Thursday, July 2, 2015

The Disease of Busy-ness


Our world seems more frantic and fast-paced these days doesn't it? I feel like I barely have time to return texts, and who even talks on the phone anymore?!?!?!

These days we are so hyper connected that we have become people who try to do everything. Here's a truth: You CAN do anything....you just CAN'T do everything. Most of us are too busy for our own good and that makes us ineffective for God's kingdom. Our days start early and end late. We are ALWAYS on call! Have you thought of that? Every time your cell phone gives you a notification, you check it. I know some people will say, "No I don't!" basically because you think you have life far more figures out than the next person.....studies have show that when a notification sounds on our phones that our heart rates quicken and our pupils dilate. We reacted without ever looking.

This epidemic has placed us into a constant state of stress. This constant state of stress is leading to more and more disease.

In Chinese medicine the word disease is treated as two parts: dis (meaning lack of) and ease (meaning comfort or well being). If you think about it, that is the general take on disease right? Now, we have a common disease of busyness. The symptoms are as follows:
  • chronic stress
  • fatigue
  • lack of sleep
  • anxiety
  • depression
  • feeling overwhelmed
  • feeling ill-productive
  • lack of strong relationships
  • lack of self worth and self esteem
  • headaches
  • back problems
  • and can even cause obesity and other health problems
Busyness is a problem.

We can even be busy with seemingly GOOD things. Maybe we volunteer at church all the time or raise our hands when anybody needs someone to step in or step up. Before we go on please note, I am NOT saying that helping people is bad...I'm saying that if we fill ALL of our time with the busyness of helping others it can actually become a sin.

This is what Jesus said in Luke 10 about a busy woman we all know:

At the Home of Martha and Mary

38 As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. 39 She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. 40 But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”
41 “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, 42 but few things are needed—or indeed only one.[a] Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”
-Luke 10:38-42

That starts to put our busy lives in perspective right? Man may look at the outside and see someone who is either working tirelessly towards a dream OR someone who serves every opportunity they get, but God looks at the intentions of the heart. Last week I heard somebody say "If God had to rest on the seventh day, why do we act as though we are too good to need rest?" Perspective change, right?

We stay busy for MANY different reasons, but I believe whole-heartedly what busyness is a disease we bring on ourselves. It is absolutely preventable and curable, but you must first identify the root cause (a holistic technique taken from Chinese medicine).
  1. We are busy because we live outside of our means. We have more payments than we get paid and therefore we must work more. An epidemic that sweeps our nation.
  2. We are busy because we are greedy. Put simply, we want more. We want a larger house, better car, bigger vacation, sharper clothes, etc. You name it, we want it.
  3. We are busy because we think far too highly of ourselves. We imagine that the world will spin out of control if our hand isn't in the center to steady it......at least, our little corner of the world.
  4. We are trying to rack up good works. Good works do not get us a ticket into Heaven. Even if we know that, some of us can feel as though we need to make up for past wrongs or build a bigger house on the other side through our own efforts.
  5. We are busy because we fall victim to guilt.
Some of these are easy enough to pinpoint and deal with. Make a budget and stick to it. Start learning to be content. There is nothing wrong with working to provide for your family UNLESS it is at the expense of your family. Get over yourself....truly, only one hand can hold our little world in place. Remember that Jesus already paid your debt and you are now requires to simply follow Him. If you model your life after His life, you will see that Jesus did not volunteer at every single opportunity. Why not? Because He had other things to do for the kingdom! And guess what? So do you...
Guilt can be powerful whether it comes from within or without. Guilt is not something that God uses so if you have a guilter in your life you may want to lovingly remind them of that fact. Doing things out of guilt are not in God's will.

I encourage you to take some time this week and write out what keeps you busy. After that, start to weed out what you need to. Pray over it before you begin. Pray that God will show you exactly what needs to go! Are you swamped with writing deadlines for a newsletter? Maybe you won't let go because you think the world will be over if you do. Honey, the world will spin on. God may have somebody even better to come in, but He's waiting on you to get out of the way! The same is true for ALL areas of life.

Sometimes you have to take a step to the side to see the picture a bit more clear.

Don't get caught up in busyness, get caught up in obedience.

Michelle

Now it's YOUR turn!
Have you overcome the disease of busyness? Comment how you were able to and share your strategies below!

Thursday, June 18, 2015

When the yes hurts.....

Have you ever had the "struggle is real" moment?

