Training a healthy heart: learning to run again

 

no playing small

 

 

Ok friends, this post is really just gonna be me dumping my brain & heart of some of the stuff that God has been sharing with me.

Sometimes I want to separate all the things into neatly organized categories with catchy labels so everyone will understand exactly what they’re getting.

Sometimes I think I should sort my thoughts the way the old HGTV shows would declutter houses: keep, toss, give away.

I want to make it receivable, bite sized, palatable and digestible. But what’s really happening is I’m trying to please people. I’m not being me.

Alright, Solidarity Confession: the real me doesn’t know organized. I didn’t grow up seeing the example. But she don’t like chaos either. I had more than my fair share thank you. She don’t appreciate clutter and confusion. But neither do I want something that’s so neatly set in place that without it we assume that life is disordered. Dear Jesus could you help me find something in the middle?

I’ve been coming into this space that maybe God wants to clutter and scatter some of the things I’ve tried to compartmentalize and at the same time He wants to untangle and separate the stuff we’ve assumed goes together. He is a God of order, not confusion. (1 Corinthians 14:33) So at the risk of seeming scattered, here’s my brain dump.

I’ve watched God in the past year somehow, at the same time; wreck & unravel me and just when I thought I was coming completely undone, He was already putting me back together.

I’ve discovered that the truest me isn’t shy. In fact the shyness was the result of a defense. I’m not well kept in tiny pink boxes with bows and flowers. (sidebar: I watch my daughter’s fashion sense of fancy dresses with converse and it’s like watching my personality playout in front of me.) I’m like a mad rush of Lenny Kravitz’s guitar riffs and banging drums with a few symbols and a Billy Joel style piano all played in tune.

Back to the loud music… Slightly crazy, I know, because each of the instruments are having their own rhythm session but somehow they’re giving permission to both the person who connects with one sound OR the one who’s vibin’ on all of them in a syncopated style. That’s the real me. I’m Dave Mathews Band and old school hip hop. I’m Doobie Brothers and Side Walk Prophets. I’m Cindy Lauper and David Crowder. I’m cheesy musical soundtracks and Beethovan.  Dare I say it, I’m Tupac AND MercyMe. And honestly that confuses people because they can’t peg me or label me and you know what; I kinda don’t care now because I spent most of my life trying to make sure I fit neatly into a category. I wanted them to knew who I was but I didn’t even know. But what I know now is that I’m over it. I don’t want to be labeled. If they decide to label me, let it be “LIKE JESUS”.

Instead I would rather be known
By the kindness and love that I show
To be known for patience and long suffering
A giver of life by the words that I speak

So with every breath You give to breathe
I pray it’s Your glory that they see
And of all the words this world could say
May they say I was full of grace

-Morgan Harper Nichols “A Prayer for Grace”

View More: http://riantphotography.pass.us/revretreatmay2016warpaint

#Wrecked & #Redeemed “War Paint” Photo credit: Riant Photography for Revelation Wellness

Knowing that I am created in the image of the Creator who is beyond limits and labels, maybe; just maybe He has decided that I don’t have a label nor do I need one.

Friends the only way we will ever live beyond the labels is to get after the roots of fear and recognize who we are IN Christ. The greatest opportunity we have to break through the tough, stony places of our hearts and experience God’s unchanging unconditional love is in the simple, yet somewhat difficult invitation to remain/ abide / stay connected in/to Him.

ABIDE– (verb) to wait for, be prepared for, to endure or sustain

“Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit. You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.”
‭‭John‬ ‭15:2-5‬ ‭NASB‬‬

This is where redemption happens and can I tell you something?

You are more beautiful than you give yourself credit for.

This is the year that He will restore your beautiful, your joy, your praise and your righteousness. God’s methods of restoration and redemption are almost always nothing like ours and the process might seem pretty ridiculous. But one thing is always true, HE KNOWS WHAT HE’S DOING and He WILL finish what He began!

“Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭139:14‬ ‭NLT‬‬ • Let God restore ALL that He has done in you!!!

more beautiful

 

 

Our desire to be more, do more and even search for more out of this life, was placed in our hearts by God.

