Are You Chasing After the Wind?

Beautiful words from a beautiful soul. Repost from Val Smith. I encourage you to follow her.
Today please know you are seen, loved and known. You don’t have to chase anything but His will for your life. Simply soak up His love and allow His love to shine through. Love Big.

Val Smith Blog

We want our lives to mean something. We want to look back on our lives and feel proud of our accomplishments. We want to leave our mark in the world.

We want to be somebody, so we set out on a mission to become somebody.

In our society, accomplishments count for so much. Knowledge counts for so much. Appearance counts for so much. Wealth counts so much. Popularity counts so much. By the world’s standards, these things are tied directly to our worth.

We chase after them.

We don’t want people to think we’re uncool, dumb, ugly, or not enough, so we scramble for every resource possible to make us feel like our life has meaning. We tally up points in our mind of things we’ve accomplished or people we’ve impressed because it makes us feel valuable – like somebody.

We scramble for approval. We scramble for praise. We…

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Beautiful=Broken

I don't know much about fitness with the exception of this: to build a muscle, you gotta break it down first. Our muscles are like potatoes. We break them down while working out- picture mashed potatoes. As we rest and refuel our bodies with proper nutrients, our muscles become repaired and enlarged- picture baked potatoes with ALL the fixins'. (My mind isn't on food I swear 😂 )

I love the fitness industry and have previously spent over 10 years teaching others what I know but lately my priorities have shifted-from the body to the heart.

You see, just like your bicep can't become bigger without becoming broken, the same truth applies to the heart. When our heart breaks, it opens room for joy. When our heart breaks we don't recognize this truth at first because pain overwhelms the body and then the mind becomes overwhelmed in return.(Three cheers for every guy who has broken up with me🙌. This lesson was learned the hard way.) When the heart breaks it never returns to the same size. It breaks and enlarges. It breaks and is now left with gaps to be filled by something new. A new adventure. A new relationship. A new opportunity. A new do. 💁🏼A new job. A new outfit-cuz a gal has to look cute while she cries over 'The One" that was never the one in the first place!

In 35 years the Lord had taught me this: Loving big doesn't mean loving beautifully. Loving big is filled with mistakes which God turned into something good. Loving big isn't easy. Loving big is often misunderstood. Loving big is painful but only for a season. Why? Beautiful things need to be broken so they can become bigger. I hope you 'Love Big' today! ❤️

Rainbows, Circumcisions and ‘The Good Life’

In the Bible, a covenant is God’s promise to his people. He gave Noah a rainbow (Gen 9:8-17) and sealed his covenant with Abraham through the act of circumcision (Gen 17: 10-11.) Rainbows make me smile and circumcisions…don’t necessarily give me the warm and fuzzies. 😉 However, both are gifts, promises, of His faithfulness. One tends to bring more joy than the other…but both are good for they come from God. And so it is with life. Life isn’t always beautiful; it’s downright ugly, painful, unfair and suffocating at times. But, life is good. Life is a gift and when we loose that perspective, depression and despair quickly enter into ones life. How does one keep that perspective? Embrace the good AND bad times of life.

Is a good life one free of suffering and pain? If that were the case, one would be missing out on a whole heck of a lot of life! Jesus didn’t promise us a trouble-free life, but he did promise to be with us through it all. “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you WILL have trouble, but take heart I have overcome the world.”~ John 16:33

Rainbows, in a person’s life, can take on many shapes and forms: a wedding, a new job, new baby, new boo or a new doo. (Yes, I meant to rhyme. Dr.Suess would be proud of me.) However, when we focus ONLY on the highs of life, we deceive ourselves. Life is an accumulation of highs and lows, good phone calls and calls we’d never thought we’d receive, graduations, funerals, weddings and memorial services. But, God has made every single situation. Eccl 7:14 states, “When times are good, be happy; but when times are bad, consider this: God has made the one as well as the other. Therefore, no one can discover anything about their future.” If we focus on the rainbows in the life of another, we rob ourselves of joy, through the act of comparison.  We’ll NEVER know someone completely. (This is why relationships scare the #$% out of me!) But, there is hope!!  People change, but God does not. So when we trust God with the highs in life, all of our relationships as well as our ‘circumcision’ low points, He smiles and grants us with a peace that can’t be explained. Worry only steals our joy. Rainbows will come and go in ALL of our lives but we also have to experience those painful times to remember Who is in charge of it all. Even when I am at a low point and I can’t stop the tears from falling, I find myself embracing the fact that I am able to cry. I find myself praying, “Thank you Lord for enabling me to cry. You designed me perfectly. All IS well because You are good.”

