This month, I’m challenging myself to a “make-over”. A make-over in the sense of breaking a few “bad habits”. I realized that there are some bad habits in my life that I really need to change if I’m going to be successful in certain areas. So often we complain, get angry, frustrated, and even depressed about our situations and circumstances. And yet, so often those same situations and circumstances are created by bad choices we’ve made, actions we took, things we said, behaviors we displayed, or bad habits that we refuse to get rid of.
From personal, social, financial, educational, mental, physical or spiritual bad habits – we all have them in one shape or form. Just to name a few:
- being late often
- never saving any money
- smoking or drinking to deal with stress
- eating fast food everyday
- not exercising
- not getting enough sleep
- not being able to set aside electronic devices
- not being able to detach from social media for a day
- being a perfectionist
- watching too much TV
- never taking a break from work
- using credit cards for everything
- not sticking to your budget
- not paying attention during conversations
- not returning what you borrow
- not paying people back
- not finishing projects
- worrying but never taking action
- using excessive foul language
- telling secrets
- always complaining
- being negative around others
- never listening to others’ advice
- giving up too easily
So this past week, was not my best – at all.
I fell off my diet. I didn’t work out as much as I should have. I didn’t post on my blog. I missed one of my real estate conference calls. I didn’t meet my supplemental income goal with my Uber/Lyft driving – in fact I didn’t drive at all! I was supposed to be getting up early for morning devotions and I pretty much slept in at least 5 out of the 7 days this past week. I’m pretty sure I yelled at my kid several times for no reason. There were at least 2 days where I slacked off on my reports at work. I didn’t complete half my errands because I simply didn’t want to go out in the rain. And overall I just had a negative, unmotivated, lazy attitude. Every evening I felt mentally exhausted and drained, and the lack of accomplishment just made it all worse. By Thursday I was even more “over” everything and developed a nagging headache that just wouldn’t go away. Even when the weekend finally hit, I realized how many things I had to do, because of what I didn’t do during the week, so I couldn’t really relax. It was just a really “blah” week.
Saturday evening I had a bowling event with some family and youth from the church. I had a great time and my spirits were up for the first time in a week. Later that night I was able to have some quiet time to think, pray and hear from God. The first verse I opened up to was:
It was such a comfort to me as it reminded me that not only am I going to have “blah” days or weeks, but that God was going to be with me through each and every one of them, holding my hand, and giving me the strength to get back on track again.
So often we as Christians try to give the impression that we have it all together; that we’re doing everything so “flawlessly”; that life is just awesome everyday, all the time; that we don’t struggle, get discouraged, lonely, frustrated, worried, fed up or even depressed sometimes. But the truth remains that in our humanity we will all have our highs and lows – whether its physical, emotional, mental, spiritual, relational, financial or circumstantial. Life is hard – that’s a fact. Its ONLY because of our relationship with God that we can truly live with a purpose and enjoy life amidst the chaos that surrounds us.
I don’t know about you, but I know, in fact, I willingly admit, that I don’t have it all together. I’ve got a lot to learn, a lot to overcome, and a lot of molding left for God to do in my life. But thankfully, I have a God who loves me, never leaves me, holds my hands through my not-so-good days, and forgives me for my sins. And according to the mirror of His Word, that is what will get me through any “blah” day!
I want to take a few moments today to just say “thank you” to all my wonderful followers and readers! Your support has been everything to me this past year. It’s not easy to promote love for and attention to the Word of God in the society we live in today – not even in the Christian arena. I am grateful to be a vessel for God, to be used to encourage and motivate others toward greater things in Him! I pray that each of you will continue to be blessed and inspired through this blog, and that His Word will bring changes that will draw you closer in your walk with Him.
To express my gratitude and appreciation to each of you, I would like to extend FREE lifetime access to my recently published online course “Learning the Bible 101: Benefits, Methods, and Hindrances”. If you have already signed up for the course, please share the link as a gift to any and everyone you know who could benefit from it:
May you enjoy the course and feel free to send me your comments, as I would love to hear from you. Most importantly, please continue to join me in this mission to promote the relevance, value, importance and divinity of the Word of God in a world that has strayed so far from its principles.
Stay focused on Him and saturate yourself with His Word always!
Love in Christ,
- is the very Word of God
- is a collection of 66 books (39 in the Old Testament, 27 in the New Testament)
- was written over a period of 1600 years (from about 1500 BC to AD 100)
- was written by approximately 40 different authors (kings, prophets, leaders, followers of God)
- has 1,189 chapters
- has 31,101 verses
- has 783,137 to 788,280 words (depending on what version you’re reading)
- was first put into print in 1455 with Johannes Gutenberg’s printing press
- has approximately 1,260 promises
- has approximately 6,468 commands
- has been translated into approximately 3,300 languages
- is not only the best-selling book of all time, but the best-selling book of the year, every year!
