Category Archives: All Things New

the big questions

Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ. Philippians 1.6

We all ask questions, some more than others.

They roll through our minds the moment we open our eyes in the morning

Can I squeeze in a few more minutes of shut eye?

Did I remember to set the timer on the coffee pot? I need my coffee this morning…

Where did I put that file?

Where are my socks?

The list goes on.

The mundane questions of the day seem trivial when compared to the bigger, deeper questions we ask, whether they are voiced or not. This question(s) may be a lot harder to identify if you haven’t spent time looking within.

Your question may differ from mine. It lurks in the back of our minds, affecting our attitude, outlook, and behavior on a daily basis.

When we get really honest, our big question may look something like this:

Am I really loved?

Why am I here?

Does what I do even matter?

Do I matter?

Do I really belong?

Our questions differ based on our backgrounds, personalities and current situations. Those questions leave a huge hole in our lives and we, mere humans, burn so much time and energy in trying to find something to fill it.

To answer the question, “Am I really loved?” we may look to people and relationships for affection and approval. We jump from one relationship to another when the going gets tough and you start asking the question all over again.

Though we may not out rightly ask, “Does what I do matter?” we may look for every opportunity to earn a special award, a boss’s recognition, or another promotion or pay-raise at work.

We may not vocalize our questions about belonging. Instead, we find ourselves second-guessing everything we do and over-thinking situations before they actually happen, and that’s if they do.

Living that way isn’t fun. It’s downright exhausting…and terrifying when you place your worth, value and, ultimately, the answer you’re seeking in other people, relationships or objects.

No matter what question you are facing today, there is only One who can provide the answer that satisfies the deepest part of you.

God, the Creator of the universe, alone holds the answer to your biggest questions.

I’ve only recently begun to discover just how deep my questions ran and how God alone can quench the deepest part of me. Once that thirst, that longing, is satisfied, you come to understand that nothing this world offers can fill it – not the people in your life, not the material things you possess.

Nothing

God can and will answer those questions…

Am I really loved?

Does what I do matter?

Do I belong?

and any other question that you may be facing or will face

…with the resounding message of his unfailing, never-ending love.

Rather than seeking validation in material things or relationships, you can turn to God for the answers to your biggest questions. And when you do, you will find God embracing us – the deepest and most hidden parts of us – and loving you more than you ever dared believe.

That is my hope for you; that you will recognize who holds the answers to your biggest questions and that you will take them to him when you need the answer. Allow yourself to be infused by God’s love, grace, kindness, peace and joy.

© Anita J. Brands. 2014. Website: https://authentictruthseeker.wordpress.com/

a new leaf has turned

LaCrae, a Christian artist I’ve had the opportunity to “stumble on”, posted on Facebook yesterday the following statement:

“I used to see New Year as a chance to reset, but truthfully, God gives us the chance to reset all the time!”

I agree.

The Bible also confirms this truth — God’s mercies are new with the morning. We get chance after chance after chance to start over. Thank God! (*Note…this is not a free ride to do as you please. Grace doesn’t work that way.)

And yet, I couldn’t help turning over a new leaf yesterday – January 1, 2014.

I’ve been stumbling around a dimly lit world for the better part of seven months…the after effects of ending what could have ended up a toxic relationship and making other necessary changes in my life. The only thing that lit my world was the light of God…an anchor I’ve steadfastly held on to (Hebrews 6.19) during this maddening time.

You read that right…maddening.

I’m an optimist by nature and let’s just say this bout with depression has had me at my wit’s end. I’ve been frustrated with not just the circumstances, but with myself. Voices from my childhood reared their ugly heads, telling me to “buck up” and that “grown-up girls don’t cry” or “let circumstances bring them down.”

Not to mention, Satan has attempted to have his way too…with words and phrases like

failure

hopeless

unlovable

The list goes on.

