Saturday, March 22, 2014

Talk to Yourself!

What are you talking to yourself about?

No, I’m serious. What do you say?

Whether we know it or not, there is a continual dialogue going through our minds. The dialogue occurs in two ways:

1) Unscripted: Out-of-control, spontaneous, unanchored. It’s when your social calendar, the people around you, and whatever emotion of the day or hour takes over and rules your life.

2) Scripted: A solid plan. It’s something YOU create after thinking through situations, considering your plans and what you want, talking to God about your worries, cares, and your hopes. Then you actively determine how to handle life (with God’s help and strength). So even when everything feels whacked out, you have something solid to hold onto.

Unfortunately, during my teen years, I didn’t have any idea it was possible to script my thoughts. I learned quickly that how I thought, was what I believed. And what I believed, I lived. And living with my emotions just millimeters from the surface didn’t always make a pretty picture.

How about you? What does your current, internal dialogue involve? Your thoughts will control your beliefs—which, in turn, will control your actions. This may not result in throwing punches . . . although that is a real possibility.

Believe it or not, you don’t have to leave your life (thoughts, beliefs, actions) to chance. You don’t have to be caught up in the drama, pulled along by every new character that pops into the scenes of your life (whether positively or negatively). Instead, you can realize you are the Star
Performer in your life story. You can write the script. Being the Star Performer of your world doesn’t mean you’re the center of the universe, but rather you understand that God—who is the center of the universe—created you with a role to play. Not only that, He’s provided His Word (the Script) and the Holy Spirit (the Internal Director) to guide you along the way.

To live life scripted means to allow God’s Word to guide your thoughts, actions, emotions, and desires before you throw yourself into the drama of life.

So. What ARE you saying to yourself?

(Image c/o stock.xchng)

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

A Lesson from Frozen

In honor of Frozen being released on DVD, I thought I’d devote a blog post to some things I took away from it (besides the song, “Let it Go” getting stuck in my head).

It has been a long time since I loved a Disney movie as much as I did Frozen. Besides the incredible music and powerful story, I related to the characters in deep ways. If my sister had frozen our kingdom before running away to hide from the world, I would have blamed myself just like Anna did, arriving at her door shouting, “It’s just me; your sister, who made you freeze summer.” When someone that Anna loved turned out to be a creep and justified his behavior with, “You were so desperate for love that I knew I could get what I wanted” I literally got chills. 

My heart ached most for Elsa and her legitimate refusal to let anyone in, isolated by the thing that made her different, born with a power she never asked for and didn’t seem to have any control over. I think I would have stormed off to build a castle of ice too.

But what hit me first was the scene where Elsa and her family must come to grips with her power and one of the dwarves tells Elsa, “Fear will be your greatest enemy.”

Is that true or what? At least I know it has been in my life. Elsa’s story reminded me that:

Fear isolates us. Think about how much time she missed out on with her sweet, fun-loving little sister.

Fear robs us of fun. She couldn’t even enjoy her own coronation.

Fear brings out our worst. As we see every time she is confronted or exposed.

Fear hurts those who love us. Did it not rip your heart out every time Anna knocked on her sister’s bedroom door asking to build a snowman?

Fear causes people to misunderstand us. When she pushes her sister away, it’s easy to forget that Elsa really is a nice girl; she’s just afraid.

Fear holds us back from our potential. Elsa's fear of exposure and the bad things that her power could do prevented her from discovering the good she had to offer.

Fear must be faced eventually. And Elsa spends most of the movie facing hers just as I have had to face many of mine in recent years.

When has fear been your greatest enemy? What fears is God helping you overcome? How has He helped you grow in courage?

