We have all been privy to defining words like, “You’re so fat,” “You’re so tall,” “You’re so gullible,” “You have an amazing job,” You’re so talented” (fill in the blank with the vast assortment of talents in this world) etc…etc…etc. This is not an exhaustive list by any stretch of the imagination but I wanted to get your mind percolating to think about what we say on a daily basis. Whether it’s our internal narrative about ourselves or how we view others (good or bad) or our external verbalization toward others (good or bad).

I thinks it’s safe to say that when I started rattling off some of the defining words from above you began to wonder how you truly see yourself and how others genuinely see you. Do I really look like what they say? Am I really as talented (or not) as what I’ve heard? What if I am too much or not enough?

We all do it. We all have this internal narrative about ourselves that wreaks havoc on our souls if not stemming from a place of true identity. We seem to equate our negative views of ourselves as who we are. (Spoiler alert, it isn’t who you are!!) Conversely, we also seem to latch onto the good press that others say about us and who we are.

“I have a great job and can do it well!” “I am so gifted and/or talented with ____________!”……. awesome!! But I have a big news flash for ya, that job you’ve been laboring over is NOT who you are! That talent you have doesn’t define you and it is NOT who you are. Yes, the gift we can honor and perhaps even admire but the real value needs to be seen in who you truly are.

You are called to be a son and a daughter of Jesus, your true Beloved Identity (Beloved Identity is what I am gleaning and growing in through a dear teacher and apostle). To accept the invitation of living kingdom family life here on the earth.

Beloved Identity is viewing ourselves through the grace and mercy lense of Jesus. To know that no-thing can separate us from the love of God. We are no longer sinners with a guilty conscience, it has been washed clean! To know that I don’t have to wake up in the morning and think, “oh great, what sins am I gonna do today and then need to strive, beg, plead and work for God to love me again?!?!” That thinking is long gone, THANK GOD!!!! He loves me even if temptation gives way to doing something I know is wrong. His love doesn’t change just my perception of Beloved Identity has. When we are fully walking in Beloved Identity and filled with that relational truth the temptations will remain just that, a fleeting temptation because we have an awareness of who we are in His love and Beloved Identity. When we are filled with His love for us there is no room left for things that we once used to fill the gaping holes we felt prior to Beloved Identity.

And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. Romans 8:38 NLT

Once we receive and become rooted in the truths of Beloved Identity the fruit of our lives will be the product of who we are within the relationship and inheritance we have through Jesus. We no longer have to strive to become, we already are, in Him.

Beloved Identity has been a game changer for me in so many ways. I am still learning and growing of course but it is such a beautiful thing to be fully known by Christ and His love never changes even when He sees the WHOLE me. It has been a few years since I learned that I am not what I do, but this new awareness of Beloved Identity has transformed my thought processes once again into invaluable truths. There is so much freedom in knowing that I am something beyond what I do! I’m a daughter first and foremost who has been invited into a love relationship with the Creator of the Universe.

When we are rooted in Beloved Identity it affects all that we do and see. I often share with the team I work with, “I am more concerned about you and who you are than any talent you bring to the table.” We need YOU as a person first, then the gifts and talents become a byproduct or expression of that. Jesus wants a relationship with US, not what we can offer. Although what we offer becomes an avenue to become more connected in divine relationship with Him.

It is amazing when we see who we are, and whose we are, how that affects our fruit of response. It’s because of who you are that others can glean from the fruits of your gifts or talents.

•Do you know who you are?

•Do you know Whose you are?

•What fulfills you?

•Does what you do dictate how you feel as a person?

•Does what you have accomplished or failed to accomplish dictate who you are?

•Do you strive to regain or earn God’s love after you have given way to temptations?

•Are you walking in Beloved Identity?

I leave you with the questions above as a catalyst for you to think and ponder about how you see yourself but more importantly to hopefully have you look more into how Jesus sees you. You are so loved by this beautiful Jesus.

May you daily walk more fully in Beloved Identity.

Have a joy filled day!!

