Discarded Dreams

dreamI am hoping for another honest chat today. Have your cup of coffee yet? Coffee makes almost everything better. I’m not sure what I enjoy most, watching it brew with promise or drinking in its warmth.

Anyway, I wanted to discuss discarded dreams today. I have so many.

I am actually excited to have so many littering my memories. I planned on being an actress, a mom, a wife. I would be successful, well-known, and accomplish all I set my mind to.

I’m 22 now and far from being an actress. I’m not well-known. I haven’t succeeded at everything. My book proposal has been rejected. I’m not a mom yet, and I spent two years in so much chronic pain that I alienated myself from people.

As a teen, I would not have chosen this path for my life. It looks grimmer than I had planned. I’m not on the stage and my success rate does the tired lean! You know what, though? I’m extraordinarily happy. I’m happy because things didn’t turn out the way I wanted them to. I’m happy because I’ve learned more about God through chronic pain and discarded dreams than I would have learned had I been handed all my young (often vain) dreams.

I’m happy because I live a real life. It’s not a dream world full of my selfish plans. As a teen, I dreamed about me. As the years passed and chronic pain, unmet expectations, and weariness of spirit ripped more of “me,” I found delight in God. 

As I delighted in God, I discarded the dreams that revolved around me. As I delighted in God, His desires became mine. He gave me what was best, and helped me abandon all that wasn’t. I’m not famous. I work in child-care, and no one cares to see me on that stage. My first manuscript has met rejection, and my expectations are constantly trampled on when they become all about me. But the delight, hope, and life in God is worth more than all the discarded dreams of my youth.

Beyond that, God has given me so many good things … a husband, a home, a dog, a job I love, friends I enjoy, a column to write, and too many life memories to count. Discarded dreams suddenly become the things that light my path toward the better plans God had for me all along. I can wallow in self-pity, or I can turn to God and find joy all along the bumpy path of this life.

I have a choice every day. Am I going to delight in God? Or am I going to desire myself above all else?

I don’t know what’s coming. Maybe, my book will never be published. Maybe, my house will burn down, or I’ll never be given the joy of a child, but this one thing I know … delighting in God throughout it all will bring steady joy and peace to my heart.

How many more dreams will be discarded?

I suppose it doesn’t really matter because it’s not about my dreams is it?

Rather, it’s about delighting in God!

Sierra Straightforward

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My Heart Dares to Bloom

flower-bloom-heartIt’s been awhile since I talked to you. I know I’ve written often, giving you things to think about, advice to mull over, and challenges galore. However, it’s been awhile since I just talked to you as me … Sierra. So today, it’s time for a cup of coffee and an open, honest chat.

I hope you have been well. In the last couple of months, I have experienced a mixture of sadness, joy, and hope. Life rarely hands you one thing at a time. In January, I found out that some very good friends of mine will move away. I was happy for them, of course. They will be pleasing God very much by this move, but I love these people with my whole heart. The loss of their daily presence in my life will hurt deeply. I cried, but of course found joy in knowing they are going after God with their whole hearts! They officially move in the beginning of April, and I look forward to their future with them.

I still face feelings of sadness because I’m losing daily contact with people I love so dearly! January was also the month I had a birthday and it was wonderful to celebrate life with my small family! As January ended, I looked forward to the next month! February came with joy and hardship as well. I fought the hard things with denial at first, but as I sat on my front porch and accepted them, I knew hope in God again.

You see, God’s hope doesn’t flit away as my emotions do so often. Hope in God remains sure because God is sure, unmovable! As I released my own desires, and replaced them with hope in God, I found rest again. My desires can cloud my vision so fully that I forget that God knows best. He never stops knowing best, and God’s best for me is right now, in this place, surrounded by these people, facing these trials, rejoicing in this life, and knowing encompassing hope in God!