- is sold, given away or distributed in the U.S. 168,000 times daily!
How does such a book become so irrelevant, undervalued, and underutilized among Christians today?
So often we try so hard to help others. Whether its by giving advice, writing a recommendation letter for a job, letting their kids carpool with yours to school, loaning them money in times of need, letting them sleep on your couch for a night or two, keeping them from literally beating the crap out of someone, taking them to AA meetings, making sure they have a ride to bible study, being an accountability partner to keep them out of trouble, or even bailing them out of jail – these are all great gestures and acts of love and kindness.
Sometimes these gestures are exactly what the recipient needs to keep them from making a bad choice, going off the deep end, ending up in prison or even committing suicide. But sadly, sometimes, these good gestures only yield temporary results that keep the recipient off the ledge for only a day or so. Then the next thing you know that same person does the exact opposite of what you advised them to do. They take your money, spend it on something completely different from what they said it was for and never pay you back. They start drinking again after 5 years of sobriety. They stop coming to bible study and church. They get fired after a week from the job you helped them get. They bash their neighbor’s head in and end up arrested.
Whatever the outcome may be, I am learning that in either scenario I am NOT God. My responsibility is to do what God has called me as a Christian to do – show love, in whatever way I can. So many years, especially in ministry, I used to try to “fix” so many people, solve their problems, answer their prayers, and patch up their lives. In short, I tried to be God. Although, He definitely uses us a vessels to accomplish His will and influence others’ lives, we have to remember that ultimately, He does the “fixing”, the “changing”, and the “problem-solving” in the world around us. We shouldn’t feel guilt, or pressure for that matter, to try and be God – not even for our family or closest friends.
I’ve even been guilty of changing my own personal goals and dreams just to allow myself to be a “savior” to others. God has recently taught me, that I should definitely help if and when I can, but that I should continue to walk in His plan for my own life in the process. The awesome thing about all this is that when we do “step aside” and allow God to work, time actually passes. Then you look back and see not only how God has worked in your own life but also in the life of the person you were originally trying to help. Its even more amazing when you realize that God works things out much better than anything you could have done.
As cliche, as it may sound – do what you can to help, pray, and then let go, and let God!
It’s so important to realize that the moment you decide to accomplish something, especially if its for God, that the enemy will try to do everything he can to distract you, so that he can steer you off course. It’s even more important to realize that these distractions are not always blatant or obvious, but are often rather subtle. Distractions can come in the form of person, a thing, a place, a circumstance, thoughts, or temptations.
The moment you decide to go back to school, a good friend you haven’t hung out with in awhile suddenly becomes available to hang out several times a week, distracting you from your studies. Having gotten drunk 3-4 times a week for the past few months, you get your first semester grades which show you’re failing half of your classes.
The moment you decide to quit your job so you can start your own business, you get a job offer from a company offering you $10K more a year than what you were making, distracting you from the fact that your goal is to work for yourself and eventually earn six figures. Six months down the line, you’re making more money, but you’re physically burnt out, never see your kids, hate your job, and haven’t thought about your own business at all.
The moment you decide to write a book with the vision that God gave you, negative thoughts rush into your mind with every reason why you shouldn’t do it. Now its a year later, and you haven’t picked up a pen to write anything since then.
The moment you decide to relocate your family to another state for everyone’s benefit, a gorgeous new home becomes available in the next county over, distracting you from why God told you to relocate in the first place. Three years later, you’re behind in your mortgage, neighborhood violence has impacted your teenager who now sells drugs, and you just got a notice that your job will be laying you off in three weeks.
The moment you decide to get out of a bad relationship and spend time focusing on your independence and growing in God, a new guy/girl comes along that makes you think its love at first site. Three months down the line, you find out they are married and have been lying to you the entire time.
The moment you decide to focus on growing your blog community, every technical issue imaginable begins to arise, discouraging you immensely to the point that you give up. Nine months later, a friend shows you a free online marketing course that you finish in two days that solves all your technical issues.
You see distractions can end up costing us time, happiness, peace, joy, money, and success. After all, John 10:10 tells us that “the thief comes only to steal, and kill and destroy”. The good news is that its never too late to get back on track and redirect our focus to our goals. Even after we let our distractions steer us off course, ruin relationships, set us back months or years with our goals, or costs us money, our jobs, or our peace – God is still there for us, to give us the strength we need to try again and move forward. As we move forward, let us not repeat the mistakes of the past. Let us not allow the devil to distract us. Remember, even the most subtle distraction could cost us! And its definitely not worth it.
