Rebelling, taking the easy route, letting selfishness rule. These three, I tell ya. They’re attractive, tempting, and as natural as a chocolate covered long-john doughnut hitting my lips.

I’ve heard we’re the sum of the five people we spend time with most. E, my goofy groom, is obviously the top person I spend time with by far. Working from home together side by side has taken our time together to a whole new level. Oh the stories I could share! Spots 2, 3, 4, and 5 are dependent upon our season of life. I can cross E off my list (‘People Causing Me to Stumble’) real quick. He’s the best human I’ve ever known. I won’t rattle off my reasons why (not this time at least), but to any girl reading this longing for a relationship or husband: Don’t settle just to fill a void. And don’t wait around either. Live your life. Live it to the fullest. Become your best. Grow closer to God. Chase your dreams. Don’t wait around for a husband, but please do hold out for a man who’s better at loving others than himself.

Sorry for the tangent- it really is as if we were together chatting over margaritas at Big Star. 😉

Certain people and places may be another domino in the line leading up to our sin, but ultimately we fall if we’re in that line. The choice to be there in the first place is always ours. There is always the option of finding new friends, saying no, removing ourselves from certain people online — whatever we need to do to get out of that line of domino’s.

In a world which reminds us to “do what makes you happy” and “work until you no longer have to introduce yourself,” it’s no surprise that we grow up to be monsters. Sin creeps in through many forms; success, money, status, possessions, and power. I’m not suggesting these are bad things. I know many great people who are successful, rich, well-known, have a lot to their name, or who are very influential. They are not bad people.

The bottom line boils down to one question. Who (or what) does my heart beat for? Because trust me, it beats for something or someone. It lives for something or someone.

Am I worshiping (aka: living for) money? My own happiness? My appearance? My kids? My career? My spouse? My achievements? My body?

Friend, we can’t just shrug this one off. It’s the difference between the living and the walking dead.

Despite slowing down and being intentional during advent season, I distinctly noticed my days were “off.” Real talk– I’ve felt far from Jesus.

I sat on the ski lift solo yesterday; a staring contest with the tree tops. Cold air inflated my lungs, each exhale a cloud of smoke, I prayed one of those wide-eye voiceless prayers.

Creator, somewhere along the way recently this heart you gave me stopped beating for you. It grew much too confident and began beating on its own. (Or at least it thought so.) It’s been beating for me, me, me. It’s selfish, exhausting, and sorry for trying to take on a job it’s not capable of doing. Please forgive me. I’m embarrassed and reminded, once again, that I can’t make it without you. What do you want from me in 2017?

Between the puffs of smoke colliding with frigid air, I felt His presence and an answer to my prayer. It was like a third party spoke these words straight to my soul…

God is love. Love that does not hinge on what you do or don’t do. He does not want success from you. He may want success for you, but He does not want it from you. So don’t make it complicated. If success, in whatever form it may be, comes -wonderful. Praise Him. Thank Him. Stay humble. Don’t let it become your identity. If success, in whatever form it may be, does not come knocking at your door in 2017 -great. Praise Him for His goodness. Thank Him for His love. Stay hungry. Not for success, but for more of Him. Remember where you were and who you were. Look how far He’s brought you! Unlike everyone and everything else in this world, He only asks for one thing from you: commitment. Drop your worries and hustling and striving. Be committed this year. 365 days. No matter what comes. Don’t drop your loyalty to Him. There will be some pain, loss, suffering, and confusion, but let commitment bind you to Him.

Sliding off the ski lift, I only made it a few feet before falling on my bum again. I had to giggle. Ironic, God.

Success, in so many forms, has been a subconscious goal of mine for probably a lot longer than I’d like to know. Perhaps my definition of success is jaded or maybe I’m guilty – again (insert eye rolling emoji) – of worshiping the idol of achievements. My word for 2017 is a goal that has absolutely nothing to do with striving or achieving or doing at all. I’m so glad it’s not a verb. Commitment. My focus for 2017 is to prioritize my commitment to The Lord and then my husband and everything else coming after.

I pray for so many of you so often – I really do – and if you’re part of #MonthlyLettersOfEncouragement, know that I pray for you by name frequently. Can I ask you a favor tonight? Can you take a minute to pray for me? Whatever you feel on your heart is fine. There’s no expectations. Remember, he just wants one thing from us- commitment.

Thank you, for always reading, giving me the most beautiful gift of exposing my bare self and being pulled in closer.

For being the church to me.

You are seen. You are known. You are valued. You are accepted. You are loved.

Live like it. Stay committed in 2017. It’s going to be a beautiful year.

Together // Manda

Are Unmet Expectations a Struggle in Your Life?


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