Discovering Yourself

“but I run with passion into His abundance so that I may reach the purpose that Jesus Christ has called me to fulfill and wants me to discover.”

Philippians 3:12

Life without fail throws challenges our way that knock us off course, at times leaving us to feel lost and confused on our next move. Unpredictability is a hard concept for us to accept when so much can be on the line. Although in the moment it seems there is no light at the end of the tunnel, be rest assured that God has a plan for you.

Loss of a job, a loved one, a home and so on, can take a major toll on our minds. Leading to overthinking, impulsivity based on emotion and stress making the situation worse in our hearts. In your lowest moments, don’t suffer alone or in silence. Bring your concerns to the Lord and talk to Him.

Don’t forget to look at every loss as a lesson. It is normal to feel strong emotions in times of loss. Even when it feels like the last thing you are capable of in the moment, let go of your need for control and take a moment to breathe. You just reached an end of your chapter in the book of life. This perspective will help you be ready for your next chapter, rather than dwell on an environment or person that no longer serves a greater purpose for your life. God is ready to help guide you and when what is right for you comes, you will know.

When you make room for the Lord to work in your life, you may find that you had been led astray from your true purpose. Our human need for stability often comes from an immense need of control over our lives. When we allow ourselves to lead a life of self-fulfillment, we often find ourselves making mistakes that set us back. Take care of yourself, but also care for those around you. Sometimes our purpose is to serve for more than just ourselves.

God made us all in His perfect creation. It doesn’t matter how old we get, we can still discover more about ourselves and how we can make an impact on this Earth. As we learn about ourselves we discover that we have more to bring to the table at the next opportunity that comes. Being comfortable where you are in life is great, but you never know what you are missing out on due to choosing to be safe and not take risks.

Start that venture you always wanted to, reconnect with old friends, whatever you do make sure it makes you happy. God doesn’t want to watch us struggle, but still gives us the freedom to make our own decisions. He wants to lead you to your fullest potential; and the hardest pill to swallow is that it may not look like what you wanted for yourself.

Spend less time concerning yourself with what the world can do for you, and focus on what you can do for the world. This doesn’t have to fall solely into where you work either. Make time for whatever you are passionate about. You may feel can’t explore your passions due to schedules or pressures of daily life, but make time for it. It will be worth it! Be unapologetic about canceling plans or rearranging your busy schedule to make time for you.

Life is unpredicitable. We all walk through life in a journey to discover ourselves and our purpose during our time here. Be grateful for every good thing that comes to you. Continuously give thanks to the Lord as blessings come into your life. Most importantly, don’t view your losses as the end of the line. God has a plan for you that is richer than any decision you can make on your own.

Read more about discovering yourself with Tina’s book “Healed By Love” available on Amazon.

How To: Staycations

One of the many overlooked luxuries in life is missing out on making the best of what you have. We’re all in different spots in our lives, but we all have the ability to be creative with our free time. When the goal is relaxation, do what makes you happy. Whether that looks like five days of catching up on sleep or uninterrupted time with family, do it.

You don’t have to leave the house to create new traditions to share with your family or friends. You also don’t need to invest a ton of money into it either. The pandemic has made it hard to imagine our homes as a vacation spot, but not impossible. When getting out of town is not an option, still make the most of your time to relax. It may seem wasteful to spend time off from work locally, but if you need a break – take it.

As we dive into the hot summer months, there is a lot more activities that can be enjoyed outdoors. We all spend a majority of our times indoors sucked in by our technology, so take advantage of being able to step out of our cyber lives. Chill around the house with a good book if that’s your style, or you can consider planning out activities you’re interested in.

Here’s a couple of ideas to help you brainstorm your staycation:

  • If a break without the kids is needed, plan a weekend away for them.
    • The summer allows for tons of local summer camps, but some time with the grandparents never hurt either.
  • Plan outdoor activities
    • Time at the pool, a hike, picnic in the park, etc. The options are endless when the weather is nice. If there is room in the budget a baseball game, amusement park or zoo trip are great ways to spend a day with family or friends.
  • Themed cooking nights
    • When traveling isn’t in the books, you can always bring the vacation vibes in with delicious food. Let everyone pick a location and plan a meal everyone can share for dinner.
  • Spa day
    • Blast a spa playlist and pamper yourself. Skip the major price tag and do your favorite skin care at home.
  • Turn your backyard into a getaway
    • Creativity is up to you and what you prefer. Plan to do some camping or create an outdoor obstacle course for the family. Just make sure to spend time looking at the stars in the night sky. -S’mores are a must!
  • Google events happening in your city
    • Chances are there a tons of events that are happening in your city that you haven’t heard about. This is a great way to discover new, exciting things going on around our homes.

