I spent the weekend in Monterrey with a friend and we enjoyed some great "girl time." Sadly, she had to leave early this morning for work, so I stayed and thought I'd do a little reading and writing. As I sat and watched families walk along the beach and kids play in the ocean, it took me back to a time when my children were small. It sure doesn't seem like it's been 25 years since I became a mother myself.
In just about five weeks, my beautiful blue-eyed, curly blonde haired baby boy who mimicked MC Hammer's signature moves in his "Can't Touch This" video, will be married just a few miles up the road. It truly doesn't seem possible. We spend so much time "getting things done" we forget we should be "living in the moment." If I could go back in time, I don't think I would change anything about my life as it has made me who I am today; However, I would read my kids their WHOLE bedtime story, instead of skipping pages because I had to finish up the dishes and put the last load of clothes in the dryer. I would let them eat that bowl of ice cream they would beg me for at breakfast on a Saturday morning while watching Scooby-Doo. I would join my kids in a bathtub full of bubbles with my clothes on and all, just to make them laugh when they wanted me to join them.
As I gazed off into the ocean admiring its beauty, a blonde pony-tailed girl in a flowing white sundress caught my eye. She was writing words in the sand with a small stick and then outlined them in shapes of hearts. I couldn't make out what she was writing, but she quickly snapped a picture with her phone before the tide came in and washed her masterpiece away. This continued for some time and she seemed as if she was in a race against time. Could she finish before the next set of waves hit the shore and washed them away?
As I sat and watched her, I wondered what her story was. Was she in love or was she trying to get over a heartbreak? Did she lose someone close to her and she was honoring their memory in the sand?
It got me thinking about my life and how I want so deeply to leave something in this world that can't be washed away by the pounding ocean surf, when I am no longer here on earth admiring its beauty. I want to make a difference. I want to make a better world for my children and grandchildren one day. I want to be remembered as a woman who made a lot of mistakes, who was broken and not perfect. A woman who used her brokenness to gain a deeper understanding of herself. I want to be remembered as a wife of noble character who strived to bring her husband good, not harm, all the days of her life. I want to be remembered as a woman that was clothed with strength and dignity and laughed without fear of the future. I want be the example of what happens to hardened hearts of those you love when you change your own heart first. I want to be remembered as a woman who took a stand for what was right no matter what the consequences were, even when she knew she could lose everything. I want my kids to look back and remember me as a mother who loved them more than she loved herself.
Sadly, over the past few weeks I've had personal possessions taken from me. My Coach bag stolen from the carousel at the airport before I was able to retrieve it and just last night here at the hotel, someone walked away with my Nikon camera. It got me thinking.......the most important 'things" in life are not "things." Worldly possessions can be gone as quickly as we buy them. Just look at families that try and recover from devastated tornadoes or floods. These families lose everything they have. Sure, everyone likes to have nice things and when they are taken from you, you feel violated. But what I have come to realize these last few weeks is that my heart, my joy and my identity should never be in something I can lose. My husband, my children, my job, my home or my fun car! The only thing that my identity should be in is CHRIST.
His unfailing love for us is the ONLY thing we will never lose. Even at times when we think we don't want it and we choose to run away from Him.......He still waits patiently for us and continues to pursue us. It brings me such peace knowing that He will NEVER give up on those who love Him and will always search for us until he brings us home.
Our “Comfort Zone" is very cozy place, isn’t it? The walls are filled with wooden picture frames with the words no worries, be happy. Better known as ‘Hakuna Matata,’ the Swahili saying in popular culture made famous by the song from the movie, The Lion King.
Your comfort zone can be a very cozy place, but it can also be a safe place. So safe that you get comfortable and over time it feels like home. Your bags have been unpacked, clothes folded nicely in the cedar dresser drawers provided. You’ve taken all your toiletries out of your make up bag and your favorite heels are lined up along the dusty closet floor. You have in fact, “checked in” to the Comfort Zone Hotel. We’ve all checked in to this hotel at one point or another. How often and how long we stay is solely up to the individual.
For me, the longer I stayed ordering room service each morning instead of walking down to the lobby to eat breakfast, the more I felt stuck. Stuck in a rut, a pit, a funk, you know the words. I’m sure as you read this your own word comes to mind confirming you that you yourself have “checked in.”
