It’s Okay to Not Be Okay…

“So bring your brokenness, and I’ll bring mine, cause love can heal what hurt divides, and mercy’s waiting on the other side”…Were there ever more beautiful lyrics written?

I love this song for so many different reasons, but probably the biggest reason is because it reminds me of Papa’s unconditional love for me…even when I am completely broken and at my worst, He loves me just as I am. I don’t have to perform to earn it, I don’t have to take part in some sort of spiritual calisthenics to earn it, and I certainly don’t have to be “okay” to earn His love! It is freely given, and He loves me completely right where I am, no matter where that is.

2

Another reason I so love this song is because it makes me think of some of the great friends that I have in my life, and how when I get together with these individuals, it’s just pure honesty, love, and acceptance. There’s no masks, there’s no putting up a brave front, there’s no acting like we’ve got it all together, there’s just love and understanding…there’s just honesty and healing. I love my friends!

1

It’s been just under seven years since I became severely ill with botulism poisoning. Though I can happily and thankfully say that I am well into recovery and that things have improved drastically, there are still times that a flare up comes around, and knocks me right on my rear end…or rather into bed, hiding under the covers for fear that someone will see me when I’m ridden with anxiety, depression, and physical pain…when I feel incompetent, unable, like a failure, and thoroughly “not okay”.

This has been my go to for the longest time…hide away, and don’t let anyone see me when I don’t seem to have it all together. It wasn’t until a phone conversation with a dear friend a while back, in which they called when I was smack dab in the middle of a meltdown, that this began to change, and I began to allow myself to become more vulnerable and honest with other people. I normally wouldn’t have answered in this state, but for whatever reason I did. It went something like this:

Me: “Hello” *holding back tears*
Friend: “Hey! How are you doing?”
Me: *The dam breaks, the flood gates open, and I can’t hide it, I begin sobbing”… “Ya know what? I’m not good. I’m struggling. I’m overwhelmed with everything, and I’m not okay! I’m. Not. Okay.” *waits for friend to hang up on me, because I feel like I sound like a blubbering idiot*
Friend: “Girl, me too.” *begins sobbing right along with me, and we let ourselves be broken together, and love each other, not in spite of the brokenness, but because of it.*

Since this conversation, I can’t tell you how many more conversations that I’ve had with friends and strangers that go just like this. Conversations that I wouldn’t have been able to have if I wasn’t honest about what I was going through, and tried to keep up that “I’m fine” facade facing the world. All too many times, we try to put on a brave face for fear that we will be judged or ridiculed or told that we just aren’t trying hard enough, but ya know what? What I’ve found is that so many other people are going through the exact same stuff, and inside, they are just screaming for someone to relate to them, to be heard, and to be loved as they are and where they are. After opening up with people about my various struggles, I’ve found an overwhelming conclusion that it’s okay to not be okay.

4

In today’s world of social media, we all see each other’s lives in these pretty little images indicating that life is perfect and we’ve all got it completely together. It’s so easy to feel like we need to keep up, like we need to have it all together, and like we need to be always be doing something great and accomplishing amazing things. It’s exhausting, and I’m here to tell you that it’s okay to not have it all together, it’s okay to take a mental health day to relax and replenish (in fact, it’s quite healthy to do so), it’s okay to rest, it’s okay to not do anything other than just be, and if you’re smack dab in the middle of a hard time, it’s okay to not be okay!!! Papa loves you as you are, not as you feel you should be. He loves you unconditionally, and He not only willingly, but gladly, walks into the midst of your struggles, right along with you, to offer you His inexplicable peace, mercy, and grace.

5

The reality of life is that it doesn’t occur in pictures. Yes, there are great moments in life, and we capture mental images of these moments, but what about the in-between. That is, what about what happens in-between all of those picture perfect moments posted on social media? I can’t speak for everyone else, but it’s not like I’m posting pictures of when my house is a mess, I’m sobbing my face off, I’m having a panic attack, or my husband and I just had an argument over something ridiculous. See, these pictures of these fabulous moments show exactly that…moments, not life. The truth of the matter is that life is messy, we are messy, and all of us have parts of us that are broken in ways that only love can heal.

