We hear about people visiting these marvelous places with names that we can’t even pronounce. We dream about visiting countries far, far away. But have we explored everything that is at our finger tips? Probably not. Here are 10 reasons that you DO NOT need a passport to travel.
1. Puerto Rico:
Many people don’t know this, but you do NOT need a passport to visit Puerto Rico. I made a whole post with the details, but to make it brief.. Many great beaches, rainforests, casinos and spas for all budgets. Not to mention, Puerto Rico is the HOME of the Pina Colada. Why would you not want to go there?
*Queue Will Smith* Beautiful Beaches. Great Food. Need I say more? OK, Miami has something for the artsy, something for the outdoor enthusiast, something for the shopper, AND you can get there pretty cheap from most major US cities.
3. St. Thomas
…… or any of the U.S. Virgin Islands, but I can only speak on where I’ve been. It has the feel of the Bahamas without the need for the passport. Multiple beaches, kayaking, hiking, and some of the best snorkeling in the world.
4. New Orleans:
A visit to the French Quarter should be on everyone’s to-do list. Events like Mardi Gras, Essence Festival, and Jazz Fest attract crowds from all over. New Orleans offers a range of high-end hotels to simple boutique quarters to suite any preferences. And the food? Oh, the food!
5. Las Vegas
I can’t say enough great things about Vegas. So much to do morning, noon and night. Besides the obvious gambling and partying, there are many amazing shows to see and many beautiful nature areas within a close proximity. You can get a little taste of Paris, New York, Italy, and more in one place. Ever wondered what Coca Cola tastes like in Tanzania? Wonder no more…
I say Denver, but the great areas are actually outside of the city, but within driving distance – Boulder, Colorado Springs, Rocky Mountains, Vail, and on and on and on. Truly one of the most beautiful areas that I’ve been.
Now, Now, hear me out. I know you may think that I list Houston because I live there, but really… Houston is a cultural MECCA. You can find any kind of food that you want. When people ask for restaurant recommendations for other cities, I often overlook some of the greatest, WHY? Because we have them in Houston. I have no need to go out of town to eat something I can eat right at home. Other cities can’t say that, Museum District, Sports, Concerts… Rodeo anyone? How about the 2017 Superbowl? Houston has it all!
8. San Francisco Bay Area
San Francisco, Napa, Sonoma…. Endless opportunities for site-seeing, culture, or taking in breathtaking views while sipping wine on a summer day. Take a trip out to Alcatraz or shop in Union Square. You’ll never run out of things to do!
9. The Poconos
The name always brings back memories of Full House, and that should make you want to go on it’s own. However, if that is not motivation enough, how about mountains, casinos, horseback riding, and resorts with private pools IN the room, and champagne bottle-shaped jacuzzis? (Fun Fact: The Poconos is not a city. It is the name of the mountain range in Pennsylvania… Don’t act like I was the only one who didn’t know that!)
10. Washington DC
Anyone who says the US has no sense of history or culture has never been to this city. A plethora of sites to see, and you can even decide whether you want to see them during the day, or if you want to see them lit up at night!
We hear about all the fabulous things everyone does on vacation…. but have you ever been somewhere or done something that wasn’t all that it’s cracked up to be? I surely have.
I will say that I absolutely enjoyed each and every one of these vacations, but these are some things I do not plan to do again… ever.
Snowboarding: I was 99.9% sure I wouldn’t like this before I did it, but with the nudging of a friend, I obliged. It was just as bad as I thought it would be. Super difficult. Kind of like working out on a machine that you have no idea how to operate. My core wasn’t ready. Frustrating at best.
What I did love? SnowMOBILING!Oh my goodness, it was fun. I was about 98.3% sure that I wouldn’t like this, but it was actually tons of fun! Especially in Lake Tahoe where the views are no less than amazing. It was a bumpy ride at times, but I’d do it again in a heartbeat!
2. The aqua cycle. Man, this thing looked like a party on wheels! My son and I were in Biloxi, and saw them lined up on the beach. We paid our rental fee and rolled it out into the water. We hopped on, and began to pedal… and pedal… and pedal… and go absolutely no where. Again, picture the gym. On an exercise bike…. Going nowhere. LOL. It really is a great workout for the legs and glutes, but a fun water sport, it is not.