Tonight I write from a state of pure contentment. But, all day I’ve been thinking of the Lord’s promises so I knew I had to write about them. To the eyes that are reading this now, may you find His peace that passes ALL understanding, embrace God’s unconditional love as well as the season of life you’re in. You are more loved than you know and blessings await that you can’t even fathom. God has ALREADY blessed us in the Heavenly realm. (Ephesians 1:3) Amazing love…grab hold of it today.

 

Unending Grace

     Grace. Webster Dictionary defines it like so: “The exercise of love, kindness, mercy, favor; favor bestowed or privilege conferred.” I discovered grace the hard way. Hitting rock bottom. Lysa TerKeurst said it best, “Choices and consequences come in packaged deals. When we make a choice, we ignite the consequences.” Thankfully, Grace never runs dry. It’s always woven throughout our days, even if you don’t believe in God. What is grace? I’ll tell you. Over 32 years, God has dumped buckets of grace in my life leaving me beyond grateful to be called His child.

Grace is being raised in a loving home by two parents who love each other and love the Lord. Grace is being blessed with two brothers who have shown me unconditional love over the years. The multiple financial blessings I’ve received over the years, the letters, text and calls at the right time, and the silence that was shared when I simply needed a friend, ALL display His hand of grace. The morning after deliberately going my own way, the wrong way, yet still being alive to talk about it: Grace. The “go in front of me” at the grocery store, the front row seat, the free ticket, the free dinner, the free vacation, the smile from a random child, ALL display His grace. I deserve nothing but the pit of Hell yet God continues to bless me without end. How can it be? I’ll never understand His grace, but I receive it and pray for those around me to receive it as well. The gift of sight, touch, taste, smell not only increase my enjoyment of life but display His grace in mine. I understand not everyone gets to see a beautiful sunset because they lack sight to do so. I never take a random dance party in my living room for granted; I understand God didn’t bless everyone with ears to hear music or legs that move. This is one of the many reason I run. I don’t run because I’m good at it. I run because I’m able. I love to push myself to the ultimate limit because it’s there to reach towards. I am able to run, because of God’s grace. The fact that I can hear well without the aid of hearing aids shows His divine grace! After two surgeries, I only have 4 hearing bones, but I can still hear well! To God be the glory. :)The warm cup of coffee shared with a friend, the “I love you” after a broken heart, the encouragement needed at just the right time when life seemed to be unbearable: Grace, grace and more grace. The “Can I pray with you?” when your soul can’t take one more minute of life, the unexpected breakthrough, the job offer, the new friend, the faithful friend, the divine friendship that can’t be put into words: God’s grace. The unexpected help at just the right time, the answer to prayer when I’ve felt like giving up and the second chances I’ve been given when Lord knows I don’t deserve it: GRACE.

I could write forever on this topic but I encourage YOU to continue for me. Where is grace in your life?  Simply living in America we, as a nation, have SO much to be thankful for. If you have more than one pair of shoes, you are covered in Grace. Right now there is a kid running around with callused feet in a third world country because he doesn’t have any shoes at all. Bad day? Count your blessings, not your problems.  Maybe the problem isn’t in your circumstances but rather in your thought life. “For as he thinks in his heart, so is he.”~Proverbs 23:7 Whatever we think about, we become. Bad days are a part of life, just as the good. But our focus will determine the turbulence we’ll experience on this crazy ride called life. “So we fix our eyes NOT on what is seen but what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”~2 Corinthians 4:18  Good news for everyone: we won’t need shoes in Heaven. 😉 

I’m not sure what kind of day you’ve had, but to all the planners out there, stop right now and focus on the moment in front of you. Bob Goff once said, “You don’t need a plan; you just need to be present” I couldn’t agree more. Focusing on Christ, the One who knows the day you took your first breath and the day you’ll take your last, is a no-fail solution to a grace-filled life.

