Socially Distant Blessings

Serving in student ministry has looked a little different since COVID-19 caused schools to shut down and life to shift. The butterflies of prom and the nervousness of graduation were replaced with a stay-at-home order and senior year dreams crushed. They are completely devastated. They are aware there are worse things going on in the world right now but this is a major time in their lives that they have all been looking forward to for years.

I figured I needed to do something to help sweeten this bitter time! I want so badly to hug all of my girls but I can’t. So I settled for video chats, phone calls, texts, and brownie deliveries. Hopefully this will all blow over by the summer and we can gather as a group to praise the Lord for keeping us healthy and safe during this time.

Self Love vs. Self Care

Self care is great, but self care doesn’t necessarily equal the self love that this world talks about. Self care is self preservation…loving yourself AND taking care of yourself. It’s reading your Bible, sleeping, showering, take your medication, doing your laundry, going to the gym…things like that. 

Our society seems to be so caught up on self love. Self first. Others last. That’s not how Jesus functioned. That’s not how He operated. He was love others and also self care. He taught others how to put others before themselves. While He also was the example of napping and eating and taking time away from everything going on to sit in a garden and pray. He took care of himself and was able to love and take care of others. What a concept.

He was love others and self care. Can we all agree that this self love and finding yourself is a gigantic waste of time and is so far from what Jesus intended when He was on this earth? Jesus didn’t say to His disciples, “I need to leave you and go find myself. I need to learn how to love myself. You guys figure this out on your own.” Nope. He was alongside of them during His ministry. He loved them. He did life with them. Alongside of them. He loved others. He cared for people before Himself. He literally died for us, taking on the sins of the world, and saving us!

Check out this resource from Equipping Godly Women’s Mary Harp Click Here! I highly recommend reading through her post thoroughly. 

So let’s love others while also practicing self care.

WWJD? Love others while also taking care of yourself. Which means eat, nap, pray.

Toxicity in Friendships

I have begun the process of setting up healthy boundaries within my friendships. I tend to have a lot of one sided friendships with toxic people. I am very blessed with a small circle of people I can share my life with, ask for advise, and just pray with. I am also cognizant to be the friend that they need too. When they need me, I always try to be there. With coffee, with a listening ear, with a shoulder for them to cry on, with a hug, with prayer, whatever they may need, I’ve got them, I want to be there for them, and I do my best to be there for them.

Unfortunately there are so many one sided friendships that litter my life. Hence the implementation of boundaries. I realized I was beyond drained day in and day out because of these friendships. And not just that, but the amount of negativity and toxicity in these friendships was causing me to stoop down to a level I was not okay with for myself.

God calls us to love everyone as He loves them….but boundaries are healthy. I do not need to devote my life to these people, and I do not need to continue to be close friends with them if they are constantly gossiping, trying to get me to hate someone they hate, or cause strife in my relationship, as well as monopolize every single conversation. How To Set Boundaries was a great resource for me as I began the journey of setting boundaries with these specific people. I highly recommend reading the Practicing Loving Detachment section. I think I might actually write about that in the future because I could fill up an entire book about practicing loving detachment.

I don’t need to constantly save them from themselves or be a listening ear to the never ending negativity. But I can choose when to see them, and I can choose to attempt to be a source of positivity and love in their life. So as I embark on this journey of boundaries and loving detachment…I will do my best to be a source of Christ’s love while also protecting myself.

 

Relationally Focused

Wow did we pack so much fun into this day. My first day back at work has been what I expected it to be – moments of relearning and patience, but also moments of incredible joy and the best snuggles in the whole wide world. My goodness does this little girl know how to give the best hugs imaginable. I am so blessed with this kiddo, she is just the sweetest little sidekick.

What you can’t see is the astronomical amount of toys littered around the house. It looks like the Melissa & Doug factory exploded. The sticky surfaces, the strawberry cream cheese smeared on her table…and the dog. It’s chaos. This is such a huge win. I’ve been retraining my OCD tendencies to be more people and relationally focused. I won’t lie, I fail at this most days. I tend to get caught in the details, in the things that don’t necessarily matter, in the technical side, the matter of fact-ness. Especially when it comes to my job – which yes, when it comes to a medical emergency, giving medication, or logging data – I need those OCD tendencies, I need the detailed and technical side of myself. But when it comes to having a chill day where we can play with the new toys she got for Christmas – I need to put those natural tendencies in the back of my mind. I need to be present and fun and energetic and let loose. That’s something I have always struggled with. Letting loose. I’m a very uptight person. In the Mary & Martha story…I tend to lean more towards being a Martha.

