I admit it. I’ve used a fake ID to get into the Rec Center.
Now, I actually have a paid membership, so I’m not getting in for free, or cheating the system, but yes, when I’ve misplaced my ID I’ve swiped one of my kid’s cards to get through the turnstile. Apparently security isn’t that scrutinizing.
There was a period in time when I NEVER seemed to be able to find my ID card to get into the Rec Center.
It’s not that I wasn’t trying to keep track of it. I was. I just wasn’t doing a very good job of it. I’ve tried keeping it in the little armrest thingy of my car, so every time I drive to the Rec, there it will be. Which works, until I go to the Rec in my husband’s car and after my workout, can’t put it back in my arm rest thingy, so it comes in the house with me and gets dropped on the counter in the rush to get showered and on to the next thing. I’ve tried putting my ID in the pocket of the jacket I usually wear when I work out, which is fine, unless I wear another jacket, or it’s too warm to wear a jacket. I’ve tried keeping it in my basket of important things on the kitchen counter, only that supposedly tidy, organized place becomes a black hole of things I’m supposed to be signing, paying, filling out, mailing. Yikes!
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve emptied all of my purses, dumped that basket on the counter, turned pockets inside out all in the name of an indoor workout. If you wonder why I need to workout inside, move to Ohio this winter, you’ll be buying your own Rec Center pass. Not to mention the yoga…ahhh.
Amazingly, after twelve years, I have misplaced my ID countless times, but never truly lost it. It always turns up, almost like it’s finding me. I’ve finally decided to keep the ID in my wallet. (I have no explanation as to why I never thought of that before). So far, it’s working, but I’ll keep you posted.
Unfortunately, there have been times when I’ve gotten like this with Jesus. I know exactly where He is in my life, then I set Him down when life takes an unexpected route or I’m in a huge hurry or there’s a change in my seasons. It’s not long before I realize how much I’m missing Him and how much I ache to find Him.
Why? Why would I ever stash Jesus away, or try to put Him down somewhere. It’s not that I ever want to lose track of Jesus. No way. I always want to know where He is and what He’s up to and what He has in store for me. I just don’t always do a very good job of it.
I'm in a relationship with Jesus. And relationships need constant communication to work. Parents and kids need to talk. Spouses need to talk to each other. BFF’s need to talk and text and Snapchat. Bosses and employees need to talk. Teachers and students need to talk. If you don’t, the other person in the relationship doesn’t know if you’re excited, worried, eager, anxious, sad, elated, stressed or pumped up—let alone why you’re feeling any of those things. Therefore they can’t cheer for you, hold you, listen to you, pass you a Kleenex, explain something to you, hug you, hold a dance party with you or bake you chocolate chip cookies, because they don’t know you need any of those things, because you’re not sharing with them, being with them.
I don’t function well when I do my devotions some mornings or when I attend Bible study some sessions or when I pray just when I wake up or just before I go to bed. For my relationship with Jesus to work, I need to read His word daily, hang out with other believers continually, pray to Him morning, noon and night-- when I’m in awe of a sunrise or stressed about being late somewhere, or need patience with a family member or am savoring a sip of mocha.
I need Him in my wallet, so to speak. With me everywhere I go, all of the time, every day. The most awesome thing about Jesus? Even when I don’t know where to look, He always finds me. Because as much as I want to hang out with God. God wants to hang out with me even more. And He wants to hang out with you too! How awesome is that?
Is there anything you constantly misplace? I’d love to hear, what are some ways you keep Jesus front and center, so He never gets lost in the fray of your life?
Stronger abs, learn a foreign language, the perfect hair do, teach your child to read, learn to juggle, reduce your stress, you name it… There are countless articles, books and blogs that will teach you how to do all of this and more in just ten minutes a day. In just six hundred seconds you can accomplish great feats. The only problem? If I take ten minutes a day to do crunches, listen to podcasts in French, flat iron my hair (who am I kidding, that would take a good 45 minutes) throw balls in the air, etc. I start running out of time to have conversations with my mom, pick my kids up from school, go to yoga, read my Bible, make dinner, kiss my husband, do laundry, work on my novel – the things I want to do and the things I need to do each day.