I'm not talking about the ones where pictures of cookies as big as my head are posted and people are trying to talk themselves out of devouring the entire thing (you would feel awful afterward). I'm talking about the struggle between following your heart and following God.

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? _Jeremiah 17:9

We are often told that in order to be happy we should follow our heart, chase our dreams, seek out our own happiness. The truth is: we are NOT called to be happy...we are called to be effective.

Don't think that I am above heart following here! There have been far too many times where I have literally told God to wait until I finished. That's right in line with treating God like a toddler asking for your attention. The fact is, God doesn't require our attention. He will continue to be God even if we ignore what He commands. He desires our attention and His ultimate desire is that we be effective for ministry in a way far larger than we can comprehend.

But there happen to be some things that hold us back from offering a whole-hearted YES to our Creator when it comes to His commands:
  • We're afraid of what we might have to give up.
Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. _Luke 12:33-34
  • We're afraid that we don't have what it takes.
Prove me, O Lord, and try me; test my heart and my mind. _Psalm 26:2
  • Sometimes, we don't think our calling is big enough or fancy enough.
So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart._2 Timothy 2:22
  • We're are comfortably distracted by the things the world offers.
And he said to them, “You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts. For what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God ._Luke 16:15

So, if we find ourselves struggling to say "YES" wholeheartedly, here are a few action steps to set us up for success:
  1. Guard your heart: be careful what you allow into your heart on a daily basis. By mindful of the music you listen to, the show you watch and the books you read. Ask yourself if these are planting seed of  God's will or are they selling short-term happiness in following our own dreams.
  2. Read God's Word DAILY. I don't just mean pop it open and read a few verses before you head about your business. I mean come into a quiet place with an expectant heart and spend quality time in His Word.
  3. Commit to memorizing scripture. Make the commitment (which means you intent to give time and effort) to memorize verses that speak to your specific season in life. If you have trouble finding them, consider biblegateway.com to help. And remember, this is about YOU, not your husband or friends or co-workers. The ones you may need can be a little uncomfortable, but you are committed.
  4. Join a small group or Bible study if you haven't already. This is how we grow in the Word: by studying and sharing with others.
  5. Keep a journal. You can record verses that speak to you and also write down ideas and dreams that you have. This will help you cut through the clutter and begin to discern God's will in your life.
Living for God becomes a more natural thing as we commit to know Him better. Just as marriage can be difficult when there is no communication, our lives will thrive when we communicate with God.
Start with just one of these action steps and commit for a week. We would love to hear how it is changing your life, so be sure to leave a comment in the section below.

Life is worth living when lived with a purpose,
Michelle


Monday, June 15, 2015

A New Vision

Well, it has been quite some time since I have posted on here :-) My apologies.
I think there are times in life when we give in to the distractions and allow ourselves to take another road....it is the journey down these roads which can teach us the most.

Three years ago the Lord blessed me with part of a vision for a ministry. This ministry would cover things that are often left uncovered in our Christian world and yet, the world we live in covers them all the time. It felt as though the time was coming when women could find the truth to topics such as:
  • marriage and relationships
  • body image
  • weight loss
  • fitness
  • nutrition
  • raising children
  • beauty
  • fashion
  • friendship
  • and even the fun things like skincare, chick flicks and how to deal with raising teenage daughters
After a hiatus to live out other dreams placed in my heart, I have come back to Beauty Mark Ministries with a fresh vision and a new hope. I know that awesome things will begin to take place under the wing God has created for this ministry to grow. I am certainly looking forward to the next few months as opportunities present themselves and the curtain is pulled back to reveal even more of this bigger vision.

Would you join me on this journey?

I assure you, it won't be a boring ride ;)

If you find yourself ready for a refreshing in your life and if you long to live with unmatched passion, then I encourage you to keep coming back....God has a whole lot in store here.

I'll see you soon,
Michelle

Thursday, February 27, 2014

I'm Heading Back to Moldova!

Hello everybody!

I'm super excited to let you know that I am heading back to Moldova this Spring. For those that don't know, my very first trip to Moldova in January of 2013 is what sparked all of this awesomeness in life :)

So, today I'm happy to report that in 2 short months I'll be boarding a plane to one of my favorite places. It seems fitting to come to the final arrangements today. You see, I can't help but notice all of the red X's gracing peoples hands and cover photos. These X's are a sign that we will no longer be quiet about human slavery and trafficking. Now, if you're quite sensitive you may want to move on now....