I’m proud to say that I haven’t given in. Even through my world seemed dark and I have felt weak at times, my Jesus was, and is, that much stronger. I’ve spent the majority of my time curled up in his lap (within the warm embrace of his Word), filling my mind with scripture from Psalms, Proverbs, Song of Songs, 1 Corinthians and more. He’s reminded me time and time again how much he loves me even though I sometimes struggle with the why part.

December brought strength and restoration. I’ve felt a stirring in my heart that has grown stronger…it’s still there and I have no idea what’s coming. I just know something is…

And while I’m waiting, I’m choosing now to reset.

It’s a new year.

A new day

I was reading through the first two passages of Job this morning and found myself thankful for all that I have been given – life, family, friends, meaningful relationships, a roof over my head, income so I can pay my bills and live, and more.

[I] have this hope as an anchor for [my] soul, firm and secure. Hebrews 6.19

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While I wait for whatever life will be bringing me, I will cling fast to God and he will uphold me in his mighty right hand (Psalm 63.8), just as he always does.

Being a musician, I love music. David Crowder has branched out on his own and has had a few new songs on the radio — I heard one just this morning. I’ve heard it before, but the words struck me as I was writing this up:

There’s no space that His love can’t reach
There’s no place where we can’t’ find peace
There’s no end to amazing grace

Take me in with Your arms spread wide
Take me in like an orphan child
Never let go
Never leave my side

I am
Holding on to You
I am
Holding on to You
In the middle of the storm
I am holding on
I am

Love like this
Oh my God to find
I am overwhelmed
With a joy divine
Love like this sets our hearts on fire

This is my resurrection song
This is my halleluiah come
This is why it’s to You I run

There’s no space that His love can’t reach
There’s no place where we can’t find peace
There’s no end to amazing grace
– Crowder, “I Am”

Isn’t that beautiful?

There’s no space that His love can’t reach
There’s no place where we can’t find peace
There’s no end to amazing grace

I am holding on.

Sometimes, I have to take action and shake things up my own life a little bit. I could sit around and wait for God to move, but he requires action on our part, too. Besides, I would get bored waiting around, doing nothing all the time. And since I love to live (prefer it actually), I’m holding on to him and letting go of other things. Doing so required me to change my schedule, just a bit.

If 2013 taught me anything, I’ve discovered that I want Jesus’ voice to be the first that I hear in the morning and the last that I hear before I fall asleep at night. I want him to start and end my day. I long forward to it actually.

What better way to do that than to spend time with him both morning and evening?

I may not know what 2014 has in store for me, but I know who holds my future and I want him to be as involved in every detail of my day as possible.

How about you? Since God hits the reset button all the time, what changes do you need to make? What changes do you want to make? Take a stand and make them and be sure to ask for God’s help as you go about making those changes. He will guide you and he alwasy follows through.

© Anita J. Brands. 2014. Website: https://authentictruthseeker.wordpress.com/

this year…

I found this cool, short list and thought I’d share it with you all:

  • A bad habit I’m going to break: my spending habit
  • A new skill I’d like to learn: crocheting/guitar
  • A person I hope to be more like: My mom
  • A good deed I’m going to do: start volunteering on a regular basis somewhere
  • A place I’d like to visit: Colorado? I would also settle for the North Shore
  • A book I’d like to read: All of Tim Keller’s books…or I’ll be reading more period.
  • A letter I’m going to write: I’ll be turning 29 this year…29 acts of kindness will include letter writing at some point.
  • A new food I’d like to try: Something Indian
  • I’m going to do better at: Building/Maintaining relationships – Amy, this one’s for you.

2014

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goodbyes are hard

Yesterday, I wrote about letting go of all that hinders – found here.

I’ve been learning that following through on that may include saying goodbye to those things that hold me back or no longer serve the purpose God has set before me.

And that’s exactly what I have to do; what I am doing/going to do.

Personally, I’ve never liked the term goodbye. It seems so final. As if I’ll never see that person again. I typically don’t end conversations with a close friend with that word – instead, it’s see you or later, maybe even a simple bye, followed by I love you.

This instance is not the first time I’ve had to say goodbye, nor will it be the last. I’ve said goodbye to friendships that never got off the ground and others who have run their course. I’ve let go of dreams and said hello to new ones. I do that all the time.

