Church Perks

This popped up in my memories today and it’s just the thing I needed to read. I love how the Universe works this way. ❤

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Very often when least expected, God sends a messenger.

People are shocked when they learn that I suffer tremendously with internal issues of self-worth. Because of this I am nearly always questioning myself. “Did I do that well enough?”; “Am I on the right path?”;”Does anything I do even matter?”;”Does anyone even care about me, really?”;”Am I doing enough?”;”What is wrong with me?”. I could go on and on.

I say people are shocked when they learn this, because I present myself as the exact opposite. Most people who know me think I am the most confident person around and they would never dream that inside, very often I am a mess.

When depression attempts to pull me under, I go on the offense; slapping the fake smile on, forcing myself to “go the extra mile”, etc. I have learned through years of practice that when I am successful with my efforts, God always meets me half way with something glorious. This is what carries me through.

The other day I was in my tiny office in the back of the church when I heard an African man talking to the ladies at the front desk. First of all, I love that accent, so my ears perked up when he started talking.

He had been to a ministry several blocks away from our location in order to receive financial assistance with his rent. As he told his story, I could tell he was very upset. He explained that he understood we are not affiliated with them, but as he was driving by the church, he felt compelled to come inside to talk through it.

Apparently, over a month ago he’d been granted financial assistance (by the other ministry) with his rent so he thought everything was fine. However, when he retrieved his mail that morning, he found an eviction notice. Fearful, he jumped in the car and went back to the Ministry, only to be treated as if he’d never been there.

Under ordinary circumstances I am not the one who handles people who walk in the office for help, but on this day, because of the dire situation, I felt compelled to intervene. So I went out, introduced myself, asked for his paperwork, told him to have a seat, and went back to my office to call the person who leads that Ministry. As it happens, in addition to my part-time work at the church, I also do the finances for the Ministry in question.

Coincidence? I don’t believe in such things.

After a few back and forth calls, it was determined that his file had been misplaced and indeed, the payment for his rent had not been made. A few more calls were made, including one to his Landlord, who accepted the explanation and agreed to wait to receive the past-due rent and I was able to walk back out and tell him his situation was remedied. By this time, hours had passed, and this poor man who had been in the office so upset and nervous finally had relief. He thanked everyone in the outer office and then asked to speak with me privately.

Inside my office, he took both of my hands in his and asked me if I would allow him to pray with me. Tears streamed down my face as I listened to this man, a stranger, praise God for having prompted him to stop into my office. He thanked God for me; he asked God to continue to place me in the path of people who need my help; he told God to continue to use me as his instrument; to continue to allow me to minister, not just in the finance office, but in the community. He said that when he entered the office he was scared and afraid and he felt alone and hopeless and that because of my actions, he was leaving renewed and restored and secure in the knowledge that God still listens to prayers and offers aid in remarkable ways. He mentioned the angels and he called me “one of God’s earth angels”. It was beautiful.

In other words,God met me half-way with something glorious that I would never have imagined for myself. Depression lifted. Joy inserted.

It was as if the Lord, Himself, stood right in front of me and said, “Yes, daughter, you ARE worth it. You ARE appreciated. You ARE loved. You ARE doing exactly what I expect of you. I love you. I love you. Carry on.”

And so I will.

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Day 5 Progress Report. God Sees.

As I reflect back on the week, I am reminded of what I have always known: when I suit up and show up and do the work with God in front, miracles happen. God isn’t just for the big stuff, He’s here for us for all things and He responds in all sorts of wonderful ways.

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Amazing grace, I made it to Friday! Wednesday and Thursday were really hard days for me, but I had armed myself with my “plan-ahead” weapons, so I made it!

To recap: Monday I began a two-week jump-start project which I am calling, “return-to-me”. For two weeks I am working on rehabbing my tired body, mind and spirit. For me this means more prayer, replacing breakfast and lunch with protein shakes, eating a healthy dinner, limiting alcohol and writing (because it feeds my spirit.)

I knew Wednesday and Thursday would be  trigger days for me because they are the most stressful of each week. Wednesdays my hubs and I work until 1:00 PM and then we head into the kitchen of a local church, where we create, serve and clean up after their Fellowship Meal. Usually this meal serves about 100 people, but sometimes it can rise to 150. This week we served pork tenderloin.