So as I am learning to slow down and enjoy the present with the people I am around and not be focused on five million other things…I need to be praying for patience with myself as I work on this. My psychiatrist says I have OCD tendencies but just like my diagnoses I do not need to be defined by them. I’m not the nicest person when it comes to my flaws and I need to allow grace for days where I fail to be relationally focused.

Be their peace…

…not their problem.

A relationship means that you come together to make each other better. Believe in each other. Support each other. Build each other. Be their peace, not their problem.

Thank you, Pinterest for this awesome bit of relationship advice. Now I’m going to add to it.

A Christ-centered relationship means that you come together with God. Pray for them. Pray with them. Worship together. Make God the center of everything you do and decide. Support each other. Keep each other accountable. Keep the focus on God together. Pray for peace in your relationship, not strife. Love Christ together. Love like Christ together. Read the Word together. Pray that you are a source of peace in your relationship and not resentment. Pray that God is their source of peace.

You just have to laugh…

What a week it has been. On Sunday evening I had a heart episode while in the hot springs in Ouray, Colorado. Since then it has been an exhausting week of going to urgent care in Albuquerque, New Mexico on Monday, being advised not to fly, going on two flights traveling back to Pennsylvania on Tuesday, being met by EMT’s at the Philadelphia Airport, and going to the ER on Thursday.

It is now Friday and I’m beat and I still don’t have any answers. An MRI, neurologist visit, and psychologist visit are my next steps.

Josh has been incredibly supportive this past week. He has been by my side through the entire thing and has been constantly pointing me back to relying on the Lord by how he shows Christ’s love to me. He epitomizes what it means to be unconditional. And I’m so grateful God has him by my side.

With everything that has happened since November and everything we’ve gone through together, I know for a fact we’ve survived it because God is the center of our relationship. And we laugh….a lot. That definitely helps.

 

Youth Ministry

In July 2018 I began to burnout serving at church. At the time I was the preschool and nursery lead, junior and senior high girls youth leader, part time front desk helper, part time assistant to the communications director, and a menagerie of other things.

In April 2017 I went through a much needed breakup and returned home and returned to the church. In an attempt to justify my actions that happened while I was away from home being a reckless stupid moron…I threw myself into serving at church. I spent every waking second helping at church or thinking about church.

I never sat in the service. Instead I would serve all three services either at the desk, in the children’s ministry classrooms, or the sound booth being the assistant to the communications director. I didn’t fellowship. I didn’t worship. I was working. I was trying to balance the last 5 years of transgressions with burning myself out serving. My heart wasn’t in the right place. My intentions were to say yes to every need.

In July 2018 I was also saved. So I wanted to start sitting in the service. I wanted to start worshiping. I wanted to start pouring all I had into my students at youth group. I wanted to build relationships with fellow Christians. But I was being pulled in so many directions that I started to hate church. My idea that fixing my sins by serving was starting to ruin me. I met with the director of student ministries and told him what was going on. He had me seriously pray about each area I was serving in the church. He told me it wasn’t my responsibility to say yes to everything. That it was okay to say no. And it was not my responsibility how other people would react by me stepping down. And it hit me like a truck…my heart is in student ministry. My heart is with those teens.

So I stepped down from everything else. I still serve 2 times a month in children’s ministry but that’s because I have a heart for those preschoolers. Since then my relationship with God has flourished. My faith has grown stronger. I’m still at church at least 3 times a week, and I’m still meeting outside of church with students, but I’m doing what I love, I’m doing what God wants me to be doing.

My point to all this is you don’t have to say yes to filling a need just because it’s there. Pray about it. Talk to God asking Him where He wants you. It is so easy to burnout and want nothing to do with the church or God by over-serving. It totally is possible to over serve. Trust me.

If you’re burning out – take a look at where you’re serving and what you’re filling your time with. Are you serving just to fill a need? Here’s some daily Christianese for ya: God doesn’t call the equipped, He equips the called.

I would sooner quit my job then leave youth ministry. That’s how serious I am about pouring into those kids.

John 12:26 Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.

1 Peter 4:10 Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.

Joy

Joy has been on my mind lately so I asked my good friend and sister in Christ, Jayme to help me write about it! Thank you, Jaym!

Well what’s poppin people of kaito’s blog! Allow me to introduce myself…..my name is Jayme. I also have a blog called Just Getting Started. 10/10 would recommend. So anyway. I’m just hopping on here to write a little blurb on joy!

The first thing that pops into my mind when I think of joy is a little kid eating popsicle on a hot summer night. Maybe he’s frolicking in a field? You get the picture. Now here’s a little secret. That joy this kid has is going to end. It will stop. The joy that popsicle is giving him at the moment will end when the popsicle is gone. I feel like that’s what everyone is doing these days. They are trying to find joy in something that will melt, isn’t going to last. Everyone is looking for something that will satisfy them. Quench their thirst. Hate to break it to you, but everything on this earth won’t satisfy you, won’t bring you the joy you are striving so hard to find. So what’s the solution? God. God is the only thing that can satisfy you. Bring you real everlasting joy. You may be asking how does he do that?

