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Gardening for the Soul

It’s that time of year again when the hope of warmer weather is right around the corner. We get glimpses of it from time to time and it only ignites within me the desire to get out and do some planting. I love gardening, whether it’s vegetables or flowers, either way it puts a smile on my face. Every year when spring is within reach, I can get a little too excited on starting my seeds for the season. It usually doesn’t end well for the seedlings or my excitement. Most don’t survive due to certain elements or the fact that colder temperatures are still lingering. I know this can happen, but yet I still cannot contain my eagerness. So every year, I do the same thing ,but yet I anticipate different results. Unfortunately, the outcome remains the same. Little survival with my seeds, and only a few plants will make it to be transplanted into the garden. The excitement I once held, turns to disappointment. Maybe this will be the year I will have some patience. So far, I have managed to be disciplined and reel in the anticipation of getting started too early.

Gardening is therapeutic for me. I love the process of planting a tiny little seed and watching it emerge from the soil. God’s creation amazes me. That little seed doesn’t have to be told what to do, it just does what it was created to do, and by fulfilling its purpose, it can reap a bountiful harvest of color and food. I thoroughly enjoy walking through my garden during its peak. The smells and the colors leave me in a place of wonder and of peace. The butterflies and bees go from flower to flower collecting pollen and nectar. All things pointing to the creator. I can’t help but think if God can orchestrate all that, then why do I let myself be overcome with doubt and fear about the circumstances in my own life.

Consider the lilies, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.  But if God so clothes the grass, which is alive in the field today, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith! Luke 12:27-28

I find a lot of parallels when it comes to gardening and taking care of my soul. They both require time and attention. Seeds cannot be sown too early or they are in danger of not surviving. When we put our plans and desires before what God would have for us to do, chances are it will not have a successful ending.

The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps. Proverbs 16:9

 Plants need light, water, food and protection each day. My soul needs the same thing to flourish.

 I need the one who is the light. 

Again Jesus spoke to them saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life. “ John 8:12

 I need the one who can quench my thirst. 

Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give will never be thirsty again. John 4:13-14

He died my death on the cross so that I could live, and he gave us his word, the Holy Bible, to keep us fed and on the right path. 

I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I give for the life of the world is my flesh. John 6:51

He offers me guidance and protection. 

The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. Psalm 18:2

With a garden, you need to tend and nurture it daily. If you skip a few days, you more than likely will go out and find an abundance of weeds. The same thing pertains to our relationship with God. I must seek him daily or my soul will become weak. Every day I don’t spend time with him, I allow weeds the space to grow in my own heart. Before I know it, they will have taken root and the longer they reside there, the deeper their roots run making it harder to remove. I find myself needing to root out things like doubt, anger, jealousy, worry and comparison to name a few. If we want to harvest the fruits of the spirit, we must tend to our soul and keep close to our heavenly Father. He will provide us with what we need to live and to flourish. Seek him daily. Read his word. Spend time in prayer. Be intentional in growing your relationship with Christ.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Galatians 5:22-23

 These habits can help your soul become fertile ground for which spiritual fruits can grow. If we are harvesting the right fruits, people will see Jesus in us. Take a honest look at your heart, and remove those pesky weeds so you can make more room for the good fruits!

Keep moving forward,

Hayley W

The Words We Speak

Gracious words are like honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body. Proverbs 16:24

Growing up, I recall the saying, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never harm me.” This was often quoted when kids would say mean things to each other as a way to show that their harsh words have no effect.

Boy, that couldn’t be farther from the truth. The older I get, the more I have learned that our words hold great power behind them. Our words can either be a fountain or a drain. We can use them to build up or tear down. They have a way of wedging themselves in a nook of our heart, as a constant reminder of good or bad. It seems like the bad always take root more deeply than the good. We can often recall a conversation that was said to us and replay it over and over, and before long it will have us convinced that it is the truth. Do we realize the influence of our spoken words? It is said that the tongue is the hardest muscle to control and I believe it. When our emotions get high, and tempers get ignited, it is easy to spew out daggers towards others. Once spoken, there is no taking it back. It is like my mom use to say, “Words are like toothpaste, once they come out, you can’t get them back in.” Yes, we can apologize, but it doesn’t erase what has been said. And in a world of social media and texting, once you type those words and hit send, they are out there forever. There is no delete button. Sure you can delete it from your side, but you have no control of how far it will reach on the receiving end.

