Happy New Year: Recipe for Prosperity

Happy New Year!

Can you believe it’s already 2014?
You may or may not have set goals, plans, intentions, or resolutions for 2014, but I bet you’ve at least given it a thought. It’s nearly impossible to start out a brand new year without reviewing a bit of the positives and negatives of the past and have wishful and hopeful thoughts of the future.

I don’t make “New Year’s Resolutions”, per say, but I do have a lot on my mind that I’m still working out, and I can’t barely wait to share it all with you! Coming soon…. 😉

One quick thought: Do you know what the meaning of “prosperity” is?
The dictionary defines it as “a successful, flourishing, or thriving condition, especially in financial respects; good fortune.”
Sounds good to me. Although, personally I don’t feel that it needs to be a financial respect — I’m all for becoming more successful, flourishing, and thriving in other ways as well! Friendships…relationships…spiritually…goal achievement…etc

So how does one attain ‘prosperity’? God’s word says in Joshua 1:8, ” Study this Book of Instruction (The Bible) continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do.”

Hmm…that’s something to ponder, isn’t it? You may or may not believe those words, but would it cause any harm to ‘study and meditate’ and see what happens? Have anything to lose?

Let me know if you’re open to checking out this recipe for prosperity, and if you’re interested in any help along the way.

Wishing you a year full of good health, prosperity, and joy that comes from The Source of all joy (Jesus)!

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I’ve Got My Eye on You

It’s nice to be driving to my next destination with a few minutes to spare.  Lacking the typical thoughts of “hurry up, you’re running late!” makes room for relaxing thoughts and the ability to be mindful of where I am, and what’s going on around me.

I had this rare experience yesterday. As I came upon a small, yet busy, intersection a man in a yellow construction vest was directing traffic because of a lane closure due to construction.  I was the first vehicle in my lane, so while I really needed to keep my eye on the traffic director in order to know when it was my turn to go, I couldn’t manage to keep my focus on him. Seriously, it was boring  to watch him wave his arms around this way and that way like a mechanical gorilla, especially when I was intrigued by the massive construction equipment that was  productively moving dirt right next to me. No matter how many times I attempted to focus on the traffic director, again and again I got distracted by other things in my peripheral.

I didn’t want to miss my turn and get honked at, so I eventually stifled my curiosity and began to stare at the annoying yellow-vested guy. All of a sudden, the thought hit me: If he made one mistake, accidents could come from any of the 4 directions.  He had a very important role! There was no way that this intersection of vehicles could manage to figure out when to stop or go. In fact, we couldn’t see down the lane closure to the area that the road became two lanes again, but the traffic director was in a position to see the whole picture.

Additionally, it took the responsibility of each individual driver paying attention to the traffic director’s cues in order for every other vehicle to stay safe.  If I missed one cue, I could either A) be stuck sitting in the same spot wasting time when it’s my turn to go, or B) start driving when I shouldn’t and run into someone or cause another accident.

It may only be occasionally that I run into a situation involving someone directing traffic, and yet, this parallels so well with my every day life.  There are many times that I come upon a crossroads or problem, and instead of keeping my focus on The One that guides me and protects me, I’m busy looking all around and distracted by everything else.  Some of those distractions are sin in my life that keep me from focusing on Jesus. Others are just mindless ‘big moving objects.’  There are even times that I just get stuck in the everyday mundane things of life and I don’t move on because I’m not keeping my eye on Him when He’s motioning for me to move forward.  Sadly, I admit that there are times that I have made huge ‘accidents’ and hurt myself (and even others) because I wasn’t watching Him as He attempted stop me, but I ignored His direction.

I think of Peter who walked on water toward Jesus, but as soon as he started looking around at the strong wind and the furious waves, he became terrified and began to sink (Matthew 14:22-33).  He took his focus off of Jesus!

