Sundays With Rae

a blog for women by a woman who is trying to get her life together while still loving Jesus

Saying No

I recently had to tell a friend no to a very important request. I knew the request was coming and every time I thought about saying no, my stomach turned a little. Even though I knew it was the right decision, it didn’t make me feel any better about it because I don’t like saying no. It feels like I’m letting the person down; almost as though their life can’t continue if they don’t have my yes. I know how ridiculous that sounds. To think I have that much influence in someone’s life, is just not realistic. It’s like saying God can’t use anyone but me and I know that’s not true.

The past six or so months, I’ve attempted to master the skill of saying no. Not because I don’t want to be helpful to others, but because some circumstances are not helpful to me. It causes stress that affects other areas of my life. Sometimes I don’t have any room on my plate for anything else and instead of trying to pile something else on, I need to say no. I can be a better friend, employee, family member, and Christian when I can give a whole hearted yes and not an obligated yes. When I do the latter, I find myself resenting the person because I said yes. They didn’t force me; I made a choice. And I’ve started choosing to say no more often.

There are times in life when saying yes is inconvenient and we simply don’t want to, but it allows us to be a blessing and we should say yes. It can be difficult to differentiate between those times and the obligated yes. I’m still figuring that part out, but one tip I can give you is to truly seek God first. No agenda, no preconceived notions, just a simple “what would You have me to do, God?” Trust the answer He gives you and if it’s a no, trust that the people in your life will accept your no as the best answer you could give.

Colossians 3:23 And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men;

February 2020

Loved Me Clean

I can recall going to babysit my goddaughter and when I arrived, she and her sister were outside coloring with chalk. Some of the chalk made it on the sidewalk but most of it was on her. Like, all over her. As soon as I got out of my car, she yelled “Hi, Jocee! I coloring.”  To which I responded, “I see,” and prayed to God she didn’t touch me. I know I work with kids but I was off the clock. And I’m not saying I wouldn’t have cleaned her up if necessary, but thankfully her parents were there. Without a second thought, when it was time to clean up, they worked together to get the two colorful ones, less colorful, and I played with the clean third child. God is more like my goddaughter’s parents and less like me. It doesn’t matter what mess we’ve made, He loves us all the same and is more than willing and able to clean us up.

My goddaughter was completely unbothered by the mess she made. It was fun and she probably would have stayed out there all night if her parents had let her. She didn’t realize it probably wasn’t a good idea for the chalk to stay on her and if she didn’t wash it off it would get on everything she touched, even the things she didn’t want it to. This is how sin affects us. We think we’re living our best life, not realizing we’re making a mess. What was only suppose to go on for a little while, ends up becoming our lifestyle.

Thankfully, God loves you enough to clean you and every part of your life that was affected. He doesn’t focus all of His attention on those who are already clean; He specializes in those who are a mess. Sometimes He has to clean you while you’re kicking and screaming, but choose to want to be clean today.

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

June 2019

Hurdles Are Not Finish Lines

I ran track in middle school. I was slow so I ran the mile but I was always infatuated with the hurdles. My teammates, who were much faster and more athletic than me, made jumping over each one look easy. I tried a number of times and every time I got to the hurdle, running full speed ahead, I would stop. No matter how much I talked myself up and how encouraged I felt, when I got to the hurdle, that was it. Finally my friend, the expert hurdler on the team, got tired of seeing me struggle, and she said “girl, just jump! You’re stopping before you start.” And she was right. The hurdle always ended my race. What was meant to propel me forward, I let stop me. We do the same thing when faced with challenges in life. Instead of jumping over to the other side and continuing the journey we’re on, we stop.

The loan didn’t come through. No one showed up at the event. The reviews weren’t good. They died. You didn’t pass the test. They picked someone else. The marriage didn’t work out. There are all types of hurdles that look like finish lines. We say, “well, I tried” or “I guess it wasn’t meant to be.” We close that chapter, not realizing there was more to the story. Keep going. Keep trying. Jump! I did, and I made it across the first hurdle and all of the others.

