What If We Really Were REAL…

I’m coming off a testing and rewarding trip to the She Speaks Conference in Concord, NC. The whole trip up there we had tunes from Chris Tomlin, Britt Nicole, Lecrae, Toby Mac, Jaime Grace, and Mandisa. The song What If We Were Real, by Mandisa, kept playing over and over. If you haven’t experienced it, check it out HERE. This song became the theme of the trip and opened up some tight spaces in my own mind.

It made me beg the question, “What if we really were REAL?”

Do you understand the weight of that question? You see, I was at a conference for Christian speakers and writers, all women. In fact, 650 women. That is a LOT of estrogen in one venue! My first morning was challenging to say the least. I entered with the anticipation of a school girl. I was ready to open up and make new and lasting friendships. This anticipation was quickly met with glares and stares, followed by shuns when I attempted to speak. Was it in my head? I would have thought that except when I placed my back down next to another woman in the foyer and said, “This looks like a great place to dig through our goodies”, to which she responded, “Sure”. Then she promptly packed up her bag and walked away. I found her at a chair in the back of the hotel. Not in the mood for making friends I assume.

So what was the deal? Was it Satan himself making me feel as though I didn’t belong? In reality, I don’t think Satan even has to try in this arena anymore. Women are so full of insecurities and judgement that it frees up the darker forces to focus on bigger things… What if that could change?

So, what would real look like? I spoke with a publishing agent at the conference and at the end of our brief time she thanked me for being willing to be so transparent. She stated that she had not seen that kind of real transparency in a long time. Being real takes a level of vulnerability that most of us are unwilling to tap into. We carry the weight of the world and the expectations of perfection on our shoulders to the point where we couldn’t point out real if it was on our nose! We live pre-rehearsed lives, always thinking of our reactions and the worst case scenarios. What is real?

What would happen if we were open to admitting our insecurities? What if we fessed up to feeling less than stellar? What if we chose to state that we are intimidated? What if we admit that when we see a beautiful woman who seems to have it all together, we feel less about ourselves? And, what if we confess that when we see that same woman with toilet paper stuck to her shoe, we feel a bit better?

I have found in my short life that women can hold other women down far better than any other force on Earth. Think about grade school and junior high. OK, stop crying, it will be ok…. :) WHat if WE could initiate a change in the world? What if we all woke up one day and began behaving a little differently? What if we let the real shine through?

My daughter had to deal with her first run of female competitiveness and nastiness this past school year. I had to lay the harsh reality that it does not end after school is over. Think about it: why is it so important for females to have a gaggle of friends? We NEED teammates!!!! We need to know that we have some double X’s on our side. Why do we struggle against each other?

Perhaps it is the innate and primal need to be loved. I have a little eye opener on that one: there is NOBODY and NOTHING on this Earth that can love you more than your Heavenly Father. Seek FIRST, then everything you need will be added. It took me several decades to learn that. So, why do we as women judge harshly? Philippians 4 gives us the instruction on how we should speak. We are to let no harmful speech escape our mouths, but only that which builds others up. In other words, if you don’t have something nice to say don’t say anything at all. Why do we struggle?

Now, I know you’re probably saying that you do build others up, but my question is this: do you build up those outside of your circle? Better yet, do you build up those you differ with? Even more, do you build up yourself?

I know I have given a lot of food for thought here and I promise it will not go unanswered. Throughout the following weeks we will be looking into our hearts and starting our own revolution. This will be a revolution to end all revolutions in my opinion. It is time to put down the fiery words and pick up our inheritance that is promised. It is time for a true change that rips throughout an entire generation. Are you ready to change the world? It starts in the heart of each of us.

Michelle

The Powerful Things Within

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So, I am sitting in a gorgeous sunroom at the end of quite a physically challenging day and I thought it would be very beneficial to share some thoughts with you :-)

I learned a few new things after branching out (pun intended) and taking up some serious mountain hiking. My family is on vacation in Nashville, TN until tomorrow and we opted for a bit of adventure seeking. Early this morning we set out on what seemed like just a pretty walk. Somebody (guilty!) chose not once, but twice, to take the difficult road. After ending our 3 hour adventure, this is what I noticed:
1. Time really does go by much quicker when you are engaged in the task at hand.
2. God is gracious and gives hikers shade and plenty of breezes!
3. Deer on hiking trails could care less if you see them and do not scare so easily.
4. Water is awesome!
5. Going downhill can be just as hard as going uphill, but you don’t REALLY feel it until you get out of the car upon arriving home.

The sixth thing I learned is in regards to the picture above. Do you know what that is? Well, yes it is a tree smarty pants! But do you know what is wrong with this tree? The large bulge is actually a disease that trees get, similar to cancer.

You see, a bug can burrow into the trunk of the tree and through a series of unfortunate events, the tree is left with a disease. This mass is evidence of the disease. Eventually the tree trunk can weaken and break since the tree is being killed from the inside out. All because something as small as perhaps a hornet wedged its way into the tree.

As I was learning about the plight of this tree, I began to think of my own “trunk”. How many times have I allowed tiny things such as opinions or words penetrate and cause a disease in my soul? Have I allowed guilt or anger to fester and grow into a disease of the heart? Have poor thoughts eaten away at my infrastructure until I am left a shell of what I was supposed to be?

