Handing It Over Through Scripture Repetition

Recently (very recently) I was in an incredibly difficult situation in which the enemy could have easily gained a foothold. The enemy knows our weaknesses; he knows what will crush us and make us drop to our knees. He studies us and makes his mark by capitalizing on those areas in which we struggle the most. But the great thing about dropping down to our knees is that we are in a position to pray and seek God. We are in a position to choose to take in the strength that the Lord freely gives us to help in our trials and storms. And when we choose this over letting the enemy continue to beat us into the ground, God can do amazing things.

One of the ways we can take in the strength of God is to talk to Him. We cry out to Him, plead to Him and whisper to Him. Yes, we do all of these things. But another way we can speak to Him and hear from Him is through His Word: the Bible. When we read the Scriptures, we get to know Jesus, and when we know Jesus, we know God. They are one and the same and an exact image of one another. So knowing the Word is knowing their character, promises and truth.

Repeating or memorizing Scripture is powerful. VERY powerful. I can attest to this personally. Remember at the beginning of this article when I said I was recently in an incredibly difficult situation? Well, this is nothing new for me. I am a single mother and have been for a decade. Money is always tight, I have no friends or family in my area, I work full time and I have a very low self-esteem. To put it mildly, the enemy has a boat load of ample ammunition on where he can attack me. But one of the big ones is with my job. I am the sole provider for my children and I have them 24/7/365 on my own. In this world if you don’t make money, you cannot take care of your family. It is just the way it is and there is no getting around it. But the way I have been looking at it all of these years was completely wrong; and I never saw that until God allowed me to walk into this very difficult situation.

I had looked at providing as something that I am solely responsible for. In my own power, under my control and up to me to make sure it is handled no matter what. I am a perfectionist and people-pleaser (with a little bit of A.D.D. and OCD mixed in). I know, I know…how on earth is she single, you are wondering? Right! Anyways, once put in this situation at my place of employment, my very first reaction the first 24 hours was sheer worry and fear. Oh my gosh, how will I provide for my children? How will I pay the bills? What if I get money taken out of my paycheck, or worse, get fired and don’t have a paycheck at all? My body went into flight mode and I was off and running with the “what if’s”. The “what if’s”—those will get you every…single…time. And we are famous for them!

But all of the sudden, something shifted. The next day, I chose to give it to God. Now mind you, I have given A LOT of things over to God. I am good at that. What I am also very good at is taking them back. Over and over and over again. This time was different. I have been doing a Bible study with my church entitled “Attitude” for the past 9 weeks. Until this situation happened, I don’t think I really saw how drastically I have been changed by it, for the better. The old me would have stressed, feared, been anxious and let it affect my sleep, mood and spirit for days or weeks on end. But this time, I gave into it for 24 hours. At that point, I took the power from the enemy and I handed it over to God. From the very second I did that, and committed to NOT take it back again, my whole demeanor changed. I had a peace of mind and calmness in my heart unlike anything I have ever experienced before. I was not worried and felt that no matter what He allowed to happen, we were going to be just fine. Because He promises us we will be, and He has faithfully proven to me that He keeps His promises.

So I handed it over and began to recite one passage of Scripture. Just one. I put it as the background on my iPad, I put it on the background of my desktop computer at work, I wrote it on a piece of paper and set it in front of me during the day. I repeated this one Scripture, and then would say a small prayer. This was a routine for 3 days straight. The morning came to face the situation at work. I recited it over and over before I went into the meeting, and I took the Scripture written on the piece of paper and held it in my hands the entire time. While I was being spoken to, I was listening but I was also reciting the verse over and over in my mind. I felt God with me. He was in my attitude, my responses and my confidence. I have never felt like that before and have never responded in such a manner of grace and security, especially in the middle of a storm. That is what happens when you don’t…take…it…back. Leave it in God’s hands and let Him give you the peace and promises for your situation.

I am sure as you are reading this each and every one of you can think of at least one time when you have walked into a situation in your own strength and remember how you have reacted. Perhaps you can also think of at least one time when you have walked into a situation in God’s strength and remember how you reacted to that situation. If you have, I am certain you noticed the difference. There is a reason pastors and Jesus and churches all are on the “Scripture Memorization” bandwagon. Because it works and it is powerful! Not just memorization, but repetition. If you have not tried it, I urge you to the next time you find yourself walking into a storm or trial. See what it does for your heart, your peace of mind and your assurance that God holds you and will be your provision. No matter what.

Below is the Scripture I recited so many times that it went from being a recited verse to a memorized verse, in only 3 days. You can search the concordance in your Bible for any word or situation you may be facing and find a verse that will feed your soul for your specific circumstances. I pray this will be a help to you now and in the future, as you allow God to keep your burdens and carry them for you.

