Diana Kerr »

My friend Dr. Meghan Birt is our first ever guest blogger and she’s got some amazing advice for you today! Take it away, Meghan!

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Hey sweet friend. I want to give you a little pep talk. I think you need one when it comes to your health. Let’s be real together, ok?

You may be a little worn out, exhausted, bloated, or feeling like you’re craving food (sugar is a big one) and you don’t feel like you have an extra minute to eat better, sleep more, or work on your health.

I think that you and I are a lot alike. We are both women (maybe mommas) who live a full life. Maybe you are a type-A firstborn like me who wants to pile a little too much on my plate.

Are you feeling like you are a little too run down? Maybe you’re feeling less than your best, or a lot less than your best. But at the same time you’re probably thinking you have no time to spend working on your health. You can’t press pause on anything on your life to take time to really focus on your health.

I know what you want because we all want this. You want to feel energetic, living on purpose. You want to cut through the overwhelming health information and make it simple enough to do everyday. You want to truly believe abundant health is possible… but you don’t know how to do it or when you’ll have time.

You do have time to work on getting healthier. Think about it, none of us want to feel sick and tired. No way! We desire to feel our best and live on purpose. What happens is we get stuck. We are stuck feeling like we can’t do it and it is just too overwhelming. This pattern goes on and on. That is until you decide you’re going to stop it. Let’s stop it today!

I want to instill a bit of confidence in you before I go onto making time for your health. You can do it! There’s nothing special about me or the next person. You have everything within you (that includes the Holy Spirit) that allows you to be successful and apply healthy living tools, whatever they may be.

You’ve got it. I believe in you! And it’s time to believe in yourself. You’re not going to be perfect, but you can be consistent and make great choices one after another.

I’m going to share my healthy living secret with you. Are you ready for it?

My secret is simplifying health. Let’s stop making it so complex.

I believe we gain health by small choices made consistently. Those consistent choices become habits. Over time our habits add up.

Start with one thing and move onto the next small thing. Our health changes in the little by little. That’s the basis of simplifying health. You can make one small change for your health today and do it until you make it a habit.

If you tried to change your health in 5 days by doing 30 new things, you would get overwhelmed, burned out, and give up before you notice any of the benefits to living healthier. I see it happen all the time and I was in that mindset myself along time ago. It’s a recipe for feeling guilt, disappointment, and self-condemnation. I see way too much burn out when people try to change their lifestyle choices. We think we can change everything tomorrow and stick to our thousands of health goals perfectly.

What one thing do you want to start working on for your health? Start small because small goals are actually more successful than big, huge goals.

Think about your one goal. I bet you can find the time to fit that into your schedule. It’s so small, how can you not fit it in? This is what is going to happen. You’re going to feel so good about the forward movement you’re making on that goal, you’re going to want to try another small thing until that is a habit.

I’ll tell you one more thing I’ve learned over the last 10 years in the natural health and wellness field. Our health can seem anything but simple. Sometimes it can be downright hard and confusing. Don’t misunderstand me when I talk about simplicity. It doesn’t mean that there’s one magic supplement to take, one exercise you can do once a year, or a food you eat 3x/day and it gives you infinite health.

If our health takes time and effort (I won’t lie, it does), why would we want to make it harder to apply and overcomplicate it? Why do we overwhelm our minds with too information and essentially freeze ourselves from making any decisions or taking any action? Your mind and life doesn’t have a extra room for a high capacity of complex health information.

You really don’t have time to be run down, tired, and not being as purposeful and productive as you can be. Think about that for a minute. When you start working on your health and feeling better, you actually have more time because you actually FEEL better. Your brain, body, and mind will be able to function at a higher level. Imagine it, you can feel better.

Our health is important. Have an attitude of seeking health knowledge, taking simplified action, and reaping the benefits of your healthy lifestyle. You’ve got this!!

Dr. Meghan Birt is a chiropractor, educator, and healthy living encourager. She’s also a wife and mom to one sweet girl. Dr. Meghan’s love of natural health started many years before getting her chiropractic degree. Healthy food and nutrition was the catalyst into becoming a chiropractor and she was able to achieve healing in her own body through natural means. Dr. Meghan wants to inspire a love of health in women and believes every individual has the opportunity to live their healthiest life possible, which can be achieved through natural approaches. You can find her at www.meghanbirt.com and on the Just Enjoy Health Podcast.

