For Austin…

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“The trouble is, you think you have time” ~Buddha

 

Sometimes life is like a quick moving train, lurching forward despite the ever changing scenery–thoughtless and careless to our feelings. It can sometimes be a thankless beast pulling us on through the muck of life. When tragedy happens, the train doesn’t stop. It keeps rolling on, barreling it’s way through the wilderness of life.

Time is of the essence my friends, it keeps grasping greedily forward. From one hour to the next, the hands of time gobbles ahead, eating up each moment with it’s insatiable hunger. Minutes couple into hours, making its way into days, leading up to years…moving hastily on.

How do we make the most of this beautiful life? Maybe Buddha was right in that the trouble is we think we have time. We all carry around in our life a backpack of dreams we’ve crafted for ourselves in our hearts. How heavy our dreams are against our back as we trudge on. But what are we doing with those dreams? Are we taking steps to make them a reality or are we carrying them for just in case we think we might stop and rest to set up camp? Time is ticking my friend. Tick-tock, Tick-tock. What are you doing?

Life is too short to carry around dreams like ill fitting baggage.

Life is a funny, funny thing. You never know what is up around the corner, you only have right now. You are always trying to make the wisest decisions with what little information you may have. It can be a hurtful experience and yet you have no choice but to heal. Sometimes life is filled with the regret and shame for the decisions we’ve made or yet to make. We are riddled with decisions and pathways and most of us wonder if we are ever really on the right path or if we are dead stuck in the middle of nowhere. I know I’ve for too long wandered in the wilderness wondering if there is really more to it than this.

I know I’ve lived life to the best of my ability. I’ve tried to make the most of every day and some days I squander the time I have by just wondering what I could be doing differently. I know if I died today, I’d die unfulfilled because there are buried treasures within me unspent and undiscovered. I am living far below my potential and my backpack of dreams is heavy upon my chest. But what do I do with this realization? How do I take these dreams from my head and heart and bring them out into the open and into reality? Where do I start?

Time is short and life is but a vapor. Today we are here and tomorrow we could be gone. Think about that for a moment. Nobody plans to die. Nobody wakes up and thinks, today is going to be the last day I live. Most of us have dreams of growing old with someone we love. I can see it now… My face is etched with deep set wrinkles from years of laughter. The silver lining wasn’t found in any nearby sunsets, but lined through my hair as I have grown in grace. My hands are weary from a lifetime of care for others, but they tenderly hold the hand of my beloved. My children and grandchildren surround me as we gather for yet another family get-together. The kids running through the sprinkler in the yard as smells from the grill and kitchen waft through the air.

This is my picture of my life grown up, in the far out future. It’s an idea that is in my head, but is not a promised reality. 

What if you woke up today and set out to run errands and your life was up? For someone I knew in passing it was. There was a gentle giant I knew of who loved with a big heart. His smile lit up the room, and his heart couldn’t be contained in it. He died far too young and he was one of us. He loved the Lord. He was living passionately for God and touched lives. He left a legacy of hearts that are now broken. One of his last statuses on facebook was about his music and his last words were “This is just the beginning” A few days later he took his last breath. 

The trouble is we think we have time.

I’m always rocked to my core when I hear of someone my age or younger dying. I think about all the things that person may have wanted to do, be or accomplish. I remember myself, my frame and the fragility of my own life.

There is so much yet to be done, so little I have accomplished.

Sometimes I wonder if I’m writing for myself. I question myself, second guess my decisions, doubt my abilities. I’m human just like the rest of you.

People look at my life a lot and think I’ve made something of myself. They think I’m living for God and doing great things. I see myself as flailing in my fears, insecurities and still struggling with making wise choices in my every day life. I’m not completely satisfied with where I am. I’m HUMAN.

I work a job that I do very well which I use my passions to serve, but it’s not my life calling. I’ve been serving in this industry for as long as I have been able; it’s all I know.

I see people taking bold risks in their lives with huge pay outs and know I have everything it takes to do the same, yet I stay in the shadows of safety.

