So You Think Confidence?

I saw her walk through the door, earbuds popped in, a smile on her face and calmness I couldn’t match. Meanwhile there I stood, hands sweating, hair pinned back, barely remembering to breathe.

I wondered, how is it that she can walk in here with such confidence? She’s probably been here longer than I have, and that would explain it…

So in passing, I asked her.

To my surprise, she’d been there just as long as I had.

What, you’re like a pro! I told her. Why is it that every time I come in here I feel like I can’t breathe until I leave!?

She’s about my age and I wish I walked around with as much assurance as she did that day.

It’s no secret, I, as well as lots of other people, am afraid of making mistakes.

I mean I really, really, really just don’t want to mess up. Sometimes in a moment of decision I end up just standing there trying to decide if I should ask for help or figure it out on my own. People probably think I’m so weird. I am, but still ;P

I want to be thorough, yet time efficient. I want to be a problem solver, yet don’t want to make mistakes. How does one find the right balance?

I guess all this comes with time, comes with learning and growing and getting older… and just doing. The more you do something, the better you get at it and the more confidence you gain.

I also never really understood how truly related experience is with age until one day it just clicked. All the people I talked to, all the stories I’ve heard and the advice given to me all came together, and it finally made sense. I find myself always trying to be on the same level of someone twice my age with twice as much experience, and that just won’t happen. I am learning to accept life as a learning process, and not beat myself up for not being who or where I think I should be, mainly in comparison to other people. The key is to keep trying and not give up, and definitely not compare myself to others.

That in itself is liberating.

I don’t want to go through life living as if its just one big competition, but I do want the kind of confidence I see in others. Confidence in my jobs, in my faith, in my abilities, in my blogging…

How do I get there, how do you get there?

Speaking of confidence, I can’t continue this post without addressing something else: confidence in one’s own beliefs.

I’ve come to the realization of just how important it is to know what I believe, to know why I am a part of something and why I want to share certain things with others. What makes what I believe so special? Why should I invite others to have similar beliefs?

Part of what has been churning inside me for months now was realizing how utterly unable I was to give reasons and answers to things for which I should have reasons and answers.

It’s one thing to say I believe in something, but another thing to explain the reasons why. That takes some effort, but it will be worth all that effort in the end.

That moment was a flashlight into my own conscience, a beacon to remind me to do some real searching that I failed to do before. It was also a reminder to put my confidence in Christ. I lost sight of that, of my Anchor. The best advice I received on this topic was this: Learn, study, find the answer. If you trust God, He will provide the way.

And I think that’s how I can gain confidence all around: trust, in God and how He has lead me thus far, and how He will continue to lead me.

As I’m writing this I’m reminded of something new I’m going to be starting next week, and I could use all the confidence (and heavenly guidance) I can get. I also need to gain confidence in my blogging, because we all know the internet is rife with cyber psychos, and I’m just waiting for my turn to get bullied.

Confidence.

So, how do you stay confident?

Until next,

em

“Don’t Pick My Fruit”

Helping ourselves over helping others

I walk down the road, the clouds above me hang thick with what looks like promises of rain, except it’s summer in California, and it’s 100 degrees. As I stare out at the browned, drought-parched hills around me, I think about how much we really need some of that sweet water, especially with all the fires that have recently occurred.

And just as I think about how much of a tease those clouds are, there I see it: a sign underneath a grapefruit tree that reads “Don’t pick my fruit.”

Large, luscious and bright-yellow grapefruit. Might not be the rain we need, but definitely would provide some summer refreshment. Or maybe it would just be a tease for some passerby like me.

As I saw the plump grapefruit tree and the little whiteboard sign beneath it, I laughed. But then I started feeling a little bit of distaste and even dislike for the person who wrote it. Why would someone find the need to put that sign up? It’s seems just a little bit rude, entirely unfriendly, and entirely some other word I can’t think of right now…

What prompted that person to do that?

