What To Do When You’re Stuck In Life

I love my husband. One of my favorite things about him is his ability to keep going through adverse circumstances with focus and consistency. He feels discouraged sometimes like any of us, but you would never know it. He’s a “one foot in front of the other” kind of guy, and he is dependably steady.

I, on the other hand, can be a hot mess of emotional decision making (can I get a witness?) If I’m in a bad mood, by golly my husband is going to know about it, even if I can put on a pretty face for those outside of my house.

If I feel discouraged or defeated I can easily fall victim to quitting because of bad belief systems, poor self-talk, or otherwise discouraged feelings.

I’m a writer and a speaker. I also happen to be training for my first half-marathon. I’m fairly certain that the phrases, “Running is dumb; writing is stupid,” came out of my mouth more than once last week (sorry, Adam. I didn’t mean it. You already know that though.)

My husband is good for me. He challenges me in a way that I need to be challenged. It’s irritating how right he is most of the time (ha).

Adam says something to me on a regular basis when I’m not sure what to do next, whether it’s figuring out how to best structure a day’s to-do’s, or whether it’s monumental, life-changing decision making: “Do the next right thing.”

After being married to Adam for going on 8 years I now hear his voice in my head anytime I feel discouraged or stuck: “Do the next right thing.”

The next. right. thing.

When I don’t know what to do, when I’ve lost vision for the moment, the day, or the season of life, when I’ve lost vision, or feel discouraged by the goal(s) I have, what is the very next right thing?

Saturday morning at 6:15am the last thing I wanted to do was get up and run 5 miles. But as my husband snoozed on next to me, I once again heard his (loving, irritating, but oh-so-right) voice in my head, “Do the next right thing.” In that moment the next right thing was defying my feelings, and choosing to lace up my shoes.

I have never regretted following that advice. I’ve often regretted ignoring it.

Sometimes we use the phrase “don’t just go through the motions.” I agree that we don’t want to coast through life going through motions, or being disconnected from passion. But there are times when going through the motions is exactly what we need to do. Our hearts and feelings can so quickly deceive us, and we convince ourselves to do what our hearts tell us to do, when wisdom says to choose–not feel, choose–the next right thing.

We don’t have to know every step. We don’t have to give up. We simply need to show up, and choose the next words, the next attitudes, the next actions that are right, and then after that take the next right step, and so forth.

Next time you feel stuck–whether it’s stuck in a bad mood (ah hem…totally me on Saturday), stuck in reaching your goals, or stuck any where else in your life…what is your next right step?

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Open Letter To The Fatherless

I have had 5 step-dads in my life.

Five.

Only 1 of them has stuck around, and that’s a weird, undefined relationship.

I didn’t know my biological father until I was 29 years old (that’s a miraculous story that I will share a different day).

Father’s Day used to be such a painful holiday for me; a reminder to me that I was fatherless. I recall skipping church at least once in my adult life on Father’s Day just to avoid it altogether. And the Father-Daughter dance at my friends’ weddings…forget it. I cried every time, and usually not tears of joy.

I never was “daddy’s girl,” and there was always a painful whisper in my heart telling me that I never would be. I wasn’t worth sticking around for; I was abandoned…over, and over again.

My heart was broken.

When I chose to follow Jesus, I started studying the Bible to find answers to this question: who is this God? I have spent 13 years chasing after answers, and somewhere along the way  the truth has healed my heart.

Oh, friend. Maybe you’re like me. Maybe you don’t know your father, or maybe you’ve lost your father, or maybe you’ve had an abusive father. I don’t know your story, but you do. I want to tell you that God calls you “daughter.” He calls you His.

I know that can feel so unbelievable. The cynical side of your broken heart might be saying, “Yeah, whatever.” But beautiful one, you are treasured beyond compare…if only you knew.

Over and over again God has revealed Himself to us as “Father to the Fatherless, defender of the weak.” God cares about the role of dads, and He weeps with us when that relationship is broken.

One of the most healing verses of scripture that God has spoken over my heart is Psalm 68:6

God makes a home for the lonely. 

Nothing can replace the role of a father in a daughter’s life. But for those of us whose dads are absent for whatever reason, God loves us and makes homes for us.