If you’re looking for simple steps so you can take action on the areas of your life that matter download Meghan’s Simplify Your Health: Wellness Planning Guide. This is your starter guide to making time for your health by making it a lot simpler!

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Around this time of year, it’s always tempting to sliiiiiide into the end of the year and trick ourselves into thinking that the year’s basically over.

Friends, that’s simply not true.

You’ve got about 60 days left this year to make good goals happen. 60 days is 60 days. The last 60 days of the year are just as valuable as the first 60 days.

Heck, you can even start working on a 2017 goal you set back in January that you haven’t started on yet. I give you permission! There are very few absolute rules in goal setting, so you can decide to start on a 2017 goal in November. It’s allowed. If it’s still important to you, I say go for it.

I’m excited both to end the year well and I’m excited for next year’s goals. I already have a date on the calendar in December to work on my 2018 goals (using the PowerSheets Intentional Goal Planner, of course!), and I’ve been brainstorming ideas of 2018 goals.

I’ve even got a fun challenge in mind for 2018 that I might try out and invite you along for the journey. Make sure you’re on my email list to find out about that. (Plus, I send lots of good email-only tips to my email family–another incentive to be on there.)

If you’re getting pumped about 2018 goals already, I recommend watching the Facebook Live I recorded last week about 3 steps you can take in less than 7 minutes to prepare you for a bold, intentional 2018. (I’ll tell you exactly what it’s about so you don’t have to watch the whole thing: The first 10 minutes, I share those 3 steps, and the last 13 minutes I tell you about PowerSheets for those who want some PowerSheets tips or are curious in if they’re a good fit for you.)

In setting my November goals, I did what I do every month–define my objective.

I write out answers to questions like, “How do I want to feel during and about this month?” “What outcomes/results do I want from this month?” Of course, glorifying God and being close to him is always, always the #1 thing. But I need to dig deeper to know what that looks like.

As I answered those Qs for November, two big themes aside from some of my usual answers (such as “provide for my family”) were:

  1. I wanted to be well-prepared for an intentional, worshipful, joyful December
  2. I want more energy! :)

I used those answers to help set these goals, which I’m about to share with you!

First, here’s how things went with my October PowerSheets goals!


1. Read Sleep Smarter and implement at least 2 things from the book

Didn’t finish this but I’m close. I read the Bible a lot this month and would have finished this book if it weren’t for that. Thankfully, the Spirit led me to choose my Bible over other books more than usual this month, and that is definitely not a bad thing. To be honest, sometimes reading a book seems more appealing to me than the Bible when I have a moment and have to choose. It disappoints me that this is true since no book ever fulfills me the way the Bible does.

2. Choose to live in a peak state

This is a hard one to measure and fully “cross off” but this was definitely a huge area of focus this month and helped a lot with my poor energy.

3. Plan Erica’s baby shower

It was wonderful! I asked myself, “What’s my outcome with this shower?” (I know, I’m SUCH a life coach! haha) But answering that gave me some ideas on how to use that party to really make my sister feel loved both at her shower and in the future when she’s a new mom.

4. Bring joyful, listening presence to my relationships

I’m not crossing this off because I’m hard on myself about this. It’s a constant struggle, or I should say, something I need to be continually mindful of. If I’m not careful, I can be a) too task-oriented and/or b) too chatty and not a good listener! God continues to grow me, but I know I could bless people so much more than I do now.

5. Link specific prayers to tasks 

Started, but definitely not completed!

6. Simplify and de-stress healthy, timely meals, especially Harrington’s meals

We made a lot of progress here, but we’ve got more work to do. Any tips on feeding organic, grain-free, etc. in a simple, intentional way? I need all your mom hacks, please. :) 

7. Create a video series about clearing mental clutter

8. Fill coaching spots of clients who end their coaching program this month

9. Reach monthly income goal

God blew me away this month in this area. PRAISE HIM. 

