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God Often Uses the Ugly

I started this blog back in March and I am learning that God often chooses to use the “ugly” when it comes to my writing. The struggles I have in this flesh, issues I would rather hide away in a closet, are the topics he nudges me to put into words on a screen. It is hard to be vulnerable and to feel exposed of my unbecoming ways. I mean who on earth wants to reveal to those around you, your negative qualities. We spend so much energy trying to cover that part up, slap on a smile and make sure we portray to those around us that it’s all good . If I sat here and told you that I never struggle with comparison, jealously, and selfishness, it would be a miry pit of untruths. Throw in my lack of trust and my wavering faith at times, and well it doesn’t paint a very pretty picture of myself. I mean Christians are suppose to be better than that, right? As long as we are bound by this flesh, we will have inner struggles and tribulations. It’s a day to day conflict, one where I must choose Jesus over self. This flesh is corrupt and when left to lead itself, it will most definitely direct me to a path of pain, bad choices and destruction. Usually the desires our flesh are drawn to, is the quite opposite of what Christ wants for us. It truly is an ongoing internal battle for each of us, but don’t lose hope because there is victory found in Jesus. He paid our debt on that cross at Calvary, and not only does he offer us eternal life, but freedom from the sins that try to keep us in bondage.

I have come to realize that often we will be confronted with trials and situations that will force us to deal with our weaknesses. We can no longer sweep them under the rug, but we are faced to deal with our shortcomings, front and center. Over the past few months, there have been situations my family has encountered that pointed out some “ugly” traits in myself. I would have never admitted aloud on some of the truths I have had my eyes opened to about myself. It has been hard to become painfully aware of issues that I had tucked deep down for no one to see and even justified to myself that they weren’t my struggles. My heart has taken some blows, but as difficult as it has been, there has been growth and discernment. It is not that these issues were all that bad, but none the less, they were keeping me from being more Christlike. They were inhibiting my walk with God. I am learning that sometimes we go through challenging times, not to knock us down and keep us there, but as a period of refinement. A season of molding and shaping as only the Creator can do. He knows our future and he is preparing us for it.

Yet Lord, You are our Father; we are the clay, and You are our potter; we all are the work of Your hands.  Isaiah 64:8

Because of the growing awareness of my deep need for Jesus, I can lean into Him, digging deeper in his word each day if I choose. Notice, it’s a choice. God does not force himself on you, even once you have become a believer. He loves us and grants us free will to grow and nurture our relationship with him. It takes action on our part. It takes choosing him daily. Seeking him out in all things. Praying continuously.

I have many issues I need to work on personally, but lately I have been ashamed at how my faith has been so easily shaken by certain outcomes to situations in my life. At the first sign of things not going as planned, I feel defeated. I lose hope. I lose faith. I get mad. Sigh…. Then feelings of guilt wash over me and I just want to crawl in a hole to hide, but there is no place to go where God will not see me. With a sorrowful heart, my head hung low, I repent and ask God to forgive me once more. The amazing thing is he always offers me forgiveness when I come with a earnest spirit. Sometimes I imagine him shaking his head, knowing that it won’t be the last time he hears me utter those words, but yet his arms are still open wide, ready to embrace me once more and help shepherd me back on the right path. What grace and mercy he bestows upon me! I would hate to think of the condition I would be in without his love and guidance in my life. No matter how many times I mess up, He is there. Let him use the ugly and the messy parts of your life. It isn’t easy, but by allowing him to mold and shape you, polishing and buffing out the rough edges and imperfections, you will become one step closer to who he created you to be. Nothing is wasted when you surrender it into God’s hands.

Keep moving forward,

Hayley W

Remind Yourself of These 4 Truths

You are beautiful, you are strong, you are enough, and you are loved.

I am going to be straight up honest with you, if you were to grade me on how I am doing balancing my different roles and jobs right now, I would probably get a big fat “F”. I was doing good there for awhile, felt like I was on the right track. Somewhere along that track though, I took a wrong turn and just kept going. I feel like I am slipping and sliding in every direction.

Sometimes I just get overwhelmed. Buried under the stress of this chaotic world. My mind races like a hamster on a wheel and for the life of me, I cannot get it to stop. With each day that passes, I just feel even more out of sorts. Lagging behind on my to-do list of never ending chores and demands. The longer I allow myself to feel this defeat, the slippery the slope becomes to get back on the right path. Gaining traction on good ground becomes a little more difficult. The fact is, when I allow myself to get to this point, the only one it pleases is the old devil himself. As women, we have so much pressure on us to succeed and fulfill multiple roles, all while looking good with a smile on our face and wearing the latest fashion trends. First of all, the many roles we fill as women can be daunting on certain days. Secondly, to all of you who look so cute in your fashionable wardrobe, keep on rocking it. Personally, I am a t-shirt and jeans kind of gal and if I am at home, those jeans turn into athletic pants. Go ahead, those that know me are nodding their head in agreement. It’s okay. I used to be so hard on myself because of what my preferences were, but I have learned to embrace who I am. Some value style, some like comfortable. There are those who thrive on busy schedules, while others just want to simplify their days. One group is extroverts, and another introverts. We all have value in God’s eyes and a purpose in his kingdom. Some of that pressure we inflict on ourselves, others comes from what we see and hear in the world today. We feel as though we have to be Wonder Women all the time and if we have a bad day, it just seems that all the progress we have managed to build up just starts crumbling down. When we have those moments, it is then when our enemy will sneak through the cracks and start to whisper little lies. If you don’t stop and recognize where those lies are coming from, and remind yourself of the truth and whose you are, you will start to believe his deception. Let me remind you of a few things when your thoughts or your day starts to go south.

First of all you are beautiful. No matter if you feel it or not, you are. Not only to those around you, but to the one who loves you most. He created you , and he doesn’t make mistakes. I used to be very hard on myself, but he opened my eyes to the fact that when I criticize or put down his creation, I am doing the same to him as our creator. As I heard a preacher say once, “God doesn’t make junk!”.