There are men worth admiring. There are men worth learning from, and allowing them in enough to show you the type of love that God has for you as a daughter.

We have to receive that. We have to be willing to let that kind of love in, and to look for the hidden treasure found in men that might not be our real dads, but who are worthy of paternal affection.

We must learn to recognize what a godly older man is, and celebrate that. No, they aren’t our real dads, but God shows us His love—what it looks likethrough the lives of such men.

We should celebrate men who are dads by choice. And we should embrace that some of them want to love us as daughters. It is good to allow Godly men to love us like fathers—to offer wisdom, insight, and speak truth, value, and dignity to our hearts. It is good for us to admire, respect, trust, and love godly men like these.

There are these types of men in my own life; godly older men that have forever changed my life, and have been a part of God healing my fatherless heart. Men that didn’t have to be paternal figures, but chose to be anyway. Today, I want to celebrate them:

  • My grandfather. My hero. He is the only man who has remained constant in his role in my life from the day I was born. He walked me down the aisle on my wedding day, and I love him as though he were really my dad.
  • My uncle who adopted me when I was 10 years old. His own children were already grown, and yet he said “yes” to being a dad again.
  • My father-in-laws (Adam’s dad and step dad) have taken me in as their own daughter, have prayed with me, cried with me, counseled me, and so much more.
  • So many other men who love Jesus, and out of that love people. Men like my high school band director, former bosses, pastors, and others who have shown me through their lives what it means to love younger women as daughters, to protect them, give them dignity, give them value.

Sweet sister, God calls you His daughter.

I want to see your happily ever after; that you know in your heart that you matter; that you are royalty. 

You. Are. A. Daughter. Of. A. King.

And one day the tears will be wiped away, and your heart will embrace fully the truth of that statement. Until then, let’s celebrate those men who show us the love of the God who made us—the God who says we belong. The God who calls us to life, to freedom, and to stand with heads held high.

May that God–my God, and yours–sing this song over your heart today:

 

 

Now listen, daughter, don’t miss a word:
    forget your country, put your home behind you.
Be here—the king is wild for you.
    Since he’s your Lord, adore him.

-Psalm 45:10-

Run Hard. Love Strong.

Haley

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jesus Is Not In The GOP

I feel the tension. Debates, cuthroat politics, polarizing facebook conversations based on which candidate should be the next POTUS. I stay on top of current events, and I follow candidates to know who is running, and what they actually stand for (not just what they say they stand for).

Elections are tense. Scary even. Who will our next leader be? There’s so much weight in the decision. I catch myself thinking things like, “If it’s so-and-so, God help us all. We’re doomed.” Or on the flip-side, “I hope so-and-so wins because then we all live happily every after.”

We as Christians can get really caught up in politics. We can get flat-out ugly to anyone who doesn’t agree with us. Sadly, modern American Christianity has often elevated politics above the Gospel instead of filtering politics through it. We have made “liberals” the enemy, rather than holding fast to Ephesians 6 which says that the real battle isn’t against people at all.

I’m going to just come right out and say it: Jesus is not in the GOP (collective gasp). Jesus is also not a Democrat. He Himself is King, and His Kingdom is built for all of us that would surrender to His authority, regardless of our political affiliation.

Early disciples believed Jesus was planning to rule with an iron fist and overthrow the Roman occupation. They wanted him to come into the world and show Rome who was boss. They were chomping at the bit for redemption, for freedom, for renewal. They were patriots eager to see their beloved nation restored to its glory.

But Jesus flipped their expectations upside down. Jesus didn’t intend to stick it to Rome. He didn’t come to be the type of revolutionary that the Jews were hoping for. Instead He chose to bring His Kingdom through staking His claim on individual hearts. He didn’t raise the flag of His kindgom over Rome; He raised it over human souls. He raised dead people to life, literally and figuratively. He called ordinary people to change the world, not with swords and spears, but with truth, justice, and compassion.

His work and purposes have not changed, and we would be remiss to believe otherwise.

God doesn’t want to overthrow our current government so much as He wants to overthrow each of us from the authority-seat of our own lives.

Yes, God cares about our government.

Yes, He wants our nation to turn to Him.

Yes, He wants our nation to be ruled with truth and justice.

