Daily Devotion: Shake it Off/Pruning

He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.

John 15:2 NIV

What is pruning? The Merriam-Webster dictionary states that pruning means cutting off or cutting back parts of a plant for better shape or more fruitful growth. We are all God’s creation, and He tends to us with the same meticulous care of a passionate gardener. By snipping away the dead pieces in our lives and our worst habits, He shows us how to grow into the shape that He originally formed us in.

Think of it this way; a tree that is still sharing its nutrients and resources with its dead branches cannot grow to its greatest height or health since the growth has to be parsed into parts of itself that cannot even grow.  The same goes for us, if we spend all of our time pouring into our dead branches (toxic relationships, the wrong career, self-sabotaging habits, etc.) we starve the healthy limbs, eventually becoming completely barren. It hurts to be pruned–to have parts of yourself and your world cutaway, but rejoice in knowing that this moment of pain only makes way for new healthy, fruit-bearing branches.

For this week’s meditations, I’ll be featuring poems from my ebook, genesis!


when God
is ready to prune you
there’s no stopping it

you gotta hand Him those clippings
don’t hold on

that someone or something
will rot

no matter what you do

Daily Devotion: Motivation/Cutthroat

“Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and the gospel will save it.”

Mark 8:34-35

We have to be cutthroat about achieving the calling on our lives. Jesus expects real discipleship, in the trenches, striving for it. A disciple is a student, and the Gospel is a textbook for how to live a meaningful life that blesses generations to come, as Jesus did. By going hard for Him, we go hard for ourselves and for the world. What are you doing to make his sacrifice worth it? Are you still making excuses? Holding onto those relationships and jobs that don’t serve you? Sure, it sucks to cut off that person who’s holding you back or to leave a job and the familiar, but as soon as you finally let go, He’s going to replace them with exactly the person, network or position you need to grow exponentially. Get out of your own way!

To reach your highest potential for the Kingdom then you can’t keep allowing things to hold you back or keep looking back on your life before you knew your purpose. Stop going back and forth between your past life and the future the Holy Spirit has already revealed to you.

Declare today that this is the last time you look back, second guess or tolerate distractions in your life. Today is the day you look toward the future while working in the present. Today is the day you leap on faith, knowing and accepting and even excitedly anticipating the painful crucifixion of your old self that must occur. Get excited about the death of your old self. Your resurrection in power, a conqueror of all things through Christ that strengthens you is an outcome worthy of even the most extreme, violent, and tumultuous of ego-deaths.

kill fear. kill doubt. kill procrastination. kill distractions. burn it all down even if it means yourself too, then rise from the ashes. 

Meditation: Consider the things in your life that are getting in the way of your calling. Is it a job that you dread? A toxic relationship? Maybe a friend that doesn’t share the same ambition? Decide on ways that you can reduce these negative influences in your life, and commit to removing at least one this week.

Daily Devotion: Motivation/Qualified

For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which god prepared in advance for us to do.

Ephesians 2:10

Do you feel underqualified for the calling on your life? Do you feel like you need a degree, more money, more connections to start achieving your goals? For a long time, I avoided sharing my writing because I felt like no one would take me seriously or benefit from it. I thought I needed to be perfect in everything already, which is not true! God chose imperfect, regular people to do his work. He qualified them for the job He needed them to do. Look at all of the major figures in the Bible. Not a single one of them, besides Jesus, was perfect, extraordinary or even talented.

The Bible isn’t just about rules and spiritual enlightenment, it’s a blueprint for how the Holy Trinity moves through our lives and how we can do something meaningful with the short time we have on Earth. You are no different than any of the people in those stories, which means you can achieve the same greatness. Jesus Himself was also a man, and worked tirelessly to keep teaching, preaching, healing, traveling by foot, surrounded by crowds. His life shows how God does empower us to do the work He’s called us to do, but we also have to be driven, faithful and fearless enough to see it through for ourselves.

Just because God said it was so and you got all inspired and made a few moves doesn’t mean it’s smooth sailing from here. Whatever work you have been called to do, even though it is already written that you will succeed, will not come without a price or sacrifices! You have to have faith and determination in knowing that after everything, your fight will pay off for not only your highest good, but for the benefit of generations to come! Jesus walked by faith until the very end, even when he prayed in anguish in the Garden of Gethsemane before his death. He moved forward knowing the outcome would be more valuable than those 6 hours of excruciating pain. For him, it was all worth it in order to reach his highest potential and to complete his work on Earth.

Meditation: Write down any insecurities, excuses, or obstacles you feel keep you from taking a risk. Cast these worries onto God, and ask for assistance with improving your confidence. Pray for discernment, steadfastness, and focus so that you may overcome those obstacles and drop your excuses. You’re already qualified and ready to go!