We were having a good night at home one evening when all it took was a few ill spoken words to totally turn everyone’s mood upside down. When we are tired, hungry (hangry as some call it), don’t feel good, or have just had a bad day, we are more likely to let negativity roll right out of our mouths without a second thought to the consequences. That evening when everyone’s attitude had turned sour, we all just separated. The next morning, the dark cloud from the previous night was still lingering. I thought to myself, today is a new day, a clean slate, so make it a good one. Don’t let yesterday’s troubles creep into today. It made me think about how much impact our words have and the effects that ripple out. How just one or two negative words can put a damper on a whole day and affect all those around. There is no expiration date on the hurt caused by the careless words that we speak.

I think it is safe to say we have all been careless with our speech. Honestly, it is a daily struggle for me. Whether it is to others or ourselves. I have had to apologize multiple times to those around me for things I have said. But what about those I say to myself? That is where it hits the hardest. I can really be mean to the one staring back at me in the mirror.

“I am a failure.”

“I am stupid.”

“I can’t do anything right.”

“I am a bad mom.”

“I am ugly.”

Truth is, several years ago, mentally I was in a bad place. I did not like who I was and I made it clear. God spoke to my heart and made me realize when I say those words to myself, I am also saying them to him. He created me. He created you. We are his workmanship. He gave his life, so that we may live. By digging into God’s word and spending time in prayer, I started to see myself through my creator’s eyes. Yes, I am flawed and imperfect ,but I am also wonderfully and fearfully made. I was made for a purpose and so are you.

Because of Christ, we are loved. We are enough. We are forgiven.

May we each do a better job of choosing our words wisely. Using them to build up and encourage one another. Just because we think it does not mean we should speak it. Just because we disagree with it, does not mean we have to respond to it. There are times when we will have a more positive impact if we just remain silent. Let’s not forget that this doesn’t just apply to the people around you, more importantly, speak positive and uplifting thoughts to yourself. If you speak unkind words to yourself, you will start to believe that is who you are and it will eventually come out in your actions. If you speak words of grace and truth to yourself, it will give you strength to move forward and have a more positive impact. You will be free to live out the life God would have you to. To serve others in your circle and your community. To let your light shine, so those around you will see Jesus.

Keep moving forward,

Hayley W

Easily Forgotten

Forget-me-not flower

I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your wonders of old. I will ponder all your work, and meditate on your mighty deeds. Psalm 77:11-12

Recently in our Sunday School class, we were given five minutes to write down all the things God has given us. The teacher could have given us five hours, but it still wouldn’t have been enough time to list all our blessings. Everyone’s list had a wide range from their homes, family, health, freedom, peace, salvation, joy, forgiveness, jobs, and eternal life. As the teacher pointed out some items were earthly gifts, others would transcend into our eternal life. It was a good way to start the Sunday morning off by being intentional about giving God the praise and thanks for all he has done. It was a lesson we should be in a habit of practicing each day, especially on those days where life has us feeling defeated.

It made me ponder on the thought of why do we so easily forget the good our Heavenly Father has done for us. I’ll be the first to say, I get spiritual amnesia way to often. Every day, God is working in our lives, whether it is on center stage or behind the scenes. Every day he brings gifts into our life. Even on the worst days, we can have a heart of gratitude because God is still a good father. But for some reason, all the blessings just fade from my mind when trouble comes knocking. The good gets pushed to the back, while the bad is now front and center of my focus. Some of the reasons I came up with as far as why I get spiritual amnesia are:

  • I am human, my flesh is imperfect
  • I do not make God a priority
  • I have an enemy who wants to consume my thoughts
  • Easily distracted
  • Busy schedules

I dare say, we have all been in a position where we have felt forgotten. I don’t think anyone enjoys being overlooked or ignored. I just went through a season where I had to fight off these type of emotions. Satan would love for us to feel “not good enough”. It was important that I sought out the truth of the situation and reeled my emotions in. Just because I felt that way does not make it necessarily the truth. Our emotions can deceive us at times. Ask God to help you see the truth. That is a lesson that is hard to grasp, but once you understand this, it helps you process your emotions in a healthy way. People may forget about us, but our creator never will. But what about God? The one who created us, who loves us and knows the number of hairs on our head. The one who knows our birth and death date and all the in between. How much more does it grieve him when we forget what all he has done for us? How his heart must hurt when he is there with his hand held out, only for us to retrieve ours. How about in those quiet moments when he sits patiently with us, only to be ignored and not spoken to.