He didn’t design us for less; He designed us to be great, to love big and to be more. But again, without Him we can’t do any of this and the only way to find peace or have the ability to live in more is b faith, IN HIM.

Friends, our ONLY option of being our best self is to let go of the hustle & grind; trying so hard to prove them wrong, the desperate things we do trying to seek approval, the obligatory shifts of character trying to gain acceptance.

All of these nagging, tormenting, never-seeming-to-get-ahead mirages are satan’s plan of attack on our identity. If He can get us to think that we aren’t enough then He will cause us to rise up with ill intentions and hurt hearts and he is quick to stand there at our side to tell us that we’ve done; still isn’t it. And yet on the flip side of that coin he has a slick way of telling us to back down and shrink because we’re too loud, too much, too something. Both of these are his kill, steal, destroy plan.

Check your heart. If your heart has any place in it that leans on the side of anxiousness; every action that comes from it will breed temporary results.

Psalm 139: 23-24

Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.
24 Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.

So much of my identity has been trapped deep in the seat of my heart, covered by scar tissue and God has been redeeming all of it. The healing is a process but He promises that He will give us a new heart if we’ll let Him. He’s calling us back to our original design.

Listen friends, He calls us up; there’s no need to be afraid of that. He never calls us out to shame us. He calls us by name and invites us to come out of hiding and He gently takes those things in our hearts that have bruised us and replaces them with His tender mercy, restoring us back to truth.

Friends my prayer for us today is to let the walls down. To stop playing small when He has called us to greater. To see ourselves in the next mirror we walk by and recognize true beauty and be proud of that reflection rather than see it and begin listing the things we wished were different. Or worse, see the reflection and begin flaunting something we’ve fabricated behind a mask of acceptance.

We’ve put up some heavy defenses because we’ve been hurt. I get it. So have I. Although, the level of protection we’ve justified isn’t for anyone to deem unnecessary and I’m not suggesting that we throw our cares to the wind and act like we don’t need to set boundaries; I am saying that we’ve never felt what real protection from the love of God feels like so we’ve fabricated it and tried to manufacture something.  What happens in turn is that this temporary support system is not strong enough to keep us from the attacks of a very real enemy that wants to destroy us.  Little things come across our path that trigger memories of those issues we’ve pressed down and decided we just weren’t going to ever bring them up again; and one day they resurface and it burns worse than the initial sting. Roots have a way of coming up.

In Matthew 17:21 Jesus told them  “You don’t have enough faith, I tell you the truth, if you had faith even as small as a mustard seed, you could say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it would move. Nothing would be impossible for you.”

What mountain do you need to move today? Every mountain has a root. Every mountain. That thing that you seem to keep going around and it never seems to go away? Yup. Roots.

Yesterday was a soaking, detoxing and mountain moving day for me. I had to let the Holy Spirit make my head listen to my heart and my heart listen to His love. It’s so easy for me to get trapped in only listening to one or the other and if it hasn’t been guarded by His grace it can be quite deceptive which is which!

I know that I CAN run. I just choose not to and He’s been calling me to run.

I’ve been ignoring it. In fact, I’ve been opting for other forms of movement as an alternative. But yall let’s just call that what it is, that’s disobedience. God don’t bless that. I was reading through the book Restless by Jennie Allen; she says “we were designed to run and He will keep calling us until we get up and move and it’ll be wonky and creaky at first – but in our weakness He is made strong. BUT WE MUST BE WILLING TO MOVE”.  1 Samuel 15:22 reminds us that obedience is greater than sacrifice and friends, if we could just follow the obedience we’d see that God has a perfect plan attached to it. And no He’s not going to reveal the plan because most of us would probably opt for our way because we think it’s going to be easier.  When I read that segment of the book I was both convicted and relieved because all of this restlessness I’d been feeling in my mind and body was found in  the fact that His love is a fierce pursuit of our identity.