What did I love? Helmet diving! I was completely psyched to do this when I saw it listed as a Carnival Cruise excursion in St. Thomas. However, upon arrival, it is quite intimidating. We were grouped with about 8 other people, including some grown men and teen boys… Nobody wanted to go first (intimidating). You lower yourself into the water with the reassurance that if your helmet begins to fill with water, you should simply lift your head up to avoid drowning (sounds fun, huh?). So I descended. When I got to the bottom, my helmet began to fill up with water. (OMG, I’m gonna die!!) I quickly found that they were right, just lifting your head back to an upright position will save you. Once I realized I wasn’t going to die, it was SUPER fun! You are right up close with fish and sea creatures. A professional photographer snaps pictures, and it was an overall fantastic experience.
3. Kayaking. It’s like a workout. (Are you seeing a trend here?) I’m on vacation and have absolutely no desire to work out. Do you remember in elementary school gym class where you stuck your arms out and rolled them in a circle? That’s how kayaking felt for me. Uncomfortable. Tiring. Pointless. Nothing I need to do again. (Notice there is no photo?)
What I loved? A boat ride.In Puerto Vallarta, we paid $25 for a private boat tour of Mismaloya Bay. Ahhh.. relaxation at it’s finest. I had the option to snorkel, but why ruin a perfectly good boat ride getting eaten by a shark? (Me and my vivid imagination)
4. The Smithsonian Museums in DC. Zzzz… I’m falling asleep just thinking about it. BORING. Maybe I’m just not that into art or history, but I found them to be a major snoozer. The most entertaining thing was the person I went with, who earned us some very ugly looks from other museum-goers.
What I loved? Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia. Again, I’m not into history. However, this place was fascinating! It was very interesting to hear about the history of the facility and take a look into some of the cell blocks that the prisoners were housed in. One of the rooms supposedly housed Al Capone, so it was pretty cool to see.
5. Mofongo. My first time in Puerto Rico, everyone recommended that I try Mofongo. As a foodie, I couldn’t resist. Ordered it, tasted it. Eck. Hated it. I can’t begin to explain what it tasted like, but it was gross.
What did I love? MOFONGO. Being the foodie that I am, I was willing to give it another try on my next visit to San Juan. It was so delicious at Barrachinas that I tried it again on a food tour (I even made some!)
Just goes to show, some things deserve a second chance!
What are some things that you have loved (or hated) on vacation that surprised you? Connect with me on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.
Taking a trip always brings about new revelations and new opportunities. My arrival in Fort Lauderdale was no different. I was presented right away with an opportunity to minister to a woman. In my last blog, I spoke about missed opportunities. Times I’d passed up a chance to show love because I was distracted or too busy. My flight had arrived late that evening, and it took a while to get my bags. I was rushed because my Airbnb owner was waiting to give me the keys.
I went to get my rental car, and the lady working the counter noticed my Graduate College of Social Work shirt. I’d worn the shirt for a field trip earlier in the day and had planned to take it off… but I hadn’t.. She talked about how her son graduated with a social science degree and couldn’t find a job. She spoke of another girl that graduated with an environmental health degree who is now teaching. We chatted a bit about the difficult job market. Then she began to share how she’d once gone to nursing school and found out it wasn’t for her. She didn’t finish, but had accumulated some debt in the process. She wanted to go back to school, but felt that at her age of almost 60 she was too old.
I reallyneeded to be on my way, but my spirit told me to slow down. So we talked, and we talked, and we talked. As the lined backed up, we continued to talk. I asked her about her passions. I asked her what she would do if money and time were no option. She shared that she’d been a teen mom and had lost sight of her dreams years ago. Then she began to share about her love of cooking, and her skill in sewing – a skill she’d picked up from her grandmother. She showed me a picture of beautiful prom dress she’d sewn for a girl a couple of years ago. Just as soon as she’d gotten the picture out, she began to come up with excuses as to why a career in sewing wouldn’t work – her eyes aren’t what they used to be. People may not like what she has to sew. I asked her about cooking, and she brushed that off, saying that she was no chef. She had a thousand excuses as to why she would have to settle right where she was.