So how do we use our time best? There is so much in life I’d like to accomplish ranging from having organized closets and baking more chocolate chip cookies to attending Bible study and volunteering my time. There is no magical formula for how I allocate twenty-four hours each day, and no one to hold me accountable for each and ever minute. Is there?
Sometimes I feel pulled in a zillion directions.
Have you ever heard the phrase, “good is the enemy of best?”
It’s true. It is fun decorating for VBS and the windows in my house look so sparkly when I wash them and I feel stronger when I lift weights and my skin feels smoother when I give myself a facial and I can’t wait to read the next chapter of Eleanor and Park and, and, and... But are these things the best use of my time?
I’m not saying they are or they aren’t, because sometimes trivial things are critical and sometimes important things are meaningless. Who has God called you to be? What does He have in store for you today? Have you asked Him?
The thing that absolutely, positively has to happen for me each day is spending time in the morning with God. I read Matthew 19 yesterday. Verse 14 is about having a heart like children to enter God’s kingdom. God worked that in my brain and in my heart, about how important my kids are, which I knew, which I know, but today He really rubbed that into my very fabric.
I have a new novel that needs promoting, a tour that needs more dates booked, a hamper full of laundry and dozens of emails I need to return. But the absolute best use of my time was spent following God's nudge, and spending time with my kids. I watched The Princess Diaries with my daughters. I’ve seen it before and read the book. But my boys, who would never watch this, weren’t at home, and school starts soon, and we needed some snuggle on the couch girl time. As the new school year is lurking we were able to talk about the cool kids and the mean girls and people who like you just because you’re … fill in the blank. We talked about how the most important person for each of us to be is the person God made us to be. We recited the Eleanor Roosevelt quote over and over.
Today I was supposed to walk with a friend. I love her. She’s strong and inspiring and a great listener and makes me think. I was looking forward to spending ten times six minutes of my day picking her brain and pouring out mine while getting some exercise. But she had to cancel, and I ended up going to the park by myself. It was eerily cool for August, a storm was rolling in, but hadn’t hit quite yet. I ran faster than usual, invigorated by the wind, and listened to “Oceans” by Hillsong United over and over again begging God to give me ‘trust without borders’, spending time immersed 'in the presence of my Savior.’
It’s good to be intentional about our time. Like I said earlier, there are things I need and want to get done every day. But what if instead of filling every single ten-minute block of time, we spent some time letting God do His thing? Letting Him work ten minute miracles in our lives?
What can you do in just ten minutes? Better question, what can God do in just ten minutes? What is God urging you to put on your to-do list today and what is He urging you to delete from your calendar?
It’s Addicting, my latest novel, the third in the Status Updates series releases July 14! That’s only FOUR days away! HOORAY! Claire, Kat, Palmer, Hannah, and I have been itching to tell you what music they're listening to in their sophomore year of college, and now, we can’t wait any longer.
Because I’m so excited about the release, I’m going to give away an autographed copy of It’s Complicated, an autographed copy of It’s Over and an autographed copy of the brand new,It’s Addicting.
This is how it’s going to work. We’re going to do a countdown. Today’s day four. So today, we’re counting down our favorite music addictions.
We say it all the time right? But the only thing I'm truly addicted to is Christ!
For the contest: All you have to do to enter is comment and tell me one of your addictions AND share the link on one of your social media sites. You can comment on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Pinterest, and share any of those ways as well. You can enter once each day of the countdown (limited to five total entries per person), and at the end of the five days, on release day, July 14, I’ll pick three winners – one for each title—via Randomizer.
Today is music addiction day, so tell me one of your music addictions.
Me? I’m currently addicted to the letter F on my iTunes feed. I was listening to "Fix My Eyes" by For King and Country, on a run the other day, and just let the music play from there. I had a blast of a run listening to everything from "Faster" by Matt Nathanson to "Fez" by U2 to "Flake" by Jack Johnson to "Friday I'm in Love" by the Cure to "Focus" by Holly Starr. Even Beethoven's "Fur Elise" was in my F stream. Now I'm stuck on the letter F and letting the melodies entertain and inspire me. How about you? What's your music addiction?
