Stop caring. Be strong and courageous.

Have you ever been paralyzed by how you might make someone feel if you do something that you know is the right thing to do? I used to get that way all the time, and I still do. I’ve decided, though, that that is no way to live. In fact, I’d say it is the biggest hinderance of a lot of my actions in life. It reeks of my needy behavior. The need to be validated and accepted by others. That need is in the way of my relationship with God and a healthier relationship with those involved. Ultimately, I am hurting someone I’m not being honest, and straight forward with.

I want to live my life in such a way that shows “I care much more about my relationship with God than I do about being accepted by the world.” Yes, I will fail, and yes, I will fall back to my old ways sometimes, but that won’t stop me. There is one Bible verse that has always held value in my heart.

1 Timothy 4:12 - Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.

What that says to me is that I can be strong and courageous in my actions because I am no longer bound by my dependence on the acceptance of others, but the acceptance of the Lord. He is the one who defines me. He is the one that gives me the value I have been looking for in all the wrong places.

I hope this speaks to some of you the way God has been speaking this to me these last couple weeks. Your value is not measured in acceptance, but in your strength in your relationship with Christ. If you doubt this, then please go to the only one who can give you assurance, God.

As always, stay sharp!

Unsocial media cleanse

I'm taking at least the rest of April off of social media.

The last week has been a pretty tough time for me and the things I see on my social media. It's been a pretty tough last few years, for that matter. I'm sure many of you can relate when I say I get into sort of "comparison mode" when I get on social media. I also can't stop looking at it all throughout the day. I am really just tired of how emotionally reliant I have become on keeping up with everyone else's social media profiles online.

I've also gotten tired of looking for empty validation in my posts. As I post something and wait, hope, and hold my breath for people to "like" what I had to say or wanted to show people. It's a sad, ridiculous way of living. I can't believe I got in this rut to begin with... actually I can. Since I can remember, I've always looked for validation from other people in order to feel like I was on the right track with my life. Over the last few years, I've felt God leading me on another path. A path down which I won't be selfishly to looking at others in hopes they will give me that validation I truthfully need from Him instead. It's a chasing after the wind. Like looking for pearls in a pig sty.

So, if you'd like to get ahold of me, which I'm guessing many of you will not, but in any case, here is my phone number.

(704) - 953 - 1134

I can be reached here any time. My phone is metaphorically glued to my hip. You can text me or call and leave a message (I don't normally answer unknown numbers). I would love to have a real life face-to-face conversation with you or just talk on the phone some time. It's not worth it to me to see your filtered out life no Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat. I want to know how you are doing, not how many pictures you've posted about your most recent beach trip. Better yet, if you really wanted me to see those photos, your phone is capable of sending them, and I would be more than happy to see them and tell you how much I appreciate you sharing them with me and telling me the story behind them.

If anyone's wondering, I'll still be writing on my blog and posting things through Buffer, and occasionally sharing some new things I learned on my favorite stringed instruments. Feel free to comment, but I will not see these until at least May. Who knows, maybe I'm done with social media in a bigger way than I know.

Peace, y'all. And as always, stay sharp!

Reading is good for you. Who knew?

This is definitely one of those "Why didn't I start doing this sooner?" things for me. I didn't like reading growing up. It always made me feel sleepy and I couldn't focus on what I was reading. It was the weirdest thing. I could read words with my eyes, but at the same time start day dreaming about something else entirely. Before I knew it, I was at the bottom of the page and I had no idea what I just read. Some might call this A.D.D., but I don't think it was a diagnosable problem. It was simply my inability to say "no" to the rest of the thoughts in my mind to say "yes" to paying attention to what I was reading. A little laziness and a bit of immaturity on my part.

But I noticed something about me that changed when I started being more intentional about my reading. The best way I can put it is I felt my mind was "sharp". I was able to comprehend the world around me better and was able to stay focused for longer. Maybe it is that I have been learning to focus for longer while I'm reading. It certainly has been a challenge not to pick up my phone multiple times while I'm reading, but I try my best to leave it alone until I'm finished with a chapter. I was surprised at just how much could wait till I was finished.

Do you like reading? If so, what kinds of things do you like reading? Fiction? Non-fiction? Self-help books? Philosophy? All of those are great genres to be picking from. One of my favorite fictional books is "House" by Ted Dekker. It's a thrilling book, and it's the only book that has ever made me literally jump out of my seat.

Yeah, I know...

Lately, I have been reading a lot of books in the "self-help" genre. I really like reading about learning better and living life in a different, more intentional way. I guess I also like that many of them prepare you for the future and don't just deal with the present. One of my favorites in this genre is "Boundaries" by Dr. Henry Cloud & Dr. John Townsend. I really needed this in my life years ago, but now that I read it, I can see why I've made some of the tough decisions I've made when it comes to my relationships with my family. It's always hard to put healthy boundaries up with those who you are closest with.

The last book I'll recommend is "He Loves Me! Learning to Live in the Father's Affection" by Wayne Jacobsen. If you ever feel shaky about your relationship with Christ and you feel as though you'll never stack up to anything in His eyes, this book explains all that away. He loves you no matter what your current circumstances or frame of mind is. He never asked us to follow His commands so He could love us. If you read this book, you'll find it is quite the opposite. He wants you to allow Him to love you and following His commands are only a wonderful byproduct of a loving relationship with Him.

I hope some of these books have peaked your interest. All of them are really good reads. If you want any more good book recommendations, I am always reading. Right now I am reading "Wild at Heart: Discovering the Secret of a Man's Soul" by John Eldredge and I am really liking it! It sheds so much light on our current generation's problem with manhood and what that really means. It means so much more than woodworking and being able to kill your dinner and drag it home all on your own. I'll just say that.

If you haven't started reading a new book lately, please consider it. And if you have, then stay sharp! They are more than just words on a page. They are potential just waiting to happen to you.