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Who Do Others See In You?

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Are you going through a storm or trial in your life right now? In some way or another I believe most of us are. How are you handling it? What is working its way through the cracks in your heart and soul? You can only react one of two ways–of the world or of Jesus. As I write this, I am going through a very big storm and I had to stop and think about my reactions to the situation. First, I only have so much control…the control of what I will choose to feel, think and do. I cannot control the other people or the situation itself, so I need to focus on myself. Will I show people the world: being anxious, worried, fearful or angry. Or will I show them Jesus: being secure, confident, positive and trusting. In all honesty, my first 24 hours encompassed the latter. I was crying, consumed and fearful. However, as I began to redirect my focus to the Lord I felt a sense of calm come over me. I don’t want to spend my days and hours in anxiousness and paranoia of what may or may not happen…I want to keep living life as best as I can in the process. Whatever happens will happen and I know God will be with me. After focusing on the right things, I was able to put the storm where it belongs–in Jesus’ hands, so he can carry the burden and have power over it. So, think about who are you emulating through your storm. Are you responding like the world has programmed you to, or are you allowing Jesus to lighten your load and take the wheel for you?

Feeding The Mind Feeds The Soul

Feeding The Mind Feeds The Soul

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We all know that knowledge is power. BUT, the type of knowledge we feed ourselves determines the power we are letting into our lives. Are we searching for knowledge that comes from other people? From the media? From unreliable sources? Or are we turning to the Word of God and the Scriptures for the knowledge that we need and desire? When we can answer that first question and start gaining knowledge from the correct source, we have won half the battle.

“Through God’s words we gain an understanding that God is the one who gives the gift of knowledge- that is an understanding or awareness of something. The Lord however, grants knowledge to those who have an honest relationship with him. This collection of bible verses give insights to the value of knowledge and the path to gaining it.” (Proverbs 2:6 NIV)

“Teach me knowledge and good judgment, for I trust your commands.” (Psalm 119:66 NIV)

Now that we have the first half of the battle taken care of, the second half of the battle is CONTINUOUSLY feeding ourselves that proper knowledge. Are we reading something every single day to combat the lies of the world and keep the Truth in our hearts and heads? Are we still thirsting to know more, learn more and seek more? If we aren’t, perhaps we should pray about it and ask God to put the desire in our heart to take that special time to pour into Him—and ourselves. God created the thirst for knowledge and He created it to be insatiable on this earth. We should never stop striving to learn more, grow more and be more. NOT be better than others. NOT be self-centered or egotistical. But genuinely knowledgeable and able to help others when they have questions about Christ. Or better yet, to be able to answer them confidently when asked why WE choose to be a Christian and what that means.

You DO have to make the choice to put God first, spend some time with Him instead of your busyness and worldly tasks and to train yourself to make this a regular part of your life (I promise, those things will STILL be there when you are done…but you will often have a fresh new perspective and will be much better equipped to deal with them). Again, if it is not in your heart, this will never work. If you hunger for it, want it and are willing—there is nothing He won’t bless you with. And if you aren’t but want to be—ask Him to put that desire in you, to make you long to know Him better and fill your life with selflessness so you can give Him the time and effort He deserves to learn all you can about Him in your time on this planet. And if you have no desire for any of this then, well, that is absolutely your choice and you have to do what you think is right for you—but if that is the case, I am not really sure why you are still reading this! (sarcastic humor meant in the kindest way). Here are some ways we can continue on the thirst for knowledge and make the effort to fulfill our goal of consistent learning and growth (key word here—effort. This does not just happen because we want it to, I am sorry to burst your bubble):

  • Carry a book in your purse or bag at all times. When you are waiting at the doctor, dentist, DMV or anyplace else you may be then you can grab it and get a few pages in.
  • Have a reading goal for the year. Whether it is 2 books or 200 books, know that you CAN do it and let your motivation to stay in a right mindset and to know God better fuel your actions and decisions to push forward—page by page, chapter by chapter.
  • Invest in a compact Bible for your purse or bag. I got one on sale at Barnes & Noble that is a tiny little thing and fits perfect in my purse, and it was only $3.00! Then no matter where you are, what you are doing or what may come your way…you are ready and armed to hear a positive Truth and promise from God and to keep soaking in His knowledge.
  • I cannot say this enough. Pray, pray, pray! Ask God to give you wisdom. Ask God to help you understand the Scriptures in a new and deeper way. Ask God to show you which books He may want in your hands and heart for this season. Pray, Ask, Listen.