I see people walking out my passions and living out my calling and I wonder where have I went wrong? I am trying to build something with Adored Above but I wonder if anyone can see the dream that’s in my heart the way I can see it. I feel like it’s a heavy aircraft that isn’t moving fast enough to get off the ground. I see little progress and it’s a glimmer of hope in this dark world, but yet I still wonder. I feel like in my life I’m sometimes running in many different directions, chasing figments of my imagination and grasping empty air.

Am I making a difference in this big, dark, scary world?

Would you notice if I were gone? I don’t want my gravesite to be a treasure chest of untapped potential. I know there is more to life than what I can see right now.

So what do I do? Do I continue to dream and dream bigger? What do I do with my feet? The Bible says to ponder the path of your feet. I’ve been pondering for far too long. What step should I take?

Sometimes the journey feels like it’s taking too long to get to the destination. Sometimes that’s what is necessary and sometimes we are just standing in our own way. Sometimes it’s a combination of both and we have a responsibility to get out of our way and trust the process. We have to be mindful of the time we have and use every moment like it may be our precious last.

What is standing in your way? Get it out of the path that is set before you. Get rid of the dead weight– the doubts, fears, insecurities. They are ill fitting. They are heavy and you were never meant to carry those things. You are a gift to this world and your voice needs to be heard. You are living your story in front of the whole world, and many eyes are watching. What are you doing with the weight of that responsibility? Are you walking circumspectly or are you wandering aimlessly. Don’t get to the end of your life and realize that you aren’t spent, that you didn’t do all that your heart wanted to do.

All you have is right now, and nothing is promised to you. You don’t know that you have tomorrow. We only have today, and the blessing of the next second, Lord willing.

What is it that is keeping you back from living your best life? If it’s yourself, find out what it is that you are doing to hold yourself back and let it go.

What kind of legacy do you want to leave?
I don’t know about you but I want to spend this life to the last drop. I want to die empty.

I want God to be proud of me for my life and my choices. I know there are many things I have done that have not made Him proud, but I am forgiven. His hand is on my life and His promise is to perfect and finish my faith.

There is so much I want to get out of this life, yet I don’t know where to begin or how to set out to accomplish those things. It doesn’t hurt to ask for help or for directions a long the way.

It’s better to die trying than to live with regret.

Time wasted can never be retrieved. Try as you might you can never resurrect the past an relive it. You can’t go back. You can’t redo those moments that have came and went. They are gone, dead, buried in yesterday. The vault is locked and the key has been thrown away.

 But before you is today, a blank and empty canvas– yours for the taking.

What are you going to do with it? You have right now, this moment, today.

Live it right and live it well.

Take those dreams you are carrying and find a place to set them down and bring them into the now. Bring your dreams and your desires out in to the open and get to work. You will get further along with them if you aren’t carrying them. You can’t make a plan with just a thought without action.

For me, I want to write a book that changes lives. I want to write a NYTimes Best selling book. I am not going to write this book while it’s just a dream in my heart. I know I have to wait for the content and the right timing, but I should begin thinking, planning and dreaming now while today is still available to me.

I want to travel the world and speak before the nations, inspiring and encouraging and it starts with ADORED ABOVE. I should begin planning, preparing and shaping it into what I truly desire it to be. The time is now, and it starts today.

 

Big ambitious for such a small person, but it’s better to start now than wait for tomorrow.

Let’s do this. Let’s live this life big. Let’s spend all we have to see our dreams come to pass.

Let’s believe God for right now to be more than we could have ever hoped, imagined or dreamed. It’s the promise He’s given us. We can access it and put a demand on it, today.

Let’s not let our life run us, let’s decide to LIVE our lives.

Live it till the last breath.

Live it like it’s our last.