May we strive to spend time each day thanking God for the gifts we have. Let’s try to be intentional about going beyond the things you can touch (material things), but think about our senses and the objects we can see, taste, hear, smell and feel (referring more to emotions). Recall not only the big blessings, but the small ones too. Focus on the eternal gifts. Take time to write them down in a notebook. Keep a prayer journal and go back from time to time and read your prayers and remember the things he has done. Not only is he worthy of our thoughts, but you will find it beneficial as well for your mind, perspective, and attitude.

Feel free on sharing ways that you have found helpful on remembering God’s goodness in your own life.

Keep moving forward,

Hayley W

Why Do We Run?

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:1-2.

Before you get to excited, I’m afraid this post may mislead some of you. It’s not about the physical act of running. I apologize to those whose interest were peaked, but I am not a runner. I did run one 5K several years ago, but that was it. The rest of the 5ks were a combination of walking, light jogging, and laughter with friends. To those of you who are dedicated runners, I applaud you. I have always admired those I see running in parks or on sidewalks showing such will power. I wish I had that desire or even discipline to proceed in getting my cardio in a few times a week by running. The fact that I feel like a baby elephant galloping at the speed of a tortoise just doesn’t give me the motivation I need.

What I really want to discuss is the action of turning away or going in the opposite direction from something or someone. I am referring to the habit of running from God and the call he has placed on your heart. Surely I cannot be alone in this. Maybe it’s starts off as a walk, and then a trot, occasionally glancing back, and then it turns into steady jog, with eyes focused only on the direction you are heading. I probably sound like a broken record because oftentimes this is brought up in my posts. Apparently, I am pretty good at it so I guess in one sense, yes I am a runner, just not in the physical sense. I do it often, especially with my call to write. God has put writing on my heart and looking back many years ago is when then first domino fell, and then another, and so on. Opportunities and moments that popped up here and there where I was given a chance to express my thoughts using my words. The thing is, as much as I enjoy it, I also have a tendency to avoid it at all cost. Why do I give God such push back? There are many reasons I could give, but they are all just excuses. Not one would stand in merit. I can come up with any outlandish or silly justification to not sit down and and give it the time writing requires and needs. I also have learned that when God puts a topic on my heart, he wants me to write it down then. Not later. When later comes, the thought has passed and unfortunately it may not come again. Obedience is what he requires and it is an area I am still lacking in. Focus….yet another skill I need to hone in on. Let’s not forget discipline. I also am aware that I have an enemy who loves to entertain me with an abundance of shiny, pretty distractions, anything to get me not to pick up that pen or my laptop. Too often, I fall for his plight.

Just like with any physical exercise, the more you practice it, the better you become at it and the stronger your skill set will be. The same is with the gifts that he gives us. We must use our gifts to help strengthen them and grow our faith. They will be useless tucked away, unnoticed. By shying away from them, you have no idea how you are robbing yourself and others from a blessing. Most importantly God cannot get glory if we leave our gifts on a shelf, unopened and unused. They will just sit there collecting dust. If we don’t follow his leading, he will use others who will. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to intentionally let God down. Now don’t get me wrong, I fail him daily being stuck in this sinful flesh, but I never want to purposely defy God. I shudder at that thought today, even though looking at my past, there was a period where I did just that. All I can say is thank God for forgiveness and second chances, and in some cases multiple chances.

Can I encourage you to step out in what God is calling you to do? What has he purposed on your heart that has you rocking back and forth in an imaginary chair in your comfy zone. You want to stand up in faith, but yet trying to release your grip on the chair just seems impossible. Maybe even overwhelming. The chair may represent your security or your safe haven. You may even be thinking, why would I let go of my security to step out into unknown territory which is a place where you see nothing but fear, doubt, and questions. I believe God has so much more for us to live and experience in this life, but we miss out on most of it. Instead of running from his calling, I pray you embrace it. May he give you the faith you need to take the next step. May he replace your fears with the assurance that he has called you to do this and will be with you every step of the way. Put on the full armor of God, and do not be surprised when the enemy flings arrows your way. Satan doesn’t want you to be obedient, but he wants you stuck in your fears, never getting up off that seat. He likes it when we become complacent. He is a liar too, so don’t listen to the discouragement he will send your way.

If your gonna run, run to God. I promise you he will be there with arms spread wide. Acknowledge the purpose he has placed inside of you, pray about it, then go after it! You are more than enough, because of who you belong to, to achieve great things for his kingdom.

In all we do, to God be the Glory.

Keep moving forward,

Hayley W

Are You Willing to Surrender?