I encouraged her to go back to the place where she had a dream. Go back to the time where there were no kids, no responsibility – time and money were no object. What would that girl do? I told her she was not too old, and sometimes you have to take chances. I asked her what she felt God was calling her to do. We finished off our conversation, and I went on my way (upgraded from economy to mid-size).
I began to thank God for the opportunity to minister to others and spread his love and encouragement. I couldn’t believe that He had done it again. As I drove off, I realized something important.
I wasn’t ministering to her. She was ministering to me.
God needed me to see the end result of not following your dreams and your passion. He needed me to see what happens when we allow fear, insecurities and excuses to paralyze us. He wanted me to remember to listen to His voice, even when He is asking me to do things that I’m not sure I was capable of.
I recall the woman saying, “I’m just not strong enough.” Oh how many days have I felt that way? Telling myself that the task is too big. I’m too old. The wheel shouldn’t be reinvented. Why waste so much time and money on school only to go do something else?
The voice of the enemy was distracting me and telling me lies, and God needed me to know right then and there that He will equip me with everything I need to do anything He is asking me to do.
And He needs you to know that too.
He needs you to know that the still small voice you are hearing is Him. He needs you to go forward even if you can’t understand. He needs you to jump even when the wall is too high, or the hole is too deep, or you can’t see your landing point. God is so faithful to fulfill every promise that He has given us, but we have to be willing to do what He asks – even if we have to do it afraid.
I arrived to my Airbnb. It was even better than it looked in the pictures. Right as you walk in, there is a picture of the world. God’s gentle reminder that the desires of my heart are within reach, but I have to let go to grab on to them.
It’s a new season. Spring is here! Blooming flowers, sunshine, beautiful weather. But as the seasons change, are we changing? Are we blooming, are we shining, are we beautiful? And what does this really mean? Better yet, what does it mean to YOU?
My niece grabbed a nail file this morning, and grated it across the tops of her feet. She often “puts on” deodorant, brushing the closed bottle onto her clothed underarms. One day, the babysitter told me she’d taken mashed potatoes and smeared them across her face. We were both confused trying to figure out “WHY WOULD SHE DO THAT?” A couple of days later, as I was putting on my face mask, I saw her standing there watching intently. She was mimicking me. She was doing what I was doing simply because she felt like that was what she was supposed to do. She didn’t understand my reason or purpose for it.
Oh what a life lesson!
It’s very easy to look at the lives of others and mimic. We look at others to determine what our lives should look like. What are they wearing? What are they driving? Where do they live? What places do they go to? We look and we copy, then we determine our next course of action based on what they are doing in their season. So as their seasons change, we change.. but what happens when their seasons don’t change?
Too often we find ourselves stuck in a season. We attribute our lack of movement to life. That’s just how things are. We are “waiting on God.” But have we truly evaluated why we are stuck? Are we stuck because we don’t know where to go, or are we stuck because the next step doesn’t look or feel like what we are supposedto do? Maybe our next step doesn’t look like the steps our friends are taking. Maybe our groundhog calls for more winter when their groundhog says spring is here…. or vice versa.
Texas weather is the epitome of defining seasons as it sees fit. It does what it wants. Rain in the middle of summer. 90 degrees in winter. Spring, Winter, Summer and Fall all in the same day. It doesn’t allow predetermined “seasons” to dictate its course… and neither should you.
I mentioned attending the Women’s Travel Festival in my last blog. I was surrounded by women WHO TRAVEL. And I mean travel. There was a woman there in her 20s who has been to every single country in the world. Momentarily I was awed. I began to shrink back and feel like my travel life paled in comparison to hers.. and most other women there. Then I realized one important thing..
This is not a competition.
Not only is in not a competition, but if I took the path she took, I would be mimicking behaviors that didn’t suit me. Quite frankly, I have zero desire to stay in hostels. I don’t want to share homes with others. I don’t want to survive on the bare minimum. And that is OK. In that same breath, Scott Eddy was there. A man who is also far more traveled than I am, but travels luxuriously – staying at the most expensive places, dining at the highest of high end restaurants. Living the dream… living his dream. His dream that he can afford. His dream that *I* can’t afford.