6

If we’re honest with one another about these broken parts, opportunities arise. When we admit that we’re not okay during various seasons of our lives, a certain level of comfort is achieved, and others are more willing to open up and share about their own struggles. Hence, an opportunity arises for each of you to walk together through each of your struggles, love each other, and give each other a small taste of Jesus. Healing can occur on both ends. In hiding and putting up that supposedly brave face, these healing and loving moments are lost. Honestly, I think that it is braver for someone to admit that they’re not okay than it is to smile and say “I’m fine”.

Nobody in this life is safe from trials and suffering in various forms. No one is perfect. Everyone has bad days, weeks, or months. We all have times when we’re not okay. Isn’t there a weird sense of unity in that? Life can be hard. It can be overwhelming. It can be messy, ugly, and downright unbearable at times. The next time you’re walking through a tough season, and someone asks you “How are you doing?”, give honesty a try, and watch what happens. Beauty from darkness is not only possible with God, but it is a promise of His to all of His children. In honesty about what we’re going through, there is a sense of relief, along with opportunities to help others going through something similar.

All in all, guys, there are a lot of times that I’m not okay, and if you’re not okay, then we can be not okay together, and reassure one another that even though we’re not okay, we will be! It’s just not the end of the story! In the meantime, rest assured that it’s okay to not be okay!

3

 

Sweet Potato, Brussels Sprouts, and Greens Breakfast Skillet

1

Oh my gosh!  Best start to my day EVER, and I’m going to share the two things that made it so great with you in hopes that it will give you a great start to your day too!  First, I started off with some time with Papa.  My daily devotional was all about Ephesians 2:19-22.

8c30e420bc56b5522b462e31ef1eb3d6

What an awesome reminder, hey?  So, second, after that, I proceeded to make the most delicious breakfast skillet ever!  I threw together a hodge podge of veggies, and then fried a couple eggs over them to make a delicious veggie and egg skillet!  Wowsers!  It turned out so so yummy!  So, let’s get to it!

SWEET POTATO, BRUSSELS SPROUTS, AND GREENS BREAKFAST SKILLET

Ingredients – Makes 2 Servings

  • 1 large sweet potato, washed, peeled, and cubed
  • 1 lb. Brussels sprouts, ends cut off and quartered
  • 1/2 Red onion
  • 4 cups Mixed greens
  • 2 Tbsp. Olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp. Garlic Granules
  • 2 Tbsp. plain greek yogurt
  • 2-4 eggs
  • Sea salt and Pepper

Directions

1.) Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, and place the prepared sweet potato and brussels sprouts on the baking sheet.  Drizzle with 1 Tbsp. of olive oil.  Season with 1/4 tsp. garlic granules and sprinkle with sea salt.  Bake in the oven for 30-35 minutes at 400 degrees.

2

2.) When the sweet potatoes and brussels sprouts have about 10 minutes left, heat the remaining tablespoon of olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat.  Add the onions and cook for 4-5 minutes until tender.  Add the greens and cook till wilted (about 1-2 minutes).

3

3.) Add the sweet potatoes and brussels sprouts.  Remove from heat and add the yogurt.  Stir to combine and coat completely. Transfer to plates and set aside.

4

4.) Place the same pan you just emptied over medium heat.  Add the eggs and cook on one side for 1-2 minutes.  Use a spatula to flip the egg without breaking the yolk, and cook on the other side for 1-2 minutes.  Place the eggs on top of the veggies on the plates.

5

5.) Season with sea salt and pepper.

7

And there you go!  Hope you have a great day!  Enjoy! 🙂

 

A Word About Suffering

1

Suffering is an interesting thing. We all try to avoid it like the plague, and when it comes along for a season in our lives, we wish so badly for that season to be over with. It’s interesting though, that the bible tells us repeatedly to expect suffering in this world. Not only that, but it says to “rejoice in our sufferings”!

  • Romans 5:3-5 ~ More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
  • James 1: 2-4 ~Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
  • 1 Peter 4: 12-13 ~Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed.