Heart Health Resources:

  • Take a moment to listen this message I recorded on learning to run again.
  • Listen to the song Out of Hiding by Steffany Gretzinger
  • And then, take a few minutes to settle your heart with the “Healing The Roots” Holy Yoga stretching sequence.

 

MOVE IN FREEDOM – Healing the root places

Are we feeding faith or fear: Overcoming Anxiety 

img_3742-1.jpg

  

Have you ever dealt with anxiety? 

I have. FOR YEARS!!! And here’s where I found the solution! 

And I continue to use it whenever new issues, people, things, and problems try to overwhelm me! 

And yes, you’ll need to continue to ‘work it out’ on a regular basis just like one visit to the gym won’t make you fit, one prayer won’t keep you well! 

  

Surrender 

I started this devotional on the bible app and asked God to help me remove anything that’s a distraction from allowing Him access to my heart, (Psalm 139:23) my life and my mind. I’d love for you to join me. 

The 21 Day Plan – We start TODAY! 

I’m reading the @YouVersion plan ‘Living the Surrendered Life’. Check it out here:

http://bible.com/r/51

No spirit of fear

Friends, Grace covers us and removes every fear, every anxious thought, every regret, every what if, every thought that tries to hold itself higher than the name of Christ, every doubt that says we can’t because we think we are either not enough or too much, every deception & lie that disguises itself as truth and tries to convince us that it’s too late or too soon. Grace is the qualifier. Grace IS the reflection of the cross & the Cross was enough! 

For you, me & her and all the rest of them! 

 
I’ve seen many searching for answers far & wide and I know we’re all searching for answers only you provide and you know just what we need before we say a word. 

➕ And you call me deeper still… (Good Good Father Chris Tomlin) 

““It shall come to pass That before they call, I will answer; And while they are still speaking, I will hear.”

‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭65:24‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

Listen to Search My Heart by Hillsong UNITED on @AppleMusic.

Doing vs Being – Reflection of the Resurrection

   

“Knowing is not enough, we must apply. Willing is not enough, we must do.”

– Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

I might add to this brilliance,  that we must be (willing)  very intentional about not allowing our doing to become our being.

I wonder, if in our doing and our being what we’re reflecting.

I wonder…  are we a reflection of the resurrection.

A reflection of the mystery of the proof of a previously mention victory.

A reflection of the majesty of God’s ability to do far beyond we could ever imagine or think; because after all, His ways ARE higher!

A reflection of the mention of things seemingly random, often misunderstood, blurry, unlikely, impossible, too much and at the same time not enough.

A reflection of the greatness.

A reflection of the sacrifice.

A reflection of the true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, excellent and praise worthy.

A reflection of the courage from a heart that knows it is loved.

A reflection of the wounds.

A reflection of the broken.

A reflection of the made whole.

A reflection of the scars.

A reflection of the healing.

A reflection of the darkest valley.

A reflection of the laying down.

A reflection of the lacking nothing.

A reflection of the refreshing of the soul.

A reflection of the guidance on the right path.

A reflection of His name sake.

A reflection of no fear of evil.

A reflection of His presence, with us.

A reflection of His comfort.

A reflection of His story.

A reflection of His glory.

 

Reflection of the Resurrection: Doing what we’re becoming

Someone recently asked me how I got into the fitness industry. This came on the heels of a question in our Revelation Wellness training that asked “what truth have you believed that God revealed was actually a lie”… After I had my first child during college, I remember someone hinting that I would “end up just like my mother”… I’ve watched God bring this truth to the light of TRUTH from a space where Satan tried to use my “doing and being” against me and cause it to become the very thing He uses to reflect the resurrection!!!! (Romans 8)

The short story.

After suffering through an emotionally draining pregnancy & post partum depression (with my 3rd child) a woman named Kristine Bowman invited me to an aerobics class at a church. My 3 kids were just babies. (I had a chance to share the full testimony in an interview on the Faithful Wellness Podcast ) It’s been 13 years since that initial invitation to the aerobics class and my kids are now teenagers and one of them is a man-child… Y’all I’m still walking this road and I’m still doing & being who God is calling me to be!!! Glory be to God that He called me (qualified) in the middle of my (everyday) doing because He saw who He was calling me to be!