One day, as sure as the sun will rise you will wake up and realize your quick weekend getaway has turned into an extended stay. Instead of hearing ‘Hakuna Matata’ in your head and singing the Lion King song you’re rockin’ out and screaming the words to ‘Sweet Home Alabama.’
If I could share one thing with you, I would share with you this: YOUR LIFE BEGINS WHEN YOU LIVE OUTSIDE YOUR COMFORT ZONE.
Once you step outside that hotel room and do the unthinkable, the unimaginable, the unenviable…..the things you never thought were possible become a reality. It is there when your life will begin.
I will share with you some wise words from my father. We heard it over and over growing up, just ask my siblings. We heard the words so much that we’d mimic him behind his back with, “If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always gotten.” Then we’d start laughing. As I write this, I clearly remember the teenage eye-rolling and sarcasm in our snide remarks. Under our breath of course (we wouldn’t dare mimic him to his face).
As I entered adulthood, it was my fathers words I held onto when I was faced with the decision to stay in a specific chapter of my life or move on. It was as if his words were the checks and balances and they soon became the determining factor. His words empowered me with the wisdom to know that I, Andrea Tomassi get to decide the outcome of my story and no one else.
Looking back on my childhood, I am forever grateful for my fathers wise words and the lessons that followed when I applied those words to my life. To this day, I don’t think he realizes how much I have used them over the years. I think I will forward this blog to him tonight when I get home just to make sure he knows. If you ask me, everyday you stay at the Comfort Zone Hotel, you lose one more day of your precious life!
My sisters and brothers, I encourage you to step outside your “comfort zone.” Now I’m not encouraging you to jump out of an airplane or swim with sharks. Just start with this; make a bucket list!
What do you want to do in your lifetime?
Is there a fear you hope to overcome?
Is there a grudge you’ve been carrying for far to long?
Is there a heart that needs to be forgiven?
Are you in a relationship that needs to be mended?
Do you want to start a new healthy lifestyle?
Check out of that hotel today! Start writing your own bucket list. All you need for now is some quiet time, a pen and a piece of paper. You can always add to your list, but let me warn you…..NEVER allow yourself to delete things you’ve previously listed. They were written down for a reason. If you catch yourself doing this…..you’ve checked back in!
What’s stopping you from taking that “leap of faith?” What are you waiting for? What do you have to lose?
Rise up and do something today that your future self will thank you for.
Happy Father's Day to all you Dad's out there. Today is the day we take the time to reflect on the men in our lives. The dad's we celebrate today are our fathers, husbands, uncles, grandfathers, brothers, sons, nephews, cousins and friends. With all the BBQ cebrations today, I have to wonder how many of us stopped to thank our Heavenly Father for being such an AMAZING Dad.
So many times I think HE gets left out of the true meaning of Holidays here on earth......At Christmas time, we get so caught up in rushing around finding the best sales around, even if it means we get NO sleep because we're standing outside at 3 o'clock in the morning, in the freezing cold to get right in the door when the store opens with hopes to get the best possible deals. We make sure we play Santa and fill all the stockings before our kids wake up in the morning. We stress about getting the turkey in the oven at the perfect time on Thanksgiving morning to make sure that it's done in time, then spend hours cleaning the house to make sure it's just perfect for the dinner guests. At Easter you worry about rushing to the store at the last minute to grab the candy to fill the Easter eggs because you committed to purchasing and making them for school this year. Yet, we still find time to get that first picture with the Easter Bunny before the baby gets to cranky.
I think we just forget the true meaning of these precious Holidays. Father's Day is another one we forget. Our Heavenly Father is such an amazing Dad to me. He is my protector, my best friend, my deliver, my redeemer, my prince of peace. My God is so much more then somebody I pray to when I need him. He has been so incredibly patient and has NEVER given up on me. He has always believed in me, even through poor decision making when I didn't believe in myself anymore. My Heavenly Father has taken me in his arms and loved me no matter what. He has filled my heart with so much love and has used me right in the middle of my deepest brokenness. It is truly nothing short of a miracle for someone to tell you that you have touched their lives in the middle of your own depression.
I thank you today God for being such an amazing Dad and for giving me the hardships in my life. Because through those Lord, I have grown closer to you. I want everyday to be Fathers Day with you Lord. Everyday I should be thanking you and praising you....even through the storms.
Thank you for allowing me the privilege of waking up each morning and breathing in air. Because of your power......you have allowed me to live another day!
We all should treat God like it's Father's Day.......EVERYDAY! What did you get your Heavenly Father for Father's Day today?