So…what is YOUR desire? Do you already thirst and actively seek knowledge? If so, what is your method of doing that? Do you want to have a passion for God’s knowledge but don’t know how to do that? Ask Him…He will answer. Do you have a reading goal for this year? If so…what is it and have you already picked out which books those will be. I have committed to reading 36 books and doing 21 Bible studies this year…and I have them all picked out and written down in the order in which God showed me I need them. I am so excited. I am almost done with my first book of the year already and can’t wait to keep going! Leave a comment and let’s talk about this! I can’t wait to support and embrace all of the ways you will be seeking the right knowledge in your lives!

 

New Year, New Me!

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Fresh, new, positive and full of hope…that is the attitude a new year seems to bring. As I look around and listen at my workplace, at my church, in my home and just everywhere I go: I am noticing that people just seem optimistic and excited about life. Negativity seems to have disappeared, and that sense of heaviness that the end of the year brings when we reflect on all of our struggles and trials seems to be lifted somewhat. It is a beautiful thing to see and seems to have a domino effect on those around us. We see it, feel it and want that in our own lives.

However, as time moves forward and the days, weeks, and months creep by…we tend to lose that excitement and light-hearted attitude. The demands of life return. A new set of trials emerge. Unexpected struggles ensue. But what we need most during these times IS that carefree and positive attitude. Studies show that a positive attitude and happy thoughts can actually heal illnesses, prevent the advancing of disease, reduce stress and allow an individual to handle circumstances much better. So, how do we adopt an optimistic and grateful attitude that will last ALL YEAR LONG?

You MUST think these words each day—“New Year, New Me”! My pastor spoke these words just days ago and it had a profound impact on my thought process. It is easy for us to say that at the very beginning of the year. But how often do we say that after the newness of a fresh year has passed? Probably not very often. And that may be the problem. Our lack of consistency in stating the positive allows for the negativity and hopelessness to creep back in. There are many ways to keep the positivity, even on hard days—it is a matter of willpower and “want to”. We WANT our days to be easier and lighter, so why do we not put in the few minutes each day to make this happen? Busyness, procrastination, exhaustion…the list is endless. But when we do that, we are letting emotions rule, instead of letting God’s Truth rule. Here are a few ways we can lighten our days:

  • Every morning profess out loud, “New Year, New Me!”. Yes, even if it is July, October or December 31st! Every single day is a new day in a new year!
  • Spend as little as 5 minutes silently talking to God in the wee hours of the morning before anyone is awake, or read a small devotional. Quiet, intentional time with Jesus before the days demands weigh you down.
  • Look around at the world and remind yourself of all of your blessings: Did you wake up this morning? Do you have a place to live? Do you have an income? Do you have clothes to wear? Do you have food to eat? I am not talking lavish living…but if your basic needs are met you have so much more than so many others—and we often so easily take that for granted and ignore it.
  • Connect with someone at your church or in your community, or even a friend online. Take 15 seconds a day to text something uplifting and encouraging—and be consistent in it (this is something I struggle with but need so badly). This will not only bless them and may be just what they needed at that moment, but it will bring you thankfulness and blessings also. Remember, you may be the only Jesus that person connects with that day.

Now, keeping that in mind, let’s end with a few Scriptures that can help remind us how we are supposed to act and live. NEW. PURPOSEFUL. JOYFUL. BLESSED. Be good to yourself and others each day of this new year and watch how your attitude, your relationship with Jesus, and your life turns around!

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!”  (2 Corinthians 5:17 NIV)

“Now you’re dressed in a new wardrobe. Every item of your new way of life is custom-made by the Creator, with his label on it. All the old fashions are now obsolete.”  (Colossians 3:10 MSG)

“A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.”  (Proverbs 17:22 NIV)

Falling Back—Into Recovering Yourself

We have reached the third step in our four-part series of Falling Back! I must apologize for this article being late (and do a little God-bragging here for just a second). I have been out of town for an extended period of time and attended the YouLead Training conference for ministry leaders, and the Living Proof Live conference of Beth Moore’s. Everyone, when I tell you that God MOVED in those places this last week, I mean He MOVED! It was beautiful, powerful and transformational. The theme was draped around a harvest (seeing as how we are in wine country out here where I live) and how we can be pressed but not crushed, and in that pressing is where we best see God’s grace and glory abound. He is with us through it all, but it is a refining process and is necessary in order to prepare us to reap the most bountiful harvest and fruit! Okay, I am done now—it was just a lovely, lovely time! If you have never been to a Beth Moore conference, I would HIGHLY recommend it! This was year #5 for me! Okay, now onto our article as we learn about “Falling Back Into Recovering Yourself”!

