Just Be You

We might temporarily impress people by being fake, but we can permanently impact people by being real. ~ Dave Willis

We try so hard. All we see when we look around is how good everyone else is. How much more successful they are. How much more together they seem to have their life. We want to be better! We want it to just be easier financially, socially, skillfully, etc. Whatever you wish you was better at, that’s what you see.

We try so hard all the time. All the while only becoming more frustrated with ourselves. Our frustration just leads to more unhappiness, causing us to be even more discontent with ourselves. It’s a never ending cycle. Discontentment equals discouragement.

“The only thing that will make you happy is being happy with who you are…” ~ Goldie Hawn

I have walked in those shoes so many times. I still find myself putting these shoes on again no matter how many times I think I have overcome. Recently though, my view on how to overcome discontentment has had some new light shown on it.

There I was, walking in those discontent shoes again. So unhappy with myself. So busy comparing myself to others, just making more misery upon myself. I was tired of it. Tired of being unhappy. Tired of comparing. Tired of wishing I was better. I was trying to be better but it wasn’t working. I was looking at how everyone else was doing things and trying their methods that are not really designed for me personally. What I was doing was failing. I was trying to make myself someone that I was not.

“If you cannot hear the sound of the genuine in you, you will all your life spend your days on the ends of strings that somebody else pulls.” ~ Howard Thurman

One day in prayer, I was spilling my guts out to the Lord, releasing all my self-frustrations, and complaining about myself. Asking Him to make me better. All at once it hit me. “I created you to be Dalena.”

“I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.” Psalm 139:14

It hit me like a ton of bricks! God created me to be ME. I don’t need to be looking to others and comparing myself to them. Yes, I can take advice from others but don’t try to be them. The only formula to bettering myself is to be me!

Fall in love with the process of becoming the very best version of yourself.

Once you can come to the realization that God created you to specifically be YOU, there will be no self satisfaction. Yes, I’m sure there will always be room for self improvement but remember your best qualities. Qualities that God designed for you. No one else.

We are all originals.

Embrace what makes you Unique.

We judge ourselves. Why? We only make ourselves miserable when we do. I know at least I do! My prayer lately has been geared more towards, God help me fulfill Your plan for my life. Strengthen the good qualities you have given me. Help me be who You created me to be… Dalena.

God created you to be (insert your name here).

We shouldn’t be all about what we are not, but instead what we ARE.

Once you become happy with yourself, confidence comes.

The only way you will get better at being you is to be YOU.

So be YOU. Embrace everything that is you. Do what works for you. Don’t worry about others. You’re the only one who has the formula for you!

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When Comfortable Becomes Uncomfortable

Twelve disciples. One boat. A calm sea. Jesus told them to get into the ship and go to the other side. No big deal. Six out of the twelve were fishermen by trade so they knew how to handle a sea. They didn’t know what the plan was, Jesus didn’t tell them. He just told them to go to the other side and they just simply obeyed.

(Reference Matthew 14:22-33 & Mark 6:45-51)

All of the sudden, winds came. A simple task became difficult. They began to stress in rowing the ship, trying to stay on course to do what their Master had bidded. It was getting very hard. The winds were too strong and the waves were too high. What they didn’t know was that Jesus had went up to a mountain to pray yet He still had full vision of where they were. “He saw them toiling in rowing…”

If they had known that they were going to have to fight a storm, do you think they would have been as obedient? Me personally, no. God doesn’t tell us everything we will go through but He does know what we can handle.

Six out of the twelve chosen disciples were fishermen. They knew the sea like the back of there hand. The shortest course, the best fishing spots, how long it took to get to the other side, etc. Jesus knew they were capable of what He was sending them through.

God will not send you through something unless He knows that you can handle it.

What He sends you through, He’ll take you through.

