The Unbound Journal 2: The Space In-between

Once again, we are talking about how to make the most of your journal. Your journal is more than just pages, and one of the biggest ways to drastically increase the fullness of it is to start looking at the space in-between. Go beyond just writing on pages and start looking at all the other areas you can add to. For example, my current journal has a band to hold it closed and a book marker attached to it. This space to be taken advantage of! Don’t let it go to waste. On the band and book mark I wrote encouraging words that are easily visible before I even open my journal. This adds flavor and makes your journal exciting. I have written all over every part of my journal and it makes it so much more stylized than just uniform writing on each page. The inside of the covers are great places to write things as well, and one of my favorite places to write things is along the sides of the paper when the book is closed (the image for this post shows what I mean). Don’t let any space in your journal be overlooked. Look for creative places to add more character to your journal. This will fill your journal with lots of little nooks and crannies of things that take it above and beyond and make it a little more unique and special. I hope this short and sweet tip helps you create a journal that is truly your own. Best of writing, and Much Love!

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The Unbound Journal 1: Those Around You

I have explained in previous posts the importance of reflecting and how journaling has impacted my life in so many incredible ways. So, before we get started, I would recommend checking those out and to just start writing because it can be extremely beneficial. You don’t need a journal, just something to write with and something to write on. I would highly suggest physically writing out things, and not typing them on your phone or on a computer because there is something different about writing without technology. To me it feels more personal and relaxing. I have been recording things for a while now and there are some really fun things that I have done that make my journal very special to me. This series is for those of you who have a journal, or those of you who are looking to get one, and how to make the most of it. First off, journaling is whatever you want it to be. The advice I give is just interesting ways I have found to spice things up and add new and creative ways to express yourself through writing. They are not standards or demands, merely suggestions for making the most of your journal. Through this series, my goal is to help you create a journal that truly captures your personality and feelings; something that when you look back upon will bring you right back to important memories in your life. With that said, let’s get started!

The first piece of advice I would give to bring your journal to the next level is share it with others, don’t just let it be your own words. Let those in your life speak through your journal. This is something I have done for all my journals and it is probably the best thing you can add. It is so memorable and touching to look back at later. The way I did this the first time was by having my friends and family give me one piece of advice. The things they said were astonishing and are words that I now hold dear. I did this same thing with everyone in my community for my most recent journal, and it is unbelievable the things that people have to say. People are so full of wisdom and it is a shame that we don’t take more time to listen to what they have to say. The different perspectives of everyone really opened my eyes to new ways of looking at the world, those around me, and myself. It is so powerful, and I truly cherish the words from the ones I love and hope to preserve them. If you can, get them to write it in the journal themselves so that you can capture their actual handwriting. This makes it even more special. Now when I write in my journal, I find uplifting words from friends, family, and community and I am reminded of them and my spirits are lifted. This has led to me feeling encouraged, loved, and confident and I can look at them at any time I need a pick-me-up. Don’t be afraid to get creative with what you ask others. Some things I haven’t asked yet, but that I think would be really interesting to have in my journal are; their favorite bible verse, a memory between us, their favorite word, a joke, etc. This is essentially what you might have someone do in a yearbook, but I promise you that you will be thankful for it in the future. Open your journal up to the voices around you and let your journal become something bigger than yourself, something much more meaningful.

 

One of My Biggest Struggles

There is something that I struggle with that has impacted my life in lots of terrible ways and is something that I feel a lot of people deal with to some degree. I want to share with you my experience with trying to respect my body. Body image issues can be extremely devastating and have so many grueling impacts on life. In writing this, I want to be open and real with you about how it’s affected my life, and the ways I have dealt with it.