LIVE it.

xoxo Alicia Barkley

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Walk The Line

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Psalm 119:1-5 You’re blessed when you stay on course, walking steadily on the road revealed by God. You’re blessed when you follow his directions, doing your best to find him. That’s right–you don’t go off on your own; you walk straight along the road he set. You, God, prescribed the right way to live; now you expect us to live it. Oh, that my steps might be steady, keeping to the course you set; 

There are so many choices in life and time is an ever faithful reminder–it is always ticking. Life is like a quick moving train, rolling on and stopping for no one and under no circumstance. There are so many things I want to do, yet I don’t know how to make them happen for myself. I want to be an author, speaker, world traveler. I’d love to learn the craft of make-up & hair, become a stylist, and become a certified life coach. I want to finish my 4 year degree. I’d love to find the love of my life and raise an amazing family. I’d love to author several books and make the New York Times Best Sellers list. Where do I begin? Sometimes I feel like I’m constantly setting out on rabbit trails that all lead me back to the same path to where I am now, living the same life I lead right now. I’m still single. Still broke. Still in debt. Still without my degree. Still left figuring out where I am headed. Still trying to figure out what I want out of life. Still deciding what I want to be when I grow up. I know I should guard my confession and break old, ill-fitting mindsets–but for the sake of being honest and transparent I am telling the TRUTH. So many questions left exposed and unanswered. Here I am, yet again, writing about the unknown future. It’s a road block I keep bumping into. As I hit it I feel myself slump down in defeat. I sit with my back against the fence of the unknown future, unsure of what my next steps are.

Then I am reminded that there is a plan. There’s a P-L-A-N for my life and as long as I link up with and follow God, I won’t miss it. I just want to get there now. I want to start living that fascinating, amazing future now. I don’t want to sit with my back against the post wondering and wishing for all of eternity. Yet, the Word says to walk the line, to walk steadily the road revealed by God. Steadily is a pace that is slow and steady, yet sure. Surely I will arrive to the destination, but I am commanded to enjoy the road to the destination. Walk it out, Alicia, walk it out. So what do I do with the now? If I forever am longing for the future, I am missing out on the here and now. My life is quiet right now. I have few things that consume my time and attention. Shouldn’t I be enjoying this restful season while it is here? There will come a day where my life becomes far more busy and complicated and I am willing to bet I will miss these days–the days of resting in the pasture of wide open spaces of grace. One foot before the other, one step, two step, three step moving forward. My scenery may not be changing quickly enough for my liking, but it’s the path I’m on right now. So for right now, I’m walking on and keeping my head held high with dreams tucked in my heart. Big dreams, dreams I could never accomplish on my own. That’s how God meant for it to be. If we had all of our dreams come true the minute we believed them, there would be no need for God’s direction or help in our lives. We were meant to seek Him out and watch as our Father puts together the pieces of our lives as we walk along. Just as a woman is pregnant for nine months before giving birth to her child, so are we pregnant with dreams that must fully develop and mature before they come to pass. What are you pregnant with? What dreams do you carry in your heart? I’ve heard it said if you could accomplish them on your own, they are not dreams. Dreams are meant to be God-sized. They are meant to push you to just beyond your limits, which is where God steps in and helps you launch further out into the deep. Dream those dreams, the kind that are so big they scare you. You were meant for GREAT things. Don’t play it safe, don’t dream safe dreams. You were meant to live an extraordinary life, not a life of mediocrity. What’s the thrill in that? Make a list of things you dream to do and lay them before your Heavenly Father. It says in the Word that 

Romans 8:32 If He did not spare His own Son, but handed Him over on our account, then don’t you think that He will graciously give us all things with Him?

 

We serve a giving and gracious God who longs to give us more than what we could ever hope or imagine. Think on this thought: The future He has prepared for you is BEYOND your wildest dreams, your greatest expectations, and far beyond your imagination. WOW, think about that for a second. Think of something that would blow your mind. Can you imagine that God would like to come along and lead you to a life adventure, a fulfilled dream that TRUMPS every expectation or idea you could ever imagine? That’s the God we serve! So when you hit the roadblock of your unknown future, you don’t need to slump down in defeat and sit against the post of hope that’s been deferred. Your heart need not be sick. Dream with God. Write down your dreams. Write down your expectations. Allow God to take that list and demolish it with goodness and excellencies that far exceed your wildest dreams. The heart maker can take those desires in your heart of hearts and blow them up bigger than you could ever fathom. What is it you need? You’re Liberating King can meet every one of your needs. Nothing is impossible for God. Nothing is too far, too deep, too wide, beyond His reach. Lay it before Him and give Him rule and reign in that area. Watch what He will do with the pieces of your life.

