Dear Special Guy…

Dear Special Guy…

Dear Special Guy,

Congratulations, you have caught my attention. I guess that’s not really difficult to do, but here we are. From the moment you smiled during our first conversation, I knew I wanted to be good friends with you and hopeful something more down the line. Well, we’re down the line now, and I’ve come to realize that you probably don’t feel the same way.

That’s okay, Guy, it’s not your fault. But I thought I’d get some things off my chest anyway.

First of all, you are amazing. Your kind heart shines about as much as your smile when you walk into a room. Your talent drops my jaw, your words make me laugh, and your presence brings warmth to my cheeks. I’m giddy when we get to spend time together or when I see your name pop up on my phone.

Guy, if you’ll let me be honest, I’ve thought about what my life would look like with you. I hope that’s not creepy, but I’m sorry, it’s what we girls do. It’s so easy for us to get attached to a relationship that doesn’t even exist. Which is what brings me to the point of this letter.

You see, Guy, you have become an idol in my life. That’s another thing we humans tend to let happen. A flower bloomed in the soil of my affection. It’s pretty and lovely, but it’s not healthy. Don’t worry, it’s not because of anything you did. My thoughts watered it and helped it grow. Now that I know you’ll probably never reciprocate, I’m having a tough time letting that flower die.

But that flower is just another reminder of what special guys like you do for me. You remind me of my need for an earthly love. You give me the possibility that one day I can have a future with a man by my side. You instill in me hope that there are good guys out there who can provide me with a friend, a spiritual leader, and one day a husband. It may not be with you, but it just means that we weren’t meant to be together.

Through this mess of feelings, you’ve taught me that love shouldn’t try to force two pieces together that don’t match. Love doesn’t mean being consumed with the idea of a potential relationship.

bleedingheart
Song of Solomon 3:4

Instead, love means waiting. Love drives my prayers for the man that will walk into my life in God’s timing. The sooner I learn this lesson, hopefully the less heartbreak I’ll feel the next time someone like you comes around.

 

Don’t get me wrong, you truly are a special guy. You deserve to have girls fawning over you like they do. And one day, you’re going to make a special girl really happy. So, thank you, Guy, for what you’ve taught me through this experience, even though you may never fully know it.

For now, my prayer is to be able to uproot this flower and plant it elsewhere to serve as a reminder not to let my dreams and affections take away from God’s real love and the true love He has waiting for me.

It’s not easy. In fact, it’s one of the most emotionally taxing things that I experience all too often. But it’s okay, don’t feel sorry for me. One day, I won’t have to uproot that flower, and I can let it grow into a garden.

One day.

With love,

LJM

 

 

 

Christians, Don’t be Afraid of Passover

Christians, Don’t be Afraid of Passover

Spiritually speaking, this week is pretty busy. For my family, it’s not really because of Palm Sunday, Good Friday, or even Easter, but because of three other holidays that are either glossed over or forgotten completely. I’m speaking of Passover, Unleavened Bread, and First Fruits.

Just like with most holidays and not a lot of nearby family, we did what we do best. Invite a variety of friends, decorate a festive table, and cook like its Thanksgiving.

These feasts, along with several others in the autumn, make up what we call God’s Holy Days. If you wanna know more about them, just check out Leviticus 23. There, God commanded His people to observe special days, not simply for the fun of it, but also to set into motion prophecy of Jesus’ coming.

The Spring Feasts remember how God rescued the Hebrews from slavery in Egypt while also announcing the coming of the messiah.

Fun Fact: Jews came from the line of Judah, only one of the twelve tribes. The entire twelve tribes of Israel were called Hebrews. God gave His feasts for all His people.

While celebrating the Passover we remember that Jesus acted in the position of the Passover Lamb, covering our hearts with His blood and forever saving us from the Angel of Death. His sacrifice is a gift we don’t deserve and can never repay.