Recovery can have different meanings, in this instance however, we mean it as another way to say “rediscover”. But in many ways it can feel like recovering … recovering from emptiness, recovering from busyness, recovering from being lost or recovering from not-enough syndrome. I don’t know about you, but I have been a victim of every single one of these at one time or another. Maybe you have, too. It is not a fun place to be, and not a place God intends for us to wallow in. He wants us to know ourselves and to love ourselves. To truly do this, we need to know and love God. Many of you might be saying, well of course, I do! But really, do we? To love and know God is to see ourselves through his eyes. If we are engaging in hateful self-talk, running ourselves to the point of exhaustion or feeling completely alone and worthless then we are NOT paying attention to what God says about us. God says we are enough. God says He loves us fiercely. God says He CHOSE US! Isn’t this how we should treat our own bodies and minds if He thinks we are that precious?

So what does it look like to “recover ourselves”? Let’s explore that! Recovering ourselves is a necessary process to breathing life and renewal back into ourselves. We spend our days giving and doing and going—we often forget WHO we are in the midst of it and how we need to take care of ourselves. So in recovering ourselves, we need to get back our sense of self. Not our titles or WHAT we do (mother, wife, teacher, nurse, homemaker, etc) but actually WHO we are (loved, worthy, joyful, precious, etc). What makes us “us”? What is our purpose, passion and calling? Some ways to pour into yourself are:

  • Remember what you love to do, and go do it!
  • Step out of your comfort zone to do something for or spend time with someone who needs it.
  • Be still and listen for God to give yourself peace and calm and hear His direction.
  • Take a day to just walk, read or do something without an itinerary or time schedule – just enjoy!

The most important way to try to anchor ourselves into learning how to recover ourselves is by diving into Scripture—rooting ourselves in God’s Word and His design for us to live joyfully, abundantly and free of worry and stress. After all, HE created us, HE knows every itty bitty detail about our hearts and minds and HE loves us and sees us as beautiful so much more than anyone else in this world ever could. I hope these Scriptures will give you some solid footing in how to trust in God and run to Jesus with all of your cares and concerns, so that he can carry the load and pour into you so that you may recover your true self and design.

“If your first concern is to look after yourself, you’ll never find yourself. But if you forget about yourself and look to me, you’ll find both yourself and me.” (Matthew 10:39 MSG)

“People who don’t know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep yourself in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met. Don’t be afraid of missing out.” (Luke 12:30-31 MSG)

“Your life is a journey you must travel with a deep consciousness of God. It cost God plenty to get you out of that dead-end, empty-headed life you grew up in. He paid with Christ’s sacred blood, you know. He died like an unblemished, sacrificial lamb. And this was no afterthought. Even though it has only lately—at the end of the ages—become public knowledge, God always knew he was going to do this for you.” (1 Peter: 18-19 MSG)

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away, and look, new things have come.” (2 Corinthians 5:17 HCSB)

“I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” (Ephesians 3:16-19 NIV)

“Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always.” (1 Chronicles 16:11 NIV)

“The Lord is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him.” (Psalm 28:7 ESV)

“I am the Vine, you are the branches. When you’re joined with me and I with you, the relation intimate and organic, the harvest is sure to be abundant. Separated, you can’t produce a thing. Anyone who separates from me is deadwood, gathered up and thrown on the bonfire.” (John 15:5-6 MSG)

Falling Back – Into Finding Your Passion and Joy

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Passion and joy, two of my most favorite things! So it is no surprise that I am super excited that we will be talking about that today! Our passions drive us and give us purpose and bring us joy—yet our passions seem to be the one thing we let go, let slide or give up on. Why is that? Lack of confidence? Lack of support and mentoring? Exhaustion and time constraints? It could be a number of different things that cause us to push our passions under the rug and assume that our “every day” is more important and needs our focus. Yes, the everyday HAS to be taken care of and the world has to keep turning, but that doesn’t mean we have to completely let go of what drives us and makes our hearts soar. Our souls need us to invest in our passion, because our passions lead to our purpose—and our purpose is what propels us into God’s plan for us.

So, when we have lost that fire, that excitement or that hope to invest in our passions and what brings us joy, how do we recover that? What steps can we take to pour into ourselves in ways that fuel our fire and help us live out our calling? I’m glad you asked! This is where we learn the balance of HAVE TO’s versus NEED TO’s; know what they are, how to tell the difference and when to do which one. We all know what a HAVE TO is—yep, plainly and simply put it is something that HAS to be done, whether we like it or not. For some of us that is going to work every day. For some of us that is taking care of the kiddos. For some of us that is cooking and cleaning. Those things must be done in order to keep your household in order, pay the bills and raise your children up in the right way. They can be demanding and exhausting … but one thing they are NOT is optional. Okay, then you have the NEED TO’S—something that isn’t really imperative or necessary, but something that you feel you should take part in or want to take part in. For some of you it may be joining that Jazzercise class. For others it may be going to that concert you saw advertised that everyone is raving about. And for others it may be sitting down to do that painting project you keep seeing on Pinterest. These are the things that help you find encouragement, connection and purpose—but these things ARE actually optional.