Let me make one thing painfully clear: the red X's stand for something. They mean something more than just plastering them on your Facebook page. These X's mean that YOU are ready and willing to stand and fight, that you will give and commit to making a change. So the question then is are you truly ready to accept the hidden terms behind that X?

Far too many people are quick to jump on the "show my support" train in the age of the internet. We feel as though we get brownie points for voicing the concern the entire world is looking at THAT day. The thing is, have you really seen trafficking? Granted, you probably have and not even known it. The girl working the check out counter who won't meet your gaze? She could be a victim. The young man trying to clean your windshield may be a victim. Trafficking is rampant, but it is only as rampant as we are quiet.

So, have you experienced it? Have you looked into the eyes of a young girl who has believed her whole life that she is only worth what people pay for her? Have you held the hand of a teenager dying of AIDS transferred to her by a nameless John? Have you hugged the neck of girls that feel they have been far too "damaged" to ever live a normal life? I have been blessed beyond all measure to do things and I intend to keep reaching out and speaking out on their behalf.

In response to the Red X I would like to issue a challenge to YOU: look at the X on your hand (or profile picture) and envision the 27 million people it stands for....what will you DO? Will you go and see? Will you give without reserve? Will you commit to change? The trafficking industry isn't scared of the X on your hand...they are scared of the passion in your heart.


If you really want to help, go HERE and give these girls a second chance to discover who they were made to be; more than what they have ever been told before.

Friday, September 27, 2013

The Tale: Igor's Story of His Home

As many of you know, I have a love for Moldova that most cannot understand...unless you break away from your  life and go there. Today, I have special post from my sweet friend Igor, a young man I met while in Chisinau. So sit back and relax while you open your mind to others....



-          Umm..? Moldova? Is it somewhere around Africa?

-          Oh, it’s a state in India!

-          Does this country even exist?

From dialogues.

 

 
Situated in the east part of Europe, looking like a wine grape shape on a map, as a symbol of great wine and great and sincerely people this beautiful little paradise is being called Republic of Moldova. A beautiful country bordered by famous rivers Dniester and Prut.

 Before I begin my tale, let me represent myself in a few words.

My name is Igor, I’m 19 year old freshman in Economical Academy of Republic of Moldova. Passionate by all kind of sports, like kickboxing, skiing, swimming, the true fan of Pink Floyd, AC/DC, The Rolling  and other great rock bands and finally, I’m an Entrepreneur truly believing in economic potential of his country.

And this tale is about my view on country, that I live in.

If you ask me to pick out things that describe Moldova from the best side, I guess I would say the following words: people, nature, traditions.

Chisinau isn’t that big city, so we can often meet our friends or other people we know on the streets without scheduling the meeting. Actually, that makes us work and live cohesively and help each other. This thing makes living in Chisinau cozy. You may know that Moldova is a merge of paints of different cultures, Russian, Romanian, Ukrainian and others. This makes rich cultural gamut with a large variety of customs and traditions.

If you have an inquiring mind like I do – you may find very interesting talking to random person from the street or any other place you can actually find this person. Know why? People form the country. That’s it.

If you know people, understand their state of minds, feel the feelings they do feel, know their intentions, no, if you really do all of these, only then, you may say, that you understood the pure spirit of this country.

So, don’t hesitate to talk to a random person you find on the streets in Chisinau, cause there are a lot of people that speak English fluently. This is a great possibility to create some friends to spend time with in the city.

Chisinau is considered as the greenest city in Europe. Want some clue? This is the view from my home, for example.


 

 
 
I love nature, I really do. When I get tired or exhausted – I go to forest, hug the trees, look like a fool, but feel better. Much better. Meditating in the middle of the nature calms me and gives me a lot of energy. I also do enjoy very much running through the forest near my house. You disengage yourself from all the cares and thoughts. Hour or two feels fine for me.

That’s the Wisdom, calmness and power of Moldavian nature.

 



 

 

Modern culture is deeply rooted in folk art, drew inspiration from this inexhaustible treasure, creating a large amount of material and spiritual values, and becoming significant part of world culture.

Moldavian wedding proves it. It’s probably one of the most colorful and full of activities wedding tradition, also famous by our national dance – hora, the dance that reflects the softness and the strength of our nation at the same time.
 

 

Chisinau is “relaxed city”. Any megalopolis citizen that visited Moldova would confirm it.

Our constitution is considered as most friendly for citizens in Europe, but it’s not always followed as it should be.

