Doughnuts  By: Christina Loveless

Doughnuts By: Christina Loveless

Today I was at a breakfast potluck and there were doughnuts and they looked amazing. Because of a food allergy, I wasn’t able to eat one but my friend was so excited to get hers. She talked about it a lot. Granted she’s been on allergy elimination diets for a while and she hadn’t had a doughnut in months but she was making it a big deal. Taking pictures of the doughnut, sending said pictures to other people, taking pictures of the leftover sprinkles, mmm-ing and ahh-ing. Basically, she was making me jealous.

So what do I do? I go home and pull a doughnut that is safe for my food allergies out of the freezer. But no, that’s not good enough. I make homemade frosting to put on it. Still not good enough. I didn’t have sprinkles, so I put decorator sugar on top. And now, I am feeling like I overdid it.

How often does this play out in our lives? We see something someone else has and we start to compare. We can’t just keep it simple, we have to outdo the other people in our lives. The “keeping up with the Joneses” mentality. If our neighbor gets a 60-inch television, we want 70-inch television. Bigger, better, newer!

What does all that get us? NOTHING!

During the recent Christmas season, it’s so easy to get caught up in the giving and getting of gifts that we forget to appreciate all the blessings we already have. The busyness of the holiday can often detract from the true reasons for the season. Between shopping, wrapping, sending, cooking, decorating, and visiting, on top of the regular to do lists that are already so long, we don’t have a minute to pause and reflect on what we already have and the greatest gift of all.

So please remember that your doughnut does not have to be as spectacular as your friend’s. The sprinkles don’t have to be perfectly arranged, and the frosting can be lopsided. The King of Kings has already deemed it, and you, priceless.

If we are constantly reaching for more, we will never appreciate what we already have. The secret is wanting what you have, not getting what you want. The attitude of gratitude is the key to living a balanced life. Slow down, close your eyes, take a deep breath, and think about the things you are grateful for.

Take some time in this new year to really think and do something different. Enroll now in The Journey Training. The first class for this year is just days away!

Honesty does not Equal Vulnerability by: Sheila Hoeschen

Honesty does not Equal Vulnerability by: Sheila Hoeschen

I have a very heavy story of redemption and the topics of my testimony can be shocking to some. I’ve spent quite a lot of time just getting comfortable telling my story without the fear of what people might think. I felt that once I reached that place, I had arrived at true vulnerability but God has recently been teaching me that honesty, although brave and courageous, is not the same as being vulnerable. Honesty does not equal vulnerability.

In regards to my story, honesty has been retelling the facts of who I once was. It means admitting to the life I lived and choosing to keep no part of me hidden in the dark. See, when I retell of my past experiences, I am able to tell the story with my guard up. My walls can be sky high. This is easy to do because it’s the past. I’ve already learned what reactions to expect. I’ve already decided how to justify my actions or explain how I’m different. I can properly defend myself. And more importantly, I’ve already come to a conclusion on what I’m going to allow my story to say about me. I can be proud of my transformation so any judgmental reaction rolls off easier.

The trouble with this type of honesty is there is relatively no risk involved. If I’m carrying guilt and shame, the perceived risk is much higher but, in all actuality, there isn’t much risk, at all. It becomes calculated risk. I know who to tell and when. I know what parts of my story to skim and what parts to go deep.  I am, in this moment, in control of the outcome.

Vulnerability means being open and exposed to the possibility of emotional, mental and/or physical injury. True vulnerability is present tense. It’s right now. It’s raw and it’s real and the risk is so great because the scenario has never played out before. I don’t know what will happen and I am out in the open with an unknown in front of me. Vulnerability requires trust in God, to the degree that bearing yourself, in a moment of humanness, honest, pure, and humble; you’re able to accept whatever reaction might come your way.

Many people can tell their stories and be honest and vulnerable, at the same time. If I tell you how I used to be gay, I’m being honest. But if I tell you how, coming out of that lifestyle, has made me, currently, struggle with relating with people, and how I isolate myself out of fear of my heart ever connecting to the wrong people, I’m being vulnerable. Vulnerability is exemplified, more, however, in our actions than our words. I can tell you how I was bullied and beat up, rejected, most of my life, but the moment I allow someone new into my life, and I choose to trust again, I’m being vulnerable.

Do I choose to love again? Do I allow my kids to see my true heart? Do I give up my control and break down my walls? Have I really given over all of my life to God? Can I put my agenda aside for a greater picture? Am I humble? Do I show honor without reservation? Do I live a life of gratitude? Can I admit when I’m wrong? Can I accept the consequences?

We all have stories, many of which are inspirational, but nothing inspires me more than a heart that is willing to be seen, right where they are at, nothing to prove, and everything to lose. The true heart of vulnerability is humility, and a complete surrender and trust that the God of the universe is madly in love with you. He sees you, and knows you, and is proud to call you His, in every moment.

