Sunday, November 1, 2015

A Confident Heart: Chapter 1

Our church has recently started a Wednesday night series for women geared towards the book, A Confident Heart by Renee Swope. The cover says the book's about how to stop doubting yourself and how to live in the security of God's promises.

As I read I like to highlight things that stick out to me. I'd love to share those with you in case the words also resonate with you, and also share bits and pieces of my heart as I go along. If you like what you're reading, then I encourage you to read the book!

Some of my excerpts will just be quotes I like, Bible verses to read, or passages that really spoke to my heart. Some I'll elaborate on, some I just want to share for quick readings.

I think the whole point of reading a book like this, or being in a small group, is learning that you're not alone. So many of us feel the same exact way, for many different reasons, but feel as if we're alone or the only one going through a certain situation or emotion. Know you're not alone!! Whether you're willing to open up to a confidant or not, you're never alone. Jesus has seen it all, knows it all, has been there with you through it all, and has never left you and will never leave you. You aren't alone! But I know sometimes it makes it a lot easier to know you're not the only visible being feeling the same way... so hopefully that's what this book and/or blog post(s) will do for you: Let you know you're not the only one!

Now... here we go...

"Why do we look to things of this world to give us security, self confidence, and fulfillment? I think it's because the message that wordly things can fulfill us is all around us. It's on TV, it's the focus of countless songs, and it dominates advertisements. We can't even stand in the grocery store checkout lane without being bombarded by empty promises for a more fulfilling life. A better husband. A better body. A better career. A more beautifully decorated house. The magazines seem so slick, their promises so enticing. They sneak into our thought processes and make us think, 'If only I had _____, I'd be so secure and fulfilled.'  But the reality is, every single thing the world offers is temporary. No person, possession, profession, or position can ever fill the cup of a wounded, insecure heart -- not my heart, not your heart. It's an emptiness only God can fill. Only God can give true confidence." 
"[God's] truth waters us, sustains us, breathes new life into us and remakes us into the women He always intended us to be."
Those actually came from the foreward from Lysa TerKeurst but still... that really resonated with me. I don't know about you. I never thought of advertisements being advertisements of things to FULFILL you, but I guess they really are. They are marketed to show how your life will be better, more satisfying once you have this worldy thing, or that worldy thing. We buy, try, and feel so discouraged when the As Seen on TV item isn't what it seemed, or doesn't seem to work FOR US. We think it works on others, but not us, because we're just lucky like that. Or we think: If only I could get that promotion, or that new job, or that car, or those abs... life would simply be so much better! If this is our thought process then A) we aren't content with what God's blessed us with already and B) we are looking to things of this world to make us genuinely happy, which will never permanently work. Keyword there: permanently. I'm sure whatever it is you're willing to put time and money into will improve something for a short time, but it's never enough, is it? There's also more you want, more you need.

Chapter 1: Discovering the Shadow of My Doubts
"So do not throw away your confidence, it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what He has promised." (Hebrews 10:35-36)
 "You can only see the shadow because you have turned away from the light. Turn back towards the light."
Never have I ever thought about this. She spoke about how her shadow seemed so much bigger. Our problems (shadows) can often overwhelm us, because they often times look so much bigger than what they represent. Never would we even know this if we had not turned away from the light. I'm sure she meant this as a metaphor to Christ (the Light) but that's totally how I took it. If we continue to face the Light, we will not even see the large shadows behind us, ready to overwhelm and discourage us, keeping us from his Will and purpose for our lives.
"Have you ever agreed with the whispers of doubt and found yourself living with a sense of discouragement and defeat? Have you felt paralyzed by insecurity, and let it stop you from living confidently? If so, you are not alone."
I know I have often let doubt and overwhelming feelings keep me from doing things. Like sharing with you all, for example. Or completing a large task. If I can't convince myself that it's worth it, or that a large task can be broken down into smaller, more manageable tasks, then I say "Forget it." Which usually turns around to bite me at some point -- whether it's physically, emotionally, or spiritually. So yeah, you're not alone.
"Perhaps you are good at hiding your doubts and no one but you knows the paralyzing power they have on your life." 
I am sure SO many of us hide what's REALLY going on in our minds and spirits for whatever reason. I hope that we can all grow to confide in at least one person. Not just any person, but someone who will not judge you, or shame you, or break your trust.
"Doubt keeps us from believing things can get better. Doubt convinces us that it's not worth the effort. Doubt shouts from the sidelines. 'It's too hard.' or 'You might as well quit.'"  
AMEN! Doubt stinks. It really is convincing at times. Doubt comes in all kinds of voices and can really deter you from living up to your full potential, or living in the blessings that Christ has planned for you. When you hear doubt in your mind, think about the potential that God has something great planned for you, and this may be the Devil trying to keep you from having that blessing.  
"Don't listen to those thoughts, my friend. God doesn't want us stuck in a cycle of defeat or living in the shadows of doubt." 
Again, because there's that chance He has something great planned for you, if you only listen to HIM and not that stupid doubt.
"Doubt and hope cannot live in our hearts at the same time. As God's girls, we need to know and believe that change is possible. We need to hope that life can be different. Otherwise, doubt will win every time and our hearts will be eroded by attitudes and emotions of defeat--but it is not supposed to be this way."  
We are never stuck in our ways. The great thing about Christ is that He makes us NEW. He renews our mercies every morning. He doesn't hold our past against us. He loves us NO. MATTER. WHAT. and that's just a hard thought to grasp sometimes. We cannot be held back by doubt and also hoping that Christ is making us new. He did not create us to live a life of self-loathing and discouragement. We are made to live joyful lives, serving and worshiping our Creator!!
"God has led me beyond believing IN HIM to really believing HIM by relying on the power of His words and living like they are true no matter what my feelings tell me. Some days I do better than others, and you will too. But I've found that when I choose to dwell in the assurance of Whose I am and who I am in Him, I have a confident heart."
This is a true task....not only believing IN GOD, but BELIEVING GOD. Believing what He says is true. About you. About Him. About others. Sometimes our feelings tell us one thing, but it's the opposite of what God tells us in his Word. We need to train our minds to recognize when we're thinking the opposite, and shake those thoughts and believe what God says is true.  
"We can be confident that we are praying God's will when we pray God's Word!" 
This is kind of a "DUH" statement but I can't say I have thought this thought one million times in my life. I'm sure I've heard it somewhere before, but it didn't really stick. But this is such a GOOD POINT. If we are praying for things that God promises us in His Word, or praying for us to transform into what He says we are meant for, then we can't go wrong! We aren't being selfish. We aren't cheating. We aren't praying the wrong prayer! We are asking for exactly what God wants for us in our lives, and He won't let us down.

