A New Trend

Standard

I think women as a whole, are not generally satisfied with their given status at the given time. We are constantly comparing ourselves to one another and trying to mold ourselves into a status that is more appealing to society. When we are in our 30’s, we love that “30 is the new 20”. When we reach our 40’s, we say that “40 is the new 30”. Since black is the fashion forward color, every other color wants to be it. If you are environmentally friendly, then “green” is the new black, and so on. Being thrifty is not a status that has everyone jumping at the seams to get in. We are so desperate to “keep up with the Jones’s” that we will put ourselves in financial risk and debt, than being proud of saving a buck or two. When did “thrifty” become a fashion faux pas??

Growing up, a trip to Wal-Mart was a treat and a trip to Target was unheard of! We did most of our shopping at the Dollar Store, Big Lots, and Save A Lot. When my mom’s car pulled into the parking lot of one of those stores, I ascended into the “flight risk” stage. The thought of being caught coming out of that store with a yellow plastic bag with black lettering, was terrifying! Nobody shopped there!!

Now as an adult, I look forward to shopping at the Dollar Store, Dollar Tree, Big Lots, and Ross. I enjoy reading the ads from the Sunday paper and clipping tons and tons of coupons. With the help of the ladies at “Faithful Provisions” and “Money Saving Queen”, I can now claim the rights of a new trend– “spend money / live generously”.

The art of couponing is spreading like wildfire. Some women have been fortunate to be able to be a stay at home mom due to this trade. Just the other day, NCB Nightly News did a segment on a woman who saved $25K a year by couponing. She is able to stay home, raise her kids, and her husband is able to take his dream job of teaching. A teaching salary barely provided for me, much less a family of four. If couponing works for them, then I know it can work for me!

I know the idea of clipping coupons and matching sales ads can be taxing but imagine the benefits.  The idea of getting something for free or for a few pennies inspires me to no end!  I hope you will join me on this journey to financial freedom one coupon at a time!

Love in Christ,
Nichole

The Invitation

Standard

Every relationship has hurdles; some kind of obstacle to go through to reach a new place, whether it be intimacy, trust, or even love.  My cousin recently blogged about the “God Shaped Hole”. Plumb wrote a song and I believe that was the inspiration for her post. Here are a few lines of the chorus:

There’s a God-shaped hole in all of us
And the restless soul is searching
There’s a God-shaped hole in all of us
And it’s a void only he can fill


Does the world seem gray with empty longing
Wearing every shade of cynical
And do you ever feel that
There is something missing?

My answer to her question is “yes”. There is something missing, missing inside of me; a void that I am expecting others to fill. And as the story goes, the void goes unfilled leading to disappointment and frustration. Frustration leads to riffs in my relationships and the painful cycle continues.

Sad to say, but I find it comforting to know that the place I’m in now has plagued people for centuries. For no reason, do I want anyone to suffer this, but I’m glad to know that I am not the only who has ever experienced this.

In borrowed information from Glenn F. Chesnut, I found that famous philosopher and mathematician Pascal (1623-1662) wrote in his Pensees (actual thoughts) and described the God Shaped Hole as this:

“What else does this craving, and this helplessness, proclaim but that there was once in man a true happiness, of which all that now remains is the empty print and trace? This he tries in vain to fill with everything around him, seeking in things that are not there the help he cannot find in those that are, though none can help, since this infinite abyss can be filled only with an infinite and immutable object; in other words by God himself.”

The great African Saint Augustine wrote (directed to God) in Confessions, “You have made us for yourself, and our hearts are rest-less till they find their rest in you.”
He went on to pray, “The house of my soul is too small for you to come in to me; let it be enlarged by you. It is in ruins, but I ask you to remake it. It contains much that you will not be pleased to see; this I confess to you and do not hide it.”

In Psalm 51:17 (the Message), David had this to say, “Going through the motions doesn’t please you, a flawless performance is nothing to you. I learned God-worship when my pride was shattered. Heart-shattered lives ready for love, don’t for a moment, escape God’s notice.”

It’s time I invite God to “Come into my heart and still my tormenting, restless discontent…” Since God can already see the void, why not invite Him in?

Love in Christ,
Nichole

A Pattern of Brokenness

Standard

Sometimes I feel that I keep going around the same big mountain or is it that the wounds from my childhood are cut so deep that I have to delve deeper into the trenches to find the real source of my pain. The journey that I am currently on is to receive and accept love. I have already found love, but my body/mind keeps trying to reject it; one of my unwanted defense mechanisms of not allowing anyone in. And what I have sense discovered, I don’t feel worthy of love. In the midst of mental anguish, God softly spoke that to me.

How do you receive and accept love when the road map laid before you is all distorted? It is said that hurting people hurt others. When two hurting people join in union and conceive children that pattern of brokenness is created again. All the dysfunction disguised as a family fosters more dysfunction to be carried on by future generations. I know my family did the best they could with what they had. I’m not harboring any resentment over it. I just want to experience love in a greater capacity that what was presented to me.