Appreciating my body was hard. Everyone can always look at themselves and see something that is “wrong” or “ugly”. I used to look at myself in the mirror in the mornings and my eyes were drawn to all the imperfections of my body. I focused on the negative things and this influenced the way I thought about my body for the rest of the day. Over time this led to so much insecurity. Constantly worrying that one day others might look at me and see what I saw in the mirror. Stress would fill me when I thought about having to take my shirt off or change in front of others. Body image issues led to comparing myself to everyone, and when I would do this, I would find everything I didn’t have in other people; The way their clothes fit them, their height, their slenderness, always ignoring any of their imperfections. This drained me of any confidence. I became timid because I didn’t want to draw attention to myself. Participating in things was a real challenge. I couldn’t live my life comfortably. The biggest thing I felt, and the most devastating affect of negative body image, is shame. Part of the definition of shame is “a painful feeling of humiliation”. At one point I believed that the way I felt about myself was no longer just my own opinion, but a confirmed understanding of everyone; a fact. So that’s how I lived for a while. Going through school shy and scared. I lacked confidence and like the definition says, it was painful. I was on the outside of life looking in at others enjoying it. Something inside me knew this wasn’t how it was supposed to be, that I shouldn’t feel like such an outcast. To be honest, I wasn’t at my worst when I was at school or outside the house. Things were the worst when I was home by myself, just me and the mirror. All those negative feelings escalated to new degrees and I started eating a lot. I guess at the time I didn’t realize why I was eating, or maybe I did, and I just didn’t care. I can’t remember. But I do know that it made me feel better and my mindset was that if they see me as this nasty, imperfect blob already, then why not eat and enjoy. I found sanction in food, in books and video games, and in solitude where I could escape and didn’t feel judged. It was around the end of middle school and beginning of high school that I started making more of an effort to make a change. I’m not sure what inspired me to start working out, but that’s where I started. I had one dumbbell at home, and I would use that to do mostly curls. Along with those were the occasional sit ups. I had some friends that I felt comfortable enough with and we would play outside a lot as well. I was active and working out, but my diet stayed the same, and I remember feeling discouraged because I wasn’t changing. Some of my friends and those around me never really worked out and here I was feeling like I was busting my ass and really trying to get into better shape but results just weren’t showing. So I decided that I just wasn’t trying hard enough. My workouts got a little more advanced, I ran more, but still the consistency and proportion of my diet was ridiculous, and I still wasn’t seeing a difference. I remember one time running on the tread mill for what felt like forever, and then getting Taco Bell on the way home. I was stuck in a torturous cycle. Nonetheless, it was right around the middle of high school where I really felt like I started seeing some differences. I had gained some muscle and got a little taller. I was still working out 6 times a week, which is exhausting and no way to live your life, and didn’t really have a clue about nutrition, but things were starting to look up.

From then until now (my sophomore year of college) I can assuredly say that the three biggest things that helped me to get control of my body image problems are; my strong support group of family and friends, fitness, and my faith.  Everyone around me gave me kind words and loved me for me, no matter what! My mom was always willing to get me good foods and paid for a gym membership and workout equipment. I learned so much more about working out in a healthy way and how to eat in a way that is enjoyable and nutritious. I learned how to give my body rest. And my faith, man my faith taught me that no matter what I am loved by the God of the universe. He sees me as perfect, complete, and lacking nothing. I have stopped searching so hard for other’s opinions of me, stopped listening so much to my own opinions of myself, and have been constantly reminding myself of the opinion of the only one who matters. My faith has led me to become surround by so many people who love and support me. These things have helped me to feel happy in my own skin… for the most part. Honestly, I still struggle at times. When I look in the mirror, I still sometimes see things that need improvement, but I also understand who I am in the eyes of friends, family and God.

I believe that social media, film, and advertising are just a few of the things that set the standards for what is considered “beautiful”. Unrealistic expectations are constantly being portrayed in multiple ways and platforms which are accessible to everyone, including children, so that from a young age it is very easy to get the wrong mindset on your body. The truth is, there is no mold that can contain you, no model that could mimic you, and that is something that you should cherish. Your body is perfect in its imperfectness. You should be proud and respect that your body is yours, and yours alone. One thing I have learned is that part of dealing with something like body image, is enjoying the journey and understanding and accepting the ups and downs. Some things aren’t in your control when it comes to your body. Life happens and if you focus on the things out of your hands it will drive you crazy. Also, working out can be tricky if you struggle with your image. It can easily turn into an obsession and quickly become unhealthy. As long as you don’t let it get to that point and don’t let it control your life, then I think that exercising is one of the best things you can do. Not only are you working on your body, but you are helping yourself to become healthier and it is a great way to relieve stress.