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

I Pushed You Under

Near my house is a college. In that college is a garden. In that garden is a rose… surrounded by roses.
I think of you every time I pass the garden with the rose.
I wish you didn’t live there.
I wish you didn’t live in that one song, in that one place.
I wish you didn’t live in the grasp of strangers at church.
I wish you didn’t live in that word, that one spoken, whispered in my ear again and again that one day.
Did you know that four-year-olds do not possess the brain development to understand what you did that day?
Of course you know. That’s why it was so easy for you. To take it and to walk away.
There are so many places I wish you didn’t live… in my church, in my shower, in my wedding day, in every lap I try to swim at the YMCA, telling myself I’m not suffocating, not being held under.
I spent a few years being held under, the sickness literally escaping my bones because my mind could not contain it.
I forgive you.
I want you to know you cannot stay.
You are not welcome in my garden, in my church, in my shower, in my wedding day, or in my marathon laps. With every stroke, I have pushed you under.
And with every walk through the garden, I have watched the rose… once mutilated… die to become resurrected.
She is in full bloom and your shadow has fled away.
Bekah Hamrick Martin is a national speaker and the author of The Bare Naked Truth: Dating, Waiting & God’s Purity Plan (Zondervan, 2013). Most of all, she’s Ethan’s wife and Zoey’s mom.

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Life Lessons Learned at the Gym

“I think I came up with a new article idea today,” I told my friend Cheryl as we finished our traditional Wednesday morning workout, “I’m calling it ‘Lessons Learned at the Gym’ Lesson 1, don’t be a machine hog.” 

She laughed, but she also knew I was completely serious. She’d seen me waiting patiently for my turn on the lower back machine while a young woman texted a friend then proceeded to do a dozen sets of fifteen. (I didn’t actually count, but I do know she far exceeded the unspoken three-sets-per-machine courtesy rule.) I’d been there the day that Cheryl sat down at the empty triceps machine only to have a hulk-in-training inform her that he had dibs on it as well as the one he was currently using.
Such experiences stood as reminders to us both that some people take their workouts very seriously.

Being one who finds life applications in everything from movies to knitting, I could not pass up the opportunity to see what God had to teach me through this rather rude gym member. He actually taught me several things, but for the sake of this post I will narrow it down to three: 

1)    Life isn’t all about me. I still remember the day when I was grinding coffee beans at Costco and became aware of the line forming behind me. I barely had time to pick up my pace before my friend Susan touched my shoulder and whispered, “You don’t need to rush. Relax.” And she was right. I had waited in line like everyone else and was simply taking my turn. Still, I never want to be that person who focuses so much on my rights that I ignore those who also need to take their turn.        
2)    It feels nicer to be nice. After that woman finished her 30 minutes (okay, 5) on the lower back machine, it was tempting to do a few extra reps myself. After all, I had been waiting for a long time! I pictured my bold friends being so proud of how much I’d grown in my ability to not let people rush me. But I knew I would feel like a jerk if I followed through on that plan. As much as I’m learning to recognize my needs as equally as important as everyone else, I also know that I feel much more true to who I am when I opt for politeness. So I only did one extra set.  
3)    Actions reflect the heart. We rarely need to tell anyone, “I’m putting myself first today.” This attitude has a way of announcing itself. The same goes for our desire to be generous, kind, and considerate.
Standing behind that inconsiderate woman reinforced my desire to be a person who takes others into account even when it is technically my turn and there is no sign saying I can’t do what I’m doing. 

What has inspired you to be more considerate lately?

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Teen Mom: Trust Your Good Choices

You’ve made good choices already … trust that you will make more.

Teens make good and bad decisions every day. Lots of them. Most aren’t as visible as teen pregnancy. Perhaps you think it’s unfair. Your choice is leading you to make choices you weren’t prepared for.

You may not have been prepared to be a teen mom, but you can be a good one. By choosing to have your baby you’re already taking responsibility. You’re choosing life for your child—you’re trying to do your best.

You may not have all the knowledge, resources, and wisdom, but look around for someone to help you find what you need. You’ve made good choices already, teen mom … trust that you will make more.

I turned to God when I was a teen mom because a group of women poured love into me. I was unlovable. Those women kept loving, even when I turned my back on them, and eventually my heart softened—to them and to God.

You may not have been prepared to be a teen mom, and there are probably others who are dealing with the same emotions. Do you know another young mom in the same situation? Reach out to her. Give some time. Offer a listening ear. Affirm her good decisions. Seek help together.