Those are just a few ideas to kickstart a staycation plan. Keep in mind that you don’t have to spend a ton of money to have fun and relax. Enjoy the comfort that comes from staying in your own bed after a long day out. Give your mind a break from the craziness of your life and prioritize yourself. Don’t attempt to take on a project or chores if you intend to relax, as those activities can bring on unnecessary stress in the process.

Think outside of the box, if you intend to spend your staycation with friends or family let everybody offer ideas for activities. Chances are there will be a nice mix of stuff to do. If you aren’t a planner be spontaneous. At times the greatest memories come from impulsive decisions. This is your staycation! Stray from your normal habits and try something new!

Staycations can be refreshing. We get to spend time in our homes and cities that we normally don’t get the opportunity to experience and enjoy in our busy day-to-day lives. However you approach your vacation at home – remember, it’s all about what you make of it. Have fun, and discover something new!

Let’s Talk About Control

The need for control in our lives is a completely normal feeling. After all who can make a better decision for you than you? We all crave stability and the thought of uncertainty can invite fear and anxiety to our lives. It also welcomes disappointment when we don’t get things our way. There must be a level of balance in our minds that allows us to enjoy life as it comes, rather than trying to make our lives perfect – whatever that means.

Many circumstances that arise in our lives are out of our control. These circumstances can be painful, and the emotions that stick with us lead to forming a guard against all future decisions. We find ourselves overthinking in every situation as a reoccurring need for self-protection. This habit drains happiness from life if everything must be according to scenarios made in our minds.

It is vital to heal from our pasts, and forgive and allow our hearts to move forward. Don’t carry heavy emotional baggage all of your life. Addressing pain releases us from hatred and bitterness. Harboring negative thoughts and energy hurts the relationships closest to us, due to how we attempt to take control. This can push people not responsible for that pain away. The need to control every aspect of life will leave you feeling alone in the present moment.

There’s no need to invite disappointment into our lives. Of course, it is inevitable to avoid being disappointed at some point, but we cannot expect perfection as we are all imperfect humans. The people around you are not mind readers. They cannot possibly know how or what you want from them if you are not upfront and honest about what you need. They can make the choice to fulfill your need or not, but accept that it is out of your control. You can only control yourself. That realization will ease the weight of the heavy expectations we set on our shoulders.

Fear is normal and it is real. We crave security, so it is natural to have urges to control. Listen to your intuition as it speaks to you, but enjoy life as it comes. Build healthy connections with those around you. Step away from relationships based in the need to have power over another person or their actions. Control what you can, and accept what you cannot, but make sure you are happy.

Hand your fears and anxiety to the Lord and allow Him to heal your heart. Allow Him to deliver you from that pain and hurt, and hand Him the power to guide your life.

We all have a past, we all have our own issues we deal with everyday. Some hide it better than others, but we all deserve to be free and happy. But also, to be hopeful of our futures and leave the planning up to God, for He knows better than we do.

This week, consider where you can start lifting weight from your heart. Forgive when and where you can, and live peacefully in the moment, He has it all figured out. Control is overrated anyway.

Healing From Our Past

Life moves fast. We become so consumed in what the future will bring that we not only forget to live in the present, but fail to heal from our pasts. It is hard to move forward when you allow yourself to carry weight that slows you down. In each painful moment in our lives there is a lesson to be learned to help us grow stronger.

Addressing past hurt and trauma is painful. There’s no way around that fact, but it is essential to let yourself forgive the past. Suppressing our emotional pain can be detrimental as it surfaces, spilling out into other relationships in our lives without notice. Holding onto our pain in hopes of one day tending to it is unhealthy. The steps towards forgiveness allows you to release the grip of what has been holding onto you.

