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Mirror, Mirror on the wall…

In Christ we are new and our spirit is made new and filled with holy power. Now, what does a follower of Christ look like on the outside? Growing up, people drank sweet/ unsweet tea or water at church events. I looked for the cooler with soda cans. Kids would flock to kids’ church. I would stay in the adult service. I simply liked the message better. I don’t pray as if God is deaf; I pray silently. While others vocalize their request. Loudly. All at once. As I grew up and continued to grow in relationship to Christ, I found peace in knowing I don’t have to conform to a single image of what a follower of Christ looks like. 

   There is no single image because God doesn’t want clones without soul or personality. Because what I look like doesn’t matter. How I walk out those beliefs in daily life is the meat of following Christ. I know we all have heard this, but it’s true: Christ defines who we are. So what if a believer dresses like a hippy adorned with crystals, does that person have to wear a modest dress with their hair the color they were born with? NO!

   Yet, some members will avoid them because they must have a twisted view of God.  What if they believe in crystal healing, what if they do yoga-isn’t that worship of Hindu gods? Profiling a human being is wrong. I was profiled as a goth many times in my life simply because I wear black, dye my hair, and like black nail polish. This resulted in peers admitting I scared them. While others judged, God saw, and stills sees, the true reasons behinds why I wear black: hiding my weight, I like the color, black makes me feel less anxious in social situations. I’m not a monster, just an overweight female who wants to reach out but feels held back by her own inner critic.

   The molds we try to squeeze ourselves into as followers of Christ by can be ridiculous. You have to get married and have kids. You have to love mission work. You have to love Christian music (that secular music is devil worship!). If you don’t tithe you don’t love God.  More judgments that cause us to feel shame. I prefer talking to God about what he has for my life instead of following a human standard that was created just so the majority would feel safer.

   What those doling out the golden standard don’t see is the struggle to get by on a pay check to pay check life. They don’t see the woman who is twisting herself into a 100 different people just to make a man notice her. The couple in debt because of fertility treatments. The man or woman who is in love with growing their business but conflicted since they don’t feel the urge to get married. Shockingly, they don’t want to ever get married.

   God’s word is the only standard we, as believers and followers of Christ, we are to adhere to. Nowhere in my reading of the Word does it say what a Christian look like in terms of appearance. Rock your style, dye your hair, get that tattoo, listen to that music, and talk to God as a friend. He has a lot to say that may shock us about our lives.  Let him lead instead of the judgments and labels that chase us down.

 

 

 

 

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4 Reason to Take a Temporary Vow of Silence.

  1. Reclaim and cultivate peace

How much noise harass us all day? I love listening to music or watching Youtube videos but there are times that I want quiet. I want to hear nothing. Doing so resets our spirits and gives us time to communicate with our creator.

As an exercise, when taking a vow of silence, write down what sounds or sensations you notice then forget them. Move past them to focus on a mental picture of an empty cavern where you gather peace lost during stressful events that day.

  1. Set intentions for the coming week

Each week has challenges we have to meet and conquer. Some of our weekends do too. All the more reason to plan how you might respond to hiccups/upsets that will happen.  Meetings, interviews, family gatherings, and other events go smoother when you preprogram how you’d prefer to respond.

For example, I have a weekly call I make to a difficult family member to keep the peace. I prepare with a moment of silence to center my already fraying patience and nerves. When we talk I’ve already made up my mind to make this time productive. If that fails, I have prepared a Plan B: put on my favorite J-Pop group to make the minutes fly by.

  1. Spend Time on A Pet Project

There are projects that make sure we eat and there are projects that feed our souls. It’s achieving balance in our life that is hard to do when constant noise and distractions never cease. It’s okay to nourish ourselves. We can’t give back to others if we have nothing to give. I’ve seen people who give of themselves after hitting zero and it’s hard to watch as they slowly dissolve into a shell.  