Daily Devotion: Motivation/Chosen

Therefore, my brothers and sisters, make every effort to confirm you calling and election. For if you do these things, you will never stumble.

2 Peter 1:10

You know your calling, you’re just choosing to play it safe. Recently, I realized that while I was praying for guidance in my work, the Holy Spirit had already revealed exactly who I’m destined to be, and what I was made to do. I’ve already been qualified, healed, planted, and blessed with exactly what I need in order to achieve my goals, and here I was asking for more help. I imagine God sighing like, “it’s already in you, just do it already. How many times do we have to go over this?”

I knew that I wanted to be a writer by the time I was 9 years old. I fearlessly, and with childlike faith shared my short stories online. As I got older, the enemy, depression, and shady friendships crept in and started to make me doubt my gift. I spent college quietly attending open mics, all of my friends were artists, etc. I tiptoed around my call to write by focusing on other artistic outlets that didn’t carry as much weight for me–things I was good at with no pressure to be GREAT at doing. I did the bare minimum, just enough to feel like I was really living in my purpose as an artist. Talk about denial!

I confess all this to say that the season of the Lord holding your hand and blessing you at every little milestone has ended. You’ve graduated from spiritual preschool, got through college and earned your spiritual degree and now he’s saying USE IT!  

Today, I urge you to stop answering God’s call with “what-ifs” and “buts” and fear or denial. Stop ignoring that gut feeling that you’re meant to do more in this life. Don’t downplay your gifts any longer. Next time you hear that still voice, try responding “Ok, bet” and make the move. See how quickly your whole life will transform.

Daily Devotion: Motivation/Be About It!

All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty.

Proverbs 14:23

About six months ago, I deleted my Twitter and Instagram. God had revealed to me the work that I was destined to do, and yet, I was too busy seeking validation online to actually commit myself. I found that the pressure to post consistently and watching other creatives seemingly do amazing things every day really demoralizing. I realized that our generational habit of seeking validation online or pushing out mediocre product just to stay relevant hinders how much worthwhile work gets done to achieve a goal.

Many people add photographer, musician, entrepreneur to their bio but haven’t actually touched a camera, hit the studio, or sold a product in weeks. The worst part is that for a lot of us, the validation of being perceived as an artist or entrepreneur is enough, since actually going hard and relentlessly stretching to reach our highest potential is way too challenging and scary.

Success only comes from unwavering, self-reliant passion and physical action. For example, being a professional photographer means buying the camera, booking the shoots, taking photos with the fervor of an addict, maintaining (with great discipline) your website, etc. So what if you’ve taken a few cool photos on your iPhone and have a few thousand followers on Instagram? There’s a million others who have done the same. You’re not making a difference or doing anything that will leave a legacy, bless others, or serve a purpose after they scroll past your post.

If the goals you’ve set for yourself and the things you create would become worthless to others or feel pointless to you without someone around to praise you or collaborate with you, it’s time to re-think what you’re really passionate about and commit yourself to embodying the person you want to become, everyday. Don’t just talk about it, Be About It!

Meditation: Take a moment to truly examine your motivation for the work that you do or the content that you create. Do you create solely to make money or be famous one day? Is there a specific difference you feel chosen to make in the world? Would you still be sure of your identity or talent if no one was around to confirm it? Be honest with yourself. It’s never too late to rebrand yourself as your true self. Write down three ways you can Be About It this week!

don’t settle

Intuition hits at all times. We just choose to ignore it! I knew the situation in the spiritual realm before it was revealed to me in the physical, and this time I chose to listen and position myself accordingly. Things are not always what they seem, only because we refuse to see it. We only want to see what we want to see, skewing reality, distorting, bending it until it breaks, then we have the audacity to get upset!

Save yourself for the real relationship that you crave and deserve. Heed the signs, keep your eyes on Jesus, and don’t settle for anything that is a shred or even a speck less than exactly what you desire and what God has planned for you.

Don’t settle for secrets, illusions, uncertainty.

Don’t settle for laughably awkward attempts at getting close to you, or being for you.

Don’t settle for an incomplete prophecy.

Don’t settle for mediocrity and co-dependence.

Don’t settle for confusion, wishful thinking, or day dreams.

Don’t settle for anything.

preposterous

art can be absurd
art can be as absurd
as being human can be
let's be real.

stop trying to seek perfection
in creation
even God's creations
are imperfect

and He can do no wrong.

Sitting at SLAM underground, listening to a rather absurd, yellow-clad band of free spirits sing about their love for egg salad, it dawned on me: it really doesn’t matter what or how you create it, or being perfect; it’s about just squeezing it out regardless. I decided in that moment to stop letting perfectionism be a stumbling block for my writing!

STL Art Museum, SLAM Underground DIY Night