Last year I started picking a word to focus on for the year. In 2021, it was perseverance. I mean after 2020, I felt it was definitely appropriate. This year I had been leaning toward grace, but the Lord has impressed on my heart multiple times to change it to surrender. Ouch. I am not going to lie, I have been wrestling with that one.

Surrender – to yield (something) to the position or power of another; to give up, abandon, or relinquish.

When I felt that word being impressed on my heart, it honestly made me feel anxious, I bristled up and my muscles got tense. We may tend to think of surrendering as a sign of weakness or giving up, even coward-like. When we surrender, we give up control. Now most people I know are happiest when we feel like we are in control of what is going on around us. I have had a white knuckle grip on a certain issue for a few months now. Releasing it, and yielding it to my heavenly father would be such a burden off of me. But yet, I can’t seem to loosen my grasp on these certain thoughts. They are always there like a dark cloud on a sunny day. When all is going well, they move in and overshadow me causing fear to creep in and my joy disappears.

A few weeks back there was one afternoon, where I let one incident totally turn my mood upside down. I know I should have not let it get me upset, but I did. It lit my fuse fairly quick, and I probably sparked off some words I shouldn’t have. I was already elbow deep in dirty dishes in the kitchen sink. It had been a long day, and I had just finished cooking supper. I was exhausted and my body yearned to plop down on the couch and be done with the day. My poor, older dog had an accident in the house, again, and this time it would require the carpet cleaner. Another chore added to my list. Sigh. This evening was demanding more energy than my attitude and body had to give. As I stared at the mound of dishes calling my name, I thought I need to put some ear buds in and crank up some christian tunes to lighten my mood. Christian music is a big help in redirecting my thoughts and it didn’t disappoint that evening. As I was washing the dishes, I kept pondering on the word surrender and examined areas of my life that it may be pertaining to. The lyrics to the songs that were playing just happen to hit some key points that I had been struggling with. Deep down, I already knew one issue that needed surrendered to God. I had been carrying it around for months. It is ridiculous how long I will carry around burdens that are not mine to carry. It always starts with fear. Fear of a loss of something or someone. Sometimes these fears are based on actual life circumstances, but often times in my life they are scenarios I have created in my mind. You know what I mean, those “what if” situations we tend to allow our thoughts linger on. The problem is if we let our thoughts linger too long, they will park and take up residence there. Pretty soon we convince ourselves that it is our future reality. We then shift our focus off the present and onto the future, a little too much. We need to learn to enjoy our days, live in the present, and trust God with the future. Not always easy, but doable with his help. Have you ever wondered how much better we would be if we took all those countless hours of worry and traded them for praise and worship of the one who does know what the future holds?

Whatever you are holding onto, can I ask you to join me in surrendering it over to God? It is not going to be easy, but there is great freedom that comes with it. It may even take baby steps. It may take days, weeks, or even months. Pray about it, examine your life and loosen the grip on the weight that is bearing down on you. Surrender it all to Him. He loves you. He loves me. He will walk with us whether it’s on the mountain top, or down in the dark valleys. He will not leave us. I found with myself that every time my mind went down that path, I would stop and say, ” I trust God with my future”. Each time, it has gotten easier, but don’t get me wrong, I still have a few fingers hanging on. Baby steps.

Behold,God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid; for the Lord God is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation.  Isaiah 12:2

As I was listening to songs that night, so many were exactly the words I needed to hear. It’s time I get my words and actions on the same page. No matter what may come, God will be with me. God can use us no matter what trials we face. When the weight of this world breaks us down, if we allow him to work through us, his power and glory will shine through the cracks. He will give strength to the weary. I say I want to live my life for him, but am I really? When trials come, and they will, will I turn to him for help? My life is not my own, it was given to me by God and I should do the best I can to live a life that reflects his love, grace, forgiveness, and goodness. That is no simple task being stuck in this sinful flesh. It is a daily struggle. All I know is no matter what may come, I have a God who loves me, has promised to never leave me, and who has always been faithful despite my many shortcomings. It’s time to turn my worry into worship and surrender my concerns to him. I was reading a post that an acquaintance, Laura Jane Anslow, had wrote and it really touched my heart. She said, “Surrender to God is not giving up. It is the foundation for your greatest strength”.

I wanted to share some of the songs they came on that night. Each had a different meaning that encouraged me in one way or the other.