Not everyone has access to friends or even family that are there for them. You may not have that support group that encourages you and reminds you that you are loved despite your body. You may not have the ability or resources to pursue fitness. It may just not be realistic for you to find time and finances to eat a certain way or work out. Maybe you’re even dealing with a hindrance in some way that limits your body in physical ways, or mental issues that leave you too fatigued to exercise. But everyone, everyone, has access to a God that loves them just the way they are. I really hope that you don’t live in shame and insecurity, battling this on your own. Don’t give up on yourself. The fight against body image negativity is one that may never end, but you don’t have to do it alone. I am more than willing to be someone that you can talk to. It can get easier, and it will. It is a journey and it’s super important that you realize that because if you keep trying to reach some end point of perfection you are going to be constantly disappointed. I really encourage you to reach out to me if you need, and if you are at the end of your ropes, I can’t give you any better advice than to try reaching out to God, the one who made you out of love and sees you as beautiful.

Different Perspectives on Consuming London

1

When in London, I can’t help but overindulge, especially in Covent Garden. Before my eyes is a feast of colors, culture, and people. Yes, the people! I love the them the most. I’m fully entranced by the street performers putting on magic shows, executing magnificent acrobatic feats, or making music. I am absorbed by the swelling crowds of tourists who swarm around these performers with their camera phones pointed at the action. An ocean of swirling dialects and diverse colors crash around me like waves. Swimming through them, I am eventually channeled out into open space spotted with the more local folks who are on a mission in the city. They walk with purpose, with determination, with confidence. Lining benches and any free steps are groups of visitors from where I can only imagine to be every corner and crevice of the world. Some groups are shaking in the brisk air, unprepared for the chilly weather, while others gather at coffee shops for some liquid gold to warm them. The people provide the tone and their culture, the flavor, against the grey backdrop of London architecture. Brick roads meet stone buildings and blend effortlessly into a matching sky. There is the occasional splotch of color on a building, usually clay reds but sometimes vibrant blues or pinks. Crisp corners and defined outlines shape the structures, breaking form only by the supporting round pillars that reach up into arches. Flowers in crates like garnishes dot the paths and nature can be seen on doors framed with foliage. But another treasure lies in the heart of the square. It is in the apple market where past and present combine. The market seems to beat with intensity and throb with opportunity. The old style of the outdoor market has found its way inside in a space that produces a feeling of openness as well as crowdedness. It is here where all the smells and sounds seem to gather and present themselves like a main course to me. It is here that I smell fresh cookies mixed with Chanel perfumes and the odor of sleep deprived travelers. It is here where the calls of children and hollers of street performers blend over the low rumble of conversation. Every sound takes on vibrant colors that swirl around me, and every sight I can feel move through me. Each sense tingles inside, overwhelmed after being starved for so long. It is here, among these senses and the people that I feel at the heart of London and finally satisfy my cravings.

2

He often wonders, if it’s obvious that he is not from here. His look, his walk, what will give it away today? Hopefully, he believes, that one day the only foreign sign will be the reflected wonder that flickers in his eyes as he looks in awe at the city of London, trying to comprehend its novelty. The same glinted gaze that only he knows about when reading a book on a park bench in Brenton Cross. When quiet hangs in the open like fog, trapped between emerald green grass and the smoggy ash sky. Or the same senses that tingle through him when he finds himself just enjoying his walk down Oxford street. With no destination, no concerns, absorbing every detail, and feasting on everything the city has to offer. Walking through puffs of cigarette smoke, past pubs bursting with the clamor of conversation and clanks of business, and by the brightly lit signs of theaters, he begins to fade into the people. He acknowledges the beauty and bliss in all these moments. As time goes on the mundane actions of his old life like transportation, shopping, studying, working, all become lively and exciting adventures in his new environment. He begins to wander less. He starts to know his way and walk with a more determined step and confident gait past confused tourists and stride for stride with the locals. Finding his way to his usual coffee shop for a steaming cup of tea or his favorite pub for a cold beer and chips becomes routine. He keeps beat with the city. However, it is not above him to occasionally ride the tube to an uncharted destination and get off. Here, he explores with a naïve composition. He gets lost, resorting back to unsure movements, but along the way passes the fresh smells of restaurants undiscovered by him, extraordinary and breath-taking architecture, and he begins to become over-taken by the feeling, the spark and tingling of his senses, as if he is uncovering the city for the first time.