None of us can afford to live someone else’s life. None of us can afford to live someone else’s dreams.
In this new season, I encourage you to re-evaluate your motivations. Whose life are you living?
Do you ever feel like you keep returning to the same spot? I do. I feel like I take several steps forward then get stuck, so I start over. I start to think, “maybe I was wrong… maybe this wasn’t the path I was supposed to be on.” So I begin again. Reevaluating purpose, questioning my place in the world.
I went to a travel conference the other day, and I felt so much positive energy. Surrounded by people who “get it.” People who understand the desire to just get up and go… anywhere… everywhere. I got some great advice on my travel business. I left energized and ready to conquer the world. Then, just ask quickly as the fearlessness came on, the questions and doubt resumed, “Is this my purpose? Is this really what I want to be doing?” As much as I love travel, I’m not sure that travel blogging or travel consulting in my purpose. But if it’s not, what is?
I realized it has been almost a year from the date that I posted my blog How I Travel the World on $30,000 a Year. By far my most successful blog to date. In it, I spoke about obedience. Radical obedience to the Lord’s will that gives me the ability to travel the world. And yet, here I sit, a year later questioning my purpose. Somehow, somewhere I had lost that radical faith that God would show me the way. I began to believe that I had to figure it all out. I believed that I had to manipulate circumstances in order to work in my favor.
I was still at the same job… but I was tired. I believed that its season was over, but I wasn’t letting go – and it was causing me to become restless. I sat with my co-worker one day and we laughed at the fact that we had made it through the year on pennies. On $26,000 AGI, I had managed, yet again, to find myself all over the world. I’d managed to start up a non-profit agency, pay my car note and mortgage, maintain bi-weekly lawn care service, have cable, internet and home phone, AND take in a beautiful baby girl. Yet and still I questioned God’s ability to order my steps.
At any given moment I was teetering somewhere between radical faith and certain uncertainty.
Shannon Kaiser delivered a phenomenal presentation at the Women’s Travel Fest about purpose. Finding yourself. Allowing yourself to live authentically outside of the box. On Instagram she shared this photo with the caption:
“The secret is to stop looking for your purpose and live your life more on purpose. You’ll soon see that the purpose is bigger, so much bigger than you. And you’ll be lead with grace, clarity, inspiration and joy.”
I realized that I had spent so much time looking for my purpose in the grand scheme of life, when all God really needs me to do is be purposeful in my day to day actions. Focus on the tasks he has given me for today. Planning for the future is great, but I can’t get so wrapped up in something that is unknown and ever-changing. Whether my “purpose” is blogging, traveling, empowering others, working with youth, raising a family, or all of the above, I have to remember to be intentional with the choices I make in the day-to-day.
While on a recent trip to San Juan, I couldn’t help but notice massive clouds around me the whole time – day and night. At the time, I really didn’t think anything of it, but when I returned, I ran across Exodus 13:21a “By day the LORD went ahead of them in a pillar of clouds to guide them on their way …” Little did I know that I’d never been lost. I was right where I needed to be.
I attended a Vision Journal Workshop, hosted by MsIndependent earlier in the year. At the workshop we created these journals. I had great plans of decorating mine with “Blessed” stickers and beautiful designs. I quickly realized that the glitter paper I used for the cover would not hold stickers, paper, washi tape, or any of the creative décor I had planned to put on it. Not only does it not hold anything, it leaves glitter EVERYWHERE and on EVERYTHING it touches. As I sat one night asking God, “WHAT DO YOU NEED ME TO DO?” God replied, “I need you to leave a sparkle wherever you go.”
In that instant it all came together. God doesn’t need me to figure things out. I thought back to all of the places I had been over the last year. At each place, he’d given me the opportunity to sparkle. The opportunity to spread his joy and his love to someone who may need it. I’d like to say that I took advantage of every opportunity, but quite honestly, there were times when I was too caught up trying to figure out life that I missed the chance grace someone else with His light.