Weekly goals:

Goal: Do each of these at least 3/4 weeks

1. Savor a Sunday Funday Sabbath

2. Keep calories to <16,450/week (2,350/day)

3. Exercise at least 2 times (Other than walking)

4. Read before bed instead of watching TV

5. Process paper/electronic inbox 60+ minutes

6. Improve the efficiency of at least one thing in my personal life or business to buy back time

Daily goals:

1. Pray + spend time in the Word | Goal: 20 days // Actual: 29

2. Track food in FitBit | Goal: 22 days // Actual: 29

3. Encourage Kyle | Goal: 20 days // Actual: 27

4. Practice gratitude focused on God, not my circumstances | Goal: 20 days // Actual: 22

5. Grow in faith with Kyle | Goal: 15 days // Actual: 23

6. Completely wind down by 9 pm | Goal: 12 days // Actual: 18

7. Lights out by 10 pm | Goal: 15 days // Actual: 10

Books I finished:

These and all other affiliate links in this post support our Giving Back initiative

The Magnolia Story audiobook

Now, here are my November goals!

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NOVEMBER GOALS

Like I mentioned, I use the PowerSheets Intentional Goal Planner to set and track these goals!

PERSONAL //

1. Buy 80+% of our Christmas presents

2. Donate 4+ boxes of items to people in need

3. Simplify/de-stress shopping for, planning, and cooking meals, especially for Harrington

4. Choose to live in a peak state

5. Bring joyful energy and listening presence to relationships and events

6. Decide on a plan for Kyle’s 30th birthday

I’d love your ideas on how to celebrate him–must be simple and fairly inexpensive! :)

BUSINESS // 

7. Complete video opt-in series

8. Reach income goal in business

Weekly goals:

Goal: Complete these at least 3/4 weeks

1. Process inbox for 90+ minutes

This refers to tasks/notes I toss in my Todoist inbox and my paper inbox to get them out of my head and deal with them later.

2. Make healing soup our nutritionist recommended

3. Exercise 2+ times

4. Keep calories to <2,300/day on average

Daily goals:

1. Pray and spend time in the Word | Goal: 30 days

2. Encourage Kyle | Goal: 20 days

3. Do a very short exercise routine in the morning and stand in front of my vitamin D lamp | Goal: 15 days

This is to try to reset my cortisol rhythm and increase my energy in the morning! 

4. Streamline/simplify/systemize something in my business or personal life | Goal: 20 days

5. Track food in FitBit | Goal: 25 days

6. Wind down completely by 9 | Goal: 18 days

Put phone on airplane mode and avoid checking texts or social media, etc.

7. Lights out by 10 | Goal: 15 days


Share your goals with me in the comments or link to your goals post if you blogged them!

Join my email family for email-only tips and encouragement (all with a focus on Jesus) to help you live a #boldintentionallife!

 

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PinITBudgeting is like a four-letter word when it comes to finances, am I right?

Some of us feel the same emotions about budgeting that we feel about horror movies. (Cue terrifying music and a high-pitched scream.) Budgeting has this stigma of being dreadful, of sucking the fun and spontaneity out of life.

Personally, I think the stigma’s inaccurate.

I think budgeting actually gives you freedom and improves your quality of life, even though so many people view budgeting as limiting and constricting. It’s all in how you look at it. I’ve witnessed through friends as well as experienced first-hand how freeing it can be.

Think about these 5 ways that using a budget can actually be pretty amazing:

1. Budgeting lightens the weight of the debt that’s burdening you

Whether you’re trying to pay off debt (which is most of us) or avoid debt (good for you), budgeting helps you achieve freedom from debt’s grip.

None of us want someone or something else to control us (and that’s kind of what debt entails); we want independence. A budget helps you spend money you have and avoid spending money you don’t have.

2. Budgeting lets you spend money throughout the month without worry or guilt

Using a budget eliminates much of the stress of wondering if you’ll end up ahead at the end of the month or run out of money.

Rather than letting life just happen to you and crossing your fingers that it works for the best, OR compulsively checking your online banking app to make sure you still have money, budgeting gives you power because you know where you stand.

When you sit down and take a look at how much money you’ve got to spread around, you know how much room—how much freedom—you have in each spending category. You can spend with confidence instead of with guilt or worry because you know, for example, that you budgeted $50 (and therefore actually have $50) to enjoy that anniversary date night.

3. Budgeting minimizes anxiety about the future

When you budget, you sleep better at night because you’re better prepared for the future.

Before Kyle and I had a baby, it was comforting to know that budgeting had help put us in a position to be able to have kids without huge financial strain. We didn’t have to lower our standard of living or go into debt to have our son.

If future life circumstances cause us to make major changes in our spending habits, I’m not worried, because we have 1) paid off all our debt except our home we know exactly where our money is going right now and how to use a budget to adjust accordingly.