Spontaneous Plan

I’ve heard it said often, “if you fail to plan you plan to fail.” I know that in and of itself this quote has merit and good intentions but whenever I’ve heard this quoted I am often met with a weighty guilt that if I don’t have a plan I am doomed to be a big eminent failure.

You see, by nature, I wasn’t blessed with the gift of a full blown minute by minute planner. I have a good friend that is gifted with this and I admire the dedication and determination in not only making said schedule but sticking to it so faithfully. I am challenged (in a good way) and motivated daily to try and be more planned out because I see how it works so well in my friend’s life. I do see the benefits of a plan like this, and I do implement them but it takes waaaay more effort than if it was my natural bend. 😉

Although I may not be good at being a goal-setting planner I absolutely LOVE to have a plan! I like to have organization and know the plan ahead of time so I can be prepared. I think it’s the bit of administrative in me and a bit of I don’t like chaos or change. So if I know the plan I can prepare my mind to administrate what the plan will look like like. I know, some of you are like, “what in the heck you don’t like to plan but you like A plan?!” Just roll with me here, it’s how my noggin is wired.

I feel loved and function best when you tell me the whole plan (cuz if you don’t be ready for lots of questions).

Now, there is a little plot twist to this whole plan thing…..ready?……What I really love most is to have NO plan or agenda at all. I guess you could call it the “un-plan plan.” The times when I can wake up slow, have a cup of coffee or be in creation in the early morning does something to me that I often cannot articulate. I feel safe within the confines of what a generous day can bring. To be flexible and go with the ebb and flow of the day (yes, I can see all of you ultra planners starting to get the planning shakes…trust me it’s gonna be ok).

I think this is why I love spontaneity so much! I love to just jump in the car and take a quick road trip or meet up with friends spur of the moment to go on an adventure. The thrill of discovering a new place, experiencing something I’ve never seen before or experiencing creation or fun activities with close friends makes my heart smile.

This happened the other night when my spontaneity tank was filled to overflowing! I felt like a kid in a candy store! There was nothing fancy about being surrounded by a plethora of cars, standing on black pavement with bright lamp posts shining fiercely. But when you give yourself permission to have no agenda and live a little whimsically, being in the moment, is the plan that turns out to be the best and most exciting plan, ever!!!

We lingered (we weren’t in a hurry for the moment to pass), we laughed (mostly at ourselves because we are pretty great) and we watched the sky turn from radiant hues of summer blue, to being filled with a display of fireworks in the near distance. Thankful for friends that indulge me and my excited-ness over simple things (ok, sometimes I probably get extra excited haha). It was one of those moments I didn’t want to end. All seemed right in the world.

For me, Summer officially started that night. It ranks up there with one of the best un-planned moments I can recall.

So, today I have lots of “to-dos,” that are on a pretty little list I made, but I know in order to “do” I need to take a moment to “be.” To sit and listen to the river flowing below me. To hear what God is saying. To quiet and reset my soul. To be still. In these tranquil moments is when I find restorative strength, mental energy and clarity for the days and moments ahead. I intentionally filled up my tank with a slow morning, filled with a bit of spontaneity. There’s a verse in the Bible that says it well……

“Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.”

When we delight in God (His creation, who He is…) His response to us is always that He WANTS to delight in us as well and bring us the desires in our hearts (even ones you sometimes don’t even know you need!!!!). Remember that spontaneity tank that I had filled?! That was a surprise tank -filler-upper and I didn’t even realize how much it was needed! To know that God delights in me (us) BLOWS MY MIND and excites me all at the same time.

So what’s your plan today?

I am continually learning what it is I need to do (or not do) to keep my tank from being depleted and re-fueled.

What are the things that you need to do to re-fuel? Here is the fun part, you get to pick and choose what re-fuels you!!

•plan to be

•choose to re-fuel

Happy Summer to you!! I know this is going to be the best summer yet!! God is always up to something good!!

Til next time….have a joyfilled day!!