February has come to a close and with it a month of memories meant for me. I am so thankful for God in the good times and the hard times. I’m so thankful that God stands by me in the difficult moments, in the storms, and in the care-free jubilees of life! What would I do without my hope in God? I would sink ever lower until depression claimed my heart! But I don’t have to sink because God is with me. God is my hope. God is my joy. God gives life … abundant, full, and free!

I walk into March, and my heart dares to bloom as a spring flower. It blooms boldly because God is with me. It blooms boldly, because God will nurture and sustain it. It blooms because of God … and only because of Him.

If you’ve placed your hope in any other, you cannot bloom.

Place your heart and hope in God. It is in Him that you will know the bold bloom of a dependent spring flower!

Sierra Straightforward

February Challenge | Love

This week we won’t talk about loving yourself, finding love in a mate, or even feeling unloved by others. Instead we’ll focus on YOU taking the initiative and loving others as you want to be loved. This challenge combines steps 1 and 2 of this journey.

Step 1: Leave people better than how you found them + Step 2: Listen to others with 100% attention = STEP 4

Love people the way you want to be loved.

Note this, as it is perhaps the only time that 1+2 will equal 4!

We easily expect love from others and make them feel bad for not living up to our expectations. We become so preoccupied expecting of others that we don’t expect anything of ourselves. We get so lost in how we should be treated that we treat others poorly. This week, look at your closest friends. How you can love them more deeply?

What can you give or do for them? How can you listen to them? What encouragement can you offer? I challenge you to take a moment today and create a list of ways you like to be cared for. Now, love your friends in all those ways.

Do it sincerely! Do it expecting nothing in return. Do it because you want to love Christ deeper by serving others more. Writing out a list of things you want and then giving that care to others trains us to look beyond our desires and needs. It helps us realize that it’s not about us. It reminds us that we aren’t the only ones with needs and insecurities. God commands us to love others. This exercise helps us accomplish just that!

That’s all I’m going to say for this challenge because, while it’s short, it’s loaded! We will encounter a lot of failure, forgiveness, and grace as we pursue others with genuine love. But in doing so, we will grow closer to Christ. Loving others draws us to Christ, and He is love. We need not fear the journey of heartache that may loom before us. God is with us! He will help us as we learn to genuinely love others.

Sierra Straightforward

February Challenge | Live

lifeYou have received life. Is that not a powerful statement? You have received life.  So many people blame social media for their problems, discontent, and unrest.

If it controls so much of your thoughts, make the decision to get off of it.
Social media will never develop and grow into a loving safe place. You have to do the growing and developing.

YOU.

Let’s reiterate the first statement of this post. You have received life. It is a gift! You may not have experienced everything you wanted to by now. You may have lost a lot or faced tough trials. You may have been abandoned or mistreated. You may not feel like it’s much of life, but it is LIFE and God gave it to you.

STEP 3: Live inside your life.

It’s time to live in what you have been given. It’s not perfect. It’s not getting a million likes on social media, but it’s life, and you must start living it! Don’t look at the entire year ahead of you. Don’t even dwell on this whole month.

Simply focus on today. Have you thanked God for the life you’ve been given? Not just life on this earth, but a life complete in Christ? That is everything. Next, have you counted the ways you have received abundantly? God provides so much more than we need! Continue by observing the day before you as an opportunity to not only accomplish service for Christ, but also to enjoy life itself.

Do you enjoy having a warm home? Do you enjoy the sunshine? Do you enjoy your family? Your pets? Your hot water? Your ability to laugh? To joke? To have fellowship? To walk? To run? To work? To exercise? You get the picture! God has not only given you life in Him, but also the opportunity to enjoy it because of Him.

Don’t worry about social media. It isn’t life. You have received life — life in abundance. Live inside it.

I challenge you this week to rid yourself any distraction that makes it hard for you to embrace your God-given life.

Sierra Straightforward

February Challenge | Listen

listen-loveLife isn’t about you but about God. If you haven’t found that out yet, you’re in for a sorry mess. If you have, you’re living the best life possible! Even so, we can still get disoriented and fall into the pit of selfishness. I do so all the time. I start to think about ME, ME, ME. He needs to care about my needs. She doesn’t understand my side. Why can’t they understand my pain and my heart? What about me.

