5/31/2015

Hold Your Head Up


I have a really bad habit of looking down at the floor whenever I'm walking past other people. I'm not sure when it started exactly, but I do know that it's been happening for many years now. Yesterday, as I was walking into work, I realized I was doing it again. Head hung, eyes focused on each forward step I took, hoping that I would just blend in with all of the surroundings and no one would notice me. All of a sudden, like a rushing wind, God spoke and it was as clear as day.

"HOLD YOUR HEAD UP! I CREATED YOU!"

Woah. God called me out right then and there. He called me out of my little hiding place, the place where self-consciousness reigned over me. In 7 little words, He literally broke the chain that I had allowed myself to be enslaved by. Instantly, I lifted my head up. I felt a rush with each step I took after the revelation had come. The words kept replaying over and over again in my mind. Hold your head up! Because I created you. I formed you. There is no part of you that you need be ashamed of. There is no part of you that lacks. There is no part of you that is too much to accept. I created you, so hold your head up.

I just feel like someone else may have needed to hear this today.
Hold your head up! The same God who created the universe took the time to create you.

5/26/2015

The Price of Freedom


I used to view Memorial Day as just another holiday. The BBQ's, the parties; another day to have fun with family and friends. I've always felt blessed to live in the United States, but I would have never considered myself the overly patriotic type. That all changed whenever I lost my dad to esophageal cancer (caused by exposure to agent orange in the Vietnam War) back in 2012. Sadly, it took me losing him to become more aware of the sacrifices that were made for my freedom in this country.

It's hard to believe that June 13th will mark 3 years that he's been gone. The time has helped heal the emotional wounds of his passing, but it will never fully take away the emptiness that remains in our lives. Even though he didn't lose his life on the front lines, his time overseas ultimately lead to the disease that killed him. I wish we could have visited his grave over the weekend. I would've loved to participate in the Memorial Day ceremony that took place at Florida National Cemetery.

Freedom isn't free. It never has been, it never will be. Blood shed, lives relinquished, families left shattered in the wake of wars past and present. This is reality; a sad truth. Those are the things that should never be taken lightly; the things that we should not fail to remember. To the countless individuals who laid down their lives so that I could freely live mine, thank you.

I'd also like to take this time to give my gratitude to the soldiers who have been severely injured while in the line of duty. There are so many men and women who are fortunate enough to make it out alive, but still need lots of help once returning home. My husband and I decided to start supporting a nonprofit organization the year before last that helps veterans and aids in their recovery when they come back from war. It feels good to know we're giving back.

5/07/2015

Currently // May


READING · Lately I've been trying my best to stick with one book at a time instead of reading multiple. After finishing up Safe Haven and The Antelope in the Living Room, I jumped into Restless: Because You Were Made for More by Jennie Allen. I'm only a few chapters in, but it's really hitting home and I've gotten a lot out of it already.

WATCHING · Don't laugh, but I really like this new iZombie show on The CW. It's loosely based off of a comic book series. The main character, Olivia "Liv" Moore turns into a zombie after being attacked at a party she attended. She then starts working at a morgue in order to get her fill of brains (yum). Whenever she eats the brains of murder victims, she experiences flashbacks that give her clues to how they were killed. Sounds a bit morbid, I know. Then again, zombies are pretty grim to begin with. Besides that, I've been catching up on my guilty pleasure, Teen Mom. I've been binge-watching thanks to Hulu.

LISTENING TO · Mostly NEEDTOBREATHE (I really wish I could see them in concert next Wednesday night) + the soundtrack from The Theory of Everything. I didn't have the desire to see the movie, but I find the soundtrack to be extremely calming.

DISCOVERING · That the anxiety I've been dealing with over the past few weeks is totally avoidable. I have the ability to choose which thoughts to entertain and which thoughts to refrain from dwelling on. Our minds are like battlefields and every time a negative thought tries to invade, I have the power to make it leave. Coming to that realization has helped me cope with life + stress better. I decide what stays in my mind and I will no longer allow negativity, fear and depression to reign.

PLANNING · Our anniversary celebration. We'll both be working (together) on our actual anniversary, but I have something special all planned out once we get a free day. I'm hoping it all works out! 5 years is kind of a big deal (these days).

CRAVING · A toasted Cuban sandwich + stuffed potato ball from Coco's Sandwich Shop. Whenever we're working in the port (importing/exporting orange juice), we visit this shop regularly on account of it being right down the street. We haven't had an OJ ship in since March so I haven't had my fix. But, there's a ship coming in tomorrow, so I'll get both soon enough.

WISHING · I had a little extra money to work with at the moment. There are a handful of things I'd like to buy and some places I would love to go, but I'd rather be responsible with the money we have and use it on things we actually need.

FEELING · Expectant. I'm excited to see what the future holds for my family and I. There are big things on the horizon.

PRAYING FOR · God's guidance and peace as I'm in this season of transitioning (with work + trying to figure out the best plan for going back to school and all that jazz).

5/03/2015

Encouragement for the Encourager


She's the one who understands your pain, the one who tries to pick up the broken pieces and mends them together as she speaks life into the hopelessness that surrounds you. She's the one who lifts you up, brushes you off and gently nudges you to get back out there and try again. She sweeps through like a cool breeze on a hot summer day, her words spring forth with reassurance and grace. Encouragement flows throughout her like a steady stream.

At the end of the day, when the world has fallen silent, she comes back to the place where her day started. She stares blankly at the insecurities and failures that plague her own soul and feels a sense of sorrow for all she is not. She wonders why that river of fortitude is barren when it comes to herself. Where are the words of comfort, the terms of affirmation that once surged around her mind like a violent storm? Did she use them up on everyone around her? Did she not save any for the girl looking back at her in the mirror? She's the one who raises you up, even when she can barely keep herself afloat.

I am an encourager. Helping others and speaking life into their all but hopeless situations really fires me up. I'm passionate about lending a shoulder to cry on or listening when someone needs to get something off of their chest. I am called to pour out love, envelope people with grace, and aid those who are hurting. I am the girl who is quick to pick you up whenever you stumble and fall. But I'm also the girl who struggles with showing that same love, grace and aid to herself. Reaching out to those in need comes naturally to me, but it's a different story whenever I'm the one in need.

I didn't even realize how much I struggle with this until a few nights ago. I was working at Target, manning the fitting rooms and I encountered a couple of women who were speaking poorly about themselves (more specifically their bodies) as they stepped out to hand me the clothing items they had tried on. I don't remember their exact words, but I do remember the sadness that I felt for them. I wanted both of them to know that they were beautiful. I wanted them to know that they were more than enough. Regrettably, I kept my thoughts to myself as I didn't want to make them feel uncomfortable. As they walked away, heads down in a mental defeat, I wondered why I was so eager to lift them up when most times I find myself speaking the same way about myself. Until that point, I had not thought about all the times that I could have (or should have) chosen to speak words of affirmation to the girl starring back in the mirror. I'm still learning to nurture myself the same way I so desperately wish to nurture others. Because when all is said and done, I'm probably the one who needs it most.