God

Meaningful.

12224518_999926390027468_1319818625_nThe word “meaningful” has been tottering around in my head for the past couple weeks. (tottering?)

Sometimes words and their meanings just stick and won’t go away until I’ve properly dwelled on them. Pondering and dwelling and constantly thinking about stuff is basically my life. Some might call me an introvert, but I decided that I actually am not a big fan of labels. So I’m decidedly a: “whatever the heck I want to be at the moment.”

Back to that word: Meaningful.

The term is deeply personal. But incredibly important.

Living a meaningful life means you live your life with intentionality and purpose. Living on purpose. If you read the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Covey you’ll know it by the term, living pro-actively instead of re-actively.

A huge desire of my heart is authenticity. And that takes true effort. A proactive lifestyle means you aren’t constantly putting out fires and reacting to problems. Instead choosing proactivity, meaningfulness and authenticity means that you are ready for the curveballs and the changes, you’ve prepped your heart and life to get the most learning and joy out of everything you can.

Life I said, a meaningful life is a personal thing. I can’t tell you what it looks like for everyone. But to give you an idea for yourself, here’s what mine looks like:

Time set apart to spend with Jesus every day. A focused prayer life and prayer journal. A decision to be a blessing. And a commitment to go and do where the Lord leads.

And organized priority list. The other day I made a chart of the things that are important to me and the main things that I need to focus on right now. For whatever reason, some things that I was doing didn’t make the list. Maybe they weren’t important enough. Maybe they didn’t put me in the right mindset. Maybe I was spending to much time on them instead of the things I deemed more important. Whatever the reason, away they went. Seeing those decisions on paper solidified them, even if just for this season.

Once I have my priorities, let everything go. I tend to be an easily stressed out person. Definitely not something I’m proud of. However, I’ve accepted this about myself and decided that a big part of my life needs to be letting go. Take a breath. Don’t worry about it. This keeps me focused on the here and now, instead of worrying about tomorrow’s problems. It’s a constant practice for me, but it definitely helps me create that meaningfulness in my days.

Letting go of those worries allows me to focus on the little moments. What is life without little moments?! Seriously. I don’t know. Need an idea of what I’m talking about? Read these posts on 10 Sweet Little Moments and don’t tell me that this mentality wouldn’t help a person live more fully. I have made lists of these moments since I was 12 years old. Even now, I could mindlessly be typing on my computer or I could get in tune with my senses and feel the soft sheets under my toes, hear my essential oil diffuser bubbling, see the soft sunshine come through my window and smell the coffee warm in my cup. For me, it’s these moments that give my day beauty.

Visualize the person you want to be and go be it. I like the way that The Avett Brothers said it in their song Head Full of Doubt/Road Full of Promise, “Decide what to be and go be it.” This visualization gives you a goal to strive for, it helps with decision making because you know what you want the end result to be. (This is definitely subject to change as the Lord leads.) For me, apart from the spiritual aspect (which is constantly changing and evolving), I want to be a healthy, artistic, creative mountain-hippie woman. || Someone who savors good food, good music, good health and the beautiful outdoors. Someone who brings sunshine and flowers into her home. Someone who takes the time to make homemade Christmas presents and yogurt in the crock pot. Someone who doesn’t have a lot of “stuff” taking up space, but revels in the margins. Someone who cares about the earth and the people in it, making sustainable decisions for her home and life. Someone who loves beauty, but doesn’t need perfection to enjoy life. Someone who dresses well, but doesn’t obsess about her appearance. Someone who cooks delicious healthy meals, but doesn’t freak out if she burns the quinoa. Someone who sits quietly on the mountain top to look up at the sky and feel God. || Now every decision I make today should point to this woman I want to be. Should I buy that $3 glitter phone case made in China? Probably not. A. glitter. yuck. B. doesn’t sound like a fair-trade option. who was hurt so I could buy a cheap item? C. Maybe I shouldn’t even have an iPhone, it sure does take up a lot of mind space. (I told you, I think a lot.) Having that vision in my mind helps me to make decisions that fit the desires of my heart.

