Faith

The life I’ve always wanted

We all have our dreams, you know, the ones that mean we’ve “made it.” I realized mine about 10 days ago.

I was sitting in my living room. I’d just finished paying bills with Tyler.

Tyler closed his laptop and gave the dogs each a couple of pats. He topped off my coffee that he put in my favorite Disney mug.

EVE on my kitchen counter

I started reading some blogs from my favorite Christian bloggers. Pebbles jumped up on the futon to cuddle and “read with me.”

Tyler gave me a kiss on the forehead and started his FIFA video game.

Bam Bam and Pebbles fell asleep. Gently snoring.

Pebbles snugs

I sipped my coffee and looked out the window from my seat. It was slightly overcast but it wasn’t long before the sun broke through.

I was so happy. Content. Loved.

This is the life I’ve always wanted. It’s not perfect.

We still want to move when God opens a door. I still want to pursue my career in journalism or at least writing. We still want kids one day. We still want the pandemic to end.

At that moment, I was at total peace. It was the perfect day to just BE. But right now, I’m still at peace.

Sometimes when things are going well, we can forget to pray and forget to thank God for blessing us with this moment of peace.

And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful.”

Colossians 3:15

I jotted down this prayer that day. It’s dated May 1, 2020.


Heavenly father,

You are so good to me. You are so faithful. You created the heavens and know all the stars by name. You formed me and knew me before I even drew my first breath. Thank you for this amazing life. I have stumbled and I have sinned but you are mighty to save. I ask for your forgiveness for everything. For my harsh tongue, and my lack of faith at times especially. Your grace is enough. Please grant me wisdom to make the right choices according to your will. Grant me discernment. Help me to control my mouth and lead me according to your will. Help me to find motivation. Bless me, Tyler, our family and friends. Draw Tyler and I closer to you. But most of all, let everything I do glorify you. Help others to see you in me. Thank you for this day and thank you for this amazing, beautiful and messy life!

In Jesus’ precious and holy name I pray, AMEN.


It seems odd to write about this seemingly normal day. But it’s these little moments where I really see God. Where I see him working in the waiting. I don’t want to miss anything and I don’t want you all to miss it!

I will give thanks to you, LORD, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds.”

Psalm 9:1

Now, I have to go prepare for small group this week and I need some prayer. We are reading the Song of Solomon and I have to teach on it… #anxiety

Pebbles ANXIETY
Faith

Check out the wallpapers!

We’ve all been there. Looking for the right wallpaper for your phone.

Do you use your own photo? Do you scroll Google images for that perfect color? Do you just use the phone defaults?

I found that I usually wanted a phone wallpaper that would keep and important word or phrase in my mind. Especially scripture.

Sometimes I need a reminder!

It got tough to find ones that I loved or in the colors I wanted so I started making my own!

So I figured I should share them with all of you! They’re not perfect but they help me to focus or reset when I peak at my phone.

I created a “Free Phone Wallpapers” page on the blog to check out. They can be downloaded straight from the page or on Google Drive.

I’ll be adding more as I make them.

Enjoy!

Faith

Being present in the in-between

I don’t like waiting.

I’m the type of person who gets the email that their order has been shipped and I immediately clicks “track my package” because I want it ASAP.

In-between seasons are not my thing. It’s spring and I’m ready for summer. Let me skip the spring allergies, please! Fall is cool for about two weeks. Then I want winter to come so we can get it over with and then go back to summer.

It’s crazy, I know.

But right now, I feel like I’m in a huge waiting period of my life. An in-between season. I’m sure others feel this way.

I had plans for this spring and summer. Tyler and I got married last year, we travelled for a while. We’re not ready for kids quite yet and we wanted to keep traveling, seeing family and friends this year. Take time to figure out what we want for our careers.

We had plans: weddings to be in and attend, graduations, trips to Florida, babies to be born that we wanted to meet. I was looking forward to ALL OF IT.

Then BAM. Global pandemic.

I know this sounds self-centered. People certainly have it worse than we do. I pray for them and I really feel for those seriously effected by this pandemic. But still, disappointments abound. For all of us. And they are valid feelings.

This past weekend alone, I watched my friend, Simone, defend her dissertation online and I watched my friend, Ashely, get married over Facebook live. And I’m so glad we have the technology to still take part in these milestones even when we can’t be there.

