It’s Storming


storm
I don’t think hard times ever get easy. We may get better at handling crises as we get older or are forced to deal with more, but I don’t think they ever become easier.
I have lost my son and my dad; I have 3 beautiful girls, one of whom has Down Syndrome and autism; and my marriage has been through the wringer more than I could have imagined possible. Those details are private, but I’m just going to say that in my estimation I have earned a ‘pass’ for any more crap in my life.
Or not.
Over the last few years I have felt God drawing me closer through study of His character and I have been encouraged and enlightened as I learn. At one point in my studies He said something that really surprised me. He said: “the winds will blow again, but you will not fall down.” To anyone else that may have sounded way too bizarre, but I have had a few storms in my life that have knocked me flat, so the idea of getting shaken up again wasn’t ideal. And He was right, things did get crazy. But He kept telling me to stay my course and watch for Him. So I did. Then there was a lull. Such a lull that I wondered if anything was ever going to happen to tip the balance. When it happened I still don’t know which way the scales were tipping, but they definitely moved.

Scary as it is to not know the exact outcome of the latest storm, I have discovered that I can have peace in it all. No, I’m not numb. Been there, done that. I can have peace because I know He’s got my back. He knows the tail-end of the story and I have discovered on my own that His heart toward me is good.

So, the winds will blow, but I will stand. My God loves me and I know it to my very core.
He’s got my back.

Your Story Matters

booksWe tend to gravitate to stories don’t we? Drawn in by the tragedies and the triumphs of other human beings, we look for a common denominator between their stories and ours, finding ourselves lifted out of the commonplace and into a different realm.

So, have you ever thought of your own life as a story? If someone was to describe you and the events of your life, how would it go? Are there patterns? Is there a common thread?
If you were to draw a horizontal line through the center of a page and chronologically begin to document the highlights of your life along the top of the line from left to right, – then the lies, fears, and hurtful things underneath the line in the same way, what would you see emerging?

When we begin to pay close attention to our lives (the deepest desires of our hearts, the fears that often paralyze us, what brings us joy, what brings us sorrow) and look past the day-to-day pressures of work, errands, duty, and endless details, perhaps we can begin to hear the whispers of our Creator and how He longs to fulfill the longings He deposited into our hearts. If we would just trust Him.

The negative aspects that we have jotted down underneath the line typically lend a hand in persuading us to believe lies about ourselves over time. It may be the pain of abuse, low self esteem – the effects of any number of things – that have bruised and damaged us; sometimes crippling us to the degree that we become immobile in certain areas.

May I suggest that you don’t have to remain a prisoner to what has been written there? Know this: the enemy of your soul is 1st and foremost the enemy of our loving God, and his ultimate goal is to keep you from living a fulfilled, victorious life. The events of your past that have caused you to wither, to seethe in anger, to shy away from adventure or the unknown are all ploys to keep you from fulfilling what you were created for.

Don’t dismay. God is not oblivious to the treacherous one. Like Joseph, we can learn to say, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people.” Genesis 50:20

The Bible is often read as a compilation of many stories, which of course is true, but have you ever considered it as a whole story? God’s story? The weaving of tales of heartbreak, dysfunction, and despair with faith, honor, courage and blind trust in the One True God throughout history to tell us of His Hero’s heart, His desire to walk closely with us and give deep meaning to our lives. We are each a part of this Story. When we partner with God and accept His gift of grace and crazy-over-the-top love and daily let Him fill us up with His goodness, we can then begin to live a remarkable story.  A story only we can live, because there is no one else quite like us and only we can reflect His beauty in the way He designed for us to.

Your words of encouragement, act of mercy, gesture of kindness, smile, laugh, ability to listen, deliberate choice to forgive… all these are ways in which only you can impact the people around you in a remarkable way.

Be that beacon on a hill. Let your life tell a truly remarkable story. It matters.

For more info on this topic, check out Dan Allender’s book: To Be Told: Know Your Story -Shape Your Future, or Donald Miller’s : Storyline: Finding Your Subplot in God’s story

Be your best,

Sheavaun

“And who knows that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?” – Esther 4:14

 

 

Messin’ with the acceptable

confusedfaceSomebody asked me why I would write about the things I do, and then go and spoil it by talking about skin-care and nutrition stuff. Aren’t I pimping? My answer is simple: No. I write about living fully, and to me that includes loving what we do for a living.

I realize that not everyone gets to work their dream job. There’s lots of people grinding the daily 9-5 or crazier and to be frank, it’s important that they do it or we’d have a breakdown in something somewhere, right? But… there will always be somebody to do some of those jobs. Those “easily-replaced” kind of jobs.