So you get the idea, it’s laborious, but glorious. I always go home smiling when the people are full and they’ve loved the meal. (In case you are curious, the sides were wild rice and a veggie medley of carrots, broccoli and cauliflower with a three bean salad or coleslaw plus cake and brownies for dessert.) We aren’t playin’!

My Thursday afternoons from 1 until 4:30 are spent with my aging parents. While I am so grateful both of my parents are still here on earth for me to visit, it can be hard at times. (This is a story for another blog, though.) I usually arrive home emotionally drained in some form or fashion.

The problem for me on both of these days is that we have fallen into the habit of evening cocktails on these nights. Everything is so stressful, it’s a nice feeling to get home, change clothes, flop in our favorite chairs and sip on whatever it is that we’ve decided upon for that night-sometimes it’s wine; sometimes it’s vodka; sometimes other things. The bottom line is, this is what we’ve done for years, so it’s a habit that we equate with “reward”.

I knew this would be an issue at the beginning of the week so I intentionally prepared for it. Wednesday morning I woke to my usual prayers for strength and perseverance, then I wrote in my prayer journal. I planned to eat a meal at church just before going home so I would be full. Even with all of this, the drive home a battle raged inside my mind.

“Just one won’t hurt.”, said my ego.

“You made a commitment! And you’ve prayed to God, too! If you do this, it’s like you are quitting on God, ya know. You have to give Him a chance to work.”, said my heart.

“Drat! Blasted Heart! But still, you don’t have to do this all at once, ya know.”, said Ego.

“If not now, when? I’ve prayed over this and over it. God will help me fight you when I get home, now shut up.”, said Heart.

“Still”, Heart thought silently, “What if I fail yet again? Why can’t I just do this?”.

When we arrived home, I went straight upstairs opting for a long, hot bath, which has always been a source of comfort. While I was in there I prayed again for strength and I thought about just what I was asking for and why. (Aren’t I worthy of having the life I was intended to have? I am. It’s up to me to do the work in order to get back there. I’ve let things go for TOO long-taking care of everyone else. It’s time for ME. If not now, WHEN?)

So I went downstairs, had a banana, flopped on the couch and turned on a comedy show. Later, I went to bed happily thanking God for seeing me through the day.

Last night, having battled through Wednesday night, I knew what to expect out of that darned ego-talk. Even though I was prepared the same as the night before and EVEN though I knew Friday was slated to be “cheat night”, as far as dinner and cocktails are concerned, it was still THE hardest time I’ve had. I went to my parents per usual, then stopped at the grocery on the way home (my happy place) in order to select something I’d like to cook for dinner. (This is my way of tweaking the usual routine.) I even went so far as to go to a market I do not frequent. I selected some nice filets, fresh asparagus and I planned on serving the last of the fresh squash I’d made nights before. I even bought two tiny cheesecakes as a treat. Then, I stopped at Redbox and rented a funny movie as a non-food, non-alcoholic activity.

Still, when I arrived home the temptation to throw it all out the window, met me right at the front door. Blasted demon ego!

“Look, you made it past Wednesday! Isn’t THAT enough? You are stressed and sad. You can make up for this later. Next week you can tackle Thursday over! Have a drink. If it makes you feel better, you can skip dinner!”, Ego quipped as if it were nothing.

This time my heart was silent. Instead, I thought of what I’d written in my journals to God. I thought about what I really want. I thought about why I started this in the first place. I thought of starting over and over and over again, never making it over the hump.

“Darn it. This is ridiculous. I am worth MORE than sitting on the stupid couch with a stupid cocktail.”, said Heart.

Just then, I remembered I’d ordered a special herbal bath potion to soak in. Walking to the mailbox I told myself if it was there, I’d use that as my reward. It was.

Determined, I went back into the house, made a nice salad, and sat down and ate it so I would not be hungry while I prepared dinner. After dinner, I headed up the stairs and took a glorious, “I DID IT” soak!

And so here I am today. It’s Friday. (Tonight, I get to have wine and homemade pizza and it doesn’t even feel important any more.)

