Live Epic: Choosing Joy

Do you ever have days that feel like the Friends theme song?

It can actually be a quite relatable and relatively accurate picture of #adulting.

Haha, no seriously. Regardless of how you feel about #RossAndRachel, we’ve all heard at it at some point or another and thought, “Yeahhh okay I’m there right now. My ____(job is a joke / I’m broke / my love life is D.O.A)_____.”

That’s never happened to you?! Come on. Well, I’ve lived the NYC adventure—and I’m happy to let you live vicariously through my experiences. I can tell you, those days happen.

So, what do you do when your day feels like Friends’ opening credits?

I see three options:

  1. Watch Friends. (Clearly you already are, if you’re thinking of the theme song. And we all know that HIMYM is a knockoff and Seinfeld just isn’t as good 😉
  2. Buy a pint of HaloTop (I recommend the Lemon Cake) and eat the whole thing.
  3. Listen to what James says in his book:

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” James 1:2-4

I’d like to point out that the three of those options are not mutually exclusive. In fact, I’ve been known to do all of them in the same evening. (You’re not judging—you’re jealous and you know it.)

But, let’s focus in on the third (and most effective) option here. Particularly, the first four words of that verse:

“Consider it pure joy.”

That sentence holds true, regardless of which word you emphasize.

Consider it pure joy.” — Joy is a choice. Happiness is a feeling. It is possible—and Biblical—to choose joy, even when the world may say it’s okay to throw a pity party. Which leads us to…

“Consider it pure joy.” — Choosing joy does NOT mean that you’re turning a blind eye to the situation, or saying that everything is 100% A-OK. It very well might not be. It’s saying that you choose to trust the situation to the Lord, and you take joy in knowing He works all things together for good (Romans 8:28).

“Consider it pure joy.” — Nuh-uh, there’s no room for “sorta” or “mostly” here. James is presenting an all-or-nothing statement. You either trust the situation to God, or you don’t. You choose to focus on Kingdom purposes and His promises, or you choose to dwell in and become overcome by the struggle.

“Consider it pure joy.” — As Nehemiah so eloquently put it, “The joy of the Lord is your strength.” If you allow your situation to sap you of joy, you no longer have one of the most powerful weapons God provided. Allowing your joy to get lost in life’s struggles eliminates your ability to be a contender for the Kingdom. If “The joy of the Lord is (my) strength”, and “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Phil. 4:13), then logic tells us that with God-given Joy we can do all things. Amen to that.

Let me encourage you friends – Choose joy. Choose to be a contender for the Kingdom. You see, friends, life’s situations and worldly forces have no power in your life except for the power that you give them. Yet, we hear Christians complaining all of the time about being kept down by their woes and foe—yet, this foe has already been defeated. Both in the Old Testament (Deuteronomy 20:4) and New Testament (John 16:33), we’re told that Christ has already won the victory! So, if you feel like you’re being overcome by the #struggle, first take a look at your perspective.

Are you choosing joy? Are you remembering your “why”—why you live, why you make money, why you do whatever it is that you do? Are you acting from a place of submission to your situation, or victory over the struggle?

And remember, when it seems like choosing joy is a challenge, people are watching to see how you’ll react to your situation. You’re an ambassador of the King (2 Cor. 5:20). More on that to come… 😉

Grace & peace.

Live Epic: Finding Victory in the Valley

“When life gets tough, the tough get going.”

Or, so says the cliche. For me, though, there’s a crucial part that the phrase omits:

“When life gets tough, the tough get going to a movie theater & sneak in their own Starbucks.”

& at this point, you may be very confused. Or chuckling to yourself. Or see “Starbucks” as a synonym for “basic”.

Oh goodness, “basic” is about the last word that comes to mind when I think of my life right now. Nope, no-no. Not the case here.

Why do I slide into the cinemas myself? Well, because sometimes when your story gets tough, you want to step out of it momentarily and get lost in someone else’s.

I am wildly in love with stories. First and foremost, I feel like I was put on this Earth to be a storyteller.

In fact, I’ve actually crafted my life around it—in branding, I help companies tell their stories and become a positive part of the stories of their customers. In Pilates, I’m able to listen to people’s stories, and help them—even in some small way—to take steps closer to the story they’ve always dreamed about. In discipleship, I get the privilege of coming alongside others in realizing the story God has for them. In friendships, I’m blessed to be a part of other’s stories and do life together.

Everyone has a lens through which they view life. Some see it as more of an equation—“X+Y=Happiness”, as a pre-determined linear path, a sequence of small steps, or random shots in the dark.