Jesus gives us a choice as to how we respond to difficult tasks He assigns to us. Mark 6:48 says Jesus “saw them” and He went “unto them, walking upon the sea, and would have passed them by.He was giving them a choice. You can either try it on your own, or you can cry out for help. The disciples chose to cry out in fear and Peter took it even further and wanted to get to were Jesus was. (Matthew 14:28-29) Once Jesus was in the ship with the disciples, Matthew 14:33 says they knew Him and worshipped Him. They believed in who He was even the more. Because of what they went through and because of how they responded, they better understood just how great He really is and worshipped Him. John 4:23 says “the Father seeketh such to worship Him.”

Sometimes God sends us through things so we can better understand who He really is.

Will everything He sends us through be easy? No. But I Corinthians 10:13 says, “There hath no temptation taken you but such as common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” The temptation this verse is referring to is not necessarily sin as we think of. It is also referencing to trials, tests, things we have to go through. God will make a way of escape and that “way” is Him. God knows our strengths and weaknesses. He also knows that our weaknesses can be made stronger through Him.

II Corinthians 12:9 says, “My grace is sufficient for thee: for My strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”

I John 4:4 says, “Greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world.”

God wants us to respond to our weak times by calling out to Him. That is how we overcome! He gives us a choice. It’s up to us to decide. He’s there, He’s watching, waiting to respond to our cries for help when our weaknesses become greater that our strengths. That’s when His strength makes our weaknesses strong. It’s only through Him that we can overcome.


Just as God told the disciples to go, my husband and I felt like God told us to go too. Our comfortable became uncomfortable as He began to bid us to a new chapter in life. We moved from Oklahoma to Arkansas at the end of 2018, totally depending and trusting in God. I’m sure there will be storms along the way but God has a greater plan in it all than what we can see.

From His word, I read that when He bids us to do something, He is always close by, watching and waiting for when we need Him. It’s our choice to either call out to Him in our weak times or try to handle it ourselves. I pray we always call out to Him!

(Ouachita Mountain range view from my new back yard.)

Stay strong. Keep the faith. Don’t give up through everything. Just trust and believe that He cares about all your needs. He knows you’re stronger than you think you are.

Be Still

“Our anxiety does not empty tomorrow of its sorrows but only empties today of its strengths.” – Charles Spurgeon

Anxiety is an emotion characterized by an unpleasant state of inner turmoil. It’s basically when worry overtakes your mind. It is real. It does happen. Some will never understand while others fight it almost daily. The enemy likes to use it as a tool against our soul to strip our joy in life completely away. But we must be strong and fight that off. Me personally, I know thats easier said then done though.

“Fear thou not; for I Am with thee: be not dismayed; for I Am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.” Isaiah 41:10

In God is where we find strength and comfort.

Here lately, I have been trying my best to stay above anxiety. It’s super hard at times but I know this:

“I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” Philippians 4:13

It feels like everything is just crashing down on me and my personal, natural instinct is to fix it all immediately. The thing is, its not stuff that I have control over. It’s not stuff that I am at liberty to fix right now. So then I become overwhelmed — wanting to act out but all the while I know it’s not time yet.

In my moment of wanting to fix it all and just having an emotional pity-party, this scripture was spoken to my heart:

“Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.” Psalm 46:10

It let me know that I just need to hush up and be still. Simple but ground breaking for me. It helps me to release everything that I’m trying to carry and let God do with it what He does best. Work it out.

When God gets finished with your situations, they turn out beautiful in their own way and they always bring Him glory. It’s actually a pretty amazing thing. You give God something that’s ugly and falling apart and He fixes it all and in the end, He is exalted above the mess. He takes something that seems hopeless and by the time He is done, there is a beautiful hope through Him that replaces your anxiety.

Sometimes, we get in a hurry. Be patient. When it’s Gods timing, He will open the door. He is working where we can’t see and He will show Himself in His due time. We get through not by what we see physically, but by faith.

“(For we walk by faith, not by sight:)” II Corinthians 5:7

This morning, I was spilling my heart out to Him again, trying to fight off my anxiety. Psalm 46:10 was given to me again.

It’s okay to be still and not do anything. Your lack of action frees up the circumstance for God to have control.

Be still.

