4 Steps Towards Living a Full Life

4 steps towards living a full life

Last week I passed by an oak tree – branches heavy with leaves. The house behind it peeked through its fullness and I thought, I want my life to be like that, Lord. Full.

And then the thought came: Your life will be as full as you want it to be. I get the choice. I can choose to live a full life or I can choose to live a small life. What does living a full life look like?

4 Steps Towards a Full Life

Become Uncomfortable

The older I get, I find myself more cautious. I am neater, more organized, and more aware of consequences and implications. All these things are an important part of development and maturity, but sometimes overthinking and staying too rigid leaves little room for adventure and the ability to be uncomfortable. It’s amazing the little things that make me uncomfortable these days: a change in routine, a small inconvenience. I’ve turned into a persnickety 83 year old in my early-mid twenties. When I get too comfortable with my routine, who I am, and where I am at in life, I limit myself.

One reason I knew I Mr.M was the man I was going to marry was the sheer fact that I was uncomfortable. From Day 1 of our relationship, he pushed me outside my comfort zone. I was uncomfortable at the level of spiritual vulnerability. I was uncomfortable navigating the intercultural nuances. I was uncomfortable with the leadership that came with our relationship. But my life was full. Being outside of my comfort zone pushed me in ways that I could never have imagined. I experienced intense growing pains during the beginning part of our relationship, and I loved it.

What is one area you need to get uncomfortable?

4 steps towards a full life

Establish Deep Roots

The second thing that came to mind as I considered the full oak tree is the roots. A tree cannot grow into adulthood and expand its wings, so to speak, without a deep root system. Likewise, we need our roots to grow long and deep into healthy soil.

How do we get our roots to grow?

We drink deeply, feed our soul, and press into our foundation.

Drink deeply of the life you are given, and press into your foundation. My foundation is my faith. I drink deeply of the wisdom of those older than me and of the Scriptures. I notice a change in myself when I’ve isolated myself from my roots. When I neglect to take time to feed my soul – whether that is refusing to take time for a bubble bath sans Netflix, going on a walk outside, or reading my Bible at night – I feel my leaves start to wither.

How do you feed your soul?

4 Steps Towards a Full Life

Healthy Soil

For those of you who grew up in Sunday School, you likely heard the parable of the sower and the seeds.

A sower threw his seeds into four different areas. The seeds fell onto the path, where they were eaten up by birds – they were denied the chance to grow. Other seeds fell into rocky soil. The plants quickly took root and shot up, but the roots were shallow and the plants were scorched by the heat. Some seeds fell among the thorns, where they were choked up, and the seeds that fell on good soil grew strong and healthy and produced a large crop.

Our soil is our community. Who are we surrounded by? Who do we have to lift us up? Who do we have to nourish us, encourage us, and give us the space to grow?

There were times when I felt as if I was on rocky soil. I feared that if one more thing happens, I would give up. During these times, I wasn’t surrounded by a strong community. I had isolated myself. And even worse, I allowed people who didn’t have my best interest to speak into my life.

There are growing pains that come with a full life. We go through various seasons, and if we are not rooted in a strong community, we will wither and die. What does a strong community look like for you?

For me, a strong community looks like peers who are ambitious. They are pursuing their dreams, their calling, and most importantly, the Lord. A strong community also consists of allowing people who are older and wiser to speak into my life – to call me out when I’m being crazy and to encourage me when I’m weak. In a strong community, there are also people who may be different than me – whether it be younger, or living with a different (but holy) perspective from whom I can learn.

What does a strong community look like for you?

4 Steps Towards a Full Life

Duration

When I think about how long it takes for an oak to grow, it’s exhausting. Oak trees can take up to 100 years to grow to their full potential. Some days it may feel like we see little to no growth at all in our lives. We wonder when we will reach our destiny and fulfill our potential. But we remember, growth comes little by little. We may not see it in the moment, but we get to look back and see how far we have come.