Give yourself permission to heal. Let yourself feel those emotions you’ve buried within yourself. Allowing yourself to feel that pain can be powerful; you release the grasp the past has on you. You will no longer feel the need to force a smile while deep down you feel you’re drowning. You’re not weak for releasing negative emotions. Be angry, be sad and most importantly, communicate with God what you need from Him.

“But there is power in acknowledging what happened or didn’t happen in your past, forgiving the necessary parties, forgiving yourself, and confronting the belief system that resulted.”

Tina Hester

Never be ashamed of your past. In opening up, you may find that you’re not alone in your journey to healing. Your story could potentially help others along the way. Though at times we feel the safest option is to keep our “problems” to ourselves, no one should have to suffer in silence. Lean on God, if nothing else. He wants to hear from you and heal your heart.

Take every emotion that arises for you.

  • Allow yourself to feel it and consider how you can move forward without holding onto resentment.
  • Transform that energy into positive aspects of your life.
  • Be intentional, take hold of your power and release the pain of the past.

Even that very first step forward will be liberating. Forgiving what you cannot change is not easy by any means. We fear change, after all we’d be letting go of a past that has transformed who we today. But in doing so, we invite new opportunities and fresh perspectives for ourselves.

“I sought the Lord, and He heard me, And delivered me from all my fears. They looked to Him and were radiant, And their faces were not ashamed.”

Psalm 34:4-5

Be honest with yourself about what you need to do in order to take back control from your past. Once you feel you know where you want to start, unapologetically take those next steps, whatever those look like for you. Remember that you are never alone in your suffering. God hears you, lean on Him so that he may release you from the bonds holding you back.

Read more about healing from the past in Tina Hester’s book Healed by Love.

Distorted Perspectives

In relationships and life we tend to settle or look past issues that are right in front of our eyes. Ignoring the red flags is easy to do when you care for someone. We want to believe that bad characteristics and behaviors will change over time. Unfortunately, this can do more harm than good.

In some situations, we are so deeply intertwined in our own patterns that when we hear outside perspectives we tend to brush them off as false, jealousy or out of context. We make our own decisions, but we should be able to step back and assess the situation with a clear lens when concern is raised from those around us. Distorted perspectives will make us feel attacked when clarity is offered by an outsider. It also makes it easier for us to turn away from God.

God sends signs and answers in many ways. Tunnel vision can keep us from seeing the reality of the cracks in our path, being open and accepting of the lessons He sends our way. Veering too far from our intended paths can make us feel lost and overall disconnected from our faith. Then there is a chance we stop listening to the Lord all together.

Practice opening up your mind and your heart and assessing where you are. If you are feeling lost spiritually, know that God has never left you. He is still there waiting for you to notice Him. The true problem lies in realizing what you want for yourself and what God has intended for you is different, and may even feel unnatural.

When you feel in your heart that something isn’t right, follow that feeling don’t ignore it. God will let us fail on our own, not because He wants to see us down, but in hopes that we will turn to Him and be willing to listen.

We all crave comfort and stability in our lives, sometimes this leads us to holding on to toxic people, jobs and activities that make us feel a sense of belonging. That need for stability locks us into situations that are not meant for us and down the line we realize that we’ve gotten ourselves stuck in a bad environment.

Whether you feel lost or unheard in any manner, turn to the Lord and lay out your heart to Him. Reassess your perspective on your life. He always wants to hear from you, He will never turn you away because of past mistakes. Allow yourself to be carried and washed in His everlasting love.

You’re never alone when you have the Lord in your heart.

You can read more about recognizing red flags in Tina Hester’s “Healed by Love” here.

It’s Time For A Spring Cleaning

I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again, it’s been a tough past year. It’s fair to say we’re all due for a bit of a spring cleaning in our lives. Now is the perfect time to lift any unnecessary weight off your shoulders heading into this season. Consider refreshing your routine or getting to that project you’ve been putting off.

What’s an area of your life that needs some decluttering?

A great first place to start is in our minds. We carry so much in the back of our minds it can become all consuming. Self-doubt and anxieties are just some of the baggage we carry with us day to day, but deal with silently. That internal struggle can make us react negatively to situations around us. Make an effort to set aside some time to yourself to think about where you can find peace in yourself. Having clarity in our minds helps us lead a more intentional life. Aim to grow into a better version of yourself, one that shows love, compassion and patience in all areas of life.