I know some of you may be at a point where you’re not sure what to do next, and my advice to you is: Sparkle.
One of the things that I struggle with is dating. All aspects of it. I wrote a blog before about 7 things I learned from dating after 30. I must say that I’m still learning. SLOWLY but surely. One of my biggest struggles is determining whether I am acting on the Will of God or my own personal preferences and desires. Sometimes it’s tough to know the difference. I find myself questioning, “am I being too hard on people?” “Should I give this person another chance?” Pure and utter confusion that leaves me with sense of anxiety and uncertainty. I know that the Bible says that God is not the author of confusion (1 Corinthians 14:33), but more often than not, I’m not sure if it is confusion caused by the devil or caused by me.
I recently met with a friend I hadn’t seen in a while. When he walked in, I said to myself, “something is different.” I looked him over, and assessed that he had lost some weight. “That must be it,” I reasoned. As we began talking, I felt like I was talking to a complete stranger. Albeit we were never super close, this was not the same person I knew before. He was speaking differently – not in his tone, but in his words. The things he was saying were not the things he was saying before. The things he was previously interested in were no longer the same. As we delved deeper into the conversation he shared that he had been growing his relationship with God. THAT’S what is different.
It took me back to my own life. People that knew me before will tell you that I’m not the same person that I was. Truly changing WITH God is noticeable. It was in that moment, God revealed a few things to me:
When a person has changed, they will be different. Sounds obvious, right? But it’s something that I struggle with. Sometimes I allow a person’s words to convince me of something that their actions do not validate. I give second, third, fourth, and 20th chances based on a person SAYING they are different, or saying that they are sorry. You don’t have to guess if a person has changed, they will be different. They won’t be perfect, but they will be different. True change is believable because it is real.
You can’t truly be touched by God and not change. Everybody goes to Church. Everybody loves the Lord. Or at least they say… There is a difference between knowing the Lord, believing in the Lord, and being obedient to His will for your life. The former is surface level, the latter takes it deeper. I’ve been missing the depth. One thing that stood out in my conversation with my friend is his change in attitude towards his career. Since we’d talked, he’d transitioned into the career that he’d wanted so badly. But when we talked that day, he was ready to change careers. It didn’t fit him anymore. He felt that it wasn’t something that was honoring God. He’d stopped dating people he wasn’t interested in. Money was no longer top priority. WHO IS THIS GUY? Someone touched by the Lord. Those striving to walk right with the Lord will feel his convictions. The sense of “this is right” or “this is wrong” will guide their decisions. They’ll speak differently, they have different priorities, they’ll behave differently. Again, not perfect. But different.
When it is God, you will know. For some strange reason, I have this belief that God will allow me to miss out on “the one.” I feel that he may slip through the cracks. I feel that it is something that I will need to work hard to figure out. I knew instantaneously that my friend was different. Without saying a word, there was something about him that I could not put my finger on. And that’s how God works. He guides our minds to what is of Him. He sends His Holy Spirit to tell us which direction to go. So I realize that whether the confusion is caused by me or dating the wrong person – it is not of God, and I should stop, separate myself and seek clarity.
I loved this chair. Stupidiotic – I thought of the quote, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.” We can’t keep proceeding into our relationships “business as usual.” Now is not the time. We have too much work to do to be held up in situations that don’t honor Him, and don’t bring HIM out of us.
Removing the “Stupidiotic” reminds me that God upholds me with HIS righteous hand (Isaiah 41:10). He will never fail me. He will never guide me into situations that are not of Him with the intention of leaving me there. So when I don’t feel His presence with someone, I can rest assured that His presence doesn’t dwell there.
2 Corinthians 3:17 says, “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.“ Freedom… synonymous with liberation, release, deliverance.. With freedom comes peace of mind.
Verse 18 goes on to say, “And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” A person filled with the spirit will be different.