Give him the BEST gift ever......YOUR HEART! ♡♡
Strong people go on, even when they think they can’t. Strong people know that God sees their sadness, but allows them to still suffer. Strong people know that through the hardest of times God says, “Hand everything over to me,” and they do it! Strong people understand what faith really means; that faith isn’t faith, until it’s all you have left. Strong people know there’s always a lesson to be learned in every tragedy and sorrow. Strong people know that God is always good. Strong people know they can’t succeed alone. Strong people pray. Strong people sacrifice themselves for others. Strong people know how to let others’ shine when they are in their space. Strong people know that forgiveness means giving up their right to hurt someone for hurting them. Strong people cry. Strong people know that change is always coming. Strong people know that the Bible is a roadmap. Strong people know that family is the strongest bond they will ever have and should always be the most important relationship. Strong people know, although they endlessly love their children; they should love their spouse more. Strong people know, although they endlessly love their spouse; they should love God more. Strong people understand that life is a gift and should be treated as such. Strong people go to church. Strong people know that when they wake up in the morning and their feet hit the floor, the devil says, “oh crap they’re up.” Strong people know when to say, no. Strong people know that courage isn’t the absence of fear, instead it’s believing there’s something more important in the end than the fear itself. Strong people are happy with other people’s successes. Strong people are unselfish people. Strong people don’t stand by and do nothing, they act. Strong people know they have a voice and know when to use it. Strong people know they have a voice and know when not to use it. Strong people love. Strong people are caring people. Strong people know it takes courage to speak in front of people but it takes even more courage to sit and listen. Strong people know they were created with the intent to have a relationship with God. Strong people are happy people. Strong people know the difference between “Will you forgive me” and “I’m sorry.” Strong people tackle the unthinkable, then give God the glory for getting there. Strong people do their very best in everything they do because they know God is always watching. Strong people have empathy. Strong people suffer. Strong people know that you have to have darkness to see the stars. Strong people fight for the future God has intended. Strong people know they need God in their life. Strong people know wisdom and knowledge mean nothing if it’s kept a secret.
Strong people share with others how to be strong.
Do you ever wonder why bad things happen? Even to the best of people? It is a very difficult question, especially when God asks you to walk through some very dark places. Our minds are just not capable of understanding His reasoning. I often think, He blesses us with the gift of discernment because He wants us to understand. Quite possibly, because He knows we will share our story to help someone else. There will be other times which we will never understand. It is during those times that I recall Hebrews 11:1, “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.”
I believe God has a “Life Book” with each of our names in it. It’s filled with the best gifts and blessings any loving father would want for His children. Daily, God grabs his pencil, opens these books and starts to write. Yes, a pencil. A short little pencil with no eraser. Just like the ones you use when you keep score playing miniature golf, or the ones you see upright filling the holes in the church pews on Sunday mornings? God’s gracious loving hands have filled in every page from the day we were born until the day we leave this earth. He has carefully chosen each gift and blessing we are to receive in this lifetime with perfection. Take a minute and just imagine what He has written on the pages in your “life book.” Could they be filled with all of your dreams and aspirations? Sadly, we will never know everything that He has written on those pages.
I believe the reason God writes with a pencil is because the words are not meant to be changed. Our Father has written His own version of our lives, the way He sees it. How could anything be more perfect? Unfortunately, a pencil is not the only writing tool He uses. He also uses a black permanent marker. When God picks up the marker, a sense of sadness flashes across His loving face.
It is very simple. Each time we make decisions in our lives and think we know what’s best for us, God has to use a black marker to cover up all the plans He originally intended for our lives and replace them with our own story. The soft brown hue of the lead is now covered with a dark ink that now bleeds through the other pages. We will never know the depth of those gifts and blessings. Although, I do believe God uses every choice we make right or wrong as a lesson to be learned; I often wonder how many really wonder what’s on those pages. Would you think more about it if you knew you’d receive more blessings than lessons?
Sadly, I know I will never know everything God has written in my “life book.” I know it has many pages covered with black ink. Although I am far from perfect, I can ask Him for His wisdom and voice to lead me towards the blessing He has set out for my life so many years earlier.
The next time you see a pencil with no eraser, just remember….it’s meant to be that way!