Today is the day you can make a good decision. Today is the day you can reach out to another mom. Today IS the day you are loving your child. Trust that as you do more of all three, it’ll be easier to do them more.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Worth Celebrating

In last week’s post, I mentioned that a friend invited me to share Valentine’s Day tea with her, to celebrate her recovery from an illness. Well, here is a picture to commemorate the day. Carolyn is now in full remission from cancer. Doesn’t she look amazing? 

As we sipped tea, talked, and nibbled yummy sandwiches and treats, I felt like we were both embracing a new lease on life. Both of us had been through a battle and were coming out as stronger women with a lot to thank God for. Since the tea room is run by Christians, Carolyn got to share her praise with our waitress and the owner (they had prayed for her) and write it on their wall of praise flowers in gold pen. What a gift to experience this moment with her, and to know that she chose to share her first major post-treatment outing with me.

When we got our check and I saw the reminder of how expensive the tea was, I chased away the twinge of guilt that tried to settle in and ruin the fun. Some things are worth a splurge—things like good friends, renewed health, fresh starts, and the opportunity to return to a place where sisters in Christ prayed and say, “Look what God did.” 

This was truly one of the best Valentine’s Days ever.

What good things has God allowed you to celebrate lately?

Saturday, February 08, 2014

Your Life Script

What Script Are YOU Writing For Your life?

When I say “script” I’m not talking about career goals or college plans. I’m not talking about current class schedules or finding the unique purpose for your future. While all of those are important, there are other parts of our life we need to script, too, such as:

  • Dealing with peer pressure from both guys and friends.
  • The search for popularity. How to find it. Or live without. Or be happy in between.
  • Relationships with parents. No matter how out of touch with reality they seem to be.
  • And living for God without turning your back on the world

When I was a teen I lived from day to day on every wave of emotion I experienced. On some days excitement and passion partnered up, pattering wildly within my heart. Other days, depression and anxiety were my silent friends. I lived each day as it came, with no plan for my future, for my relationships, or for my heart. I lived my life completely unscripted . . . and, well, it didn’t go so well for me.

After my boyfriend found out I was pregnant (again) he dumped me for good, and I dropped out of my senior year of high school. (It was too hard going to school—seeing him with someone else, and dealing with my own issues/mistakes/emotions too.) I decided to have my baby, especially since I was dealing with the heartache and regret of a previous abortion. And as my stomach grew, I became more and more depressed. Unlike some mistakes, an unplanned pregnancy is not one you hide very easily. Each day I walked around with the evidence sticking out before me like a basketball under my shirt.

During that painful time, I decided to give God another chance. I’d grown up in church, but during my teen years, decided I wanted to do my own thing. And when “my own thing” left me sad and alone, my grandma’s Bible study group invited me to join them. These sweet old ladies also welcomed me to church and threw me a baby shower (while my teen friends dropped out of the picture). These women showed me what the love of God is all about.

And it was during one of my depressing days, when I was six-months pregnant and feeling abandoned by both my boyfriend and friends, I gave my heart to the Lord. I told Him, “God, I’ve completely screwed up my life this time. If You can do better, please do so.” It wasn’t a fancy prayer, but it worked.

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Pray for the People Behind My Book

This week, seeing the cover of my latest book Running with Roselle prompts me to pray, not for increased sales or new promotional ideas (although those would be good things), but for the two people who became dear to me as I wrote the story—my co-author and his wife. Michael Hingson’s wife Karen has been in the hospital for over a week, battling severe pneumonia that turned into acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). The last I heard, her conditions was still pretty critical. I know Mike would appreciate your prayers.

I don’t think I ever said this to Mike, but God used him and Karen at a critical time in my life. In a year when I had a lot of negative going on, meeting Mike and writing his incredible story of growing up blind and surviving 9/11 provided an uplifting distraction. His determined spirit and refusal to let limitations hold him back inspired me as I was forced to step out in independence in new ways. Mike would say I could do it, I often thought, so would Karen. Because Mike is blind and Karen is a paraplegic, they have a special bond as a couple, depending on and helping each other while also sharing an understanding that only those who live with a disability on a daily basis really get. At a time when I’d grown a bit cynical about love, watching their relationship filled me with joy and hope. 

I thank God for Mike and Karen, not only because I had the privilege of writing about Mike’s unique life, his relationship with his guide dog, Roselle, and a miraculous escape from the World Trade Center, but because they are incredible people who came into my life at the perfect time.