  • “Control” by Tenth Avenue North
  • “Broken Things” by Matthew West
  • “My Victory” by Crowder
  • “Giants Fall” by Francesca Battistelli
  • “I Am” by Crowder
  • “Come What May” by We Are Messengers

I pray God will help you loosen the grip on whatever it may be that is holding you back from enjoying this blessed life we have been given and surrender it over to him. I ask you pray for me as well. We are all in this life together to help and encourage one another.

Keep moving forward,

Hayley W

May Your Greatest Present this Christmas Be His Presence

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6

Ahhhh……the Christmas season. There is something about Christmas that just warms my heart. The lights and decorations, the Christmas carols, the spirit of giving and kindness that seems to heighten during this season are just some of the reasons why I love this time of year. But then there is the stress of the busier than normal schedules, the extra strain on finances, remembering to get all the gifts and recall where in the world I hid them. If I am not careful, I also start to let my mind wonder why my holiday doesn’t seem as grand with all the festive decorations and extra sparkle like others. I begin to ponder on why can’t my house look as beautifully decorated as those posted on my social media feed. Let’s not forget all the family pictures in matching pajamas either. I mean why is my family so unwilling to do the matching holiday pajamas so we can snap that perfect moment on Christmas morning? In all honesty, I didn’t ask my family to do that, but I bet there are some of you out there that did and received a reluctant “No” answer. The only matching outfits my family has ever agreed to wear in pictures was Realtree Camouflage. True story! If we are careless on where our eyes and mind wander, we will spend too much time focusing on the wrong “who”, and we will find our Christmas cheer has been replaced with envy and discontentment. Those are real Christmas crushers. There are many blessings during this season, but there will also be an abundance of distractions that will cause us to lose that holiday joy quickly if we are not careful.

Our focus should be on the one reason we celebrate Christmas and that is Jesus’s birth. He could have been born anywhere, but chose a manger. That speaks volumes to me. He chose a simple, lowly place to be brought into this world, when he could have chosen the fanciest palace back then. His earthly parents, Joseph and Mary, were just common folk. No deep pockets, or well known last names. Some of the first told about his birth by the angels were those tending sheep. Not a job people were lined up to get. They weren’t looked upon highly. They spent most of their time in fields, dirty and unclean, watching their flocks as shepherds do. The way Jesus came helps us to realize that social status isn’t important to him. He doesn’t care what you wear, how big your bank account is, or what your last name is. He looks at the heart of each individual. He came not for a certain group of people, but for ALL. No one was left out. If Jesus would have chosen not to come, we would have no reason to celebrate this season. We would have no hope, no joy, no peace, and no chance of a home in heaven. There would be no Christmas. Thank goodness He did choose to come!

There is no gift that can be found under the Christmas tree that compares to that of what Jesus offers you when you believe in him. Salvation is the best gift you will ever receive. It doesn’t ever expire, it is everlasting. The joy and peace that come from being a child of God are incomparable to any thing this world has to offer. They are much needed in this troubled world we live in today. Despite the bad news across the globe that seems to be rampant, because of God’s gift, one can confidently say, “It is well with my soul”. When you believe in God and what His word says, repent of your sins, and ask him to forgive you and come into your heart, some gifts you will receive are eternal life spent in Heaven, redemption, hope, joy, love, forgiveness, and freedom. This is just to name a few, and it is a list that will continue to increase as your relationship grows in Christ. Now just like a gift under the tree, you must use it, give it attention, and take care of it, if you want to get the most out of it. Your relationship with God needs to be nurtured and tended to. You must be intentional and give him the time He deserves. He is worthy and I have learned again and again, that He is faithful even when we are not.

As much as I love Christmas, I am aware that it has been another hard year on many. You may find your heart filled with sadness and grief this season. Maybe there will be one loved one or more missing from your gathering this year. Even though the joy and excitement seem to be lacking, I pray you find comfort in Jesus this Christmas. I pray that despite the pain and heartache, He will allow moments of joy to fill your heart. Perhaps, it is through a memory, or being surrounding by loved ones, or just focusing on His love for you this season. The depths of his love cannot be measured, but it can be felt if we take the time to acknowledge Him for who he is. Wonderful. Counselor. The Mighty God. The Everlasting Father. The Prince of Peace. If you have not been affected by a loss this year, I pray you enjoy the blessings and people you are surrounded by and not take them for granted. One reality that has been magnified the past 2 years is life is short and can change in a moment. May we each be like the innkeeper and make room for Jesus this Christmas. May we open our hearts and minds, and let His presence fill us up this holiday season. I pray you have a very Merry Christmas!

Keep moving forward,

Hayley W

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.

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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