I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. Psalm 139:14

You are strong. As a woman, no doubt you carry the burdens of those you love on your shoulders every day. You rise to whatever situation comes your way. You go out of your way to protect those you love. We all have scars from the battles we have faced, whether physical or emotional, but we keep moving forward. God created us to love and be loved. To be confident, yet compassionate. To be bold, but also to be humble and kind. Women were not looked upon highly in the time the Bible was written, but yet God used their stories and lives throughout history to reflect his love, grace, and forgiveness. Their faith was relentless. We too, can live out our lives in a way that will cause a ripple effect to those around us, sharing the good news of Jesus.

You are enough. Your talents, your looks, your personality, it is all enough. You were intentionally created for a purpose here on this earth. Your life matters and has value. No matter the sins of your past, God still loves you. He still wants to use you. Some days I can be the biggest screw up there is, but you know what? When I humble my heart, and ask God to forgive me and help clean me up once again, guess what he does? He forgives me and creates in me a clean heart, and renews my spirit. He reminds me of how much he loves me. He offers me his unfailing love and grace and gives me the strength to carry on.

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Psalm 51:10

You are loved. We all want to be loved, right? God loved us so much, that he sent his only Son to die our death on the cross, so that if we believe on him, we could spend eternity in heaven with him. I just can’t comprehend the magnitude of his love for us. I know how much I love my kids and family, but it’s just a tiny sliver compared to how deep his love goes for us. He cares for us so passionately, even down to the little details of our lives. What a God we serve! If you don’t know him, what are you waiting for? He is there, waiting for you with arms wide open.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.  John 3:16

Keep moving forward,

Hayley W

Lessons That Autumn Offers

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven. Ecclesiastes 3:1

(Bits and pieces of this article are from one I wrote for our homeschooling coop newspaper in 2020. I did add some to it and tweak it here and there before I published it for you today. )

I absolutely love this time of year, and where I live the leaves are just now really starting to change and show off their beauty. The cool crisp air makes my soul come alive, and I feel a surge of energy and enthusiasm for the outdoors. Getting a break from the heat and humidity is much anticipated after a muggy Tennessee summer. One of my favorite outdoor activities is to sit out by a campfire with family and friends on a chilly evening. Don’t judge me too harshly for what I am about to tell you, but I am also one who enjoys all the smells and recipes that involve pumpkin. I may or may not be one who falls into the category of a “pumpkin spice fanatic“. I get excited to go to the grocery store and see the new reveals of the seasonal products. I am a sucker to try them all. My sister actually had a shirt made for me that said, “I run on Jesus and Pumpkin Spice”. There is a lot of truth to that during the fall months.

There are a few lessons that can be learned by embracing what fall has to offer. Number one, God is an amazing artist. The bursting colors of the leaves against the vivid blue sky can just leave me in awe and wonder. I could admire them for hours when they are just doing what God created them to do. The same goes for our lives. When we quit trying to fill roles that we were not meant to fill, and seek to live out our purpose in God’s plan, we too can embrace the beauty of the season we are in. My mom once told me that instead of seeking out how to be a better wife, mother, daughter, and friend; just seek on how to be a better Christian and the rest will come. That really left an impression on my heart. We tend over complicate and put so much pressure on ourselves to be somebody we weren’t created to be.

Secondly, fall reminds us that just like the leaves falling from the trees, it is okay to let go. Letting go is actually a step that helps propel you forward. Oh, how hard this seems to be for many of us. We cling on so tightly to burdens we were never meant to carry. Those burdens become heavy, and keep us stuck and distracted. In order to grow and flourish, we must let go and let God. This is in no way an easy task to do. It is one thing to say we trust him, but another to actually put action behind those words. Letting go can apply to different aspects of our lives. It could be emotions that we have been harboring against other individuals or situations. We may need to simplify our schedule, so our lives aren’t so chaotic with “to do” lists . Busy doesn’t always equate success or productivity. Whatever it may be, the tighter we hold on to them, the more negative effect it will have on us, sinking us further into a muddy pit. I’ll be honest, there are times when prayer just doesn’t feel like enough and it takes some type of visual action to help you truly release your burden into God’s hands. Maybe it is writing it down on paper, or raising your hands as if to hand it over to God and speaking it out loud. Different techniques work for different people. Regardless of what may help you, just know when you take time to pray, God does hear you.

Lastly, I think we can all agree that this season brings about an attitude of gratitude. We tend to pause and spend more time appreciating our blessings, especially in the month of November. These months can bring about a busier schedule, but it would do us all good to slow down, take a deep breath, and enjoy the present moment. Autumn is a great time to spend a little less time behind a screen, and get outside. We live in a beautiful part of the country. Getting out in nature this time of year, brings about a much needed peace. When you get out in His creation, and take time to notice your surroundings, you will be amazed at how it all points back to him.

Keep moving forward,

Hayley W

Have You Ever Felt Stuck?

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So we must not get tired of doing good, for we will reap at the proper time if we don't give up. Galatians 6:9

In my last post, I told you about our mission trip that was coming up soon and fourteen from our church would be attending. Well, it arrived and we spent the weekend up in Bear Branch, KY. We were able to help meet the needs of two families who had been going through some really hard times. God was there and it was amazing to see how he had worked it all out on the projects we had scheduled and how our people and their skill set matched up to those needs. He always amazes me how he lines it all up. I know it wasn’t a coincidence. It was a beautiful weekend, with good fellowship and time spent getting closer to God and each other.

