Satisfy

I’m sure most of you have heard of the trending ‘vision boards.’ While I was in college not too long ago, I was so excited to make my dorm “my own.” There was nothing like the fresh smell of a brand new cork board. Anyone who walks into a stationary store and takes a big whiff will understand lol. I absolutely love being creative and handlettering so, when I finally started creating my own vision board I was psyched. I was Googling, Facebooking, Pintrest-ing, for days looking for the best quotes that I want to embrace in my lifestyle and then I stumbled upon:

‘Be proud but never satisfied’   

Immediately I fell in love. As I started my first semester, I wanted to push myself to achieve, but still hunger for more. I was ecstatic, but little did I know this quote would be life altering and not necessarily in a good way.  

I’ve always been very independent. I’ve always tackled problems like I had something to prove. I didn’t accept help from anyone. Thanks to all the amazing women in my family, I was raised to be bold, strong, and determined which aren’t bad qualities to have…at all. I just never knew that some of my core values could cause so many major growing pains in my relationship with the Lord.

Recently, I was in a funk. Always yearning for more. I moved to South Carolina for a job, which I adore, but it’s also insanely stressful and sometimes….(a lot of the time)… hard to cope with. Not to mention, I’m away from the ones I love most. In my head, I think ‘okay, I’ll stay here another year, then make it back to Pennsylvania for a job and then I’ll be happy.’ My brain is fixated on striving for more rather than living in the present. It perpetuates the “proud but never satisfied”  mentality. Subconsciously what I was saying is “okay, God, I see you, but what you have for me right now isn’t good enough.” I was shoving God’s promises back in His face essentially saying I can do it by myself.

But, no…I can’t.

I wrote those two statements and just stared at them for a second. It was hard for me to realize how I’ve been treating God. I’ve always believed that I could do anything I set my mind to, but does it even matter if it’s not with or of the Lord? No. It doesn’t.

In Matthew 12:30 it says Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.” This morning that just penetrated my heart and all my walls. Whoever is not with me is against me. During these times I wasn’t with God. I wasn’t listening to the Holy Spirit inside me when He nagged me to open my Bible. I wasn’t leaning in to the Word every morning to start my day.  I had completely invested my identity in work to attempt to make it out of the place that I am now for a ‘greater plan.’ But, what I failed to realize was the greater plan is here.

The greater plan is to be satisfied as I  go through these spiritual growing pains and grow closer to the Lord. The greater plan is to be satisfied by finding my purpose to serve and share the Gospel in the area I’m in now. The greater plan is being satisfied where I am and what the Lord is doing in my life and in the lives around me. The greater plan is to be satisfied in God’s promises. The greater plan is to be satisfied.

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5 Reasons Long Distance Relationships are Worth it

‘I’m running out of data, would you mind texting me?’ Not the greatest pick-up line, but I’ll tell you it worked. My boyfriend Kevin and I connected online in late October and we met at a diner in early November of 2016 for our first date. Over a year later, here we are. After about 2 months of dating I moved to Myrtle Beach for my first job out of college. At first, both of us didn’t like the idea of a long distance relationship because we just met, but we decided to go all in. Now that I am looking back (and we’re still long distance) I can only be grateful for the unusual way we started our relationship because the Lord had greater plans than both of us could have imagined.

From the Ground Up: One perk to us starting our relationship as long distance is that the foundation was built on the Lord. We both depended on Him for strength during this season of our life… and still do. We didn’t have other aspects of life getting in the way of determining whether we should stay together ie. just to HAVE a bf/gf because we were lonely or the physical relationship aspects. I always thought people were crazy when they talked about their relationship in the form of a triangle….the healthy kind though. When two people’s eyes are fixed on the Lord they will be brought closer and closer together.

TRIANGLE GRAPHIC

(I attached a visual for those like me who need to see what I’m talking about lol) While we go through trials and tribulations, our foundation is as solid as a rock, which makes long distance a little bit easier and purposeful.