As I reflect back on the work-week, I am reminded of what I have always known: when I suit up and show up and do the work with God in front, miracles happen. God isn’t just for the big stuff, He’s here for us for all things and He responds in all sorts of wonderful ways. There is something to be said for journaling thoughts, hopes, dreams, prayers etc. to God. (I think it cements things in the heart more securely.) Is it necessary to do so in order to communicate with God? Absolutely not. (In fact, I’m sure there are some people out there who will be offended that this is one of the ways I choose to be connected. Oh well.)

Having said all of this, I am fully aware that after tonight, I still have to go through Saturday and Sunday in order to truly say I had a successful week. (This is a Holiday weekend so I know it will be a little harder.) These days I really am trying to keep focused on the day at hand. While I do plan ahead,the object is to keep my emotions and my determination centered on “one-day-at-a-time”.

So color me grateful. I know God sees me and I like to think He’s happy with my tiny bit of progress. I am feeling joyful beyond measure! The bonus factor that I knew when I began this is that I’m feeling closer to God than before. Lest you think all I do is pray about getting through these two weeks, among other things, I also pray that my relationship with all things spiritual, especially God, continue to strengthen. It’s working.

NOTE: Although I missed a couple of days blogging, I am still here, and I am not going anywhere. Admittedly, this is a lot of harder to do than my blogs of days-gone-by where I had a set routine and outline to follow each day. I WILL persist!

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So you have a visual, here is a photo of the tiny journal I keep in my purse. I pull it out and write in it whenever and  I have something on my heart. (The first page I always use for my favorite verses.) When I get home later, I’ll photograph the book I use there. It’s similar but large. The one below is about five 1/2 inches by 3 and 3/4″. It fits perfectly inside my purse.

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BTW, if I talk about food, I will always leave the recipe here:


Roasted Pork Tenderloin

Ingredients:

  • (2) 1/2 lb Tenderloins (1 package of tenderloin has two 1/2 lb tenderloins inside)
  • 4 tablespoons
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Any seasoning blend you like. I used a prepared one that had garlic, lemon, oregano, chili pepper etc.) You can even use prepared rubs OR just make your own with whatever you like–you want enough to coat the Tenderloin all over.
  • 1/2 c. honey
  • 1/4 c. brown sugar
  • 1 c. balsamic vinegar
  • Fresh ground pepper (to taste)
  • Kosher salt (to taste)

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  • On a baking sheet, sprinkle each tenderloin with the balsamic vinegar. Rub it into all sides.
  • Drizzle olive oil and rub into all sides.
  • Coat with your seasonings (or prepared rub)
  • Let the pork sit for up to 20 minutes prior to cooking.
  • Roast in hot oven for 20 minutes. If it still gives a lot to the touch, flip it and let it go for 6-8 minutes.

Meanwhile:

While the pork is cooking, to a sauce pan add the following:

  • 1 c. balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 c. brown sugar
  • 1/2 c. honey

Bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer. Let the sauce reduce by half until it will coat a spoon. When your pork comes out, drizzle it over the top prior to serving.

Grateful Heart stays the course.

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Good grief, it takes so little these days to truly MAKE my day. Yesterday I posted the second little blog I’ve done in years. It was with a bit of trepidation, because I am such a perfectionist! (I have a hard time showing anything that I do not deem to be my personal best.) I did it though, because I am attempting to challenge myself in new ways; ONE of which is to relax my standards a bit. (Who am I kidding, that’s really never going to happen the way it sounds! ha ha) It’s probably better to say I am currently challenging myself in all sorts of new, uncomfortable ways.

Anyway, before I hit that “publish” button, I held a silent pep-rally for myself.

“It doesn’t matter-no one is going to see this anyway. It’s just practice. You can share the links later when you are back in the saddle, etc.”.

Soon after I hit that button, I left my home office determined not to think about it again; just happy I could cross, “write something” off my list.

Then last night something happened. I started getting email notifications that people were subscribing to and liking this blog. I nearly cried. It’s such a small thing, but truly, I am so grateful. It’s the little things that count, right? ♥

So with this tiny boost to my heart, I was able to get through last night without veering from my current eating plan. (Protein shake for breakfast; chalky protein shake for lunch; sensible dinner.) Instead of my planned menu, I made perhaps the best meatloaf I’ve ever made in my life (recipe below), steamed broccoli and regular baked potatoes. The plan had been to make naked burgers and sweet potatoes, but I wasn’t feeling it. (Also, long about four PM, I was starting to have food fantasies, so I made a salad of romaine, tomato, artichoke, onion and light Caesar dressing. It hit the spot.)