Once you’re feeling balanced mentally, declutter your surroundings. This can be physical, meaning your space needs a deep clean or a purge of unneeded items. Make room for new in your life. This means also letting go of items, relationships or a job that no longer serve to fulfill you. Memories are one’s to be cherished, but holding on to baggage from your past will only clutter your future. If you can live without it in your day-to-day life, it’s fair to say you can let it go. Refresh your surroundings and make room for all the good the Lord and his plan have to offer you.

What is a peaceful mind without a forgiving heart? It’s time for a spring cleaning on what has been laying heavy on your heart this past year. Forgive where you can and move forward with no regrets for making improvements in your life. You will know better than anyone where you can start unpacking the baggage. Be motivated to be free from what you’ve been carrying with you. Forgiving doesn’t mean you have to forget, but it relates you from the chains of the past and prepare you for a strong future.

Overall, now is as good a time as ever to restart. If New Year’s resolutions fell through, no worries. Pick up here and start thinking about where you need change. Wake up tomorrow and make action towards taking control of your life. Be intentional with how you declutter, don’t be afraid to let go of what no longer serves you. Evaluate your behaviors and habits and take note of where you can improve.

Everyday won’t be amazing; sometimes our days will really suck. Adopting a new, positive attitude of ourselves and our lives will help us rise above our clustered lives. Good things take time. Make a plan that best serves purpose in your life at this moment and make changes.

Don’t be afraid of bettering yourself.

Making Intentional Choices

Life can get tricky and we tend to make choices out of stress, obligation, guilt or any other external factor surrounding us. In those times, we act on what we should do and not because of what we truly want. Unfortunately, outside influences tend to have power over us when decisions are made without careful consideration. Time is money, time is power, time is valuable. The luxury of time is not always afforded to us; actively practicing intention in our decisions is a skill we must make time too perfect.

Becoming aware of what occupies our focus, whether it be work, friends, or family, we don’t have to surrender ourselves to everyone else’s wants and needs. What do you want to accomplish, what goal are you aiming towards? Be intentional in getting there. Show up, be present and watch your life tend to you instead.

Obviously, we all go through our own unique situations and must assess from that standpoint, but here are some common places to start practicing.

  • Lifestyle
    • This is a big one, also one that often gets put on the back burner. It’s easy to make excuses as to why we can’t start changing and blame it on obligations, demands and further distractions. A great way to start is to first, make a list anywhere where you can have daily access to. What are your goals? What do you want to accomplish in the next six months? Next, set a date to get started and hold yourself accountable. Set an end goal as well to help keep you on track. You have to want change, and lifestyle is a hard one to tackle once we fall into a habitual cycle. Be intentional and show up for yourself, in the end you will have a fulfilling sense of accomplishment. You are your biggest obstacle.
  • Relationships
    • Our relationships, of any kind, require a level of nurturing and support. From both parties nonetheless, but you are only in control of your own intentions and behaviors. Don’t just continuously say you want to be better, put more effort in, communicate better and put your words into intentional actions. Again, you have to want change, if you don’t feel a pull to do better in your relationship consider why that is and assess. Put intention into making time to spend time with your partner, don’t seclude yourself. Consider the end results of changed behavior and gaining patience and how this could benefit your life. Don’t live reactively, although this is difficult in the heat of the moment take a second to consider the consequences of your actions, or lack thereof.
  • Spending habits
    • This one coincides with lifestyle. You can’t keep saying you want to spend less money then find yourself indulging on small items thinking it won’t affect the long run. Be intentional with your spending, prioritize needs not wants. It is definitely easier said then done, but setting a date for an end goal is a great place to start. Think through spending decisions, what would happen if you said no?
  • Time
    • Our time is valuable, depending on your situation your energy can feel its being pulled everywhere and at the end of the day it seems there is no time for you. How are you spending your time? These days we tend to lose our time stuck on our television or phone screens and hours pass without notice. Become intentional with the time you can manage and attempt to step away from technology and spend time with loved ones or with yourself and relax. The world moves so fast online as we attempt to keep up with others, put that energy into you. Pick up a new novel, take a walk for some fresh air, journal your thoughts and goals and be intentional in attaining them. It can feel we have no control over our own lives, but take a minute to breathe and be present. You’ll realize you have the power in every choice you make.