Hebrews 12:1-2 says it so practically: “…..let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith…”

You know, I may find it annoying sometimes when I’m stuck staring at a traffic director.   I might even prefer, at times, to focus on distractions in my life instead of keeping my eye on Jesus — I am a messed up person with human tendencies and a myriad of imperfections. Nonetheless, I want to keep my eyes on Jesus, my champion. I want to trust in His protection because I know that He can see the whole picture, and I can just see a portion of the situation. I want to strip off the weights of distraction, sin, and anything that trips me up. I want to avoid accidents as well as be paying attention to when I should ‘go’ so that I’m not stuck in one place staring off into things that don’t really matter. Yes…I want to run with endurance the race that God has set before me.

Reminder taken.

Thanks, Jesus, for the few spare minutes of thoughtfulness…and that pesky man in the yellow vest. By the way, I’ve got my eye on You 😉

Eye on You

More Than I Can Handle??

I can’t count the number of times that I’ve said the phrase, “I can’t take it anymore!”  or ” This is more than I can handle!”

I can't handle this!!

Ok, I admit it, some of those times may have been a bit unwarranted. Maybe even a little — dare I say — over dramatic.  But there are other situations where the phrase can be used in a completely legitimate way.

Like when a child comes home in a frantic to go to the bathroom after ‘holding it’ all day and she misses the toilet by an inch, flooding the entire bathroom, urine rivers flowing into the hallway and pee-waves splashing up the walls.  Then the dog comes to investigate while you’re trying to figure out a clean up plan, and the phone rings, then the neighbor rings the doorbell, and all along, your daughter is crying and you can’t even get your mind to stop racing to figure out what to do to clean up the mess, let alone console her!

Or like when there’s betrayal by someone that you completely trusted, and now your world is spinning in confusion and chaos as you try to figure out what is real, how to be safe again and how to move forward.

Or even when you’re on a 30-day no-junk-food-challenge and you’ve been doing so well, but you’re at a friend’s house and one of them made your FAVORITE dessert.  And you’re super hungry. You’ll just have a bite. That’s all. Everyone else is.  Besides, your friend made it especially with you in mind, not knowing about your personal challenge – you don’t want to offend her! Ohhhh…that chocolately, gooey deliciousness…..   You know you want it!!

Overwhelmed. Scared. Frustrated. Tempted. MORE THAN I CAN HANDLE???!!!

Yes.

So….does that mean that God would give us more than we can handle?

I hear that cliche all the time, that “God will never give you more than you can handle.”  But I don’t agree with it. To some it may be semantics, but to me, something important is missing from that cliche. Here’s how I think it should be said:

God will never give us more than we can handle WITH HIM.

Sometimes I forget the last part – the most important part – and then I fall apart, because I wasn’t intended to handle life, and all that’s ‘given to me’, all by myself.

A great verse to memorize when going through the “more than I can handle” trials is Philippians 4:13. It reads, “I can do ALL things through Christ (Jesus) who gives me strength.”  Pretty awesome and powerful that WITH Jesus, He will supply the strength for us to get through and have victory through those trials that are more than we can humanly handle on our own!

Another powerful verse to keep in our mind bank is 1 Corinthians 10:13.  “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to humanity.  God is faithful, and He will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation HE WILL ALSO PROVIDE a way of escape so that you are able to bear it.”

There are SO many more verses that share this same concept — that when life is more than I can handle, God is there to rescue, to provide an escape, to comfort, to give peace, to calm fears, to give strength….to HELP me handle the situations that are humanly impossible to handle on my own.

Are you facing something right now that seems like it is more than you can handle? Take it to Jesus.  He’s not a genie in a bottle to run to when you have problems, but He is a loving Savior that is longing to have a personal relationship with you for the rest of your life. And He wants to handle for you, what you cannot alone.  I mean, He’s been doing that for quite some time…He did give His life for us!

 

Process

Isaiah 44:19

New Living Translation (NLT)

19 The person who made the idol never stops to reflect,
    “Why, it’s just a block of wood!cartoon man thinking
I burned half of it for heat
    and used it to bake my bread and roast my meat.
How can the rest of it be a god?
    Should I bow down to worship a piece of wood?”

Do I ever stop to reflect?