Now, anyone who has truly gone through a season of suffering knows that “rejoicing” in suffering is probably the last thing we think about doing when we are hurting. However, if we look at the many different bible verses on suffering, it becomes clear that God doesn’t mean that we should be happy about the pain itself, but more so about the fact that times of suffering have a purpose, and that they can become something of such beauty and glorification of our amazing Father.

Whether it be to strengthen our relationship with Him, increase our dependence on Him, to mold us to become more Christ like, or something entirely different, suffering can have a positive outcome and work for our good, which is exactly what God wants for us. I don’t know about you, but yeah, I see that as a reason to “rejoice” when I am suffering – I know that it is a precursor to something amazing that will bring glory to God and work towards my good.

2

If I’m being honest, when I first got sick about 5 years ago, I was confused, hurt, and very very angry…and this was on top of the suffering I was going through physically and mentally due to being sick! I didn’t understand why God would let this happen to me – I wasn’t a bad person (I mean sure, I have my flaws, but what ragamuffin doesn’t?), and I thought His promise was to work all things for my good…how could this be good?

Thankfully, I had about 3-4 years of intense suffering to really work through my thoughts on the subject. Yeah, you read that right, I said thankfully – even though I was so angry at first, now I am so grateful for all I’ve been through (even the flare-ups that I still get from time to time) and how close it has brought me to Papa. It’s one of my biggest blessings in this life, and I couldn’t have gotten that blessing without going through the trials I went through. I believe that it all comes down to this – He loves us way too much to let us be anything less than the best we can be.

3

Let me ask you a question. Imagine you are a parent (or if you are one, just imagine real life 🙂 ), and you go to the doctor for your child’s checkup. The doctor tells you that there is a new medical procedure that will allow your child to be the best that they can possibly be. If they don’t have the procedure, their life will be okay and they will be fine, but they won’t reach their full potential, and they will miss out on so many wonderful opportunities that they could have if they have the procedure. Basically without the procedure, they will have a mediocre okay life, but with the procedure, their life will be beyond amazing and the best it can possibly be. There is no way the procedure can fail if you choose to have it done for your child. However, these are the conditions.

  • Your child will have to go through a period of great suffering.
  • You will have complete control over the entire period of suffering and you will be able to make sure it doesn’t become too much for them to bare, but they have to go through it for the procedure to work.
  • You will be there the entire time and will be overseeing the whole procedure knowing the outcome is the best possible thing for them. However, your child won’t be able to see you while they are suffering, and there will be times that the child feels as though you’ve abandoned them even though you are right there with them making sure they are safe and loved so dearly.

What do you choose? Procedure or no procedure? You know the procedure will allow them to live their best life possible. You know the suffering of your child is temporary, and you know you are always able to intervene to make sure it never destroys them or becomes too much for them. You know the outcome, and you know that the procedure is 100% effective.  However, yes, your child would have to suffer in order for this procedure to work!

Personally, I would choose the procedure. I would want the best possible life for my child. It would be extremely hard and painful to watch my child suffer and it would kill me if they thought I had abandoned them even though I hadn’t (I’m sure this is how it is for Papa when any of His children are suffering), but I would know that my child is safe in my hands, the suffering will end, and when it does end, my child will be in a much better place than if they hadn’t gone through it.

6

This little analogy is what I’ve come up with while going through my own period of suffering as to why God allows suffering to happen. He wants what’s best for us, He already knows the outcome, and He will be with us, holding us and keeping us safe, all the way through the time of suffering.  In looking at it this way, I also tend to welcome and accept periods of suffering more easily now, and I can do as He says and “rejoice” in suffering. Don’t get me wrong – I don’t like the actual suffering part (as a matter of fact, I downright despise it), but I know I’m in good Hands that will never fail me, I know the suffering will end, and I know that when it does end I will be in such a better place! That is reason enough for me to rejoice and be glad in my suffering. God is good!

You’ve probably heard of the cliché saying that God won’t give you more than you can handle…yeah, I call bologna on that one! You will be given things that are so much more than you can handle…downright “impossible to handle” things! Nowhere in the bible does it say that you won’t, but don’t worry guys – He will handle it for you – that’s His word. That’s His promise.