So when God created the earth, he made man and women. He let them live in the garden of Eden. God gave them one rule and that was to NOT eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. One thing let to another and they ate from it. This separated them from God. Separated the rest of us from God. They could feel shame and they were embarrassed. Now every one who would ever live was destined to Hell. We were all going and should go because we are all so screwed up. What did God do? He found a way for us to go to heaven and be with him. A few thousand years after the Fall, God sent his son to earth. This is who we call Jesus. Jesus lived on earth like man but never sinned. He lived the perfect life. The next thing that happened? He was crucified. He died. Do you want to know why he died? For you. This is where I find my joy. Knowing that God sent His son to die for me so I could go to heaven. This makes me want to jump up and down. Go full disney princess and scream it from a mountain top. This is joy will last forever. You will still have it after you die. In heaven, it’s literally a party celebrating how rad our God is. Pretty freakin dope if you ask me. That’s all I have to say so i guess back to kait with our regular scheduled program!

I couldn’t have said it any better myself. I struggle with finding my joy in the Lord. I need daily reminders to check my heart and not dwell on my circumstances or try to find my joy in things that only provide temporary happiness. I’m grateful for friends who keep me accountable when I am getting overwhelmed and not relying on God. My joy…my excitement…it all needs to come from Him.

Here are some photos of us being our crazy selves.

Go follow Jayme’s blog for more awesomeness. Jayme’s Blog – Just Getting Started

Self Worth

Unfortunately I am no stranger to low self esteem and self worth. I allowed my circumstances and the lies to dictate my relationship with myself. I allowed being in an abusive relationship to dictate my worth. I allowed my eating disorder to control how I viewed myself. Instead of finding my worth in the Lord, I looked elsewhere and it was devastating. The only thing I found was pain and heartache.

I used to laugh saying I was the type of person to light myself on fire to keep others warm. I didn’t realize how completely wrong that mindset was. I saw no value in myself. Little by little I gave pieces of myself away to keep others happy. I was numb and depressed. There was no joy, no self respect, no value, and no God.

Slowly I am realizing I am so valuable and my worth is immeasurable. Slowly the negative comments from others and myself are being replaced with positive and uplifting comments. It’s taking time, but progress is definitely being made.

My relationship with myself sets the tone for every relationship in my life. I need to love myself and find worth in myself in order to be valuable to others. I need to have a life that honors God. I need to talk to myself in a way that honors God. When I am constantly beating myself up and believing the lies, I am not honoring God in any way. I am insulting His creation. He did not create me to live a life of negativity and belittlement.

As I pray for those close to me to see their worth and their value and see how loved they are…I will also pray that I see those things as well. God is working to change me but I need to put in the work. I want God to work in me so I need Him to work on me.

Ephesians 2:10  “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

Isaiah 64:8  “Yet you, Lord, are our Father.  We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand.”

Psalm 46:5  “God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day.”

Psalm 28:7  “The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me.  My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him.”

1 Peter 3:3-4  “Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.”

Psalm 143:8  “Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life.”

Proverbs 3:15-18  “She is more precious than rubies; nothing you desire can compare with her.  Long life is in her right hand; in her left hand are riches and honor.  Her ways are pleasant ways, and all her paths are peace.  She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her; those who hold her fast will be blessed.”

 

#GetYourCrapTogether

Do you know what’s annoying?

When you have someone in your life who cares about you and keeps you accountable. They try and take care of you when you’re sick, or cold, or not properly taking care of your car. They remind you to do things and take your meds. It’s just so annoying.

So here I am actually actively working on my relationship with God, and scheduling appointments with a psychiatrist, and changing my car’s oil, and going to the doctor. Gosh. I’m just so irritated.

How dare this person care about me?

*rolls eyes*

Obviously, I’m being sarcastic.

It’s an extremely refreshing and much-needed blessing that I didn’t know I needed. I’ve spent most of my life not giving a flying crap about myself, sick all the time, depressed, anxious, just not really doing life how I should be doing life. So the caring reminders are needed. The push to take care of myself is needed. I found someone who isn’t getting my life together for me – but is encouraging me to get my own life together.

If that makes sense.

I have a 103 fever right now so what makes total sense in my head might be coming out as gibberish. How long is too long to have a fever over 100? *quick google search* So it’s bad that my fever has been high for almost two weeks. The good news is I don’t have to worry about permanent brain damage because it hasn’t hit 107.6! *happy dance*

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