Re-tuned

 

How I got here, I do not know. Maybe somewhere deep down I knew I needed to be here. Among the aging objects, I glide through them like I’ve been here before. Maybe I have in some way. Thick in the air is a scent that feels so familiar, like what I imagine a soul left out to long in the heat would smell like, after it’s been beat by everyone with their matching, opinion-sized bats. An odor of under-appreciation and I can’t help but breathe it in. It’s comforting as I inhale, exhale until I find the source. It’s the old knobs I notice first. The way their faded white has turned to a worn gray from so many years of being subjected to other’s wills. Somehow as a whole it holds its dignity, fighting back awareness of the inevitability that it could always be vulnerable to the touch of others. The scarred wood paneling holds a slight optimistic glow despite being in the know. Two round speakers like imploring eyes prompt me to question. Why do we love to find the lies that social norms and shameful people tell us? More than that, why do we love to abide in them?  We have an ear tuned to the static of negativity in an always broadcasting world of so many beautiful tunes and lively music all beating to the stomp of possibility. We let our own melodies slip away in the black and white flickering anomalies, folds between space, the blank place where we are everything everyone else tells us we are. Here we sit on a table top, left to gather grime and rot based off the discernments of everything outside us. Looked upon by judging eyes, they staple a price tag to our head, and hope anyone but ourselves will consider the cost. How funny it is we still wear that tag. Why is it the small things that remind us how we can sing and hold the notes, like accumulating Os or more like zeros, to define our own number of digits? It’s the cast asides, the forgottens, with their piling dust and growing rust and their perfect brokenness that remind us who we are.

~

This is a poem I wrote after I stumbled upon a fascinating pawn shop in London. I got very lost and happened to find it hidden away in a side alley. Coming through the doors, the smell of dust was strong, and everything looked dim. It was a small shop and everything inside was very old and looked very much antique. But what blew me away was the beauty I saw in every item. Among the faded gray of tossed out things stood a bright yellow Lily sitting in a simple and clear tiny vase upon the counter. An old cube T.V with flimsy looking dials and a big glass hump for a screen sat off in the corner, tucked away on the bottom half of a shelf. But what stood out to me the most was an old radio sitting on a little table all to itself. A cool washed down mint green made up most off it along with medium roasted brown paneling. Two dusty gray speakers sat beside the middle tuner and a few faded white dials spotted the front. It was gorgeous! However, an old flimsy tag with a red scribble hung off the top and it was in that moment I felt the inspiration to write this poem. Unfortunately, I did not get a photo of the place or the radio. Like I said, how I got there was kind of mysterious, which I think made the moment even more special for me. This poem was meant to be a reminder that our value, our worth, and our beauty are as good or bad as we decide, not what others decide. I hope you found the poem fun to read and are encouraged to remember that you are amazing.