4

Whatever it is you may be going through at the moment, please know that you are held, that He won’t allow it to destroy you or become too much for you to bear. You couldn’t be in better hands, and He will be with you continuously till this season has passed. He loves you more than it is possible to fathom, and He already has a plan in place for you to come out of this period of struggle better than you went in.

5

No one on this side of heaven is safe from suffering. We all go through times of pain and despair of all kinds, but my friends, I have great news – there is always the possibility of beauty from suffering, and this is God’s promise. He doesn’t promise that we won’t have suffering…quite the opposite actually – He is very specific in that we will have suffering in this world, but take heart! He has overcome the world!

7

 

WORSHIP WEDNESDAY – 10 bible verses about worship

ee5558e2afe8ab682a10ed9adc5f8df9

A couple weeks ago, a friend of mine told me about the following worship video

It’s an amazing video and so easy to get wrapped up in and just enjoy some time with Papa, worshipping and adoring Him.  Every second of every day His beauty is all around us, ensconcing us in His warmth, grace and love.  Naturally, we want to thank Him, and one of the best ways to do that is through worship.

44e1b104363236e573a446ab28e5a43f

God LOVES it when we worship Him, and what’s so great about that is that worship can take away our worries and sufferings.  When we immerse ourselves in Him and His greatness, it takes our minds away from our worries and concentrates on the One who will strengthen us and help us (Isaiah 41:10).  Give thanks to Him even in the bad times, because there is beauty waiting around every corner, and He will restore you (1 Peter 5:10)!

10 BIBLE VERSES ON WORSHIP

722ef7429d5bef55b02631684d622cdc

1.)  Psalms 29:2 Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name; worship the LORD in the splendor of holiness.
2.) John 4:21-24 Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”

fbc62bb64ba13bd55aeee0e10f535c34

3.) James 4:8 Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you…
4.) Revelation 4:11 “Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.”

1c5b1463e03f55cf651b63838f15ef0c

5.) Romans 12:1 Therefore, I urge you brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God — this is your spiritual act of worship.
6.) Hebrews 12:28-29 Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence, and awe, for our God is “a consuming fire”.

2b970764a35f8a70c40b0685f955e7e8

7.) Psalms 99:5 Exalt the LORD our God; worship at his footstool! Holy is he!
8.) Colossians 3:16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.

59b8dec421f8a5889d15172f374cc4ee

9.) Hebrews 5:7 In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence.
10.) Psalms 59:16 But I will sing of your strength; I will sing aloud of your steadfast love in the morning. For you have been to me a fortress and a refuge in the day of my distress.

354a8852c091a30a01623dff6e2a03d7

Have a fantastic Wednesday, and be sure to thank the One who makes your life possible!  God bless you! 🙂

MEANINGFUL MONDAY – Bible Verses on Living a Meaningful Life

90bad7cff06c931a7e9774f945f44eb4

I came across the following brilliant article the other day (click on picture to go to article).

viktor-frankl

It is titled “A Lesson About Happiness From A Holocaust Survivor”, in which a psychiatrist who survived the Holocaust explains why meaningfulness is more important than happiness.  That psychiatrist is Viktor Frankl, author of “Man’s Search For Meaning”.

I couldn’t help but notice the parallels between his theories and living a life for Christ.  The article explains the book’s emphasis on meaning over happiness, the value of suffering, and responsibility to something greater than one’s self.  It states: “People whose lives have high levels of meaning often actively seek meaning out even when they know it will come at the expense of happiness. Because they have invested themselves in something bigger than themselves, they also worry more and have higher levels of stress and anxiety in their lives than happy people.”

The article also says “Having negative events happen to you, the study found, decreases your happiness but increases the amount of meaning you have in life.”  Frankl states in his book that “If there is meaning in life at all, then there must be meaning in suffering.”  On this side of heaven, we will all experience sufferings.  Living a life of meaning gives a reason or a purpose to those sufferings.  Going through something terrible can make you a huge blessing to someone else that may go through something similar.  Our sufferings are God’s way of making us a vessel to help others (live a life of meaning).  This is just my opinion, but that thought in itself makes my sufferings much easier to endure.