You get the picture.

You’ve been there before.

So step 2 of our February challenge won’t be easy, but we must integrate it into our lives as we seek to truly love and show kindness to our friends.

STEP 2: 

Listen to others with 100% attention. 

Demanding attention is easy, but giving it, not so much. How do I know?

Because I struggle with this too! I listen but only hear what I want to hear. I listen but only try to understand from my viewpoint. I listen because it’s entertaining. I listen because it benefits me.

But you know what I don’t do often enough?

I don’t listen for their sake.

This results in listening with 50% of my attention when my friends deserve 100% it!

The switch doesn’t magically happen. I have to renew my mind in Christ, and then change the motivation behind my questions. God commands us to love others as we love ourselves. Contrary to popular belief, we have no problem loving ourselves. We like to put our needs and desires first. We want people to listen to us, hear our perspective, and do what we want. We know how to love! It’s loving the right way that trips us up.

As we grow in love for our friends, we will learn to change the motivation behind our actions and inquiries. When I love my neighbor well, I no longer ask questions for my entertainment. I’m no longer only giving half of my attention. When I truly begin to love my friends, I give them the attention that I desire and take delight in caring for them!

Last week, I challenged you to leave people better than how you found them. This week, I add to that to examine your heart. Remember how much Christ loves you! Do you love others the way you so easily love yourself? Do you give your full attention when you spend time with friends? If not, work to change those habits.

Do a Bible word study on love and friendship. How does God view them? Next, check your motivations and make a list of the ways you can listen more fully and deeply. It won’t be easy, but it will be worth it. Loving others shows your love for God.

Let’s listen to our friends this week!

The February Challenge | Leave

valentines-dayAh, the love month. How many of you dread the avalanche of stories and photos that February brings? How many of you tire of all the advice blog posts? It’s safe to say that most of us grow weary of the endless chatter about love and relationships.

But do you know what exhausts me more than the chit chat? I’m tired of people acting like February 14th is a day for self-pity and entitlement.

Oh easy for you to say! You’re married!

Well, yes I am. But a married person has to choose contentment and joy just like a single person. Differences may exist between us, but at our core, we still have to choose God as the center of our life or misery because everything else (including a fantastic husband) falls short.

So I have a challenge for you as February arrives in all its velvety chocolate glory! This month, look beyond yourself. Don’t dwell on what you think you deserve in love and life, instead, focus on kindness and putting others first.

Make this month one-of-a-kind for someone else.

If you’re married, don’t just go out of your way for your husband. Go out and serve your girlfriends! If you’re dating, don’t focus solely on your boyfriend. Consider your friends and choose them over yourself. If you’re single, look around you. You’re not alone! Many need some kindness and loving.

Don’t view February as a doldrum month with a Valentine’s Day that you dread or idolize. February is a whole month that you can deliberately make wonderful for friends and strangers. This may seem like an overwhelming challenge. Goodness, you just wanted to read a nice blog post and instead you’re hit between the eyes with a BIG challenge.

So let’s break it down into four simple steps that we’ll explore in the upcoming weeks. These steps are designed to reach far beyond Valentine’s Day.

STEP 1:

Leave your friends better than how you found them.

Growing up, my father always taught me to leave a place better than how I found it. This lesson sunk deep into my life and has translated into other areas, including my relationships with others. I don’t want to be the person that makes others hold their breath or walk on eggshells. Rather, I want to uplift and encourage my friends. I want to take a genuine interest in their lives and look for the good in them. This will take effort and require that I find my worth in Christ because hard days will come when kindness won’t be the easiest route to follow.

But because God loves me, I must love others! I must show my friends kindness and walk away having done my best to leave them better than I initially found them.

February will be the best when I look beyond myself and love others! So, I challenge you this week to quit thinking about yourself. Quit obsessing about what Valentine’s Day will look like, and make an effort to leave all your friends better than how you found them!