Don’t be afraid to be “Weird”. Maybe you’re the only person you know without a facebook. Maybe you feel guilty for eating meat but everyone calls you crazy. Maybe you don’t want to go to college, but instead want to spend the next 4 years serving as an international missionary. Maybe you’ve researched GMO and now can’t let another non-organic vegetable touch your lips. Let me tell you a little secret, there are some really weird people out there who make decisions for their lives based on the convictions in their heart instead of what everyone around them is saying and doing. And I have mad respect for those people. Add that to my “visualization”! Be a person that lives with conviction.

I fail at these practices daily. I have a conviction to live sustainably and naturally, but I still drink hot chocolate from a non-recyclable carton and have been seen buying $3 shirts from H&M. Even though I fall short from the person I’ve decided to be, I still am closer to her today than I was yesterday because I have her in the front of my mind. Having that vision makes me google “healthy natural hot chocolate recipes” (even if I don’t end up making them) and keeps me searching thrift stores for second-hand shirts that aren’t screwing up the economic system. One step at a time, guys. Decide what to be, and go be it. Be a person that lives with conviction. Go out and live your most meaningful life. 

Questions.

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God’s Word can influence so many questions in our hearts and souls. I know that’s how it is for me. The constant “How does this apply to my life?” rings in my ears every time I open up the Word. We read about Paul and the apostles – they lived radically for Christ. Giving everything. 100% aspirational, we all want to be like them. But we still have to pay rent, right? How does that work with working a daily job that isn’t quite “ministry based”? We read about being humble and living simply, but what about starting a business? How does “self promotion” work in all this? How much is “trust” vs. “take action”? Where’s the balance for me?

Sometimes we think that questions mean that we don’t have faith or that we doubt God. Don’t believe that. Your questions are proof that God created us to seek and desire Him. He called us in His Word to actively seek to know Him more through testing and discernment: “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12:2)

Wait – did that say “test”? Heavens! We’re not allowed to test GOD, RIGHT?!
Guess what guys. God is way bigger then us. Please stop creating Him in OUR image and understand that He’s not that grandpa figure that might get mad if you say the wrong thing. He’s not going to get “offended” if we use the wrong words. Not that we shouldn’t strive to honor and respect God (He more than deserves it) but I promise you, God is bigger than any mistake we can make.  The sooner you believe that the sooner you’ll stop having faith in the wimpy God of your imagination and you’ll put your faith in our mighty God, the Alpha and Omega. GUYS, He’s the freaking beginning and the end. Do you really think someone with that much of a big picture is really going to freak out and punish you because you’re an idiot human? *Spoiler, he knows your an idiot human, he expects it, and he loves you anyway*

Your questions are proof that you are not satisfied to know God on a shallow level. You want to know Him more + more.
You want to live 100% for Him and your heart won’t rest until you’ve found His purpose for your life.

Get rid of the guilt. Don’t settle for the mediocre. Delve into the Word of God, questions on hand, seeking His answers. The Bible is rich. It’s living. And it’s amazing Your life isn’t written clearly in the black and white ink, but it is written on the heart of God. And the more you seek HIM, the clearer your path will be. 

Not sure where to start?

– Seek His Word DAILY. This doesn’t mean a sweet lil’ devotional book glanced over in the 5 minutes before you rush out the door. This is Bible Time! Pick a book of the Bible (I would suggest one of Paul’s letters or a gospel book. But if you feel called to read Leviticus you go for it, I’m sure God will speak), and search a chapter every day. Read it at least 3 times, underline + highlight what strikes you, write in the margins, write your insights in your journal. EAT THE WORDS (metaphorically speaking)! Chew on them. Digest them. Saturate your body, heart + soul with them. Sound dramatic? It is. And it’s wonderful. BIG things happen in the life of a Christian daily seeking God’s Word. Because like I said, that book is beyond rich.

– Pray. I could write an entire post just on prayer because it is AMAZING. But for now I will just say this, pray about absolutely everything. And write it down to reference later, to see what God has done. Pray whether you “feel” like it or not. Pray even if it feels like you’re talking to air (you’re not). Be honest with God, because he knows every depth of your heart already. If you’re mad at Him, tell him, ask forgiveness and ask for help. If you think He’s awesome, tell Him. If you’re questioning His existence – ask Him to make Himself real to you today. Pray lame stuff that you’re embarrassed about (he already knows about it anyway).