On the way to Kentucky, I could feel my allergies starting to act up. At least I thought it was my allergies. I absolutely love the fall season, but it doesn’t always love me back. I pushed through the weekend, but honestly didn’t feel 100%. I thought to myself how I had managed to stay healthy for the past eighteen months and then the one weekend we went on the mission trip, sickness overshadowed me. I am not going to lie, I had a few short pity parties of the whole “Why me?”. We live in a time now where being sick has taken on a whole new weight. It puts fear on our mind and causes anxiety to rise up. On the way home, my daughter also started not feeling good and by the next day, she started running a fever. We went to the doctor and it was Covid. The next two weeks were spent quarantined in my bedroom with my daughter. My husband and son were feeling well, so we didn’t want to spread our germs to them. I never realized just how small and stuffy my room was until I was stuck there for days. I could feel the walls closing in on me as each day passed. Feeling “stuck” or “trapped” in that bedroom was one of the hardest things for us to tolerate with this virus. We missed our freedom and our family. Thankfully our symptoms were mild and we give God the praise for watching over us.

Some synonyms of stuck are jammed, immovable, bogged down, wedged, rooted, secure, anchored and stable. As I pondered over some of these words, I noticed some lean towards a negative perspective and others lean towards a more positive view. It made me think about my Christian walk and the seasons we all go through. I would be dishonest with you if I said being a Christian has always been easy. It has not. Being stuck in this sinful flesh, it is a daily choice one must make to follow God, or follow the world. Some days I feel so close to God, my heart is full of joy and my desire to seek him and trying to live a life pleasing to him is very strong. I make time for him each day, praying and reading his word. I feel as though my relationship with God is rooted, secure, and anchored. Now, I wish I could tell you I was this way most of the time, but the truth is my Christian walk has seasons that flow like a roller coaster track. Up and down, it takes twist and turns, sometimes leaving me feeling upside down not knowing what side is up. At times, my passion and fire for the Lord feel nothing more than a small ember putting off the faintest glow. It is in these moments, my relationship with God feels stuck, bogged down, wedged in a spot that I just can’t seem to get out of. I wish I had the answers to why we go through these seasons, but I do not. I do know sometimes there are factors that lead us down certain paths. When my schedule starts to get full, my time for God seems to lessen. When I focus on what is going on in this world, my heart becomes calloused and cold. Maybe a prayer wasn’t answered in the way I had anticipated, so I let the disappointment and doubt creep in. When I let my eyes start to wonder on those around me, comparison can set in making me feel discontent and ungrateful. When I take my eyes off God, and dwell on my problems, I lose my focus. There is an abundance of distractions that can keep us from where we should be with God. There are times though, when I feel like I am doing it all right: reading God’s word, going to church, taking time to pray, but yet I still feel distant from him. It seems like a season of silence on God’s part. It could be that maybe I am going through the actions only to have my heart not in it. I am guilty of this. Or possibly, this is a season of growing my faith. The older I get, I have learned in these times, it is important to keep on keeping on. Even if I don’t feel like I am getting anything from it, I must keep on reading my Bible, praying, and attending church. I must keep seeking and keep following him because I know that seasons don’t last. They come and go, some lasting longer than others. I have found it scary how easy it is to pull away or become distant from God. Even after all he has done for me, I still struggle with it. I think it is a part of every Christian’s reality, so if you have felt this way from time to time, just know you are not alone. Don’t give up. Don’t lose hope. This too shall pass, so just hang on to your faith and keep pressing on. God’s promises are true and he has been so faithful to me even though I fail him daily. His love is lasting and his forgiveness brings peace and salvation to those who seek it and believe.

Even in those periods of “feeling stuck”, I know they have purpose. It is up to me, to seek out the learning of what they might bring and ask for God’s help to open my eyes and heart. I don’t know about you, but I am a work in progress. I still have a lot of rough edges that need to be polished out. Thanks be to God I can be thankful for my imperfections because they draw me closer to the one who is perfect. I would hate to think of where I would be without my Jesus.

Keep pressing on,

Hayley W

Serving During Times of Uncertainty

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In the same way, let your light shine before men, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:16 

In the past year and half, it has been a real struggle to stay afloat. I cannot be the only one who has felt that way. It has felt like it has been one wave after another of bad news. Just when you recover from the crash of one wave and come up for air, another is soon to follow leaving you feeling helpless and drowning in despair. I have struggled with staying above the flood of negativity and heart ache. Only by the grace of God am I able to rise up each morning and realize how blessed I am to be able to have my health and family with me. I tend to show a little more gratitude each day. In a year in which we have faced so many uncertainties, I have realized that my heart that once was eager to serve, has gotten a little more selfish. Maybe it is in protection mode, but it has become focused more on me, me, me. Now don’t get me wrong, there are times when we need to step back and take care of ourselves, whether it be physically, emotionally, or spiritually. Life isn’t easy, but we have a God who promised we wouldn’t have to walk alone.

In a time when so many around us are barely hanging on or have lost all hope, we need to step up and let our lights shine, not for ourselves, but for the glory of God. Despite the chaos and sadness that is consuming our world, God is still God. He is still in control. He is aware of every single thing going on. He cares about us, he loves us, and He hears our prayers. Even though we feel as though we have been knocked down repeatedly, he wants us to rise up and continue to do the work he has called us to do. Now is not the time to quit. Now is not the time to hide your light even if it has been dimmed. Even the smallest flame can be seen for a great distance on the darkest night. I know it is hard and some days I just want to wave the white flag of surrender, but that is not what we are called to do. We all still have a purpose. We can all still make a difference. It is not the size of the task that matters, but the obedience to follow it. Something as small as a smile towards a stranger can make a huge difference in the rest of their day. After the period of mask mandates, I learned the value of a smile. It is priceless and should be used more and cherished. Small acts of kindness can have just as deep of an impact as big, grand gestures. Do what you can, where you can!

We have a mission trip coming up very soon. We will be heading to KY to help serve the area in whatever capacity the Lord will have for us. This year it has been hard to be focused on this trip and dedicate myself to praying for this trip like I should have. I didn’t know if we would get to go and I got distracted by all the others issues at hand going on. I am nervous and excited. I pray we can go and help meet the needs of those we will serve. I pray they don’t see us, but the hands and feet of Jesus. Pray for us that we can do the work He has called us to do.