Congratulations to Dr. Simone Douglas and Mrs. Ashley Weiss!

This in-between time is difficult. It’s so easy to mentally try to skip it and just wait for things to get back to “normal.”

But when we wish away seasons of our lives, we waste precious time. We miss out on blessings. We need to learn to be present in the waiting.

My soul is quiet and waits for God alone. My hope comes from Him.”

Psalm 62:5

David did a lot of waiting. He had quite the in-between season(s) in the Bible.

In the past few weeks my small group has read through 1 & 2 Samuel as well as 1 & 2 Chronicles so David has really been on my mind.

My Bible

At about 10 or 12-years-old, David was anointed as the future king by the prophet Samuel while Saul was still king of Israel.

Several years went by before David killed the giant, Goliath. He was in Saul’s good graces and eventually lead armies for Saul. About 10 years after he slayed Goliath, David was on the run from Saul. He remains on the run for nearly 10 years, hiding in caves, towns and in the wilderness.

Imagine being told you would be king, killing a giant, being a high ranking official with Saul and then narrowly escaping death for 10 years. That’s a lot waiting and a whole lot of trusting in God’s timing. But in that time, David grew close to God. He trusted in God. He wrote beautiful psalms.

Psalm 27 was written during that time, along with others.

But as for me, I trust in You, O Lord. I say, ‘You are my God.’ My times are in Your hands…”

Psalm 31:14-15

He used that time, that waiting and in-between stage, to serve God and trust in him. After Saul’s death, David was eventually anointed king and ruled for 40 years.

Under Saul and David, it feels like Israel was constantly fighting battles. God gave the country some rest under David’s son, Solomon, while he built the temple.

My Bible

In his final years, David made preparations for his son Solomon to take over. He set his son up for success by organizing and planning for something that would not happen until David died.

I bet that felt like a lot of waiting. Same with building the temple.

David had a heart of worship and praise. In his waiting, he took time to thank God.

I will honor the Lord at all times. His praise will always be in my mouth. My soul will be proud to tell about the Lord. Let those who suffer hear it and be filled with joy. Give great honor to the Lord with me. Let us praise His name together.”

Psalm 34:1-3

Let’s not forget the context in which 1 & 2 Chronicles was written. It was meant for the people of Israel who were returning to the promised land after the 70-year-long Babylonian exile.

These returning people had been in a season of waiting for 70 years! They also were in the process of rebuilding Jerusalem. These books were meant to help them remember their identity in the lord and help them remember God’s promises. His timing is perfect.

In-between seasons have purpose. In spring we plant, things bloom and grow around us. In- fall, we harvest, plants die and make way for new growth in the spring. Same with us.

I read “Waiting on God’s Perfect Timing” by Christina Patterson this week on the First 5 app.

“Sometimes we find ourselves waiting on God, other times it’s harvest season and time to enjoy what we’ve been waiting on,” Patterson said.

You’ve probably read or heard of a little verse in Ecclesiastes referring to seasons. Those seasons come at specific times in our lives according to God’s will and timing.

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.”

Ecclesiastes 3:1

“Both David and Solomon were patient in waiting for the proper time to build God’s temple,” Patterson said. “Their willingness to wait on God and not move too soon ensured that when it was time for the temple to be built, everything necessary would be in place.”

Some are waiting for the blessing of a child, some are in a season of singleness, some are waiting for reconciliation, some are waiting for restoration, some find themselves in an empty nest and some are just waiting for whats next.

But they who wait upon the Lord will get new strength. They will rise up with wings like eagles. They will run and not get tired. They will walk and not become weak.”

Isaiah 40:31

Some of us just want to LEAVE THE HOUSE TOGETHER TO SEE FRIENDS AND FAMILY AND MAYBE GO BACK TO EUROPE OR SOMETHING…

The in-between stages of life.

For now I will do some gardening, hand lettering, BLOGGING, spring cleaning and work on some of my mad soccer skills.

Whatever waiting season you are in: take joy in the present. Maybe this is a season of rest or a season of growth in some area. Even when everything feels like it’s spinning out of control, God is in control.

We can rest assured that all waiting and in-between seasons do come to an end. Eventually.