Related post: Read our story about paying off $30,000 in debt in less than a year

4. Budgeting cuts waaay down on those ugly money fights in your marriage

I can’t emphasize this enough. It’s insanely helpful to be on the same page with your spouse when it comes to money—to decide ahead of time what your priorities are so you avoid disagreements and impulsive purchases.

Here’s one of my favorite tips for budgeting with your spouse: Allow each person an allowance. It can be as much or as little as you like, but each spouse has 100% say over their own allowance money and can spend it however they want. When I say however, I mean that you get to spend money guilt-free on the things your better half might deem wasteful or unnecessary. (For us ladies, that might mean manicures or shoes, and for our guys, it probably means something they “need” for one of their hobbies that we women find totally useless.)

Related post: How the allowance system changed our marriage and life

5. Budgeting lets you say no to stuff without feeling awkward

Saying no to friends and family is hard. You don’t want to look or feel “poor” when you say no to a trip with friends, or when you ask your family if they’re down for cutting back on Christmas presents this year.

It sounds a little goofy maybe, but budgeting makes that easier. It’s much easier to say, “That’s not in our budget,” or “That doesn’t work with our budget” than say instead, “We don’t want to” or “We can’t afford it.”

People have more respect for your choices and you’ll feel more confident about those choices when you are clearly being intentional about your financial goals.

Alright, honesty time—Where are you at with budgeting? Love it?/Hate it? Why? Comment and let me know!

On top of all these reasons, the biggest reason Kyle and I budget is to steward well the money God has given us.

Yeah, it takes some extra work than to just not pay as much attention to our finances, but if you gave someone money to invest or spend for you, you’d expect them to not blow it, right?

The fact that we’re living in the wealthiest country of all time, ever is something we don’t take lightly. There’s so much opportunity to do good with the money God has entrusted to us (way more than we deserve, if you ask me).

THAT is the #1 reason why budgeting is awesome and worth it to us. Hopefully that encourages and excites you too. :)

Share this post on social media if you agree that budgeting is not lame, but actually pretty awesome. :)

For more Jesus-focused intentional living tips, click here to join my email family!

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  • October 18, 2017 - 8:33 pm

    Lori Bowman - I completely agree! Love this article! During college I did not budget and was not the best with finances. Now I have been out of college for 5 months and been budgeting for those few months and already have one loan paid off!! It is so liberating! It really put into perspective too how much God has truly blessed me with!ReplyCancel

  • October 18, 2017 - 3:32 pm

    Chelsey Fisher - Yes! I love this! Another great thing about a budget is you are better able to prepare for unexpected expenses! We had a $1,000+ unexpected car expense recently, and because of our budgeting and emergency fund, it was something we were able to cover without worrying about it. We just have to rebudget a bit in the next few months to comp for that loss to our emergency fund.ReplyCancel

    • October 18, 2017 - 4:45 pm

      Diana Kerr - Totally agree, Chelsey! Wow, I bet that felt awesome to have that big expense come up but not have to worry about it. Praise God for that!ReplyCancel

I realized something as I was setting my PowerSheets goals this month:

I really love the goal-setting process. 

Maybe you’re like me and naturally like that, or maybe goal-setting feels overwhelming, daunting.

Here are 5 tips that help make goal-setting more enjoyable for me that might serve you too!

  1. I get out of the house to my favorite coffee shop (usually). This environment helps me feel both focused and inspired.
  2. I set a date and carve out some time in advance each month to set my goals. This way I’m not cramming in the time and feeling annoyed that “I don’t have time for this.” I do have the time, because I prioritize it.
  3. I pray before I begin. I ask for God to help me set good goals (goals that are good in his eyes) and even after setting goals, to help me from getting tunnel vision on achieving those goals and missing the bigger picture.
  4. I use a goal-setting system so I’m not 100% inventing my goal-setting process myself. PowerSheets are my goal-planning system of choice.
  5. I start with the end in mind. I ask myself what I really want from October (keeping in mind God’s will–I don’t mean “what I really want” to sound purely self-serving). How do I want to feel? What results do I want? Answering those questions help me set good goals that line up with what matters. Accomplishing goals for the sake of checking them off is not the end goal–glorifying God out of thankfulness for his grace is the end goal.

I’m excited to share the October goals I set with my PowerSheets. First, here’s how things went with my September PowerSheets goals!