We are worth investing in. If we don’t feed ourselves we can’t live the lives God has for us, we can’t help anyone Just as silencing our minds makes it easier to flow into creating meaningful lives.

  1. Recharge After Work

Honking, squealing brakes, and never-ending commercials trying to sell to us it’s no wonder silence sounds so loud when we finally sit down at home. At work, phones ring and co-workers demand a portion of our time. Reports are due while more projects with stricter deadlines are piled on.  We need a mental break. We need a time of silence.

Pushing through frustrations only represses issues that spring up later. Like when we’re trying to sleep making the next day’s stress worse.  Writing in a journal helps some but sitting out outside can be just as beneficial. An easy walk around the block after dinner is a great way to enjoy the silence and get some light exercise.

Peace and Love, 

Randa 🙂

 

 

 

 

Holy Strategy

  I’ve been playing unhealthy hours of Knights of Pen and Paper on my Xbox. Using my druids sleeping spell to make my rouges dagger attack cause extra damage and casting ice to decrease magic resistance. Each monster varies in what attacks work. Each time I have to adapt my plan or my team gets killed.  Even with a high-level team, victory isn’t guaranteed. I need to know how to use the skills they have. But life isn’t a game. We need a strategy if we are to complete the quest Christ has tasked us with.

To my peril, I’m not great at changing strategy. Mostly I run away from battle until I feel ready or I keep attacking the problem with the same method hoping it goes away. Which it never does due to my fear of looking at life head-on. Living in fear paralyzes us and as a strategy, I don’t suggest it.  We all know that so how do we become a holy strategist?

Let’s consult our savior for those answers as I am learning myself.

Manage What You’re Given1 Cor. 7:17, 4:2

We see our lives as boring. We live in boring towns with boring jobs. At least we have family we care about and if not, we have friends who are our family. I know I feel this way sometimes. I wonder why God would put me in this place at this time. Instead of the grey we see, He sees the millions of opportunities and ways we can lift Him up where we are. To successfully manage what God has gifted us in our lives we must change the lenses we look through. See our lives through the eyes of loving God.

There will be a day when our lives are changed and the next step of the journey begins. At this moment let’s make God proud of who are now, not who we will be.

Training Matters 1 Cor. 9:24, 10:23

I talk about our choices a lot on this blog. But I truly have a passion for the long game; making sure the future is as bright as possible.  Which is why to create a holy strategy we must realize actions and choices have lasting effects. Today will affect tomorrow so why not try to sway the odds in our favor.

None of us change unless we train like our lives will be used as vessels to combat the forces aiming to keep us from living a full Christ filled life. If we can’t be a testimonial of Christ overcoming power how can we change the lives of others? We have to run the race we’ve been given as if victory is already won.

Simply put, the best strategy is to “be alert, stand firm in the faith, be courageous, be strong.”

Peace and Love, Randa 🙂 

Citizen of Heaven

Scripture Reference: Phillippians 1:27-29, 2:14-15

Who can count how many people joined in on your latest pity party? Who came to your latest anxiety fulled rage fest?  Last time I checked, my attendance was one person: just me. And that pile of soggy tissues.  I don’t blame anyone because I don’t enjoy my own company when I’m like this. Not even Christ, who loves me, wants to go my rage-ing pity parties. He stops in to inform me my heavenly shine is diming and my grumbling is not a good use of my time (Philippians 2:14). Then He leaves to prepare a future I can’t see through my rage, tears, and sadness.

Taking action will better serve anyone who is wallowing excessively in their misery. My advice: walk until the pain in your shoes shines brighter than your problem. Next, sit down to figure out a plan. We have been given a responsibility to be ambassadors for Christ, not to present how defeated we are. How does that benefit anyone? Christ gives us all power to face every challenge in our lives if we participate.