So please join me in praying for Karen, and for Mike.

Can you think of someone that God brought into your life at the perfect time? Have you ever told that person what they mean to you and why?

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

5 Steps to Becoming a Life-Long Learner

When I became a mom at seventeen, I didn’t know a lot. I dropped out of high school my senior year and I finished my high school credits at home. I grew up in a small town, and my graduating class was under forty students. I’d gone to school with most of those students since kindergarten. So you could say that my world was pretty small.

After high school I met and married my husband, started college, and moved to a new town. I learned how to take care of a house, how to clean, how to cook. Each “growth” step was hard, and thankfully my family and friends were still close.

When John and I moved more than one hour away for him to go to college, I felt as if we’d traveled to a different universe. I learned how to live in a new town and how to make new friends. I started a small business making hand-crafted teddy bears, so I learned how to be a business woman.

A year after we moved I had another baby, so I learned how to care for multiple children. I realized I was more interested in writing than making teddy bears, and so I started doing that. I attended conferences and started learning about writing. With each step came changes, and looking back I realize my greatest asset was my ability to roll up my sleeves and try something new.

Every day we have a choice: to take a step to follow a dream or to stay stagnant and continue on as things are. I’ve grown and changed throughout the years because I hadn’t been afraid to learn. The wisest man who ever lived once said, “Do yourself a favor and learn all you can; then remember what you learn and you will prosper,” (Proverbs 19:8 GNT). He knew what he was talking about!

Here are five simple steps to becoming a life-long learner.

  1. Learn who God created you to be. For a season I enjoyed being creative and making teddy bears, but when I first started pursing writing I KNEW I was made for this. I find joy even in the middle of the struggle. I always want to know more and do better. Work doesn’t seem like work {most of the time}.
  2. Learn your learning style. I learn best with books and papers piled around me. I usually have to write down my thoughts to process them. When I read a book, I underline. When I attend conferences I take pages of notes, and that’s just me. Figure out how you learn best and use your preferences to your advantage.
  3. Listen. I’ve learned so much from listening to others. I build relationships with people who I respect and want to learn from. I read blogs written by people I respect. I pay attention to those around me in everyday life.
  4. Don’t be afraid to try something new. I try new recipes and visit new places. I watch how-to videos . . . and then try it myself!
  5. Teach. The best way to incorporate your knowledge is to teach it. As a mom you have a willing student in your child. Involve your child in whatever you’re learning. If you’re cooking, sit your little one on the counter to watch you. Let your child know the things that interest you.
Because of my willingness to learn, this teen mom became a best-selling author, an avid traveler, and a teacher at conferences. I cook, have a nice house, and always have a pile of books at my side.

Learning can take you far—you just have to be brave and start! Once you start learning and growing, your life will never be the same. Your child’s life will never be the same either as he or she learns to follow in your footsteps!

Sunday, January 12, 2014

If only our emotions were as adorable as our emoticons.....

I don't know about you, but some days, it seems like my emotions and feelings totally take the reins and leave me hanging on for dear life. Sound familiar?

Emoticons on Facebook or text messages can be pretty cute, even the sad or angry ones. I love using those things!!! But in real life...emotions aren't as adorable. 

It's easy to chalk it up to "That's just how it is" and "that's life" and give up claiming victory over our thoughts and emotions. 

Well guess what? We DON'T have to live that way. Jesus came that we might have life and more abundantly! 

But we can't deal with issues we haven't yet admitted are there yet, can we?  ;)

So to get started - take this quiz like I did, and see how you measure up in handling your emotions! You'll need a scrap of paper and pen to record your scores. Then let's talk about our results in the comments section! Because the best part of dealing with these issues is that we are NEVER alone in how we feel...

I'll go first. I scored "Mostly B's", which puts me under this category: 

If you scored mostly B's:
You seem pretty balanced, and that's a good place to be. You're comfortable with your emotions. You're not afraid to show them, but you don't let them rule your life, either. You're able to shed a tear now and then, but you also know laughter is definitely the best medicine.

But there were two answers where I scored a C (the most emotional choice) and some of the B answers were borderline between B and C. I want to be balanced in all areas, and not let any C's in my life to get the best of me. 