Mission trips provide good opportunities to serve, but we have opportunities every single day where we can let Jesus’s love flow through us onto others. A lot of times for me, it is a small nudging in which God will place something on my heart to do. Don’t ignore it, or put it off till later. There is a reason He put it on your heart, follow through with it. If your like me and this year your light inside hasn’t felt or shone too brightly, pray that God will help ignite the passion and fire inside of you to go out and serve however He calls you to it. Do not let fear stop you, or the busyness of life detain you from living out your purpose. This world needs hope, it needs kindness, and more importantly it needs Jesus. There may be some people in your life, where you are the only Christian they know, don’t waste that opportunity to tell them about Him.

I just want to say if your feeling overwhelmed and burdened down, please know your not alone. There is a lot going on right now and I can see in the faces of those around me. I feel it too. If you need to talk or need help, please reach out to someone. Message me if you need too. You may be in such a state that you don’t know what to do, or what to say, but please hear me when I say this, God sees you. He hears you, even if it’s just a whimper coming out, He is listening and wants to help you with the burdens you are carrying. Believe on Him and His promises. He is the God of peace and I don’t know about you, but I long to have more peace inside of me right now. He is able to provide that to us if we just go to Him. Never underestimate the power of prayer!

Keep hanging on and keep on shining,

Hayley W

Be Still and Know

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Be still and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted on earth. Psalm 46:10

I don’t know about you, but lately it seems as though the light is diminishing more and more in this world. Things are getting heavy, real heavy. Fear and anxiety seem to be ramping back up. Stress levels are increasing. It’s getting dark. It’s getting scary. It’s hard to find reasons to smile on most days when dread and chaos are running rampant in the lives of those around us. When the problems of this world tend to overwhelm my heart and mind, I have found it does me good, to stop and see where my focus is. Wherever my eyes tend to point, the mind and heart will follow. If my eyes are continually scrolling through social media, or my ears are constantly listening to the news, it is safe to say that my mood turns sour. Unfortunately, it doesn’t only affect me, but that negative energy flows out onto those around me. I must take some time to quiet the chaos and noise of the world and redirect my eyes on the one my hope lies in and that is Jesus. He is an anchor for our soul if we keep our gaze upon him and trust his word.

Learning to “be still” can be hard in this fast paced life we live in. Some people will run from times of silence or solitude, being alone with their thoughts causes uneasiness and even anxiety, others tend to yearn for it and embrace it. I am the latter. I need moments of silence in my life. I need times when it’s just me, God, and his creation. It helps me to reflect and redirect my focus and thought pattern. It is so easy to get bogged down and go into a mental hole when I spend too much time focusing on the wrong things. There are some situations I have no control over, but I can pray about them to a God who is still in control. Never underestimate the power of prayer. God has the power to breath new life into any situation, no matter how dire it may seem. It is often in those times his glory and power is revealed.

Despite what your social media news feed may say, or the local news station or radio, there is still good around us. If we spend too much time focusing on all the bad, we may just let the good slip right past us. Take time to look for it, to thank God when you see it, and more importantly, be it. We are to be a light in this dark world and with God’s help we can be. I encourage you too keep looking up, stay in his word, pray without ceasing, and fix your eyes upon Jesus.

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Psalm 46:1

Keep moving forward,

Hayley W

Trusting God With the Next Step

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Trust in the Lord with all thine heart,and lean not unto thine own understanding; In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. 
Proverbs 3:5,6 

Over the past year, I have felt a season of change entering my life and to be honest, it has been quite scary. I have been a stay at home mom for 19 years now. I have homeschooled my two children for the past 14 years. One graduated in 2020, the other one is currently starting his junior year. Our plan is to finish the last two years of his school at home. I knew the time would come, when my this season of my life would be coming to an end. It ushers in some sadness, but also joy in my heart. I am proud that we have made it almost to the finish line and we couldn’t have done it without God’s help. I miss the early days of teaching them, but it is also a gift to see the young adults they are becoming. I have been so blessed to have been at home all these years with my kiddos. The time spent and relationships that have blossomed because of it are priceless. But the winds of change are near, and it causes my heart to grow anxious of what the next step for this momma will be. I’ve always trusted that God will provide me with a sense of direction when the time came and my responsibilities at home were not needed as much. It is a hard thing to do as a parent, to loosen the grip we once held on so tightly with our kids. Our ultimate goal is to raise them to know Christ, to seek him and live a life for him, but also to raise our kids in a way where they don’t need us, they become independent individuals. That has been a hard pill for this mom to swallow, but it is a must. I trust God with the next season for not only my kids, but myself. He has proven to be a faithful God so many times in my life.

After I did my tandem jump in June, the interest I had for planes and flight just ignited. I thought to myself how cool would it be to find a job where I could be around the thing that interests me. Even though I have had side jobs here and there to help with the income coming in, there would be a day when I would need to enter the workforce once again. I have always been able to be here for my family’s needs 24/7, so the thought of that changing really caused me to be anxious. I didn’t want things to be different, but I knew at some point it would and not being easily accessible to my children was probably not a bad thing after all. My daughter is finishing up her program at tech school, and the next step for her is finding a job. My son will be getting his drivers license soon, so my days of being his chauffeur would be ending. Time spent at home during the day would lessen as they start to venture out, showing their independence, and living out their own lives. Thinking of this season, it often left me with the question of “What am I to do next?”……