Faith

Perfectly created to be imperfect

I guess I’m a perfectionist and I’ve only recently come to terms with this.

Don’t get me wrong. I thought I had perfectionist tendencies in certain areas before but I dismissed it. I mean what kind of perfectionist lets the house go or has a sock drawer that’s total chaos? That’s symptom of my problem. 

For the record, I’m not writing this because I’ve mastered anything. I’m a work in progress.

Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”

Philippians 3:12-14

First, let’s define this Goliath in my life. 

According to Webster’s Dictionary, perfectionism is “a disposition to regard anything short of perfection as unacceptable.” 

Webster’s also calls perfectionism “the doctrine that the perfection of moral character constitutes a person’s highest good” and “the theological doctrine that a state of freedom from sin is attainable on earth.” 

We know that’s not possible. 

If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.”

1 John 1:8

Ecclesiastes 7:20 says, “surely there is not a righteous man on earth who does good and never sins.”

There was only one perfect person on Earth. Jesus.

Yet why do we have so many who are crippled by the idea of perfectionism? 

Our last small group study on “Miss Perfect” by Karin Conlee revealed some areas where I struggle with perfection. My work, writing, relationships, etc. 

The whole reason I’m writing this is because of my small group. 

We were meeting via Zoom last week and I mentioned that I love writing and I want to get back to writing again but anxiety and perfectionism get in the way.

This blog is a prime example. I want to do it. I have good intentions but I start writing and then that fear of not being good enough sets in. So I put it off and months go by and I still haven’t written a darn word. 

I was good at journalism because I had a deadline and I was confident in my ability. Blogging…not so much. 

My small group gave me an assignment. I would write a blog post by our next meeting Wednesday.

My doggie, Pebbles, anxious.

They gave me a DEADLINE. 

One of our members quoted me in our Facebook group when I told them I was anxious. 

I really want to write again…having a deadline helps… self imposed deadlines don’t work.” 

Courtney Stern

That’s actually a symptom of perfectionism. Procrastination and self sabotage. 

Wellness coach Elizabeth Scott, MS, says perfectionism and procrastination tend to go together.

“This is because, fearing failure as they do, perfectionists will sometimes worry so much about doing something imperfectly that they become immobilized and fail to do anything at all,” Scott said.

I was listening to the SHE podcast by Jordan Lee Dooley and she has talked about self-sabotage and perfectionism several times in the past few months. Woah. God’s trying to show me something.

It’s an endless cycle. We can break that cycle by focusing on the truth. There is nothing wrong with being a high achiever or wanting to do things well. 

Journalism demands some level of perfection in pursuit of the truth. If you mess up, miss quote someone or don’t fact check, you can get in trouble. 

That’s not the issue. It becomes a problem when we let it hold us back from pursuing God’s will and using our gifts. 

I’m a sinner and I’m a mess. That doesn’t mean that I have nothing to offer God’s kingdom in my pursuit of Jesus. He grants us grace. 

But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

2 Corinthians 12:9-10

We’re reading 1 Chronicles in small group right now. If you haven’t turned there in your Bible before, it’s A LOT of genealogy. Honestly, I usually skip it. However, now that I am a small group leader, I have been paying attention to these sections a little more. 

My Bible.

In this book, the genealogy serves to remind the Israelites returning to the promised land after 70 years of Babylonian exile of their spiritual heritage and encourage them to be faithful to God. 

Just like the Israelites needed to be reminded of who they were and needed reminding of God’s faithfulness, so do we. I need reminding almost daily. 

Every time I hear “You Say” by Lauren Daigle, I want to cry because I forget. I forget who God says I am. 

I read “Remember Who You Are” by Kayla Ferris and it reminded me of a few truths that I’ll repeat below.

So here’s a quick refresher for those who follow Christ: 

  • As Christians, we are sons and daughters of the living God. (Romans 9:26) 
  • As God’s children, we are included in the inheritance. (1 Peter 1:4)
  • We will be able to spend eternity with God, the lover and creator of our souls. (Philippians 3:20)
  • Christ is with us in our struggles. (John 14:17)
  • We are bought by the blood of Jesus. We are forgive through grace. We are redeemed. We are filled by the spirit. We are LOVED. We are chosen. We are cherished by God. 
  • Check it out: John 14:16, Ephesians 1:7, 2 Corinthians 5:17, 1 Peter 2:9 and 1 John 3:1. 