In closing I want to be honest with you. I write tonight from a valley. I don’t know what tomorrow holds for me but I am confident God is already there and has my best interest at heart. We are as close to God as we want to be.  Lately, I’ve been praying to feel His heartbeat. However, the closer we get to God, the more the enemy hates it. More trials will enter your life. It’s okay. I know I am still loved. Nothing can separate us from His love. 

 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.  No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.”~Romans 8:38-39

No matter what you need in life God already knows about it and promises to supply every one of them. You are covered in Grace. “But my God shall supply ALL your needs according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”~Phil 4:19

Thank you Jesus for your unending Grace!

Heaven: The Ultimate Finish Line

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.”~Hebrews 12:1

On July 26, 2014, I remembered, along with MANY others, the sweet life of Erin Youngbar. Because she finished her life well, for Christ, the legacy of love she left behind is without end.  Today, she is still impacting many lives even though she is no longer physically present. She only graced this earth for 33 years but forever she remains alive in Heaven. Good news: In Christ there are NO good-byes! FOREVER we will be with Him and reunited with those we lost in life too soon. (“And there will be no night there-no need for lamps or sun-for the Lord God will shine on them. And they will reign forever and ever”~ Revelations 22:5.)

Nearing the end of her battle with brain cancer, Erin kept her focus on the finish line of life. She knew there was a purpose in her pain even though it was almost unbearable at times. She didn’t understand why God would take her away from her kids and husband so soon in life but she trusted the One who knew her best. It’s so encouraging to read the many posts still surfacing over social media regarding her life-even by those that didn’t know her personally but simply knew her heart from reading her blog. She didn’t live a long life, but she lived a deep one. My hope and prayer to every soul that is reading this now: never lose sight of the big picture of life. There is ALWAYS purpose in pain. Our job isn’t to understand God (for that would put us on His level), our job is to trust him.

The advantage of running a long distance with a friend is the depth of the conversation that usually unfolds. We are SO busy in life that we find it hard to put down our phone to talk face-to-face with a friend. Respect. Is it going extinct? If so, Jesus take me home now, please! While running, distractions are usually at a bare minimum (unless you’re being chased by dogs!) Today, my conversation with my friend turned towards Heaven. The Word says, For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is NOT from yourselves, it is the gift of God _ NOT by works, so that no one can boast.”~Ephesians 2:8-9  If we truly could work our way into Heaven, how many good works would be enough? We as humans can never be ‘enough’ to earn God’s grace. There isn’t a good soul on Earth; this includes myself.  I’m a sinner, in desperate need of a Savior, and am saved by grace. Thank you Jesus! “For ALL have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”~Romans 3:23 How can it be?  I let go of understanding, accept the gift of salvation and CHOOSE to trust Him with my life.  It’s comforting to know that we’ll be one big happy family in Heaven. 🙂 On Earth we complicate matters with rules and separation by denomination. In Heaven, we won’t be divided.  Catholics won’t have to go to cloud #22 while Presbyterians go to #12. Criminals who have turned their life over to Christ won’t be greeted by a God who claims to have seen one too many mug shots-He will simply look at their heart. “Man looks at the outward appearance BUT the Lord looks at the heart.”~1 Samuel 16:7. (Why can’t WE be more like this?) Be encouraged, If you’ve gone through a divorce you won’t have to split your cloud in two.  There will be no lower, middle and upper class in Heaven.  I imagine us ALL sitting together on one, BIG cloud soaking up His glorious presence. 🙂 In Him, we are one. Max Lucado once said, “Lower your expectation of Earth. This isn’t Heaven, so don’t expect it to be.” I agree with him wholeheartedly.