I challenge you, don’t just read people your story, show them your heart. 

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I Am Where I am Meant to be!                            Contributing Author: Duncan Brown

I Am Where I am Meant to be! Contributing Author: Duncan Brown

I am where I am meant to be, when I am meant to be there.

How often do we miss purpose in the moment? How often do we look toward the future and miss what is happening now? Whether it is a chance to be kind to someone, a chance to isolate yourself and reflect, or maybe a chance to meet the love of your life? So often we forget to open our eyes and see what God is showing us in the moment. Maybe because we are constantly looking back – hurting and wishing it could change – or perhaps too much toward the future, planning what we wish would happen.

Maybe it’s time to stop looking at your past; it’s behind you for a reason. And to stop looking to your future for a moment, because your whole life can change in an instant. If you’re always looking at the last or next moment, you’re missing the moment right there in front of you.

Trust the Process

Trust the process of the moment you are in, and know that God is working in your current moment to impact your future. Sometimes we try and plan way too much; and sometimes the lesson we need to learn is being given to us in the moment of life circumstances you are currently going through.

I am currently performing at Disney World, which honestly isn’t my dream job. I’m only here till January and it is a fun job, but not the biggest career option I’ve made. I personally had a very challenging year and I felt like I was supposed to take this job for a reason, even though it was not in my “plan” at all.

Often, there are great moments where I get to do some cool things, and I’ve had some fun times. I thought I would come down here, save some money, have some fun, and just enjoy myself. Although that is happening, I feel like God is working in my life a lot more through this experience than I had ever expected.

In the last couple months I’ve prayed for humility – the power to let go of the things and people I cannot control – and for opportunities to give love to others.

Although there are some days I get to dress up like a prince and be the center of attention – which I always enjoy – I had to be trained and work in what we call “Fur”, where you are anonymously playing a character that is fully covered. I felt worthless doing this, not to mention HOT! During these shifts, I felt like I wasn’t fully using my talents. I was annoyed and grumpy every time! And then one day I was “friends with Goofy” and a woman came up to me. She hugged me and started crying – a woman in her late 40’s – because of me playing a costumed Dog! She said “you have gotten me through so much, and I’ve waited my entire life to meet you!”

Talk about a perspective shift! Since that day, I’ve had more and more experiences like this, and it’s almost always happened while I was “in fur” and not too happy about it. I began to realize that the experience is God giving me an opportunity to be humble and to serve others without them knowing who I am. God doesn’t always give you exactly what you pray for; he gives you an opportunity to make a choice and do what it is you are praying for. He is handing me opportunities to be humble.

It’s not about me

Being in the entertainment industry it’s easy to become self-absorbed while also being self-critical. It’s easy to begin seeing people as products, business and fans instead of human beings. Something I really learned from going through The Journey Training was how to see value in myself and in others. Every person has a story, and I’m learning that here at Disney World even more. No matter if I’m dancing in a parade, playing a hero, or simply in fur, I get the opportunity to practice humility. And even though they don’t know it’s me, I’m making someone’s day by serving them. Serving…such an important lesson to learn.

Before I came to Florida I had a very challenging couple weeks, full of disappointment, frustration, and fear – and definitely some regret. I struggle a lot with trusting God to take care of situations. I take on the responsibility to fix others’ lives. The reality is, you can only do so much. Many things came to a head just a few weeks before leaving home, and the fear that came over me was that I wouldn’t be able to take care of it all and see the outcome.

While being away at Disney world, I have been challenged to give space to people who are not adding to my life, and to face situations that I cannot control. And if I were home, I probably wouldn’t have let go. God planned it – with me by being here!

Lately while being on my own, I’ve been able to meet some of the most amazing “Make a Wish”  kids from all over the world, seeing so many come together for a mutual love of magic and happiness. There is one thing that everyone in the world can relate to; that is being hugged, being loved, and someone taking the time to say “you are worth it.”

I’ve also learned balance and am able to love people from a distance and in different ways. I can set boundaries while still seeing everyone as equally imperfect and beautiful creatures of God.

The plan is the plan, even if it’s not mine!

This plan may not be my plan, and I’m not be getting everything I wanted, but living with humility and realizing that God has a purpose in every moment is something I will take from here and live with forever. Through this experience, I have become closer to God than ever before, and in turn, closer to the destiny He has for me.

So in your life, trust the moment. Look around you and realize that there is beauty and opportunity in this moment – right now; there is more to the greater plan than what we can see or comprehend, so dare to let go a little! Trust this moment, and know you are where you are meant to be where you are right now.

Duncan was a trainee in The Journey Training, Class 13. The insight he has received from the training has helped him see value in things he was unaware of before, allowing him to trust the process and find the value where he is right now. Each month, so many are able to find treasure in what they considered trash, allowing them to take their past and make a purpose out of it for the present and the future. If you are ready to begin your Journey, why not sign up for the next Threshold class and embark on the adventure of your life?

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