Good Moments

“Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.” James 4:14

Just in the past month, it seems like everything that could go wrong has went wrong. I have made the statement, “When it rains not only does it pour but it comes a hurricane.” It feels like one gut punch after another. After a while, it gets hard to stand and even catch a breath. I have also said, “What else could go wrong?” But it seemed like the more I said that, then the worse things got. I finally just stopped saying it.

I know everyone has their times but these last several weeks have been extra trying. In all things though there is always lessons that can be learnt. Those are the things that I am looking for. What can I grow from? I believe if you want to become stronger then you will have to take a test — face a battle. Learn from the hard times in life. They will make you stronger if you look for ways to better yourself from the things that are hard to swallow.

On November 20th, my daily devotional came at just the right time. It was talking about spending more time in the present, instead of worrying about the future. It said, “When you gaze into your tomorrows, making predictions, you are simply exercising your imagination.” It has really made me stop and think on those words every since I read it.

“You never set foot on anything but the present moment.” – Sarah Young

I am practicing just living in the present and leaving the future to God. The future only brings me anxiety most of the time so why treat myself that way when there’s nothing I can do about it anyways?

Take it all one step at a time. Keep your focus on the present and trust God for the future!

Sometimes, it is best to reach our wits end. It causes us to just stop because we simply cannot take any more. We hit rock bottom. There’s beauty in rock bottom though. The beauty is the fact that the only way out is up. It actually brings you to a place where, mentally, you say, “This is it. — No more.” You have to make a decision to stay in your misery or rise above it.

Today, I choose to rise. I choose to take everything as stepping stones to new things ahead. I choose to learn what I can from what I have been presented with and use it to advance to new levels in life.

“Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.” Romans 12:21

There are things in life that seem evil (ugly, hard to go through, like a trial) but don’t let those hard things overcome you. Do not allow those things to weigh you down so much that you can’t get up and move forward. Overcome those hard things with good things.

Focus on the good within the bad. Look for ways you can grow and become better and grow stronger. Cleave to only the good and use it to rise up and overcome the hard times.

“…Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good.” Romans 12:9

Take everything one thing at a time. Breathe. Focus on only the good in your present moments. Leave the future up to God and take it on in His timing as He brings it to pass.

Live in the present moment — no regrets. We’re never promised tomorrow so why worry about what it could bring?

“Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself…” Matthew 6:34

Burnt Monkey Bread

It was going to be a special evening. I was cooking dinner for our 2nd anniversary. I decorated the dining table with some of our wedding decorations I still had and lit candles for a romantic effect.

Everything was going as planned.

My husbands favorite dessert at the time was monkey bread. I had never made it before but out of love, I thought I would give it a try. I slipped it into the oven as he got home from work and we sat down for supper. It was all smiles and a special moment as it was our first big meal in our new to us home.

About halfway through dinner, my husband asked about what was in the oven. I was so excited to tell him that we was going to have his favorite dessert. To our dismay though we noticed that the room was filling with a haze and it was not some kind of romantic effect that I had planned either. Fear gripped my heart as I turned to see smoke coming from my oven. We both dashed to the kitchen not knowing what to expect.

As it turns out, there is a difference between an angel food cake pan and a bundt cake pan. I will let you guess which one I had.

All the yummy, gooey stuff that makes the monkey bread so delicious had seeped out and ran down the racks to the bottom of the oven. Luckily, it had not produced a flame yet but it sure was on the verge. We were able to extinguish the smoke by covering the burn sights with a heavy dose of rock salt.

It was totally embarrassing but has since then turned into a very funny story that my husband enjoys sharing.

It’s our Burnt Monkey Bread story.


 

Yesterday, I was faced with a very difficult situation. I felt like it was a mess I had made all on my own. It burnt. No doubt there will be some scars from that day in my memory.

In my distress I was calling out to God, letting Him know that I had made a mess of life and how I always mess everything up. I even said, “I can’t even make monkey bread.” Yes, you can laugh if you want but at the time I had a face soaked with tears and I was being transparent with the Lord. He knew what I was saying.

I can’t do it.