So we spoke previously about structure and scheduling “me” time into our days. So you know all the places where you put your HAVE TO’S—now let’s focus on where and what you can put into your schedule for your NEED TO’S. Because you NEED to have those things that make your soul soar and your heart leap for joy. So whatever that may be (photography, baking, reading, taking walks, a short trip with the family, etc) now is the time to put them into your structure. In those gaps of time (sometimes VERY small, I know) learn to schedule in your NEED TO’S. Allow yourself that kindness and compassion to do things that refresh and renew you so that you have enough steam to give to others in all of your other moments. So now that we know where to put our NEED TO’S, here are some action steps to following through and making them happen, so you can get out of the habit of always putting yourself last:

  • Call that friend that has been on your heart and set up that coffee or lunch date. Not in pencil, in INK. Make it a priority and treat it with the same importance as you would a doctor or dentist appointment. Your heart (and your laugh lines) will thank you for it!
  • Allow yourself to embrace the help your neighbor, family or friend offered you in watching your kiddos so you could get a break—with NO guilt. Whether you sit at home in your pajamas and binge on the Hallmark Channel and See’s Chocolate or go to that cooking class you have been wishing you could attend, allow yourself the help and hospitality to spend that time on yourself.
  • Find a retreat or conference that really interests you and mark it on your calendar, along with a plan for saving and registering. Have a goal date to have the funds by and a plan for how you will save those funds, a goal for your registration date and booking your hotel and get the plans in place for who will help you out in your time away to care for the children or animals. Allow yourself that time to be poured into by wise speakers and authors that will invigorate your soul and set your heart on fire for Jesus again!
  • Go to your favorite store and buy yourself something (no matter how small) that pampers you. It could be a candle, lotion, a new shirt or something else you have had your eye on. You can have a plan for this to and save just $5.00 a week and at the end of the month, take yourself on a mini-spree for just a couple of things that make you feel like “you”. Something that will invite all of your senses to get lost in the moment. If the budget doesn’t allow for anything at all, give yourself the luxury to have a couple of hours to just window shop, see, touch and smell. Browse your favorite shops and make wish lists for the future when you may be able to treat yourself.

These are just a few examples of simple and inexpensive ways we can pour into our passions and joy. There are endless others and you need to focus on what most brings YOUR sense of passion and purpose alive and think internally about the things that bring you joy. Everyone’s list of what that is and how to do it or fit it in will look different—as it is supposed to. We cannot lose our passion and joy in the mundane of life. We need to keep it alive because at the core of us, God gave us those parts to make us each unique and creative individuals. If we don’t feed that or allow it to be fed, no one else will. I hope you will grab your planner, scratch pad or whatever you use and start to INK in some time for your greatest passions and joy!

Join me back here on Monday for step three in our series of falling back where we will discuss another link to this discovery process—Falling Back Into Recovering Yourself. I will see you all then, have a beautiful weekend!

Falling Back—Into Structure

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Hey guys, I’m back as promised! Today we are going to dive into the first step in our series of Falling Back. Let’s recap on those 4 steps real quick:

❖ The falling back into structure
❖ The falling back into finding your passions and your joy
❖ The falling back into recovering yourself
❖ The falling back into focusing on the right things

So you guessed it—today we are going to be talking about falling back into structure! I know, I know … this totally doesn’t sound like a fun topic. But it CAN be! It can help us to take a little breather time that we otherwise wouldn’t allow ourselves, or don’t even notice we are neglecting. How nice does THAT sound? So, let’s get to it so we can start applying these changes right away!

Structure is important. Structure is necessary. Structure is something we all have and do, even though it may look different for each of us. If you think about it, what we do in a basic day is structure (now granted some days may look a lot better than others, but regardless, there is still structure in every single day). What we need to do is find out how to fall back into a structure that actually benefits our days—instead of draining them. Here are some tips I have for how to implement a routine that will also help you to spend time with God and bring more room to breathe throughout your 24-hour span of to-do’s:

  • Take time for yourself first thing in the morning. How we BEGIN our day is the all-telling factor on how the rest of our day will progress. I have tested this (one too many times) and know it to be absolutely true. When I spend just 10 minutes with God in the morning doing devotionals, journaling, or simply reading an article in my Bible Study Magazine I notice the difference it makes in how I speak, think, act and react. How patient I am, how appreciative I am and how positive I am—no matter what comes my way that day. For me, this means I have to change my routine to go to bed earlier so that I can get up earlier and have that alone time before anyone else in the house is awake (as a single Mom, alone time is VERY scarce)! This was not an easy task, as I am a night owl by nature and going to bed early and getting up early does NOT come naturally to me. But here is the thing, since I have been doing it, I have learned to LOVE it. I can’t wait to go to bed, because I know it is that much closer to that time where I can be alone in the quiet stillness of the dew-dropped morning, blanket and devotionals on my lap, kitty cat curled up next to me and a mug of steamy ground goodness in my hand. I have come to treasure this time and it does not feel like a sacrifice anymore to miss that late night show or to hear the alarm clock while it is still dark out. It is now a joy, and something I highly value.