I hope some of these things resonated with you like they did with me. I'm digging this book so far & can't wait to see what else it shares.


Thursday, October 1, 2015

I Think I'm Back

Every so often, I try to give this blog thing another go'round! Well, here I am again. It's not really that I haven't wanted to blog, but that I've really wanted to give my blog a major makeover, and just never did it. I spent some time this winter going through this blog. I really do a horrible job at consistently blogging but this blog is an interesting "journal," if you will, documenting my life since 2005, my senior year of high school. And for that, I am thankful. I am super into nostalgia and reminiscing, if you didn't know. :)

I don't know what all purposes this blog has served. It looks like in the beginning I just copied & pasted some blog posts from my MySpace since that was becoming a thing from the past. Then I used it as a place to store quotes I found online that I liked. Then I would update about life (procrastination and grad school mostly).

I ended up going through all my posts and cleaning up the tags, deleting pointless posts, and deleting posts of videos that you could no longer access. (Stupid, YouTube.)  It was all fun and games until I got to the year 2010, when I guess I really started blogging. I had 156 posts that year. So that took a(nother) backseat. I'm still not 100% done cleaning up the place, but I did give her a little plastic surgery. I am growing as a woman and sometimes just crave the simplicity. My blog was stimulus overload and it was time she looked her age.

Funny story: I think I attempted a blog post 1/31/2015 and it just never got published. Just found it in Drafts, actually so... just for kicks... this is what it said:

I literally have so many things I'd love to blog about. But-- I'll be realistic, and maybe skip all that I wanted to say I'd been thinking or up to, and say this:
2015 is here and  technically, at this point we're are 1/12th of the way done with it already! SERIOUSLY!
I saw a blog post that listed goals for the year & then at the end of the year, relisted those goals & stated where the blogger was in meeting those goals. Seems a bit far-fetched for me to think I'm going to remember to revisit this in a year, but why not try? Amiright?! 
Here's what I plan to do in 2015... Wish me luck! 
  • I want to have technology-free evenings with my husband. At least one a week.
  • I want to stick with Weight Watchers and lose at least 25 pounds to start with. 
  • I want to sew/hem all my clothes that need it, and get really good at doing it so that maybe I can hem for others in the future. 
  • I want to get rid of all my clothes that are really too small. Some things I envision fitting back into in the near future, but some stuff I just need to kiss goodbye and donate to someone in need. 
  • I want to keep growing my hair out. This will be a challenge, as I get easily annoyed & tend to just chop it off on whims. 
  • Keep my new car clean. Inside & out. 
  • Find a way to organize all my jewelry laying around. 
  • Create a 2014 photo book on Snapfish. Forget scrapbooking. I ultimately want to make photo books for every year and occasion I can. That'll have to be a summer project. 
  • 100% housetrain Chloe. She is good most of the time but if it ain't 100%, we need to work on it. Sometimes we take her out in the mornings & she won't go, but then she's stuck inside all day while we work, and of course she goes inside then. Ugh! Somebody just come take & train my dog & bring her back all obedient and well-mannered. 
  • Go on a fun beach trip.
  • Do more couples devotions and praying with my husband.
Maybe we'll talk more about that later? Again, not making any promises! Haha! But, life is taking a major turn and I have been having the urge to document again. I hope I stick with it. I find it stress-relieving and always love looking back at where I was mentally, physically, and spiritually during certain points in my past.

Stay tuned...

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