HE QUALIFIES THE CALLED

There’s a group of people that we are each designed to reach and we can either continue on that journey being our best selves; just a willing vessel;  serving and BEING fulfilled (not in our own strength but with whatever God fills us with) or we can hustle hard in hopes of DOING what’s ‘qualified’ and yet still not quite enough.

I think I’ll stick with being, and let God continue with the doing (in me)!

Some of you know I’m in the middle of a certification called Revelation Wellness; it’s a Christ centered faith THEN fitness counseling & wellness program that allows me to offer the fitness classes I’m already teaching in addition to a program called Weigh Less To Feed More.

The certification is a whole person approach to the dilemma many of the diets, programs and ’30 day whatever-the-quick-fix’ have created; the results on the outside are there but the person on the inside is still hurting and broken.

img_3541.jpg

 

The training so far has been a beautiful tapestry of humility & service.

My training will finish in May at a one week retreat in Arizona with nearly 40 other ‘platoon recruits’. I’ve met some beautiful souls who are all uncovering the Truth of our reflection of the resurrection; I love that they call us platoons, it’s a nod to being enlisted in an army; a sisterhood/brotherhood trained to fight the battle for our wholeness. Friends if you’re in or near Ohio, you can experience a taste of this beautiful faith THEN fitness mission at Jesus At The Core.

DOING: the reflecting

“Don’t mistake activity with achievement.”
John Wooden

I recently launched a class called F.I.T. (inspired by the AFAA fitness model of Frequency Intensity and Time) but we’ve taken a deeper core conditioning approach and allowed God access to the purpose of our movement and our 3 target goals are FOCUS, INTENTION and TIME.  In 1 hour we set our spirit, soul and body on a mission to get FIT!

  • FOCUS: STRENGTH – A river can cut through rock not because of its power but its persistence
  • INTENTION: DISCIPLINE – No discipline feels good at first
  • TIME: NOW – because…

 

 

To catch a glimpse of the FIT class check us out on facebook

 

BEING: distractions & moving with(IN) fluence

 

  

It’s really easy for distraction to sneak in. Seriously y’all it’s REALLY sneaky. It comes in when the “DOING BECOMES OUR BEING”. Let me explain this.

DISCLAIMER: I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first took hold of me (Philippians 3:12)

Y’all, whether our doing is for our own self gratification, or our own subconscious checklist of the unspoken character of the “Good Christian” or it’s our ‘good thing’ that we do; when we become consumed with the getting-it-done it becomes who we are. It’s a slow fade. I’ve been meditating on Philippians 4:8 lately and realized that God could very well call us to a place of service and it’s where He needs us during that season but the service itself is not who we are, we are servants. God could call us to a place of humility & surrender and yet, still the surrendering is not who we are, we are still a servant, only now we are a humbled surrendered servant, standing and waiting for our instruction. In the doing and the waiting; our being is not defined by what we do; our being is our identity and to define ourselves by what we do would be to say that if the “doing” was to cease, then we would no longer be. Can I back track to that whisper someone dropped on me when I had my son, the one that hinted that I’d becoming just like my mom. That wasn’t a term of endearment, it was intended to imply that I was throwing away ‘my potential/future’ because I had gotten pregnant before marriage. I spent much of my college life and early adult hood trying to prove them wrong, and in my doing, I lost my being.

It wasn’t until I came to a place of surrender; admitting that I tried so hard to figure out who I was and failed miserably trying to un-do/hear/speak that which had been done/heard/spoken into my life that I began understanding that my being (Psalm 139) defines my doing (ability & potential) & the deceptive web became untangled.

It took me nearly 30 years to figure this out. Every year that my daughter has a birthday, I kinda celebrate my new found purpose. Friends God is calling us to the surrender. It’s in the surrender that we find ourselves FIT (focus, intention and time) for the calling (doing).

Friends He calls you His BELOVED. BE LOVED. This is where we find our being. This is where we find ourselves the reflection of the resurrection.