One of the main focuses in Passover is the act of getting sin out of our lives. Job 11:14 says, “If iniquity is in your hand, put it far away, and let not injustice dwell in your houses.” (ESV paraphrased). Egypt represents the sin so ingrained in our lives that it almost seems normal. This week is the perfect week to allow God to show us the sins that continue to rule over us and save us just as He did that first Passover.

pyramids-of-egypt
Check out a blog I wrote about The “Egypt” in Us

 

There are a lot of interesting traditions that come with celebrating Passover. If you’d like to know more about them, check them out here.

I was in high school when my family celebrated our first Passover. I’ll have to admit, I thought the Seder plate was weird and religious and I wondered if I really had to do these things in order to love God?

Six years later, I can finally say that the answer is no. We don’t eat horseradish and hide bread because we want to please God by celebrating Passover. But the traditions are there to help us remember. We are such a forgetful people, so quick to forget all that God has done for us. Not only in our lives, but in the lives leading up to ours.

Now that I’ve come to a better understanding of Passover, I have grown to love gathering a group of people together to share in the amazing power of Jesus. Him as the Passover Lamb was just the beginning. He was merely gearing up for battle against sin and death.

And in the end? He wins.

God always wins.

-LJM

1 Corinthians 15:55-57

More than a Writing Conference

More than a Writing Conference

Decked in a blazer with a briefcase hanging by my side, I passed a small sign that read “Write2Ignite.”

My first writer’s conference.

I hoped and prayed for opportunity, knowledge, and experience that waited behind the glass doors. By the end of the conference, I received all and more.

Anyone who hopes to hone their craft and bring their writing into the light is told to attend these conferences. The thought has always stirred up a level of anxiety for me. It means going to a new place, connecting with strangers, and even pitching my ideas to potential publishers. To some, that may be one of the most exciting aspects of the job, but for me it’s slightly nauseating.

Not every writer’s conference holds the same experience, but I’d like to share a little about what this conference did for me.

1. It forced me to be prepared

There is such a thing as being too chill. I signed up for the conference a little late and I was quickly overwhelmed. It’s best to research the presenters, editors, and publishing houses that will be attending so you don’t walk in there completely surprised with no direction. You also should be aware of certain things you should bring such as questions, a one-sheet of your idea or story, business cards, and a medium to take notes on. These things may have overwhelmed me at first, but they proved to be very helpful once I was there.

2. It gave me excellent resources

Conferences have beaucoup number of books, brochures, pamplets, and business cards of a wide variety of writing resources. You can learn about different organizations, publishing options, editing help, and more just by grabbing what they have available. I don’t know if I would’ve ever learned about some of these sources otherwise. Now they’re all stuffed in a folder for future reference.

3. It pushed me to make connections

The introvert in me has to constantly suppress the uncomfortable feeling of meeting new people. I was lucky to have had a few familiar faces at the conference to help guide me through the process. Regardless of who was there, I needed to get over myself and establish a connection with people, introduce myself, and ask questions. You’ll miss out on a lot if you decide to be the silent wanderer of the conference that no one knows. It’s not the best marketing tool either. Luckily, I stuck out my hand, asked for a few autographs, and joined in conversations, all without dying.

4. It surrounded me with like-minded people

Seminars that keep your attention are typically the ones that focus on your passion. Knowing that I was sitting with people who have similar goals and dreams made me feel submerged within my element. Plus, it’s not necessarily difficult to talk with these people because we all share something in common: The power of stories being or waiting to be told.

5. It gave me experience

Not only do I have one conference under my belt, I also have a couple of pitching sessions too. A pitching session is when you meet with a publisher, editor, or agent to discuss your story whether it’s fully written or not. Those sessions help you gain experience to better hone your pitch and open the door for possible publishing opportunities. You also can discover more about yourself as a writer and who you’re writing for during those sessions.

6. It gave me encouragement

This conference was filled with gracious speakers and presenters, saturated in the love of God and dripping with the faith that His hand will guide all of us. If I can steal what one of our keynote speakers, Lisa Albinus pointed out in the miracle feeding of the 5000, Jesus said to the disciples “You give them something to eat.”

