Take a minute and think about a time when you gave thanks for something. Now think about a time you complained and grumbled about something. How did you feel? More than likely (and hopefully!) you feel better when you give thanks. But giving thanks doesn’t always come easily. I think about when I feel like giving thanks versus when I am just unmotivated and succumb to thoughts of discouragement and self- pity. David in the Psalms quite often reminded his soul to give thanks. He wrote, “I will give thanks” not “I feel like it today, so I guess I will." I don’t know about you, but for me 2020 was a trying season in so many ways. And yet, it was a sweet time of growth. Stretching doesn’t always feel good at the time, but boy, do I love the outcome, both spiritually and physically.
In July of 2020, I was part of a massive layoff due to Covid. It hit me like a punch in the gut and while I did shed some tears, I simultaneously knew that God had me in the palm of His hand. I have really enjoyed my career. I never dreamed I would have the opportunity to be employed at the White House and go on to become Vice President at a premier endurance sports company. I have felt God’s hand upon my life and I knew He wasn’t just going to leave me hanging. After my lay off, I took some time to really pray and study the Bible concerning the next steps in my life. What a gift it was to be able to take a deep breath and not feel stressed about life, no deadlines, no travel, no budgets to balance, nothing hanging over my head - this was an unheard of experience in my career.
During this time, I really sought the Lord as to where I could use the talents and experiences He has blessed me with to bring joy to Him and others. Honestly, I thought nothing sounded good, like no fun at all. Funny that the first thing that popped up was the opportunity to participate in a modeling photo shoot, which led me down the path to launch my modeling career. This was more of an answer to something that sounded like fun (when not much else did at the time!). Me a model?
I have had a passion for the Jim Ryun Running Camp since I was a baby. Now I had time to devote more of my talents to this great ministry. Yes, working with my parents. For years I’ve been a Camp counselor during the summers, using vacation time to run with youth who are MUCH younger. I am presently Director of Development for The Jim Ryun Running Camp! I get to stir up my creative juices with helping create a brand, store items, social media and organizing/managing a database - I love it!
I also have found time for another passion - becoming licensed as a foster mom. I have always had a heart to nurture and care for little ones. I signed up and completed Foster Care training and am now caring for my second foster newborn. This journey is like none other, learning to trust the Lord like never before. And learning to love deeply, but hold loosely.
Now you might be asking yourself, how do giving thanks and my story relate? When I went through my time of soul searching in August of 2020, I got into my Bible and prayed, commanding my soul to put its hope in God and praise Him for ALL things. I started writing out praise and promise Scriptures and taping them on the wall in my home. Often, I stand before that wall and remind myself and the Lord about many things. Believe me, this takes perseverance.
I heard recently, we don’t learn perseverance by reading a book or listening to a podcast. We learn perseverance by persevering. We just keep at it, one step at a time, day after day. We continue to do what we know to be right and true. I still have my days, but I have to tell you, stating the promises of God out loud really works.
I also make a habit of filling and renewing my mind with good things: daily devotionals, podcasts, Christian music. I know I am doing the right thing, because often I wake up in the morning with either a Scripture or Christian song running through my head. There is no greater feeling than to wake up content with God’s Word as my first thought.
This reminds me of a meeting I had with my nutritionist in March 2020. He gave me all kinds of different supplements and told me if I really wanted the “best bang for my buck”, I needed to give up gluten and sugar. Seriously? Give up my comfort foods along with quarantining? But I did it, and achieved the results I was looking for.
The conversation with my nutritionist makes me think about my mind, if we want God’s word to permeate every area in our lives, we can’t let things into our spirits (books, movies, music, etc.) that don’t please Him.
Every day my prayer is that I would have a heart more like His, that I would love the way Jesus loves. That I would love where He has placed me and with whom He has placed me. Am I perfect in accomplishing this daily? No, many days, I fall way short. But, I don't give up. I persevere.
I want to share a couple verses that have guided me thus far in my life
II Chronicles 16:9a “The eyes of the Lord go around looking in all the earth for people who are faithful to Him so that He can make them strong...”
HE MAKES US STRONG as we read and meditate on God's Word. I also know that God is faithful and He won’t give us more than we can handle. He loves to work in our weaknesses, which means I tell Him, "Help! I can’t do this on my own” and He says “Of course not, I will help you!" We may think things in our life should be a certain way, but I have learned to pivot with God and see what He’s up to! It’s an exciting life of adventure, which has had its disappointments, but I talk to God about it (I’ve had it out with Him a few times) and He enlightens my heart to what He is doing rather than what I think my life should look like. BTW, His plan is always better.
II Chronicles 20:12b "...We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on You."
When King Jehoshaphat was up against a vast army, he cried out to the Lord for help and began praising Him as his first line of defense. Praise and thanksgiving should always be our modus operandi as we walk with the Lord.
I write all this to encourage you to keep persevering, keep thanking God and reminding Him and your soul of His promises. Keep praying for your heart to be in line with His, and you never know what kind of adventure He will take you on! Remember the BEST IS YET TO COME!
BTW - For weeks I had lots of different thoughts as to what I wanted to write about but didn’t feel the inspiration to put ink to paper. But as I sit here in the queue for my next modeling gig, I was inspired! It makes me laugh to think how God does things, His timing, it may look and feel different than what we thought it should be (just me on a couch here, with the lights and camera and my iPhone and time- I think the crew forgot about me or went out for coffee, but God knew I needed this time to write), He has a sense of humor!
May you be blessed in your walk with the Lord and keep honoring Him!
We come humbly to You today with our hands and hearts open wide. We thank You for the life You have given us and for the many blessings we have received. We acknowledge that You are the Lord of lords and the King of kings, that You are the giver of life and many blessings.
We praise You for the gift of the Holy Spirit. We ask that Your Spirit would live in and through us. Would You please give us Your eyes to see, Your ears to hear and Your heart to understand the world around us?
We confess that we often fall short and are so unworthy to receive Your grace. Thank You for the beautiful gift of grace. You give us that which we don’t deserve.
Please help us to bestow that same gift of grace and mercy to others. Please give us a love for those around us so we can reach them with Your love. Lord, we know that You gave us life so that we can bring You glory.
We ask that you would open up the doors of conversation, acts of kindness, gifts of forgiveness and grace that we can give to others.
Lord, we ask that you would be Lord of our lives. Please rule and reign in our hearts making us more like You.
Lord, thank You that You have placed us right where we need to be. Help us look around today to see to whom we can be a blessing.
To Him who loves us and has set us free from our sins by His blood, and made us a kingdom, priests to His God and Father—to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. (Revelation 1:5–6)
We pray all these things in the Name of Jesus. Amen.