The article also discusses that happiness is more associated with taking and selfishness, whereas meaningfulness is more associated with giving and selflessness.  When I think of Christ’s life as depicted in the bible, at no point was He pursuing happiness.  His life was one of meaning, and we are all aware of how He suffered for our salvation.  The life of a follower of Christ is meant to be lived trying to be more like Christ…in other words, living a life pursuing meaning (helping others, sacrificing self for the betterment of others, serving a greater purpose (PAPA ❤ )), not happiness (aiming to satisfy our own wants, looking for things that serve ourselves – not something greater).

Another statement in the article gets at the fact that happiness is fleeting, coming and going as we satisfy our current wants and then those wants turn into new wants.  Meaning, on the other hand, is enduring.  Personally, I would much rather live a life of meaning and leave a positive mark on the world than live a life constantly chasing happiness and trying to satisfy my own wants and leaving nothing behind to remember me by.  This is not why we are here.  We are all here to help each other along, and to love one another.  Living a life with these goals in mind will result in a meaningful life, and happiness comes along with that naturally.

The following bible verses further indicate that we are here to pursue meaningfulness, not happiness.

PHILIPPIANS 2:3 – Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility, consider others better than yourselves.

a2172e0ed0c6d34a9436db4c0fd36e9d

GALATIANS 5:13 – Through love, serve one another.

3c302abb10c535a6634226aee6b1a669

ROMANS 12:9-10 – Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.

14824_394975644_l

GENESIS 50:20 – You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.

73fea6112955487d443c6339130f291b

ACTS 20:24 – However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.

661700eac999912c998e3299c32b2915

MATTHEW 25:40 – “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

0fc56c10e57f0750ad0620d61879483f

JOHN 13:7 – Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.”

bb82a4abd7209521fcc79ffaf3e21db8

PHILIPPIANS 2:4 – In humility, value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

261fb417fd76dd0dc858b3b13316d4dd

When I dedicated my life to Christ, I was told that this was not the easy way – that there would be trials and tribulations along the way, and though ultimately, this will all prepare me for eternal glory (2 Corinthians 4:17), it’s not all rainbows and ponies.  I get it.  Basically, living a life for Christ is living a life pursuing meaningfulness, not my own happiness.  Seeking out ways to love one another, give to one another, help one another, and suffering in order to be able to help someone going through something similar may not satisfy our own desires, but it will certainly give us an amazing feeling and allow us to live more like Christ which is the ultimate goal of  life.  Make this Monday meaningful – look for ways to help someone other than yourself today, and when you do just that, thank God for using you for His glory!  Happy meaningful Monday, and God bless you! ❤

THANKSGIVING THURSDAY – 10 BIBLE VERSES ABOUT BEING THANKFUL AND GIVING THANKS

THANKFUL

It’s Thanksgiving!!!  What a great holiday!  No, not because we stuff ourselves full of delicious food (though that is certainly a bonus), but because it gives us a chance to slow down and really concentrate on all the things we have to be thankful for in our lives.  Did you know that being thankful is actually good for our health and studies have shown that being thankful and showing gratitude can increase our happiness immensely!

Every morning when I wake up and every evening before I go to bed, I always list off 5 things that I am thankful for – this is not a hard thing to do as there is ALWAYS something to be thankful for if we just decide to be people who continually give up thanks!  Of course, there’s the big things: family, friends, pets, health, a roof over your head, etc.  But even beyond that, there are so many little things that many take for granted.  What about the feeling of a nice hot shower in the morning to wake you up or the coziness of waking up on a rainy day, getting a whiff of your favorite smell, clean clothes or blankets just out of the dryer, an endless sky, a smile from a stranger, a random act of kindness…I could go on and on, and I repeat, there is ALWAYS something to be thankful for!

