next 70 days, as part of the 70 for 70 Project. These next 70 days are all about taking the small commitment I made and building on top of it with another small commitment. The commitment is to find new ways to praise and worship God. It is about more than just words, but instead living my praise through action. I will start each morning talking to God saying …..” Thank you god for the new day! What can I do today to Praise you, and serve you through my faith? ” I will pray he reveals this to me throughout the day. This is not only about praising him with my actions towards myself, but also towards others. Jesus has called us to love others as ourselves.
I want to share how last Monday as I was beginning to approach this challenge which I feel God has called me too. I knew the next 70 days will be about serving other people. I wondered how I might have the time to actually accomplish his will. Last Monday my manager came in and informed me due to corporate budget cuts they needed to separate employment at this time. With all the push back I had been getting about spending, and not having the tools to be successful at my job. I knew this was coming. I had been already looking for new opportunites. I just figured I had at least till the end of the summer. The good news is I still have 6 weeks left from my last unemployment claim. I soon realized even though this door closed, God has greater things planned for my future. In the meantime he has made space for me to volunteer around the community. Today I went and signed up to work at a local women’s shelter, they specialize in domestic violence. My mother was a victim of domestic abuse, so this is a cause close to my heart. I look forward to seeing how God can use me while I am there. I am going to work at soup kitchen which is part of my mother’s church tomorrow. God calls us to feed the hungry. So I will do just that. I also plan on stopping by the local art center to fill out their volunteer paperwork tomorrow. I do not plan on just sitting around and waiting. Rather I plan to live each day in praise and faith for the next 70 days. Once a job opportunity comes, I will take it knowing it is God’s plan. I will still continue to serve others every way I can. If that means spending my evenings or weekends doing volunteer work I will. Who knows maybe God will use this to open a door for a job. I will just remain in admiration of his purpose for my life. I will remain faithful. I will let go and trust in him.
I want to continue to bridge my past which is being transformed into who God has made me to be. I no longer want to be stuck in the middle. Instead I want to live on the other side of God’s promises. I will do everything as though I am working for the Lord and not people. Will you too take up the challenge?
Starting this Friday I am going to try and commit to sharing more of my poetry. SInce it seems like my poems get the most likes of all my posts. I am going to start with a series of Poems I am entitling “Before I Found the Light”. The are poems when I was suffering in pain and turmoil with depression, before I was re-baptized last summer. I was baptized as an infant when I was a child, but last year 2016. I walked into a river in Texas and choose to declare giving my life over to the Light of the world. It was then I was reborn. Over the next 10 weeks I am going to share some of these poems ever Poetry Friday. I figure it’s a good way to end the working week. First Poem is the answer to a poem I shared before. the one I wrote at the age 18 about who I am. Or who I thought I was at the age of 18. I am including both to show the transition that occurred. I wrote the first in at 18 and the second when I was 22 years old.
My 18 Year Old Self
I am trapped in myself.
Yearning to be set free,
captured by my own inner turmoil of self discovery.
My life moves outside the bubble
of inflicted learning, of self realism.
I cry to move.
Holding on just a moment longer.
Let go I say,
so I may be able to dance to a new me,
sing of the awakening,
think about tomorrow.
For it is then,
I shall be set free.
My 22 Year Old Self
I was once trapped in myself,
Now I am set free-
Free to my own self-discovery,
Enlightened to move into my own self realistic thought,
I recently went on vacation. I went to visit some friends back in Boston. A few of us went down to Cape Cod for the holiday weekend. I flew into Boston early Friday morning, met one of my friends to go get the rental car. Then we picked up another person who was going too.
We arrived to the hotel after three hours of sitting in traffic. If anyone reading this is from the Boston area, it gets crazy driving down to the Cape on Fridays throughout the summer. Especially during holiday weekends. We got some great food for dinner, spent some time exploring and shopping. I really enjoyed Falmouth, MA. One Saturday we woke up early and caught the morning ferry over to Martha’s Vineyard. The ferry ride itself was such a great experience. Then we had more great food, explored , and did some more shopping. I even rode the oldest carousel still in operation, and the whole time on the ride I just kept thinking how many people had ridden this thing in 141 years. I could even see in my imagination the weekend it first opened and what a thrill it must have been. The high button shoes, the bustled dresses, little boys in knickers, and little girls in bonnets, all dressed for a day at the beach. The year was 1876, so different from those riding with me in the year 2017. It gave me a grand sense of nostalgia, for the things of yesterday.
We finished up Saturday returning on the five o’clock ferry. We headed to the beach near the hotel, once we returned. We all had just had some ice cream before boarding the ferry so none of us were hungry yet. We all spent some time relaxing and enjoying the beauty of the sea. Then as the sun was setting we walked back to the hotel and went to grab some dinner. Later that evening I felt like I wanted to spend sometime alone. I ended up sitting on the patio near the pool for about an hour. The stars in the sky were too numerous to count. As I sat there alone, I put on some praise and worship music, singing to the wonder and glory of God’s beauty. My heart was filled with a sense that in that moment I was exactly where I was supposed to be. I was completely present. I had an intimate time of prayer and reflection with God. A moment of praise and gratitude for allowing me the time to come see my beloved friends. I could see God in everything around me. The stars got brighter, as I stared into the wonder.
