The (Business) Break-Up

Too many companies these days only care about money. I realize that’s a big part of business, but I believe businesses should extend beyond the dollar. They should create relationships with their customers, and not just because it increases their cash flow, but because it gives a feel of community and purpose. I can’t even tell you how many problems I’ve had with certain businesses lately, both big and small, local and distant, because they simply don’t care. They don’t care if they make a few people angry and lose some business because they have thousands of other customers. When a business gets to a certain point, many of them feel like they can slack off a bit. They don’t have to try as hard once they have you hooked. Let’s compare it to the dating world for a moment. Many people don’t try as hard once they are in the committed relationship. They don’t go out of their way to hold their partners hands or to show them they appreciate them, and some don’t even take care of themselves the way they did when they were trying to impress someone. In the business world, it’s the equivalent of the quality of their products or services going down because they stopped making an effort. In essence, businesses tend to get too comfortable and they forget how to be romantic. When you call the business out on it, they tend to do the same as most people do in relationships – they make excuses. It’s not often that a company or a person will own up to their mistakes, sincerely apologize, and try to make it better. If you do happen to find that special person or great business, they are keepers! It’s been my recent experience that the businesses either write a formal e-mail that has been copy and pasted to you and thousands of others, or worse…they don’t respond at all. And yet people keep going back for more, and spend more money that they probably don’t really have on things that they don’t really need. Why? Isn’t that like going back to the same relationship with the person that didn’t cherish you, may have cheated you a few times, and definitely doesn’t deserve you? As consumers and as human beings, we need to take inventory of our lives and decide who is actually worthy of our time and our money.

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Here’s To A Brand New Start

“I wanna live more like a candle & less like a firework.”

Holley Gerth

Holley Gerth is a writer that I admire very much. She speaks directly to your heart. And tonight as I was scrolling through my Instagram feed with a heavy heart, those words hit me hard.

A firework is bright and beautiful and shines for a fleeting moment before it burns out, leaving only a trail of smoke.

A candle, however, burns slow and steady. It is often fragrant and pleasing. It gives light. It has meaning. It has purpose. And most important of all, it has a wick.

A firework explodes into the sky and then it’s gone. But light a candle, and the wick contains the flame. If it didn’t have a wick, it would just be a fire. The wick is what makes the flame burn with a reason.

God is the reason I burn, and He is my wick. He makes me stand firm, and without Him I would either burn out very quickly or consume everything in my path and eventually be destroyed.

What did that quote mean to me personally?

I often try to be a firework when God has called me to be a candle. I try too hard to shine bright for others. I try to have perfect photos on Instagram and other social media sites. I try to gain more followers and sales and friends. I try to compete with other fireworks.

But tonight I was just tired. Tired of the attention I usually crave. Tired of being me. Tired of trying. And then I realized, I don’t have to try so hard. I cannot earn God’s grace, but I don’t have to! He gives it freely because He loves me. Not because I am worthy, but because my worth is in Him alone. He doesn’t love me because of anything I’ve done or could ever do. He loves me because He is love.

I don’t have to compete with others because God has not called me to be like them. He has a different purpose for me. He has called me to burn for Him, steady and calm. Not to shine bright so others enjoy a nice show, but to illuminate for people to see Him.

 

When To Send & When To Delete

How do you know whether or not you should send that text message, e-mail, or even blog post?

Is there an e-mail or blog post in your drafts that you’ve been mulling over, wondering whether or not to send it, save it, or simply delete it?

Perhaps you write real letters, the old-fashioned way. Maybe you’ve written one to someone, addressed it, and even put a stamp on it. But for whatever reason, you cannot bring yourself to put it in the mailbox and yet you cannot bring yourself to put it in the fireplace, so it just sits on your desk staring back at you.

It might be an embarrassing confession, a scandalous admission, a risky proposal, or it could even be a declaration of love. Perhaps it’s a piece of your heart that you would love to share, but fear rejection or criticism.