1. Test God in time with him

Progress made. Still working on choosing time with the Lord more often in those moments where I know it’d be valuable but my list is soooo long. As I type this I realize that I am trying to do this out of my own strength rather than his and need to pray that he helps me with this.

2. Enter tags for Divine Consign sale

3. Prepare for intentional, God-focused business + family photos with my Making Things Happen friend, Nicolette

4. Love through listening

Again, I made progress here, and by the grace of God, I think I rambled less + listened instead more than usual this past month. One comment in particular affirmed I’m doing better.

5. Dig into You and Me Forever and the action steps

6. Set up a system for content upgrades to replicate

7. Resolve QuickBooks issues and develop a system to stay on top of it better going forward

Can’t quite check this as “complete” since I’m waiting on my CPA (my dad :D) to get back to me about a question. He’s been busy though so it’s no big deal! Otherwise, QuickBooks is squared away. Alleluia! 

Weekly goals:

Goal: Do each of these at least 3/4 weeks

1. Savor a Sunday Funday Sabbath

2. Exercise at least 2 times (Other than walking)

3. Process papers and files 30+ minutes

4. Keep calories to <16,450/week (2,350/day)

I am working on improving my mindfulness with eating–eating as nutritiously as is reasonably possible and only eating when I’m actually hungry. Tracking my calories is an imperfect but somewhat effective way to measure that. I didn’t quite hit my goal this month, but God is working on me. :) 

Daily goals:

1. Pray on the ground | Goal: 20 days // Actual: 20

2. Track food in FitBit | Goal: 22 days // Actual: 24

3. Open the texting app on my phone <16 times | Goal: 20 days // Actual: 22

4. Grow in faith with Kyle | Goal: 15 days // Actual: 18

5. Practice gratitude focused on God, not my circumstances | Goal: 20 days // Actual: 22

6. Avoid phone or computer use after 8 pm | Goal: 20 days // Actual: 16

I realized how hard this is for me with Kyle coming home between 8-10 a lot of nights. I need to pivot and readjust this goal a bit and put some fresh habits/barriers in place to help me achieve my end goals of using the last couple hours of the day intentionally, being present with Kyle, and being able to fall asleep at a good time.

7. Lights out by 10 pm | Goal: 12 days // Actual: 12

Books I finished:

These and all other affiliate links in this post support our Giving Back initiative

You and Me Forever: Marriage in Light of Eternity

Now, here are my October goals!PinIT

OCTOBER GOALS

Like I mentioned, I use the PowerSheets intentional goal-planner to set and track these goals!

1. Read Sleep Smarter and implement at least 2 things from the book

2. Choose to live in a peak state

“Peak state” is a Tony Robbins phrase. It’s about changing your physiology by using your body the way you’d like to feel. I’ve been experiencing some challenges with fatigue lately, so it’s easy to slump over, walk slowly, talk slowly, etc. Instead, I want to choose to move my body as if I have energy, because it legitimately changes the way you act and feel. Look it up if my explanation completely confused you. haha 

3. Plan Erica’s baby shower

Yes, my little sister’s having a baby! Harrington’s first cousin. :) 

4. Bring joyful, listening presence to my relationships

5. Link specific prayers to tasks 

This ties in with my #1 spiritual life goal for the year! I loooove Val Woerner’s house prayers idea, so I’m stealing it. :)

6. Simplify and de-stress healthy, timely meals, especially Harrington’s meals

One month of feeding a baby has taught me: You can’t wait till 10 minutes before dinner to figure out what you’re going to feed your kid. It doesn’t work well.

7. Create a video series about clearing mental clutter

If you’re on my email list, I’ll let you know when it’s ready! Snag this freebie to get on my list!

8. Fill coaching spots of clients who end their coaching program this month

Is that you? Are you finally ready for some life change, friend? I have a couple spots probably opening up later this month! Click here for more info on Christian life coaching.

9. Reach monthly income goal

Confession: I feel so weird putting this as a goal. As much as I’m a goal-setter, I have never really set income goals in my business. Crazy, I know. I actually don’t really set metrics-related goals (even like goal #8 above) because 1) I can’t completely control them and 2) numbers are far from my end goal in my business. However, this is still a business, and good businesses make money. (They do a whole lot more than that, but making money is one important thing.) I think we shy away from this as women and often view money as icky, and I wonder if this is part of why many of us struggle to be profitable in our businesses. Not trying to ruffle feathers here–just a thought. I think you can pursue income goals AND put God/your priorities first as long as that income goal isn’t the be-all and end-all. Comment below and let me know if you feel this tension and how you approach it in your business. I’d really value your input!