What I Need

It’s often said, “Do what you love,” or “Follow your heart,” or “You be you.” I definitely have adhered to these coined phrases more than once in my lifetime and they have made my life richer and more meaningful. These are example phrases of encouragement that get us to live more fully alive and aware.

I am a huge proponent for living life in the moment and being very aware of my present reality. I enjoy taking in all that surrounds me and looking for ways God is expressing Himself through people, license plates (y’all it’s a real thing with me!! If I could tell of all the times words I needed to hear or scripture references to address something I was going through, have showed up “randomly” on license plates you’d be amazed!!!) or my most favorite expression, creation!

I get butterflies inside my tummy when God displays an incredible cloud formation, an intense thunderstorm, showers of rain or even beautiful silent rain (aka snow). Just recently He wowed me with two rare sightings in the sky; an epic sundog (See pic below) display over the Atlantic Ocean in the early morning and then a few days later a fire rainbow (sorry, for some reason it wouldn’t upload)!! I was beside myself with giddiness! He loves surprising me with what I need even when I didn’t know I needed it!!

I think there is a vast difference between having a need and being needy. Let’s just say I never want to be the needy person. Having a need, yes. Being needy, no.

The other day I was talking with a friend who was helping me process through a difficult situation. He asked me a question that stopped me in my tracks. I was stumped. I truly couldn’t respond. He asked me the question, “What is it that you want to happen?” I was shocked, didn’t have an answer. I felt paralyzed. I tried to think of an answer but nothing came. In that moment I kinda was panicked because I realized I didn’t know what I needed.

I sat on the question for a bit and some things came to mind but I was halted when I was greeted with a hidden lie that what I need isn’t important or if I expressed my need it would be seemingly selfish or deemed as insignificant. I couldn’t possibly express what I needed, innately it felt wrong. I had a fear that if I express what I needed that need would be unmet and unfulfilled. Come to think of it I think this is why, to this day, I don’t ask for specific gifts for Christmas or my birthday, because the thought of unmet expectations sounds too daunting. I am just so grateful when I do receive a gift, whatever it may be. Knowing that the person was thinking of me is more than I could have asked for.

As I was eagerly sorting through the question my friend had asked, mostly because I knew it would be the pathway to bring resolution to this difficult situation, it finally hit me what I actually needed. I needed to let go of my expectations. I needed to let go of my internal stipulations of how I wanted the matter to be resolved. This wasn’t easy, but it was definitely what I needed to do.

It took a little bit of warming up to this new way of thinking after my initial release of expectations. I could feel my heart softening and my body starting to be at ease. And wouldn’t ya know it, within less than 24 hours of me embracing and responding to my need, resolution came. It came in a beautiful way. It came on time. It came with grace. It came with honor. It came with understanding. It came with compassion. It came with care. It came with being heard. It came with needs fulfilled.

Looking back I kinda have to giggle. Here I was trying so hard to hold onto something thinking I was going to fill my own need for how I felt resolution should come, when really it could only be fulfilled by letting go. And amazingly, in the letting go, other needs were met that I didn’t even realize how much I needed. God is pretty good at this life thing!

I am still actively working on this whole “what I need thing.” To me, it still seems pretty vulnerable to say “I need _______,” especially with close friends or even family.

Although God has done a pretty fabulous job thus far at providing all I need, He still is ok with me verbalizing my need(s). We have not because we ask not.

•What do you need today?

•it’s ok to have a need

•your need is significant

•you having a need doesn’t make you too much or not enough

•It may be a need for you to communicate with your spouse on how you feel about a certain matter or even about the relationship.

•It may be a need for you to create a boundary.

•It may be a need for you to express how you like receiving love to your spouse or significant other.

•It may be a need for you to finally let go of something you’ve held on to for far too long.

•It may be a need to do something that is fun just for you.

Whatever you need to do, do it.

Resolution comes with reward.

Have a lovely and joy filled day!!!

Forget About It

I am sure you have been met with several situations in life where you have been wronged or someone did something to you that you didn’t deserve at all. You recap the situation and try and figure out if you could have done something differently so the person wouldn’t have hurt you or caused you unwarranted pain.