Psalm 18:24

The Message (MSG)

20-24 God made my life complete
    when I placed all the pieces before him.
When I got my act together,
    he gave me a fresh start.
Now I’m alert to God’s ways;
    I don’t take God for granted.
Every day I review the ways he works;
    I try not to miss a trick.
I feel put back together,
    and I’m watching my step.
God rewrote the text of my life
    when I opened the book of my heart to his eyes.

 

Wait, watch, and SEE what God will do.

xoxo Alicia Barkley

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You ARE what you CHOOSE!

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Deuteronomy 30:19-20

19 I call heaven and earth to witness this day against you that I have set before you life and death, the blessings and the curses; therefore choose life, that you and your descendants may live

20 And may love the Lord your God, obey His voice, and cling to Him. For He is your life and the length of your days, that you may dwell in the land which the Lord swore to give to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

They say that insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. I guess I’m insane. No, I’m kidding. However, I must confess making the “hard” choices in life is not my strong suit. It’s true. I struggle with the volition of my will and purposing it to a set standard of living. What I mean by that is I know in my heart that God’s best is for my best interest and will truly lead me down the best pathways of life, yet I far too often find myself not trusting God at His word. It’s so much easier to walk the road of independence and self-sufficiency because it seems we would know what it takes to make us happy, right? In most cases, wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Guess what, I’m not the only one who has ever dealt with this dilemma. I’m not the first and I am certainly not the last. You want to know what I’ve realized lately? I’m realizing more and more that what is preventing me from walking out my FULL calling lies in the choices and decisions I am making on a daily basis. I was listening to Andy Stanley’s podcast series titled “Guardrails” and within one of his messages he mentioned we are to “Face up to, accept, embrace what you know in your heart is the Lord’s will for your life. Stop deceiving yourself stop playing games.” I’d say I’m a good game player, if I was to be completely honest with myself. I am a skilled edge walker, reasoner, and expert justifier. If I were to be honest with myself, I know the purposes God has for my life. I know what He is calling me to do. Yet, with ease I far too often find myself as a guppy swimming with the stream and not against it, as I know I should be. When you swim with the stream, you are as good as a dead fish. There is no skill required to go with the flow. Think about it, if you were a fish in water and the stream currents pulled you along, would you need to exercise any discipline? Yet how often do we find ourselves likened to this metaphor? Living a defeated life doesn’t require much of anything, except a broken will. So what then do we do with this? The first step is to acknowledge the problem. I’ve been awakened to this realization most recently. When I look at the pieces of my life and the gap between who I am now and the woman I am to become, I see only a few KEY things. The first and most important key is in my decision making repertoire. It’s so simple. Make the right choice. Why is it so hard? Why does it feel so complicated? Why is our flesh at such odds with God’s perfect plan? Nobody is immune to it, we all face the same temptations and struggles. For me, my emotions tend to drive my decision making, which is a lethal combination. Emotions+decisions is a path to disaster. Sometimes our feelings are our most valuable asset, as they are like the wind in that they can often be a guiding force. However, when our emotions drive us to places we should never go, we often will find ourselves in compromising positions we were never meant to be in. The first step, perhaps, is taking the emotions out of our decision making process. Emotions can be a guide, but our head and heart must never be disconnected. The Bible says our heart is deceitfully wicked and who can trust it. I don’t like that verse. Something in me doesn’t WANT to believe my heart can be wicked, but it’s true. Sometimes the truth is ugly and in your face. Our heart can be very misleading. I think as a woman, emotions are particularly difficult. Emotions and feelings are powerful influences in our lives that must be stewarded wisely. I wrote most recently about “sitting” with your emotions. I really encourage you to read my piece about “Patience in Pain” it’s a powerful revelation I had about how pain can truly be a key in propelling us on to victory. I think there is power in our ability to sit with those uncomfortable emotions and experiences. For one, I think in doing so you can accurately see them for what they are worth. Just that, feelings. And for another, I think when we can slow the process down and just let things BE, we are able to clear our head, separating it from our heart, to make the best wisest choice. What separates winners from a fool is in their ability to choose wisely. Yet with all this head knowledge, it still does not make for an easy road. You can know that something is or isn’t right for you, but when the rubber meets the road, you may still find yourself in over your head with the blare of an alarming decision that must be made. So what’s the answer? How do we solve this unavoidable dilemma? It’s simple. Make the RIGHT choice. Why is something so simple, so incredibly difficult? I think the biggest principle in making wise choices is your faith, trust and BELIEF that God is who He says He is. You must first acknowledge Him in all that you do. When you have a strong awareness of God and His character– which is faithful, just, loving, gracious, and benevolent, you can begin to trust Him with your mind, will and emotions. Simply put, if you do not trust God is good and has good for you, you will not choose His way. It’s the plain and simple truth! Do you take Him at His word when He says