God has given us a story. Many stories. Some of these come from the God-given gift of imagination, others comes from life experience. Either way, if we have felt His calling, we must equip ourselves to use these talents to give to the world. To limit ourselves by saying we’re not good enough or there’s no way we’ll be published is to limit God’s glory and to forsake what He’s equipped us to give.

“You give them something to eat.”

∼Mark 6:37∼

I left the conference fully charged, connected, and one step closer to having my own dream become a reality. Mainly, I was reminded that I write because God instilled a passion in me at a young age. He’s given me a talent and the least I can do is use it to encourage people closer to Him.

If you’re struggling about what God has called you to do or how you’ll ever make a living doing something you love, remember, He knows and He will get you where you need to be. He will always equip you, you simply have to give your all. No matter what stage in the process you are, God has outlined the steps if only you trust Him.

For my fellow writers, if you’re interested in checking out Write2Ignite go to their website here.

God bless you in the journey He’s called for you.

-LJM

Proverbs 16:9

 

 

 

Post Grad Life: 3 Months of Limbo

Post Grad Life: 3 Months of Limbo

I sat in a coffee shop with my friend Emily, a large white cup and saucer we both agreed came out of a Friends episode rested between my hands.

“It feels almost like you’re in limbo.” Those were my words to her while describing my life after college so far.

I say limbo because many refer to this time of life as a transitional phase. Transitioning from student to working adult. Education to career. College bubble to reality.

The main aspect of this phase is learning about real life. That’s what makes it intimidating, even hard. It’s learning to accept that you’ve left childhood behind with dependence nearing its way out the door as well.

Don’t get me wrong, being out of college has its perks, and I have been enjoying them. For instance, I truly relish the fact that I don’t have school projects hanging over my head and spending every spare moment hashing out A-quality assignments.

I’ve been able to work toward things that I’ve been putting off during my time in college, like my writing. It makes me feel productive to be working on something I love and believe in. As a result, I feel like I’m slowly making progress toward my career.

At the end of the day, I’m completely at ease with a cup of tea and a good book or script on my lap. Those moments of being satisfied with the work of the day and having no anxiety of the next day, remind me of the sweet taste of freedom.

But here are some things I’ve been learning.

It’s easy to lose yourself within routine. In fact, it’s really easy to lose yourself. Period. Sometimes, I find myself trying to pinpoint my identity by what I’m doing.

Graduate…writer…cashier.f5976310cb853b4c06b6228aa6f83f881954312a

Through all of those questions of ‘who’, I also face daily questions of insecurity. Am I being productive? Am I doing enough to pursue my career? Am I settling too easily?

I find reassuring myself by saying “Hey, you made money today,” helps with the inner nagging. Speaking of money, I’ve recently been welcomed to the full-time working world which is a learning experience in itself. With it comes less time and more sacrificing of things I would rather be doing. But it’s all a part of that real world I was talking about.

I’ll admit I’ve been dealing with the inward struggle of Post-Grad Syndrome, whatever that may be, but God has been extremely faithful nonetheless.

He’s given me two jobs with ample time to keep writing. He’s provided for my needs and has blessed me with things I’ve wanted. He’s given me a loving, supportive family who shows me the value of hard work. Not to mention a place to live.

Through it all, I’m reminded that my identity has always and will always be in Jesus. He is my priority and my Chief Navigator. I’m still His child, and He is merely taking me by the hand through this intimidating season of life.

So, if any of my fellow grads are feeling similarly, I urge you to hang on to your blessings, be alert to what The Chief is teaching you during this time, and look to Him for guidance. Always.

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.

∼Psalm 32:8∼

If you’d like to read my other post about Post-Grad life click here

And the journey continues…

God bless!

-LJM

Why I Went to See The Shack

Why I Went to See The Shack

I’m no stranger to Young’s The Shack nor its controversies.

YouTube videos detail the story’s brainwashing doctrine, theological scholars call it heresy, and articles flood my newsfeed with all the biblical reasons to avoid supporting the new film adaptation.

Even so, I went to see the film with an excitement that’s been building up since I first read the book seven months ago. I did, however try to keep in mind all of the opinionated articles I had read leading up to the film’s release.