I have had several situations like this in the past and some more recent than others. I was hurt. I felt the sting of unbridled pain rip through me like a hot knife to cold butter. I didn’t deserve to be treated so carelessly, but it happened.

When someone wrongs us or hurts us I know the right thing to do is always extend forgiveness, so that is what I did. I really meant it when I said, “I forgive you,” but I somehow forgot about the fact that just because I am able to forgive quickly doesn’t mean I will forget just as easily. Believe me I WANT to forget the wrong done but our minds have this amazing thing called “memory” that we just can’t escape no matter how hard we try. Our memories are like a permanent hard drive that you can’t erase, they can be replayed anytime day or night.

Forgiveness is one of those things I have had to learn how to do. I used to think that if I forgive someone that would negate what the other person did. It seemed so counter-intuitive to extend forgiveness. I felt like if I could just hold on to un-forgiveness long enough then I could control or dictate the retaliatory pain I wanted the other person to feel, but in reality the longer I held on the more the pain increased and bitterness would set in.

I don’t hold on to un-forgivessness like that anymore, but something I am realizing and asking myself is how to deal with the incapability to forget what happened. How do we move on from the memory of said painful situation? How do we deal with flashbacks or situations that trigger memories sometimes on a daily basis? It kinda tempts me to rescind my forgiveness (I don’t ever do that but I can’t say I haven’t entertained the thought!).

I don’t think there is a right or wrong answer to this whole memory thing. One thing I think that has, and is, helping my mind process hurtful situations and their plaguing memories, is that it is OK to not forget about it. Contrary to popular opinion you don’t have to forgive AND forget. I would even venture to say that you shouldn’t forget about it.

I believe we need to remember so that we can learn to love who we are as God created us. We have value and we didn’t deserve to be hurt or mistreated. We aren’t at fault for the pain that was inflicted on us. By remembering it helps us to do some self care and create good boundaries. I am not saying to become mean or defensive, build unhealthy walls or exclaim, “no one will ever hurt ME again!” What I am saying is that it is good to create healthy boundaries so you can reflect love not only for yourself but for the one who hurt you.

There isn’t a magical time frame, but I will say that the memories do become less frequent and it won’t feel like a fresh scab that is being picked and is now bleeding all over again.

I’m not so sure that time heals but I do know it takes time to heal.

If you’re going through a time of needing to forgive know that it is your responsibility to forgive and release yourself from the burden of trying to make the other person pay for what they did. You don’t have to forget about it, but you do need to forgive.

One last thing, memories aren’t for keeping long term track of wrongs done. It says in the Bible, “Love doesn’t keep a record of wrongs.” What I believe that means is that I don’t get to keep a tally. I don’t get to keep a score sheet of the wrongs done to throw it up in their face next time something happens (believe me, I definitely want to at times….I am still a work in progress).

•Memories are not for building walls but for eradicating the desire to build one.

So, remember…

•remember to forgive

•remember to remember

•remember to love

Hope you have a lovely and splendid day!

Did You See That?

I love to people watch. Whether it’s at the mall, the zoo, the grocery store or any public place where we interact with humans, I am always observing those around me. It is fun to sit and watch the different way people interact socially. To watch moms and dads interact with their kids. To watch married couples together (my favorite is to see an elderly couple walking hand in hand at the local park. There is just something so endearing about love that has endured the test of time). To watch youth together is usually quite epic. My sister often catches me in the midst of said people watching and whispers, “Hey you’re staring again,” to try and jolt me out of my intense investigating process.

I am not sure when I started the love of people watching, it seems like it has always been a part of my story. Oh the things I have seen!!!!! I think some of it is my general inquisitiveness and some of it was when I was younger I had a deep curiosity to see how families functioned with a dad present and with a functioning married couple in the home.

After many years of watching married couples I remember contemplating why a husband would do something for their wife. I purely was clueless on the whole marriage dynamic. In my mind I was thinking, “She could have just done that herself.” I have since learned that although she could have done it herself it would have robbed her husband of the opportunity to express his love in the way he knew how. This concept was so foreign to me and still baffles me at times (in a good pondering sort of way) even to this day.