One day I couldn’t get this one place off my mind and I had a nudging to shoot them an email to see if they had any part time positions open. I knew it was a long shot, the place is a local plane museum called the Beechcraft Heritage Museum . A big facility which is supported by it’s members, but not a lot of employees. To my surprise, they emailed me back in a few days asking what kind of work was I looking for because they might just have something. I was shocked, but then again maybe this was something God was leading me to. We exchanged emails, and the next thing I knew I get a call for a interview. I was so excited, but soon after I started questioning what in the world was I thinking! Was I ready for the next step that I felt God leading me too? Change is always scary. The next few days, mom guilt washed over me. I really struggled with a wave of different emotions, but pushing those aside, I couldn’t help but feel like this was the path God was leading me down. My family supported me and reassured me it was all going to be okay. They could tell my heart was somewhat unsettled. I went to the interview and within a week, I got a call and an offer for a part time position. I couldn’t believe it. I sit back and sometimes God just leaves me in awe at how he works things out for us. I felt that I had to move forward in this process and trusted that God has a plan. He always knows our heart’s desires and if we trust him, be obedient and patient, he opens doors that we never expected. I have been at this job now for two weeks. The people are great, I like my job, the facility is beautiful. I get to meet visitors from all over the country. Did I mention I am around planes all the time? I get to hear them fly over and see them while I am working and it just puts a big grin on my face every time. It takes a lot of discipline to not run to the big windows in the museum and press my face against the glass to see each one I hear, but I have managed to show restraint. I also get to see sky divers occasionally and it reminds me of my own experience and the hope of doing it again one day. I am intrigued with the history at the museum and it amazes me how God led me to this place. I am here for a reason and I am excited to see where this leads. I trust him, and I’ve learned to trust the process we sometimes go through to end up where he wants us to be. Sometimes it takes overcoming fear and worry, pushing ourselves once again outside of our comfy zones to realize just how amazing his love is for us. He is an wonderful Father and provider. He has a plan for each of our lives, and too often we miss out on the gifts he has prepared for us simply because it requires an extra dose of faith and obedience.

No matter what your next step looks like, grab hold of Jesus and don’t let go. Trust him with the journey you are on. The smooth roads, the bumpy ones, and even the detours we may meet are opportunities for us to experience His love, grace, and mercy. He promises to never leave us or forsake us, and he has kept that promise in my life, time and time again. He truly is a way maker and when we can’t see how the next part of our journey is going to pan out, I’m glad we have a God that we can trust and lean on. Nothing in our future is a surprise to God.

Keep moving forward,

Hayley W

Pursuing a Dream

Once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been and there you will always long to return. – Leonardo da Vinci

Two weeks ago, I got to have the experience of a lifetime. My family has heard me say more than once over the past several years that I wanted to jump out of a plane. So this year, for my birthday, they let me do just that. It was an amazing opportunity and one that was life changing. I have always been intrigued by the skies. Just ask my family or look at the pictures on my phone. My son once told me that instead of having pictures of him and my daughter, my photos consist of sunrises and sunsets. Planes and helicopters have always gotten my attention as well. I wondered what it would be like to be up there, looking down and seeing God’s creation. My family knows this all to well because if we are ever watching tv, or playing a card game, and I hear the sound of a plane or helicopter flying over, they pause and say “Go ahead”, and let me run outside to sneak a peak. I cannot help myself. There is just a pull there that I cannot explain. The sky with its majesty and beauty just has this grip on me and as breathtaking as it can be at times, it leaves me wondering just how glorious will heaven be?

I woke up one Friday morning and just knew that today was the day, it was going to happen, I was going to go skydiving. I’ve talked about it enough, time to put some action to my words. Time to quench this yearning inside of me. I called TN Skydive and asked some questions. I checked their online bookings to check availability at least a dozen times that morning. I even watched some of their videos on Youtube trying to prepare myself. I talked with my husband and decided to just go for it. I called and made a reservation to jump at 4pm. Once I made the commitment, my nervousness lessened. I anxiously awaited the time and finally it was time to leave. I remember calling my parents and telling them what I was on my way to go do, and if they wanted to watch they would need to come on over. It wasn’t a big surprise to them, they know me well. Once I got to the location, the process of getting ready was quite simple and quick. I met my trainer Justin, he went over a few instructions, and I got harnessed up. I cannot explain it, but once the harness was on, I was overcome with a sense of peace. I was excited, still couldn’t believe I was actually fixing to do this, because I had talked about it for many years. I boarded the plane with around 10-12 other people. Most were single jumpers, but there was 3 others doing tandem like me. This was their second tandem jump. The atmosphere in the plane was one of excitement and enthusiasm. It did get a little hot in that plane, but once we got so high up, they opened the door. The rush of cool air was a welcoming relief. The adrenaline started kicking in and I was ready to take the plunge! As we gained altitude, the views were absolutely beautiful. It was a gorgeous blue sky with white puffy clouds scattered about. We were close to the last ones to jump. Somehow beyond my understanding, standing at the edge of the door looking down from 14,000 feet, I was calm. I think I was more in awe at God’s creation and was so thankful that this adventure that I had dreamed about doing for so long, well it was about to happen. I remember Justin saying we would rock back and forth and on the third count, we would jump. I don’t recall any rocking, just falling forward into the big open sky. I am not gonna lie, I had my eyes closed for the first 5 seconds. They tell you to hold your head back and I assumed it was a safety measure. I opened my eyes to see the ground beneath me and felt the cool air hitting my face. You get up to 100-120 mph when you are doing the free fall and it last for 60 seconds. The funny thing is, you don’t feel like your falling. You feel like your just out there floating. I remember it being loud, so loud I couldn’t even hear my own screams of excitement. Justin pulled the chute and it jolted us back up into the sky. The ride down under the canopy was very surreal and peaceful. You have to be able to hold your legs up when you land, so the person you are hooked up to can land safely. A lot of times when you are landing, you slide onto the ground on your bottom to stop and that in itself had me laughing when it was over. Oh, the freedom and beauty of that jump just left me with a big smile on my face and gratefulness on my heart. I would have to say my favorite part was the free fall. There are no words to really describe it. Those that have skydived get it. No doubt, the rush of adrenaline and the freedom you feel while in the air draws people back to do it again and again. Would I ? Absolutely.