Those are a few starting points to think about, but if they don’t apply to your life at this time consider where you could be more intentional. Be aware of your intention and live your life with purpose rather than obligation. Ask yourself what you need. Take the steps you feel necessary to begin removing stress and anxiety from your plate.

Keep in mind that good things take time, remain intentional and trust yourself to be accountable for your choices. You have the right and the power to say no to activities that don’t fulfill you. Your priorities and values are the most important obligation you have to yourself.

Start today, tomorrow or next month, but be intentional in following through. You’ll be thankful you did.

No More Second Guessing

We’ve all been in a situation inline where we are facing multiple choices and need to pick the right one. We initially feel confident about our first choice, but doubt creeps in. More often than not, we change our direction only to find out that the first option was the correct one. This applies to many areas of life in which we let our insecurities creep in and throw us off.

It’s human for us to doubt ourselves, especially when dealing with big decisions. Trust in your first choice, because more often than not, that gut feeling is God leading you.

Though you may be an overall secure person, the pressure to make the right decision and second guessing yourself stems from insecurity in your decision making ability. Making a long-term choice in a quick manner brings stress and anxiety to our minds, but when we change the way we think we can manage this better.

Take time to sit down with yourself and reflect. No matter where you are in this moment of your life, voice to yourself what you hope to plan for yourself. Some realizations will be new, some will be what we’ve wanted all along. Then, start basing your decisions on the basis of bettering yourself, and be consistent with it,

Once you’re confident in making decisions that are made in order to help you grow from this moment, you’ll feel those insecurities wither away. Trust in God’s perfect plan for your life, and don’t let worldly doubts overshadow that.

Stay true to yourself. It always has been and will always be as simple as that. Take your past mistakes, analyze where you went wrong, take that lesson and grow. Failure to check ourselves leads to inconsistency and repeated history. Insecurity builds as our decisions are always the wrong answer to the problem. Cycles are hard to break, especially one’s we’ve molded ourselves into hoping for an ideal outcome. Once a situation has proved it no longer serves you fruitfully, let it go. Break that cycle and start anew, trusting yourself to do so.

In facing uncertainty, be confident in the decision that comes to you. Be reasonable in your consideration and give yourself time to think. Don’t spend your life guessing, you have more power than you think.

Spend time this week reflecting; get to know yourself again and move with confidence always.

Understanding Your Love Style

When thinking about how we express love to others, it may seem incomparable to how those around us show love. We think of our expression of love as uniquely our own, but all of us are more intertwined in our love styles than we think. Having a better understanding of all love styles can teach us what we need to compliment our own style.

Here are the 6 love styles as explained by J. A. Lee. He argued that people have different ideologies when it comes to love. Lee states that there are three primary styles of loving, which can then be combined in various ways to create secondary love styles.

Here’s what the three primary styles entail:

Eros – this style is commonly called romantic love or passionate love; rooted in feelings of affection, attraction and sexual desire.

Those with Eros style tend to be eager to develop deep, intense, passionate relationships. Drawn to physically attractive and good lovers, which makes this style common in the initial stages of romantic relationships. They are able to develop a sense of intimacy and connection quickly through high levels of self-disclosure. They are better at coping with stress, which helps them feel satisfied in their relationships.

Storge – this style is called friendship or compassionate love, it is based on high levels of intimacy and commitment but comparatively low levels of passion.

Friendship love is formed through developing companionship and shared interests. It is thought of as the “glue” holding relationships together. Similarities, shared values and self-disclosure are essential to storge lovers. If these fade so will the love. Physical attraction plays a smaller role compared to security, companionship and shared activities. Personality characteristics hold more weight to storge lovers, such as intelligence, communication skills and understanding. These relationships may seem boring but they are dependable and stable.

Ludus – this style is often called game-playing love. It is based on having low levels of commitment and seeing relationships as fun, playful and casual.

Ludus lovers communicate in ways that highlight the game-playing aspect of this love style. They tend to have difficulty coping with stress, due to the causal nature they look for in relationships. Their unwillingness to commit is reflected in their communication style as well, in which it stays casual. This love style tends to reflect lovers in on-again off-again relationships. This can become toxic in some cases since there is no strong line of communication they use negative strategies to maintain their relationship by making their partner jealous. This low commitment style is adopted by younger people.