The movie was very enjoyable even though it seemed like every actor was whispering the entire time. There were definitely lines and scenes that stayed close to the book, and I’ll admit that I bawled towards the end. The film though didn’t quite do the book justice as it had to sculpt away some of the funny nuances that made the novel special, but I feel the film kept the heart of the story.

And that heart isn’t to change the doctrine of Christianity.

I’ve read the book twice, which is something I never do whether I love a book or not. As an aspiring Christian fiction writer, I understand that fictional stories come from true places in the heart. The job is not to tell the same old cliché story. I won’t pretend to know Young’s intentions, but I will say that his story did for me what I hope to do with my future books.

In a tangible way, he reawakened the fantastic love God has for me and the world. No matter how many times I read the book or see the movie, I will always come away with these core messages:

  1. God is very fond of all of us and wants us to know Him rather than know about Him. (Romans 5:8)
  2. No matter how horribly evil someone can be, God still wants the chance to redeem. (Romans 3:23)
  3. Though some of our wounds are incredibly deep and painful, God still wants us to forgive those who caused them. (Matthew 5:44)
  4. We judge the world and God every day of our lives, but God’s ways are higher than our ways. (Matthew 7:1)

If I can add my voice to the many opinions out there, I believe that is the heart of the story.

I’m saddened by the fact that not everyone walks away with the same things and even more so that the story isn’t being given the chance to do what it was written to do. To tell people about the love of a good Father. To heal years of brokenness through the love of Jesus who understands. And to encourage others to grow more intimately with God.

Instead, it is rebuked, boycotted, and deemed blasphemous not by athiests, but by fellow believers.

We can all agree that the Bible is the place to search for truth, and a fictional story should not be treated as life giving as the Bible. That’s where the problem begins, but I highly doubt that we have to worry about Shack-supporting Christians uprising and throwing out the Word of God.

The Shack is not the film you should worry about tampering with your faith or idea about God. Even if you don’t agree with every little piece of information, the film is still clean, positive, encouraging, and moving.

In all honesty, those characteristics are far better than the negative ones that we Christians open ourselves to by seeing movies such as Sausage Party, Ouija, and Fifty Shades of Grey.

By all means don’t forsake your convictions. Stand up for what you believe in. That’s what I’m doing by writing this, and that’s all I can ask of you.

My hope is that our beliefs don’t cause us to fight our own fellow believers. Our enemy can be pretty effective with that strategy.

If you’d like to see my original review of the book, click here.

Have peace, show love, and be blessed!

-LJM

James 4:8

 

Donald Trump: Choose Love

Donald Trump: Choose Love

Friday, January 20th, 2017.

That morning you were doing one of two things: watching the Presidential Inauguration or not watching it.

As for my family, we sat around our TV and watched history being made. It was the first inauguration that I was actually interested in seeing. I don’t have a taste for politics in general, but I’m finally at an age where I can appreciate a new President being sworn in without thinking of it as an incredible bore.

With all of the negativity going around lately, I’d like to challenge you to a new way of approaching this change in our country.

President Donald Trump is a flawed human being just as all our presidents have been in the past. And just as it’s been whenever a new leader comes into office, the country can go in many directions whether for good or bad.

Our new President is more capable than we or the media give him credit, and we have no idea of the potential good he can do for the American people. But a hashtag claiming that he’s not our president does not change the fact that he actually is (unless you get citizenship in another country).

Everyone must submit to governing authorities. For all authority comes from God, and those in positions of authority have been placed there by God.

Romans 13:1 (NLT)

I know that Trump paints himself in less than a good light. I don’t care for some of the things he’s said or done, but I want to choose to look at the Higher power in control. At the inauguration, prayers were read that our new President gain the wisdom of Solomon. The book of James tells us that if we lack wisdom and ask God for it, He will certainly give it.

I want nothing but the wisdom of God to work in and through Trump during his presidency, and I don’t want to hinder that by adding to the voices of hate. I understand where the disdain is coming from, I really do, but we can’t say “Love Trumps Hate” if we do the exact thing to Trump what we claim he does to the American people.