Somethin’ to Talk About: Since my move sort of expedited our dating process, it really got us talking about the important things. We asked the hard questions to make sure that we would be able to see ourselves together later in life. Once I moved and Kevin and I grew to know each other, we were forced to talk. That sounds like it came out wrong, but it was incredibly intentional. Since we we aren’t able to spend time together physically we’d FaceTime every night to the point that we had to find ways to keep the conversation fresh. It helped us get to really know each other by constantly communicating.

kevandmecharleston

Dirty Laundry: Before I met him I had such a hardened heart about dating and relationships, between the way I was treated by men or the way that I treated some men. It’s important to note that I have had my fair share of broken hearts, but I also accept the fact that I may have been the cause of heart break due to my actions. As much as I try to forget my past, it is easier said than done. Being long distance really helped me separate myself from my past because this was a new experience that I’ve never had before. I had nothing to compare it to and I was able to look at the whole situation with a fresh perspective. It seemed to clean the slate no matter how destroyed I believed it to be.

Take it Easy: Our long distance relationship forced us to take it slow. (LOL I know i just contradicted myself but it’s true!) In Christian culture today, it’s not rare for couples to be engaged after the first year of dating. Not to mention as a girl who grew up on Disney movies, I’ve always dreamt of my fairytale ending of finding ‘The One.’ Societal preconceptions can rush couples into doing some crazy things. If you’re one of those couples, I give my props to you! For the ‘late bloomers,’ you’re not the only ones! Honestly though, I hate the term ‘late bloomers’ because God’s timing is the perfect timing, so you’re not even late! Being long distance really helps us view the timing of our lives differently. We know that God is in control and we are just enjoying the rest of the ride.

 

KEVANDME

All Over Me: One of the obvious reasons is that the physical temptation isn’t as hard to avoid. Don’t get me wrong; it’s still there. We’re so used to being apart, so when we are together our “to-do” list is long and we preoccupy ourselves with activities that don’t revolve around Netflix and chilling. We are out and about doing things which helps us to not be tempted with alone time by ourselves. But, when we are in the house I can’t even tell you how many times we’ve played card games just so we had a distraction. We’re not perfect, but being long distance has given us the ability to not be so focused on certain aspects of our relationship and helps us put the emotional side first. Plus it put such a special emphasis on the time were able to cuddle or kiss or even just hold hands. Since we don’t get to do it often we value it so much more.

A lot of things I touched on in this post are about perspective. It’s all about the way you look at it. If you have a hardened heart and complain about how much the distance sucks or how you are consistently missing your significant other maybe it’s time you refresh your perspective. How are you going to learn and grow if you don’t trust that the Lord using this time for a purpose. He is growing you, and teaching you, and He is with you. Don’t forget that!

6 Ways to Strive During Spiritual Warfare

We all face trials. You’re either going through one now, just got out of one, or about to go through one.

As you saw in my last life update in ‘MJ Minutes,’ I was struggling. Day in and day out I had questions, doubts, fears, anxieties, you name it…I had it.

Here’s a battle plan that I used to shift my gaze from the size of my problems to the size of God.

Recognizing Satan is a Threat: Growing up I always depicted the devil as a little cartoon character that definitely resembles ‘Him’ from The Powerpuff girls. I only thought about him when making a right or wrong decision as the angel and devil would rest upon my shoulders. I never realized how dangerous he is. Do you ever feel like the odds are always stacked against you? Or you’re like Alexander and has a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day? Peter writes in 1 Peter 4:12 “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you as though something strange were happening to you.”Don’t be surprised to be tried when Satan thinks you are a threat. He knows your potential to crush your flesh and glorify God in it so he wants to stop you. If you realize he will come after you it’s easier to battle.

Worship Music 24/7: No, I’m not exaggerating. Don’t get me wrong. I LOVE my country music (shout out to WXTU and WGTR), my Eminem, my Disney and Show Tunes…I could go on and on, but you know what I mean. When going through spiritual warfare you need to prepare your heart. Listening to worship music is a way to have a constant reminder of the Lord. Not to mention, Worship music never fails to put me in a good mood. After Peter talks about being tested he also calls us to rejoice in verse 4:13 “But, rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings and be glad when his glory is revealed.” Preparing your heart with worship music is a great way to remember God’s promises and powers, His love for us, and is another way to rejoice in your suffering as we are called. Take Action: Make a Worship playlist on Spotify or find one you really like on Pandora.    