After this experience, I am more convinced that God places certain dreams into each of our hearts and he wants us to pursue after them. Not only to bring us joy, but to help us grow in our spiritual walk. I dare say, that most dreams people have tucked away inside are ones that require a bold action on their part, a stepping out of your comfort zone. It will make you dig deep into the inner strength and courage we all have inside. If they came easy, they wouldn’t be called dreams. When we push ourselves outside our comfort zones, we find out what we are made of and that our God will give us the strength we need. Sometimes the reward is not in the dream itself, but the awareness of our own courage and bravery it took to get there. I don’t know why for all those years I had that dream of skydiving, but it was one of the greatest things I have experienced. It changed how I see myself and I don’t know what the future holds, but maybe I needed that. There was purpose in that dream for my life and I am very grateful that God gave me the courage to fulfill it. It has just magnified that spark inside of me when it comes to flying, and I pray there will more opportunities in my future to get up in the sky again. I trust God with it no matter what happens. I pray whatever I was suppose to gain from the experience, I will grasp it and take to heart. And maybe it was just one of those joyful moments that God let me have. He wants to see he children happy. I think when we smile, He smiles. The experience left me with a desire to be more intentional with my days, and not go through the motions of living, but to truly live. Embrace each day as a gift. Choose to open your heart to God and pursue his calling and direction for your life. He wants us to love the life we have, and continue to move forward as we strive to be better Christians. If you have a dream on your heart, I encourage you to take that first step towards making it happen. It may not be easy or happen right away, but you can do it! When I get to the end of my life, I don’t want to have no regrets and no what ifs. If you haven’t listen to Matthew West’s new song “What If”, I encourage you to do so!

Keep moving forward,

Hayley W

Letting Go of Fear

Fear. There is so much power, if we let it, in that four letter word. A healthy dose of fear can keep us safe and give us boundaries, but so many times we let it become paralyzing to our lives. It can imprison us and chain us to the point we can’t move forward. It can keep us up at night, and it can cause us to lose our focus. Fear can take root and cause us to be physically and mentally sick. It can make us miss out on so much in life.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I have went round after round with fear and to be honest, fear came out as the victor many times. But I am tired of being defeated by a four letter word. Fear is a liar.

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but one of power, love and sound judgement. 2 Timothy 1:7

Ever since 2020, God has been nudging my heart to overcome fear in my life. I have missed out on so many opportunities because of it. Not just adventures, or meeting new people, but doing God’s work. We tend to think of God’s work as being limited inside the church doors, but there are endless opportunities for him to shine in our lives outside those walls. Maybe it’s the fear of failing, or the fear of what others will think that causes us to hold back, or even keep us stuck in our Christian walk. I am learning that we have a God who loves us and wants so much more from us and for us. We cannot move forward in his plan for our lives if we are stuck in fear. It can cripple us in all aspects of our lives if we let it. Sometimes we don’t even realize the strong grip it has on our life.

I also believe that God plants in each of us certain dreams and passions. Not only does he put those dreams in our hearts, but he wants to see us fulfill them. I believe they fuel us and have a purpose. It may be hard to comprehend, but he can use all things to his glory. He knows our heart’s desires, but sometimes we must take action and move to achieve those things. We cannot sit back and wonder “what if” all the time. That is not living, and life is truly a precious gift so I want to make the most of it! I have spent way too many years watching from the sidelines. Some things that I have experienced this year, which took letting go of fear, are starting this blog, parasailing, and doing my first tandem jump from an airplane. On each one, I spent hours debating on if I should do them. I made a list of all negative things that could happen. If your like me, my first intuition is to list the bad, not the good. And the thing I am learning is that 99.9% of all that bad never comes to life. We fear it, we focus on it, we spend so much energy of our mind playing out all these aspects and it more than likely never happens.

With each task I tackle, when I come out on the other side, it has helped me find a little more courage in my life. I am not sure why God has put these things on my heart, but each one has drawn me closer to him in some way. He is helping me see that I am braver and stronger than I had thought. Not because of anything I have done, but because he lives in me and he wants me to enjoy this life he has blessed me with. He is a good Father and his blessings are overflowing. I do not deserve his love, but yet he pours it out on me daily. I would encourage you to pray and ask God to give you the courage to truly live out the life he has planned for you. There are many wonderful opportunities he has placed before us, but we have to take that step forward in making our dreams and passions become realities. Maybe that dream on your heart is just a token of his goodness to give you joy and happiness. Or maybe that passion deep in your heart is something that God plans to use to open doors in your life. We will never know the full impact if we don’t step out in faith. I do not want to get to the end of my life with regrets and “what if” questions. What about you? Let’s choose faith over fear!

If God leads, I plan on sharing how I pursued a dream I have had for over 25 years on my next blog. It took jumping over a huge mountain of fear to get there, but was totally worth it!!!

Keep moving forward,

Hayley W

The Weight of Worry

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I just came back from a great weekend get away with my hubby. Good times and fun memories were made. It was a weekend of relaxing and soaking in the peaceful surroundings. Then came Monday……and it came in like a wrecking ball, knocking that smile from the weekend, right off my face.

I let a situation that I was faced with today, totally consume my mind and day. My “to-do list” was pushed to the back burner, while my focus was solely on the problem at hand. I worried. I fretted. I murmured some “not so nice” words under my breath. I cried. I panicked. I sent email after email and even spent hours on the phone. To say I did not handle the issue at hand well is an understatement. I was physically, emotionally, and mentally drained. I felt helpless. I felt confused.

Have you ever felt this way?

Why do we let ourselves succumb to the problems that arise in our day? Am I the only one who can let them send me spiraling downward with no hope? Looking back now, still trying to ease the tension that I let take place physically, it all seems somewhat silly that I got so worked up. I could have approached it with a different mindset for sure.

You know what I didn’t do today. I didn’t stop and ask God to help me. I didn’t stop and take some time to quieten my mind, focus on Him, and pray sincerely out of my heart for help. Sure I said out loud, “God help me”, but it was out of frustration, it wasn’t heart felt. Not only did my actions cause me stress, but it also overflowed onto those who were around me. If you were one of those who it affected today, I sincerely apologize.