Living a full life takes patience. We must weather through various seasons, year by year, in order to grow. Like the oak tree, we experience high winds, torrential downpours, snow, the hot sun year after year after year. But one day, thirty years from now, when we look back, we will see how much we have grown.

4 Steps to Living a Full Life

10 Verses for When You Feel Afraid

 

do not fearThe news has been crazy lately. My heart goes out to the victims of Irma, Harvey, the earthquake in Mexico, those in fear because of DACA ending – my list could go on. There is so much pain and hurt in the world.

It is so easy to overwhelm ourselves with anxieties about the world that we cannot control. Yesterday at church, my pastor shared a convicting message about fear that inspired me and revealed 3 important truths:

1 – Terrible things have been happening in the world since day one. Think: crusades, the Civil War, World War II – the list could go on. Nowadays we know about all the terrible things happening in the world. With an overload of information, it’s understandable that we get overwhelmed with anxieties and fear.

2 – In a world that broadcasts chaos daily, we are called to be peacemakers.

3 – Peace is not a reaction of our external circumstances, but a presence from within.

For the past couple of years, I’ve been intentionally overcoming fear. Two years ago, I declared to become a prisoner of hope. After listening to a sermon from Pastor Bill Johnson (Bethel Church, Redding, California), I declared that to be the year that I would become not a prisoner of fear, but a prisoner of hope.

Someone who had time and the energy looked up the word “Fear” in the Bible and noticed that it says “Do Not Fear” 365 times. That is one time for each day of the year!

When we are afraid, we must declare who we are, and whose we are. We are strong. We fight from victory. We are children of God. And our God will fight for us.

I don’t say these things because I pulled them out of the air. I say them because they are full of light and truth from the word of God.

10 Verses For When You Feel Afraid

God cares for us 

1 Peter 5:7 

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

God is our Salvation

Isaiah 12:2 

Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid. The Lord, the Lord himself, is my strength and my defense; he has become my salvation.

God is our Father

Romans 8:15

 The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.

God is with us

Joshua 1:9 

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.

God will fight for us 

Exodus 14:13 – 14

Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. . . The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.

God gives us peace 

John 14:27

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

There is no fear in love 

1 John 4:17 – 18 

This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

God does not give us a spirit of fear 

2 Timothy 1:7

For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power,love and self-discipline.

God brings us joy in the midst of anxiety 

Psalm 94:19

When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy.

Don’t worry about tomorrow. 

Matthew 6:34

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.


What are your favorite verses on fear?

What is your fear coping mechanism? 

4 Ways to Upgrade Your Week

4 Ways to Upgrade Your Week

I don’t have all the answers. I don’t have all the skills, the knowledge, or the know how. I don’t want all the answers. Because if I did, then I wouldn’t need anyone else.

I have said it before, and I will say it again: the COMMUNITY is one of the best things about blogging. We’re all reading each other’s how-tos, online diaries, and learning more about each other and ourselves as we do so. There are so many amazing women out there who are killin’ the game, and today I wanted to highlight some amazing ladies writing some powerful things.

The amazing thing about perspective is that even though we have our own, we get to learn from each other. You see the world differently than I do, and that is why we need to highlight, encourage, and listen to what each other has to say.

Below you will find some oldies and some more recent posts from 4 bloggers with wonderful and full of life-giving sentiments that you can carry throughout your day and throughout your week.

4 Ways to Upgrade Your Week

Perceive Your Opportunities


Erica from Coming Up Roses is all about positivity, style, and coffee (and her cats) and I always appreciate it when she serves some straight truth.

“It’s an opportunity to grow, or an obstacle to keep you from growing.” 

How many times do we feel like we triumph over one thing and are faced with a big old rock in the way? I had a friend who recently completed a Spartan race on the hardest course in the country. I listen with awe as she talks about the obstacles and challenges she faced and overcame. It is so easy for us to see a bump in the road and want to sit down or turn around. But that’s not why the obstacle is in front of us. The obstacle is in front of us to give us an opportunity to make us stronger. As Mandisa says, “You’re an overcomer.” Read more from Erica’s perspective here.