In order to fulfill the law of God according to Romans 13:8, we must love our neighbor. That includes a President who is dedicating four years or more of his life to serve this country. That includes the person who says unsavory things and has plans that you might not agree with.

in-god-we-trust-motto

We’re not better than him if we choose to hate him rather than love him. And by love, it doesn’t mean go nuts and pretend like he’s the best person in the world.

It means to constantly pray for him. It means to refrain from lashing out at him through social media. It means to speak in kindness towards him and hope that God’s will be done through him.

We do not love him because he deserves our love, but because that’s what Jesus’ unconditional love requires of us.

Donald Trump is our President. But we are still the people. And this is still America.

He is not our last hope nor is he the end of hope. Hope is God, and He should always be the one we look to to better this country, no matter who’s in office.

As we’re still very much a part of the next four years, I challenge you to ask God for the wisdom to guide you, and give you the heart to love someone who may be difficult to love.

God bless you and God bless America!

-LJM

Click the link for an insightful poem by J.ournal! You Didn’t Vote For TRUMP – Or Did You?

 

Post-Grad Life: First Month

Post-Grad Life: First Month

Walking across that stage and taking my diploma in hand was one of the most empowering experiences I’ve ever had. Getting a college degree is an accomplishment that not everyone can claim. I can now tell the world that I’m a college graduate, but having said that, the title comes with a little weight.

Well, a lot of weight. The weight of the world, actually.

Even though I’m just a month in to this whole graduated, time-to-make-a-life-for-yourself season, I’ve learned a few things that I thought I’d share for those ready to knock on Graduation’s door.

1. It’s freeing

Honestly, college life was awesome, but being done with school is amazing. You don’t have to worry about research papers, straight A’s, credit hours, classes, and tests in the near future. Papers  I write, are papers I want to write. Books I read, are books I want to read. I can drink coffee at night because I enjoy an evening hot beverage not because I have to stay up late finishing homework assignments. It’s wonderful!

2. You can’t avoid the “what are your plans?” question

I know we mean well (I say we because I’ve asked it too), but it’s not a graduate’s favorite question. When you don’t have something specific lined up, it’s like answering how to harness a star out of the sky. The best thing to do is to have a logical, standard answer that doesn’t leave you babbling or sounding like you have no idea what’s going on. It’s a challenge, I promise.

3. Job Applications are the devil.

As you’re thrust into adulthood, you have the daunting task of filling o547129796ut what feels like 1000 job applications. In doing that, you create a resume, you write and rewrite cover letters, and then you either receive rejections or no answer at all until you finally get a job. If you’re lucky, all that work will be for the job you actually want. Just another yucky part of the working world that you simply have to buckle down and accept.

4.You will have self doubt

When you have dreams and goals to pursue, one of the biggest obstacles you will face is doubting you’ll ever reach them. We live in such an instantaneous society that the need to be successful yesterday sometimes clouds our judgement of reality. Your dreams will take time, perseverance, and hard work. You have to remind yourself that you are capable and that with God, you can handle anything.

5. People will give you advice

You will get a lot of suggestions from well-minded people. It may be overwhelming and confusing at times, but it’s best to listen to the advice from people who have experienced a lot more of life than you. Take it, listen to it, and apply it when you can. Don’t think that you can figure it all out yourself. You will quickly learn otherwise.

6. God is in control

“The Lord of hosts has sworn: “As I have planned, so shall it be, and as I have purposed, so shall it stand…”

Isaiah 14:24

He knows your life a week, a month, a year from now, and He knows what He wants for you. If both your desires are on the same path, you can trust that He is in control of what’s best for you.

Jesus is the only true comfort I have as I go through this season of uncertainty, and I know He isn’t planning on leaving me anytime soon.

Searching is tough, not knowing is tough, figuring out a plan is tough. No one ever promised it would be easy, but as a friendly gentleman at the gym told me, “God has a plan before you have a plan.”

The road will probably get harder, but I know I can always trust in God’s plan.

God Bless!

-LJM

Jeremiah 29:11