Just because others don't see your worth doesn't mean a thing. We need to remember WHO we are and WHOSE we are. I have defined myself and my worth for the past 26 years in other people when I should have been more concerned with who GOD says I am instead of who others say I am. Sometimes in our own brokenness (and we ALL are broken), we believe the situations we are in or the circumstances surrounding our lives, some beyond our control are somehow our fault. This can be from being a codependent or from our own shame. When others deflect their brokenness onto us, we sometimes "take one for the team" so to speak, to keep the peace. But sadly over time we start to define ourselves and our value in what others think of us.
I have learned a very important lesson over the past few months: "YOUR OPINION OF ME IS NONE OF MY BUSINESS."
Only God sees my motives, my intentions and my true heart. Other people only see the outwardly behavior. There will be times when others may try and manipulate you into thinking your motives are anything but pure, but don't you get off track. They are looking at you through a pair of brokenness glasses and they cannot see the truth. More often than not, they are reacting out of fear of the unknown and their past experiences. Do you know someone like this in your life? May I share a few WORDS OF CAUTION: You can't change them! Not with a Bible verse, not with a heart to heart talk, not with a CD or book, not by loving them. YOU CAN'T and WILL NOT change them. True change is a personal act of repentance that is something very personal between them and GOD. Sticking your nose in where is doesn't belong will leave you nothing but frustrated and angry.
You are not fighting the flesh but you are fighting satan and the darkness that surrounds him. So put on your armor and suit up, then get on your knees. Because that is the ONLY way you will win this battle.
It's unfortunate that our minds can be so easily manipulated by satan. Starting with just a simple thought then leading to an action or behavior. Sometimes that action or behavior once full-grown can turn into sin creating a negative lifestyle and we end up walking away from GOD. It can destroy relationships, families and marriages. But more importantly, it cuts off our precious relationship with our Father in Heaven.
We run, we hide, we blame others for the sin in our lives, we won't admit our own faults, we take no accountability or responsibility for our own actions. Eventually, it tears us up internally which results in feelings of guilt and shame. When we choose not to deal with the REAL issues, we take the "easy way" out and place the blame on someone else. And sadly, once this becomes your lifestyle, you actually start to believe the lie.
Do you know who the most dangerous liars are in this world? They are the one's that TRULY believe they ARE telling the truth.
Here's the good news: You CAN turn my friends. You can change direction at any time. It is a conscious choice to WANT change in your life and when you KNOW better you're expected to DO better. Don't let one single thought satan has put in your head (that was a lie to begin with), birth into full fledged sin. Listen to the VOICE OF TRUTH!
I will leave you with this.......we want to change the people we love because we want BETTER for them. We see their struggles, hang-ups and pain and we just want to make it ALL go away. We want to run in and "save the day." But once we realize we cannot and our efforts are NOT working we surrender them fully to GOD. They need to WANT true change for themselves. We need to firmly plant our feet on the shore and wave goodbye as our loved ones sail off on the Titanic.
If you are one of these people I want you to remember your job.
God's job is to = JUDGE
Holy Spirit's job is to = CONVICT
Our job is to = LOVE
Your blessings will be magnificent if you can show love to others especially to the ones that have hurt you. Leave the judging and convicting alone. It's NOT your job!
May you be richly BLESSED today and may you carry with you the fact that you ARE so incredibly WORTHY of everything good the LORD has waiting for you.
Transcended Ministries has been a work in progress for the past three years. I am so excited for you to walk with me as I share my heart with you. This has been about God's timing and perfect plan and not my own. I know He has been molding and refining me for a time such as this so He can say, "OK Andi, now is the time."
I hope you enjoy the posts, my blog, articles and my book and devotional to be released hopefully next year.
These past few years have been both amazing and heart-breaking at the same time. Although I am still a "work in progress," I am starting to rise out of my brokenness and I am starting to understand exactly why I have been on this amazing journey. There are many reasons that come to mind behind this idea, but sharing my personal journey of faith and obedience while walking through the wilderness is on the top of the list!
May you be richly blessed by my story.
~ Andi ^j^
Andrea (Andi), is an Author, musician, speaker and Founder of Transcended Ministries. She encourages women to rise above their circumstances and to trust in God's timing. She is involved in Celebrate Recovery and sings on the worship team at her church. Andi believes no hurt is ever wasted and she longs to bring a message of hope and healing as she shares her story of bold faith. Her story includes her struggle with control issues and co-dependency followed by a separation from her husband of twenty-five years. After a year of isolation and being on her own, she watched God bring transformation, healing, and reconciliation.