So, just for the sake of being difficult, tell me this: do you know what your passions are? What are you good at, what motivates you, gets you excited, makes you want to share it with others? And to push the point even farther, what if you had the opportunity to make money doing what you’re passionate about? Think it’s too good to be true? Why? I know of virtual assistants, fitness coaches, foodies, business coaches, health & wellness enthusiasts, motivational coaches, crafters, and direct selling consultants who all have made a living for themselves online (as well as in the real world) doing what they love! Why can’t you?

There are plenty of resources out there (like arealchange.com, or marieforleo.com  for example) that can help you get moving in the right direction. Lots of free stuff as well as stuff you pay for, but it’s quality info, and all you need to do is take the 1st step by checking out the possibilities.

Here’s another thing: I think that Christians can tend to get a little bogged down with some not-so-accurate theology, believing that being poor is equal to being godly. I’m not saying it’s wrong to not want money or “things”. But I also don’t believe it’s wrong to make and have money… it is the love of money that is the root of all evil, not money itself. Having more than enough means that there is more to give to those that need help, organizations that fight injustice, or provide clean water or care for children. Yeah, I know. I’m messin’ with the acceptable aren’t I? I am completely convinced that God is my Provider. He is the giver of every good and perfect thing. He also gives us dreams, passions, and desires, and when we are tuned into Him and allow Him to love us utterly and completely so that it transforms us, all His goodness begins to spill over. So why do we put a halt to the good things when it has to do with money?

We are each responsible for our thoughts, our actions, and also our beliefs. I believe that God is good, and He desires to do good things through me if I will let Him. I am still ultimately responsible for how I perceive and translate (and hopefully not distort) His goodness.

In a nutshell, I will continue to share the good things He brings my way, and my hope is that if it turns out to be something you can use or take advantage of then… yay!

Talk to me. Either fill out the form below or jump over to my Facebook page and message me there.

Be your best,

Sheavaun

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Absolutely What?

absolutelyAbsolutely:

Adverb: with no qualification, restriction, or limitation; totally. 

Are you getting the gist of what I’ve been trying to get at over the last few days? To encourage you to not just accept what is o.k. or passable, but to challenge yourself to live fully?

At the risk of repeating myself, let me say again: you are a complex being. Your thought life, your experiences, your physical well-being, your perceptions, who you think you are are all vital components that help make up the quality of your existence.

But I would remiss if I did not, once again, touch on the importance of recognizing the God of the universe and how much He digs you. It is not about what you’ve done, or what’s been done to you. It’s about who you are, and what He’s done for you. I used to think that God had to love me because it was just how it worked… but I didn’t see it as a deep, all-encompassing, knock-your-socks-off kind of love, because well, that was kinda weird. I was just one of the gazillion people ever to walk the earth and not very important. Funny thing is, when I slammed to the bottom of my pit of hell and finally reached out to God, begging for mercy, you know what happened? He gave me more than I ever dreamed.

It hasn’t been easy. I’ve had a lot of work to do, skewed perceptions to right, and responsibility to take; but not once have I been alone. Because I took the risk to ask Him to walk with me, He has never left my side. It’s been hard. It’s been painful. But it’s also been full of joy. And now, as I continue this journey of becoming all that I was created to be, I recognize His smile. His beckoning. His direction.

Friend, it all comes down to this: His love and mercy is free. It cost Him immensely, so that you and I could benefit. He gave us the ability to choose. (Why do you think the world can be so messed up, and yet so good? Because He gave us the freedom to make choices and we regularly exercise that.) When we choose to do life with Him, and when we choose to let Him love us completely as He so longs to do, that is when transformation happens.

God’s love isn’t some wishy-washy-fruity-kinda-icky-sweet-mumbo-jumbo for the weak and flighty. It is a powerful force that completes. It is the gas in the car, the food in the system, the reason for all that is good. It makes life happen. And it comes from one source. Jehovah.

He is Absolute, and He loves you. Absolutely.

He desires for you to become all that He intended for you to be. And He will be right there with you if you ask.

I hope you ask.

Be you. Absolutely.

Tell me, what are some of the things holding you back from living fully?
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Be You. (Who are you, anyway?)

identityYou are unique. There’s nobody else like you. You can’t be just like anyone else either, no matter how hard you may try to emulate them. You are you.

You may not like that. You may not feel like you add up to much in the big scheme of things.

Or you may not care. You don’t make a splash, don’t affect anyone, don’t have much to offer, so who cares?

Maybe you think you could have been someone special if “it” hadn’t happened. Or if “they” hadn’t interfered.

Haven’t you ever wanted more? Wondered if you’re missing something? Should-a-would-a-could-a?

What if there is more to living than what you’re experiencing right now? What if you could have a positive impact on someone else’s life? What if it was possible to live fully, abundantly, rather than just makin’ it?

Let me begin by telling you that I believe you are not a mistake. I believe you are important. You may have encountered hard things in your life that are unfair. Maybe made some bad choices. You may feel stuck. You may not be sure where you fit in.