Jesus is our living hope. 

I’ve come to the conclusion that we are perfectly created by God to be imperfect.

As I’m writing this my husband asked me how the blog is coming along. 

“It doesn’t have to be perfect,” Tyler said. 

YES IT DOES. I mean, I KNOW it doesn’t have to be perfect but my brain fights against me! 

The journey to perfectionist recovery is not easy. At all. 

It starts with commitment to do something even if it means failure. I can’t tell you the number of things I’ve quit or haven’t done because I was anxious or afraid of failure.  

During this quarantine, I started learning hand lettering. Hand lettering is like modern calligraphy. It takes patience and practice to develop the muscle memory. 

I can be impatient with myself and drop activities if I am not immediately good at it. That’s why I bought this hand lettering book a year ago and have barely touched it until now. Because I tried one time and my hand lettering didn’t look beautiful! 

I don’t know why I thought I would be immediately good at it. My handwriting leaves a lot to be desired. Years of making my own shorthand in my reporter notebooks have not given me the best penmanship. 

My standard handwriting is an odd blend of print and cursive. I’ve never had a pretty signature no matter how hard my mom tried to get me to practice, I wanted to write fast, not pretty. 

My big joke in journalism was that if anyone tried to get a search warrant and seize my reporter’s notebooks related to some event or case I covered, no lawyer would be able to decipher my writing. 

This past week, I printed practice sheets and I went to work learning my new skill. No, it’s not perfect. I’m not perfect but I will present you with a sign that I am working on it. 

My attempt at hand lettering.

Here I am procrastinating. Pushing the “publish” button on WEDNESDAY, just hours before small group. 

Hey, I’m a recovering perfectionist. This is an improvement! 

Faith

Do everything in love: Support shelters, food banks during Coronavirus outbreak

It’s a scary time. Businesses are closing. Churches are closing. People are out of work. Loved ones, young and old, are at risk of catching a dangerous virus.

It seems like the Coronavirus has brought out the worst in some people. You don’t have to scroll too far down on Facebook or Twitter to see people raiding stores or fighting each other over a package of toilet paper.

While you’re panic shopping and buying more stuff than you really need, please consider those who are less fortunate. Even if you’re not hoarding toilet paper, please think of those in need!

The generous will themselves be blessed, for they share their food with the poor.”

Proverbs 22:9

Many people can’t afford to buy groceries they need, much less hoard supplies. Donate to your local shelters and food banks.

I see so many posts offering “thoughts and prayers” to those who are ill and those in need. Pray for them but also take action.

Be generous. Offer to help people.

Most shelters need non-perishable food, clothing, linens, cleaning supplies, trash bags, hygiene products and baby items.

Check out this list for the shelter needs in Mason City. And here’s how to donate for the Food Bank of Iowa.

Don’t live in North Iowa? Here’s a website with links to local shelters across the U.S. And another link for Food Banks across the country.

Of course, I didn’t forget about the animals in need who rely on human volunteers to stay healthy. You can find your local animal shelter here.

The Humane Society of North Iowa is in need of non-clumping cat litter, 13 and 30 gal garbage bags, paper towels, treats, dish and hand soap, hand sanitizer gel, laundry supplies, puppy pads, fleece blankets, old towels and newspapers. Find the full list and how to donate here.

You can also help others without spending money. Call an older family member who is stuck at home just to chat. Spend time with your kids. Offer to leave someone a hot meal on their porch. Send a letter to a friend!

Do everything in love.”

1 Corinthians 16:14

Rather than go crazy, let’s show people love, kindness and generosity.

Faith

Water into Wine: A lesson on God’s abundant blessings

READ: John 2:1-12

I wouldn’t call myself a wine expert. I don’t know about grapes or different wine growing regions. 

My husband likes to read wine bottle labels with a terrible French accent for fun. Then we have to look up words like “terroir” and “amabile.” Thank you, Google! 

If a $3 bottle tastes good, I’m in. Boxed wine? Canned wine? I don’t discriminate.  I appreciate good wine. I savor the times I get to try something special and I can tell when something is on another level.