Sierra Straightforward

One Day at a Time Brought Us HERE!

winter-januaryHow does it feel to be in the last full week of January? Can you believe we already stand one month into 2017? I don’t know about you, but this encourages me. Why? It reveals God’s faithfulness, and shows me that He will continue to be so as I advance throughout the coming days.

But I have a confession —

I used to view January as a depressing month. Strange considering I have a January birthday! Nonetheless, it follows the holiday season. Enough said, #amiright?

It’s bland, empty, and just feels depressing sometimes.

However, the problem might not lie with the month. Perhaps, the people living inside of January feel down and exhausted. Maybe that’s the key. It’s the people not the month.

It’s you, not the month.

It’s me, not the month.

By next week, we will have had the privilege of living an entire month. That’s 31 days of the 365 we get for 2017. Each day bringing us opportunities, moments, and memories.

Each one a gift from God!

I’m writing this for myself as much as for you. I want to live the rest of January in the best way that I can … a way that will glorify God. All of that one-day-at-a-time talk has brought us HERE. We are moving — fast. Look back and be encouraged by your progress and growth. Look back and be challenged to live more fully for God!

Even without the excitement of holidays, January is a wonderful month and no less important. It’s part of our whole year, and begs to be lived well. Don’t let the days go by without thanking God for the wonderful gift of life.

Keep living one day at a time.

Keep taking the next right step.

Keep choosing God.

Sierra Straightforward

The Hard January Day

masksOne of the saddest parts of the New Year is clicking on a news article and seeing tragedy. I absolutely hate it. I struggle knowing that it is the first — the first of many, many more. 

 
Christmastime brims with hope, joy, and life! I look forward to the day with great excitement, and when it arrives, I feel so encouraged. Then tragedy mars the joyous New Year, and all the hope, promise, and wonder of the Christmas season seems to end. 
 
However, recently I came to the realization that I’ve looked at this entire thing backwards.
 
The year 2016 contained much joy and much sadness. Though mixed with happiness, it definitely came with hard times — both personally and globally. I experienced grief, loss, and heartache. Even so, Christmastime came with the celebration of Jesus Christ, and the joy and hope was palpable. No matter the difficulties 2016 had brought, I still harbored peace and celebrated joy at the end! 
 
Heartache and grief cannot rule when God is the King of my heart!
 
The hard January day is coming. It will come over and over again this year, but we have HOPE. We have God’s truth! We can be saddened by the tragedies around us, but hopeful that God heals! We can grieve at the personal battles before us, but rest in God’s strength! We can know with assurance that He makes the hard, unwanted things glorify Him. 
 
I can’t understand how He does this, but I know that the hardship and trials we will face in 2017 will not be forgotten by our God and will come to good! It may not be the good we expect or desire, but it will be good. God’s good. And that is better than any good we can think of!
 
We don’t have to fear what is coming because we have our faithful God. We don’t have to grieve without hope or live without joy. We are alive. We are at peace! We are safe in God’s faithful promises. 
 
As I come upon that first hard January day, I won’t only look at the tragedy and the loss. I will look at my God who, in His infinite sovereignty, can make even this a vehicle for His goodness and grace. At the end of 2017, Christmastime will come just as sure as it has in the past. We will celebrate the promise of HOPE, and then we will spend the entirety of a New Year living it out!
So, I encourage all of us to take this day and live out our hope in God — no matter what comes and no matter what doesn’t.

 

It Happens One Day at a Time

one-step-at-a-timeWhen I was young, I wondered what being grown up would look like, feel like, be like, etc.
 
When I was young, I worried about how in the world I would pack up my room for college!
When I was young, I feared having to kiss my future husband in front of a lot of people on my wedding day. 
 
When I was young, I just didn’t know how I was going to get here. 
 