Of everything that I am thankful for (and there’s A LOT!), I am most thankful for Papa’s love, grace, and mercy.  He is the Provider of all the things that I am thankful for!  Without Him, I have and am nothing – He is everything.  So, on this day of thanks, I am going to share 10 of my favorite bible verses about being thankful and giving thanks.  Grab a blanket and a cup of hot cocoa (and be thankful for both of those things), sit back, relax, and enjoy some snippets of His word!  Be blessed!

10 BIBLE VERSES ON BEING THANKFUL AND GIVING THANKS

1.) Psalm 107:1 ~ Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His love endures forever.

2.) Colossians 3:15-17 ~ Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace.  And be thankful.  Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.  And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.

3.) Psalm 30:12 ~ that my heart may sing to You and not be silent.  O Lord my God, I will give you thanks forever.

4.) Isaiah 12:4-5 ~ In that day you will say: Give thanks to the Lord, call on His name; make known among the nations what He has done, and proclaim that His name is exalted.  Sing to the Lord, for He has done glorious things; let this be known to all the world.

5.) Philemon 1:4-7 ~ I always thank my God as I remember you in my prayers, because I hear about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints.  I pray that you may be active in sharing your faith, so that you will have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ.  Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the saints.

6.) Ephesians 2:8 ~ For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.

7.) John 3:16 ~ For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.

8.) Romans 10:13 ~ For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

9.) Colossians 2:7 ~ rooted and built up in Him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.

10.) 1 Chronicles 23:30 ~ They were also to stand every morning to thank and price the Lord.  They were to do the same in the evening.

Enjoy your Thanksgiving, and be thankful for all that God has blessed you with.  Share those blessings with others whenever you can!  Be thankful and be blessed!  Happy Thanksgiving and God bless you! 🙂

SELFLESS SATURDAY: 10 BIBLE VERSES ABOUT SELFLESSNESS

 04b0866f99bfeeb761f8b2b2a3ae166d

I’m calling today Selfless Saturday…

There I was in the parking lot of the center where I went for hyperbaric oxygen sessions when I had a full on attack of every single terrible symptom that I had had since I first became ill.  I bent over sobbing as my muscles jerked involuntarily and I shook uncontrollably.  Tremors wracked through my body, as my muscles spasmed causing body wide cramping to the extreme of my skin getting deep dimples where the cramping of the muscle pulled it in.  My nerves spun out of control as I felt what can only be described as acid running through my veins in surges while my body twitched.  My face was twitching and was contorted with pain as I cried.  I couldn’t see.  My vision was distorted by movement and bright flashing lights.  I began to drool because I couldn’t swallow.  I couldn’t wipe my tears – the facial pain and pressure was too much for that.  Pain shot all through my body as various parts of my body went numb.  My heart raced.  I couldn’t hear anything due to the deafening ringing and extreme pain in both my ears. Somehow both frigid cold chills and unbearable heat ran through my body at the same time as I was sweating and shivering all at once.  I dry heaved though I brought nothing up.

My husband tried to console me, but I was in too much pain for him to touch me, so he cried with me (I fiercely love this man!).  It was then that I felt like I floated outside of my body and was hovering there looking down at myself, but it didn’t look like me.  At that point in my illness, I had lost 10lbs that I didn’t have to lose and looked rail thin…I had lost about a third of my hair as well.  My hair was unbrushed as it was too painful to brush it, and I wore no make up because even that light application caused too much pain.  I had skin rashes on various parts of my body that itched uncontrollably along with welts and scrapes from scratching myself bloody  in hopes to relieve the itch.  There I was staring down at this “stranger” that was in so much obvious pain, and all I could think was “Somebody needs to help her…SOMEBODY HAS GOT TO HELP HER!!!”

This was about 6 months into my illness, and that was about two and a half years ago.  I can gladly say that though it’s been an extremely long journey, I am almost recovered now and am slowly moving on and putting it all behind me.  However, I remember that moment like it was yesterday – it was terrifying.  In that moment and thereafter, I made a decision that when I was well enough, if someone needed my help, no questions asked – I would help.  And for that matter, since I know it’s not always easy to ask for help, I would always be on the lookout for anyone that might need it.