I felt uncomfortable the other day. That very uncomfortable, borderline sick feeling you get when someone asks you to do something that takes you completely out of your element. I was hosting an event with a group of teen girls. Most of whom came with a friend or family member. Someone came up with the idea to split the girls up so they could mingle with others. As I counted off numbers to the girls and asked them to leave their friends and move to the group they were assigned to, I felt uncomfortable, horribly uncomfortable. “But the point is to get to know new people,” my friend assured me… Of course it is. I understood the point completely. But the act took me back to my school days, some not too long ago. I remember the feeling of panic as I realized I would be separated from the only person I wanted to talk to. As I looked in the eyes of most of the girls, I saw the nervousness and uncertainty.
Quickly my mind went back to a snippet from a sermon I’d hear the day before from TD Jakes. The sermon was about vision, but in it he said,
“As you minister to young women, you are really ministering to yourself. I think that you are busy in the process of redeeming yourself, and that what you see in the young girls and the passion through which you reach out to them, that you are reaching out to yourself… and as you give it to them, it shall be given unto you again.”
I am an introvert. Quiet. Reserved. Even at the age of 30, I hardly ever participated in class discussions. I like to blend in and slide by unnoticed. But lately, God has been saying, “I’m calling you from the back of the class to the front.”
Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine myself in a job where I would speak in front of groups – small groups, medium-sized and large groups. I attended an orientation the other day. I came prepared to share with the individuals who came to the table I was stationed at. As I sat in the auditorium, they introduced the counselors, faculty, staff… all of the important people who are vital to the school. The school social worker comes over and whispers, “we would like you to share about the program at the end.” SHARE?! In front of everyone?! But what will I say? Everything I’d prepared to say at my table was no longer good enough. I feverishly scratched down some notes… changing them again and again right up until the time they motioned for me to come up. She handed me the mic and politely told me to make it quick. Oh my.
So I spoke. I’m not sure how eloquent I was, and my scratch paper wasn’t written to be “made quick.” So I reverted to my “go-to” script. “How many leaders do we have in here?” As usual, a few hands up, but most people awkwardly glance around, unsure of whether or not to raise their hand… *hits pause*
I want to pose the question to you…”how many leaders do we have reading this message?” God is calling you to the front of the class. He is calling you out of your element. The comfort zone you have spent so much time is has become too small. You have begun to realize that you are no longer comfortable there, so it’s becoming a zone of familiarity rather than comfort. It’s time to step out. It’s time to lead.
“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10
I realized a few things in that uncomfortable spot:
It’s not about me – I mentioned this in a previous blog, but God reinforces it daily. Nothing I’ve been through was about me. Those uncomfortable moments being called on in class where never about me. He uses those moments to make me compassionate to others. Those moments make me empathetic. Those moments allow me the ability to look at a young girl and say, “It’s OK if you can’t think of an answer to my question. We’ll move on to someone else.”
God can work with you right where you are – we often think, “if I could just do/be/get/say/meet ______ everything would be great.” I’ve not had to get over my introversion to do anything God has asked me to do. When I get into the flow of God’s work, I get in my zone. A zone more than a “comfort zone.” It’s a zone of peace. It’s a zone that is familiar even though I’ve never ventured there.
His plan is SO much greater than ours – When I started my blog, I never imagined it would be read around the world. I never pictured myself on the radio. I never imagined traveling to different cities and sharing my story of redemption, forgiveness and hope.
There is healing in helping – Tied into point two, society has conditioned us to believe that brokenness can not bring healing. That broken people have nothing to offer from their experiences. We look at people who are divorced and say, “who are they to give marriage advice?!” We look at those who have lost it all, and say, “who are they to give me input on how to spend my money?!” We have unknowingly internalized these perspectives, and those flawed viewpoints discourage us from stepping out and helping others. We feel “who am I to speak to others about an issue that I struggle with myself?” As you begin reaching out to those who need you, those who need your story, those who need your brokenness, God begins to heal you.
I love this structure. It was randomly placed on the beach in California. Broken pieces… scraps… crafted into something uniquely beautiful. At first glance, I was uncertain of what it is, but as I got closer I saw that it has a place to sit and provides shade from the sun. As flimsy as it looks, it was strong. It could withstand the elements around it. It is a place of refuge…. You too can be a place of refuge for others. A place of peace and comfort away from the judgement of the world.
If I was asked the question, “who in this room is a leader?” I still don’t know that I would raise my hand, but I do know that His call is for me to lead…. and that is His call for you too.