Sadly, these things have happened. I have good news for you though! We are NOT trees! We can be healed and restructured to the people we were born to be. Just as this disease weakens the structure of this tree, the negative thoughts that pierce our minds weakens us. It is all about choosing the thoughts you hang on to and letting go of the ones that do not serve a higher purpose.

If you find yourself feeling unworthy, change those thoughts by discovering your true worth. I’ll even give you a hint: Somebody cared enough to DIE for YOU (John 3:16). If you’re unhappy in your marriage, look into your own thoughts and mind. It is not your spouses job description to make you happy, they are to love you. There is a difference. Feelings of guilt, anxiety, stress, depression; all of these are deep seeded in fear and NOT fostering a stronger trunk for your life to grow.

Make the choice today to begin confronting these thoughts. Dark thoughts cannot grow in the light, but if you hide them they will cause disease.

Learning these things were not all I was blessed with this morning. God also granted me another book idea and I am faithful it will grow, strong as an oak :-)

Word to the wise: after hiking for 3 hours through the mountains, don’t hike for 2 more through gardens and tree houses!

Have a healthy day, in every way.
Michelle

How to SHUSH the Negative Thoughts PT2

Good morning seekers of health and wellness!

Today is a paramount day in your life. Why? Because you are going to choose for it to be so….

I have written and said many times that we are an accumulation of our choices. Today, we are going to take that a step farther and begin to learn how we can start changing our choices to better our lives and the lives of those around us. Sound like a big order? Well, it is, but I assure you I will be right there with you. :)

What is a choice?

Most of us don’t really think of choices all that often. We think it’s the choice to eat out or stay in. Maybe we chose who we married, or when we had kids. Perhaps the biggest choice we think we have ever made refers to a home or vehicle or career move. I am here to tell you that you are free to make much larger choices than those each and every day. Let’s begin to wipe the slate of the mind clean from the fog that tends to settle over daily life. You can choose, right now, to really LIVE. You can choose to be vibrantly happy and contagious to everyone around you. It all begins with feeding the good thoughts and weeding out the bad.

So what are daily choices that we make? Well, I can’t really speak for everyone since I am not in your head, but some of the choices I make before my feet fling over the side of the bed are these:

  • I choose to wake up
  • I choose NOT to hit the snooze (again, hehehe)
  • I choose to treat my husband with love and respect
  • I choose to honor my children with tenderness
  • I choose to be productive
  • I choose to breathe

Now, do I always get these perfect throughout my day? Oh, I wish I could say yes, but the truth is no. I am a flawed human just as all of us. My truth is that I set intentions daily NOT to live as a flawed human, but instead to live within my rightful power as a daughter of the King. This is perhaps the most important choice I make all day. This one choice empowers me to shed light into the dark corners of the mind. These are the corners and alleys where feeling of unworthiness, ugliness, self-pity, depression and anxiety gather together. When light is not allowed to shine into these spaces, darkness spreads.

So, how do I design my day so that I can keep the light shining throughout my being? You see, the more light you let in, the less darkness has a hold. Well, I have a schedule (I ADORE schedules!) that I stick to. At first it was a struggle to keep this schedule, but within weeks I had formed habits. These habits are deeply ingrained within me and I would love to share them with you now.

Ladies (and the few brave men) welcome to Habits of Hope: Daily Habits that Put you in the WILL of God. The first habit is Choosing to Live. Below is how my days start to remind my of this habit:

  1. I get OUT of bed with a little gusto. Stretch, yawn, a couple of lion’s breaths and I’m a whole new person.
  2. I always have a cup of warm water with lemon. This wakes you up and helps rid the body of any toxins, especially in the liver.
  3. I head upstairs to my quiet space and read my Bible.
  4. Following this, I spend time in prayer. I pray for God’s will to be done in and through me and I pray over my family. I pray that He will guard my children’s hearts and the hearts of those they will marry.
  5. I sit quietly for a few minutes. OK, this one was tough for me at first! Some days it still is. Even one minute in complete silence can seem like an eternity when you run on adrenaline, but trust me it will make a difference.

These are all within the first 30-60 minutes upon waking, everyday. I encourage you to pick 1 seed of any of these and start from there. You can spend just a few moments stretching and praying and watch how that impacts your day. After all of this I move. For me personally, moving is when I can really let go of all the pent-up stress and anxiety (uh-huh, darkness at work) that has built up over the night. It gets my mind clear and ready for the day.

I really enjoy yoga as my form of moving, but you can pick any form really. I think yoga and running are natural and pretty pure forms. I like to think that even the great prophets of old settled into a comfortable place on the ground to be with God and listen. Perhaps beforehand they even did a few stretches to prepare and be present, just as I do today :)

Wherever you are in life, whether you feel on top of the world or deep in a pit, you can start to utilize these habits and pour more LIFE into each day. Become vibrant and present in each moment, no longer drifting aimlessly through life. Sister, if you are feeling bored or unhappy in life at this moment I employ you to take control of those thoughts. Let the light shine in the dark spaces because we are assured that the LIGHT will always overcome darkness. Begin today and see where these habits can take you.

I will be praying for you in the Holy Name of Jesus!

Michelle