Today I’m encouraging you to jump over that first hurdle you come across; don’t let it end your race. Ok, you’re uncomfortable. Ok, it took longer than you thought. Ok, it’s going to take more money. Ok, you have one less friend. JUMP! And keep running the race. God hasn’t brought you this far to throw in the towel. He’s more than able to help you over that hurdle. Trust Him.

Romans 8:31 What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?

February 2020

2 Years and Counting…

There are bloggers much more successful than I am, meaning they have more followers, they get paid to write, they post more frequently than I do, and a list of other things. But I realize my goal with this blog was never to gain a lot of followers, make money, or become a social media influencer. My goal was simply to encourage and help someone feel less alone in this world. And by that standard, I have been successful. I feel like I’m truly doing God’s will when someone tells me they read my blog and it helped them or they shared it with someone they thought needed to read it.

Of course there have been times when I felt like a particular post didn’t get enough views but I reminded myself of my goal. God may have given you a task, maybe to write a book, start an organization, start a blog, begin a new career, go back to school, whatever it is, make sure you know why you’re doing it. You won’t always have the support you think you need, the outcome won’t always be what you imagined, but as long as you’re fulfilling your why, I believe God is pleased and that’s the ultimate goal. Here are a few tips to help you stay focused on whatever that task is:

Be consistent – Whatever you say you’re going to do, commit to doing it. Don’t commit to something crazy because it sounds good or the next person is doing it. Commit to what you know you can do.

Invest some money – I’m not saying spend your life’s savings but we tend to take things more seriously when our money is involved.

Trust God – There’ll be times when you question if you heard God right because nothing seems to be coming together but take Him at His Word.

Thank you for all your support!

January 2020

Becoming Enough

Sometimes it’s hard to think of ourselves as being enough. We’ve done too much wrong, we have too many flaws, we’re too late… we’re simply not enough. In a society encouraging us to be enough, I’m here to tell you, you’re not, at least not the way you think you should be. It’s why Jesus came and died, because we weren’t enough; and it’s only through His resurrection, that we become enough.

“He doesn’t call the qualified, He qualifies the chosen.” I recently saw this on the back of a car, referring to 1 Corinthians 1:27-28. God takes us as we are, in the shape we’re in; all He asks is that we believe on Him. There are plenty of examples in the bible of people who didn’t seem to meet the qualifications for the roles they filled, but God saw what others couldn’t. Moses was a murderer with a speech problem, but God used him to lead the children out of Israel. David was his dad’s last choice, but God’s only choice. Paul was literally persecuting Christians, but God knew he would be one of the greatest evangelists to ever live. Where you are and who you are does not determine your value to God. He makes you enough so He can get the glory.

You may not have the degree, the experience, the certification, the family, the money, the skills, the intellect, the knowledge, and a host of other things but when God chooses you, you are more than the whole world against you (Romans 8:31). So even if you don’t feel like it or can’t see where God is taking you, know that because He wants you, He’ll make you enough.

1 Corinthians 1:27-28 Instead, God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful. God chose things despised by the world, things counted as nothing at all, and used them to bring to nothing what the world considers important. (NLT)

January 2020

You Have Food at Home

One of my goals this year (and every year before now) is to dine out less. I use the term “goal” loosely… very loosely. It’s something I would like to accomplish but I’m not working hard to accomplish it. I don’t have a plan but it feels like something I should say I want to do. It’s so easy to pick up some lemon pepper wings or an eight count nugget meal; there’s a place to stop on almost every corner. Even when I buy groceries, most of the time the food spoils because I don’t feel like cooking. But when I finally make enough money to hire a personal chef, I’ll be able to say, “I have food at home.”

Many of us have decided we’re going to have more peace this year and experience more joy, but the worries of this life seem to be everywhere we turn. We’ve been living how we’ve been living for years and peace and joy seem to require too many steps, they’re too costly; attaining either is an inconvenience we’d rather not encounter. But what if I told you, God already has it for you? That He sent His son to do the work and pay the cost so you could enjoy the outcome? What you want, you already have if you’re walking with Jesus. He’s cooked up a meal full of joy and peace with love. You don’t have to go anywhere else to get it, simply go home and enjoy all that God has prepared for you!