This past week was my first week of getting back into the gym regularly, and Friday was the day I would meet my goal of working out for 5 days. However, Friday morning I woke up an hour earlier than usual around 5 a.m. with a slight headache and couldn’t get back to sleep. Because it wasn’t time to get up yet, I decided to login into my banking mobile app from my phone and check my direct deposit since it was payday for me. To my utmost surprise – no direct deposit! Then I nearly fell off the bed trying to get up and stubbed my toe. With mixed emotions – tiredness from lack of sleep, anger from the missing money and pain from the headache and toe – my mind automatically started going with random thoughts: “I’m not going to the gym this morning”, “I’m not going to work”, “why can’t things just go right”, “OMG, my rent is due, where is my money”, “life sucks”, “I just want to go back to bed”.
Those few things that happened all within minutes of each other had already started impacting my entire day and it was only 5:15 in the morning! It’s so easy to get angry, frustrated, discouraged, depressed and lose motivation when things start to spiral downhill in our lives. It may start with something minor, then it may turn into something major that you may or may not have control over.
Either way, God’s Word tells us how to handle those situations, and no part of the resolution involves giving up, running away, or crawling back into bed for the day. All those reactions are exactly the way the devil wants us to handle all bad things that come are way – by retreating, quitting and getting frustrated. God created us with a ball of emotions, but He also equipped us with His Word and access to Him personally to talk to in moments just like these. We can find encouragement to push through in Scripture and we can talk to Him about anything at anytime.
So today I ask, what stops your progress on a daily or weekly basis? Is it your circumstances? Something someone says? A situation going on at work? A personal relationship or lack thereof? A negative friend? Financial struggles? Your health? Whatever the case is, remember that everyday life is going to happen to all of us. As Christians, God did not promise we wouldn’t have any troubles. However, He promised that we would be equipped with the tools to handle our troubles. We have everything we need in Him to face any of life’s challenges. The problem is, our most valuable resources are often under utilized.
In fact, the moment you start to set goals or set your mind to accomplish something, there will be several things that come your way that will try to distract you, kill your motivation, or hinder you from progress. If we prepare our minds for this by spending time in God’s Word and prayer, nothing should hinder our progress.
Sometimes the hardest thing to accept is that God is NOT always going to answer our prayers in the exact way that we want Him to.
So often we submit our “microwaved prayers” to God, expecting our “microwaved blessings” as a result. Listing every detail of what we want or think we need. We want it ‘made to order’ and ready in the exact timing that we select.
We pray for a new relationship, asking for a specific type man/woman and then the person He brings us is the exact opposite of the image we crafted in our dreams.
We pray for a new job, and the job He blesses us with is something we never thought we would end up doing.
We pray for an opportunity to excel and He blesses us with an opportunity that is less than ideal but comes with a raise. Yet, we’re still mad because its not as big of a raise that we wanted.
We pray for a new car and someone literally blesses us with one – free of charge – but its not the exact make and model we hoped for.
We send our prayers up like microwaved suggestions to God, telling him how we want it, when we want it, and dictating the specifics of our blessing.
But He’s been teaching me that His blessings are sometimes going to come in ways I don’t expect, through people I least expect, and at times I’m not even expecting it. At the end of the day, a blessing is a blessing. How dare we be ungrateful, impatient and even complain when it comes. Remember God ALWAYS knows best! And sometimes He even has jokes lol.
Thanking God today because I’m alive, have an awesome relationship with God, and am at a place in my life where I can truly say I have found peace. The storms still rage on in everyday life all around me, but in the midst of it all, I am blessed to be able to enjoy the peace that only God can bring. There are so many things I can complain about, worry about, stress about, get frustrated about and even cry about…..but today I’m a peace. At peace because l know that I’m a part of God’s plan; that he destined me for a purpose; that He chose me before I was born; that He will never leave me; that He protects and watches over me; that He comforts me; that He guides me; that He listens and actually cares.
So yes, today I’m at peace, celebrating my birthday, because for 38 years my God has carried me through and loves me!
Don’t let Satan trick you into thinking that God can’t use you because of your past sins. If and when God calls you to speak, encourage, advise, write, pray, teach, act or minister in accordance to His Word – do it! Remember the great heroes of the Bible that God used in spite of their past sins:
Abraham – the liar
Moses – the murderer
Jacob – the deceiver
Rahab – the prostitute
David – the adulterer
Peter – denied knowing Christ
Paul – the persecutor
Sounds to me like we all pass the eligibility test!
One of my many pet peeves is when people say they “can’t” do something. Not because they physically can’t or because something is truly preventing them from doing so, but because they simply won’t and refuse to try.
It bothers me even more so when Christians declare they can’t do something.