Most of us have heard about how Jesus turned water into wine! A man after my own heart. 😉 

Our small group study read the book of John a few months ago. In chapter two of John, Jesus attends a wedding with his mom and his disciples at Cana in Galilee (John 2:1-2)

The wedding party ran out of wine at this wedding and Mary brought it to Jesus’ attention. 

Now there were six stone water jars there for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. And he said to them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the feast.” So they took it.

John 2:6-8

That’s a pretty awesome miracle. *commercial voice* But wait…there’s more.

When the master of the feast tasted the water now become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the master of the feast called the bridegroom and said to him, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and when people have drunk freely, then the poor wine. But you have kept the good wine until now.”

John 2:9-10

Whenever I open my bible, I seem to get hung up on something random. God uses that for good and reveals himself or me in such strange ways. 

Water into wine. 

My first thoughts on this story included:

  • I wonder what kind of wine it was.
  • I wonder if I would have liked it.
  • I wish I knew what it tasted like.

Then I saw it. It was darn good wine. 

I laughed. I told my husband the story and my thoughts to which he responded, “Good to know Jesus goes the full 100.”

Wow. He does. The full 100.

You would think Jesus would make wine, just as good as the wine they ran out of… but no. He made it better. Isn’t that amazing!?!

God doesn’t go halvsies on any miracle, or work. He does the best. Why would that be any different in my life or your life? It wouldn’t.

We should be praying for and expecting God’s best, even when we can’t see that it’s the best for us. 

God doesn’t (pardon my French) half a** answering your prayers. That’s just not who God is. 

He makes all things work together for Good. God works it all out in his perfect plan. He makes all things good. What an incredible God! 

This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory. And his disciples believed in him.”

John 2:11

This was just the beginning of Jesus’ works. The best was yet to come.

The same goes for us. The best is yet to come.

Keep praying. Keep the faith. Every breath is a miracle and we should be grateful.

Praise the lord!

Faith

A spiritual “tinkling” contest

Read Romans 12: 1-8 

Forgive my slightly crude story ahead of time. 

In February 2019, Tyler (my husband) and I adopted two dogs from the Humane Society. They were a bonded pair and both had to be adopted together. A two for one deal! 

Bam Bam and Pebbles

There were a few odd, yet lovable, traits we noticed about our special dogs.  Pebbles would go out into the backyard and do her business (number 1) first. Bam Bam would follow right behind a tinkle right in the same spot.  There are two ways to look at this behavior. 

  1. Bam Bam was playing copy cat and stole her territory
  2. Bam Bam was reenforcing it, marking our yard as THEIR YARD together. Backing each other up. 

I’m no pet psychologist but I know that it has something thing to do with territory. 

How often do we feel like someone is encroaching on our area and tinkling over what we deem to be ours, claiming it? 

“But I thought that’s what God was calling me to do! Why does she/he have to do that too?” 

Us, probably. Certainly Me.

Why can’t you both do it? 

Is it possible that God has called you to something similar as another person? Is it possible that he’s reenforcing another area? 

I don’t know what God has called everyone or anyone to do.  I only have an idea of what he is calling me to do. 

Regardless of whether someone else has that down, you should pursue God’s will in his timing even if it’s not your timing. 

We should do what is right in the sight of the Lord.

I have felt called to blog or at least have had the desire to blog as a hobby but I have been avoiding it. Like, actively avoiding it out of anxiety, fear and frustration. 

A friend of mine felt the same way in a need/desire to blog and I was bitter that she started blogging first. 

Why can’t we both do it? Why can’t we both pursue our calling and hobbies? 

It’s hard for me to admit jealously over something so stupid. I completely support her and I read her blog! But that initial twinge of annoyance was a gut check for me.

  Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Romans 12:1-2

I was confronted by this verse in small group last week.

The world expects us and the enemy wants us to be competitive and try to be better than others. We should be exemplifying the fruit of the spirit and building each other up.

Renew your mind with God’s word and feed yourself spiritually. Let go of the petty and embrace the humility and kindness.

Romans 12: 3 says, “For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.”

It’s easy to feel proud of your accomplishments, but this entire process as a small group leader has reminded me that it is for God’s glory. In all things, be thankful to God and give him the praise.

For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.