  • Find a method to organize and prioritize your day ahead. For me this means a planner (okay, several planners). I am a planner junkie, y’all. It helps me organize from the second I wake up in the morning until I close my eyes at night, with dinner and relax time all in there also (yes, I have to schedule in my relax time—but it works for me)! In an average day and week, I am usually scheduled from the time I wake up to the time I go to bed, almost 7 days a week. This may sound overwhelming, but it isn’t since I plan my weeks in advance and schedule in down-time (if I did not actually put it on my calendar, I would not actually do it … and I know many of you are like that as well). Everyone’s day looks different because everyone is in a different circumstance or season. Some may be newlyweds with no children and both people working. Some may be stay-at-home parents and homeschool their children. Some (like me) may be single parents who work full-time outside the home. Some may be empty nesters who are just learning how to reinvest in themselves as a couple again now. Whatever your season of life, there is still 24 hours in each of our days and we are told by God to use them wisely. As we all know, they go so fast! So find what works for you to plan your week out in advance and schedule in “me” time for baking, reading, going for a walk or even watching a TV show. Whatever brings you peace and a little bit of calmness to your already hectic schedule. For some this may be as it is for me, a planner to write everything down as far in advance as you want. For some it may be a dry-erase board that they do the night before and change every evening. For others it may be writing it on a notepad and setting it on their end table. However it works for you, work it! Will there be changes? YES. Will there be disruptions? YES. Will each day or week go as planned? NO. But, you are taking the initiative to organize and prioritize your days as best you can so that when something does come up, you are better able to see how and where you can rearrange other things to get back on track.

  • Find your HAVE TO’s and be sure those are scheduled in. When you have some days with a little more wiggle room than others, that is when you schedule in your WANT TO’s. For example; I HAVE TO go to work every day. I am a single Mom who raises her kiddos 24/7/365 on her own physically, emotionally AND financially (it is not easy, but they are SO worth it)! So that is not negotiable or something I can move around. That goes on my calendar first. Then there are the errands, those are HAVE TO’s … I have no one else that can get my children food, that can cook and serve dinner, that can drop them off and pick them up from school or that can get them to that dentist appointment. It’s a total of one around here, M-E. So that goes on the calendar second. Then we have to have time to clean our homes, as much as we may not like it this HAS to be done (or we will end up on the next episode of Hoarders). So this gets put on the calendar third. There you go—there are your HAVE TO’s. Then you can focus on the WANT TO’s. You WANT TO read that book, bake that fun holiday goodie, join that exercise group, go see that movie with your friends or take that long bath that has sounded good for way too long. So here is your chance! Now that you already have all of your HAVE TO’s listed in your calendar, you can see the blocks of time you are able to fill in with the WANT TO’s. If you have a young one, this time will likely be when they are napping. If you are a stay-at-home parent, this will likely be when your child is at school. Or if you are like me, this time has to be at the crack of dawn in the dark before anyone wakes up, or late at night in the dark after everyone has been put to bed (you see why in tip one it was so hard for me to make that shift to go to bed earlier). If you have a schedule and circumstance like mine, it is VERY difficult to find “me” time. So you have to get creative! If I want to bake that goodie, I ask the kiddos if they want to join in. That way I am still taking care of them and available to them, but I am also doing something that I really want to do. I put on a fun movie for them so I can take that 45-minute bath that I want. I get up early so I can do that reading that my soul needs. I bring the kiddos with me to that movie I want to see—quality time with them while still doing something I want for me. Bottom line, where there is a will, there is a way! Your way will look different than mine, but all that matters is that it works for you!

Well, there you have it … a few tips on what can help you to fall back into structure in a way that allows for the HAVE TO’s to get done, the WANT TO’s to find their place into your schedule and for you to be able to organize and prioritize your days in a way that should bring a little more calmness to the chaos. God gives us all the same amount of time in a day, and He also gives us the free will to choose how we use it. It may not always be fun to give up the WANT TO’s in order to go to bed early, do another HAVE TO or take that time to write in your planner and schedule your meals. But I will tell you this, it will be worth it. In time, you may even find that you enjoy the planning and prepping for your week ahead because you know the relief and breathing room it will bring. I hope you are able to find what works for you, or even tweak some of these tips in a way that better suits your life and season. I would love to hear your insight on your current routine or changes you plan to make to fall back into structure. Feel free to leave a comment so we can all be blessed by your insight!