I am so excited to share with you my latest release, It's Addicting. It's Addicting releases July 14 in both print and e-book formats from Playlist Fiction.
This third installment of the Status Updates series finds four college sophomore roommates finally getting comfy with the routines of dorm life. But Kat, Claire, Palmer, and Hannah soon begin to feel the nagging ache of innocent addictions pulling them away from their true selves. Still, obsessing over perfection, exercise, or a super-cute boyfriend could never be a bad thing—could it? Hang out with these four roomies to see if they can—or even want to—ditch these sneaky little hang-ups before they take over their lives.
'I'm so glad to see Laura L. Smith writing about such serious and important issues. Kudos to her for being brave enough to write the truth. ~ New York Times Best Selling Author, Tosca Lee
It's Addicting tackles real-life issues with raw honesty. This book is something every high-school and college-aged girl should read.
~ Nicole O'Dell, author, speaker, and founder of Choose NOW Ministries
Laura L. Smith writes with precision and honesty in the third book of her popular Status Update series. It’s Addicting asks readers to consider their own lives and the blinders we all wear. The college roommates in this book struggle with the most authentic of issues—the sometimes subtle but often overwhelming addictions we all cling to. In the end, the answers aren’t easy or pretty, but Smith, with characteristic gentleness, pushes readers to see that clarity and hope come from one place—a God who seeks us as fiercely as we seek Him. ~Laura Anderson Kurk, author of Glass Girl and Perfect Glass
Have you ever had a hard week?
I am extremely blessed in so many ways, and honestly can’t praise God enough for all He does for me and my family, but as I write this, I’m in a rough week. This week has been rough with a capital R.
A fifteen-year old girl in our community lost her life, a family who has been a stronghold in our faith has been called to move to another state, a dear friend has been diagnosed with cancer. I’m okay. But I have to admit; I’m sad, reflective, and a bit weepy.
I know the teen is dancing with Jesus, the family has an amazing opportunity awaiting them and God will hold our sick friend in His comforting arms.
But I’m a still a bit weepy.
I was running with my daughter today, trying to process everything going on when a bluebird fluttered past us and landed in a tree directly above our heads. We stopped and watched his vibrant blue wings, so unnaturally bright against the bare branch. “The bluebird of happiness,” I said.
“Have you ever seen one before?” my daughter asked.
“A few times,” I answered. “But not many.
Bluebirds have been considered the harbinger of happiness for thousands of years by numerous cultures ranging from pre-modern China’s Shang Dynasty to the Beatles in their movie, Yellow Submarine.
Bluebirds act as God’s promise of happiness, like the rainbow to Noah. And if that wasn’t enough, we crossed the bridge, ran down the lane and came upon this.
I may not be able to make sense of some of the darker moments of the last week, or of life, but I don’t have to. God is with me every step of the way. He always is. Always has been. And just in case I forgot, even for a moment, He reminded me. Of His beauty. Of His love. Of His faithfulness.
“Never once did I ever walk alone. Never once did you leave us on our own. You are faithful, God, You are faithful.” Matt Redman
I hope you’re not in a dark place today, but if you are, hold on. Just a moment longer. Because around the bend or over the bridge or down the lane or tomorrow or next week your bluebird awaits you. God has it all set up – a moment of pure beauty and vibrancy and promise. You’re not walking this alone.
God is faithful.
I’ve been praying a lot about it, and instead of goals for this year, God has given me a word – TRUST.
What? I called back to my Maker. A word. One? How can I possibly plan a year with one word? I am an organizer, a planner, a write-it-in-ink in my date book (preferably in colored ink to code the activity) kind of girl. I write out goals, lists of them with separate categories amidst the lists. What should I do with that broken relationship? Should I forgive? Should I reach out? Should I sever it? What about my writing? Should I continue my existing series? Branch out into something new? Focus more time on speaking? To every question I ask, God repeats the same answer again and again, “Trust me. Completely. One step at a time. Trust.”