If you saw that sign, would you care enough to stop, read it again, have a reaction?

Then I think about some random person picking off fruit from that person’s tree….that’s pretty darn rude.

So I find myself conflicted. Why am I bothered? Who would I be? The person picking fruit, or the person writing that sign?

I can’t help but think of Leviticus 23:22, a passage in the Bible that talks about leaving some of the land’s harvest for the poor and strangers to glean.

Would people actually do something like that now? What side would I choose if that were my tree?

What about solicitors? Do you avoid them when they come to your door? Would you put up a sign that reads “No Soliciting”?

So. Many. Questions.

It’s interesting, the neighborhood I walk through every week has the most “No Soliciting” signs I’ve seen all in one place. It makes me wonder, what is being solicited here and how often do solicitors come?

It’s also the same neighborhood I saw the “Don’t Pick My Fruit” sign.

I’d like to think I would let people pick fruit from my tree, but I can just feel the greed and unwillingness to help others flowing through my veins, and it’s a little concerning.

I have a friend who I spent 10 days with in another country. Throughout the whole time, while everyone else was bitter and complaining, she remained selfless, loving, considerate, compassionate, and just all around happy, even in inconvenient and uncomfortable situations.

In the particular town we were in, one case of bottled water cost at least double what it costs here in California. She only had a few bottles left and offered them to me when my water ran out, with no hesitation at all.

And it’s not like we could just go around the corner to get another case like that, either.

I’m ashamed to say, I would have hesitated. If I spent my money on my case of bottled water that I bought just for me, I would think to myself, “Sorry, ya’ll are on your own.”

I think I’d be the same with the fruit on my fruit tree. Sorry, ya’ll are on your own. So when I got a little bitter after reading the sign I passed by, I think some of the bitterness came from realizing that I am that neighbor.

But I don’t want to be. I want to follow that counsel from Leviticus. I want to think about other people.

But we often don’t want to help others. And even more amazingly, sometimes people don’t want our help, which is crazy bananas to me!

And so the cycle continues.

Why can’t we just stop thinking of ourselves all the time, and offer help to others, even if they don’t give us so much as a thank-you in return? 

Why is it mostly a take, take, take mentality, at least in the places I’ve lived ?Must we live in this kind of a world?

It’s also very easy for me to not want to help others. People are manipulative sometimes.

One time a girl drove up to me in a parking lot as I was walking to my car. She asked me for money to buy her nieces baby formula. Just as I was about to give her money, I heard someone in the distance say that they had already given her money, which “should be enough to buy diapers.” Busted, the girl then sped off.

Wow, I thought. Close call. The woman who had shouted behind me came up and said, “Yeah, I thought something was weird about her asking for money like that. But I gave it to her anyway. Why? Because I’m a Christian. I believe in helping others, even if I don’t know what they end up doing with that money.”

Because of people like that girl, I get caught up in this attitude of not wanting to help people at all.

But the woman made a good point. She helped that person, and she even helped me. People who claim the name of ‘Christian’ aim to be like Christ: giving, helpful, and selfless.

Do I aim to be that way?

Christian or not, I think we should all aim to be like that. There are so many problems out there, it only makes sense to help other people when we are able to.

Until next,

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Lost Stars Trying to Light Up the Dark

Finding happiness amidst hatred.

A lot of the time when something tragic happens in the world, I find myself thinking I shouldn’t be happy that day. That smile I just flashed? Nope, wipe that off. People died today, you shouldn’t be smiling.

Or if friends and family are going through trials, I feel like I shouldn’t even laugh at something later on at dinner, because I should be feeling every inch of that other person’s pain instead.

Things aren’t okay in the world, so I feel like every time I’m happy, I shouldn’t be.

I don’t know if this is the right way to think, but at the same time, I sort of do. I believe this empathy has developed inside me that wasn’t there before. I’m grateful for that, but it’s also quite torturous.