On Friday we will meet right back here as we move onto the second step in this series of falling back—which will be Falling Back Into Finding Your Passions and Your Joy. I am super excited for this one, and cannot wait to see y’all back here then. Have a beautiful start to your week!

Sign-Ups For “Looking For Lovely” Online Study Start Today!!!

We would love it if you would join us for our next study, Looking For Lovely, that begins the week of October 16th. This study lasts 7-weeks and will end the week of November 27th. We meet in our Facebook group once per week for discussion. Use the form below to sign up and come on this journey with us!

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Happy Fall, Y’All !!!!

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Happy Fall, Y’all !!!!

It’s the first day of a new season, and just as the seasons of weather change, so do the seasons in our life. They are not always beautiful seasons, but they all have a purpose and are designed for us to grow, learn and flourish. When you see a new season approach, take time to reevaluate your own season of life and what may need to change or improve. I am entering a new season myself, the season of falling back.

Most people think falling back is something they DON’T want to do because they think of it as a negative thing and as something that is showing lack of progress. Over the course of the next two weeks, we will be focusing on a series of four areas of our lives that may need a deeper “heart and head” examination. I will be sharing two articles a week as we work through these areas of daily life that seem to bog us down, get out of hand or just make us utterly exhausted. But what I want to do today is just touch on these ways of falling back that are beneficial and necessary before we dive into the series:

 
❖ The falling back into structure
❖ The falling back into finding your passions and your joy
❖ The falling back into recovering yourself
❖ The falling back into focusing on the right things

Let’s expand on each of these for a minute and look at them a little deeper.

 
Falling Back Into Structure—Often times we operate on auto-pilot. We do the same things, same routine and have the same focus day after day. It becomes just what we do and how we survive. Things need to be done and we have responsibilities—that is true for everyone. But we often lose structure as we are enveloped in busyness. We need to prioritize and organize our days, weeks and months in order to not feel overwhelmed or over-extended. Know what HAS to be done vs. what we WANT to get done. Sometimes what HAS to get done is all you need to do, and the rest can wait (trust me…it will still be there for you tomorrow). We have to balance our lives around work, family and obligations in a way that allows us to not over-extend ourselves (in my first article of this series, I will be focusing on some tips of how you can manage this)!

Falling Back Into Finding Your Passion and Joy—One thing we seem to be quick to set aside is time to ourselves and the things that pour into “me” time. We have good intentions and talk about the things we love to do, but we stop making the time and effort of engage in some of the things that can help make our lives a little less chaotic and exhausting. We go here, do this and take care of that. But we are missing the “in-between”. Those moments where you stop the HAVE-TO’S and embrace the NEED TO’S (notice how this ties into the first area of falling back—need vs. want). It is important, even in the midst of your busiest and hardest seasons, to hold tight to the things that bring you joy, comfort and peace. It may be a simple bath at night, an hour locked in a room reading, a coffee date with a friend, etc. They don’t have to be big things but things that help you pour into and invest in yourself (in my second article of this series, I will be giving some ideas of what you can do to pour into yourself and how to find time in your schedule for them)!

Falling Back into Recovering Yourself—You may be a mother, father, teacher, homemaker, elder, sister, wife, husband or mentor. Some of us are multiple things on that list—but really, that is not WHO we are. Those are roles we carry, titles we have and parts that we play in life. WHO we are consists of what drives our heart and our head. True, being a mother or teacher can drive us, but it essentially is not WHO we are. In order to discover who we are we need to have a sense of self, a sense of what we love that makes us “us” and a basic bullet list of goals and purposes. We need do find out what makes us feel whole (ultimately this is Jesus, but he has created us to have purpose and passion for things and blessed us with things on this earth that bring us happiness (notice how this ties into the second area of falling back—passion and joy).Our simple answer is “our family, our children, etc. But we need to dig deeper to discover the core of who we are designed to be and what things are in those deepest pockets of our hearts that make us who no one else can be and help us fulfill a role on this planet that no one else can yourself (in my third article of this series, I will be sharing some Scriptures and insight into what steps we can take to help in the area of self-discovery)!