I can’t help but think of the scene in Frozen where Elsa flees Arendelle. She takes one step on the lake and it freezes solid beneath her foot. She takes another step and the water beneath her second foot also freezes. Knowing the only path for her is forward she decides to run, trusting completely that the lake will freeze beneath her feet, holding her up, every step of the way.
That’s what God is calling me to do. To take one step while He holds me up. Then another, while He freezes untamed waters yet again. I long to see the path, the road, the route highlighted on Google Maps. But that’s not for me to see right now.
How much this scenario reminds me of Peter that night in the boat. Jesus held out His hand to Peter, coaxing Peter to walk on water towards Him, towards safety and light and excitement and joy. And as long as Peter was willing to trust that his next step across the sea would be held up, he walked. As soon as Peter looked down, away from Christ, as soon as he stopped trusting, he sank.
So, my goal for 2014 is to keep my eyes on Christ—to trust Him. And every time I catch myself looking elsewhere, listening to the wrong voices, believing things other than His truth, my goal is to turn my eyes back to Him. If I feel my ankles getting wet, or my calves damp or the hem of my skirt getting splashed, because I’m sinking, my intention is to return my focus to trusting Him, completely, before I go down.
When Elsa truly trusts the power she’s been given, she is able to build staircases in mid air faster than she can climb them. She can create spectacular castles and crystals when she lets go of her fears. I can’t wait to see what God enables me to do when I trust Him.
It’s not going to be easy. I’ll know that if I falter, the icy waters wait just inches below me. They will swirl and whirl and pull me down. But if I trust, fully trust, then I also know it doesn’t matter what’s below me or behind me or before me. It only matters that I do it with Christ. And if I do that, my footing will be secure and my path amazing. Yup, all I need is one word.
What about you? Do you have a word for 2014?
Be still. The words had not been shouted to the furious wind or issued to the sky, but spoken as though directly to my heart.
This line from the book Iscariot by Tosca Lee keeps repeating in my heart like a track on a scratched CD.
Have you ever been caught in a storm? Maybe not with actual raindrops falling from the sky, but with life blowing past you so fast you can feel it? With concerns and worries like thunder pounding through your heart and flashes of fear or sorrow like lightening sparking when you least expect or want them?
When the disciples were caught in a squall they felt helpless, hopeless. Jesus lay asleep while their boat pitched and flooded in the dark, turbulent sea.
But Jesus awoke and with composure said, “Be still.” The waves calmed and the clouds parted. What if He wasn’t just telling the waters and the heavens to chill? What if Jesus was telling the disciples, and in turn, us, to relax and find peace in Him?
I just went through a personal stormy season. Someone I loved died. And although I know he is now at peace and in heaven, it was an exhausting, disorienting and sorrowful journey. I had sleepless nights and anxious moments and heartbreaking sobs. Yet, as my family and I returned home from a week of ICU and Hospice and Visitation and Funeral, Jesus kept telling me, “Be still.”
I went on an early morning run hoping to clear some of the cobwebs crowding my brain. But as I turned a corner, I saw I wasn’t the only one in the neighborhood up before dawn. A mama fox with her two babies sat in the grass, enjoying daybreak and each other’s company. I stopped mid-step, pausing my run, surprised by their presence, their grace. We watched each other as the grayness of morning accepted the golden mist of an awakening sun. Be still.
Rushing out the house to get one of my four kiddos to their soccer practice, clicking off a checklist out loud, “Do you have your cleats? Water bottle? Shin guards?” a perfume halted my mouth and my feet. Sweet and ethereal I stopped and inhaled. The vase of lilies on the counter was sending off its fragrance as a reminder of all that is pure and honest and pretty. It was the opposite of hurrying, the antithesis of juggling and remembering. It was God’s creation—perfect exactly how it was made. Be still.
Clearing dishes off our porch on a steamy summer evening, the wind rattled through the branches in the woods behind our house. The predicted downpour crashed against the roof and leaked through the screens, and yet, at the same time sun gleamed on the wet leaves. How was this possible? I put down my stack of plates and forks and dashed out the front door, letting the rain pelt against my bare arms while the sun shone on my face. I searched the sky for a rainbow, turning in circles in our front yard. I never caught glimpse of the arch of colors I knew must be somewhere close, but the miracle of simultaneous rain and sun was enough to get me to cease my business and indulge my senses. Be still.