My heart aches over all these people dying, all these fires destroying land and homes, all these shootings and attacks…

I’ve even been obsessing over a swarm of bees that have decided to nest near my apartment, checking to make sure those little guys are still buzzing around and no one has called pest control, because the idea of those little pollinators getting poisoned to death drives me nuts. I was sharing with someone how I was enjoying this particular nature documentary series up until the episode where nearly all the animals were killing each other. What happened to the first episode where practically all the animals on the island were vegetarian? Lol.

The person responded with, “Well, that’s part of nature. Animals kills each other in nature.”

Yes, I said. That’s true. I just don’t like death. In any form, natural or unnatural, it makes me very sad.

I bring up this story because I believe it is actually God reminding me to be more sensitive to the world, to humanity, to earth and everything in it. To not complain about my life. To help others when I can. To find happiness even with all the hatred in the world…

What can I do in this life that benefits others?

What should I do?

What do you do?

I would offer prayer and whatever other help I can give, but for those who don’t offer prayer, what do you say?

Another point I want to make is this: God is not responsible for evil. He doesn’t cause death. A person or group of people didn’t die because God hated them.

I heard someone tell a person who lost her father to cancer that God created cancer. I don’t know why I didn’t say anything at the time.

God is a perfect being; He did not create cancer. Cancer and everything else bad in this world is the result of sin, the result of an enemy.

I know that paragraph in itself elicits all sorts of commentary.

You might be thinking, “Well if God exists, why did He allow those bad things to happen?”

Addressing that can wait for another time. 

Some main questions I want to get to are for you:

How do you stay happy amidst hatred? How do you stay positive, and share that positivity with other people and add light to a dark world?

Think about this to yourself, and hey, maybe even share your thoughts in a comment below.

Here’s to shining bright.

em

“Nobody wants that, bro.”

Whether you are part of some faith-based group or not, I’m sure you’ve seen, received, or even passed out some form of literature to people about a particular group’s faith/beliefs. Whenever I am at a church event and people talk about doing literature outreach that day, I sort of cower. Umm yeah, I gotta go do that other thing now…sorry bye.

I don’t like passing out anything like that to people. I don’t like going door to door. I don’t like leaving handouts on people’s cars. It’s awkward, it’s a little bit scary and unpredictable, and to be quite frank, I’m a little bit of a weenie.

Okay, a lot a bit of a weenie.

I get all nervous even thinking about it now!

So when I heard someone’s brief story the other day about how someone told him to put his literature away because “nobody wants that,” I was trapped in that experience for a good while after we had moved on in the discussion.

I’m afraid of passing out anything, because I’m afraid of those types of responses. What would I do if someone said that to me? What would I do if they actually got angry and aggressive?

Would I recant? Apologize? Smile?

I get scared to even talk about my faith with my own family or friends sometimes, let alone strangers!

Whaaaat am I doiiiing with my liifeeee😥

Ha ha. Seriously, though. I need to toughen up.

Whenever I have passed out anything, I’ve gotten pretty mild responses, some even very good responses, which always surprises me because I’m expecting WWIII. But I’m just waiting for that ugly experience that’s lurking around the corner, that person who’s going to tell me to “put that stuff away, nobody here wants that.”

I went out to pass out some tracts once, and one girl’s face I’ll never forget. One of my team members had reached out to give her something, and as she waved it away, she had such a disgusted look on her face, I thought she had taken a whiff something gross. My team member moved on, but I couldn’t get that look out of my mind. If someone did that to me, I’d probably start tearing up like the big sensitive baby I am and call it quits. Nope, no more, no thanks, I’m done.

These people don’t want what I have to offer.

You know, if I kept thinking like that, I’d never reach anyone. Isn’t the point of gaining some good knowledge or good news to share it?

I don’t just gain knowledge to hoard it for myself. I gain it to share—it’s a duty of mine.