Weekly goals:

Goal: Do each of these at least 3/4 weeks

1. Savor a Sunday Funday Sabbath

2. Keep calories to <16,450/week (2,350/day)

3. Exercise at least 2 times (Other than walking)

4. Read before bed instead of watching TV

5. Process paper/electronic inbox 60+ minutes

When I have something in my head, I get it out as soon as possible to clear up space and avoid anxious, overwhelmed feelings. More about that in this book. The challenge is that if you get that stuff out of your head (I either put in my Todoist “inbox” or on a piece of paper that goes in my paper inbox), you have to regularly go through that stuff. I usually go through it on Thursdays, but I’ve gotten a little behind, so I’m putting this as a regular weekly goal and telling you all about it for accountability! :)

6. Improve the efficiency of at least one thing in my personal life or business to buy back time

Examples of how I already use systems here!

Daily goals:

1. Pray + spend time in the Word | Goal: 20 days

2. Track food in FitBit | Goal: 22 days

3. Encourage Kyle | Goal: 20 days

4. Practice gratitude focused on God, not my circumstances | Goal: 20 days

5. Grow in faith with Kyle | Goal: 15 days

6. Completely wind down by 9 pm | Goal: 12 days

7. Lights out by 10 pm | Goal: 15 days

Share your goals with me in the comments or link to your goals post if you blogged them!

Join my email family for email-only tips and encouragement (all with a focus on Jesus) to help you live a #boldintentionallife!

 

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  • October 13, 2017 - 6:06 am

    Kyla Shattuck - I’m such a fan of that ‘peak state’ mentality. It reminds me of Switch on Your Brain by Caroline Leaf and the ability to reprogram our minds and bodies through the way we think and conduct ourselves. So good!ReplyCancel

    • October 13, 2017 - 9:53 am

      Diana Kerr - YES! I love Caroline Leaf. I have that book on my short list of books to read before the end of the year. Have you read other ones of hers? Would you say that one’s the best? I saw her speak a few years ago at Catalyst Conference and was BLOWN AWAY.

      Also continually blown away at how similar you and I are. haha :) I had a minor blog post reading binge of your posts this past week and I love them. :)ReplyCancel

  • October 3, 2017 - 10:59 pm

    Ellie - Thank you so much for sharing! You are so inspiring and have such great ideas and systems to make life run more smoothly. I had one question, what kids of things do you have on your personal CEO checklist? I would love to create one as well but want to know what kids of things go on it. Thanks so much for sharing all your previous lists with us. They are freeing!ReplyCancel

    • October 9, 2017 - 2:50 pm

      Diana Kerr - Hey Ellie! Great question. You can have a list of categories of things to brain dump and get out of your head, a list of things you want to schedule into the week, tasks such as online shopping or cleaning up your computer desktop or making a list of food to use up in the fridge or setting goals for the upcoming week… I also at this time during my CEO time look at my calendar + my to-do list (both of which are electronic) and I put down on paper just what I need for the next week. Start a list and play around with it to see what works for you… aim to make it complete but as simple as possible. :)ReplyCancel

I wrote this post for the Time of Grace blog about a previous shooting and thought now was an appropriate time to resurface it.

The Vegas shooting hits especially close to home as my sister just moved home to WI from Vegas in August. Two of her best friends were at the concert and escaped to safety. She would have likely been with them had she still lived there.

My heart feels very heavy today and my mind is dazed, but I’m comforted by these truths from my loving, rescuing God.

PinIT

If you haven’t lost your life in a shooting lately, that means you’re still alive.

You’re left on earth to wrestle with everything that’s going on and how to deal with it. 

It seems like not long ago that a shooting was rare, far outside of the norm.

Now, the space of time between them feels like it’s shrinking and shrinking.

I wonder if at some point we will almost become numb to these senseless acts of violence.

If they don’t hit close to home, and they continue to increase in frequency, can we, will we, continue to mourn and grieve at the same level of intensity for each and every occurrence?

Maybe. Maybe not. But at this point, these events still feel suffocating and foreign.