Real talk though, I have a hard time standing up. I have a tendency to cuddle up with my anxiety next to a warm fire and come up with reasons to never make a move. Solid logical reasons. No one can douse the cozy fire or take away the familiar comfort of hot cholate except me. I have been given responsibility to have responsibility for myself. No one else. If I don’t do that I can’t impact my circle of influence because I’m hiding behind earthly logic to never move. I trap myself in anxiety always jumping at shadows instead of banishing them.

We cry out for excitement. Adventure. Safe adventure and safe excitement. Christ promises us both but not the safe kind. He promises the ride of a lifetime filled with a holy, heavenly suffering.  He put up with more pain, hatred, contempt than most of us will ever experience. But its who He is that sheds light on how much of a privilege it is that we are chosen. He is the Christ that rose from the grave so suffering will end one day.  He rose so suffering will cease to harm anyone on any level.

If you will, I ask you to join me in canceling that next pity party to instead take a walk. To make a plan and embrace the unsafe adventure Christ has prepared for us. Accepting responsibility for yourself and your actions, emotions, and past pity parties. Take a step in participating, in rejoicing when all we want to do is cry. Walking out our love of Christ instead of talking about it with our anxiety next to a cozy fire. 

Most importantly, see past ourselves and see the big bad world for what it is and what it could be. Christ plan will defy our logic but go with it, Christ won’t let us drown in questions or make our suffering amount to nothing.

Blessing, Peace, and Love,

Randa:)

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Why Easy isn’t Easy

   I won’t bore you all with why the Easy Path is full of pitfalls. How taking the easy way turns into the Hard Path because there are no shortcuts to greatness. One could say the Easy Path is wide while the Hard Path is narrow. Instead, I want to discuss why easy isn’t so easy when it comes to our words. Here’s an example: A co-worker constantly interrupts you and makes seemingly innocent comments. After telling them you need to get back to work and ignoring their comments they don’t stop. So, what is the easy thing to do?

What is the easy thing to do?

 Keep ignoring them.  Right? Just block them out and cope with them. Pray about it and let God handle them. Don’t give them the reaction they’re fishing for. Choose not to respond. Or communicate with them and try to find a peaceful resolution.

    All this is easy. All of this is a good idea. But can you truly say our first reaction isn’t wanting to scream “Leave me alone!” or become passive aggressive? I know for me my first reaction isn’t the easy path in this case.  Prayer would be frustrating since I want God to remove them from the office, not learn whatever lesson God wants to teach me.  If there is one to be learned at all.

    We know there are two paths: Hard and Easy; Narrow and Wide. In this instance, the Narrow path cuts both parties down. It’s a battlefield that ensures a point-blank shot each time. While the Wide give room for understanding. A peaceable outcome with minimal pain. There is space to cool off, to choose not being controlled by our emotional reaction.

    We are told in James the tongue is described as “a restless evil, full of deadly poison.” Taming our words should be easy like choosing the paragon option in Mass Effect. In theory, it is, but we know different. In practice, our emotions control what we say, not thinking if our words will hurt someone, and having been hurt by others words we fling back a more hurtful phrase.  I have a painful list of exchanges in my memory banks that I would give anything to take the easy path and say the opposite of my destructive words.  Do any of you?

For our spiritual futures, we must ask ourselves hard questions so we can take the Easy Path when faced with people who push our buttons.

What words do I want others to remember when they think about our conversations?

How do I want to represent myself to others? How much of Christ shines through?

Exercise to Try

While mediating focus on the words you use most often. Think about past conversations. Did they go well or did they not? In this space prepare to change, for the better, how to react. Use that moment program the Easy Path as default.

In a journal, write down your default reaction, the Hard Path. Beside each reaction write what triggers it.  Somewhere on that same page write how you want to react next time to that same trigger. To further ingrain the Easy Path, bring the page or journal with you to reference or to study

God Bless you all, Randa 🙂

 

 

 

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You Only Die Twice

Ever wonder what will happen to your Facebook page, Pinterest, Tumblr, Twitter after you die? Do you think anyone will care? Since we’ve spent so much of our time alive curating digital space to reflect us, we have to die twice: first in the world and second online.

