Come check out my very first VLOG post.
Marriage is suppose to be the Happily Ever After that we see in Fairy tales, right?
That IS the big picture we see day in and day out. People flock to movies and DVR the latest episode of the steamest shows on TV.
One of the many reasons to get married is to complete the whirlwind experience and live Happily ever after. But then what?
What comes after you get whisked away in your horse drawn carriage?
Wedded bliss, right?
In God’s word, Paul writes that it is better not to marry. <- my paraphrase. (1
If God created marriage then why is this Happily Ever After idea not in any of the pages of His word? Jesus is perfect and they hung HIM on a cross. No Happily Ever After in that scene. At least not in the context that we rush to get in line for to witness.
After 16 years of marriage, I can say I am still waiting for that Happily ever after. However, I do agree with Paul. Marriage is not for the weak of heart.
Most married individuals, who have been married for any length of time. Would agree, that at some point in their marriage. They too have lost that happily ever after feeling. And at some point, most of these same married people were able to gain new insight over those not so Facebook worthy seasons.
These seasons were resolved.
Some divorced, others were better equipped. The last group… to me, felt like they just “dealt with it” and became roommates. I never understood what this “roommate”, group looked like or how they made it through the day. All I know is that it didn’t look like this group was living the abundant life that Jesus died for them to have.
I felt trapped in this group, but unwilling to settle for less than God’s best. And with God’s help, I was determined to find a better way and share it with you.
I may have started out as an unequipped -stubborn- hopeless romantic at heart-naive- never planned on getting divorced-God-fearing kind of gal.
But if I truly wanted my Happily Ever After, God was the only one that could make that happen now.
Regardless of how I started out feeling about divorce, it is something I feel the enemy uses to tempt and persuade us with as a means to an end. (not all situations please note this)
Don’t get me wrong, I had considered it a LOT. But no matter how hard I tried to reason divorce as an option… it never seemed like that would really solve the issue.
In fact, most of the divorced -God-loving people, I talked to. Told me that getting divorced was one of the hardest things they ever had to go through. These amazing people in my life, ones that I have the utmost respect and honor for, lovingly encouraged me to find a better way.
Nevertheless, I felt stuck… every day.
My soul screaming on the inside. Screaming to feel heard. Screaming to be free.
I was walking around feeling trapped and divorce was not an option.
Sometimes it takes me a little more time and space to understand and learn new things. In other words, don’t we all just wish we had a magic wand to make it all better?
But what if … the concept you needed to so desperately grasp, you couldn’t see?
This was me
To top it all off, no one else could explain it to me even if they could see it.
The brokenness that I am
See I grew up watching mainly Disney movies. You know how the story goes; boy meets girl. Next, some catastrophic event hangs their relationship in the balance. And in an hour or two the crisis has been averted and they live, “Happily Ever After”.
Couple that with our culture and what’s on TV.
Sex sells, right?
Sadly, the above is true, but I think, in the wake of that sale, we are left with a world more broken than before. Broken in such a way that we don’t even know it. So pervasive that it becomes a mindset that is CHOSEN for us and NEVER questioned.
This is where mindset comes into the story. I love this word. Understanding and learning more about what mindset is and all of its many facets. Has helped me to clarify so many things and find freedom in a number of areas. But I had not applied it to the “Happily Ever After” block I had been struggling with.
I couldn’t see it. Not in this context at least.
This, “Happily Ever After”thought has been a guiding principal in my life for as long as I can remember.
That was all I knew.
In my mind what I had witnessed from the above about “love/ relationship” was what it had looked like, felt like and how to attain it for myself. Even if the adults around me at the time didn’t portray it. I felt that they must not have found their prince charming. And that it would be different for me.
In other words, after a couple of years being married, a lot of the happily ever after “edges” had been decimated when the rubber met the road. And the years that followed, it felt like God had sanded all of those new edges smooth.
But yet, I still didn’t FEEL “love”. Even though I KNOW God is love.
Someday’s knowing that made me feel worse and frustrated.