 

Wrapped in your calling

 

God can do more in our surrender than we could ever try to do in a lifetime of control  – Unknown

 

$5 Books at Family Christian

(Full disclosure: this post includes affiliate links I will receive a commission from purchases made through this link)

Heart check: bitter or better

 

 

 

Whatever it looks like, whatever may come I am yours // you crash over me and that’s where you want me to be, I’m going under I’m in over my head // whether I sink or whether I swim, it makes no difference when I’m beautifully in over my head…

When we refuse to live UP to our purpose we are deciding that the plan God has for our lives isn’t worth anything so we chose a different; often times less effective life.

Did you know that you were created to share with the world the beauty, strength, power, love, intelligence & hope of God?

Your life purpose is to bring the light of CHRIST into this world.

Yes, simply, through your life.

That power of potential in you has the ability to do things you couldn’t do on your own even with the best of efforts.

I wonder.

Could we.

JUST FOR TODAY, take the limits off of God & try Him.

What if we decided to take the things that could make us bitter, make us better.

What if we decided to test Him if you wanna call it that.

What if we test Him to see what COULD HAPPEN if we MOVE like we were created to move.

What if we did everything He asked us to do in the next 24 hours.

What’s the worse that could happen? 

You get blessed, or you bless somebody else?

 Ask yourself: Are you displaying in your your life the light that should be shining…as you were created to shine!

Many of us are wearing our struggle for the entire world to see

Heart check: Bitter or Better

Do you even know how much God loves you. He could care less about those mistakes, your mess, those lies. He’s not looking for you to judge you. He’s not looking for you to punish you. He’s looking for you so that He can wrap His arms around you and show you what it’s like to truly be loved without you having to offer anything, without you having to prove anything. With every exposed weakness He offers His strength.


“God is love. When we take up permanent residence in a life of love, we live in God and God lives in us. This way, love has the run of the house, becomes at home and mature in us, so that we’re free of worry on Judgment Day—our standing in the world is identical with Christ’s. There is no room in love for fear. Well-formed love banishes fear. Since fear is crippling, a fearful life—fear of death, fear of judgment—is one not yet fully formed in love.”

‭‭1 John‬ ‭4:17-18‬ ‭MSG‬‬

There is freedom found when we lay our secrets down at the cross. If we’re honest… It would change our lives, it would set us free, it’s what we need to be. Bring your brokenness and I’ll bring mine, love can heal what hurt divides and mercy’s waiting on the other side…(lyrics: Francesca Battistelli)

“And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart.”

Ezekiel 36:26 NLT

Stress cardiomyopathy (also known as 💔 broken heart syndrome) can definitely be life threatening in some cases. Because the syndrome involves severe heart muscle weakness, patients can have congestive heart failure, low blood pressure, shock, and potentially life-threatening heart rhythm abnormalities. The good news is that this condition improves very quickly, so if patients are under the care of physicians familiar with this syndrome, even the most critically ill tend to make a quick and complete recovery. (Source: hopkinsmedicalresearch)

fearless

Fear – less

This week I’m starting a new journey.

This week, I’m walking through a door God opened for me to begin the Revelation Wellness Instructor Training. (RWIT)

I’m scared.

Not in a fearful way.

I’m no longer a slave to fear, I am a child of God! You split the sea so I could walk right through it. My fears are drowned in perfect love. You rescued me so I can stand and say I am a child of God

Scared because God has shown me that the desires of my heart are way too big for me to handle but just the right size of blow your mind that He’s all about!

I mean seriously y’all!!!!

God wants to do that for us.

When was the last time you took all of those issues that weigh you down and gave them to God and let Him use them to anchor you?

What might happen if we let God do what He was doing? All the stuff that we think is holding us back might just be Him pulling us back creating a tension that will be used like the tension in an arrow ready to be released into this world for His glory.

Stronger. Better. Happier. Full. Aware.

Let us become more aware of your presence, let us experience the glory of your goodness. Holy Spirit you are welcome here.