There is awe in tranquility, and yet we so often flounder, letting life’s concerns and to do’s swirl around us, sometimes developing into uncontrollable storms. Sometimes we hide from the thunder, cover our eyes from the lightening, or just put our wipers on full blast and try to plow through the rain. How beautiful that Jesus is always there, no matter what, no matter where, no matter how, reminding us to, “Be still.”
How about you? How is God telling you to be still?
Long before Katniss and Peeta, the question has lingered--can boys and girls be friends without romance?
When was the first time you asked yourself if men and women can be just friends?
Today's guest post by author, Renee Fisher, dives into this question as she talks about kissing, dating, break ups and her latest book, Loves Me Not. She first asked herself that question when she was in the seventh grade. She writes:
My friends and I were wasting time in gym talking about more important matters: boys. After listening to my friends, I was horrified to find out that (shocker)--I was the only girl who hadn’t kissed a boy yet. I instantly felt this pressure I’ve never felt before. Maybe it was just me, or the way I was raised--but I wasn’t quite comfortable with having boy friends. And I certainly wasn’t going to kiss a boy who wasn’t my friend.
I wonder if I’m the only one who’s ever felt that way.
In a hook-up-or-go-home culture, it’s tough for me to justify skipping the “let’s be friends” part while jumping into a serious relationship. That probably also explains why I was single for so long.
I tell people often that I was single for over a decade until I found my prince. Personally, he was worth the wait--but how do you find friendships before marriage? Can men and women be just friends? I recently wrote an eBook entitled Loves Me Not to help answer these questions.
Questions like these are very important to ask before marriage, BUT before I attempt to answer these questions, I want to talk about friendship—more importantly, what godly friendship— looks like. First you need to know what you're looking for in a friend. Later you can evolve the right friendship into the right romance.
+ Friends don’t gossip about each other (Proverbs 26:20).
+ Friends are gentle instead of harsh or angry at each other (Proverbs 15:1).
+ Friends words bring healing (Proverbs 12:18).
+ Friends should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry (James 1:19).
+ Friends don’t destroy each other (Proverbs 11:9).
+ Friends are understanding and even-tempered with each other (Proverbs 17:2).
+ Friends pray for each other (Job 42:10, James 5:16).
+ Friends spur each other forward (Hebrews 10:24).
+ Friends encourage each other daily (see Hebrews 3:13).
+ Friends share in each other’s troubles and joys (see Romans 12:15).
+ Friends are reliable and stick closer than a brother or sister (Proverbs 18:24).
After reading the list, I hope you know and understand more about what a true friend does and doesn’t look like (whether they're a boy or a girl).
Nowhere on this list does it say you can or can’t be friends with the opposite sex.
Nowhere does the Bible say, “Thou shall or shall not be friends with the opposite sex.” Praise God, right? But it does say to choose your friends “carefully” (Proverbs 12:26, NIV).
Maybe after reading the list you’ll know more about your motives and the intentions of your friends. I also hope to instill a deeper sense of appreciation for what it takes to be friends first before jumping into a relationship. What better way to discern if a relationship will be a good fit if you know what good of a friend he or she is?
I believe it is possible for guys and girls to be just friends.
The how is between you, God, and the other person.
What’s the verdict? Do you believe men and women can be friends? If you’d like to read more from Loves Me Not, I’d love to share more with you. If you or anyone you know is currently experiencing a broken relationship or a breakup--I encourage you to pick up the eBook for only $2.99.
Renee Fisher, the Devotional Diva®, is the spirited speaker and author of Faithbook of Jesus, Not Another Dating Book, Forgiving Others, Forgiving Me, and Loves Me Not. A graduate of Biola University, Renee’s mission in life is to “spur others forward” (Hebrews 10:24) using the lessons learned from her own trials to encourage others in their walk with God. She and her husband, Marc, live in California with their dog, Star. Learn more about Renee at www.devotionaldiva.com.