Not too long ago, as I was coming home from work I watched a young girl riding her bike starting to veer toward my car. She wasn’t in any danger as I saw her and took precautions, but what I heard next was horrifying. A mother who began to scream and yell profanity at her young daughter and tell her what an idiot she was and so stupid over and over again. The young girl road in silence with her head hung low the rest of the way home. My heart was so grieved for that young girl. I wanted to get out of my car and just hug her and tell her that she isn’t anything her mom was saying. That she is valued and loved. My heart was also so furious with the mom for saying such demeaning things! Believe me I wanted to give that woman a piece of my mind!

Then something struck me. I looked back at this mom and I was surprised by the compassion that began to rise in my heart for her. God began to show me the way He sees her, that she too is loved and valued I began to see that her heart had been hurt so deeply and she was carrying this hurt like a heavy burden. In a moment where I can assure you i was ready to criticize her through the lens that I viewed her in, I was awakened to love to see her how God viewed her.

There are so many other ways we pass judgments on people; what size they are, what style of clothes they wear, how they do their hair, the color of their skin their ethnicity, their background, their social status, if they eat sugar or carbs and the list could go on and on. We have a stereo type that plays in our mind of what we believe is “right,” “kosher,” or “acceptable.” We all too often fail to look past our shallow perceptions to really see a person for who they are as valued and loved.

I mean isn’t that how you want to be seen? Don’t you want people to view you as valued despite your outward appearance or the scars of life that you bear? In a world where we are so quick to make a passing judgement based on what we see in a brief moment, we lose sight of the great opportunity to see people through the pure lens of of Christ’s love.

I have gotten better at slowing down to reach for the lens of Love to view others as Christ does, but I admit I have more work to to do. That growth process may look different for everyone. One thing I try and remember to do is to ask myself why am I getting ready to pass a generalizing statement on someone. What was my motive or intent? Whether your estimation of that person is wrong or right it is our heart motive that needs to stay in check.

We all have a desire to be seen and to be known, to be loved for the person we are. We desire others to see the greatness in us and encourage us to move forward in growth towards our grandest potential. People want to be heard and know that their story matters, that they matter.

I want to share one more story in hopes it will encourage you that wearing the right “lens” really is so important. I was shopping at Trader Joe’s (my favorite grocery store ever!) and I hear a young kid making quite a fuss. I turn and see the kid inside a cart with his mother pushing him. Next to the cart were the shoes he had just thrown overboard and two more young kids in tow. The mom was also wearing a baby carrier with a small baby resting upon her chest. To say this mom had her hands full was an understatement. The kid was still making a fuss and you could see that the mother was trying to keep the other two kids corralled as close to her as possible. That’s when I heard the sounds of people muttering frustration that the kid was causing a scene in the store. People were beginning to give the glares and accusatory stares no mother wants to feel when they are shopping for their family. I knew she had overheard some of the comments and my heart sank. Then my need to always seek justice rose up in me. I had a choice to confront the rude shoppers making the comments and make them apologize (yes, I am that bold when it comes to making the underdog feel vindicated), or I could opt for another way. I opted for the way that I knew would bring the most life. I walked over to the cart picked up the shoes and began helping her put them back on her kid. I then looked over to the mom and simply said, “mam I want you to know you are one amazing mom. I don’t know many moms who could tackle bringing 4 kids into a store by themselves. You’re my hero. I also want to say sorry that you had to hear those rude comments.” As I finished what I felt to share, tears began to stream down her face. She looked back at me with this deep sadness in her eyes and said, “you have no idea how much I needed to hear those words. My husband passed away a few months ago and it has been so hard to do things all alone.” I could feel a lump at the back of my throat and it was inevitable, I started getting misty eyed. Here she was freshly grieving the loss of her soulmate, love of her life and father to her children and having to endure another form of pain from outsiders that did not know her story. I offered to help her shop but she said that she was almost done and was getting ready to check out. The look of relief and peace she had as I walked away was truly beautiful to witness.