I have to tell ya’ll a secret thing I prayed (that I’m actually kind of embarrassed about, but whatever, I’ll deal.) – I asked God to make me prettier. No, no, before you get the idea that I’m all holy asking for a “pretty heart”, that’s not what it was. I wanted to be PHYSICALLY BEAUTIFUL, like a model, a real head-turner. I told Him that I was embarrassed to ask such a shallow thing. I told Him that I know it’s shallow and definitely not what I should be praying for. I’m not ugly, I’m incredibly healthy and I’m incredibly blessed. How could I ask to be prettier when there are people starving in Africa? But that was honest. That’s what I wanted. And I told God, if it’s not His plan to make me prettier then maybe make me feel prettier, or teach me how to not be so vain and selfish. Maybe a good lesson in humility was all I needed. But guys, I was honest. I’d been (ashamedly) dwelling on physical beauty for some time (read: my whole life) and GOD ALREADY KNEW THAT. HE KNEW MY STRUGGLE. Once I accepted that and asked His help e v e r y t h i n g changed. I prayed, wrote it down in my journal and forgot about it. Over the course of the next couple months, God has taught me about beauty. Not some neat “inner beauty” mantra that I read in a book. But He taught me His personalized-Elisa-version of beauty. He taught me to see His creation (myself) through HIS eyes. Then I started seeing other people through His eyes. Then my skin started clearing up and my eyes got brighter – why? Because I was relying on God (not stressing) and was happy with who I am in Him. He taught me that because I asked. It’s amazing what God can do.

Another lame prayer: I asked God for more clothes. (I’M VAIN AND I REALIZE IT. GOD AND I ARE WORKING ON IT) Within the course of 2 weeks I got like 8 bags full of name-brand hand me downs from some friends and family. A friend of mine asked God something similar, she asked a new wardrobe. She had received several bags of clothing that didn’t quite fit. God answered her prayer and said, “I’ve given you clothes.” And this woman, led by God, learned to hem and alter all those clothes to fit herself perfectly. Now she is skilled enough to hem and alter and sew clothes for others, blessing them and blessing God.

Husbands and Wives, guess what? Prayer works for you too. My sister taught me this one and it blows my mind every time. If I want my husband to do something or be a certain way, I try (and oftentimes fail) to not say a word to David about it. Instead, I ask God, “Please help David to do so+so. If that’s not Your will, please help my heart to be changed to accept it and forget about it.” GOD ANSWERS THAT PRAYER. Seriously. It’s mind blowing. I’ll turn around and David will be doing that thing I prayed for. OR I’ll realize, it doesn’t bother me anymore! GOD IS MORE THAN CAPABLE.

And guess what? He’s not like us. He doesn’t run out of time. He isn’t stressed. There’s no such thing as “wasting God’s time”.

So when you talk to God – be real. Talk to Him with your whole heart, soul and mind. If you use a swear word, I promise God really won’t care. If you don’t say the right words, I promise He’s big enough to deal. Gradually, the more you talk to God, the more He’ll teach you to honor and respect Him. He will teach you how to pray. And it will be a genuine REAL process. Not a fake formal prayer. Be honest with your questions and doubts, guys.

P.S. Sometimes God says “Wait.” “Not right now.” or “I am going to teach you something first.” It’s important to accept His answer, no matter what it is. If that’s hard for you, I understand. Pray for peace and patience.

A couple other ways I like to seek answers from God: 

– Fast from social media. That stuff gets in my head and stays there, fuzzing it up and distracting me. Taking a break allows me to give God all my attention, and to clear the clutter so I can more readily hear His voice.

– Journal. Write everything. Like I said above, I love writing my prayers to see how God answered them. Copy down your favorite verses. Break apart chapters of the Bible and turn them into list-form (that’s one of my favorite things to do). Write down your goals and dreams and aspirations and ask God what He wants you to do with those dreams. If writing isn’t your thing, try a drawing journal. Draw your heart.

– Take a break from secular music. Again another “mind clutterer”. You need to be led by the spirit here, but when I’m feeling far from God, I need a reminder of His presence and His love. Worship music is the perfect tool for that.

Your path is unique.

God’s plan for you is personal.

You won’t figure it out by reading my blog or talking to other people who seem to have it all together.

Seek God and His Word and I promise amazing things will happen in your life!