All of God’s perfect love… and I can’t feel it.
With the “Happily ever after” mindset, I couldn’t see anything else.
Painfully aware of this happily ever after focus and the lack of feeling Gods love for some time. Which God had revealed to me during a prayer time or two. However, I felt that it had not been Gods timing to address it.
This past summer I was ready. I had plans. Plans to embark on a cruise with my parents, brother, and cousin.
Free time here I come!
With a week’s worth of time at my fingertips, I could sit with God and get to the bottom of this struggle once and for all.
So I prayed and prayed. Then an opportunity presented itself.
One night my brother convinced me that I should watch one of the shows the cruise line offered. It screamed “Disney” to me. Since it seemed important to him. And being the loving sister that I am, I acquiesced to his request.
As the performance unfolded and my well established ( not perfect) self-talk wained. I could feel this emotion. This “something”, that I couldn’t put a name to bubbling up inside of me. At this point, my positive self-talk could not keep this feeling from expressing itself.
I sat. I squirmed. I said, “See ya”!
Hopefully, I didn’t kick, bump or step on my poor mother, as I bolted right over the top of her. After which, I ran like a cross country athlete running and jumping over hurdles as fast as I could go. With the running track as my destination. I knew that at least there I could run out whatever this feeling was and mitigate another scene.
As a approached the Aqua Theater, I stopped. And asked God to show me why this upset me so.
What was it?
How do I fix it?
At that moment I thought, “Finally, I would get my answer to prayer!” This was Gods moment…
I spent a lot of time on that track over the course of the week. Praying and walking. Looking for answers, a sign, a task. Anything!
But alas, no real answer to that prayer.
I still couldn’t see it.
Have you ever heard the saying that sometimes you have to get to the end of yourself to see/ learn something?
Again I knew that, but I couldn’t see the bigger picture.
Now that I am typing this to you…
I now see that I have lived my life mostly with that focus as well.
As long as I could see the big picture I could move forward.
And feel safe.
What good is safe when you can’t feel love? Not even from God!
What do you do once you get to the end of yourself?
Still feeling like the damsel in distress.
On an ordinary day.
No climax to the story.
No guns blazing.
God showed up and reminded me that my FOCUS was to be on HIM.
That if I wanted to feel love. I needed to ALWAYS seek Him first.
All of which, again I knew and thought I had been doing to some degree.
I had felt conflicted with knowing this principle, yet still struggling.
See I had been processing it through my default mindset.
On a regular-ordinary day, I chose to lay down the Happily Ever After mindset and decided to trust God with my big picture. In other words, not knowing what… was next.
With the only mindset, I have ever known about love at the foot of the cross. What did I have to model after?
At this moment I saw a whole new level of what Jesus meant by, “Come follow me” Matthew 19:21 ( I encourage you to read and reread the whole chapter so you can get the proper context.)
Not only following HIM, but Jesus lists two things to do BEFORE following HIM. I never noticed the BEFORE before.
Jesus is always looking to spend time with us. But distractions and life get in the way. I couldn’t be fully present with Him with the, “Happily Ever After” mindset.
I had to focus on Jesus for my big picture needs, in regards to love and what God designed it to look like. Or the never-ending, soul-bruising, heartbreaking loop would be my- ever after.
I couldn’t see what Jesus was asking me to do until I chose to open my mind to NOT seeing and NOT knowing. In faith I had to blindly take each step, knowing and trusting that Jesus COULD see the big picture and I had to trust Him to lead me.
In a devotion (Embraced- by Lysa TerKerst) that I am currently reading. God showed me a new level of His character. Because of how much Jesus loves us. He is not going to allow me to hurt myself because of my brokenness. In other words, He draws my boundary lines in good and safe places. The best for me places. ( Some of these above points may have been stated in the book, but as I write this from memory I am not exactly sure.)
God wants us to have the freedom and abundance of Heaven, but I couldn’t accept something I couldn’t see or even comprehend.
We do this with our own children.