There’s also the matter of death and loss.

I’ve been blessed in the area of loss…the closest relative I’ve had to say goodbye to was an uncle, who wasn’t really all that close – relationally anyway. And yet, it was still a loss.

If there is one thing that life has taught me, is that it doesn’t stay the same. It’s always changing and the fact that I haven’t lost anyone close to me could, in fact, happen at any moment. We’re not guaranteed tomorrow, you know.

Anyway…

This isn’t about being a nice person and keeping tabs on every little thing (people, relationships, situations) that have ever crossed my path. That would be incredibly exhausting and stressful.

This is about releasing to God what is his…and that happens to be everything he’s given me.

In the last six months, he’s been teaching me plenty. I’ve learned that happiness starts with me – not with my relationship status or the number of friends I have; the number of things I have to do in a day (although I do enjoy being busy – to an extent) or my job. None of those things can make me happy.

That being said (and combined with the close of another year), I’m saying goodbye…

  • To 2013
  • To old habits
  • To lies I’ve believed
  • To relationships I have no reason to hold on to or have.
  • To settling. Period.

Am I not grateful for having experienced all that I have this year? I am. Truly. Deeply. And will always be.

Not all love lasts, but the lessons love brings us to do. – Mandy Hale

Is this final? Probably, at least until God calls me home – I can’t make that determination for others as I cannot see their hearts. Only God can. I simply pray that God will deal with them just as he’s dealing with me; with amazing grace, tender mercy and unfailing, unending love. That part isn’t my responsibility. It’s my responsibility to let go.

I’m ready.

When the past calls, let it go to voicemail. It has nothing new to say. – Mandy Hale

I’m in the midst of a transition into a new season of life, and what once was a part of this season will not fit. They will fall away. It’s time.

And it’s time that I release my life, my heart, my dreams – all that I am – to God’s care, where they all rightfully belong. Granted, I’m not perfect and I am sure there will be days when I’ll take them back, only to release them again. All of life is a process and I am no different. I’m not perfect, nor would I ever claim to be. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I am a work in progress.

When you let go, something magical happens. You give God room to work. – Mandy Hale

Will it be easy? No. Nothing worth fighting for is, but in the end, it will be worth it.

I have had the call of God on my life since I was four and while I’m still figuring out what my calling is, He’s creating something new, helping me become the woman he created me to be and, honestly? I can’t wait to meet her.

[My] life should be so fulfilled and purposeful and centered in God that [I] see it as the cake and love as the icing. With or without the icing, a cake is still a cake. – Mandy Hale

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© Anita J. Brands. 2013. Website: https://authentictruthseeker.wordpress.com/

a new year’s resolution…wait, i don’t make those

New Year’s is tomorrow.

Tonight, there will probably be some party that I’ll make a small, short appearance at. After all, we all know I’m not a night owl. I may or may not make it to midnight. Good thing I do not have plans tomorrow…

People around the world (or maybe it’s just the U.S.) make resolutions to start their new year off with a bang.

I was reading an article the other day about the top ten resolutions people make each year. Let’s just say I was amused.

  1. Spend more time with family and friends
  2. Fit in fitness
  3. Focus on health
  4. Quit smoking
  5. Enjoy life more
  6. Quit drinking
  7. Get out of debt
  8. Learning something new
  9. Help others
  10. Get organized

When I was growing up, my family never really made resolutions. Sure, we had goals mapped out for the next year and most of them were met by marking mile-markers as we went along.

Save money.

Get new equipment for the farm.

Pay off debt.

Diet…again. Speaking of that, move more.

The list goes on.

Four years ago – and I can’t believe it’s been that long – (March 2014 will mark three years since I made the move to Minneapolis), I made the decision to turn my life upside down and start over in regards to health (mental, emotional and physical), finances and my spiritual life. It was time to be radical and not live the way the world around me said I should.

I gave up pop. Best. Decision. Ever.