Looking back at today’s events, I just shake my head in disgust. Why do I repeatedly let faith so easily slip thru my fingers when troubles arise? Sometimes I can handle bumps in the road well, others, not so much. It is a struggle and then I am left with my head in my hands, wondering why I put myself through the things I do, when I belong to One who cares for me and who will help me along the way.

Casting all your care upon Him, because He cares for you.  1 Peter 5:7

I was reminded of this verse this evening. If I would have took the time to take my concerns to God earlier this day, I would have saved myself a lot of trouble and stress. I have been a Christian for many years, but as much as I hate to admit it, it is a struggle to seek Him first. Oftentimes, the weight of the issue presses down quickly upon me, and I find myself in such disarray that I find it hard to stop, breathe, and talk to God. I am glad he loves me despite my many faults and shortcomings. If I would have just went to him first, this Monday would have turned out so differently. I am a work in progress and God knows that. He knows all about me, but yet still loves me and still offers his help and goodness to my life. What a loving God we serve! I am thankful that every day is a new opportunity to strive to do better.

Keep moving forward,

Hayley W

A Mother’s Love

A mother’s love will never end, it is there from beginning to end.

A mom’s life. So many words can come to mind when it comes to the role of a mother. I do not think moms will ever grasp the full impact they have had on the lives of their kids. We can hope we are making a difference in the way we have raised and shaped our children. We trust that the hours of spilled tears, and silent prayers, the sleepless nights of worry and heartache were not in vain. We trust them into the hands of God who loves them more than we can imagine, which is hard for me to grasp sometimes knowing just how deep my love goes for my kids. A mother’s love is vast and goes deep into places of her being that only she knows. As my kids gets older, knowing that God has a specific role and purpose for their life brings peace to my worrisome heart. Seeing them grow in Christ is one of the biggest blessings I have had. There is so much we want to tell them and show them, things we hope that they will keep in their hearts long after we are gone, but if there was just one thing I could choose to leave behind that would stick with them it would be Jesus.

Seek and follow him daily with all of your heart. Never give up on him. He is faithful and his plans are far more greater than what our feeble minds can fathom. Trust his timing. Keep him first in your life. When there seems like there is no way, He will make one. Know his word. Ask for his guidance. He is worthy, even if it means standing alone for his sake, he is worthy of our time, attention and obedience. If you ever stray from Him, don’t stay there, find your way back to him because he is forgiving, and he will never leave you.

There are no words to express how truly grateful I am for my mom. She is one of my rocks here on earth. She taught me all about Jesus, and her life backed up her words. She just didn’t speak those words, she lived them every day and continues to do so. Being raised by a Christian mom was something I took for granted in my earlier years. Back then, there were times when I rebelled against her and God. It was when I got married and moved out, that our relationship started to improve. Then I got pregnant with my first child and was very sick and had complications, that was when my relationship with her got even stronger. I do not know what I would have done without her. She has become one of my best friends and she will never know just how much she means to me. I am who I am because of her. I will always cherish in my heart the things she taught me growing up and I hope I have passed those things on to my daughter. My mom is a loving, strong, and selfless women who has the biggest heart for serving others. She is a good example of what a Christian life should be. When I look at her life, it is Jesus’s love I see and it makes me want to continue to strive to become who he wants me to be.

I just want to say, every day how we live our lives is being watched by those around us. Whether you have kids of your own or not, we have a generation who is watching us. How we choose to act every day, and who we chose to serve matters. Will it be self or will it be God? We will never know the impact our lives have, but I do know we were made for more. God can use every single one of us to point others to him. Be willing and be obedient to what he puts on your heart.

I hope you have a wonderful Mother’s Day!

Keep moving forward,

Hayley W

Do you know the Good Shepherd?

My sheep hear My voice, I know them, and they follow Me.   John 10:27

Last fall, I started walking two dogs for an older gentlemen in my neighborhood. They were Border Collies and their names were Mila and Abby. Mila was six years old and very protective of her owner. Abby was nine months old, spunky and full of energy. Both dogs were very intelligent, and I learned right away that I had to earn their trust as they saw me as a stranger. Over time, we developed a friendship and when I would arrive each day, they knew I was there to walk and exercise them. But when winter came and brought colder temperatures with it, the job stopped. As Spring arrived, I messaged the owner and he said he would like for me to pick up the job of coming over 2-3 times a week to walk and play with them. I agreed but was a little nervous about meeting them after a few months of not interacting with them. I didn’t know if they would remember who I was or not. One day last week, I drove to his house and pulled into the driveway. Mila and Abby were in the fence in the back yard, so I got out and immediately they started barking as to alert that an intruder was here. I called out their names but they were frantically running around so I wasn’t sure they heard me . I saw Mila take off running to the back deck and she slammed into the screen door. She was trying to get in the house, to come out through the front door to get to me. She came back around to the back yard and once again I called both their names. Both dogs came to a halt, and the barking stopped immediately. I could see their whole demeanor change as they recognized my voice. With wagging tails, they both went and grabbed a toy and eagerly waited for me to come inside the gate to play with them. As this happened, the scripture in John was impressed on my heart, “My sheep hear My voice, I know them, and they follow me.”

As I pondered on this verse this past week, I am thankful that I have a Good Shepherd and I know his voice. I am not ashamed to be a part of the flock, those who are believers in Jesus Christ. Not only do I know his voice, but God knows mine. Even when I stray from him, which happens more often than I would like to admit, when I come back and pray to him, I don’t have to introduce myself all over again. I am his child and forever will be.