Romans 12: 4-8

The MacArthur Study Bible notes that these spiritual gifts are like a “palette of basic colors, from which God selects to blend a unique hue for each disciple’s life.” I love that imagery.

You are a unique creation and your gifts are for you to bring glory to God. Go forth and use them according to his will.

God Bless!

Side note: It’s not wrong to be proud of your dogs…look at them. Just look. ❤

Faith

But God: His plan > My plan

Ever felt stuck? Like God put you where you are and that was your calling but now it’s not fulfilling or it’s a huge, life-draining burden?

That was me. I was going to work, day-after-day, and I was frustrated. There were times when I wanted to quit. In truth, I loved my job as a journalist and I loved my coworkers. I loved my beat, writing about crime, courts and breaking news.

But God…

But the business drained me. The workload suffocated me as they cut workers and dumped more expectations on those who remained. I was overwhelmed and it took a toll on my health, physical and mental. 

Then the day came when people, far higher up than I, decided they didn’t need a person on my beat. And just like that, I was laid off from a job where I felt my position was secure.

Life is funny like that.

But God…

Thanks to God, I left with grace and “the Lord’s peace.” I knew he had a plan for me. And he had to forcibly remove me from an unhealthy situation that I wouldn’t leave because the comfort of staying outweighed the benefits of leaving, in my mind. Why?

I was scared of moving on. The “what ifs” start creeping in. Something my diagnosed severe anxiety won’t let me fully ignore, even on medication.

But God…

I can’t get those two words out of my head. When my plans fail and I’m left in the ruins…the next sentence begins.

He has a plan. His ways are far higher than ours. He can see eternity. How can my plans compete with the God who knows all?

Before I do anything, I can always see the worst possible outcome. I’ll be in the car with a friend and I can see the semi truck seven vehicles up drifting awfully close to our lane. I can see clear as day, in my mind, the 10 vehicle pile up that will kill me or hurt me so bad I have to use crutches to walk down the aisle next month.

I saw the worst possible outcomes of my unemployment.

But God…

I feel it in my soul. I started praying my “Anything” two months ago, based on Jennie Allen’s book. 

“Lord, I’ll do ANYTHING. I give it all to you. It’s all yours anyway. Use me as you see fit.”

I really didn’t think he would take my job! Gee thanks. (haha) Seriously, I was shocked. Shocked, I tell you! Then I felt a peace that could only come from God. My friend and small group refer to it as “the Lord’s peace.”

So I prayed. I asked for prayer from my small groups, church leadership, family, friends, former coworkers, THE INTERNET.

Then the peace slowly wore off. I started to get nervous and worried. I’m planning a wedding. I’m trying to figure out if we’re staying in Iowa or moving wherever.

But God…

Today, I realized I was trying to take back control. Man, that’s hard to give up. We all belt “Jesus, Take the Wheel” in the car but do we live it? Do we really let go of the wheel?

Not too often. So here I am, asking others to hold me accountable while I let God be God.

But God…

Those two words together appear hundreds of times throughout the Bible.

“My flesh and my heart fail; But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” 

-Psalm 73:26 NKJV

In scripture, often the word “but” ends up revealing the intervention of God. It reveals his grace, mercy, compassion and love.

God is love. His grace is sufficient. He makes all things new. This is who God is.

But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered. And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness.”

-Romans 6:17-18 NKJV

Even when we struggle, we need to thank him. We must praise him in the storm. Count it all joy!

Since I lost my job:

  • I have had the opportunity to truly rest and I have taken it!
  • I spend more time with my husband-to-be, Tyler.
  • I cuddle my two beautiful doggos and take them on long walks on the trails.
  • I’ve spent more time outside.
  • I hang out with friends without constantly worrying about work or talking about it.
  • Tyler and I go to trivia nights with friends.
  • I play cards with my small group ladies (and sometimes win lol).
  • My weekly Game of Thrones watch party is turning into weekly movie night potlucks.
  • I open my Bible each day hungry for his word.

I have JOY. These past few weeks, I wake up genuinely happy. That hasn’t happened in a long time.

“And do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”

Nehemiah 8:10 ESV

I’m still praying ANYTHING. I can’t wait to see what God is leading me to in this life. Literally, I can’t wait. I’m impatient but he’s working on that. 😉

What can I say? I’m a work in progress!