Unsubscribe from that Negativity

We had our book study earlier tonight. It’s always funny to see the glances or side-eyes people give me when they see the title of the book I’m reading. “The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work.” Part of me wants to place a label on my head that says, “NO. MY MARRIAGE IS NOT IN JEOPARDY.” But part of me is also slightly entertained by the funny looks people send my way (especially when the look is coming from my husband himself!). . . One of the 4th year spouses started a book study because she’s seen firsthand how medical school can break apart some of the strongest marriages. We’re only on Week 2 and Chapter 5 in the book. But, I’ve been loving the discussions I’ve been having with these wonderful people. . . Before we moved here, I was given a lot of advice and warnings from family and friends who have been through similar experiences. They said I would never see Ankur. And that I would be sacrificing so much. And that I should suppress my feelings and never share my problems or concerns with him for fear that it would distract him from his studies. It took me some time to tune out the well-intentioned advice. Because our marriage doesn’t operate like that. I think the reason we ARE so successful is because we are able to put our pride aside and successfully communicate what we need without feeling guilt or shame. . . But another big reason we are able to make it through medical school is because of this amazing support system of spouses. Checking in with one another during an exam weekend or hanging out with one another while our husbands and wives are buried in the books has been a LIFE. SAVER. It’s like therapy. But with people who ACTUALLY get what you’re going through. Because they’re doing it right there with you. By your side. Every step of the way. . . Feeling especially grateful for these friendships and our book study today. ❤️

A post shared by Divya Budhraja (@eatteachblog) on

If you’re like me, you may be a little bit of a clutter bug. We stayed at our friend’s house this weekend and I looked around with amazement (and slight jealousy) of how clean everything was. Where were the drunk drawers?! Someone needs to teach me minimalism, because I have so much STUFF.

But stuff doesn’t have to be physical, it can also be mental. Clutter can be what we listen to, the relationships we have, the job that is bringing us more pain than joy, etc.

I know minimalism is a thing for the millennials right now, but we could all deal with some clearing of that negative energy. I love how Divya from Eat, Teach, Blog removes the clutter from her life specifically by hitting that “Unsubscribe” button. How many of us need to unsubscribe from the things that leave us joyless? Need more encouragement? Check out Divya’s post.

Treat Your Marriage with Honor

I’m pointing you back to another old post today… my 30-by-30 list! Search for it on the blog and see how far I’ve come 🙌

A post shared by Joy Lynn | Lifestyle Blog (@joylynnlifestyle) on

You may not be married yet, but this is still a great read from Joy at Joy Lynn. I’ve been following this lifestyle and minimalist blogger for a couple of years, and I have learned so much from her posts!

Earlier this summer, Pai and I were at a Longhorn Steakhouse and talking with someone about how wonderful marriage had been in the first four months. A man overheard us at the bar and said, “Well just wait, it gets worse. I’m on my second marriage.” To which I thought, “Well duh. You seem like a Rumplestiltskin.” With that kind of negative attitude, of course you’re on your second marriage.

It’s important to me that we treat marriage and our spouses with honor. I love how Joy brings the house down with this truth bomb: We have to stop treating marriage like damaged goods. 

Even if you are not married yet, you can treat your friendships and relationships with those around you with honor. Without honor,  we do not value and respect the goodness that we have in each other.

Stop Those Insecurities and Love Yourself 

Megan from Apron Strings and Sticky Fingers is seriously a little corner of sunshine in this dark world. I have so much respect for her bravery, vulnerability, and I freakin’ love her New Zealand accent. (That’s an added plus.)

Have you ever met someone with so much confidence that you wonder what/where their flaws are? I have. It’s those type of people that you are gravitated towards, but then go home feeling one of two ways. 1) I can be like them and change the world. 2) I wish I were like them, but I have too many flaws. No matter how the person treats you, you sometimes feel that way.

I am just as insecure as the next girl, but I want to stop. I want to fight my insecurities and walk out in confidence and bravery like Megan does. So here is a great life lesson and exercise you can learn from her.