Where do you find yourself hesitant to go? Where is that place God is calling you to that you aren’t certain you are ready for? Go. Go fearfully if you must, but go. It’s a beautiful place.
One of my favorite books which highlights a story of brokenness to Abundance is Lisa Nichols Abundance Now. Purchase it today at my online store.
Connect with me on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter, and let’s talk about that place. Maybe you’ve already stepped out into it, or maybe your just considering it. I’d love to hear your stories!
I was mad yesterday. I received some news that something was said to my son that I felt shouldn’t have been said. I prepared myself for battle. Armed with harsh words, petty insults, and witty rebuttals, I sent a nice, yet passive aggressive text requesting that these things not be said to my son. I received an immediate response agreeing not to do it anymore.
WHAT?! But you can’t just agree with me! You’ve done wrong. You need to feel my wrath! I quickly realized that I’d prepared for battle with someone who was on my team. Oh, how often this happens. Misunderstandings… Miscommunications… Unintended offenses… Opportunities to be offended that we seize and hold tightly to.
We have to stop living in battle mode.
Everyone is not against you. Everyone is not out to get you. I wonder how often misunderstandings turn into wars because the offended come out in attack mode. What if I had said what I wanted to say? What if I had unleashed a barrage of harsh words and insults onto someone who was simply having a conversation they deemed harmless? Battle surely would have ensued. Someone (possibly the very person I was trying to protect) would have been wounded. Casualty of war.
Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense. Proverbs 19:11ESV
Webster defines “good sense” as “sound judgment often instinctive or unlearned,” but I disagree. “Good sense” is very much learned. Instinctively we are quick to anger. Think of the child who has his toy taken from him. He will bite, he will scratch, and he will unleash what I am convinced is a good ol’ fashion “cus out.” Instinct says, “You have offended me, and you WILL pay.” We see the memes all the time:
This is not good sense. This perspective leads to words that turn to battles that turn to wars. Good sense is learned. Good sense says:
Address the issue not the person
Everyone is not out to get you
Because I feel offended, doesn’t mean I have to BE offended
Pick your battles
Let it go
Next time you are offended, I encourage you to think about those 6 things.
Calm down: Many situations are escalated due to tone. When we are not calm, it is evident in what we say and how we say it. Take a moment to think before you dial, think before you press send, and think before you speak. Do I REALLY want to say this? And do I really want to say it like THIS?
Address the issue not the person: Operating in defense mode causes us to go at the person, not the problem. In my situation, I have no problem with the person, I had a problem with what they said. But how often do we “go off” on a person, bringing up everything BUT the issue at hand. Stick to the problem and you will get to the solution faster.
Everyone is not out to get you: As important as we feel that we are…. we aren’t. When the comments were made, I was the last thing on that person’s mind. As is the case when most “offenses” are committed. Not only are people not out to get you, they are often on your team. I’ve seen lifelong friendships end over a misunderstanding blown completely out of proportion.
Because I feel offended, doesn’t mean I have to BE offended: Your feelings will lie to you. You give up your power when you allow the behavior of others to dictate how you feel. “My attitude depends on you” is operating in a powerless mode. That person becomes your puppeteer… able to make or break your day at the drop of a dime.
Pick your battles: Let’s say you are 100% right. This person intentionally did/said something to upset you. Is it really worth being upset over? What do you gain?
I haven’t blogged in a while. One month to be exact. I’ve had a lot going on. So many things in the works. I worked all morning putting together my organizations newsletter. First I used one site. Once completed, I hated the formatting, so I started all over on a new site. I finalized it on the new site, and realized that I’d be unable to publish it in the way that I wanted. Aggravated, but having no more time to spend on it, I pushed “send.” As I pushed send, a still small voice whispered, “your perfectionism is killing you.”
My name is Karissa, and I am a perfectionist.
Whether it is the perfect selfie, the perfect blog, the perfect hand-written sign, the perfect email, or the perfect newsletter – I have spent hours, days, possibly years of my life making things “perfect.”