So how do we work on overcoming our feelings?

1. We apply God's word to our thought life. 2 Corinthians 10:5 says "We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ." We have to actively thought our thoughts captive. 

This is also referenced in Romans 12: 1-2 "Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will."

Do you see the common denominator? Our minds, our thoughts. Our feelings are based off these things. If we are thinking on negative, sad, depressing, or downcast circumstances and situations in our lives, our feelings are sure to follow. So we take the thoughts captive, and let our feelings follow. In order to take thoughts captive, you have to redirect them and choose to think on things that are of God instead. You can do this by praying, internally or out loud, and singing/worshiping Jesus when the bad thoughts come. It's a choice, and it's never easy, but always worth it. 

2.  We have to remember that feelings are not always true. In fact, I would say, MOST of the time, our feelings are very misleading and can override what we know to be true (God's Word) if we aren't careful. So remember that just because you might FEEL insignificant or FEEL unattractive or FEEL unloved or FEEL unworthy, that does NOT mean that you are. Quite the opposite, my friend!! :)  Fight those thoughts with God's word and His truth. And kick those bad emotions to the curb. 

What are your thoughts on this? Do you struggle with your emotions? How do you handle it? Do you have any other ideas to share?

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Three Perfect Gifts for Your Parents (a guide for teens)

Sometimes it’s easy to forget parents are human. They mess up and hope you don’t see. They act up and hope you’ll forgive them (even if they shrink back from asking forgiveness). They get tired and cranky, know it, and feel bad about it.

Here are three perfect gifts you can give them during this time.

Photo Credit

1. Understanding. If you see one of your parents messing up tell him/her that you’re not perfect either but you appreciate what they do, and how they try.
2. Grace. Wait until the difficult moment passes and later offer a hug. Tell your parent that it must be hard having his/her role.
3. An offering. When you see that your parent is tired offer to do a small chore, make a cup of tea or suggest you watch his/her favorite movie together. It’s amazing how those little things can brighten
someone’s day!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

When you feel more snuffed out than sparkling this Christmas...

It's almost Christmas...and some of you might be like me this year, desperately searching for the magic of the holiday season, but falling short. Attempting to grasp the joy and the peace and the yuletide cheer, but woefully watching it slip through your fingers. You WANT to. You LONG to. But where did it go?

Then I would love for you to visit my personal blog today and read a post I made yesterday "For the Broken This Christmas". It might encourage you or someone you know who is struggling this holiday season. I pray God uses it in your life.

Thursday, December 05, 2013

At the Perfect Time

Last night I received an e-mail inviting me to do something that I've wanted for a long time. I was so excited that I lost all sense of maturity and professionalism. Thankfully the person inviting me to this wonderful opportunity was a friend who knew me wellb so I could freely reply with exclamation points and gushy expressions of joy.

What made this all the more thrilling is that I had given up on seeing this desire fulfilled right now. I had prayed myself to the point of feeling like a whiny child and finally had to give it over to God, knowing he would allow it when He considered me ready. The last time I journaled about it, I wrote, "God, help me to trust Your timing and be content with whatever happens,"  and made up my mind to have a good attitude.

The e-mail came--as always--when I least expected it and needed it most.  

Are you still praying for God to answer a prayer of fulfill a desire? Let this story encourage you that His answers do come, and always at the perfect time.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Are you that guy or girl?

For anyone who has ever felt invisible...

For the guy who stands in a crowded room and feels alone...

For the girl who leaves a party in tears...

For the one chosen last for a team...

For the girl who hates her reflection in the mirror...

For the guy who doesn't believe he has what it takes...

For the girl who feels she's somehow too much and not enough all at once...

For the one who feels they are never heard...

For the guy who feels incapable...

For the girl who can't find a way...

For the one who can't figure it out...

For the girl who forgot how to dream...

For the guy who forgot his courage...

You are SEEN.

You are HEARD.

You have a PURPOSE.

You have a MISSION.

You ARE enough.

You are NOT too much.


You are BRAVE.

You HAVE what it takes.


You are STRONG.

And you are LOVED.

Girls, God, and the Good Life

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