Catching Up with God

Today I will leave you with a short message, but I think that it is worth sharing. I have recently arrived in London for a study abroad program, and it has been amazing! I will definitely talk more about London and my experiences here as my adventure in the city continues to unfold. But first I want to talk about something else that happened this morning. I have been here for about 5 days and things have been extremely busy. Even a few days before I left for London things were hectic. Between the planning, the packing, the checking, and the rechecking there has been A LOT of things going on! This morning was the first time I didn’t have to be anywhere or worry about anything and so I decided to go workout at a park. Early in the morning on my walk there, it crossed my mind that I hadn’t said a word to God in a long time. Immediately I started talking to God, catching him up on things, and then listening to what he had to say. It is very hard to describe the joy, peace, and assurance that floods you when you engage in conversation with God. It’s like I had all these things I was trying to keep organized, worries cluttering my brain, and thoughts clouded with concern, and it all got wiped clean and I remembered how good life is when God is involved. The main thing I felt like God was reminding me in that moment, is that sometimes all we need to do is catch up with Him to be reminded how amazing the life He’s got planned for us is, and to remember how blessed we are. So once I got to the park I sat on a bench and just reflected on the amazing experience I just had. I realized that one of the best things you can do with your time, is give it to God. We all get busy and it is so easy to shrink into a tiny, compressed ball of stress and anxiety worrying about things with our minds racing and before you know it, you are sucked into this tiny little orbit called your world. Where it is impossible to think more than a few hours ahead and everything else around you becomes a cloudy blur. It is in those moments that reaching out to God is so crucial. Sometimes all it takes is a quick conversation. But when you do that, I can guarantee that it will set you up for an amazing day. You will begin to see outside your little bubble. If you do it consistently, I can also assure you that He will fill your life with so many real experiences. He will place people in your life, and take you places, and give you the most fulfilling life you could ever imagine. He is a God that wants us to be with others. In the times you’re by yourself and you feel lonely, or even small, He can make those moments where you feel rested and recover instead. Once you commit your life to Him, He will never lead you away from these things. However, it gets hard to see His work and appreciate it if you don’t check in occasionally. So my prayer for you, even if you’ve never tried talking to Him before, is that you just start talking. Whenever you are ready just catch up with Him, because He is ready for a conversation with you, ready to love you, and if you let Him, ready to lead you through an unbelievably fulfilling life.

***

Side Note: In my pursuit for a good photo for this post I find a website to an amazing post, with the perfect picture, by C D Swanson. He talks about things similar to what I shared in this post and he poses through his writing the idea of meeting God on a bench and the theoretical conversation that you would have with Him. It is definitely worth it to check it out and give it a read. Here is the link: https://www.cdswanson.com/?p=973

 

Consistency through the Climb

 

Hello everyone! I haven’t written anything on here in a long time, and I miss it. I miss you! Writing on my blog has always been in the back of my mind. I want to do it, I just kept finding every reason not to. But I don’t want to do that anymore. So this blog post marks the beginning of consistency in my writing. I want to commit time to my community on here and I want to start holding myself more accountable. From now on I am going to be posting on my blog once a week on every Friday. I am not holding myself to a specific time on Friday, but it will be before the day is over. This is doable and this will help me post frequently and consistently, but it also allows me enough time to write quality posts. I would love your feedback if you want me to post on a different day or have any questions. One thing you may be saying is, “Yah but Chad, what are you actually doing to be more consistent?” and that is a great question! Here are 3 things that I am implementing and trying out to help me become consistent.

 

  1. Planning. I am setting side a very small amount of time each day dedicated just to working on blog posts, 30 min each day. However, I am not just saying that I will do that. I have written it into my calendar, and it is usually really early or late so that it will hopefully be a time that I won’t have to move around. By putting it into your calendar rather than just saying you are going to do it, the plan becomes more solidified and you will more likely get it done.
  2. Micro Goals. Of course, I think that you should dream big and have a mountain top goal that you are working arduously to achieve. But if you want to keep your sanity and faith along the way then you better set yourself some micro goals. If you already took my advice from part one then you my friend, have already set yourself up to be successful with a micro goal. What will ultimately determine what these goals are is based on what you want your end goal to be. What is your mountain top? For me, blogging is something that I do because I enjoy it and my goal through it is to learn more about myself and work on my writing skills plus share that with you. But my Everest sized goal would be to reach as many people as possible, whatever that looks like, and have my writing be something that brings joy, positivity and guidance into their lives. I want to reach people and let them know that they aren’t alone in whatever they are going through. I want to build community. A micro goal for this could be reach five people. Just reach a few people first. Then ten, hundreds and keep climbing. Achieving these micro goals helps you build confidence and momentum and reminds you why you started this journey in the first place.
  3. Extraction and Passion. Consistency demands from you time. You have to make room for whatever you are pursuing. For me, I plan on cutting back on the amount of time I spend watching YouTube or Netflix. In my case I don’t have to make too much room to achieve my micro goal of 30 minutes a day of working on my blog. Rounding up some time to commit to what you’re pursuing doesn’t have to be hard. A few minutes here and there and you can gather a lot of time quickly. So, if you haven’t been consistent in whatever it is that you want to be, that means something has got to go for you to have time to commit to it. For some, this could be the biggest obstacle standing in your path to consistency, and that’s because it correlates with the most important thing that leads to consistency: Passion. You have to ask yourself, is this something that I really want? If the answer is no, then please do not waste your time trying to pursue it. Find what you are passionate about first because I truly believe that the secret to being the most consistent you can be, is by having passion to drive it. Passion will lead to consistency. It’s easy to devote time to something that you love and want to invest in.