Here being that long-awaited grown-up state that you dream of as a 10 or 11 year old. What would it look like? How would I get there? What kind of stuff would happen? How would I manage without my Mom or survive on my own?
 
How? 
How?
How? 
 
Let me tell you how, it happens one day at time!
 
There are no magical steps, no perfect formulas, and no easy cheats. You just have to keep taking the next right step. You can’t look at a life full of decisions. Simply make the decision in front of you. 
 
Pretty soon, your room is packed up for college, you’ve said yes to the right guy, and you are kissing him in front of 100+ people, which happens to be no big deal. Lots of life happens in between, but you didn’t do lots of life in one day. You made small decisions on a lot of different days. 
 
You might be looking at 2017 as the year you graduate high school, the year you get married, or the year you start a new job. I want to encourage you to not try to live all 365 days in one hour! It looks impossible that way. It is impossible that way. God has given you today. He asks you to live today well. He unveils just what you need to see for those 24 hours and that’s it. 
 
You’ll get there by simply living one day at a time. So, choose God, and take the next step. If my 10-year-old self saw me now, she would see a marriage, a home, a job, a dog, a hundred responsibilities, and a column to write! These things did not happen in one fell swoop! My 10-year-old self would be overwhelmed to know she had to live a lot of life to get there. I don’t have a magical fairy tale dust, these happenings came about one decision at a time, sometimes BIG … but most often small.
 
Can I encourage you to keep making the small decisions in the right way? Keep taking that next step! Keep living each day for God, and when 2017 closes, you will find progress, growth, and so much life lived in 365 days!
 
And by the way, my journey is far from over. I still have each day to make small decisions that become BIG life things, which in turn remind me of God’s gifts and faithfulness. 
 
Together, let’s move forward. One day at a time. One foot in front of the other.
Sierra Straightforward

Resolution of One Day at a Time

new-years-daySome make 20 resolutions and others forgo them altogether. I tend to be the latter. I like to remember the previous year and set goals for the next one, but I also know that those 20 resolutions would go right down the drain in one week.

So, I’ve decided to do two things this year.

  1. Pick an attribute of God to mediate on for the rest of the year.

and

  1. Keep my old goals and live 2017 one day at a time.

This year, I’ll re-set my old goals. This year, I’ll work on becoming healthier, writing better, working harder, and learning more about God.

These old goals look far into the year and by the end of January, I will have failed multiple times. But, instead of making new, bigger and better goals, my resolution is to take one day at a time.

If I fail one day, I will get back up the next.

If I succeed one day, I will keep going the next.

My resolution is simply to take one day at time. Rather than look at the whole 2017 calendar year, I’m looking at today. What can I do better today? How can I reach my old long-term goals today? How can I meditate on God’s truth today?

Quite simply, how can I live today well?

I am not promised the whole of 2017, but I do have today.

So I take today, and I choose God.

Every hour I choose Him.

And when 2017 closes, I may get an opportunity to look behind me and see all the success, simply because I chose God for 365 days.

Happy New Year,

Sierra Straightforward

Loving Your Single Friends This Season

singleThe holiday season can prove especially hard on singles. Whether feeling lonely or unsure of how to fit in among dating/married friends, it can be a difficult time.

So let’s shed some light on this complex subject–

I imagine that my answer is probably similar to that of other singles: it’s sometimes hard to know exactly where/how to fit and not be in the way. My three closest friends all got married within the last 2 1/2 years, so I also didn’t want to seem like I was butting in or stealing their time when they were engaged and newly married. 

Personally, too, I think part of my struggle is that I haven’t had many healthy and godly husband/wife relationships around me as I’ve grown up, so I think I didn’t know exactly what to expect from them as a couple: how they will relate to/talk to me when they are together, what to say to their husbands (since I know these girls really well but have only met their husbands fairly recently), things like that. “

Hardest thing is seeing them (married couples) so happy. I have always wanted to be a wife and mom, and there are some days when I am so thankful that God has given many of my friends that life. I went to high school and college with girls who said, ‘I don’t want to be married right after college. I want a career. I definitely don’t want children in the first 5 years of marriage.’ Those are the girls who married before college was even finished, and had their first kid within a year of marriage. It is hard for me to see others given what I have been praying for when they don’t seem to appreciate it. I love spending time with my married friends, but there are times when I know I just can’t.”