(Did I fail to mention I’m a foodie? I probably should have said something. Soon you’ll be seeing photos of my creations!

Tonight is the biggest challenge of the week. Wednesdays are always hard as my hubs and I cook the Fellowship meal for a hundred church people each week.  (Of course today, I FORGOT to pack my lunchtime caulk – I mean shake- but that’s not the real challenge.) Wednesday’s we get into the kitchen around 1PM. Dinner is served promptly at 5:15, so it’s a lot of running around in between. (Did I mention it’s four thousand degrees in the kitchen right now?) The challenge comes when we hit the door at home and it’s almost 7PM and we’re tired. The last thing I want to do is eat, but we’re so wired from working, we don’t want to just lie down either. So what do we do? Usually Wednesday night we have a well-deserved, delicious celebratory cocktail. Not tonight.  I made a vow to stick to this program for 2 weeks, so no imbibing for me this evening.

How will I manage? Determination, dedication and prayer and lots of it. This morning before I got out of bed, I had my morning convo with Jesus. Later, when I went downstairs, I got out my prayer journal and wrote for a while. It’s making a huge difference. There is something to be said about keeping prayer in the forefront of your heart. There is something to be said about keeping a journal just for prayers and intentions. For me it feels as though it’s written on my heart as well as in that journal and it helps me STICK to the PLAN!

Tomorrow I will start to include photos of the things I’m talking about in the hopes that you are currently in the midst of a challenge, you might think about the things that are working for me and give them a try! (I even keep the cutest mini journal in my purse for times when I feel I need a boost. Yes, I do jot down notes and prayers to God there. You’d be surprised at how often the answers come in all sorts of ways.)

OH and…ALSO tomorrow, I have to share the coolest thing EVER…one of my new favorite things…a piece of art that someone rescued from a dumpster for me! (perks of working part-time for a church!) Stay tuned!!

If you are following me, THANK YOU! You make my heart smile! If you have a blog, I will be visiting soon!


Best little Meatloaf Ever 

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Ingredients:

  • 1 lb ground beef (we had a grass-fed 80/20 on hand so that’s what I used)
  • 1/2 cup tomato sauce (I had organic pizza sauce on hand so I used that)
  • 1/2 minced onion
  • 1/4 grated Parmesan
  • 1 egg beaten
  • 3/4 c. steel cut oats
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • Dash or two organic ketchup for the top (optional)

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • Combine all ingredients (except the optional ketchup).
  • Press into a 8″ x 4″ loaf pan, top with a slathering of organic ketchup if you so desire.
  • Bake 45 minutes.

This recipe will serve 4 – 6 people depending on how large you like your slices. Since it’s just my hubs and I, he will have leftovers for a couple of lunches!

PS-I adapted this recipe from one I found on the Internet.

 

 

Raw

take the stepYou know how your face feels so strained and flushed when you are fighting off a serious bout of tears?  Your heart physically aches and the muscles surrounding the eyes are tense and hot to the touch.  One wrong look or kind word threatens to tip the scales and the dam will burst; so I get quiet within, put on my brave smiley face and march on. It’s exhausting and humbling and often times I cannot help but beg the question,”Is this really my life?”.

As soon as I see these words on paper I can hear one of you saying, “You have a choice as to how you want to feel at any given moment.”  Yes, I hear you.  (I probably taught you this, in fact.) The reality is that I am making the choice to use every tool in my box to fight a depression that wants to pull me under. This is why I will not succumb to the wailing fest that wants to get started any minute. Instead, I continue to slap a fake smile on my face, find things to occupy my heart and mind and try to immerse myself in being of service to others. Most of the time it works, but today, the dull ache is still there.