The aftermath of who we are online hit me surprisingly hard after my father passed last week. Since then my family and I have been bombarded online by those we haven’t seen in years. They’ve asked questions, expressed condolences because to them their concern is comforting marshmallows, but to me, they hit like shotgun shells fired at point-blank range. My father’s page is filled with post telling him to “say Hi to Elvis” and how much they’ll miss him.  Family I never met has asked to be a “friend” on Facebook.

And I honestly don’t know how to respond to any of their post.

Never being close to my dad, I feel like an imposter talking to relatives. They knew him before alcohol destroyed his liver. Before he became distant, secretive. Side note: my father never told anyone he was dying from liver failure. I found out when he was found on his couch. I don’t know how to make sense of his life while he lays waiting to be cremated. So, how do I make sense of his digital doppelganger?  

His life isn’t wasn’t a paragraph. His life wasn’t even a series of books, it was meant to be written by God for all eternity. He believed in Jesus Christ as his savior so his story is continuing on plane I cannot see with human eyes.

Each speech bubble of comfort I see, every comment, and every person who knew him are pieces to a puzzle that was Randy (my father) on this earth.  Yet the more I try to reconcile what I know and don’t know I feel more lost! I feel the need to shut it all out! I realize I never knew him as I wanted to, as the daughter who longed for a father to love her the way she desperately needed.  As the only child he had.

I experience a pain I don’t want. I long for the cold heart, the distance I had before his passing. Feeling…everything is awful, heartbreaking as each memory tears open the wound and, at the same time, closes him off in a definitive way.

This serves as what I would want to say out loud if I could. But I can’t so I pay honor to him as best I can with what God has given me.

My hope is God will pass this message along to him as he enjoys the peace of heaven. I beg God to tell him I forgive him for all the mess, the missed moments, and the lost opportunities.

I forgive you, dad. I only hope you can forgive me for the shit I did to you. The way I treated you. I am sorry and pray we can one day have more moments together. If I only knew what I know now life would have been different. I would have been different.

With love, Your Daughter.

 

Mindsets Make the Difference

Scripture reference: Romans 8:5-7

Out mindset is like a filter we put on photos: they color a situation in a good or bad light. We can see a situation in sepia or in full color. Maybe we see an event in our lives as a photo negative filter. All these “filters” make up the photo album of our lives and give us a great tool to make adjustments in the direction we’re headed. Warn us on a dangerous path we weren’t aware we were on. Even better, changing our path is easy as one simple act a day.

Where to Start?

  We must see with as much clarity as possible the path we’re on and try to identify what got us here- what motive drove us. In my life I get tired of waiting and, as I put it, take stabs in the dark when it comes to decisions. The paths I’ve taken weren’t bad but still gave me quite a mental/spiritual sucker punch. I was left feeling more lost than before. Take time to evaluate where you are if you’re not happy because it’s not too late.

We are able to turn around! Christ will not leave us to wander off with no plan to rope us back in if we are willing to admit we don’t know everything.  It is freeing to think we don’t have to know everything. Think about it, our heavenly father arranges the details we can’t see and all we have to do is put in the work to show up, be willing go out of our comfort zone.  Be willing to master what God has given us.

Daily assignments

Whittling down a to-do list, personal and professional, is just an autopilot experience for most us. To give us strength for our daily grind, God, in His great mercy, gives us our daily bread. He gives to us daily assignments so the journey, though a long one, is broken down into doable steps. While we may not reach our destinations this minute, this week, this month, or this year, we are working toward our goal. 

As we pray/meditate: let’s not just hear what God is saying, let’s decide how we are going to complete the small, daily assignment God has given us. For me, I’m going to study and practice how to make writing these posts more interesting. Practice writing more clearly with a clear theme and intention.

What small step will you take today? 

Blessing and Peace—Randa 🙂