Sometimes, I find myself wishing I had someone like they do. I envy that super close friendship that exists, and just having someone that loves YOU. But, I’m finding that it’s not about finding a friend, as much as being one. It’s also hard to be single when there are couples around; you sometimes feel “left out.” I sometimes catch myself seeing guys as “potential” rather than people. When you keep expecting Prince Charming to show up any day, you tend to think every knight that comes along is him.”

Couples, I challenge you to be aware of your single friends as you go about your holiday season! Get to know them so well that you understand how they feel about singleness without having to ask. Know them on a level that allows you both to bridge that life gap that sometimes stands in the way. Include them in your festivities, make them feel loved, post about your friendship, schedule a coffee date, go ahead and care about them in practical ways.

And for those of you who are single, talk to your dating and married friends! Get in their way. Be with them. Open yourself up and don’t view your singleness as a handicap. We need you to speak up when you are hurting so we can help and love on you this season. We need to understand you, but we can’t if you hole up inside.

The bottom line is that we all need to talk and learn how we can love each other! Let’s stop this holiday season from passing by without being aware of our friends.

It’s going to take work, but it’s going to be oh so worth it!

Sierra Straightforward

PS: To read more about the In Their Shoes series…click HERE.

Loving Your Married Friends This Season

marriedLast week, we shared a small excerpt from my In Their Shoes series, and today we will do so again. Many misconceptions surround engagement, marriage, and motherhood, so I believe these transparent posts will encourage and challenge us!

As this holiday season ensues, we will see an increase online of “perfect” moments, holiday romances, and lovely photos splattered throughout social networks. I am all for sharing the beauty, but I want to encourage those in hard places to see past the picture perfect moments to the struggles behind. So, let’s talk about your married friends. It seems pretty idyllic, right?! It’s far from it and I want to share with you some of these experiences—

A lot of things change when a woman marries. Slipping into those wife shoes can be wonderful, but just like any other life stage, the shoes can be painful. A common thread surged during this series — wives are women, and women desire strong friendships despite life stages.

Listen closely to these experiences:

I know to those who are unmarried it may seem like they are on different “levels” from their married friends, but they can definitely still relate because that married friend still has the same struggles as before, but maybe they look a little different now.  You keep friends the same way you make them … staying in touch, sharing bits of your life with the other, and especially relating on a spiritual level so your bond in Christ makes the relationship the strongest it can be.”

An unmarried woman is not second best, and a married woman still struggles as just as she did before. Marriage is not the magic potion that makes problems go away. At the end of the day, we are all living imperfections.

Married and single women alike need to be intentional about loving each other throughout life changes! It doesn’t have to be difficult, and yet in the following experiences, you’ll see how we sometimes box our hearts in.

One time, I was talking with a woman and my being married hadn’t come up yet. We were having a really good conversation, but halfway through it, I had mentioned my husband. As soon as I did, her whole face changed. She looked at me differently, as though I was in a higher level of life.

If singles know you’re married, they tend to automatically draw a line between you. The same can be said of wives though. They can just as easily draw lines between marriage and singleness.

But I see women on both sides wanting to fellowship and be together, simply because we are women. We have a lot in common. Womanhood is a great bond. I wish the lines would disappear, so I do what I can to erase the lines people like to put in front of me! I’m just like you. Let’s be real friends — married or not!”

I was the first of my friends to marry, so I can’t answer this question. But … I will say that as a newly married young woman, I was deeply hurt when I was left out by a few of my dearest friends who were single. I think they didn’t know how to incorporate me (in my new role as a wife) into their lives any more. I would have liked them to keep calling me. Keep inviting me to do girl things. 