I remind myself that life has turned the corner and am heading straight forward in the right direction. It’s day two of my “reinvention”. I not only succeeded in meeting my goals yesterday; I slayed them. I learned I am not a fan of protein shakes, but I’ve made the commitment to drink two per day for the next two weeks in place of breakfast and lunch. Here I sit with my lunch shake and I have to say, it’s not good.  LOL! It’s supposed to taste like vanilla but instead, it tastes like chalk. (EVEN WITH fresh strawberries in it!) On a positive note, it IS very filling. When I get home I can enjoy a sensible dinner. I am looking forward to it for two reasons: it will be nice to have real food and I love to cook. Tonight “sensible” translates into naked burgers, steamed broccoli and baked sweet potatoes…perhaps with a nice spinach salad or something. Yeah, I know it doesn’t sound like much, but when you’ve had two meals of chalk….well, you get it!

Last night when I lay my pillow to head, the last words I spoke were, “Thank you, Jesus, for being by my side today. Thank you for helping me follow through. Please be with me tomorrow as well. Help me to fight my way back. I know you will. Thank you”.

When my eyes opened this morning I again thanked the Lord. it helps me to remember that this is a process and I am to take each day as it comes. I feel sad about things that are absolutely out of my control and this is okay provided I remember (and I will) to count my Blessings (there are many) and to be grateful for all that I have and am.

While I still have plenty of hours left in this day where I may be faced with temptations, right now, I’m doing just fine.

I think I’ll stay the course!

Start Where You Are.

Since most people who are reading this blog are here for the first time, my inclination is to do “the back story of who I am”.  I try to write it and then I erase it.  I write it again and then I erase it again.  It’s too long and too involved and I’m having a hard time finding THE one right place to begin.

I keep hearing, “Start where you are” in my brain. So here I am sitting at my desk. I’ve just had my second Usana protein shake of the day and I must say I’m glad that’s over. Today is Day one of my clean eating, clean living, “return to me” project.

I’m feeling hopeful because it’s Monday (I love the clean slate this day brings each week.) It’s the day I have on my calendar slated to “start again”.

What on earth does that mean?

I quit smoking almost nine months ago, which is huge considering I’ve smoked 40 of my 52 years. I did it “cold turkey” with the absolute resolve in my gut that I just was NOT going to be a smoker any more. It’s been one of the hardest things I’ve undertaken, but I’ve stuck to it and I refuse to go back. Oh, the cravings still hit me from time to time but I’ve realized smoking is more of a “brain habit” than a physical one for me. If I sit and think about the act of inhaling cigarette smoke, I immediately know I really do not want a cigarette; I just think I do.

Over time I’ve gotten to a place where I feel out of sync with who I really am, so I picked a date and today’s the day it’s time to start peeling the layers back. One step at a time.

Writing used to be such a huge part of my life. Whenever I take one of those silly Facebook surveys and it asks what my dream job is, the answer is undeniable:  “author”. To be an author, however, requires a person to write and I haven’t done much of that in quite a while. So part of getting back to “me” means exercising the part of my brain that puts words out for others to read. (This is the first installment.) Words used to flow effortlessly out of me. Now, it takes me an entire day to make one page make sense. It will come.

Lastly, no “return to me” would be complete without more regularly exercising my spirituality. I have always been in touch with my other worldliness, and I have always prayed, but I need to get back to my daily talks with God, my communing with the angels and Saints and my being the all-time best “Angelic Troublemaker” I can be! I think somewhere along the line I let this silly physical world take up too much space in my heart. I know how it happened. I know how to make it better and I so I will.

So to recap:

  1. Work on Health
  2. Begin to write again
  3. Exercise my spirituality regularly.

Today is the first day.

Here I come world!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our Feature Film, Dino.

I know I’ve been away and I’m long overdue to post and share what all has been going on in my world.  I promise to do that over the weekend.

Right now I’d like to share an INDIEGOGO campaign that I just launched last night.  This is for a film written by myself and my husband. It’s a family friendly, action packed, faith based film entitled, “Dino”.  I’d be appreciative if you would go through and read all about it and support us either by donation OR sharing through your social media feeds.

I strongly believe in this project and want to make it happen.

Thank you for your support!!

With love,

Bobbe

Click here to get to the Indiegogo page for Dino

Nay Sayers Beware!