People who stay beyond government mostly try to get the benefits from this constitution for themselves instead of following it and improving it.

Well, the control of the country is money laundering. Somewhere more, somewhere less, you know. No comment.

Cause of political instability we have bad relationships with other countries. Also cause of that, the future is hardly predictable. It may change in any given moment.

Many people from Moldova go abroad for working. Mostly for Italy, Russia, Spain. Not the best jobs they do work there, mostly working as housemaids or other not so respectable jobs. I do not believe this is a good idea, the idea to escape.

I won’t. Call me crazy, but I truly believe in economic, cultural and overall potential of Moldova.

Yes, Moldova isn’t that developed and modern country so the market is empty, so that’s why I believe that it’s better to remain living here and creating working space and places to contribute in developing the country.

And I understand that the future of my country is in the youth hands.

If everyone goes abroad – no chances to stand up, if we rock here – there are.

It’s all about personal responsibility.

Personal responsibility is the thing that makes a person an identity, a real man, the thing, that transforms people in a society, the thing that transforms the society in a nation, a country.

The more people understand this simple fact – the more chances we do have to stand up and show off.

The provided education in Moldova is at the normal level, but many students don’t even try to reach this level. It’s much easier to pay to pass the exams to get diploma, sadly.

But if you study – you are able to reach this level. And if you develop yourself as a specialist, mainly reading professional literature, completing special trainings you can reach the “good” level. Then you have to find a job and continue to self-developing and work hard to achieve the excellent level.

While exterior universities provide education at excellent level in comparison with Moldavian and give you all the possibilities and help you to achieve the professional level.

After like 5 years of practicing you can achieve the level of highly qualified professional, and… unfortunately to not be that valued.

So education in Moldova isn’t a good base to jump of in professional environment. That’s why students that strike to heights prefer to study abroad.

That’s why highly qualified professionals from Moldova are strong men. It’s twice harder to achieve this level here.

And finally I’ll tell you why it isn’t that bad in Moldova.

Firstly, all the things that are possible in Europe and in the U.S., are also allowed in Moldova.

Secondly, Europe, U.S. does not have the half of freedom that we do have. There is no pressure of public opinion, there is no dictatorship of social norms, there’s no prejudgment about your skin color or religion. After all, here you will never get a period of 10,000 years. And yet here you are not forced to be who you want to be.

Here you are truly free to be yourself. You believe in macaroni god? Cool, why not? You don’t? Well, whatever. You can go to the army and return superman, but you can avoid it and be proud of it. You can have three higher education diplomas and to work as a janitor and you can hardly finalize 8 forms of primary school and own a successful business.

Moldova - a country of true liberty, freedom, even freedom of logic. You can be a liberal with fascist views, you can go to rallies against the government and vote for the president, you can be a communist and believe in God, you can even be a national socialist yelling about the racial theory, and thus be a mixture of Mongol-Turkic-German- Armenian blood. And no one will tell you a word.

The only thing that Moldova does not forgive - is weakness. Weaklings do not survive here and run away, so Moldova is a country of strong men. Strong man is free here, and all the roads are opened to him. A wimp and a rag here, as elsewhere, will take place at the very bottom of the food chain.

That’s it.

 

Peace.

 

 Igor Corovai

fb.com/I.Corovai

 
 
 
 
Want to be part of the change? Check out how you can get involved HERE. 

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Is Different So Bad?


     What is the big deal about fitting in? My daughter was criticised and verbally abused during her 4th grade school year because she didn't quite "fit in" with the rest. She's a bit of a tom boy and has more energy than most people are used to conjuring during the day. No, it's not any kind of defect...she doesn't sit around eating junk food all day. Her lunches were different, her hair different...and she was told how odd she was on a daily basis. It begs the question: what exactly is "in" and why do people even want to go there?