I stopped living by that blasted number on the scale and started going by how I feel and the number of inches I’ve lost instead. I’m proud to say that I’m down 45 lbs. and have lost 58+ inches over my entire body since I’ve moved to the cities. I cop it all off to walking everywhere and actually using my gym membership.

My finances look better than they did when I moved here. Finally!

I could go on.

I’m not anywhere near where I would like to be or, rather, where I envision God wants me to be, but I will get there…step by obedient step…moment by intentional moment. Perhaps he’ll call me home when I do.

2014 won’t be any different. Starting tomorrow, I plan on being intentional about getting into the Word on a daily basis – I even found some pretty cool reading plans, one that goes through the Bible in a year and another that camps out in the New Testament all year long (you can Google reading plans or click here or here). I plan on getting up earlier; I’m just hoping it’s not after a long night tonight. I plan on hitting the gym for the third time this week – on the plus side, I also discovered that they do get the Hallmark channel (and other movie channels) at the gym. Maybe I’ll watch a whole move while I’m walking on the treadmill, climbing on the elliptical or biking away the miles. We shall see. I also plan on cleaning and reorganizing part of my apartment. I also need to put the Christmas stuff away.

Along with the following:

  • Remember that bucket list I posted? Check here.
  • Continue to cultivate emotional maturity…learn not to take everything personally. They really don’t affect or have anything to do with me anyway. I can choose not to let them affect me.
  • Continue to learn and apply the difference between time and energy management.
  • Remove all unhealthy assumptions. In other words, extract the lies I’ve believed.
  • Invest in someone younger than me.
  • Embrace and continue to build new and deep relationships. No more of this surface level stuff when it comes to those I call friends.
  • Learn how to really manage my finances – budget, meal plan, save, etc.
  • Plan. I’m a planner by nature – my girlfriends give me a hard time for it nearly every day. What can I say? God gifted me with the gift of administration. I’m still trying to figure what to do with it.
  • Rest well. I intend to take time each day/week/month to rest. To be still.
  • Love the Lord – with all that I am.

Bring it on New Year! I love a challenge!

How about you? What are your goals or resolutions?

I pray that as you make them, you’ll include God in on the fun. Without him, the success rate is practically nil, or so I’ve discovered. And don’t forget to have a little fun!

my wish for you in the new year

Even in the midst of turmoil, trial and strife.

“I am not alone, for my Father is with me. I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” – Jesus, John 16.32b-33

Jesus never said this life would be easy. It will be hard.

It is hard.

It would be even harder without him.

This world, not to mention Satan, has a tendency to play with our minds, offering things that seem more alluring and spinning lies about how this thing or that person/relationship will fill the void that we all have.

Everything this world offers (thing, money, relationship, job, etc.) will not last. They always change and I can guarantee that at some point or another, that thing will cause you more heartache than you ever thought it could. 4e606f0877a23b8d40255bfb307320b8

Believe me, I’ve been there.

Some days, I’m still there.

Only in Jesus can peace, hope and the ever-constant state of being of joy be found.

Only Jesus lasts….from beginning to end; Alpha and Omega (Revelation 1.8).

Only Jesus is constant. He’s the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13.8).

Forever

Satan is also very good at creating doubt where a firm foundation should be. One of his most effective traps for robbing Christians of peace, joy and hope is to convince them that they need to earn these gifts from God.

Grace doesn’t work that way.

There isn’t a price to pay.

Jesus paid it all on the cross and we don’t owe a single thing on that debt.

It has been paid in full.

And yet

Yet…

We fall for it all the time.

If you’re struggling with this, I encourage you to find time during those moments when you’re about to fall for Satan’s claims – hook, line and sinker – or even when you have and turn to God.

Get into the Word.

Pray.

Read the Psalms and praise him for all that he has done and continues to do.

Find an accountability partner.

Walk through life with other believers.

Listen to/for him.

And believe the truth that you can’t earn God’s love. There isn’t anything you can do to earn his love or make him love you more than he already does. He loves the same, ever constant.