There are thousands more bloggers I could and would love to highlight. If you have a particular blogger friend with an inspiring post (or if you have a great post you wrote yourself!) leave it in a comment below so we can meet more amazing people!

Run your Own Race

run your own race

With social media at our finger tips, we are invited more and more into people’s lives – not their every day lives, but the best of their every day lives. You see a picture of my coffee, but you don’t know that I had a complete melt down because the coffee pot wasn’t working that morning. You may see me post something sweet about my awesome husband, but you don’t know that the night before that picture that we had a huge fight (regardless of when we do fight, I still think my husband is awesome.)

As a blogger, I want to be as authentic online as I can without selling my soul, and I think other bloggers may feel the same. There are just some things that shouldn’t go online. But because we don’t air out our dirty laundry, we only ever see each other’s highlight reels, and then we compare them to our own mundane lives.

It’s hard when you’re 25 and you see everyone getting married and you don’t have a boyfriend. Or when your feeds blows up with squishy babies and you get can’t pregnant. You may feel a tinge of jealousy when you see everyone going to these fancy islands and all you can afford is a weekend at the lake. And when your friends are working in fulfilling jobs they love, it’s hard to have an attitude of contentment.

The Marathon

I once heard Donald Miller (author of Blue Like Jazz – a great book for millennials who are questioning everything already) explain marriage like a marathon. A successful marathons require intense training, extreme discipline, a positive attitude, and persistence. This is why I’m never going to run a marathon. But I like the analogy.

Paul also likens life to a marathon in the book of Hebrews:

“. . . Let us lay aside every weight and sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith. . .”

We Christians see life as a race. Sometimes I think people see it as a race to the finish, with heaven being the goal. That’s great and all, but there’s life here. So if we are constantly looking towards heaven as our goal, then we’re missing out on the beautiful scenery here in our life. Each and every one of us was born for a purpose. And we are racing to complete our purpose. 

Run Your Own Race

The Weight

You know how some people run with ankle weights? I think this is dumb. It’s harder to lift your legs and hurts your knees. Maybe I’m just lazy. I know for a fact, though, that whenever I ran, I tried to have as little on me as possible. I didn’t even like to run with a water bottle when I was training for my half marathon because carrying something was a hindrance.

When we are running life’s race, we end up picking up so many things. Insecurity, Comparison, a Broken Heart, Hurt Feelings, Toxic Relationships, Too Much Netflix, Other People’s Opinions – I could go on and on and on. We don’t think of these things as weights, but they are. Nursing hurt feelings takes WAY more energy than letting go. Toxic relationships add WAY more strain onto our emotions than healthy. Too much Netflix pacifies us. It’s hard to run a race when you’re carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders.

Looking Ahead

We can’t complete our purpose if we are looking to the right and to the left. As the oldest of 6, a control freak, and a bit of a bossy pants, I like to look around and make sure that everything is going the way it should be. When I see someone doing something they shouldn’t, I have to fight my innate urge to tell them what they are doing wrong and why it is wrong. Because I want people to like me and be my friend, I often keep my mouth shut.

I’m not just looking at people to see what they are doing wrong, but I’m also looking to see what they are doing right and I’m doing wrong. I see bloggers who have been doing this thing for 6 months with 30k Instagram followers. I see friends accomplishing their dreams while I’m still trying to figure out mine. My mind becomes consumed with what other people are doing, and I’ve lost my focus. I see everybody killin’ it while I am afraid to take a step because what if I step in the wrong place! When I am looking at other people, I’m not looking ahead. And when I’m not looking ahead, I’m likely to stumble.

The Scripture doesn’t tell us to look ahead at our purpose, or to look ahead at our goals. It tells us to look ahead at Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith. He already ran this race. In fact, he was the first one to run it. He knows the best route, he knows the pace, he knows where the water stations are. And He is perfect. So many times I beat myself down for not being enough. But I don’t have to be enough, I just have to rely on Jesus because He makes me enough in Him.

run your own race

Run Your Race

So maybe you don’t know your purpose. I ask this of myself a lot. What is my purpose? What am I here for? Who am I? These are the great soul searching questions that keep us up at night. And I love it. It’s annoying, but it also shows that we believe in something bigger and better than ourselves. I came to a conclusion one afternoon while I was searching.