If we have stairs or other dangerous places in our homes. We put up baby gates or lock things away.
Because we know that a baby doesn’t understand that if they crawl to close to the stairs that gravity will take over. We could try to explain this to them with
These loving boundaries are there to help us move on to the next level of God’s will safely.
Brokenness defined me. I could not see any freedom in the freedom God had given me. And I still felt stuck. I did all the good things, like praying and making time for God regularly. Praying for freedom and wisdom. Waiting for answers.
Answers to see God’s abundant plan.
God’s file couldn’t download into my earthly broken mindset. Once I chose to use HIS software and accepted to upload God’s drivers, then I could download what the next step was.
Following HIM and trusting HIM to lead me to what love was designed to look like was the next step.
Does that last sentence make sense but sound confusing too?
Is there a
Does that struggle include another person? Even if it is your spouse?
Willngness, alone is not what God is asking for. He wants ALL of our heart, focus
I encourage you to share what is on your heart in the comments. Or if you are looking for a group to share within a closed setting. Join this wonderful FREE group of mine.
Let’s do life together.
Ps. I did want to mention something else that I found in Scripture. Something that pertains to the Happily Ever After my heart so longs for. Knowing that these words show up in Scripture gets me through some pretty dark days. And that Happily Ever after, was never meant to be the picture of what an earthly marriage should look like. But it was to reveal an eternal beginning. Check out Revelation 19. Let me know what you think about this.
Everyone struggles with something. For some, it is drugs and alcohol. Others its work, sex, or any other habits that keep us in bondage. Yet others struggle with food or rest.
Yes, I said rest.
My biggest struggle is rest. All around rest. I am talking daily rest, weekly rest, ” I need a vacation” kind of rest.
I enjoy the quiet of the night and the darkness. It is peaceful and still. There are no more expectations on the time because I should be sleeping. I love laying in bed and most mornings I don’t want to get out of my cozy warm bed. Don’t get me wrong, watching the sunrise, after a long nights rest, is indescribable. But then there is that moment at 10:30 every night, I think this thought.
” What is the harm in not going to bed right now?”
When I am really struggling I agree with this thought almost every night. Then the next morning I remember all the harm it does. I know it. I can feel it the next day, but then by bedtime that very same night, the whole process starts all over again.
I know that I function the best if I am in bed no later than 10:30. And every night at 10:30 the struggle with staying up and watching one more show is there again.
Some nights I do great other nights… are not so good.
A year or so ago I watched an episode of Bible Health Secrets. During one of my prayer times after this, I felt that God had clarified some thoughts I had been wrestling over. (This docuseries is amazing by the way.)
Our flesh craves things that do not bring us life. My two big ones are bacon and rest. God and I are on a journey to examine the “rest” in my life.
After all of this talk on what our flesh wants, it got me thinking. My hunger to stay up late is no different than someones “hunger” to eat a whole pint of ice cream every night.
In the above-mentioned docu-series, fasting was also brought up. Most people think of fasting in regards to food. Biblical. Check! Over the years God has shown me that fasting is more than just about food. God has asked me more than once to go on a TV fast. As all good parents do, you limit or remove any item that your child is consumed with to help them get back on track.
I can’t tell you how much extra time I find in my life when I fast from TV or screens in general for that matter. In most of the seasons of my life, if I find myself in need of some extra time, I remember those moments that I fasted from TV and sometimes if I am in dire straights go back to my TV fasting.
“Picture this with me, sitting down on my favorite comfy spot and fasting from food and TV, while sitting and drinking a wonderfully warm mug of green tea. Then on my lap is my Bible. A thought like this always brings me such rest and peace in my soul.”
Until I have to do it. ( the fasting from food and TV part that is.)
Have you ever had this thought quickly run through your mind:
“Do I watch 30 min of
It got me thinking why is it so easy to not do the life-giving thing for ourselves, and in turn so easy to DO the death-promoting thing instead? “
It hit me! In that moment, that all of the above is a flesh thing. It’s no different than Eve and the snake.