I see life as a narrative—and I mean the big “LIFE” as in since the first breath was drawn, since before the beginning of human existence. It changed my entire perspective, actually, when I started reading the Bible that way—as a narrative, a story—instead of a list of “who, what, when” facts. It’s the difference between reading a thrilling novel vs. the encyclopedia. In fact, 40% of the Bible is written in narrative form—its the most common single type of writing.

All of that to say—for me, life is a story. My life is a story. Given my beliefs, my Biblical knowledge shows me that I was dropped into the midst of an epic story—and, my mantra since I was 16 was, “I fully intend to live an epic life.”

There was never an epic story about something safe and predictable. That would be the most boring story ever. There would be empathy in the struggle, no moments of joy. Nobody would pay money to go to the movies & see that.

In fact, within all great stories, the hero / heroine was always thrust into challenge or adventure instead of falling in-step with a life that was safe and predictable. They’re different and unique. The journey is often lonely, but they’re headed towards something greater. There’s a hope in their chest, and a knowledge in their heart that they were meant for more. They meet compatriots that share their purpose and laugh and walk with them on the way. At the end of the valley, there’s something that will bring fulfillment. That will validate their challenges. That will give meaning to their story.

But, so often we lose ourselves in the valley. We become so focused on the challenges that we completely lose sight of our calling. 

If you’re waiting for a mountaintop victory, you’re missing the point. God calls us to rejoice in all things. You see, so often for us, when our visions of victory don’t match our current situation, we lose heart. The victories aren’t always on the mountaintop—they come by choosing joy, and by choosing Him, every day. They’re not big leaps of faith, but small steps of obedience.

Embrace the epic story. Choose joy. And keep following Him to the victory.

Grace & peace.

Living loved.

Listen up, lovelies. It’s almost Valentine’s Day.

The day in the year, second only to Christmas and Thanksgiving, that’s all about being with the one(s) you love. Or like a lot. Or like a little.

Whether you’re celebrating Valentine’s Day, Galentine’s Day—or both! —I think there’s something even more important to this day that we often miss. February 14th is all about enjoying someone and celebrating them—their strength, their character, their passions, and their beauty—and so often the focus is shifted onto a significant other (or lack thereof) that we forget to celebrate another important person: ourselves.

She who so often gets overlooked.

Not overlooked by others, mind you, but by herself.

It’s not just about the “#treatyoself” mentality—but it’s about taking a moment to step back, breathe, and reflect on the lovely and kind, yet strong and fierce, woman that you are. And that confidence in who you are, that loving acceptance of yourself, will empower you to more powerfully love those that you’re in relationship with—whether sig o’s, friends, or family.

You see, when we don’t understand or believe in our own value, we make it impossible for others to fully see it, too! We unknowingly cheapen and sabotage our own relationships because we see them as something needed to complete us, rather than an addition to us. And, that need to “complete” drives a sentiment of desperation and a need for approval that others will never be able to fulfill. They weren’t meant to fulfill it.

“You can’t rely on me to make you happy.”

That’s what my dad told my mom back when they started dating. At first glance, it sounds extreme.

Isn’t that the point of relationships? you ask. Don’t they make you happy? Being with someone else and loved by someone else makes you happy?

Yes, it absolutely can. But, what my dad was wise enough to have caught onto here was the fact that if you rely on other people to make you happy—even the very best people—there will always be some day, some point that you’ll still feel…something missing.

Think of a gorgeous, handcrafted clay jar. And, the jar needs to be filled—it’s meant to be filled—but, if you always look to others to fill it for you, then your jar often be missing what’s needed to top it off. They don’t have enough to entirely fill your jar and theirs—and they weren’t meant to.

100% + 100% = 200%.

When we see our own value, and look for other people to add to us instead of complete us, we will always get more—happiness, fulfillment from our relationships, confidence in our jobs, and so on.

So, here’s what you need to hear loud and clear: you are worth loving.

And, this Valentine’s Day, it’s you who needs to realize that. Live loved, and you will be able to more fully love the life you live.

Cheers, dears! xoxo

P.S. If you’re in Fort Wayne…

I went to a really fabulous event last week at Jane Ford Art Studio that was all about celebrating women, sharing their stories, and empowering them to live in a way that makes the most of their strength and beauty each day. The event was sponsored by Hill Image Consulting, Kristine Logan Photography, and Solutions Skin Care—all experts in their field, excited about what they do, and all about empowering their clients and crafting styles, looks, and shoots that inspire confidence. If you’re looking to discover and share who you are—your personal brand—I’d highly recommend you stop in & see these ladies!