"Good words are worth much, and cost little."
any of these words speak to you or remind you of someone you love? grab a magnet stamped with them here!
“What are you man, if you do not learn love?”
Learning love. Isn’t that what we’re all doing here? We’re teaching each other and learning together about what love is, what it looks like lived out, how it feels, and the healing power it holds. We have some days where we surprise ourselves with how well we love, and others where we do it so unbelievably poorly. But on all of the days, the high days and the low days, we are met with Love in return. With grace and forgiveness and a nudge to wake up the next day and try again, in spite of - or even because of- our brokenness, and surely knowing Love a little better ourselves.
We could all dance a little more. While cooking in the kitchen, while getting ready in the morning, during that tough workout. Dancing brings your body alive, and lets the feelings inside manifest themselves through the vessel that carries you through this life. Dance to celebrate the day you’ve been given, dance to say thank you for the little joys , dance when you don’t feel like it. Never miss an opportunity to dance, and be intentional about making the space to dance more!
Giving grace to others and to ourselves is a daily practice. And the practice assumes so much grace, because giving grace is something we will never perfect, but we can always improve on. When others let us down, the only thing we’re in charge of is how we react. More often than not, we choose grace for them, but how often do we choose grace for ourselves? We tend to be our own worst critic, but we also have the power to be our biggest encourager. How can you give yourself more grace today and every day?
Feeling stressed, overwhelmed, or just in the middle of a super busy day? Inhale, and don’t forget to exhale intentionally! All the way out. Science says it is this part of the breath that tells our brain to relax. It takes only a second to stop and breathe intentionally, yet we oftentimes anxiously rush throughout our day, forgetting the gift of calming breath that is so within our reach.
Slowing down and breathing intentionally brings us back to our true nature, it simplifies things, and we realize that the world keeps turning even as we stop turning ourselves for just a moment.
So in those moments when you’re not sure what to do, stop and breathe. In the moments when you need a pick me up, there is literally one inside of you! Breathe!!
This is one many of us constantly try to instill in our kids. To be kind to others. We try to be as kind as possible to those around us, but sometimes this philosophy really gets tested when we are presented with someone who makes it difficult. But there is yet another element to kindness, and that is kindness towards ourselves.
I was in counseling every week for a while during an especially difficult season. Before ending each session, my counselor used to always tell me “be kind to yourself”. The number one thing that helped me navigate through all the struggle I was experiencing was remembering to treat myself with kindness.
In her book, “Love Lives Here”, Maria Goff shares a story about how she tries to always picture her 5 year old self when it comes to her self-talk. She thinks “what would I say to that little girl?” After I read that, I started keeping a photo taken of me at age 5 on my bedside table, to remind myself to be kind to that little girl.
So try it out. Your voice towards yourself holds the most power out of any. Though you might not be able to control how others speak to you, you can control how you do. Make those words kind ones.
Nothing is wasted in the Kingdom of God. Everything can be used for good.
Sometimes we mess up, things don’t go as planned, or we are left utterly disappointed by the circumstances we find ourselves in. We are tempted to think that’s it, nothing good could ever come from it, we are too broken and so is the world we live in.
But God’s Kingdom is an upside down one. Where broken is beautiful, where the powerless actually hold the most power, where the poor have the most access to the riches, and where nothing is wasted.
God takes the old, forgotten, and broken things of this world and makes them new. Not only that, he uses every piece for good. He can turn even the darkest things (even death!) into light. He can redeem the seemingly irredeemable.
So at 2nd Story, we too take the old, forgotten, and broken things and make them new. It is what we know to do because it is what has been done to us. Glass bottles, torn clothing, scraps of goat hide, aluminum bits and pieces. They are dusted off, assembled together, and given a new name. And now are deemed #notwasted.
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” -Marianne Williamson
It doesn’t seem there is much that can be added to these words. Feeling afraid, nervous, like you might be judged, like you might not have what it takes? Believe that you do, and shine. Just let go and shine.
This is how those who know her lovingly refer to Haiti, the “Pearl of the Antilles”. Oh, sweet Haiti! The place where everything is brightly painted, singing can be heard coming from churches any night of the week, you’ll surely pass several pick-up soccer games with creatively made goals as you walk down a street, avocados and mangoes and pineapples overflow, squeals of joy ensue when the electricity comes on, goats roam the streets, and people can be seen making do with what they have in the most creative ways as you pass by on a tap tap or moto taxi. If you know her, you love her! Our dearest Haiti!
“You know, sometimes all you need is twenty seconds of insane courage. Just literally twenty seconds of just embarrassing bravery. And I promise you, something great will come of it.” - We Bought A Zoo
A life lived fully takes courage. Sure, we need courage to do the alluring things like follow our dreams, travel to new places, and change the world. But even more so, we must have courage to walk into dark places, to stammer out the first word in a hard conversation, to speak truth, to make needed changes in ourselves, and to make difficult decisions. When we can’t find it within ourselves, we find encouragement in the words and actions of others. When you need some courage, try encouraging someone else. It is a beautiful force that pays itself forward, and it will find its way back to you when you need it.
Most things worth doing are either hard or scary or often times both. And that’s why courage we need courage.
Do you know how loved you are by God? Like do you really truly know? There is inherent value that you carry for who you are, not because of what you do. Do you know that this love is infinite, that it stretches beyond the depths of the sea or the heights of the sky and as hard as we may try, it can not lose its grip on humanity. ‘You are loved’ isn’t just a nice sentiment to briefly warm your heart, but rather an anthem reflected in your life that empowers you to live the life you were born for. One of risk, generosity, courage, devotion, sacrifice, and deep joy! You are totally, completely, infinitely, loved, dear one.
I have a tattoo on my wrist that says “espere”, which means “to hope” in Haitian Creole. I got it after my second trip to Haiti because the hope I experienced was the most tangible kind I had ever witnessed. I didn’t know much creole at the time, so I didn’t even realize that I got the verb and not the noun for hope which is “espwa”. But over the years, the verb “to hope” has come to mean so much to me. Hope is not a static thing, not some idea that we hold at a distance. No, not at all. It is something that moves us to act. Hope is lived out through our words and actions, through our hands and feet. It moves us on the good says and the bad. It is the light shining in the darkness, the light we find ourselves running towards our whole lives long. It is not certainty, it is not knowing everything, it does not give us all the answers. But it is enough, and it moves us still. Never forget that there is always, always, always hope.