Ephesians 3:20 Amplified Version

20 Now to Him Who, by (in consequence of) the [action of His] power that is at work within us, is able to [carry out His purpose and] do superabundantly, far over and above all that we [dare] ask or think [infinitely beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts, hopes, or dreams]—

Do you not think that the dream maker of our hearts would have a better plan to accomplish these dreams than our very own ability or imagination? What I mean is, the Creator of EVERYTHING you see has placed dreams and desires in your heart. The same God who has brought all these things together in your life, is the same God who promises to do more than the imaginable in our lives. We have to align ourselves with this Plan and that requires a relationship and a trust in God. I know for many, including myself, trusting is a sore spot in our hearts. It’s difficult to trust in what we can not immediately see. We feel a sense of power when we control our destiny, but that same sense of control really takes control away from ourselves because we are not trusting in God’s divine ability to bring every dream to pass. So where do you begin? There is this book I’m reading by Rebekah Lyons that is called Freefall to Fly. She talks about how that it’s in the free fall is where your rescue comes. We all must fall in order to fly. What is it that you are holding onto right now? It may be a person. It may be a dream. It may be an idea. God is asking you to let it go. You know this is true, because it’s speaking to your heart of hearts right now. I’ve heard it said that we are far too often like the child with a small toy firmly grasped within it’s hands, while God is standing by with something far greater in His hands. We can not grab a hold of what God’s best is, when we are holding tightly onto the reins of our lives. I know for me, I have for too long had one foot into the future with my other foot stuck in the past. I’ve grasped onto the life I want to lead, while I know God desires to usher me into this glorious future He has planned and prepared for me. For too long, I have flailed in my emotions and in my wrong decisions and it’s held me back from everything God is showing me that He and only He can and wants to give me. This life is far too short. God says we are but a vapor here today and gone tomorrow. Our life is a speck in the grande scheme of things. We only have here and right now, and it’s all in what we do with it. Are you going to let another day go by? Are you going to stay stuck, wheels spinning, on the path to nowhere? Or, do you want to risk it all and start your free fall so that not only God can rescue you, but redeem your life and set it on a broad path leading to grace, favor, and unfailing love that pursues you for the rest of your life? I don’t know about you, but I want to have an unimaginable life, filled, bursting at the seams with the dreams and desires that God sets into motion and brings into fruition. It all starts right here and now, with making the hard choices. Let’s be a people that believes for what we can not see. Let us trust God for the little bit that we can not see, so He can do more than we could ever imagine on our own! Let’s live a life of purpose, not just our purpose, GOD’S fulfilling purpose that He’s planned before we were ever a thought.

Love you, believe in you & know that God’s got His hand on your life. You wouldn’t be reading this if it were not true!

xoxo Alicia Barkley

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