I have never run into this person again, but I know that God placed me in that moment to learn to see beyond the external. To slow down and offer words of kindness and encouragement. To see outside of myself to view others with the vision of love.

I know that’s how Jesus did it, He saw with eyes of compassion and love. He saw the person first and never their sin. He spoke life into who He saw them as and called them into that new redemptive stance.

Oh that we would see with eyes of eternal love.

Oh that we would love at first glance.

Oh that we would be the eyes, ears and mouthpiece of heaven to all those around us.

• see, in love

• hear, in love

• speak, in love

•• be love ••

Until next time have a joy-filled day!!

Communication Junky

I would venture to say that the majority of western civilization uses one of the following to talk to another human; email, Instagram, FB Messenger, Snapchat or texting. We have these lovely little apparatuses, aka smart phones, that can instantaneously connect us to one another in a moment. We can literally be anywhere (yes, I know you text in the bathroom too, no shame or judgement here) and can shoot a text or email. In most cases we can get an instant response, or at least we would like to get an appropriately timed response. Once that “ping” comes through we get a tiny rush of satisfaction that we have been “seen” and responded to. We have made a connection….or have we?

These days it is so easy to feel like we’re connected through social media or through simple means like texting. We meet someone for a moment and it is only a matter of time that we are asking for their FB, IG or Snapchat info…and if you’re wanting to go that extra mile you’ll exchange cell numbers. All of these forms of communication aren’t bad per say, but unfortunately these forms of communication can, more often than not, lead to false perceptions of connection and real relationship.

Trust me, I am guilty of spending copious amount of hours on social media. I even justify this by saying to myself, “I just want to stay connected to people.” The question is though, “Am I any more connected with that person, or personality I’ve never met, than I was before spending the evening checking up on all of the people I ‘know’?” The answer to that is a big fat, “NO.”

What I have found is that the more I scan over the cropped, filtered and edited version of people’s lives the more it can leave one empty, disillusioned and feel like you are lacking. Social media can be a good in its rightful place, but it also has this sly way of creating a space where we can begin to think we aren’t good enough, thin enough, muscular enough, handsome enough, pretty enough, significant enough, healthy enough or _____ enough (you fill in the blank). It makes one question who they are based on other’s social status (married, single, dating, engaged, new mom, or new dad…just to name a few). We begin to conjure up thoughts that usually start with, “if I only had____,” I wish was more like____,” or “I’m glad I’m not like____.” There are many more thought processes I am sure but you get the picture.

Anyone that knows me knows I am a HUGE proponent of communication, especially FACE-to-FACE. I am not sure if there is a thing of over communicating but if there is I might be a candidate! I have learned over and over again the value of communicating well. Keep in mind talking and communication are two different things. I know you’ve been in those situations where there was a whole lot of talking but nothing was being said, yeah it’s grueling. And let’s not get me started on gossip! I HATE gossip! Gossip is the anthesis of communication. Gossip kills and destroys and always comes to a vile end. No one wins with gossip, no one.

Communication as a whole has a desired end. You’re either wanting to get to know someone better or you’re maybe wanting to resolve an issue of the heart with family, friends or your spouse. Communication takes intentionality, time, understanding, a good listening ear and being a good question asker.

Communication can be really hard at times. So much so that we try and avoid it like the plague because it just seems too daunting to open yourself up to discuss something and you do not know what the outcome will be (trust me, I know this all too well). Communication can seem risky, but if you have enough value for yourself and the other person, no matter the outcome, the risk is always worth it.