But our hope for this nation is not found in the POTUS; it is found when we the people choose to BE THE PEOPLE.

I have been asking myself why we have such a tendancy to place all of our hope in the position of one man or woman. Sometimes I think that we get up in arms about who goes into office because secretly we want them to take all of our God-given responsibility for social issues and delegate it to someone else. We want to put all of our hope for the future into one person’s hands. We want social justice issues to no longer be our responsibility. We would rather vote for change rather than be the change ourselves. We expect one person to do what we are unwilling or afraid to do ourselves.

I believe that if all of us who say that we love Jesus commit to loving our neighbors regardless of  race, religion, political affiliation, or otherwise, if we step outside of our comfort zones to executute compassion and justice in our everyday lives, if we speak up for the margianlized and oppressed, practice generosity, and allow the Kingdom of God to come through us then we can once again see a world flipped on its head. That is when we will experience a revolution.

Revolution will not come through the 2016 election. Revolution will come when we choose to be people equipped with love in our hearts for our fellow man, courage to step beyond ourselves to love and to serve, a willingness to allow God to radically transform us and redeem us from our prejudices, our hatred, and those things that divide us from one another.

This election is important. It is. I don’t deny that. We have an incredible privilege of being able to participate in selecting our leaders. The majority of people in the world cannot say they have such a freedom. And if we forfeit our freedom to choose, and if we opt out of voting, then we slowly tear apart and will eventually lose that freedom.

We must vote responsibly. We must educate ourselves on the issues, and cast our vote for men and women who have strong character, a proven track record, and a genuine concern for serving the people of this nation.

However, we must not place our ultimate hope in the position itself. We must instead step into our God-given authority to bring about world change by being people reflecting His character in our everyday lives. Only then will we see the change we are so hungry for. We cannot forgo our personal responsibility of being conduits of the Kingdom of God in hopes that one powerful leader will do it us.

Run Hard. Love Strong.

Haley

We All Have “That” Friend

Have you ever found yourself in a one-sided relationship? You set out to spend time and get to know another person, but over time you realize that you are the one doing all of the listening. You are the one being asked favors. You are the one giving all of the advice to help and comfort.

When you start to share your heart and invite your “friend” to care about your dreams, concerns, and joys you are met with a blank stare. Or maybe you received a trite pat on the back, and a “there, there,” or the ever-popular, “I’m happy for you,” but no sincere concern or overt excitement.

It hurts to be in a relationship that is one-sided, parasitic, and unhealthy. We want relationships that are meaningful and comprised of shared stories, comeraderie, solidarity, and closeness. This type of intimate friendship cannot exist when one party is self-absorbed.

Sadly, I have often been the narcissist in my relationship with God.

I want God to love me. I want God to see me, to hear me when I call out to Him. I want God to care about what I care about, hurt about what I hurt about, smile at what I am happy about, and to be present in my life.

But if I’m honest, sometimes I would prefer if God kept His hurts and concerns to Himself.

Children traumatized by war? Change the channel.

Water crisis in Guatemala (or Flint, Michigan for crying out loud)? No thanks.

Maimed beggers in the streets of India? Steer clear of that.

Women and children overtly soliciting themselves in the Red Light district of Thailand? Just keep walking.

Abused, neglected, hungry children? Yikes.

My neighbors’ lives falling apart? Shut the blinds.

Give me what feels good and comforting about God, but let Him keep the heavy stuff away.

But if I really want a relationship with God like I say I do; if I really mean it when I sing “Oceans” at the top of my lungs, then I must love Him for who He is, and not just what He gives to me.

To love God is to love what He loves, and to weep over what breaks His heart.

He hurts over this broken world. He hurts that millions of men, women, and children have fled their homes in Iraq and Syria for fear of what ISIS will do to them. He weeps that 100 million children in the world suffer from malnourishment. He abhors the epidemic of human trafficking. The evil that exists and is expressed through war, oppression, abuse, neglect, and our own selfish hearts breaks the heart of God.

So today I am challenged to consider if I am “that friend” to God. Do I only want the feel-good parts of Him that help me? Or do I really want all of Him? Am I willing to love God for who He is, and to open my heart to the things that break His?

Run Hard. Love Strong.

Haley