Not all things need to be said. Some statements are better off left unacknowledged. But life is too short and sweet to leave the important things in your drafts. If there’s a message of hope in your heart that you believe someone needs to hear, then share it!

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Is it truthful and honest? If the answer is no, delete it.
  • Is it gossip or will it tear others down? If the answer is yes, delete it.
  • Is it hurtful or will it harm anyone? If the answer is yes, ask yourself the following:
  • What is my motive for sending it? If your motive is to hurt someone, delete it.
  • Is this something that you would say to a person face to face? If not, you should probably delete it, but there are exceptions.
  • What is the purpose of it? If it’s intended to bring out the truth, ask yourself the following:
  • Is it absolutely critical that the message is read, even though it might hurt someone? If the answer is yes, consider your motives again, consider all possible scenarios, and then ask yourself again if it’s critical. If so, hit send.

There are many instances where a message should be deleted, but if you’ve considered all of the above, especially your personal motives, and you still find it imperative that the message should be read, then send it! Say what you need to say because there will come a day when it will be too late and you could live the rest of your life regretting what was left unsaid.

This doesn’t, however, give us the excuse to recklessly speak to others. There are some instances when it is best to keep quiet. For example, if you are in love with someone but you or that certain someone is in a relationship, it’s not okay to tell them. Movies have romanticized this idea for years. The guy is in love with his best friend, but doesn’t say anything until she’s in a serious relationship with someone else. Running out of time, he finally admits his true feelings for her, she realizes that he was always the one she wanted, and the audience lets out happy sighs (or groans, depending upon the demographic.) I may have seen “Made Of Honor” one too many times. But this is real life, and real people are involved. You can’t think about yourself, you have to think of everyone else involved. In real life, most likely the girl is just going to get mad at you. You’ve been friends for years and you wait until she’s finally happy with someone else to tell her you love her? She won’t find your jealousy cute, she will think she wasn’t that important to you until you realized you could lose her, and now you’re just hurting her. And then there is the other guy involved, who will not be like the guy in the movies who gracefully bows out so his girl can go off with some other guy (did anyone really believe James Marden’s character in “The Notebook” …because no one is that nice!) No, this guy is going to be mad, like put-you-in-the-hospital mad. Or perhaps you are the one with a partner and you tell someone else that you’re crazy about them. Like that’s gonna end well.

In some cases, you might be asked to tell the truth about something, knowing full well that the truth will hurt them. If you absolutely must answer them, then the truth (spoken gently and kindly) is the only way to go, so delete anything that distorts the truth. If a response is not necessary, delete it and move on.

Some things may not hurt anyone else but could possibly hurt you. You could end up humiliated or rejected. This is a good time to seriously consider sending the message. Being brave is about putting yourself out there and not fearing the outcome! The worst that could happen is that your biggest fears come true. And then what? Your cheeks may burn for a little while and you may cringe when you think of the reaction, and then you move on. Take pride in the fact that you were strong enough to hit send, smile…or maybe even laugh a little, and move on! And don’t forget that you could be completely overreacting and something completely amazing could happen if you’re brave enough.

Finally, if there is someone that needs a sweet word or two, maybe somebody you don’t know very well or you haven’t spoken to in years, send it anyway. You may feel silly or embarrassed to speak to someone that way if you aren’t close, but this is the best scenario to hit send. Never underestimate the power of kindness shown by a stranger.

 

History Behind The Hymns

Thomas Chisholm wrote more than 1,200 hymns over the course of his 94 years, including “Great Is Thy Faithfulness” which was a testament to God’s faithfulness in his life. He entered the ministry at age 36 but had to retire after only one year due to poor health that remained with him throughout his life. He worked a desk job, and when he was not confined to his bed with his illness, he would have to work long hours to make ends meet. Lamentations 3:22-23 was one of his favorite scriptures: “It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is Thy faithfulness.”

Great is Thy faithfulness!
Great is Thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord unto me!

Summer and winter and springtime and harvest,
Sun, moon, and stars in their courses above;
Join with all nature in manifold witness,
To Thy great faithfulness, mercy, and love.