I love music. I love Christmas. I listen to all Christmas music all the time from now until December 25, I can’t help it. And I can’t help but compile a playlist. It would take me days to list all the tunes I love, but here are some of my favorites. Enjoy:
10. His Favorite Christmas Story by Capital Lights – it’s got a good beat and you can dance to it, plus I’m a sap.
9. You’re a Mean One, Mister Grinch by Thurl Ravenscroft – da da da da da da
8. Children Go Where I Send Thee by Natalie Merchant –love the reminder to follow God’s plan, not mine
7. The Christmas Song by Nat King Cole – classic, makes me feel Christmasy everytime
6. Christmas Song by Dave Matthews and Tim Reynolds – a completely different song than number 7, but a powerful modern take on a classic story
5. What Child is This by Holly Starr – her voice penetrates my soul
4. Carol of the Bells by Barlow Girl – gorgeous harmony
3. This is Christmas by Kutless “What is Christmas if there never was a savior wrapped in a manger? What is Christmas without Christ?” These lyrics resonate
2. Little Drummer Boy by David Bowie and Bing Crosby – could there be a more classic combo? The harmony with Bowie’s voice penetrating, “Peace on Earth” gives me goosebumps
1. Do They Know It’s Christmas by Live Aid –maybe it was the collaboration of everyone from Boy George to Bananarama to Bono, maybe it was the vibe of tens of thousands of people crammed into Wembley Stadium with millions more watching from home, but I believe it’s the lyrics of this song that make me catch my breath. “But say a prayer. Pray for the other ones.” How grateful I am, that I live in a warm house with running water, that I have a Christmas tree in the corner with gifts wrapped and piled underneath. On Christmas morning I’ll drink coffee and feast on fresh fruit and croissants. How about you? So don’t forget to pray for the other ones this Christmas. “Feed the world. Let them know it’s Christmastime.”
So, what did I leave out? What’s your favorite Christmas song?
There’s a scene in the movie, The Dead Poet’s Society, where the English teacher at an all boys’ high school asks his students to stand on top of their desks. Some boys pounce toR the flat surface, eager to do something quasi against the rules. Others hesitate. Why? Because they aren’t used to standing on their desks.
Have you ever stood on the top of your desk?
The purpose of the exercise is to get his students to look at things in a new way, to gain a different perspective.
This week of Thanksgiving, I’m doing just that, gaining a different perspective.
I’m on top of Rumbling Bald Mountain in North Carolina. My Internet service is spotty, there isn’t a Starbucks within an hours drive and I have a cold. Nothing serious, but the kind where it feels like my head is stuffed with cotton balls. Everything sounds muffled, tastes a bit bland, smells slightly metallic and my energy is low. But, I’m thankful, well except for the Starbucks part.
I’m out of my routine – off track – on top of my desk.
So, I’m sitting more. Gazing at the sky, listening to the laugher of my family and drinking home brewed coffee.
Since I’ve been on my trip I’ve stared at a rainbow, bright and daring, as if God grabbed a handful of Crayola markers and sliced right through the sky with a burst of color. I’ve gazed at zillions of stars, dazzling bright and white through the vast blackness of night. I’ve watched the sunset, which is more like a swirl of colorful clouds dancing around the mountain peeks. As I write this as 2:33 in the afternoon, I see the moon peeking out early. I’m up so high; I feel like if I stretched just a little further, I could grab it.
“If we want to stay on the road to faith, we have to hit the brakes, pull over to a rest area and stop.” Michael Yaconelli
In my typical day, my busy schedule I am productive and healthy and happy, but if I do the same thing everyday, all the time, I miss out on some of God’s beauty, His gifts. And in the midst of missing His creation, I also miss the chance to say, ‘thanks’.
This year I am thankful for a cold, and a view not from the top of the desk, but from the top of a mountain. Because I have no emails or tweets or Facebook to distract me, because my cold forces me to take things slowly, because I’m up where things look different, I’m gaining a different, deeper perspective. And I am thankful.
How about you? What are you thankful for this year?
Laura L. Smith