Falling Back Into Focusing On The Right Things—Right and wrong is something that is hard to discern and comes with a very blurry line in this world and society sometimes. What is right to one person is not right to another. In this part of the series we are not talking about moral right and wrong (the one thing that should be engrained in most of us), but instead the right and wrong for your OWN life and calling. The things God has called you to do; not your neighbor, not your friend, not that other lady in the church that seems to do it all and have it all. But YOU. What is right for YOU? It will look different for everyone, and it will change given the season of life you are in. God does not intend for you to stay on one specific path for your entire life. He will bring twists, turns and detours in order to enrich your life in ways that you otherwise would not have found on your own. But the end goal is for you to be YOU and to live the life that was hand-picked and purposed for your walk on this earth. (notice how this ties into the third area of falling back—rediscovering yourself). So how do we know what is right, and how do we know what is right for US when some days we can barely manage to make it through the day without losing our cool or giving up? Jesus tells us how, and he shows us—and the way he speaks to us is different and unique so that the message we receive is always right for OUR needs (in my fourth article of this series, I will be sharing activities and words from Jesus that help us to be able to recognize what he is saying to us and what he intends for us to do with what he is telling us)!

I am so excited to embark on this journey of falling back with you all—in this perfect season of fresh starts and new beginnings. I hope you all will be a part of this series and invest in yourselves as we follow what Our Savior and Perfect Counselor shows us in this season of each of our lives. I will be back with you here on Monday with the first article in the series! Have a beautiful first day of Fall, sweet friends, and hold tight to Jesus! See you soon!

Falling Prey To Busyness

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As I am halfway through a 75-hour double shift work week, I have been strongly reminded several times the importance of balance and pace. It is easy for me to log on at 6 a.m. and work straight through the days until 6 p.m.–often forgetting meals, other chores needing to be done, and even using the restroom! If we’re too busy to remember using the restroom, you know we’ve got problems!

So as I wake every morning I am strongly convicted by the Lord to remember to put Him first. If we don’t put Him first, the rest of our day will sadly become scrambled, hectic, and frustrating. Only through His strength can we handle extra work hours, single parenthood, chores, errands, bills, the constant demands of life on a daily basis. We have Bible study this night, group on this night, kids activities on this night, school assignments on this night–and that’s in between just trying to keep the house clean and work your regular job! It’s enough to make anybody exhausted and want to run away.

The way we handle these things (and even find joy in them) is by coming to the Lord. Even if you have to do it 20 times a day and take just 5 seconds to say, “Lord, I need patience and understanding right now”. I have had to repeat that morning, noon, and night these past several days and will continue to. What I have found is if I do not start my day with the Lord, if I do not come to Him continuously throughout the day with each trial that comes upon me, and I do not end my evening with Him…my days, weeks, and months are a lot harder to get through. I start my day and devotional time, giving the first 15 minutes of my day to just Him and I. This puts my mind in a calm place and my heart in a peaceful place so that even if I am attacked from the very first moment that I begin work, I will approach it in a beneficial and positive way, whereas I probably wouldn’t have if I did so on my own strength.

Psalm 28:7 ESV: “The Lord is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts.”

I come to him in petition throughout the day whenever something is starting to fester and I can feel it boiling up and starting to make me angry, hurt, stressed. I just close my eyes and ask God to please calm me, give me patience, energy, and determination to follow through with this day and be the best I can every minute. And then at night after the chores are done, the work day is over, the house is cleaned, the kids are in bed…that is “me” time. That is my last hour of the night alone with the Lord. Electronics are all off, all of the lights are off in the house except the one lone bed light on my nightstand, the house is silent. I spend an hour with my sole attention on Jesus–whether it be doing Bible study, reading a fiction or non-fiction Christian novel, or just sitting with my eyes closed in silence and listening for His guidance and giving time to feel His comforting and loving hand upon my shoulder. This makes all the difference in how I not only handle the day when I wake up in the morning, but how I will handle the next day as well.

Ecclesiastes 3:9 MSG: “But in the end, does it really make a difference what anyone does? I’ve had a good look at what God has given us to do—busywork, mostly. True, God made everything beautiful in itself and in its time—but he’s left us in the dark, so we can never know what God is up to, whether he’s coming or going. I’ve decided that there’s nothing better to do than go ahead and have a good time and get the most we can out of life. That’s it—eat, drink, and make the most of your job. It’s God’s gift.”

So let us remember that we are NOT meant to carry these burdens within our own power. The Lord’s yoke is easy, his burdens are light. Our yokes are hard, and our burdens are heavy. We have to make so many different decisions, have so many different emotions, and have 24 entire hours in a day where things can go wrong or we can approach things with a negative attitude. Only through continually coming to our Father and through His strength, His guidance and His love, can we withstand the daily trials that we face.

Matthew 11:28-30 NIV: “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

The decisions we need to make, the deeds we decide to do, the words we decide to use. Let them all honor and glorify Him and let us make sure we are living our calling and God’s purpose every moment. That can only be achieved by coming to Him. He will be our strength, He will be our motivation, and He will be our sustenance. You can do this, God equipped and designed you for this long before he even created the world!