 

“It Is Well With My Soul” was written by Horatio Spafford after a series of traumatic events. The first was the death of his only son in 1870 to Scarlet Fever. The second was financial ruin when the Great Chicago Fire in 1871 destroyed every piece of real estate he owned, followed by the economic downturn in 1873. The third was also in 1873 when he received a telegram from his wife Anna, discovering that the ship she was sailing on had collided with another vessel, taking the lives of their four daughters; she was “saved alone.” On the journey to meet his wife, his ship passed the area that his daughters died, and that is where he penned the hymn.

When peace like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to know,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
A song in the night, oh my soul!


For me, it helps to know the story behind the song, movie, book, photo, or even person. When something moves you, you want to know why. Even though they had been through unspeakable things and suffered a great deal, they kept their focus on the Lord.

Turn from your circumstances to God, recognizing them as necessary conditions for blessings.

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Grace Unplugged

I was really excited to read Grace Unplugged after I saw (and loved) the movie. It was written by Melody Carlson and I read most of her books when I was a teenager so I was also excited about reading another book from one of my favorite authors.

Grace Trey is an 18 year old girl who wants to be a singer more than anything. Her dad was a one-hit wonder two decades ago, and now he is the music pastor at their church. She sings worship with him Sunday mornings, but she often takes the music in a different direction during the service and tries to liven up the congregation, resulting in her father’s anger and frustration week after week for not sticking with what they practiced.

Almost immediately after one of their biggest fights, Grace gets the opportunity to record her dad’s song, and she runs away to pursue it. Her parents are heartbroken when they realize she left. And here’s where the real problems start:

Grace…now called Gracie Trey…is climbing the charts. She’s going on a radio tour and the producers have ordered a full album. She’s made a music video and it went VIRAL! She’s hot!! But will she burn out before she even gets a chance to enjoy the fame?

The famous dates, the alcohol, the lies, and the skimpy outfits. Will all of the compromises to her morals catch up to her? Or will she choose another path for her life, one that doesn’t include God?

This book was probably intended for a younger audience, but I enjoyed it immensely. Spoiler alert: Grace chooses God. A story of redemption and forgiveness, this book is one of my favorites from 2014.

The Fault In Our Stars

I was going to call this a book review but it’s actually not a legitimate review at all, it’s actually just my opinions on the book.

So here are my random, scrambled thoughts on TFIOS:

I know this will be an unpopular opinion but I didn’t like the book at all. First of all, I was lied to. I was told that it wasn’t a cancer book. It is. I was told that it’s more of a love story and cancer is just a side effect. It’s not. I was told it wasn’t really sad at all. Well, that is partially true. While it wasn’t really sad because I didn’t get to connect to any of the characters, it was a total downer.

I mean, I knew it wasn’t going to be this happy story, but I wanted to see what all the fuss is about before the movie comes out. This book is all over the internet and especially popular with teenage girls. They obsess over it! It’s called fangirling. In case I’m not clear enough, Urban Dictionary defines it as: “the reaction a fangirl has to any mention or sighting of the object of her “affection”. These reactions include shortness of breath, fainting, highpitched noises, shaking, fierce head shaking as if in the midst of a seizure, endless blog posts, etc.”

And they do all that and more over this book. I’m totally guilty of fangirling, but it usually has something more to do with pumpkin spice coming back to Starbucks every fall.

So I get why girls fangirl. But what I don’t get is why girls fangirl over this particular book. There was no real “aha!” moment where it all came together for me. There was no revelation or anything to make it tolerable.

Hazel Grace Lancaster is a teenager with cancer. Her parents want her to have a life, so they make her go to a support group at a local church. I don’t know what constitutes this as having a life, but in their minds it does. She hates it but eventually meets Augustus Waters there. Apparently, he’s hot. And even though she swears she’s nothing special, he can’t stop staring at her.