There are moments that I feel love and really want to express it, but that expression is foreign to me. My family was not the type to hug and kiss and say “I love you” when we left each other or ended a phone conversation. So when the moment presents itself, my faithful companion “Insecurity” arrives and informs me that type of expression will not be perceived well by others. 1 John 4:18 (NIV) says, “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.” Verse 19 says, “We love because he first loved us.” Joyce Meyer comprehended it as this, “If God’s people knew how much He loved them, they would not be fearful. If they knew the love of God, they would not run from Him, they would run to Him.”

I am truly beginning to comprehend the signs of God’s love for me. I understand that when someone shows me favor, that is God’s way of expressing love; it is not merely a coincidence. It seems as in those incidents, God is trying to heal the wound. But as any stubborn child will do, I continuously pick the scab and the wound is exposed all over again. The wound cannot heal therefore, I find myself in the same pattern of brokenness.

All I know is that I am exhausted both physically and mentally and I am ready for restoration. I am ready to give, accept and receive love. Mother Teresa once said, “We may not be able to give much, but we can always give the joy that springs in a heart that is in love with God.”

What pattern does your heart display? Is it time for a new design?

Love in Christ (and I’m not worried how this will be perceived 🙂

Nichole

A Better Quality of Life

Standard

I was driving into work today and a billboard caught my eye. It was titled the Secular Life and posed this question: “Not Religious? You are Not Alone?” If they were trying to capture my attention, then mission accomplished. Apparently it’s not only caught my attention, but sparked a little tension in the community! That prompted me to do a little research via the internet. Based on their website and word for word, “Secular Life is a network of friends, families, and communities that are non-religious. We embrace a life free of superstition and full of inquiry. Our goal is to provide awareness, education, resources, social events, and community to anyone interested in a secular life. Regardless of what you call yourself, if you are looking for a religious-free zone that is focused on building a quality, secular life and community then you are already among friends at Secular Life.”

Everyone is entitled to a sense of unity and belonging; whether it is religious based, non-religious based, centered on sports, recreation, or hobbies. However, it has prompted several questions in my mind. How do they plan to build a quality life religious free? It may boil down to the fact that “we” have a difference in opinion on what constitutes a “quality life”. John 15:5 says, “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.” Fruits constitutes to love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness [or meekness, or humility], and self-control. Producing fruit is my ideal quality life.

Please know that it is not my intention to attack or criticize this group. I am simply stating my own opinion based on God’s truths. I hope that this introduction will merge into my next train of thought and be conveyed in the direction that my mind has been traveling.

It is very apparent in today’s times that the world is growing dark. Tragedies upon tragedies keep occurring, there is less and less time between natural disasters, and more and more people walk in hate than in love. Matthew 24:6 “And you will be hearing of wars and rumors of wars; see that you are not frightened, for those things must take place, but that is not yet the end.” Matthew 24:7 “For nation will rise against nations, and kingdom against kingdom, and in various places there will be famines and earthquakes.” More than ever, people need a sense of security in all this chaos!

All these events have my brain in continuous and analytical thoughts about the “lost”. When I say “lost”, I mean those individuals who do not know Christ and have not chosen Him to be their savior. I may blog about my relationship with God and I hope my actions display my relationship, but I really don’t know how effective I am in reaching out to the lost. I am a pretty private person (with the exception of this blog) and the idea of going door to door with my Bible in hand, is not my cup of tea. For instance just today, I was sitting in Wendy’s with my Dad and watched a man nonchalantly walk around and gently lay a Church of Christ information card on everyone’s table. Again…not how I do things, but probably God’s way of giving that gentle nudge that I should! I wonder just how many people I encounter that are searching for something bigger, better and I have the answer (from what I have been taught and believe) tucked away all to myself.

For instance, Steve and I were having dinner at a restaurant Easter evening. There was an older man sitting a couple of tables down from us and he was eating alone. Immediately, I was saddened at the fact that he was all alone. For all I know, he preferred it that way. I created my own scenario and assumed that he was a widow (based on a wedding band on the right hand), did not have any family and he was alone. Farfetched, but could be right on the money? Steve said in a joking manner, “I guess we should be good Christians and invite him to the table.” In my mind, that was the right answer, but I could not find the courage to execute it. To this day, I still worry about how others perceive me. So I left there feeling sad for the man and another opportunity wasted.

Colossians 4:5 says, “Live wisely among those who are not Christians and make the most of every opportunity.” It seems that I am not making the most of my “opportunities.” People are actively seeking a better of quality of life, but finding alternative ways of doing so. Whether it is applying principles from the “Secret”, Eckhart Tolle’s “New Earth”, or joining “Meet Up” groups such as Secular Life, people are hungry for something better. I have no plans of launching any kind of crusade, but I hope that when God presents an opportunity that I act on it. All I can do is share the gospel and pray that they would grow to understand His truth.

Let’s choose TODAY to seize every opportunity that comes our way.
Love in Christ,
Nichole