My purpose is to worship. Plain and simple.

But what is worship?

Worship is anything I do that glorifies God. Making dinner for a family who just had a baby is worship. Singing worship songs loudly in my car is worship. Spending intentional time with my siblings is worship.

Even if you don’t know your life’s purpose at this very moment, you have a purpose for your day. Mine is to worship and love people well. What is yours?

 

Be Prepared to Fail

Be Prepared to Fail

My summer goal is to make a loaf of bread. Homemade. I’ve been diligently researching the best Pinterest recipes . . . and the easiest. Saturday evening I took my KitchenAid on its maiden voyage and baked my first loaf of  bread. It was an “Easy Crusty French Bread” I found on Pinterest that I will not link for you here because I did the author such a disservice by making the most difficult, crustiest French bread there ever was. It was like a communion cracker.

Like any millennial these days, I walked confidently and in faith that my first bread would not be as terrible as everyone said there first bread making experiences would be. But it was terrible and hilarious and I found that even though I failed, I wasn’t all too disappointed in myself.

I’m somewhat of a perfectionist, and when things spiral out of control, I find that I hold on even more to what I can and do the very best at what I have at hand. I recently had an instance where someone went to my boss to discuss the way I handled something. I was devastated to discover that doing the best I could in an uncontrollable circumstance still left someone unsatisfied. Failing bread is one thing. Failing a person is another. This got me to thinking about all the ways I failed this month.

Be Prepared to Fail

Ways I Failed This Month

I tried to wake surf at the lake. I managed to stand up in the wake, but quickly fell over.

I tried to make bread and it went disastrously.

I went to the grocery store 3 times this weekend and still failed to remember to pick up a couple items.

I failed at a couple of things at work.

I failed baking a lemon blueberry yogurt bread.

 Fear of Failure

I was recently reading Unrivaled by Lisa Brevere. In one of her chapters, she mentions that she wishes she risked more when she was younger. So many opportunities come our way but we are stifled by fear and by fear of failing that we turn back into our comfort zone where it’s cozy and safe.

Good things may happen in our comfort zone, but extravagant things happen in No-Man’s Land. (Wonder Woman reference, anyone?)

As I’m taking this online Jane Austen seminar, I am seeing how much I am out of my league. I get onto these discussion boards with college students and realize that in two years, I’ve already become rusty in my close reading skills. I feel as if I’m typing out fluff while these other students are creating intriguing and thoughtful content. Some days I feel like I am failing. . . and that is okay. We have to let go of our fear of failure.

We have to let go of our fear of failure.

Be Prepared, and Be Proud to Fail

Failing is not something we are generally proud of, but it is something that happens to everyone. For perfectionists, failure is particularly scary because perfectionism is not just a way that we handle things, but it is a part of our identity. It doesn’t help that fail is attached to shame in our society.

It’s good to recognize that you aren’t good at something. And then it is good to continue in that something. And while we continue, we do the best that we can, and if we fail, then we fail.

For instance, I am a shame to English majors and want to be English teachers everywhere because I am horrid at Words with Friends. I would like to blame the tile distribution, but games like Words with Friends, Bananagrams, and Scrabble frustrate me. I can never think of words that earn me more than 10 points. As someone who has studied the English language her entire life, Scrabble is something I should be good at. But I’m not. And my husband beats me into smithereens every. single. time. I used to just ignore my Words with Friends notifications until the timer ran out and I would lose. But this time, I’m playing. And losing. Maybe I’ll get better at it, maybe I wont.

If I succeed, hoorah. But if I continue to fail, well then I’ve learned to fail gracefully.

Rather than hide under the cover of shameful failures, celebrate that you stepped out, were brave, and tried something new. Everyone fails, but the ones who make it are the ones who got up again.

So Tell Me, Readers. . .

What is one thing you tried and failed at?