Pray:  Personally, I try to have a constant dialog with the Lord. It helps sustain a holy mindset throughout the day. Not to mention prayer is so incredibly powerful! The proof is in the Bible! The book of Psalms is a perfect example. It is considered the hymnal of God’s people. There are poems of praise and songs of suffering, but through it all a constant theme we hear about is prayer. In Psalm 17:1 it says: “Hear a just cause, O Lord; attend to my cry! Give ear to my prayer from lips free of deceit.”Even throughout the New Testament, prayer is a repeated theme. Before Jesus gave the Sermon on the Mount He took time by himself to pray. Take Action: Write down your prayers. Journal as they keep evolving. Be aware how God may reveal answers and write down when they are answered! Also, ask others how you can pray for them.

Investing Time in the Word: I know, easier said than done, but hear me out. It doesn’t matter how much time you’re spending but do what you can. Even if it’s just receiving a daily bible verse and praying over it. When I was in a funk I took my inspire Psalms book and read a Psalm a day. It might not sound like a lot because it’s not, but it’s okay. I’ve always had a perfectionist attitude to getting in the Word. I thought if I wasn’t putting in the effort to do a huge daily devotion that it wasn’t worth it…boy was I wrong! In the first Psalm verse 2 it reads “but in his delight is the law of the Lord and on his law he meditates day and night.” I kept viewing it as a chore rather than being joyed to start and end my day with the Word of God. Satan wants us to feel like God is far away, but if you are actively pursuing your relationship with Him, He will reveal himself! In Matthew 7:7, Jesus says “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock and it will be opened to you.” Take Action: Start small. Read a Psalm or Proverb a day. Read your favorite book in the Bible. Pray for the Lord to set a fire in your heart to grow you and change your heart to crave knowledge. Make your time alone with God a set time and don’t “reschedule your appointment.” Meet with Jesus like you would meet a friend. We need to invest in our relationship to see it flourish.        

Understand We are Called to Suffer: As followers of Jesus we are called to suffer. As it says in Philippians 1:29 “For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake.” If you all have not read Philippians I strongly urge you to start there. Paul is writing from prison and has SO much insight on suffering. In Philippians 1:12 it says“I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the Gospel.” Pause. Y’all. THIS IS HUGE. He is seeing the purpose in his pain and others’ salvation in his suffering. He goes on to say in verse 13-14: so, that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ. And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment are much more bold to speak the word without fear.” I’m on fire y’all. I honestly can’t contain it. These statements are INSANE. He’s saying that because of his pain, others are much more boldly talking about the Gospel. His suffering is served to advance the Gospel. Please tell me you’re as fired up about that! It’s hard during our time of suffering to think of the positives but Paul rocks the house with this example. Take Action: Think of a time you were suffering or went through a traumatic experience. How can you use it to perpetuate the Gospel? How can you bless others with your brokenness? Think about it then do something about it!

Community: This one is especially hard for me. I tend to rely on myself during trying times because I don’t want to be a bother to anyone. But, Peter reminds us in 1 Peter 5:9 that we need to “Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.” You are not alone in these trials and tribulations. Satan wants us to be separated from community and those who are able to build you back up to your full potential. Not only that but, we fulfill our potential by bearing each other’s burdens in Galatians 6:2  Take Action: Go to church, introduce yourself to someone new or ask for prayer. Call the friend you have that never fails to get you back on track or is always on fire. Don’t isolate yourself. Surround yourself with those who understand.

I pray that this post equips you with more ways to combat spiritual warfare in your life. I pray the Holy Spirit lights a desire in your heart so that you can strive during times of trial. I know it’s difficult, but we weren’t called to have easy lives. We were called to suffer for Jesus. Remember you are not alone. No matter how dark it gets or how hopeless it seems we are all in this together. You were placed here to advance the Gospel and lead others toward Jesus! Now, take action!

MJ MINUTES: THIS SEASON

‘Lead me where my trust is without borders/Let me walk upon the waters wherever you would call me/Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander/And my faith will be made stronger/In the presence of my Savior.’

What if He is leading you into spiritual warfare? I’m currently sitting at my keyboard, my heart on my sleeve, asking myself ‘is this where am I supposed to be?’