There are times when this world is so loud and distracting, that if we are not careful, we let it drown out God’s voice in our lives. When we put our expectations or worldly things before God, it usually doesn’t end well. We must choose to follow him daily. The Christian walk is not an easy one, but it is worth it. We must be intentional and give him time and priority in our lives. He is our Good Shepherd and will guide us if we will just follow him. No matter what you are facing today, I encourage you to trust him with it. The evidence may not always be right where you can see it, but know he is always working on your behalf. I believe He is always working “behind the scenes” on our stories. We can make all the plans we want, but if it is not God’s will for our lives, we must learn to loosen our grip on what we think should be and know that His ways are far greater than anything we can imagine. I pray that if your struggling with a burden today, that you can find the strength to lay it at his feet. And if you do lay it at his feet, do not pick it back up! I am guilty when it comes to this. I lay it down, only to pick it back up, only to lay it down again. Quite frankly, it is exhausting, so if you lay it at his feet, leave it there!! God loves you, he cares for you, and he wants what is best for you. He knows what lies ahead in your future, so trust the process and lean on the Good Shepherd.

Keep moving forward,

Hayley W

When Change Threatens to Steal Our Peace

Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Phillipians 4:6-7

Last week, something happened that was unexpected and hit me like a ton of bricks. When I saw the “For Sale” sign in front of the land that borders our property, my heart sank. Immediately, dread and anxiety started to well up in my soul. I quickly called my husband, and then I called my mom. I was in a state of panic and just needed someone to tell me it was going to be okay. Looking back, this is where I should have asked for God’s help, but I let my emotions take the reigns at that moment, and I suffered because of it. Over the next few hours, I found myself grieving over something that was never mine in the first place. We knew the property was bound to sell sooner or later, but for whatever reason it shook me to the core that day. I have always considered my home a sanctuary. It is a place of safety, protection and yes, a place where I can worship and praise my Creator. Our house sits back in a perfect little nook in between nursery trees and farmland. The views are absolutely stunning as the seasons come and go. There is an abundance of nature and the serenity that this property offers soothes my soul. So the idea that things could change around us, just crushed every ounce of my being. I know to some, it sounds so petty to be so upset about this situation, but it was more about what it revealed to my heart. And there lies the deeper issue……

As I started praying, I asked for God’s help in processing this mountain of fear that overshadowed my thinking. God impressed on my heart several different perspectives that helped usher in clarity and peace.

As much as I love the nature we are blessed with out here, God reminded me that people are his creation too. I am not going to lie, that one made me a little uncomfortable and when I felt that being impressed on my heart, the word “Ouch” was whispered under my breath. This thought caused me to examine my heart a little deeper. Maybe I should be more focused on the souls of those in my community, and living a life in a way that points them to Jesus. Perhaps I needed to heed the call a little deeper when he told us to “Love thy neighbor”.

God reminded me that no matter what happens to this land, it doesn’t take away my access to him. This was one of those moments when the light bulb went off in my little mind and it had a significant impact on me. The anxiety I had was brought on by the fear of losing my peace and closeness with God. You see, when I venture outside, I often slip into a state of wonder at his creation and it reminds me of his presence in my life. It brings about a much needed calmness to this occasionally, weary soul. He gently reminded me, that he is everywhere and as a child of God, he lives in me. I don’t need the beauty of his creation surrounding me to feel his presence, those are just extra benefits that he wants me to enjoy. When I got saved, I got 24/7 access to him and he has never left me. And as much as I love my home, the reality is, I am just passing thru. It is temporary, and not my final destination. I have a home in heaven waiting for me, one so beautiful that I cannot begin to comprehend how grand and glorious it will be.

I learned last week, that if I am not careful, I will put my hope and confidence in things that are worldly and undeserving. True joy and lasting peace cannot be found in places, things, or even people. God is the only one who can offer us those. It is in those worrisome moments, that if we would learn to lean on God and trust his word, then we can receive the peace that passes all understanding. As we celebrate Easter this coming weekend, I pray that you know God as your Savior. Our lives were never meant to be our own, for they were paid for by the blood of Jesus. He gave his life and arose on the third day so that we could live and live abundantly. Don’t take that for granted. We all have a home waiting for us in eternity, the question is “Where is yours going to be?”.

Keep moving forward,

Hayley W

Hiding from God’s Calling

Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ. 
Phillipians 1:6 KJV

Hiding my thoughts. Hiding my passion. Hiding my words. Hiding my notebook.

Though it may sound silly, that is what I did. I hid from that deep down calling in my heart. Why?

One word. FEAR.

Fear of failure. Fear of disappointment. Fear of criticism. Fear of rejection.

For years, writing was a thought I had quite often entertained. Frequently, it would cross my mind only too often to be pushed down deep where it could be forgotten. My mind would shift from the possibilities of helping others through the words God had given me, to focusing on all the “what ifs” that I could fathom up in my mind. It seemed so out of reach to a simple, southern girl like me. I’m just a homeschooling mama, who loves the quiet, simple life. The idea of putting myself out there for others to see and read my words is quite frightening.

Unqualified.

Yes, that would be one word to describe how I see myself. I don’t have a college degree. I don’t have some adventurous life with grand experiences, but I do have God, and what I am learning, is that he is more than enough. He is capable and he is worthy to talk or write about. I have seen him move mountains in my life. I have seen him turn impossible into possible. I don’t know why the God of the universe would choose to use someone like me, but I do know He created me for a reason. I love him and I want to live my life serving him. I have learned that God tends to push us outside of our comfy zones, because it is in the those places that we can grow and experience his power and love on different levels.

If you can relate to these feelings, this fleeing from what God has put on your heart, let’s band together and step out in his truth. No more running from the calling stirring in our hearts. I want you to know that you matter, you are loved and were created for a greater purpose. If you feel God nudging at your heart, join me and let’s take a leap of faith and move forward in that calling. If God calls us, he will equip us with whatever is needed for that journey. All we have to do is be obedient and leave the rest up to him. If God can use a simple, southern girl like me, then there no doubt he can use you too!

We don’t have to be great; God is.

We don’t have to be perfect; God is.

We don’t have to be qualified; God is.

We just have to be willing to step out in faith and take the path he leads us to.

Keep moving forward,

Hayley W