When doubt and worry try to tempt you, remind yourself you already have peace. When anger and sadness are within your reach, don’t be afraid to say you already have joy. As humans we go through a range of emotions, but don’t be so quick to indulge in every emotion, every time, for such a long period of time. Don’t be so quick to hold on tight to the things you say are weighing you down. Choose what God has already given you. Even if you can’t taste the joy and peace yet, keep making your way towards home.

Something New

Those who know me well know that my favorite holidays are my birthday and Valentine’s Day. Both are real holidays so don’t try to convince me of otherwise; I’ll simply think you’re delusional. New Year’s Day is slowly slipping into this category of favorite holidays. I’ve always looked forward to setting goals and creating vision boards. It’s like no matter what happened the previous year, I made it to the new one and it’s filled with all these unknowns I’m excited to uncover. Of course I can’t predict the low moments and I don’t anticipate them; I choose to take them as they come. Those good times though… The ones I can’t even dream up if I tried, experiences that will unexpectedly etch a happy place in my heart, creating connections that will last a lifetime, this is what New Year’s Day represents to me: the hope of everything good.

I know we can choose any day to start new and make plans and set goals, but I like that there is a particular day we acknowledge something new, marking the beginning of whatever will be. On January 1, 2013, I was happy about the possibilities the year held, completely unaware my dad would die almost 11 months later but I won’t discount that moment on January 1. I’m learning not to allow an event, no matter how impactful, to define time. It may influence my view of a particular time in my life, but I won’t let it take the joy out of the happy days and the wonder that filled them.

I’m not sure what 2019 was like for you, how many wins and losses and everything in between you took but expect great things in this new year; I do, and God willing, I always will.

Isaiah 43:19 Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert.

December 2019

You Might Need Stitches

I’ve gotten stitches once in my life (aside from minor dental procedures). Something about a glass table breaking and me getting a cut in my mouth. I don’t remember the incident but if I look inside my mouth, I can see the scar. Sometimes I wonder what would have happened if my parents did nothing about the wound. Would it have ever closed? Would it have gotten infected and caused more damage? How much more pain would I have endured? What if they tried to put a band aid on it? Too often, we choose band aids, over stitches. We put a band aid on an open wound, only for weeks and months to go by and it’s worse than it was before. You find yourself in a lot more pain, causing more damage than there ever should have been.

Whether it was someone talking to you crazy, a loved one passing, a relationship ending, or a friend not showing up like you thought they would; we’ve all suffered some sort of hurt in relation to another person. We’ve been wounded. With some of these wounds, you pour hydrogen peroxide on it, slap a band aid on there and it’ll heal just fine. Maybe all it takes is a conversation with the person or saying a prayer, and you’re good to go. Other wounds require more extensive measure, like stitches, for the best possible outcome. Some of us have been shot in the face and we’re treating it like a skinned up knee.

People around us will encourage us to go get seen by a doctor, but we’ll say we’re okay. We’ve gotten use to the pain, and don’t even notice the damage is spreading. We just keep putting a new band aid on. We say we forgive but don’t really mean it and every argument is worse than the last. We say we’ll change but we don’t and keep getting the same results. We say we’ve gotten a handle on our grief but can’t tell you the last time we’ve felt joy. We say we’re over the break up but spend most days wondering what could have been. You need stitches, not band aid after band aid in the form of fake smiles, alcohol and drugs, and nice looking Sunday outfits.

What do these stitches look like? It’s always going to start with going to God, the greatest physician of them all. Wounds close, when we allow God to heal. We allow Him to stitch every part of our day. Wounds heal when we’re willing to follow whatever directions He gives. If He says to keep the area wrapped, we keep it wrapped. This may mean not saying everything you feel. If He says keep the area clean, we keep it clean. Be mindful of the thoughts you think and the company you keep. If He says rest, rest. Stop buying everything you can think of, trips included, to try to make yourself feel better. If He gives you an antibiotic prescription, take all of it. Read your Word and attend your local services, often. Wounds requiring stitches require more care and if you wish to be healed, you’ll see it was worth it.