On a walk this morning, as I saw flags at half-mast, I kept going over the shootings of this year in my head. My mind filled with difficult thoughts:

What does it feel like to be at your school, your mall, or your place of worship and suddenly find yourself with a gun pointed at your face, your life teetering on the brink of abruptly ending? I wondered.

What does it feel like to watch others die before you, or what thoughts cross your mind in the moments from when you’re shot to when the pain finally ends forever? I couldn’t avoid the thoughts, as uncomfortable as they were.

As I continued my walk, I observed people I passed by, working in their yards, getting in their cars, or walking their dogs—going about their everyday lives. I saw their legs and arms move and their lungs take breaths, and I imagined their hearts beating inside them as their blood moved oxygen through their bodies.

And I realized just how deeply, precariously fragile we all are. 

I rarely, rarely stop to consider the fact that a million things have to go right for my body to keep working, and a million things have to not go wrong for me to not suddenly be taken from this world tragically and unexpectedly.

Since sin entered the world, our bodies and this earth are longer meant to be permanent, sustainable, and long-lasting. These spaces we inhabit inside an outer casing of skin are just tents, just temporary dwellings. 

Yet, for some reason, my fragile tent is still standing. So is yours. 

Maybe your tent is a little damaged like mine is. Maybe it’s got some battle wounds from fighting illness or hardship.

But the truth is that if you’re reading this blog post, you are still on this planet and you are still alive.

Once upon a time, God dreamed up your existence. He created you with intricate, intentional craftsmanship. Psalm 139:13 compares our creation to the tedious task of knitting: “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.”

And if you’re still alive, if you still have breath in your lungs, there’s still a purpose for you here on earth. 

There are a number of ways we can respond to the violence in our world:

We can pray about it (and we should).

We can take to social media and post about the atrocity, or change our profile pictures to show our support.

We can proclaim to our friends and family that the world is “going to hell.”

We can worry about how hopeless we feel, how unable we are to do anything about what’s going on.

But we can do something greater than all of that.

We can live. 

That’s still God’s plan for us—to be alive.

What would it look like if we embraced that? 

Ephesians 2:10 says that “we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

So if you haven’t lost your life in a shooting lately, I encourage you to live. I encourage you to lean into the purpose for which God has called you.

Acts of violence cause pain and terror, but they bring a gift: They remind us of our short stay in our earthly tents. 

And as a result, shootings, terrorist acts, and wars make it far less possible to live a life that’s meaningless, purposeless, self-centered, or apathetic. 

So whether today is your last or you’ve got thousands more to go, honor the life and purpose God created you for by actually living.

And by the way, don’t be fearful of that day when your tent gets taken away from you: 

For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. —2 Corinthians 5:1

Camping can be pretty fun—and I’m making the most of my earthly camping experience while it lasts.

But partying with God in my own personal mansion? That’s something to be pumped about.


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  • October 3, 2017 - 9:14 am

    Karen - Great article. We are always “shocked” at these things happening and yet Solomon told us many times, “There is nothing new under the sun.” Horrific violence has been going on since the beginning of time but it just seems to evolve in different forms. I, as you, also noticed how many people here and not near the event went on about their day and it all seemed so surreal. That is how I felt the day of 9-11 as my preschooler swam in a pool with no awareness of what was going on in her world around her. When my daughter Erica shared that her two close Vegas friends had been at the concert but had escaped safely, I was just leaving to attend my mid-day Monday Bible study. The prayer I requested there was this: 1. A prayer of thanks that Emily and Sarah escaped safely. 2. A prayer that Emily and Sarah realize that God’s mercies are new every day and that he spared them for his purpose, that they are still here for a reason. 3. A prayer for our affiliated churches in Las Vegas– that they embrace this opportunity for the Lord to share the great hope we have in Jesus amidst the chaos and confusion. 4. A prayer that all of us Christians stand up and take notice and don’t be compliant or have a, “Whew, it didn’t affect me” attitude. It DID affect us. Through evil, God uses it for his good. It rattles and shakes us and he uses it to encourage us to rise up and take this opportunity to start conversations with others about our great comfort and great hope that we have. When others will debunk and say, “If your God is such a loving God, why does he allow these things to happen?” we can reply, “Let me tell you about my God. He is bigger and greater than any of this evil. Let me tell you about my God and what he did for me… a soul just as wretched as the shooter. ” 1 Peter 3:15– Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.ReplyCancel