Once I get on that good old consistent sleep wagon. Its all gravy. I feel great, my back does not hurt as much. Abundant living right? Yes, but then life happens and I am back here struggling to get back on that wonderful sleep wagon.
It all boils down to these 5 steps.
Joy is never taken from us, we freely give it away.
– Sandy Nikson
Stuff is everywhere. We have kid stuff, paper stuff, emotional stuff- you get my point. STUFF!
Below is my reflection, my way of dealing with the magnitude of stuff I currently have at ,one of my parents apartments, my sisters house, the condo that we have been living at for about 10 days so far, my parents house and a moving container. That is A LOT of personal items to keep track of. Its all waiting for 2 more days until we finally get to move into our new house. It is my prayer that you find encouragement and/or some value in this. At the very least I hope you see that you are not alone in, “Stuff.”
In my reflection I came up with three Categories:
I can’t seem to get rid of this stuff!
You know what I am talking about. Like that shirt, the one that is kind of to small or even way to big. It might have some holes in it, but it’s comfortable, so you keep it.
All of this, I don’t like and don’t want. Yet it still remains…
This stuff I can not seem to find!
It makes me feel crazy!
Like when you have torn up your whole house to find your car key’s or cell phone, because you can’t find it for the millionth time.
Its there one minute and the next its GONE.
Has this happened to you too?
As I mentioned briefly above, I never seem to have enough time.
What about you? What kinds of stuff do you like, need and want? Stuff that you can’t find or find difficult to make time for?
Think of our laundry room for just a minute.
I have yet to figure out why this room is the room where everything that no one knows what to do with ends up. At least in my house it did. We will see if this holds true for our next house. Maybe you have a different room like this at your house. If so, comment and share with us on which room you find to be the room in your house where these items end up in.
What about these “lost socks” of the group?
Which brings me back to the stuff that really has no other definition than “Stuff.” You know the stuff that when a co-worker asks, “What have you been up to? The answer you might give back is, “Stuff.” This is the kind of “Stuff”, I don’t know what I want to do about it.
All of that to say,” You are not alone!” We all feel these things. No one has it all figured out. I will be the first one to admit- I don’t. It is always easier to see all the Stuff in others lives and what to do about them. It is a lot harder sometimes to see our own. Me included. As I reflected I thought about how all this stuff starts to become “normal.” It just becomes apart of the background of our lives.
Kind of like the refrigerator.
We all have one and we know its there, but on a day to day basis we don’t think about the fridge until it stops working. Then its a big deal. In those moment we appreciate the fridge a little more than we did the day before.
We appreciated the fridge because something changed and then it went back to normal, once it was fixed. We all enjoy the comfort of knowing what comes next, our routines- the status quo. But change is good. Change can be a very healthy thing. Change usually brings up things, stuff that we would just rather stay have stayed behind the refrigerator forever.
With all of this moving and packing, I have gotten rid of a lot of old STUFF. In all forms of the word. With getting rid of it all- such as, the stuff that has not served me in some time. I believe that it creates space for all the new and wonderful stuff God has for me and my future. It has also given me a whole new perspective on attaining MORE STUFF. ( Which is that -I don’t need any more stuff. Nope!)
I encourage all of you to prayerfully consider where in your life you could use a new perspective and take inventory of all of your STUFF. See what shakes out.
If you really want to shake it up and you need more room in your house. Pack it all up. Seriouly. Every 5 or 10 years I am going to do this. Just to see how much I have and just feel blessed. Thank God for all He has given me and provided for my family. Then give A LOT away!
This method, I feel, will help me to find things I didn’t even know I had, or maybe find items that were from an old season and never realized I had moved on from, because they had become apart of my everyday background. I found a lot of that in the move.
Thanks for listening to my sweet abundant life story. Join me. Comment to this post or join us in the Facebook Group.
You are not alone. Even Jesus struggled. Yes, you read that correctly. Jesus struggled. He warned us that in this life there would be trouble. But that He overcame this world, so WE could have life in abundance.