     Over this past year, I have come to grips with the fact that I am quite odd and certainly not the "norm". I'm nowhere near in, and I'm OK with that. Where I am is right where I should be and where God can use me best. You see, when we focus on where we think we should be, we are not open to where we could be. There's a lot about my life that doesn't quite scream normal I suppose, so I thought I should list it out and see what's going on:

  • I don't save money for vacations, I save money for missions.
  • Instead of waiting in line for the ride , my kids and I wait on people across the globe.
  • I don't cry when my kids go back to school. OK, so my daughter home schools for now, but still no tears. Why? My kids are with me for a very short time and I am in stewardship of them. It's not my job to hold tight, it's my job to train and teach and begin letting go. So when I see them make strides towards adulthood I'm actually looking forward to it.
  • I wake up at 4 a.m. M-Saturday to have quiet time with the Bible and then continue it in the gym. When I am physically broken is the best time for me to spiritually grow.
  • I prefer to focus on the stories of others as opposed to my own story.
  • I'm not a baby person, but I really dig the youth of this world. I love those who have seemingly been tossed out and forgotten. The kids who can actually change the world, that's where my investment goes.
  • I take my kids to Africa and Eastern Europe instead of Disney World and Six Flags.
  • My kids wouldn't have it any other way because I don't shelter them from the problems that surround us.






     So, does it make me better to do these things? No way, I'm as flawed as they come. What it does is make me more dedicated to doing that which is out of my grasp, that which is slightly uncomfortable, that which is weird and not normal....and it brings blessings 10 fold of what would happen if I just tried to "fit in".

Why fit in, when you were born to stand out? -Dr. Suess

Wise indeed. Dedicate yourself to making a difference TODAY.

Michelle

Friday, July 19, 2013

Trust in the Process

I am told that the process takes time, patience and practice. I explain this to my own clients as well. It is, after all, a practice. As in life, nothing is permanent. Good feelings, great relationships, they all fade and change as time weaves throughout life. Yet here I am, struggling with the practice...

This morning, days after I came home from Ethiopia, I struggled. Arms bent, knees nestled into my upper arms and hanging on for dear life, abs tight, back rounded, the foundation of my hands gripping the bare floor below, gaze slightly ahead of my hands...welcome to crow pose. When my life is going easily, I enjoy incorporating tons of yoga into my fitness, but when life is discombobulated, yoga is a struggle. I hold my breath and have violent body convulsions, not to mention the fact that I get angry... very angry. The teacher always utters those dreadful words: "Trust the Process". And that is where I fail.

Life off the mat is the same thing, a process. We will never be perfect, nor will our circumstances. We have times when we seem to be hitting all the marks and times when we're just marking it (dance term for faking it). All in all, it is a process. Life is a process of finding our marks, followed by the process of aiming and hopefully hitting our marks. We seek out education, careers, a mate, partnership for life, things that will set us apart and yet allow us to still blend in...life becomes far more complicated than ever intended.

My week in Ethiopia was far less complicated than the life process itself. First, I had no Internet. It was as though my vein had ruptured, but eventually I healed and got over it. There was no rigid agenda there either. Each stop wasn't about making money, but rather, making connections. There was no makeup and no hiding, simply being. It was refreshing, to say the least.


It is the return that is always hard. How does life continue? What do you do with those ideas, callings, thoughts, etc.? Just like my crow...you trust the process. There isn't an ounce of emotion happening that wasn't thought out and intended long ago. As we process, things arise and must surface for us to deal with them. What about those things we have held to for so long? What about the career that God says you have excelled in, but it's time to move on? What about the plans you thought you had laid flawlessly? What happens when the process doesn't go your way? Can you still trust in it?

It's easy to unroll our life mat and step on with confidence when things seem to be going our way. The real growth comes when we unroll the mat even when we know what is to come will be unfamiliar and possibly painful. Sometimes, the process is painful. There is pain we must face in life to grow us to our particular calling. If we spend our lives running from pain, we may never know what we are truly here for at all! I, for one, am not willing to risk that. Pain is a necessary part of the overall plan. We endure the pain of shots so we can be vaccinated from what we perceive as certain evils in health. Pain causes growth...running from it will keep us in the confused state we reside.

What pain do you face today that holds you back? What are you afraid to step into? Maybe you feel like this is your go-and-see moment, but you're scared. Welcome to the club! This is what I do and I still get nervous before flights. I did find that gummy bears can calm my nerves this time though :). Maybe your fear is that if you follow what God is calling you to do then you will lose everything. Well, in the reality of things, nothing is ours to hold onto. PLUS, He does promise that His ultimate will for us is for our good (Jeremiah 29:11). Don't confuse good with riches here people, you'll be disappointed.

So, what holds you back from dealing with these fears? Remember, God has a great plan for your life. YOU could be the one to set change in motion, even for one person. That person you affect may go on to change others. There is no limit to what God can do in and through you! Well, perhaps the limit really is right in front of us. Don't try to limit God through your own fear. Face it, admit it and move through it. Make a change that will last more than your lifetime.

Michelle