To shove down people’s throats, definitely not. To make them feel bad or dumb for not believing in and agreeing with what I believe, definitely not. There’s a thing called tact, people. And even more than that, there’s a thing called love. Anything I ever do, I want it to be out of love. I’m not here to force anything on anyone (unless it’s forcing my husband to let me name our future children the names I want…lol, kidding😉 )

But I am here to share what I know.

I just need to stop being so afraid.

One thing I admire about fanatics is their ability to disengage from criticism. They are so firm on what they believe, nothing shakes them. I don’t want to ever be a fanatic, but I do want that boldness, to stand up for what I believe no matter what people think, say, or do to me.

In terms of my own faith, I know lots of people who think I’m crazy, who think science trumps God, who think choosing to believe in God is choosing to be stupid.

If I had as much gusto in sharing the love of God as they do in disproving God, I’d be one unstoppable evangelist.

And hey, that’s actually a pretty good goal worth striving toward😉

To unashamed boldness,

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Lost Connection

Staying tied to the Rock

After some deep moments of spending time with God in prayer or after hearing a powerful sermon, I just want to stay right there, in that moment. I don’t want to open my eyes after praying, or leave the sanctuary after the sermon is over because I know once I do, all those temptations I face will be right there waiting for me. People will keep talking about things that don’t matter, complaining about things we shouldn’t be complaining about. I’ll be exposed again to all my personal struggles. I don’t want to go back to facing the world. I don’t want to go back to facing all the problems.

I don’t know if other people feel this way, but I certainly do.

I don’t want to lose this connection I feel with God. I don’t want to release the grip I have on the rope connecting me to Him. I feel that every moment I go about my daily tasks, I’m breaking away from that rope. I’m losing my grip inch by inch as the day progresses. I don’t want to feel like that. I don’t want the rope to break.

In reading about the life of Jesus, even the small information about His childhood, He was always connected with God. He beheld Him every moment of every day. Even in His daily tasks and toils, He thought of God. Even as He worked at His chores growing up, He sung praises to God.

I want this to be my experience.

The GREAT news is, it can be. Even amidst the burdens of the world, I can stay connected with God by beholding Him each moment, by memorizing scripture to help me deal with a mean person, by singing praises to Him even when something annoying happens.

Christ was, and is, our ultimate example in how to stay connected to God.

Yes, I know it will be hard. Yes, I know I’ll fail at times, probably often. I already have.

But I have to keep trying. I have to keep at it, trusting in God and His grace to help me through each day.

Pray for me, and I’ll pray for you.

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If She Doesn’t Have a Real Job, She Doesn’t Exist

When I feel like a jobless loser sometimes.

I recently applied for a job, and one of the application questions was something like this: Briefly talk about your work throughout your career.

What career? I thought. I don’t have a career, and the bulk of my recent experience isn’t even in my field of writing.

Gee whiz, way to make me feel like a real winner.

The good news is, this particular job does not rely on my writing career, but rather on the other non-writing experience I gained while working towards my writing career.

Phew! I knew those jobs would come in handy.

But even still, that question made me cringe. I felt like I had nothing to offer, and oftentimes I feel like I really do have nothing to offer. I almost wanted to stop the application right there.

In a world, or at least in my world, where climbing the corporate ladder and building your career is the ultimate goal in life, I feel as if I fall short  (no direct reference to my 5’1 stature, here.)

I graduated college, and that’s an incredible success for me because I actually hated school.

So now, time and time again, whenever people ask me what I’m doing in my life right now, I always feel a drop in my gut. I scramble to spew out something I did that makes me sound like I’m not a big failure.

Because right now I’m not working a typical job. I’m babysitting and blogging. And I’m a house wife/homemaker.

When I tell people this, I find myself avoiding eye contact at all costs, and hoping they’ll change the subject.

I graduated with my bachelors degree, though. I sometimes add.

Foot in mouth. Now they’re going to ask me what I studied.