I am struggling too. Struggling is a part of life. It’s not fun. It is hard. No one wants to struggle.
I find in these moments or seasons of struggle, are where supernatural beauty can be found. It’s where, I think, God puts life-changing nuggets, as my friend once called them, in our paths to find.
I was looking out my car window waiting at a stop light when I had a thought- one I think most of us have had, from time to time. The thought was,” whats the point of doing good?” I save money and it’s never enough. Or, I did everything I was told to do, but that too was still not good enough. I think the hardest struggles are the ones you work hard at, put forth your very best, but the result you were working so hard to achieve, didn’t turn out the way you expected it would.
As I sat in my car thinking about this, for less time than it took for the light to change. These were the options I came up with.
Give up on being good. What is good anyway? My good can be different than what you think is good. Or what my neighbor thinks is good. I could decide to be self-focused and do life completely different. I could give up on going out of my way to be kind. I could be nasty and bitter. In other words, do the exact opposite of what and who I am right now.
I could continue to keep walking the path I believe God has laid out for me to walk. I could continue to show God’s love through my imperfect human self. Or I could do the things God leads me to do, even in the face of ” not good enough.”
See, I know that God is glorified in my weakness.
I know you are thinking, that’s great, but weakness doesn’t feel so good.
In my experience, and the more times I am reminded about this- when I take the time to picture my weakness glorifying GOD! The easier it is for me to feel weak.
I tried Option 1, about 5 months after I graduated high school. Now looking back it was exhausting and I felt burnt, dry, empty and so many more feelings inside. Yes, I got to DO what I wanted in that moment, but that “high” never lasted long and the feelings came right back. Sometimes with more baggage than I had before. Yuck!
Five or so years of living with this mindset, and having a beautiful newborn son, at that time. I knew something had to change. I had this feeling that I needed to KNOW what was actually written in the Bible.
Since that moment, and until now, I slowly began to choose option 2, day by day. Someday’s I went back to option 1, but now those day’s have turned into moments that only last the time it takes for a traffic light to change.
I finally came to realize, in this moment, more than any other. If I do my best and even if it is, “not good enough”, in my eyes, in that moment. I have the peace, now; that I did my best. I know it. God knows it. The cherry on top of all of this is, unlike option 1, there is no baggage that comes with it.
God is so great to me all the time, but I love that He meets us where we are at and talks to us in ways that we get it. He showed me Option 1 this way.
A cold, gray, wall that leads nowhere.
I know I have so many things I want to do and see and people to help and talk to. The abundant life that Jesus died to give me. I want to experience life in abundance as many days as I can before I get to live in Heaven with God forever. So a cold, gray, mindset; does not get me to the places and people I want to see and experience. So that is not the option for me.
Then I thought of Option 2 and this is what God showed me.
This picture shows me that regardless of what I feel like, see, think or believe about my current struggle.
Leads me to the life that I want to live out.
I would love to hear from you.
What are you struggling with?
In these moments, at the traffic lights, what options come to you?
Please feel free to share them in the comments section. Or join us in my Facebook Group: Simple Life Steps with Sandy
I am going to tattle on myself. If you look at the date from the first twoish post and then this one, you will see that there is quite a difference in dates.
This was NOT as easy as I had thought, but here goes. I thought about this every day since I last posted. See, I believe I “Thank God” all day for the things that I see. I didn’t want to sit down every day to just write. ” I am grateful for God”. Which I am, but that is not the point to this challenge. The point is to intentionally see the good, mundane or extraordinary in the everyday.
Well, today is my birthday. 35 years to be exact. (When I actually wrote this, sorry it was in October)
So here is what I am thankful for today:
God cares about the mundane details of my life. So much so that, this morning my parents called me and sang Happy Birthday to me! I can not remember the last time I heard them both sing that to me at the same time. Seriously I can not remember.
I am Grateful for my husband praying for my parents to do something special for me on my birthday.
I am Grateful that my husband did not use negative words today to describe what he was not going to do.