 

img_2655.jpg

Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many. 1 Corinthians 10:12-14

An army rising

I sat with the manuals in front of me and decided to flip through them imagining what things will be like on this 12 week adventure. An adventure which culminates in the Spring on a week long retreat with the entire platoon of recruits in Phoenix Arizona.

A flood of emotions took over.

In a matter of seconds I was overwhelmed.

I looked back at 2014 which felt much like bootcamp training. I knew that it was some sort of training God was using for my life but I never imagined that I would be enlisted in this army with Revelation Wellness.

I just sat here with the RWIT manuals in front of me and my hands began to shake! This manual is like a weapon.

The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.  We destroy every proud obstacle that keeps people from knowing God. We capture their rebellious thoughts and teach them to obey Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:4-5

First I found myself slipping into test anxiety and these feelings of ‘oh my gosh how am I going to remember all of this stuff’. Then the noise was quieted by the Holy Spirit reminding me of a verse He gave me years ago and He has been unpacking the depth of it for the past few weeks.

“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; to grant to those who mourn in Zion— to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified.”

‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭61:1-3‬ ‭ESV‬‬

The road you're on

I use to think this verse was reserved for Christ and that there was no way God would be talking about me.
As I’m typing this with tears in my eyes humbled beyond honest comprehensible explanation I know beyond a shadow of a doubt this verse IS talking about me!

The Holy Spirit is our comforter, our helper, our guide and the presence of God living in us!

“What if God in all his grace is radically committed to showing himself strong on behalf of a people who express their need for him so their lives might make of him? When we pray for the Father’s provision, we will find that his provision is good. And the more he provides for us, the more we will trust him as our Father. Our great need is to fall before an almighty Father day and night and to plead for him to show his radical power in and through us, enabling us to accomplish for his glory what we could never imagine in our own strength. And when we do this, we will discover that we were created for a purpose much greater than ourselves, the kind of purpose that can only be accomplished in the power of his Spirit. ” – David Platt Radical

He calmed & confirmed my YES with John 14:10-13
“Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works.
“Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father. Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.”

‭‭
In our RWIT manual intro it says “if you learn to take the time to peel back the layers of God’s Word, you will far surpass anything this 12-week training course or any other course could equip you with. He WILL speak to you personally, as He has done for our mothers and fathers before us, as you are leading others out of captivity.

Toward the end of 2015 the Holy Spirit kept telling me to ‘prepare the way’ & ‘keep building the ark’. I honestly felt somewhat lost in the understanding of these words. These ‘weapons’ are tools God has placed in my hands to be used for His purpose, preparation and provision.

He eventually started showing me that if I had any intentions of being used,  (effective, seen, heard, noticed) found, I would need to willingly pick up my cross and get lost with him. My one word for this year, FOUND.
Friends this week I begin a new adventure, beautifully in over my head. WE are going on an adventure, I’m taking you with me because we’re all searching for our purpose and the road that leads us there.  I’m gonna get lost, anybody wanna go there with me? My guess is we can’t take a whole lot with us so let’s agree to lay out burdens down!

 

Back To Basics: (Guest post) Tell Your Story

I am focusing all my energies on this one thing: forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I strain to reach the end of the race and receive the prize for which God, through Chist Jesus, is calling us up to heaven. – Philippians 3:13 NLT

 

Introducing YOU! (Guest post by Gretchen Robards ) – aka my anchor & arrow soul sistah I met at Refresh Summit 

No matter what has happened in your life, you need to know two major truths. 

You matter. Your story matters.

Every single one of us has a story and it’s up to us to share it with the world.

The question ishow do we do that? How do you share you story in a way that will impact and empower people? I fully believe that each of us can use our stories to spread the hope of Christ and the way in which we tell our stories should echo the redemptive power of Christ in us. Without Him, we would all be dust. It is through Christ that our stories matter, through his blood poured out on the cross that we have value. In thinking about the beauty of the cross, the very best story has already been told. No greater story has happened than that of God sending His Son to die on the cross for us. And with that, we are redeemed. Our lives our redeemed. Our stories are redeemed.

It’s no secret that life is imperfect.

