That Time James Gave it to Me Straight.

Have you ever had one of those moments when you take a good, long look at yourself and you’re like…

“Oh man…that’s ugly.”

Now let’s be clear that I’m talking about your internal self; because you, my sweet friend, are gorgeous no matter what. 

I had one of these epiphanies the other day after a conversation with a friend that left me feeling a little convicted. There’s a disconnect sometimes between what we I believe and what  we I portray our my beliefs to be to others. It’s so easy to get swept up in other people’s opinions, the gossip, the negativity and all those other things you think will get you accepted. 

Big life transitions (for me, my recent job change) have a tendency to make you analyze yourself. It’s a chance to start over and re-vamp problem areas. After the aforementioned conversation, I went to my home base, the Bible, to do something I honestly haven’t done much of lately. Read it. 

And of course, per usual, it kicked me in the stomach. In a good way. Right there, in the pages of James, were the words I needed to read. The ugliness I have let grow in myself for far too long. That’s the interesting thing about toxic behavior…you don’t realize how big it’s getting until it’s grown out of control.

Take a read with me (this is long and kind of random, I apologize. But it just kept jumping out!)

James 1:21-26
“Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you. Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do. Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless.”

James 2:12-26
“Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment. What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.” Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds. You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder. You foolish person, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless ? Was not our father Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend. You see that a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone. In the same way, was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction? As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.”

James 3:3-12
“When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell. All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? My brothers and sisters, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.”

James 3:17
“But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.”

My tongue is ugly. How about yours? And my actions? They sometimes stink too. 

Words AND deeds. Both are part of our faith and beliefs. You can’t be fully committed without both, as in any relationship in your life. And on the same note, both affect each other. They can build each other up or they can tear the other one down. Hypocrisy is not a fun place to be, but it’s often where I find myself when both my tongue and my actions aren’t aligned.

But I think this is all part of The Year of Alive, right? We grow by moving forward in places where there is work to be done.

And as I tell my student tour guides…”Think about what is going to come out of your mouth before it comes out of your mouth.” Is it really what you want people to hear? Would someone who has never met you before understand your message? Do your actions match what you’re saying?

Suppose I better listen to my own advice, ya think?

MonthlyOneWord150

I’m linking up with my One Word 365 friends over on Only A Breath! Be sure to check out the monthly updates.

Happy Friday…love you friends!

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2013: The Year of Alive.

It’s here already. Holy moly. Is it me, or did 2012 go faster than any year on record?

Anyway, it’s here. December 31, 2012. Out with the old, in with the new right? We’re winding down the holidays, closing out the books, reflecting and setting new goals for a new year. Just like every other year.

Just like every other year.

I have a confession. I’ve been in a rut. Like, a massive crater of a hole. And the reality is I dug it myself. I’ve been comfortable (which is by no means a bad thing.) I have good friends, a good job, good parents, a good house…you get the picture.

It’s all good.

But I’m not ready to settle for good. That’s what I’ve been doing. I’ve been o.k. with life just being comfortable. I mean, I worked a lot of years to get to comfortable! I survived high school, I freaked out through college, and somehow managed to crawl through the past few years transitioning into adulthood (which, PS, no one tells you is going to be the HARDEST TIME OF YOUR LIFE. Praise God for our friends.) Let’s not lie, it’s still hard. But, as I’m about to turn 28 later this week, I have had a realization.

I’m not dead.

(Alright, I can see this is where you start thinking that I’m being a drama queen. “No Heather, your life is not over just because you’re in your late twenties.” I know, I know. But you should try spending majority of your time with college students…trust me, I feel old. There are slang words and dance moves I don’t know!)

Annnnnyway. I’ve been treating life like I climbed to the top of some grandiose mountain top and here I shall now stay and find a way to be content. Because clearly this is all there is.

Um, excuse me. No. (Sometimes you have to get a little sassy to life.)

For years I’ve been hanging onto one of my favorite bible verses: “Be still, and know that I am God;…” Psalm 46:10. And yes, it’s still one of my favorite verses. Contentment in God is one of the core truths of life. However, not too long ago we were talking with our life group and I remembered one of the greatest pieces of advice I have ever heard in my life.