Maybe you want more, but don’t even know what that ‘more’ is….

Maybe you’re in pain and don’t even know how you’re going to move forward.

Please hear me when I say to you that you are loved. You were made specifically. Detailed. The circumstances of your life have contributed to who you are today, but they do not define you. You are not alone. You are desired. You are wanted. You are special (in a good way).

Sure, I probably have not met you, but I am confident in the One that created you, and He doesn’t mess around. He is very personal. Whatever you think you know about Him that is negative has probably been smeared by power-seekers throughout history up to the present time and have given Him a bad rap. Please don’t let awful people determine your perspective of God. That would be sad not only because you’d be missing out on Someone so wonderful, but you’d also be missing out on how wonderful He thinks you are. Let me be clear: He is not a talisman that if you rub the right way and jump 3 times if you’re lucky will do good things for you. He is the living God who wants to do life with you. If you let Him (what a gentleman.) Yes, He is just. He is perfect. But you are not, and He bridged that gap so you wouldn’t have to.

Your life is a story. Yes, yours. Look at it. Process it. What have you learned? Good and bad. What is the truth? Can you see where God has shown up along the way? Not the ogre with the big stick, or the intimidating figure frowning down on you in disappointment – that’s not Him. I mean the One who has spoken words of comfort to you in the midst of difficulty. Shown you beauty in the midst of despair. They may be little things, but He has been there. How do I know this? Because He loves you. Just as much as He loves me.

You, my dear, are a masterpiece. The Artist of your soul longs to partner with you to bring the colors of your life to the best possible light. To sing songs of delight over you, smile at you, sometimes laugh at you because you’re so darn cute, and most of all to walk with you.

My journey started a few years ago when someone had the audacity to say something to me, which I will in turn say to you, and maybe you’re in a place in your life right now where you just need to sit in it and absorb it:

“I don’t think you know how much God gets a kick out of you.”

Sure, you could be right and I’m just a whackadoodle that doesn’t have a hot clue what she’s talking about. But what if I’m right?

I urge you to discover who you are in Him.

Psalm 139:1 – Lord, you have examined me and you know me. 

Acts 17:28 – In Him we live and move and have our being.

C.S. Lewis once surmised that each person is created to see a different facet of God’s beauty — something no one else can see in quite the same way — and then to bless all worshipers through all eternity with an aspect of God they could not otherwise see.” – John Ortberg

Talk to me about some of the obstacles you face when you think about who you are, and your meaning in life.

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Is it wrong to want to be beautiful?

monalisaBeautiful:

  • the quality or aggregate of qualities in a person or thing that gives pleasure to the senses or pleasurably exalts the mind or spirit : loveliness.
  • having beauty; possessing qualities that give great pleasure or satisfaction to see, hear, think about, etc.; delighting the senses or mind

So, how do you respond to these definitions of beauty? Do they line up with your own definition? Who comes to mind when you think of the word beautiful? Someone famous? Someone you know? (I know, I know, I ask a lot of questions.)

Here’s the thing: do you consider yourself beautiful, or is that honor only reserved for the exceptionally good-looking-few out there? How about this: can you consider yourself beautiful?  (Did you squirm?) Frankly, there’s not very many of us who have the self assurance to declare that, yes, we are beautiful. First of all, we think it’s awfully arrogant to admit such a thing, and secondly, not everyone has a mug like Halle Berry, so how fair is that?

But let me ask you this, isn’t beauty relative? Isn’t it supposed to be in the eye of the beholder? Let me further ask you, did you read the definitions at the top of the page? Beauty is defined as ‘something’ that pleases the senses (not just sight); delighting the senses or mind. We all have met  that one person who appeared so gorgeous when we first spotted them, yet as soon as they opened their mouth, or acted in a certain way our perception immediately changed. And we also know of someone who isn’t necessarily eye-candy to the average Joe, but who we can’t help but gravitate to because their attitude and demeanor pulls us in.

I will admit that I have struggled with this whole beauty thing for years. Our society touts a certain kind of beauty and if you don’t quite measure up to the standards, well then, you don’t measure up at all. After 4 babies, then hitting depression full-on due to unresolved issues, plus a failing marriage, I have really felt ugly. Not only ugly on the outside, but I felt ugly on the inside too. I just couldn’t see myself in a favorable light, and sadly, it affected my behavior.

It has taken a ton of in-depth searching for me to not be disgusted with myself anymore; a complete over-haul of my understanding of God and how He sees me to assist in getting over my “bad case of the uglies”. Learning to take responsibility for my emotions, my thoughts, as well as my eating habits has resulted in a more favorable view of myself. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t fawn over myself in the mirror. But I also don’t sneer at my reflection anymore either. Knowing that my Creator smiles at me, calls me Lovely, and waits patiently for me to welcome Him into my thought processes and daily living is nothing short of amazing. And the same goes for you.

