Why I No Longer Save The Best For Last

I’ve always had this “save the best for last” mentality, but I’ve noticed in recent years an increase in this attitude. I will save the best food on the table for last, even though by the time I get to the best, it’s either getting cold or someone else has taken it. I will save the books I want to read most and grudgingly read the least interesting books first.

I bought myself a large set of bowls and plates and mugs many years ago, with the idea that I would use them someday, if and when I get married. I currently use old plastic bowls, and the real set is still in the box from which it has never been removed, sitting in the back of my closet.

When I get money for my birthday or Christmas or receive gift cards, I buy the most beautiful make-up. I have gorgeous colors that I absolutely love. And I go home and put them away, and continue using up old samples or drug-store makeup because I don’t want to waste the old stuff and I want to save the expensive stuff for special occasions.

The problem is make-up expires. It goes bad. And special occasions may not come as often as I would anticipate.

Life is the same way.

We never know when our expiration date is.

All we have is today. Right now.

And maybe life is the grandest, most special occasion there is.

Maybe it’s okay to wear your favorite outfit twice a week. Maybe it’s okay to only use the best make-up, the best dishes, eat your favorite foods and read the best books.

And sometimes, it’s okay to have dessert for breakfast.

I want a life well-lived and well-loved.

Don’t waste your life waiting for someday. Today is just yesterday’s tomorrow.

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.

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

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