 

I hope these 3 tips will help you reach the level of consistency that you desire. Being consistent is your own journey and what that looks like is different for each person. The last piece of advice I want to give you before I go is to support all those around you. We are all trying to work on ourselves and pursue our passions. Whatever it is that you are trying to be more consistent in, I hope that you also strive to be consistently kind and encouraging to one another. Let those around you know that you see and acknowledge their own work in reaching their mountain top.

Thoughts on the Heart Part 2

 

I like to think of the heart as a fabric collage, delicate and messy when you get into it, but when you take a step back and view it as a whole, it’s perfect and beautiful. Each piece is unique and holds its own value. We share pieces of our heart to others, so they can stitch us in to theirs. We’re hurt when we can’t find ourselves in their work. We accept pieces of other’s hearts and add it to our own project, growing it slowly over time, some people’s material dominating the work of art. The collage is a reminder. Sometimes pleasant, and sometimes of things we want to forget. You rip at the thread and dig your nails into the stitching and leave a gapping hole. You find more material, but it never fits right. Sometimes you lock away your work because your disappointed with how your project has turned out. Disgusted in fact. You wanted it done and complete a long time ago so for now it will sit up on the highest shelf collecting dust. Maybe that’s you right now. An artist scrounging for more material, even if it’s cheap and dirty. Maybe you’ve given up looking. Maybe you’re discouraged because of all the great collages out there. Who knows how long it’ll be before you feel the needle and thread between your fingers again. One day maybe, you build up the courage and pull the collage down. The uneven stitching and faded colors a globe in your hands, but you keep working at it. You see someone else just starting their collage and cut out a big chunk of your material for them. You become more open to sharing what you have and accepting what others offer. You find strong, inspiring cloth in your faith, your family, your friends, the small things. You work day in and day out sharing and growing your collage, and fall in love with the process, not the end product. When you step back and look at your work, the uneven stitching and faded material are still there in the mix of new fabric. This time, however, it warms your heart. You look at the beautiful mess and see everyone that has impacted you, loved you, encouraged you, supported you. You reflect on the things that hurt you and are thankful. You can see where you were and how far you’ve come. Most importantly, you see the endless room for more: More material, more cloth, more fabric, more loss, more growth, more people, more love. You understand there will always be more to give and take. With a new-found courage and excitement, you get back to work on your project.

I like to think of the heart as a fabric collage, perfect and beautiful.

God Willing

 

What do you do when all your plans fall apart? When the world you know is flipped upside down and everything changes? Everyone goes through a season like this, most likely multiple times through out life. I am writing to address why I believe we find ourselves in these situations, and how we can get through them and be thankful for them.

I was recently listening to the song “Looking for a Savior” by United Pursuit when I got the idea for this post. At the time, I was going through a hard period. A lot was changing, and that can be scary at times. I am still going through everything, but I am proud to say that each day things are getting better as this season comes to an end and a new one begins. Looking back though, I wish I would have known how to handle things better. I wanted to understand how I ended up at that place and why it was so hard. One line from the song stuck out to me: “When our plans become the casualties of getting through the day.” This entire song speaks to the struggle of finding peace and comfort in all the wrong things. However, I feel this line addresses the root of the problem. It is so easy to idolize things, even things that aren’t tangible. In fact, these things are probably the biggest cause of idolization and they are also the most unnoticed at times. For me, I always thought that only real things could be idolized. For example, a person in my life, an object, a book, my family, etc. All these things can be idols but the ones that I really struggle with and that I see others struggle with is ideas, careers, plans, etc. We put so much value on the things we want, even if they are good and pure they are still idols. I have always wanted to be married, become a father, and have a family. These are good things to look forward to and be hopeful about, however, I began to focus only on that. I got up each day with the mindset of getting to that place in my life. My actions were dictated on if they would help me get what I wanted. Pretty soon, my pursuit of these things veered me off course from God’s plan for me. That is why I love the quote from the song. Our plans, even if they are small and seemingly harmless, can be a casualty if they get us out of bed and drive us through our day. If you only pursue these things they will lead to that place of pain, struggle, and sorrow. It’s so easy to justify these things too, because they are great things to look forward to in life. I don’t want you to get it twisted. I am not saying don’t pursue a family, time with friends, love, a career.  What I am saying is that they should supplemented with your pursuit of Jesus. He should be our driving force and what determines our actions each day. In the bible app plan, “Finding God in The Hard Places” by Ashley Abercrombie she puts it this way, “We’re all just walking each other home to Jesus.” I love this because if we consider each day in terms of this quote we keep our focus on getting to Jesus. Also, we are “walking each other” which gives room for relationships. Whether that is through a family, hanging out with friends, or being involved in a career, they are on the path to Jesus, so we don’t need to pursue them individually. When we chase our own desires without Jesus they will inevitably fall apart, and we end up in those terrible and hard seasons.