Sunday morning we all got up and checked out early . One of my friends, who also was a former roommate, needed to be back at her church to lead morning prayer at 9:30am. I was actually grateful she needed to be at church because I really wanted to go back and see all the great people of my former church. I also had a lunch date with the family I had lived with for sometime when I was in Boston. They were such a blessing to take me in when I needed someone. I love them all so dearly. I became overwhelmed as I walked in and sat down. The praise team was already playing. I had a moment of tears as I realized how much I truly missed the church who became my family. The people who helped me to become stronger in my faith. Those who inspired me to press deeper into Jesus. During the sermon, like most sundays there, I felt like God was speaking directly to me.
When I first left Boston, I did not understand why God would lead me away from such a strong support group. I did not understand why I had to go back to my hometown in West Virginia. Back to a place I loathed, and never wanted to go back to. Yet, as I have shared before, I now understand how important is was for me to come home, and to face the things which are rooted to my past. I keep going back to the dream I had before I left Boston. The image of the willow tree being transformed from the roots up into a strong tall oak tree. At first, I thought this was just about me climbing, and Jesus telling me I no longer needed to climb. Now I know that I am like the willow tree. Although I was standing tall, if you think about the root structure of a weeping willow tree it grows closer to the surface. It is a water seeking tree, and the roots can spread far beyond the canopy. Disturbing the roots in the slightest way can damage the tree. However, when you compare it with the root structure of an oak tree there is a strong difference. The oak tree starts with a tap root, which grows deep underground seeking a dependable source of water. Once this is accomplished, the tap root is surpassed by an extensive root system which holds the tree firmly in place. I understand now how God has been transforming my roots daily, as I have been living here back at home. I am both trees. I am being transformed, by his grace.
When I returned back from Boston, I did receive notice that I did not get the position I had interviewed for the Thursday before I left. Although, it would have been nice to make more money, and it seemed like a great opportunity. I see how the point of the job interview was not to change companies nor my position, but God simply saying I can open any door. I whole heartily believe I am still exactly where I am supposed to be. I am not even disappointed about not getting the job offer. I know the promises God has laid out for my life are greater still. I believe in the hope of tomorrow, as I learn from yesterday, and live for today. God still has more roots to transform as I come close to the end of my first 70 day commitment.
I have even been shown what is next as I continue my 70 for 70 Project. Maybe even some of you will take up the challenge and join along.
I have been hearing from God lately. It has been coming in a couple different forms of yearning and imagery. I am tired of my own reality being the same. I am ready to step outside of myself and make big changes. I had an epiphany about a week ago. I have not written about it until now because it was such a big thought that I had to mill it over. I was having a moment in the car while listening to praise and worship music. The destination is not important, but the epiphany is. I heard the words, ” Be who I want you to be.”
Now this may not be as big of an epiphany as you may think, but I haven’t yet mentioned how for an entire week I kept waking up with the same exact thought. It may seem strange to have the same thought on repeat every morning like the alarm clock from the Bill Murray movie Groundhog Day, but that is exactly what was happening.I believe God was trying to tell me something, but I wasn’t yet ready to listen all the way. So for an entire week I woke up thinking, “Be who you want to be”.
Yet, during this drive a change in the thought took place. And with it came my epiphany. If I wanted to make the changes I so desperately desired in my life. I must first “Be who I want to Be”. Then I could “be who God wants me to be”, which would allow me to “be who I am”, and “be who God has made me to be”.
I feel like this will be my journey over the next year. I know part of this has already begun. Over the course of my life I have been traveling a path. This is a metaphor we can all relate to. It is imagery that has been used in poetry, literature, and life for as long as I know. I will not claim to know for how long , but I have heard or read this metaphor more than I can count. One of my favorite uses of this metaphor is the poem by Robert Frost. You probably now what I am talking about, Two roads diverge in a yellow wood…..I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.
I want this for my life, to take the road not often traveled. I see how I am standing here faced with a road which is diverging. I could take the one that seems to be the safest. Or I could take the road that forces me to step out of my comfort zone. I don’t know where either will lead me in the end. But, I know just as you do that if I take the one less traveled by, it will make me different. It will allow me to be who God has made me to be. The best version of myself beyond anything I could ever imagine.
I admire people in the world who can make this decision, because as I am finding out it is not an easy one to make. There are many challenges to overcome.The first being the very human nature to resist change. We are often creatures of habit, and that habit is hard to break away from.
Like I have asked myself, today you too can ask four simple questions. Maybe they will take you on your own road less traveled by.
Who do you want to be?
Who Does God want you to be?
Who are you?
Who has God made you to be?
As I search for the answers to these questions, I hope you too will find the answers. Hopefully along the way you will discover a different answer than you could have imagined. Let’s challenge one another to break away from our normal, our habits, and let whatever has been holding us back from the person God has made us to be burst into the universe. To be the best version of ourselves beyond what we could ever know right now.