17fb493319d5d3ea815d6fdb677c9448

After this, on the days that I was able to get out of bed, I made it a priority to do something good for someone else.  On the days that I couldn’t get out of bed, I made it a priority to pray for others. It made me feel useful, but I never imagined it would help to heal me.  Yet this is exactly what happened.  The more I did for others and the more I took the focus off myself, the better I felt.  I quickly learned that when we take time to step outside of ourselves and reach out to help others, it helps us to deal with our own troubles much more easily and effectively.

I learned a selfless way of living from this experience.  I can’t thank God enough for this perspective.  Perhaps this was a lesson I needed to learn, and it was a hard one for sure, but to be in a position where you can’t help yourself, and you truly need help from others opens your eyes and gives you the gift of empathy ten fold!  Here is one of my favorite Brennan Manning quotes.

8729c3e6365a92be611e29d327a07a1b-2

Of course, I had read this well before I ever got sick, yet now, I understand it so much better.  Of course, I would have rather just been given this understanding instead of having to go through suffering, but Papa knows best, and I’m thankful for the lesson.

Okay, so here I’ve rambled on and on…my point?  Selflessness.  It’s SO incredibly important!  We are all in this world together, and I believe we are all here to help each other along in this journey we call life!  Our loving God certainly makes it very clear in His word that He wants it this way.

So, on this selfless Saturday, I am going to leave you with some of my go to bible verses when it comes to being selfless.  Do something for someone else today.  Do something to make someone smile.  You don’t have to move a mountain, it doesn’t have to be a huge act – it just has to be an act.  Take action, give a little bit of yourself to make someone else’s life better.  I promise you that the reward will be bigger than you can imagine.

4fd26b935ce0ab6e09be4ca68ae32b65

BIBLE VERSES ON SELFLESSNESS

1.) (my absolute favorite!) Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.  Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. ~Philippians 2:3-4

2.) But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. ~Luke 6:35

3.) Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it. ~Proverbs 3:27

4.) Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will repay him for his deed. ~Proverbs 19:17

5.) For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” ~Galatians 5:14

6.) And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’ ~Matthew 25:40

7.) Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. ~Philippians 2:5-8

8.) Every man shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of the LORD your God which He has given you. ~Deuteronomy 16:17

9.) He who is generous will be blessed, for he gives some of his food to the poor. ~Proverbs 22:9

10.) Give generously to him and do so without a grudging heart; then because of this the Lord your God will bless you in all your work and in everything you put your hand to. ~Deuteronomy 15:10

If you are looking for a cause to donate to or get involved with, here are a couple that are near and dear to my heart.

1.) Apollo’s skin: My husband and I are running a 5K in a week to help raise money for a friend of mine’s son named Apollo who was born with Ichthyosis, a rare skin disorder, and was also diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy, Autism, and Encopresis (lack of bowel control).  You can read more about Apollo here.  If you would like to donate to this cause, you can do so at his GoFundMe page.

2.) More-Self-Less: A friend of mine is the founder of this organization.  He started it up in 2010, and it has only grown since then.  Annually, they hold a “I Dream Beautiful Christmas Celebration” that provides gifts for children that would otherwise go without, but it doesn’t do just that.  This celebration provides an opportunity for families to spend quality time together and bond. Here is an excerpt from their website: “We focus on the person who is doing the deeds, rather than just the recipient. Our intent is to provide HEALING through an avenue of sharing & experiencing the blessing of fulfillment that is received through selfless acts as well as offering much needed encouragement to others. Together we can accomplish this through the systematic coordination of events, dynamic leadership, and the removal of common obstacles that present themselves with acts of kindness/volunteerism as it stands today.”  To learn more about More-Self-Less or to make a donation towards their I Dream beautiful celebration, go here.

These are just a couple of opportunities, but there are opportunities to step outside of ourselves and help others everywhere.  Bring a neighbor some cookies.  Help someone carry their groceries to their car at the grocery store.  You would be surprised how much of an impact little selfless acts like this can have on someone!  Something as simple as a smile and a kind word can completely change a person’s day.  The most important thing is to take action!  Have a great selfless Saturday and God bless you! ❤