Now, most people who know me will tell you that I’m a very disciplined person and that if I set my mind to something or set a goal for myself that more often than not, I will get it done. However, I will tell you that none of that comes easily or even naturally for me. All my self-discipline and self-control comes from God. And the same Spirit that lives in me, lives in every person who professes to know God as Lord and Savior – His Word tells us so.
That being said, he declares that through His Spirit, we have and can exercise self-control/discipline in any aspect of our lives. So lets stop making excuses! Excuses for not following through on that diet, not going to the gym, not cutting back on drinking or smoking, not spending time with our kids, not saving money, not sticking to our budget, not going to church, etc.
Anything in your life that is physically within in your means to do it, that you want to work on, or get better at – lets set a goal to do so. Lets ask God to help us exercise more self control and discipline by the power of His Spirit – trust me, you won’t be able to do it alone, even if you tried!
Sometimes the consequence or punishment for our sin is simply delayed blessings.
In the Bible, it took the Israelites 40 years to make what is estimated to be an 11 day trip to the Promised Land. And only because God had cursed them to “wander in the wilderness” for 40 years because of their sin.
Don’t let sinful habits/situations/people keep you from the blessings that God is literally holding out for you to take hold of……the promotion, new place, new car, answered prayer, financial blessing, breakthrough, healing, etc. Sometimes its not God holding our blessings back or him trying to teach us patience. Sometimes its us holding ourselves back, because we are allowing sin to be a barrier that is keeping us from reaching our “promised land” and we end up wandering around in the wilderness. Days, weeks, months, even years go by, when all we had to do was obey.
God doesn’t disappoint us, people and circumstances do. Then we turn around and blame God. God is the one constant in this life. His Word tells us who He is and He never once fails to be exactly who His Word says He is. Unlike God, none of us have the capacity to be perfect unfailing creatures. I’m learning to digest and embrace this fact. In doing so, I am more understanding, patient and forgiving – towards others and myself. Don’t forget, that we too have, can and will disappoint others as well.
So I’m a compulsive planner – literally. I write my grocery lists out in order of how they are located in the store (and will even adjust based on the layout of which Walmart I’m going to). I re-write my to-do lists in the order of how they should be done that day. I iron clothes for myself and my son a week prior based on events, weather, etc. I plan out my budget down to the bag of Laffy Taffy’s that I purchase every other Friday from the Dollar Store. I plan out every moment of my vacations, including tentative naps and lounge time. I plan out my Children’s Sunday School lessons, down to the amount of time I’ll allow for prayer. Yea, I know, it’s a little much lol. And God forbid, “my plan” for the day gets thwarted in any way, shape, or fashion – I’m thrown off completely! I get anxious, stressed and frustrated!
However, lately I have been learning to be more spontaneous and most of all to allow room for God’s “planning” in my life. It was in the midst of devotions one morning recently, that God spoke to me and said “you can’t plan everything, you have to leave room for me to work in your life”. Now we all know that having a plan or making plans is never a bad thing. However, what we often fail to do is to include God in our plans.
I’m planning to move to a new apartment within the next 3-6 months and that planning process has turned into me planning the next decade of my life! I didn’t just map out furniture and décor, I’ve started trying to plan where my son will play basketball or ride his bike. How much will I have free in my budget each month to save towards my next overseas vacation or cruise? What online courses should I start taking to get a better paying job to be able to move into a house 5 years from now? What part-time work can I do now for some extra cash? Should I start a fund for my future grandchildren (mind you, my only son is currently just 10 years old)? Do I want to go sky-diving for my 40th birthday (3+ years away)? Where do I want to move to once my son goes off to college? Do I still want to get that personal trainer certification?
This was all on my “things needed for the move” list! LOL
Ever since I was kid, my mind has always gone a mile a minute and I often think of what feels like thousands of things at once! I think, and think, and think and think, and then I get anxious, overwhelmed, and eventually a headache of frustration. I’m just now learning at 36 years old, that I need to do less thinking and planning and more praying and trusting in God. I keep a pocket bible and devotional handy at work, in my car, in my purse and at home so that no matter where I am, if I ever start to get an onslaught of compulsive anxious thoughts, I go straight to His Word to shift my focus and then once my mind calms down, I immediately start praying. Sometimes I’ll just keep reading a verse out loud over and over until it sinks in and resonates with my soul.
Through this, God has been teaching me, slowly but surely, to continue planning while surrendering my plans to Him for approval, change or denial based on His Will for my life. The thing is, God’s plan is always the best plan for me, even though I don’t always realize it at first. After all, God already knows our future and has already mapped out the “ultimate plan” for our lives. We just need to sit back sometimes and let that plan unfold.
I’m learning to extend more and more forgiveness to others. After all, God has forgiven me for ALL my sins. Plus I may need someone else to forgive me one day too.