It’s hard, messy, and downright confusing but through the brokenness and the redemption of the cross we are set free to live in Christ. Our messy lives have no hold over us. No matter how ugly or beautiful your story is, you can tell it. Life deserves to be shared but the question is how?

When I think about telling my stories and sharing my life, I am immediately brought to two words: why and how. Lord knows I don’t need to air every piece of dirty laundry but I believe it’s necessary to share our stained piecesI actually really appreciate people who share their struggles because it makes them realit makes them human. We live in a culture caught up in having it together. We glorify a pretty life and value posting it online when in realitywe are all messed up

The beauty lies not in a pretty post but in being vulnerable and honest with one another. We need each other and should lean on each other for strength and wisdom. After all, no one is an expert on anything. The “why” behind telling your story is the heartbeat of your message and the theme of your life. Tell your story to glorify God and bring a change. 

Now the how of storytelling is another ballgame.It may seem scary to share your stories but when you realize that no one has it all figured out, it makes it just a little less terrifying. I’ve spent the better part of the year reflecting on how to be a better storyteller, and I’m by no means even close to being an expert. However, the people at behind Storyline just might be. I attended the Storyline Conference in Chicago last November and man, it blew me away. I sat among some of the best thinkers and storytellers and was so moved at the way God was using these warriors of words.

Writing typewriter

If you want to be a better writer, storyteller, and thinker…consider investing in the conference the resources you’ll get are timeless.

My hat goes off to two men I admire in this space of story telling; Donald Miller & Bob Goff; I want to share some pieces of wisdom that I gathered from the conference and other readings I’ve done this year.

If you want to tell a better story, here are some things to consider. 

1. There is freedom in vulnerability. After looking at some of my favorite writers and storytellers, I started to notice a common theme. It was vulnerability. I felt connected to writers because of their raw, authentic words. They didn’t sugar-coat things but instead were real. Being vulnerable is SCARY. It’s hard and weird and uncomfortable because you are putting yourself out there. But that’s how you connect. When you write from the heart, sharing raw moments, you create an experience that’s relatable to your reader. You open the door of connection and begin to invite people into your life. Think about your favorite book or story, you probably love it because it connected to your life in some way and left an impact. Good storytellers allow themselves to be vulnerable.
2. Know your value. There’s been billions of lives lived and a trillion stories already told. But yours matters too. Know your value. Have confidence that you are important to the work God is doing on this earth and He can use your story if you let Him. Your story has no greater or lesser significance than someone else. We are all valued vessels for the kingdom. 
3. Seek the truth. Root your messages in truth. The best kind of stories involve honest and authenticity. It’s easy to want to embellish or issue tales of grandeur but details will only get you so far. The heart behind your stories should be rooted in truth and aim to flatter the greater good. An honest story is evidence of the way God is working. If we excessively exaggerate we are taking away from his authorship.
4. Have a purpose. This is the most important part of story telling. Your story should serve a purpose and mean something. Of course I could tell you a story about every year in elementary school but what is the point of that? You’d get really bored by second grade. Knowing the purpose behind your story will help you effectively connect to your audience and be able to deliver your story in a powerful way. If you recognize your purpose behind telling your story you can also figure out the appropriate way to tell it. 

I could talk all day about talking, er storytelling 

Storytelling is simple but so incredibly complex at the same time.

It’s more than about saying words.

It’s about knowing your audience, recognizing your purpose, and telling your truth in a way that connects with people.

But…the best way to figure it out is to do it. 

Start by writing things down. Have good stories ready. Create opportunities to share your stories.

Most importantly, don’t let fear determine your value.

You matter. 

Your story matters.

About Gretchn Robards 

Hi there! I’m Gretchen! I’m a photographer and currently have my roots planted in central Indiana. There’s so much goodness in this life and I love exploring it all. A lot of my time is spent seeking Jesus, dreaming up adventures, drinking coffee (or tea!), having dance parties, laughing, and finding new ways to eat healthy and get moving. I love sharing stories through photography and writing and am excited to share my beauty and fashion tips in this corner of the internet.