I think I understand now, there is a need for both women to acknowledge feeling lost, and for both women to have a lot of grace and continual understanding that it’s a learning process — a friendship between a married and single gal. Always, always assume the good will of your friend! You aren’t friends because that person likes to make you feel bad.”

How easy it is for us to draw lines around ourselves simply because of our marital status! In both instances, you can see the honest desire that these women have for the friendship of singles! We don’t have to create walls and only give the house key to people that share our current life stage. So my question is:

Are you drawing a line and creating self-inflicted limitations because of your life stage?

Consider that it may be you and not the other person standing in the way of a potentially deep friendship. It is easy for us to blame others for our own lack of understanding and friendship. But, I dare say, we have all held the stick that draws the line in the sand!

Viewing the holiday season through social media can be dangerous if we don’t take the time to think about the hearts of our friends. So, let’s erase all those dividing lines we’ve drawn because real friendship happens when we live intentionally, allow others in, and open our hearts wide.

Sierra Straightforward

Loving Your Engaged Friends This Season

engagement-ringIn October, I hosted an anonymous series called In Their Shoes. We took a month and journeyed deep into the hearts of our friends, “putting on their shoes,” as we learned how to better love and understand them. Many of us found encouragement as we realized how similar we are!

I wanted to share some of that series with your during the holidays because it’s easy to fall into comparison, discontentment, and jealousy when we see our friends posting fun, perfect holiday photos. Over the next few weeks, I want us to step into the different relationship shoes to see the real heart of the matter.

Some of your friends will probably get engaged this season, which could lead you to feel less-than and/or left behind. Let me share some of the feelings your recently-engaged friends will face this holiday season (and any season for that matter!).

Mutually, we had seen so many broken friendships and hurt come from engagements and marriages that we communicated to each other, We don’t want to lose our friends just because we got married or engaged. That’s not the way it should be.

A marriage should bring two people together and create opportunities for stronger friendships, more friendships, more service options. Marriage shouldn’t be the thing that destroys friendships. Let’s make a conscious effort to preserve old friendships and pursue new ones. And we did.” 

Here someone has observed the common unraveling of friendships and has purposed with her significant other to do something about it.

Usually, life changes don’t divide us. We divide ourselves. While this couple worked together to bring about strong friendships, there are other cases in which this doesn’t happen at all.

I have also found that once friends are in relationships, their significant others don’t seem to want them to have lives outside of them alone. I just feel like that’s extremely unhealthy and that if both are walking with God, that it shouldn’t be an issue. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t believe that separate activities should be a large part of any marriage, but do believe that it is healthy to have activities that can be enjoyed separately.”

A lot of people would agree with these thoughts! There should be a life outside of a dating/engaged/married relationship, but often the scenario illustrated above happens.

Be gentle with your friend who is in that relationship. It is easy to swiftly judge her for neglecting or forgetting you, but remember there is another person who is a big part of her world. They are both likely learning how it all fits together.

It’s easy to blame the happy couples for the friendships that fall to the wayside. While this can be the case, note that friendships don’t just fall apart because of the engaged couple. The single friend may be just as much at fault.

It seems to me when people get engaged, two things tend to happen. Either the engaged person temporarily forgetsher friends (that always frustrates me!) or certain friends of the engaged person close up and become stand-offish. I wish this wasn’t the case. It doesn’t have to be. And it hurts when friends start to close up just because you got engaged!

If both parities stayed open then both parties could maintain a strong friendship despite life changes. It doesn’t have to be difficult at all. We just have to lay aside our pride and pain and talk to one another! On top of this, even if you’re engaged you still have deep life struggles. Sometimes people think an engaged person is just full of butterflies and gumdrops. But it’s not true. Engaged or not, a person is a person and a lot goes on in the heart.”

Weakened and/or forgotten friendships can be the engaged couple’s fault, but it can also be the fault of the individuals on the other side. After reading through these experiences, the solution is alarmingly simple: BE OPEN with one another!