English and journalism, I reply.

I can just see their smug little grins underneath their fake “Oh, how wonderful.”

When really they’re saying, “Ha ha, an English graduate who’s at home without a real job. Go figure.”

Okay, okay, maybe they’re not all thinking that.

In my defense though, I tried my hand at the kind of job I thought I wanted after graduation and I hated it, so now I’m trying to look at other options.

And anyway, I love where I am in my life right now. The only thing that makes me not love it is the pressure I feel from everything and everyone else.

Sure I’m not pursuing my Ph.D or getting that coveted promotion, but I sure love what I am doing right now. I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again: I’m actually happy. I have a husband who adores me. I get to look after an incredible child. I have family who support me in ways I can’t even express. That’s already a lot to be grateful for.

Speaking of husbands, when I was feeling all discouraged about that “talk about your career” question, he gave me some good words to calm me down a bit (which happens often, because I need calming down often, lulz).

He basically said: It’s all about perspective. You might wish you could do a particular thing, and someone else who’s doing that thing might say they wish they could do something else. Don’t get caught up in that system, because it’s a black hole. Be grateful for what you’ve done, and be the light.

And you know what, I will be that light. I’m so blessed with what I have right now. I don’t have to chase things I don’t really want just because I’ll “feel better” when I tell people what I do for a living.

Is it wrong for me to want to be happy, to have a better quality of life and to do the things I love and am happy doing instead of chasing something I’d hate because it makes good money?

I am more concerned with doing what God wants me to do with my life, not what other people think I should do. I just have to remember that.

Until next,

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Panic on the Streets of Parenthood

Why I’m afraid of having & raising a child.

Well, the inevitable turn has happened—my social media feed has gone from check-ins at bars to pregnancy photos and marriage announcements. It’s bananas how much can change in just a mere 5 years. I’m not knocking the changes, quite the contrary. Pregnancy and marriage are beautiful things. But the idea of growing up still kind of makes me want to, well, throw up (Is it weird that I still have my childhood toys and get excited when I see toy stores and playgrounds?).

 

Now that I am a married young woman, the concept of having children starts swirling in my mind.

Sometimes I think I don’t want kids (I’m fine with my cat, thank you), and other times I want one like, right now. It’s really kind of funny how that happens. I guess the idea of creating a little being that is part me and part my husband just makes me so giddy inside.

And I also think having a little person around gives me a free pass to play with toys and act silly without being considered weird.😛

But then my stomach sinks as I think of all the things that come with parenthood. As my husband puts it: “It [parenthood] is constant.”

So what is it about parenthood that I am afraid of?

How about the whole “constant” thing, and just about everything else.

One of the major fears is messing the child up. Like, what if I explode in fits of impatience or anger that I say something that can ruin their self-esteem?

And there are so many parenting methods, and tons of people just waiting to give you advice, that it’s overwhelming, and I’m afraid of screwing it all up. It’s not like I can erase the mistakes or my child’s memory.

And what if the child makes decisions that break my heart? And the teenage phase? Ughhh.

And if anything tragic ever happened to my child, forget it — I would just die.

A lot of times I think, the less emotional attachments I have, the less pain I’ll go through.

I know, I know, how melodramatic. But it’s a true thought, nonetheless.

Am I ready for that?

Am I ready to lose sleep, to eat at odd times, to spend my time, money, and energy on another human basically for their entire lives?

What about traveling with a child? Or dealing with dietary restrictions? Discipline? The list goes on…

And don’t even get me started on the physical aspects of pregnancy…

Birth pains and the possibility of an emergency C-section? Ummm….no thank you.

All of this sounds pretty negative, I know.

But I’m not all negative (honest). I often find myself grinning at the idea of being a parent, having a little mini around that I get to watch grow.

The good news is, I don’t have to panic just yet. Hopefully the churning in my stomach will subside, and in a few years I think it’ll all be worth it.

Or not.

Until next,

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