My prayer, my wish, for you in 2014 (and beyond) is this:

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15.13 NIV

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with the new year comes a new lens

ef707021510966629c883de78cdff843I’m all about keeping my readers up to date with any upcoming series/writings that my creative mind is currently spinning. January 1, 2014 kicks off a new year.

Another new beginning

A fresh start

Chances to begin again

That being said, I’m going to attempt taking a fresh, new perspective (for me at least) in reading the Bible.

Most people read through the Bible in a year. Sadly, I’ve tried and failed, but what good is there in not getting back up and trying again?

I’ll be doing so again, but will be adding a character study with each reading.

Each character

Not just the big ones.

I’m talking about Enoch and Seth, Mordecai and Tamar (both that are mentioned in the Bible).

There are more than 365 characters, so what follows may be longer than a given year and I can guarantee I won’t be writing one up every day. Some may need more study than others. After all, Moses has more than one “story” connected to him.

For example, there’s the way he was found in the basket among the reeds in the Nile by Pharaoh’s daughter, the way he was raise in the palace, the burning bush, the ten plagues, the crossing of the Red Sea, water from the rock at Mara, the Ten Commandments…the list goes on.

There may even be more than one write-up per character, especially the big ones.  

I’ve also been reading through Nichole Nordeman’s Love Story (found here) and her creative writing and fresh perspective forces the reader to look at scripture differently.

I want that.

A changing of my mindset

A different perspective

I grew up reading the Bible, starting at a very young age. It’s easy for me to allow it to become commonplace; for me to go through the motions.

I’ve read this one before…nothing new since the last time I read it.

What now?

Do I really need to read it again?

And when it comes to books like Leviticus, I inwardly cringe (sorry God). In my opinion, it’s one of the most boring books of the Bible…all numbers, whining and complaining…most of it seems repeated from Exodus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. I’ve often wanted to rip my hair out with how bored I get with that book (I highly recommend pairing it with another book – it will make it that much more bearable).

That being said, I hope you enjoy my findings as well as any research put into this project.

Happy New Year!

all that hinders

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. Hebrews 12.1-3 NIV

The world we live in believes that how you play the game isn’t nearly as important as winning or losing.

God’s way is quite different.

In the end, He wins.

His disciples win.

It all comes down to how you play the game or, in this case, run the race.

The first thing we must do is cast off everything that hinders. God isn’t talking about sin here as that opening statement is followed with “and the sin that so easily entangles.” If I want to be a starter in this game (and I don’t want to be sitting on the sidelines, watching it all unfold – I’d rather be in on the action, thank you very much!), you need to cast off everything that holds you back from what God would have you become – the person you were created to be.

The things that hold me back differ from the things that hold you back.

These are the things that get in the way of what you feel you should be doing.

For instance, it used to be the four to six hours of television or movie time I used to put in every night. During that season of my life, I didn’t have the “time” to spend with Jesus each morning. Since then, I’ve chosen to spend an hour or two reading Christian literature or my Bible each evening, limiting my TV/movie intake and choosing to go to bed earlier so I can get up earlier. It took some discipline (it still does some days), but I did it.

I am doing it.

The fact that I’m most definitely not a night owl makes the going to bed earlier that much easier.fc0cd4467a5ad1c81fb9ef7c24886fa3 What a perk! My mom even confirmed this weekend when I asked if I was that way as a kid. The answer: yep. From the time I was a baby, I was in bed by 8 PM and slept soundly until 5:30 the next morning. Like clockwork.

Cool.

But if that was something that hindered me in the past, what is holding me back now?

A number of things:

  • worry over finances has held me back from using what I do have for God’s glory
  • a light case of depression has held me back from making healthy choices
  • a past relationship that I have struggled to let go of has held me back from moving on and being open to receiving what God has for me right now
  • and more I have yet to uncover, I’m sure.

Did you know that there is no rule in the book of life stating that you have to hold onto a relationship with an ex, even if they ask? You don’t. If it is something that stops you short of receiving God’s best, let it go. Release it.