(sorry if this makes no sense, its kind of a long, boring and confusing )
I am Thankful that my daughter got me exactly what I asked for.
A card, she made, hugs and kisses. Oh yes, I can’t forget she sang Happy Birthday to me twice.
I am Grateful for the time I got to spend with my son, at a local restaurant today. Even though it did not go as planned. I got to spend time with him.
Lastly, I am Grateful for a God, who cares so much about me that He and only He could change my heart about going to a gym. So much so that I joined one, today, on my birthday. God has painted such a picture for me that “gym” does not fit it. It’s not a gym to me, it’s a place to relax and destress. Both of which does not make sense when I think of a gym. I think of sweat, tears, pain and work. That is not what I feel when I walk in there. ( I will keep you posted on that).
Update: I left this just the way I wrote it almost three-ish months ago because I want everyone to see and know that, you don’t have to be perfect with this. I want to encourage you to start something new! If you get side tracked and it comes back on your radar, try it again!
My goal now is to make this a daily habit forever.
Today I read Psalm 50:5 and Psalm 50:14. Verse 14 closed the door on stopping after 21 days. I will stop posting them on here unless they are relevant, but personally I will continue this forever in my notebook. Those two verses, the fact that I am writing this to you and I have this as an assignment for school all tells me, crystal clear, this is something I want to do, to glorify God.
What about you? How is it coming? Are you enjoying spectating?
Let me know that you are out there.
I would love a Hi!
As I sat, during my prayer time, I thanked God for my health. It occurred to me, I thank Him for that almost every day now. Maybe even more than once a day. I was so sick, for such a long time. (Check out my about me page for more details on what that looked like. )
So I wanted to share this with the world.
Thank you, Lord, for my health. You and you alone gave me a priceless gift. I will be forever grateful. So I have devoted my life to sharing what I have learned and continue to learn from you daily Lord, to help others in their journey to health and wellness, because of that gift.
John 10:10 is one of my favorite verses. ” Jesus came, for us to have life in abundance.” I hold this verse dear to my heart. I was not living life in abundance. I could barely live. I want to live the life Jesus died for me to have. Hehehe, I was going to type ” So every day now I live life to the full ” as other translations say, but as I sit here typing this to you, I laugh. I laugh because now I think I am overcompensating for the past. I try to put too much into a single day. That’s not healthy or helping me either. Errr ! :-p So I guess the moral of this story is to live life in abundance, off balance, on purpose. 🙂
I am grateful that I have healthy children.
I am grateful that I have food in my refrigerator. Even if it is more lettuce than “fun food”. It is still food and that’s more than some people have.
P.s Don’t get me wrong lettuce, veggies and greens are very good for everyone. Including me. I am just not a fan of eating them. Just being honest.
There are countless studies on the benefits of gratitude and thankfulness in regards to health and well-being. I wanted to share with you some information I have learned on my Journey to becoming a Certified Health Coach.
Here goes, we were assigned to watch this video for part of a lesson.
My takeaways are :
I have seen this countless times as of late and its time that I stepped up to this challenge. So here was the challenge. To write down 3 new things each day that you are thankful/grateful for, for 21 days.
From what was mentioned in the video this is to help train your brain to scan the world for the good things instead of the bad. The bad are so easy to see but awful to deal with and live out.
So today’s three are :
1. I am Grateful for friendships that remind me that I am enough just the way I am.
2. I am Grateful that I have a job(s) that I can love on people. Treating people the way I want to be treated is not always an easy job, but if done with the right heart and intentions. It’s a great feeling and everyone wins. (I think it makes God smile too!)
3. I am Grateful that God loves me no matter what. That He sees who I will become and not for what my past looks like.
So take this journey with me! You can participate too! Post your 3 below in the comments, journal yours in a notebook or spectate on mine and others. Either way is fine with me. Hope you join us in one way or another. I am so excited to see what God has for me/us on this trip.
*Dopamine fascinates me. If you want to know more about it I have included some additional links for you to check out.