Bad day today? Not a problem. Heaven awaits you if you choose the  plan of salvation. The Hot Messes, the blessed messes and the crazies who have been born again have a hope that makes bad days quickly fade. As a self proclaimed Blessed Mess, I can assure you that keeping your focus upward and NOT inward is the pathway to true joy! In closing, I want to share with you the lyrics to one of my favorite hymns, Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus:

Oh soul are you weary and troubled?
No light in the darkness to see
There’s a light for a look at the Savior
And life more abundant and free

His words shall not fail you, He promised
Believe Him and all will be well
Then go to a world that is dying
His perfect salvation to tell

Turn your eyes upon Jesus
Look full in His wonderful face
And the things of Earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace

 

 

Jesus, Running and the ‘F’ Word

Running; one of my favorite outlets in life. Usually I run ‘just for fun’ but with the goal of running an ultramarathon this Fall, my fun, therapeutic runs have turned into duty. However, I try to keep the mindset of a fun run each time I head out the door but sometimes my emotions take over and my love of running is nowhere to be found. Before I talk about the ‘F’ word, I want to share with you my reason for attempting such a crazy task as running 50 miles. (My heart rate increases just from typing this number-eeek!!) 

On Nov 22, 2003, my brother’s best friend ran and completed the JFK, the oldest ultramarathon in the US. His motivation? An engagement ring. Yep, for 50 miles, through the woods, over the Appalachian Trail, he carried a diamond ring with him. His girlfriend eagerly awaited his arrival at the finish line. Through pain and perseverance, he managed to arrive in one piece. Before crossing the finish line, he got down on one knee, proposed, she said “yes”, and he went on to complete the race as an engaged man. Unfortunately, that wedding never took place.  On June 17, 2004, while helping a neighbor in need, he was killed in a tragic accident. I’m sure he is running in Heaven right now but there are many people that miss him greatly on Earth, especially my brother, Mike. This is my reason and motivation for running the JFK. I can’t bring Richard back for my brother but I can run in his footsteps to keep his memory alive. I had the pleasure of meeting Richard but I never got to know him well like my brother did. They were the best of friends. My greatest fear in running this race is that I’ll fail to finish but I believe the first step to success is to try. I will be thinking of Richard the entire race. If God enables me, I will cross that finish line too.

Even though I usually run alone, I know that I’m never truly alone for Christ is with me always. After accepting him as my Savior at the tender age of 4, I’ve developed quite the intimate relationship with Him. Sometimes He is quiet and allows me to listen to my music in peace and other days I give in, turn down the music and say, “Speak to me Lord. I am listening.” (For those of you unaware of God, the Ultimate Lover, is a VERY jealous God and will do whatever it takes to get your attention.) While running, I said, “Lord this sucks! I’m only on mile 3 and I’m struggling! What gives? What was I thinking signing up to run 50 miles?”  He quickly responded, “Doubt isn’t from me.  You’ve already run half that distance twice.  You can do it!  You can do it with MY strength.  Just ‘F’ it!” Uhhh…What the heck did I just hear from the Lord of the Universe?  I said, “Excuse me Lord? Did you just curse at me?”  At this point my mind isn’t on running at ALL but my body is somehow continually trotting along as I wait to hear back from Him.  Quick to correct me, He replies, “not a 4 letter word, but 5. Faith, Carolyn, just faith it.” And so it is with life. We must ‘F’ everything if we truly want to live in peace. “Now faith is being SURE of what we hope for and CERTAIN of what we do not see.”~Hebrews 11:1

When the world is against you and doubt is creeping in, just remember there is Someone that loves you more than life itself-for He gave His life so that we could live. Jesus Christ didn’t shed His blood on the cross so that we could live wimpy lives, He died so that we could live bold, courageous lives for His sake. I understand everyone isn’t a runner and that’s okay. But God DID give everyone unique gifts and talents that were meant to be used. If you’ve never done anything that scares you, I challenge you to today. Take a chance, take a risk, make a call or make a move. Hey, here is something ballsey: accept Chirst as YOUR savior. A.B.C. Accept that you’re a sinner in need of grace. Believe that Jesus died for you and Confess that you need Him in your life as your savior. The only thing you have to lose is a humdrum life. THIS is what faith is all about.  If you want to love, love big.  Go BIG or go home!  Don’t be afraid, just leap.  God will catch you. 🙂  “There is NO fear in love ; but perfect love cast out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.”~1 John 4:18

Love BIG or go sit on a tack! 😉

love biggest