He/She wasn’t yours to begin with.

Let it go. Release it.

No matter what that looks like – changing your number, deleting the contact from the phone, getting rid of all email/letter communication, putting photos away, stop using Facebook – do whatever it takes to let it go. You can’t move on if you don’t. I couldn’t. Some days I find that I can’t. So I’m letting go.

I’ve been getting a log of encouragement in that department from my mentors, many of my friends and Mandy Hale…a positive voice for single women. I have to take a moment to give thanks to God for a couple of my brothers who stood alongside me in removing all traces from my life, for the time being. Their actions make me appreciate and respect them even more – so, boys, if you’re reading this, thank you for being an encouragement in my walk with Jesus. You are appreciated, deeply respected and admired.

I am not less of a person because I don’t have the titles of girlfriend, wife or mother attached to my being.

I am me and that’s awesome.

I have Jesus and he’s all I need.

He is enough.

And because he is enough, I am enough.

I’m embracing it…or learning to.

The Holy Spirit’s message is clear: there is faith available – even that the size of a mustard seed – let go and go get it. Do whatever it takes to seek that faith, to have it and to hold onto it. Jesus, through the work of the Holy Spirit, can do that for you. He can help you overcome sin and cast off all that hinders.

I’m set to run the race before me. I don’t know what 2014 holds, but I do know who holds my life. Come rain or shine, I’m his. I’ll cling to him, I’ll strive to continue to do so, even as he reveals what he has for me and I know it’ll be better than anything I ever had planned or could dream up for my own life.

My prayer for you is that you choose to do the same. Enjoy the run!

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bound and determined

2014 is quickly approaching and I am bound and determined to allow it, within the will of God, to be another year of growth, renewal and formation. I know it won’t be easy, but it’s what I ultimately want: him and to become more and more the person he intended me to be at Creation.

That being said, here’s the start of my bucket list for 2014:

  1. Prep for moving day – August 2014
  2. Get 4th/5th tattoos
  3. Take several mental health days throughout the year – to rest in Him and maintain my sanity
  4. Save!
  5. Do more of what I love doing
  6. Start a new hobby and use it to serve others
  7. Consider taking on a 2nd job to help with number four
  8. Saving money for December’s Christmas gifts/making them throughout the year
  9. Plan a spiritual retreat somewhere and go. Alone.
  10. Plan at least one date night a week for just me – alone – out to a movie, dinner, a picnic in a park, a coffee-shop paired with a good book.
  11. Take Mindy Hale’s advice, pair it with God’s and live it.
  12. Finish writing at least one novel and explore options of getting it published.
  13. Write more. Period.
  14. Window shop for inspiration
  15. Bargain shop for new pieces for my new apartment before/after my move.
  16. Minimize what I already have – sell/donate what I don’t need
  17. Menu plan
  18. Find where my passions and personality collide and find a way to make a living at it – learn to live the dreams he’s given me in a way to honor and glorify him.
  19. Explore more and discover more of what I love to do
  20. Volunteer more
  21. Read more
  22. Watch less TV/movies – Hollywood’s version of reality sucks anyway
  23. Create/Make new items for my new home – let creativity flow!
  24. Budget
  25. Build and deepen relationships
  26. Focus on bettering myself in all aspects of life for his glory – health, fitness, finances, professional, emotional, etc.
  27. Seek out personal counseling just to hash through any emotional junk I may be dealing with and utilize that to live my life to its fullest right now
  28. Focus on my relationship with God and keep it my primary
  29. Live based on a standard of grace, not perfection
  30. Learn to really like myself
  31. Live Happyily, whether I find my Ever After or not
  32. View my “Ever After” in light of the Cross
  33. Create more
  34. Take more long walks wherever my feet take me
  35. Take a few more roadtrips, just because.
  36. Live

What do you hope to accomplish in the coming year? What are some of your goals or, if you’re the type, your resolutions? Will you keep them? Will you break them?

Pray for God’s guidance in making those decisions as we step closer and closer to 2014….less than six days away!