I just found Hazel Grace to be annoying and lacked empathy for her. Someone said the kids are like “highly educated robots.” I totally agree with that statement. What kind of town has a bunch of teenagers running around talking like pretentious philosophers? They rarely showed real emotion except for Isaac, who shows too much emotion. Like, all the kid does is scream that his girlfriend broke up with him. He was upset about going blind, too. But mostly, it was the girlfriend thing. I actually did like Isaac a little bit after he finally got over it. His character did seem to grow a little bit, especially towards the end of the book. But I suppose he had to, because any character that literally screamed the whole book would never make it into a movie if they wanted the movie to make any money.

A lot of the book felt like just floating. Nothing really happening, just boring floating. I hated the support group meetings and just skimmed through them since it was mostly Hazel whining about the people there and no longer there. She didn’t seem to care about anyone until Augustus showed up.

She pretty much hated her so-called best friend for not being like her. I mean, it was never said, but it was implied. The best friend only had about 5 minutes in the book so I wonder if they’ll even put her in the movie. In The Hunger Games books, Madge is a sweet character that I really liked. She was the one that gave Katniss the Mockingjay pin that helped start the revolution. But she didn’t have a huge plot in the books, so they completely cut her out of the movie. In The Fault In Our Stars, the best friend had much less of a plot than Madge did. I can’t even remember her name. I think it was Monica? Anyway, I doubt that a best friend that isn’t even memorable will end up in a movie. I do remember that Hazel seemed to barely tolerate her when she was in a good mood and pretty much despised her when she was being a brat and acting like she was so much better than her. Hazel was too obsessed with America’s Next Top Model to act so pretentious. I was basically done when she called Gus “hot.” Hazel was no better than her shallow best friend that she hated for being a normal, shallow teenager. Also, she was so self-concerned that there were multiple times when Augustus cringed or yelped in pain and she ignored it. If you hugged someone and they cried out, would you not wonder or ask them what’s wrong?! Especially someone you proclaimed to love!

I have no real opinion of Augustus. I didn’t like how he talked about his ex-girlfriend, and I didn’t believe that he “instantly fell in love” with Hazel when there wasn’t much there to even like, especially when he said she reminded him so much of his ex-girlfriend that he only dated because she had brain cancer and was dying and he didn’t want to dump a dying girl. Seriously? Fangirls fall for these lines?! Please, if you’re reading this, tell me why!

Amsterdam was boring and felt more like a really long dream. Maybe it was. Peter Van Houten was just a waste of potential plot and Hazel was a moron around him.

I didn’t really buy the love story plot. It just wasn’t that believable. Maybe it’s because they kept saying that it was real, it was true love and not puppy love. That sentiment was repeated a few times and to me it just felt like, “Okay, who are they trying to convince here?!”

John Green was trying to sell a story that just didn’t add up in so many ways, but mostly it just seemed hopeless.

What I hated most was how Hazel sat around complaining that life is pointless, people who believe in Heaven are stupid, and everyone dies and is forgotten too soon so don’t even bother making a life or believing in anything. Don’t even bother caring about anything except America’s Next Top Model.

There was no hope.

That’s what I disliked most about it. Everyone moped around being hopeless.

And I get that illness can feel hopeless and I get that not everything is alright all the time. I understand that’s real life and not everything is going to be perfect.

Sometimes, it’s not okay.

(Did anyone else hate the okay thing?)

But here’s the thing: I read to escape reality. I don’t read to be put into a universe where nothing is okay and ever will be. I can enjoy flawed characters every once in a while, but I cannot understand flawed books. I don’t want reality; I want fantasy. I want an escape from real life, not put into this universe with these characters. The Fault In Our Stars just made me want to escape from the book.

And in real life, people die every single day. People live, and people die. And they don’t stop living just because they’re going to die someday. We don’t become hopeless just because we’re not immortal. Well, maybe some people do. But they’re the exception, I guess. Most of the time, when she wasn’t thinking about how hot Augustus was, Hazel spoke like she had lived for hundreds of years and knew it all, but yet somehow she missed the whole point of life? I guess I missed the whole point of the book.

Chasing after the One who has captivated my heart, sharing the beauty that inspires me

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