Unrelated

Never stop learning.

Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young. The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young.”

-Henry Ford

Unrelated

Post from July 17, 2016: Life is short. Life is hard. Always be kind.

 

Intro: I posted this on Facebook and Instagram last summer before I restarted my blog. As we approach the one year mark of the local councilman’s suicide, I feel compelled to share this and revisit it. The message still holds true. 

It’s easy to be discouraged these days with the news, recent attacks in Manchester and London. The best thing we can do is love, be kind and be strong. – Courtney Fiorini


I don’t usually share such personal things on social media. I try to keep it light these days. But this week is a little different.

I want to share a little bit of advice with you all: Be kind.

There’ve been quite a few tragedies over the past few months. As a journalist, these events and great losses aren’t just something I hear about on TV.
Talking to victims, writing stories, it’s part of our jobs. I’ve talked to people who fought in wars, people who’ve held friends as they died, people who have lost family members, people who have gone through hell and back…

I’d be lying if I said it doesn’t take a toll. The expectation for most jobs is that you leave work at work. Not this job. Certainly not in a small town where you can easily run into people, public officials and even criminals you’ve written about.

In my newsroom we started a kind of “happy board” with cute pictures to help with the tough times.

Friday started out like happy way to end the week. We laughed, talked about the Pokemon we’ve caught, shared a video of a man in a shark costume dancing to Hips Don’t Lie.

My co-worker said something that brightened my day early Friday.
“Courtney’s like our human happy board! She’s always sharing great stuff.”

Everything changed late Friday afternoon. Suddenly we were all brought back to reality. The community lost a young public official and as a newspaper we needed to tell people.

This is a small town. This was not a distant figure but one who was easily approachable. One we saw frequently. One, as journalists, we spoke to frequently.

It’s taken me a while to process it all.

When I left work late Friday, I decided to be with friends rather than sit home alone. Friends who recognized that I was sad and confused so they offered me cheesecake eat while watching gameshows from the 1970’s. I even did some karaoke later that night…it wasn’t pretty but I did it. We laughed and for a little while you could almost forget how cruel the world can be.

I turn 23 at the end of the month. I’m no expert on life but there are a few things I know about.

Life is short. Life is hard.

In August, I will have lived in Mason City for one year. I’ve faced negative people. I’ve been criticized based on my job. I’ve been treated poorly. I’ve been called an outsider. These weren’t new for me as a journalist but on an off day they can still get to you.

Don’t get me wrong. Life is beautiful too.

Overall, my Iowa experience has been positive. I’ve learned a lot. I’ve had great times. I’ve met some incredible people. I’ve grown as a person. I’ve seen beautiful things. I’ve become a confident woman who looks in the mirror and likes what she sees.

I’m realizing that I don’t want to be around people who bring me down. Life is too short to spend around people who make you feel bad.

I also realize that I need to make a conscious effort to always be kind. You never know when it all will end. You never know what’s going on in someone’s life. You never know what your last words will be to someone.

In a world where Internet trolls are a thing and there’s negativity around every corner, a kind word can really make a difference.

Psalm 34:13-14 says, “Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking deceit. Turn away from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.”

Be kind.

That’s what I will strive to do. I’m not perfect. I’m going to mess up. But I want people to think of me the way my co-worker does, “human happy board.”
I want to make people smile. I want to build people up. I want to be kind and loving when the world isn’t.

Ephesians 4:32 says, “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another…”

That’s my goal.

For those of you who’ve made it this far in my “little” post, I challenge you.

  • I challenge you to be kind and make a difference.
  • I challenge you to volunteer your time to a cause in your community.
  • I challenge you to do more than just be a social media activist.
  • I challenge you to complement someone today.
  • I challenge you to help someone who needs it.
  • Don’t forget to tell people in your life that you love them.

These are little things we can do.

This isn’t everything that I wanted to say or even everything I feel right now. I admit that I’ve shed a few tears in the time that it’s taken to write this. I found out about anther tragedy in Baton Rouge since I began writing this.

Before my newsfeed fills with more pain and hate, let me close with one of my favorite fun quotes.

“All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt.” ― Charles M. Schulz

Thank you for reading and God Bless,

Courtney Fiorini

TL;DR: Life is short. Life is hard. Always be kind.

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