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I have such a problem with “Nay-Sayers”. I work part-time in a church that ministers to all people, but there is a special interest with people from foreign countries who are adjusting to life here in the states.  These are not people illegally crossing borders, rather these are political refugees, who have had to flee their own countries because of unrest and inhumane treatment.

From a wee tot, according to my own mother, I’ve had an affection for those not of my own race, creed, color etc.  It’s a no-brainer for me to LOVE, period.  She says that I came out of the womb trusting and loving everyone.

So when I start my weekend with a few extra kids in tow, I’m happy. In fact, I’m happier than I usually am, because I’m getting to have an experience where I might get to enrich the life of someone else, give hope, give love and just have FUN. Yes, it’s tiring, but what is a better tired than helping, healing and having fun?

It bothers me very much when people say to me, “Don’t get too invested.”; “You need to rest”;  “You need to stop caring so much.” (Really?!!) My personal pet peeve is this statement, “Don’t make this a habit; you cannot afford it and you need to rest-you have too many jobs, all ready.”

Usually this stupid advice comes from people who have bigger finances (or agendas for me) than I do. Okay that’s great advice, but then, WHO is going to reach out and touch people?  Yes, I am not a rich person, but do I need to wait until I reach a certain level of financial security before I act in order to help make another life a little happier or better?

And then I wonder, what makes people so ridiculous that they cannot understand that we are supposed to help one another whenever and wherever we CAN.  We don’t WAIT until we have a certain bank account. We don’t WAIT until we FEEL like it.  We are supposed to act when the situation presents itself, period. The reward for this so out-weighs anything my imagination can conceive.

I went to Catholic school all of my life and one of the themes we were supposed to learn was, “Whatever you do for the least of my brothers, you do for Me.”  I took that to heart from an early age and I have lived my life accordingly.  I have never had a lot of money to give, but I’ve always given of my time and heart and I will continue, no matter WHAT any one tells me.

There IS no greater joy in the world than in sharing of oneself with someone who needs it.  The reciprocation comes in the love exchanged and yes, I think I’m a junkie with regard to this. Sue me.  I like to have fun. I like to give. I like to feel that in some, small way, I’m doing my part in this world.

God sees.

I spent the weekend with beautiful children, whom I adore and love. We didn’t do a lot more than just eat, giggle, play games and watch movies.  Today, we went swimming. The weekend cost me a lot in energy (and some sunburn), but what does THAT cost? I can get that back in a little lotion and one night’s good smiley-sleep. (Yes, I smile in my sleep after every weekend like the one I just had.)

I wonder what makes people discourage people from doing what’s right? I know if the situation were reversed, I’d be the first one begging to get involved. (Wait.  That IS how I got involved in the first place!) Still, that doesn’t always happen on the flip side. I often receive the nay-say comments telling me to stop it, “you don’t have time for this- you do too much all ready.”

Really?  If everyone listened to this advice, how would the world even work?

I will not post photos of the smiles from this weekend.  Instead I will just say that yes, I’m tired, but my heart is FULL and I WILL do it again and again and again.  God sees and I know in my heart He’s happy, because I didn’t have to do this. I did it because it was what I wanted to do to make a few little people smile and they did.  I repeat, I will do it again.

Nay-Sayers beware. WHY are you telling me NOT to get involved? What does this say about you?

I try so hard to figure it out.  I know on some level, it’s not about me or my actions. It’s always about the Nay-Sayer and what he/she feels about herself.

Whatever it is, telling me not to do something that I know in my heart is right, will never deter me from action. Instead, I’d rather just have people ask me if I had fun and when I say, yes, simply answer, “Good. I”m glad.”

Even better? Figure out how you can be of service as well and if you don’t know just ask me.  I have a million ideas!

Disclaimer: After having read this over to myself, I want to be certain to say that not everyone in my life discourages me. Also, that I am in no way trying to say that I am a better person than anyone else. I’m just having a rant about the people who try to discourage me from taking action when I want to.

Some people have a passion for sports; some have a passion for art; some have a passion for relaxation.  I just have a passion for feeling good and I get that from being of service.  It’s really nothing more than this. I often tell people who are on the out-skirts of a bout of depression that the surest way to avoid it, is to BE OF SERVICE to someone else. It’s tried and true in this girl’s life.

Amen.

“The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’  -Matthew 25:40

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