Communication is a gift to give and receive. It’s all in HOW you communicate. When I am communicating I try to keep in mind the following:

•be humble

•be understanding

•be teachable

•be gracious

•be unassuming (ask LOTS of questions to be sure you are hearing correctly)

•be generous with your time

•be concise and clear

•be vulnerable

•be open…open to hear you might have been wrong

•be ready…ready to have a different outcome than you had thought

•be willing (to respond, forgive)

•be patient

•be approachable

•be honoring

•be love (love covers)

These are just a few things to think about when you want to communicate well. I know there is more ideas and there are also a plethora of practical help on the “how-tos” of communicating well (that may be another post). For today I wanted to try and awaken a place in you that is imperative if we want to live life to the full. If we want to do anything well in life it will require you to communicate. If done well, even if you know the conversation might be sucky or awkward, you still will have the assurance that you did it the right way or the best you knew how to do.

•So today, I encourage you to communicate.

• Communicate well + communicate often.

•There is never a bad time to communicate, just a bad time if you don’t.

Until next time, have a joy filled day!

That Stinks!

I don’t know why, but I was graced with a super sense of smell. My keen sense of smell can pick up every scent, fragrance or aroma, even if it is faint or in the far distance. Add to that crazy sense of smell an extreme sensitivity to strong smells. Lord have mercy when I come in contact with a pungent perfume, lotion or cologne, my stomach goes into an instant state of nauseousness. This creates a real problem when I am in an enclosed area with no place to go! I know I can’t be the only one that deals with this hyper smell dilemma!

I wasn’t feeling so well today so I needed to stay home, let nature run its course and get some extra rest to recover. I had been home all day and left only to go to an already planned chiropractic appointment (that I almost forgot about) in the early evening. On my drive home I picked up some electrolyte water and animal crackers (I read it was National Animal Cracker Day, so of course I had to do my part to honor this day..and it sounded yummy after a day of not feeling well). I drove around a bit just so I could enjoy seeing the outside world a little longer and take in the warm and rainy spring day.

I arrive back home carrying my bag of treats in one hand and my keys in the other. I unlocked my apartment door, and it hit me, my nose was on high alert!!! I winced back and scrunched up my nose in disgust because what I was smelling was the strongest stanky smell (you did not need a super sniffer to smell this jazz!!)! It pretty much smelled like something died twice and it was trying to resurrect itself! I immediately dropped my bag of goodies and went right to the nasty culprit, the trash can under the sink. I began pulling the plastic bag out of the bin as quick as I could. I reached down to tie the bag off and a thought dropped into my mind…”how was I sitting in this apartment all day with this smell without even noticing it?!”

As I finished tying off the bag and started to walk outside another thought occurred to me, “What “stinky trash” might be in our lives that we can’t detect because we are sitting comfy-cozy in life?!” It then dawned on me that it wasn’t until I left, came back and tried to open the door again that the smell was even remotely noticeable. I clearly had to get out of my current situation to notice the stink. It is amazing to me how very comfortable I was to sit in the stinky-ness, totally unaware of how bad it actually was.

How often do we sit in our own stink (and I don’t mean body odor) and we aren’t able to recognize that something smells off and we need to deal with some “trash” in our lives? Life’s “trash” can be equated with so many things; pride, selfishness, jealousy, gossip, a secret sin issue, a co-dependent relationship, a toxic friendship, _________(you fill in the blank). This clearly isn’t an exhaustive list by any stretch of the imagination but it gives a starting point for self examination. (*Also please know that I do not think people are trash. The verbiage “trash” is used strictly for metaphorical purposes.*)

As I took the trash out tonight I did some of my own self evaluation. I noticed that some stink was being brought to light in my own life, so I took an extra moment to symbolically throw out some of my own “trash” while I tossed out my plastic bag of trash. It was such a simple and visible act, but so powerful. It is interesting to me that once we are aware of the “stink” how quickly we want to dispose of it!

God is so rich in mercy. He is willing to allow us to smell the stink in our lives, locate the source of the stink and then at the same time provide us with the grace to remove the trash. He is forever a kind, loving and compassionate God.

•What are things in your life that you need to maybe step away from to gain a different perspective?

•Are you still opening the same door and sittin’ comfy in some old stink?

•Are you holding on to remnants, an empty shell of something that once was but needs to be released?

Be brave. Be bold. Be courageous….and take out the trash! 😉

Have a splendid day!