It’s no secret being away from my family and friends is very hard for me. Not only that, my job is one of the most stressful jobs you can have.  I work at a local news station as a newscast director and editor.

When I took this job a little more than a year ago:

I was expecting to continue my great grandfather’s legacy and take my first steps into the broadcast media world.

I was expecting to hone in my passion for live television and get to do what I love for a paycheck.

I was expecting to get high off of the adrenaline of breaking news and by directing high quality shows that I would be proud of.

What I didn’t expect was the spiritual warfare and brokenness I would have to endure.

I see pure evil come across my computer screen on a daily…hourly… basis. My heart sinks as I watch the victims from the Parkland shooting break away from the schools into arms of first responders. My heart breaks as I hear the shots ring out and hear the screams from the victims of the Las Vegas shooting as they run for their lives. I look into the eyes of those responsible as I edit their ‘perp walks’ as if the video of them being taken into custody is  supposed to console the hurting hearts across the nation who were affected. I feel darkness’ presence like a boa constrictor attacking me directly. I can’t help but hurt. I can’t help but be human. I can’t help but question ‘is this where I’m supposed to be?’

‘Lead me where my trust is without borders/Let me walk upon the waters wherever you would call me.

I can’t even count the times that I’ve heard songs and sang those as prayers to God because they had the words that I couldn’t figure out in my heart.

Oceans by Hillsong was by far one of my favorites because at that time I, like most college students, had NO IDEA what they were going to do after school. Pestered by random acquaintances asking ‘What’s your plan for after graduation?’ It took all of my strength to say well, it’s not my plan it’s HIS plan. Needless to say I’m sure they wouldn’t ask me anymore ha.

As most people do, I’ve felt like I’ve had many callings in life. As a child I wanted to be a teacher then as a high schooler, I decided the only reason I wanted to even go to college was because a college degree was a requirement to join the Peace Corps.  When I got to college things changed again. Originally majoring in Journalism but switching to Media Studies and Production and after a long story is how I got here.  

‘Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander/And my faith will be made stronger/In the presence of my Savior’

Being real, as I always am, in my Google Drive this post is titled ‘Oceans Word Vomit.’ I sat down at my desk for some designated blog time and put on my Blog Inspo playlist on Spotify and all my emotions hit me like a freight train. As I was letting my heart worship I was ugly crying and typing a million words a minute to hopefully capture the raw emotional feelings that I was experiencing.

(Sidenote: I’m a stuffer. I push all my emotions down until one day I finally erupt. Maybe it’s over something big or maybe it’s during Monster’s Inc. You never know haha.)

Then, Oceans came on. I felt an overwhelming peace. I remembered all the times I’ve prayed this song and realized that God was answering me. My deepest heart’s desire was to grow in him, to become strong in my faith, and to be willing to go wherever he would call.

After I made the realization of His answer, He spoke to me. A song by Sarah Reeves came on even though it was a ‘set playlist.’ I’ve never heard it before.

If I’m a target for the enemy

 Then it means I’m where I’m supposed to be

 There’s a war that’s raging over me

 But I know the One who holds… the victory

Those simple words set my heart on fire! While I was battling this ‘quarter life identity crisis,’ I realized I wasn’t putting my whole identity in Him. Relying on my own strength rather than resting in His. In Matthew 11:28-30 it says:

28 Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

By going through this spiritual warfare, I am being tested and tried just as Jesus was. He is teaching me to rely on him even when the wind howls and the ground shakes. He is equipping me for the future. I prayed FOR this season, even if it took me a long time to realize it. I’m excited to see where it will take me and I rest assured in the fact He isn’t done yet. All I can say is “bring it on” because, if I’m a target for the enemy, then this is where I’m supposed to be.