Now let’s get into the secondary love styles:

Mania: based on a combination of eros and ludus. Mania involves having a possessive style of loving.

This style contains elements related to passion as well as game-playing. Manic lovers tend to be more demanding, jealous and possessive than the other styles. There is a strong need for control over their partner in the relationship; their desire to be close and control their partner stems from high levels of physical attraction and passion. Manic lovers often find sensitive partners that can help manic lovers cope with the highs and lows of their emotions and offer reassurance. Manic lovers use communication as a way to intensify closeness with their partner, often testing their loyalty. This style can be very negative in its strategy of testing their partner in ways of spying and engaging in destructive conflict to gain power over their partner.

Agape: based on a combination of eros and storge, it involves having compassionate style of love that revolves around caring, concern and tenderness.

An agape lover has a deep, abiding and highly passionate love for their partner that goes beyond physical attraction. This love style focuses more on the aspect of giving than receiving. Agape lovers look for partners with positive personal characteristics like a sense of humor, understanding, compassion, communication skills and intelligence. Lovers are motivated by intense concern for their partners well-being. Unlike Mania, Agapic lovers don’t use manipulation in their relationships; communication is intense and passionate. At times agape lovers can put their partners on a high pedestal, which makes their partner feel like they cannot live up to the image they have created.

Pragma: based on a combination of storge and ludus, pragma involves having a practical style of love that focuses on finding a person who has specific desired characteristics.

Pragmatic lovers search for a person who fits a particular image in terms of age, height, religion, occupation and high level of loyalty. These lovers take a “common sense, problem-solving approach to life and love” which is reflected in their communication style. They tend to want to engage socially with their partners friends and family to see first how they would fit into their partners social network. The practical approach in this style helps lovers match with someone they are compatible with, though to maintain the relationship there need to be some level of intimacy and passion. It can take pragmatic lovers longer to develop those because the realistic concerns must be laid out to create a foundation. Pragma lovers also tend to use spying methods to get informations and maintain their relationship.

Those are the six love styles as explained by Lee. It is important to understand your particular love style because it lets you know what you bring to relationships, both knowingly and unknowingly. A better understanding of how we show love will lead us to a compatible match that gives us the communication we desire and assurance needed to maintain a healthy relationship.

A persons love style is innately their own, you cannot change how a person processes or shows love. In many situations we get hurt by trying to force someone into a mold they could never form into. That’s not to say that certain love styles would never meet and form a relationship, but it does help to know why there is tension in certain aspects such as communication.

What is your love style?

What Can We Do When Everything Breaks Loose

When it feels like our world is falling apart around us, it feels like we’re drowning with no lifeguard in sight. We crave control of our lives, but that luxury is not always ours to hold. As life seemingly crashes down around you, view it as an invitation to grow.

Fixation on making our lives perfect, more often than not, sets us up for disappointment when life doesn’t work in our favor. This can cause more stress depending on how you process road blocks in your life. Accept changes as they come to you and embrace new challenges to the best of your ability.

Allow situations and people go as they push to exit your life, and welcome new opportunities and relationships as they present themselves to you. Trust in yourself and trust that God is working in your favor, not against you, though it may feel that way.

In letting go of what we think we want, we often find what we need was right in front of us.

More importantly, take some time for you and do what centers you. Some of our personal favorite activities for this situation include: prayer, journaling, singing and taking time to simply re-calibrate our mindset. During these times, advice from others can be extremely helpful, but take time to be introspective and listen to your heart. Let’s face it, at the end of the day you know your needs better than anyone around you.

Reach out to God, trust in His process. Don’t be afraid to lay out your fears and worries and embrace His perfect plan for you. We never struggle alone, when if feels like no one around you is slowing down to help, remember that He is always in your heart and wants to work through you.

Journaling, though seemingly tedious, is a great way to track our daily lives. When you write down and work through your emotions on paper, you are more likely to remember how to approach challenging situations as they arise again. Knowing yourself, and remembering how you’ve pushed yourself in the past can help you grow looking forward.

It’s easy to give into fear and lose faith when it feels like everything is against you. Trust that there is a better outcome at the end of your challenges and push through. Don’t resist change, some of the most beautiful parts of life come after the storm has passed.

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