Getting caught up in our plans is unavoidable. So instead of trying to elude these hard times, we should learn how to make them easier to handle. One thing that helps me get through them is keeping in mind that it is a period of realignment with Jesus and his plans for me. When our plans fall apart, that can sometimes be just what we need to see where we are and the true intentions of our heart. It is very reassuring to me during this time because I know that I am growing closer to Jesus and refocusing myself, and my direction, on Him. Another thing that helps me during times of hardship is reminding myself of the truths of God. He is a good father that has the best intentions for you in mind. He knows your heart and what you want. You can rest easy in the fact that when things don’t go the way you planned, that the heavenly father has something even better in store for you. The plans we make are not set in stone, no matter how much we want them to be. I think this quote from James says it best:

Look here, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we are going to a certain town and will stay there a year. We will do business there and make a profit.” How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog – it’s here a little while, then it’s gone. What you ought to say is, “If the Lord wants us to, we will live and do this or that.”

James 4:13-15

So, I ask that you still chase your dreams and goals but keep Jesus at the center of it all. When you let God take control of your life you are relieved of the pressure of trying to do things and get places on your own. Know that the Lord is not a reckless father. He will guide you and lead you to what you need, which may not always be what you think you want. We can be thankful for these seasons because even if we can’t see it at the moment, God is leading us in a good direction.

I hope this has helped or encouraged you if you are struggling. I want you to know that you aren’t alone in what you are feeling. Life can take unexpected turns at the most inconvenient times and leave us confused and alone. But remember, you aren’t alone when you follow Jesus and good things are coming. If you want to hear more encouraging words on the same topic, then check out my friend Tristan Epperson’s blog. I have linked it below, along with a link to the bible app plan, and the song. I hope you all have a great day!

IMPORTANT!!!

Before you leave I would like to ask for your thoughts and prayers for the Carr Fire happening in Northern California. I also urge you if possible to donate and help. There are more things than just money that can be donated. I have linked a website down below that explains more on what’s going on and ways you can help. Also, I have included links to the American Red Cross and the Salvation Army. Thank you so much.

“Hope Through Heartbreak” by Tristan Epperson: https://tristanepperson.com/2018/07/24/hope-through-heartbreak/

“Finding God in the Hard Places” by Ashley Abercrombie: https://www.bible.com/reading-plans/3137-finding-god-in-the-hard-places

“Looking For A Savior” by United Pursuit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W4YhvfN4_Vk

How you can help: https://www.statesmanjournal.com/story/news/2018/07/29/carr-fire-northern-california-help-victims/859636002/

The American Red Cross: https://www.redcross.org/donate/donation?cid=donation&med=cpc&source=google&scode=RSG00000E017&gclid=CjwKCAjw7vraBRBbEiwA4WBOn_LUB8OD179drHUfOnr_uNw4id7CdE3Jl-eIppJYRV_NSBUx2gyYfRoCG1AQAvD_BwE&gclsrc=aw.ds&dclid=CNOXn6aiyNwCFZwGrQYdQ_IDfw

The Salvation Army: https://www.salvationarmyusa.org/usn/

Thoughts on the Heart

 

The heart is a curious thing. I don’t mean heart in the sense of the organ that pumps blood through our body. No, I’m talking about the heart that is connected with our emotions and intertwined with our soul. I’m talking about that fragile thing inside us that lets us feel love, empathy, and sadness. The thing that drives our passions in the pursuit of our dreams. It may not be a real, tangible object, but the power it has in us is very real. How we think about our heart and how we present it to others reveals a lot about the story of who we are.