3 Reasons Why Losing Weight WON’T Make You Happy

 

Background: In January 2017 I got my first big girl job in Myrtle Beach. It was my first move aside from college (which was 30 minutes away so that one might not even count!). Rewind to August of 2016, my grandmother, my mom, my sister and I set off on a 28 day long road trip leaving on the day before my 22nd birthday. It was one of the best months of my life and one I will cherish forever. After we got home and we got the pictures back, I didn’t recognize myself; I had gained almost 50 pounds. I’m not going to get into semantics of when I gained the weight because I’m not sure. 2015 and 2016 were both rough years for me. I lost 5 friends and a family member in a year and a half and honestly, I lost a part of myself during the grieving process. When I moved I saw the opportunity to take my life back, and that’s exactly what I did.  Currently I am 30 pounds down and countless inches, looking and feeling miles better than I did.  Now, for the good stuff and what you probably came for lol

1. Real FIMG_6313eelings Come to Surface– As the days of binging on Ben and Jerry’s and popcorn came to an end, I started to realize how the food I was eating wasn’t the only unhealthy thing about my relationship with food. In church, they always talked about idols but, I never knew that food could be considered one! After stressful days, rather than praying or getting in the Word, I would open up my pint of Chunky Monkey and revel in the comfort. Fast forward to now: since I practice moderation (most of the time lol) I don’t have the safety net of food to come home to. It forces me to think about the things I don’t want to face, talk about, or even think about. I love how it really challenges me to rely on the Lord for that comfort. Even though He isn’t as tangible as the brownie batter core of another one of my favorite pints, He is inspiring some growing pains just so I can have a stronger relationship with Him.

2.Good Progress is SLOW Progress- In the times of ‘I need it now,’ one of the most frustrating aspect of my weight loss journey is the lack of instant gratification. It pains me when I see pins or ads for ‘Lose 20 pounds in 2 weeks’ or any of the similar titles reinforcing the idea that healthy weight loss is easy.  News flash y’all: IT’S NOT THAT EASY. It takes time. It takes some struggling. It IMG_6312takes a constant effort. If you’re anything like me, you’re going to want results and want them NOW. (Anyone else say that like Veruca Salt from Charlie and the Chocolate because I did lol) The Lord has blessed me with a lot, but anyone who knows me knows that patience is something I have to work hard for. What I’ve failed to realize is that while I believe that I am ‘suffering’ through this time of lifestyle changes the Lord is giving it purpose. Romans 5:2-4 says, “Through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which now we stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only that but we rejoice in our sufferings knowing that suffering produces endurance and endurance produces character and character produces hope.” Needless to say, I have tried to shift my focus from the time this journey is taking, to what this journey is ultimately producing.

3. Discovering your TRUE ‘Why?’- I want to preface this section with the fact that I struggle with Body Dysmorphia. When I look in the mirror, I am preoccupied by all of the flaws that I perceive in my appearance. Even though in the Songs of Solomon it says ‘He calls me beautiful oneI don’t physically see it. When I go to the store I often still shop in the plus size section of stores or pull the wrong size of clothes off the rack because I still believe it fits me even after losing 30 pounds! Nothing is more depressing to me than looking into a mirror and not seeing the resuIMG_6307lts of all your hard work while others can. If you were to ask me last February when I first started my journey what my “why” was I would say “to get healthy and live a better lifestyle.” But, now If I’m being 110% vulnerable and honest, I would say because I hated my body. I loathed myself. I thought about all my failure, flaws, and vulnerabilities and projected them onto my body. All of the negative energy manifested into a deep disgust for my image which is why I started my weight loss journey. Unfortunately, even after I lost 15+ pounds I still felt the same way. I still avoided mirrors and being in pictures. I dressed frumpy because I was portraying the image I had for myself by dressing that way. The last thing I want to do is get sappy because the former me would want to punch now me in the face by ending this paragraph with this verse. “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.”  Psalm 139:14 In today’s society it’s so easy to forget that you are a child of the God who created the hills and valleys, the stars and the moon, the mountains and the depths of the sea. Even writing that I can’t get over it!

Closing thoughts: I didn’t mean for this to discourage you from losing weight or making healthier lifestyle choices. I wish I had the ability to check the position of my heart when I started in January, but through it all I grew closer to God. While, I didn’t get (and still don’t get all the time) instant gratification, it taught me to celebrate the smaller things in life. In turn, that gave me a heightened ability to worship the Lord in ways I didn’t realize were possible. It filled my heart with gratitude and reminded me that our lives as believers weren’t designed to be easy. We’re designed to ultimately give glory to God and be living servants.  Just remember,  no matter how good the numbers are or how good you look, your heart might be the thing that needs to lose some weight.