I threw a going away party for a young lady, and I literally re-wrote this sign 20-30 times. Wouldn’t want anyone to see that I can’t free-hand perfectly scripted words in a straight line now, would I?
Or the picture I had my sister retake 40 times. The picture of me “casually” gazing out of window.
My life is full of fun moments, great ideas, and good intentions that I have allowed my perfectionism to turn into exhausting feats that leave no time to do anything else.
Several things happen when everything has to be perfect:
You frustrate yourself
You frustrate people around you
You waste time
You procrastinate to the point of not accomplishing anything
And the truth is: the people that matter already know that you are not perfect. The people that matter see your intentions. In a world that tells you that everything you do, say or present to the world should be error free, KNOW that NO error can keep you from what’s yours, if your intentions are pure.
Today I break up with perfection. Today I choose to do my best within the time I have allotted to spend on a task. Today I choose to be imperfect. To be flawed. To be human. And I hope you choose the same.
What started off as four simple words on the back of a piece of paper quickly morphed into a life lesson.
“Back to School Bash.” I wrote down these words as I sat at a social work conference in DC. I wanted to have a Back to School Bash for my WHYS Girls. Great idea, right? Sure, but I wanted to have it free of charge to the girls. I shared my idea with my friend and colleague. I also shared with her my concerns that I had absolutely NO money to pay for it.
“Get sponsors.” She suggested simply. “Find out the cost per girl, and ask people to sponsor a girl.” Another great idea, right?” But I hate asking people for money,” was my reply.
“It’s not for you,” she said.
THESE four words hit me like a stack of bricks. I was instantly convicted when I realized I had made things about me. My ego, my pride was preventing me from petitioning on behalf of someone else. 1 Timothy 2:1 instructs us to intercede and petition for others. And here I am unwilling to ask for assistance, because of the way it will make “ME” feel.
I’d like to say that I instantly decided to ask for sponsors, but I didn’t. I prayed about it, then waited, and waited. About a week passed, and I was sitting in the airport. I received an email response from Top Golf regarding the price of an event. OMG. This is just way too much. So I took to Facebook with my request. Again, I would love to say that I boldly asked for the price that was quoted me, but I shot small. I simply asked for $18.50. The cost of 2 hours of golf and membership fee. I figured the girls could bring their own money for food, or I would figure something out later. Instantly, people responded ready to donate. By the time I’d taken off and reached my destination, I had secured the funds I’d requested…. But it didn’t stop there. People were still making offers. I shared that we had received the $18.50 per girl, but we still needed food. That wish was quickly fulfilled. Overwhelmed, amazed, and humbled were just a few of the feelings I experienced.
As I sat back praising God and reflecting, a few things resonated with me:
Write the Vision. Make in plain. (Habukkuk 2:2). In my prior blog, I spoke about the creation and significance of a vision board. As I was throwing out papers from the conference, I stumbled across the scratch sheet off paper I had scribbled those four simple words: Back to School Bash. If we have the courage to write it, speak it, and believe for it, God will grant it, according to His Will.
Stop aiming small. Again, I asked for the bare minimum. While I may be a “bare minimum” person, I don’t serve a bare minimum God. He is the God of excess and abundance (Ephesians 3:20).
You have to let people know what you are doing.I spoke about this one as well, but somewhere along the line, I’d run across doubt and uncertainty in what God was asking me to do. I’d allowed the enemy to silence my voice and convince me that perhaps this wasn‘t what God was asking me to do. Which leads me into my final revelation.
IT’S NOT ABOUT ME. It’s very easy to become so consumed in what we are doing that we forget that we are working for the Lord. We allow our plans, pride, and ego to interfere with what He is trying to do. My friend’s words of “it’s not for you” put it all into perspective.
So I will deliver the same message to you: “It’s not for you. It’s not about you.” You are the vessel that God is using to get done what He needs done in this season. So often we let season after season pass due to fear. We are commanded numerous times in the Bible, “do not be afraid.” God already knew that fear would try to take the place of faith and thwart His plans for greatness – but we don’t have to let that be the case with us, in our lives. Live boldly and fearlessly. Act on the visions that God has placed in your heart. If you begin walking, God will reveal that He has been walking with you the whole time.