Immediately after saying those words, it came to me. We all make messes. We have to learn and we have to grow to become stronger and more experienced. Some of us humans are more stubborn than others and have to learn things the hard way while others can be taught with what they have at the moment.

From my Burnt Monkey Bread experience, I learned that I need the proper equipment to be successful.

My point is, we all make mistakes but we must not be afraid to get in the kitchen again. Learn from your mistakes. Allow the Lord to heal your heart and burns and cling to Him for strength to continue.

If you follow His guidance and directions, you could master the recipe and be an experienced chief.

Yes, it’s humerous but Burnt Monkey Bread has taught me a life lesson. Things gets messed up sometimes and it will hurt and leave scars but we must not settle in failure. If you fall, get back up again. Use the failure to grow and build your strength in God.

If at first you don’t succeed, get up and try again.

God knows your strength. He knows what you are capable of.

“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.” Ecclesiastes 3:1

There is a reason and a purpose for everything you go through in life. We don’t understand it all at first but God does.

“The Lord will give strength unto His people; the Lord will bless His people with peace.” Psalm 29:11

God gives you strength. When you feel like you have no strength, He has more just waiting for you within you.

”…Greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world.” I John 4:4

There is no one greater and stronger than the Lord Almighty. In Him you will find your strength. He knows that with Him, we are more than conquerors. We are capable of fighting whatever battle He wills for us as long as He is in us. We are stronger than we think we are through Him.

He will equip us with what we need to keep on going on — the correct baking tools. He always knows best and He always has what we need. We just have to turn it all over to Him and allow Him to work it out instead of us trying to fix the problem. Sometimes, it takes hard trials to realize this simple but difficult lesson.

It’s amazing what Burnt Monkey Bread will do.

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Carve a Pumpkin

“Lighten up, just enjoy life, smile more, laugh more, and don’t get so worked up about things.”  – Kenneth Branagh

Last night, my husband and I planned to have my mom over for dinner. I got home from work to find a surprise though. My adorable husband had pumpkins waiting for me to see. I thought it was the sweetest thing that he bought me pumpkins like he has in the past fall seasons. I was a little thrown off though when he told me they were our pumpkins and started carrying them inside. I promptly followed behind along with my curiosity. He then showed me some pumpkin carving tools that he had bought and hidden with a ornery grin on his face.

It was at this moment that I discovered my husband had never carved a pumpkin before.

He had bought three pumpkins. So after dinner, my mom, my husband, and I had an impromptu pumpkin carving night and it was a total blast!

Mom used to always carve pumpkins with us kids growing up and we didn’t have fancy pumpkin carving tools. We used what was available in the kitchen already — a spoon and one of the sharper kitchen knives. It seemed like it took forever just to get all the junk removed from the inside so I was not looking forward to having to gut a pumpkin. With the pumpkin carving tools though it was a breeze! I ended up gutting all three pumpkins just because it was so easy. LOL!

So after supper was over, mom and I brought back to life our old family tradition and created a first for my husband. I do believe it was the start of many.

We all got on Pinterest and found pumpkin carving ideas that we liked and then got busy carving. We free-handed our chosen design onto our pumpkins with a pen and/or pencil — I recommend a pencil. We decided not to show each other our designs until after everyone was finished completely. So we kept to ourselves and vowed no peeking.

Mom and I having the most experience got ours done first. She started on dessert — Pillsbury Orange Rolls, and I headed to the local Dollar General for tea light candles for our carved pumpkins to look complete. Since we were still not suppose to see the pumpkins yet till everyone was done, we covered our’s with a dish towel for the time being till we could have a big reveal.

Once they were all complete, we lit our tea light candles, turned all the lights out in the house, then revealed our pumpkins for each to see. The laughter and amazement that filled the room was beautiful. We were all three so proud of each other’s art. We took pictures but it still didn’t do justice.

The dessert was good too.

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Live in the moment! Don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty. Carve the pumpkin.

It’s not everyday that you get the opportunity to make long-lasting memories. Take advantage of those opportunities. Look for ways to make memories. You won’t always have that special someone around so enjoy happy moments with them every chance you get. Slow down. Take a deep breath and enjoy the little things in life. Make memories.