Pray and move. 

For the love of it all, be still for a time, but then do something! Talk to God about it. Pray, pray, pray all day, everyday. But do something as you’re praying. Faith in God means faith in the reality that He will divert any plan that isn’t His. He’s not going to let you do something harmful to your life as long as you’re in Him. Pray and move.

Ok, so this was a really long, drawn out way for me to get to my point. My point is, I’ve been trying to change my prayer. Away from my usual: “Why is this happening?…what do you want from me?…what am I supposed to do now?”

Do you see the main problem there? Yep. That’s right. Me.

So now here’s the new goal: “What do YOU want my heart’s desire to be?…what do YOU want from me?…what do YOU need me to be doing?”

Ahhhh. Better. I’m by no means claiming to be the queen of praying and seeking (on the contrary, I’m actually really bad at it) but I’m trying.

So this is probably about the time you’re wondering about the title of this post, am I right? What does Alive have to do with anything? Well, remember what I said? I’m not dead. Yippee!

Alive is what this year is about. In all sense of the word. Celebrating being alive (this week is dedicated to that…Birthday Girl!), finding passions that make me come alive, rejoicing in the fact that I (and YOU) are alive, and FEELING: joy, pain, hurt, love, anxiety, all of it. Being real and being alive. Experiencing new things. Not just sitting and being content. And of course, all with some sass and sarcasm (come on, this is me we’re talking about.)

This has been one of my favorite quotes in recent years…

“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” 
–Howard Thurman

So here we go. Alive in 2013. Who’s with me? Will you explore being alive? Will you try something new with me? Will you choose your own word and share it with me?

I decided to be part of a blog project this year, One Word 365 (see the logo over there —> Look, and come back to finish reading!) It’s a community of people who each choose one word to live their years by and share their experiences. I started following it last year and decided to jump on board this year.

I believe in this year. And my goodness do I hope it goes a little slower than last year!

Here we go, loves. Here we go.

My Secret Addiction.

I admit it. I’m attached to my phone. Yes, I’m that person.

From the minute I got my first smartphone (ah, the pink crackberry…I LOVED that thing) I was addicted. But, my life was changed this past fall when I got my new partner in crime…

The 4S. Aside from Her Snarkiness, Siri (whom I love to argue with, but she’s sometimes more frustrating than helpful), this little guy has streamlined my life immensely.

Admittedly, I am not the most techy lady you’ll ever meet (and I spend time with some pretty techy people.) But I do have a few apps that have become essential to my life:

Evernote: Do you use this?! If not, try it out.  If you’re an organizing nerd like me, you’ll thank me later. It allows you to create notes with text, photo, voice and web clips. You can categorize them, tag them, create notebooks. AND, it has a desktop companion that SYNCS AUTOMATICALLY. Ah! Let me tell you, this has been amazing during my new house process. I have clip after clip of furniture options and fabric choices. I also use this for all my shopping lists; I can add to it anytime, from work or home, and always have it with me when I’m at the store. A-mazing.

YouVerson: A fabulous Bible app. It also has a web portal edition. You can access the Bible in just about any translation, download studies and it READS TO YOU OUT LOUD. Oh my gosh. I now fall asleep sometimes listening to readings. Or play it in the car on my way to work. Love.

Amazon: Admit it. We all know you can find anything you need on Amazon.com and usually for a great price. And they make an app. No explanation needed. I actually bought curtain rods while sitting in my car in a parking lot. Yes, this is my life.

Flipboard: I really like pretty things. And Flipboard is pretty. I use Google Reader on my computer (also life changing!) but Flipboard is so much more than a reader. You can not only set it up to show your Facebook, Twitter and Google Reader feeds, but you can also subscribe to a number of news feeds and blogs provided through the service. It’s like an artsy, awesome mash up of news, trends, social media and yumminess. Yep, yumminess.

I am positive that I only use about 1/130 of my phone’s abilities. Do you have a favorite app or way that technology has made your life easier? I’d love to hear!