And one last thing, your wound, is your wound. Maybe your friend went through a break up too, but she doesn’t seem as heart broken as you. It’s okay. The same injury can cause a different wound for different people. You just focus on knowing when YOU need a band aid and when you need stitches.

Psalms 103:2-4 Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits: Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases; Who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies;

July 2019

Broken Things Work

December 2019

Yep, those are my car keys. I was attempting to open a package and without much force, the silver part went flying across the room. My spare key was in Florida (blame my parents) so my mom overnighted it to me, but I still had to go to my second job. How was I supposed to drive my car? I figured I’d try to use the broken key. It took a couple of tries and required a lot more effort than usual, but the car cranked! Over the course of the next 24 hours, I was able to turn my car on and off several times using the broken key. It took longer than usual, I had to watch what I was doing, I had to be careful (the black part came completely apart one of the times), but it worked. When my spare key finally arrived, it felt so good to turn the key in the ignition without worrying about steadying my hand so the silver part wouldn’t fall out. The broken key worked, but a key that wasn’t broken was better.

After my dad died, I took a week off, maybe less from school. I got all my assignments done and managed to graduate with a fairly decent grade point average and hopefully helped a few people along the way. I made it through, but I certainly wasn’t whole. I was my broken car key. I worked, I turned on and I turned off but I did not do it with the ease I once knew. It took longer to get things done and I found myself being more careful, afraid my emotions would get the best of me. Too often, we settle for broken keys. We think because we made it through the day, we did good enough. Family and friends check in with us and we list all these things we’ve accomplished, not willing to admit how much of a struggle it was. Or if we do admit it, we’ve accepted it as our life. We’ve decided there is no spare key coming to make life easier.

What if I told you it doesn’t have to be this way? I’ve said this a lot of times in one way or another and I’ll keep saying it: God wants you to live a happy, whole life. Bad times come, but it doesn’t have to be life as you know it. You don’t have to settle for a broken key barely getting the job done. You are deserving of a fully functioning key that doesn’t require much effort. Upgrade your life and get a push start! Just because something is working, doesn’t mean it can’t work better. Pray, go to church, go to therapy, read your bible, take that trip, read that book, take time off, turn off your phone, meet a friend for lunch. Whatever it takes, live life whole.

Luke 17:19 And he said unto him, Arise, go thy way: thy faith hath made thee whole.

 

 

Back to Therapy

So I went to therapy last week. I tried once before earlier this year, but the therapist wasn’t a good fit for me. Prior to that, it had been over two years. Not that I haven’t tried but my usual therapist was always booked so I just dealt with whatever I was dealing with. Just me and Jesus. I was talking to my friend about some things I wanted to do but I felt like I couldn’t. I’d prayed and planned and I jokingly said I should go back to therapy. My friend agreed.

As a trained therapist, mental health advocate, and previous therapy client, I should be well aware of the benefits of going to therapy. I should prioritize it. I should be consulting God about it. I should be okay with not being okay and perhaps needing help outside of the four walls of a sanctuary. I know all of this and I’m grateful I have people in my life to help me live it. I’m not of the belief that people have to be in therapy for years on end in order to be emotionally well. But I am of the belief that we all encounter bumps in the road of life and God has given us many helpful tools to deal with those bumps, one of which is therapy.

Any seasoned Christian will tell you their spiritual life has had their ups and downs. In some seasons you’re reading your bible every day and you have the faith to move mountains and in other seasons you barely feel like praying and have forgotten what the inside of a church looks like. In those latter seasons, hopefully you are surrounded by a community who will encourage you to go back to your first love and support you in rebuilding your faith.

The same way we recognize when our spiritual cup is running low and we do something about it, we should keep that same energy when it comes to our emotional health. You haven’t failed if you find yourself needing to go back to therapy. You are not weak. You are a human, working out your own soul and salvation (Philippians 2:12). God doesn’t need us to praise Him with an empty heart and depressed spirit. His joy is our strength and sometimes in order to find that joy and get that strength, we find ourselves sitting on a therapist’s couch crying and admitting things we didn’t have the courage to tell ourselves. And after an hour or so, we leave with a clearer view of God and His goodness. Or at least, I did.

Romans 15:13 Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost

November 2019