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Friends

Do you consider having friends important?

Personally for me, the older I get the more I realize how important friends are. The more I realize their importance, then the more I appreciate them.

Though sometimes they are very difficult to have, they are more worth it than they are a waste. Yes, you will get hurt; but the ones that are true will show themselves in the end. I have learned that sometimes it’s the least expected ones — the ones who hurt you but also the ones that are true. In the end, friendships are worth the chance.

Friends offer some of the best memories in life. They can help us deal with stress and make better lifestyle choice’s that will be for the better. My favorite part of friendships is the laughter that always accompanies them.

Friends are important for so many different reasons in life. More important than what we even realize. There is studies that prove that friendship is not only important for our social being but also for our mental health/emotional being.

A friend is someone who you can talk to, who won’t judge you, love you for you, and most of all, makes you feel like you are worth something.

How good of a friend are You?

Here lately I have been rethinking the way I approach a new friendship and also revisiting how I treat my friends currently. What can I do better? How can I be a better friend? I understand how important friends are to me and how much I appreciate them but what am I doing myself for others?

“And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise.” Luke 6:31

”Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them…” Matthew 7:12

How you want to be treated is how you should treat others. Be the friend to someone else that you need someone to be to you. I promise this mindset will boost the value of your friendships. It will weed out the ones who care and the ones who don’t. Yes, it hurts to lose a friend or to realize that one does not count you as valuable as you do them but, it lets you know which ones are worth more of your time. That’s where the quality of friendships shows. I have leaned that it’s the ones that I may not give that much attention to that are the ones that are of better quality. Those that are the least expected of friendships. Someone who you don’t hardly ever see but when you do you pick up like you just seen them yesterday, or those that you honestly just met or may not have the same outlook on beliefs but yet they offer a value that is priceless. Cherish those that cherish you. Embrace those that embrace you.

A good friend is someone who defends and protects, who is loyal, considerate, and kind, a person who is fun and brings out the best in their friends.

Be that friend.

Be the right kind of friend. Offer no judgment unless it is asked. Be genuine in your conversations and in your actions. Accept the person for who they are — agree to disagee if need be. Be trustworthy — don’t ruin it.

I challenge you. Look for ways to be a better friend.

Don’t ever under estimate the impact that you may have on someone else’s life.

Sometimes the greatest gift you can give another person is to simply unclude them. Christ did.

”Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down His life for His friends. Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knows that not what his Lord doe think: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of My Father I have made known unto you.” John 15:13, 15

”A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a Friend that sticketh closer than a brother.” Proverbs 18:24

Christ is the ultimate example of a true friend. No, we will probably never have to go through the extremes that He did but it sure sets a major example. Give of yourself to others. Lose yourself in the service of others.

If you cannot do great things, do small things in a great way.

I have challenged myself to this just recently. Whether is be something simple like just simply asking how someone’s weekend was and show true interest in what they have to say or stopping by a friends job and dropping of cookies just to make them smile. Call someone the next day that had to miss a church service or a day at work because they was sick and let them know you care and you missed them. Make a comment on their social media about how cute the picture is or show interest in what they share.

You would think that little, simple things like this are just tedious and shouldn’t matter but that fact is, they do matter. Us as humans all at some point will thrive for acceptance. Unintentionally. We all want to feel value/worth. We want to know that someone cares and actually does see us as a real person.

You never know, you may reach out to someone with something and then they return with something that you need at just the right moment. Don’t be afraid to pay it forward.

Send that text. Mail out some snail mail. Make the drive. Be there for someone when they have no one.

Friends are angels who lift us to our feet when our wings have trouble remembering how to fly.

Christ is our true friend. He is the one that is always there no matter what. He listens when we cry. He understands even when we don’t. He gives us joy and laughter in tough times. He helps us see the silver lining in the storm clouds. He gives us strength each day to carry on. He is truely the greatest example of a friend. I am compelled to be more like Him.

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