When you get engaged, do what it takes to keep your old friends and treat them the way you would want to be treated. Above all, don’t forget them!

If you’re watching your friends get engaged, do what it takes to keep those old friends and treat at them the way you would want to be treated. Above all, don’t forget them!

Did you notice that? The solution is the same on both sides, because we are all people. We want to be kept. We want to be loved, and we don’t want to be forgotten!

The holidays may look magical and special for the engaged couples, but they are struggling through things just as you are! Keep that in mind as you scroll down your Newsfeed.

In the end it doesn’t matter if you’re wearing the engaged shoes or not, we just need to remember our friends!

Sierra Straightforward

 

Be Thankful TO Not FOR

thanksThis title doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, does it? Just hang on tight, and I will explain. I sat in church one Sunday, listening to our pastor explain how to is greater than for. This phrase really didn’t make much sense until he began to expound on it.

As Christians, we are easily caught in the whirlwind of being thankful for things, but exclude God from the picture. We are thankful FOR our home, FOR our car, FOR our clothes, FOR our food … but we don’t take as much time being thankful TO God for these things.

We are thankful for the things because they make our lives easier, better, more comfortable, etc., but we are so busy being thankful for the things that we don’t well up in gratitude to God.

Am I saying that to be thankful for things is a bad habit? No! God gave you those things. You should recognize and appreciate them. However, it’s more important to be thankful to God, than to be thankful for the things He has given us.

Things are great. We’ve got lots of things. On Thanksgiving Day, abundance will surround us. Abundance from God. So, let us be careful that we aren’t just full of thankfulness for the things, but also full of thankfulness to God.

Let’s get to know more of who God is this Thanksgiving Day. Let’s be overwhelmed by His holy character full of love, grace, joy, and forgiveness. Let us be overwhelmed by a God who carries us through the valley of the shadow of death, who provides hope in the driest of seasons, and who stays with us deep in the trenches of life.

Let’s spend this special holiday overflowing with thankfulness to God instead of only expressing thankfulness for things. It will be one of your best Thanksgivings if you take the time to think of God, who He is, all He has done, and how He will be faithful tomorrow, next week, and all the days to come!

I know that I will be spending my Thanksgiving, reminding myself to give praise to God! Oh, it’s going to be a wonderful day, my friends!

Happy Thanksgiving! Enjoy your family. Eat lots of food.

And remember to be thankful to God, the Great I AM.

In Christ,

Sierra Straightforward

Celebrate Your Growth!

life-growthAs I wrote about the past five years of my life, seeing my progression encouraged my heart. Often our actions in junior high and high school embarrass us. We shrink into the shadows when we look at how we behaved at 17, 18, and 19. But I am discovering the importance of looking back and seeing one’s progress.

Don’t focus on the way you were and wilt. That’s not you anymore! You’ve grown, matured, and developed into a stronger woman who depends on God. When you look back, consider the now as well. Celebrate the growth!

Just this week, I was unexpectedly pulled out of my usual job area and placed in one I hadn’t worked in for nearly two years! I didn’t experience frustration or fear at the challenge. The old me would have. Instead, I was flexible, all hands on deck! I’m not gloating about how great I did this week (I still have plenty of room to improve!), but it was so encouraging to see that I had grown so much.

In the same way, sharing my story with you the past few weeks has reminded me that I’m not the little, sensitive, scared 17-year-old that I used to be. I still have many weak spots to work through and make mistakes every day, but I’m growing, and sometimes this growth needs to be celebrated!

So today, I encourage you to sit down and write about the past five years of life. If you don’t like writing, pull out photos and reflect on how you have grown. Thank God for His love and patience. Enjoy the fact that you aren’t the same woman of five years ago. Recognize your growth and celebrate it!

We too often critique ourselves and get frustrated when we don’t measure up, but today I encourage you to look back and recognize how you have improved, grown, and developed.

You have! It’s time you acknowledged it.

Growing with you,

Sierra Straightforward

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