 

Broken Hearted

I think it’s safe to say a broken heart is one of the most devastating things someone can experience in their lifetime. There is no cry like that of the broken hearted. Unlike physical wounds there is no treatment for a broken heart. We can try and use our friends and family like a cast to help us heal, use worldly pleasures as a sling, or consume alcohol and drugs like doctor prescribed medications. But the truth is, a broken heart never fully heals. Things get better and the ache you felt at first may not be as painful as it once was, but it is still there. It is a part of you and your story now. There are many things that can lead to a broken heart, but at the core of the sorrow is loss. Loss of a loved one, a friend, an ability, an opportunity, the point is something is gone, and it left with a piece of your heart. That’s why it is impossible to fully recover, because you invested a piece of yourself into whatever you lost. I urge the broken hearted to not let that missing piece be a reminder of what’s gone, but a reminder of what you had. You invested a piece of yourself into whatever you lost for a reason, most likely because you believed in it, had love towards it, or it brought a value to your life. So, next time you feel the ache in your heart where that scar is, let it remind you of all the good memories you had. Embrace that stirring in your heart and never let it take good things and turn them into negative things.

Brave Hearted

This is someone who has been broken hearted in life, someone who has hit rock bottom but hasn’t let that stop them from sharing their heart with others again. A brave hearted person can give their love when it seems like there is none left to give. A brave hearted person loves those that are hard to love at times. They are courageous with their love in the face of adversity, and are a strong example of continuing to love despite being hurt before.

Open Hearted

The most vulnerable of them all is the open hearted. They express their love without concealment. Their actions and words align with the feelings in their heart. Having an open heart means your love pours out into your everyday life and is very noticeable to others. There is honesty and clarity in the words and actions of people with an open heart. It is comforting being around them because they share their feelings in a truthful and real way, which creates a comforting environment and makes others feel like they can be open in return.

Kind Hearted/Big Hearted

Being kind hearted or having a big heart means that your heart takes on the burdens of others. You care as much about others hearts as you do your own. Having a kind and big heart is like having an open heart, both have a foundation of love for yourself first, so that you can give love to others. However, a kind-hearted person’s intentions aren’t always as noticeable. Someone with a big heart might take on the pain of someone else, but that doesn’t always translate into big, apparent actions. A kind-hearted person is there for others and is full of compassion.

Cold Hearted    

The cold-hearted person is a sad story. I believe that this is someone who has been broken hearted one to many times. They have had to many bad experiences when they’ve shared their love, so they wall it off so that don’t get hurt anymore. It is scary to keep putting yourself out their when you’ve only been damaged from doing so. It becomes safe and secure to keep your heart and love guarded.

Full Hearted

Looking at this in terms of action, like doing something full heartedly, means doing that task with full commitment and emotional investment. But being full hearted means, you are at peace. You have a deep and healthy love with your circumstances and current situations in life. Being full hearted gives you confidence and produces joy.

 

No matter what condition you heart is in, I urge you not to give up on sharing your love. Be there for the broken hearted and remind them they’ll be okay. I ask you to try and understand the cold hearted. They have been hurt and if we can be considerate and help by bringing a healthy love into their life instead of shutting them out, I believe that they can start to tear down their walls. I hope after reading this you can appreciate the brave and open hearted. I hope you strive to be full hearted and kind hearted. Love can be a frightening thing. I believe that truly loving is one of the scariest things you can do in life, and one of the most rewarding. Understanding your heart and what you are feeling is so important for your journey in life. If you only walk away with one thing from this article, I hope it’s this: Love is powerful and if we all use it to help build each other up, then we can accomplish so many amazing things as a society. So, don’t be selfish with your love and be aware of your own hearts condition, as well as others.