You are loved. You are beautiful.

Food for thought, Chica.

 “For the Lord your God has arrived to live among you. He is a mighty savior. He will rejoice over you with great gladness. With His love, He will calm all your fears. He will exult over you by singing a happy song.” Zephaniah 3:17

Talk to me. Tell me about how you see yourself in terms of beauty.

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The Art of Being Healthy

images-3Did you groan when you read the title, or was that just me? If I’m to be completely honest, the concept of living healthy can seem overwhelming when working full-time, raising kids, balancing and juggling all the details of life.. the drive-thru is so much easier on crazy days, and that work-out doesn’t always get done like I planned. Maybe I’m the only one out there that struggles with it. Maybe not, either. The problem is that a large number of us don’t take responsibility for our physical well-being until we are presented with a problem, which is unfortunate.

Let me ask you something:

  • Do you know how you feel?
  • Do you know your body, and how it reacts to certain foods or your environment?
  • Do you follow what the latest trend or guru has put in front of you and hope for the best? Or do you just eat and do whatever you feel like and roll with the punches, whatever they may be?

Here’s why I think those are valid questions: I have noticed that there are pockets of people who have completely taken over the welfare of their bodies due to an illness or disease (including obesity), typically resulting in a complete overhaul and subsequent change in outcome. ie: they get better.

The quirky thing to me is that it’s not a one-size-fits-all solution that they’ve embraced. For example, one may have gone completely vegan, and another paleo, yet they are each thriving. My little brain wants to find the common denominator and lay it down so I can have the ultimate in answers and never have to wonder again. My guess is it may not be quite so hard-and-fast as I’d like, though. What it appears to comes down to is that they discovered what works for them as an individual and ran with it. They learned to listen to their bodies and made the necessary adjustments to serve it well. Maybe it was food allergies they dealt with, or an emotional attachment to unhealthy foods,  maybe a thyroid issue, maybe cancer, maybe MS… but it was something personal. And they took ownership of it.

A recent analysis of weight loss research by The New England Journal of Medicine, entitled Myths, Presumptions, and Facts about Obesity had some very interesting things to say regarding our excuses for not setting high goals and making drastic changes. Hmmm…

We are all very unique, complex individuals and I have no business saying that we all should adhere to a particular regime or plan when it comes to getting and remaining healthy. That said, there are some fairly basic rules-of-thumb regarding healthy-living , and I think we should call them out:

  1. Get as close to the original real-deal stuff as possible. Meaning organic, home-grown, grass-fed, let it out of the freakin’ cage kind of thing. The less toxic, the more natural, the better you will feel and perform. It’s the way you were created to thrive.
  2. Take a closer look at grains and how you respond to them. (Going gluten-free won’t necessarily solve a gut problem, so nix it all together for a bit and then slowly add it back in and see how you feel.) Make sure they are complex/whole grains. Not white flour products like store-bought pasta and muffins…
  3. My vegan friends will tell you to do the same with meat. The issue in both of these instances is inflammation. Personally I can’t do white flour or other simple starches or I swell up. Nice, eh? People with arthritis, or gut issues have gone one way or the other and noticed significant results after a few months. Interesting.
  4. Scrap the sugar! And aspartame. Try Stevia, or agave nectar. They won’t spike your insulin the same, and don’t have the same poisonous effects on your system.
  5. Omega 3’s. You need ’em, but probably don’t get enough of them. Essential for a healthy heart, brain, and immune system. Fish-derived omega-3’s are not your only option either. Flax seed is a good source, as well as algae oil (which, interestingly enough, is the primary source of omega-3’s for coldwater fish).
  6. Eat your breakfast. In the vast weight registry of people who lost more than 70 lbs and kept it off, the common denominators were simply eating breakfast and exercise.
  7. More fruits and veggies. The more of these you eat, the less junk you’ll be apt to take in, while helping create health by providing your body with tools it needs. By the way, this is the only thing that all nutrition experts will agree on. We need to eat more fruit and vegetables for our health!
  8. Move that bod! Get your tush off the couch, and do something. Go for a 30 min walk, take your kids to the park and play with them this time, or maybe actually take the dog for a walk instead of just letting it off the leash to run around on it’s own. You were designed to move. You don’t have to sign up for the marathon next week. Just move! Everyday.

Being healthy is a state of mind just as much as a state of being. Yesterday I touched on contentment, and if you haven’t dealt with some core issues first, your body will respond in kind. You are a complex being.

How you think affects how you feel.

How you feel can affect how you think, so be careful.

Take stock of why and what you eat, and how much.

Take care of yourself. I believe you can!

 Let me know what your biggest successes and failures are regarding taking control of your health. 

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Letting God Create Beauty From Our Ashes