I’ve noticed how much I live my life in a rushed, busy, minute-to-minute mentality.  There’s always something more I’m squeezing into the day, or something that I can do in the 30 minute time-lapse between one activity and the next.  Some of the “busyness”  is comprised of the small everyday obligations like packing lunches, getting sleepy kids ready and off to school, running errands, making lists & buying groceries.  Some are optional/desirable activities such as connecting with friends, working out (ok, maybe this isn’t optional for me!), serving/volunteering, being a listening ear or stopping at my favorite thrift store to see if they have what I’m looking for 🙂 But regardless, life is hectic! Anyone else out there feel like this?

There’s nothing ‘wrong’ with having an active, engaging schedule; however, we sure can miss some of the deep meaningful moments that could simply enrich our lives when we don’t allowing ourselves time to process the life that we live. The older I get, the more apparent this becomes to me. We need to take the time to reflect and process.

I’ll be sitting in a church service and really resonating with the message. Taking notes I’ll think, “wow, this is something I want to implement in my life” or “I need to look into this thought more”. But how often do I actually go back and dig deeper into what I wrote and what I felt was so important after that Sunday service? Not often enough. I miss out on growing in that particular area because I didn’t take the time to process….

I went on a jam-packed, 16-day, several country trip tromp through Europe this summer with my husband. I had every intention of journaling and capturing my daily experiences so I could go back and reflect on them; however, we crammed in so much that I didn’t really even take time for that. Upon getting back to the states on a Sunday evening, we had cancelled flights, found a flight into a different city, rented a car, picked up kids at 1am, and regular crazy life began on Monday morning.

Don’t we need a day after a trip,vacation, or retreat to just PROCESS it all? While it’s hard to describe, I feel like my trip is left ‘incomplete’ in my mind because I never stopped to take in all of the experiences…I missed out on the fullness of the adventure because I didn’t’ take the time to process…

I sat out at a park that I stopped at last week on one of the last gorgeous warm days of the year, enjoying the sound of the water falling from the reservoir next to me, the sun beating on my back, and the opportunity to take a last minute detour to sit outside and just journal and work on my Bible study in peace. I wrote. I contemplated. I took it all in! Looking around and realizing what I had at that moment sent an unexplainable feeling of joy and gratitude deep into my soul!  I took the time to process…

While everyone is different and processes life differently, we all can grow in this area and try new things. If you haven’t taken the time to try one of the following, I challenge you to do so:

1) Journal/Write – whether daily, or just for specific experiences or intense feelings

2) Meditate/Think – I’m not talking about “New-Agey” stuff, I’m talking about making time for reflection and piecing together thoughts, experiences, and how they apply to your own life.

3) Actively Look Around & Think Deeper – not used to this subject of ‘processing’? Try to take your thoughts one step deeper. Ex: Instead of just reading a verse in the Bible, study the meaning and application, look at the context, read it in different versions, do a word study, look around at other verses that have a similar concept. (Psalm 119:15, “I will study your commandments and reflect on your ways.)

4) Discuss – Talk about your experiences, thoughts, and feelings with a close friend. Share the details of a vacation, the feelings you have after holding that baby, or the thoughts that come to mind when someone said something to you.

The definition of the verb “to process” is: To gain an understanding or acceptance of; come to terms with.

Instead of just jumping back into our hectic lives and never getting the full value or potential out of what our experiences have to offer, let’s attempt to take time to gain all that we can from life, to grow in every experience. Let’s take the time to process.

Take just a few minutes. To think. To meditate. To take it all in. To process.

Who’s the Boss?

Today is October 16th, national Boss’s Day.

So, who’s the boss in your life? Is it the CEO of a company? Maybe you’d say that your spouse seems to be your boss? If you’re a child, it may be your parent, or a teacher. Perhaps you work for yourself and you are your “own boss”?

I think when we use the word “boss” in our society, it comes with a bit of a negative connotation, doesn’t it? (Unless we ourselves own the title and bask in the privileges of being “THE BOSS”.) We often think of someone who is putting pressure on us, telling us what to do, and scrutinizing our work.  Someone that we have to answer to.  And we don’t like to have to answer to anyone.   mean boss

No matter who we are, we have someone to answer to. (Yes, even top CEO’s of large companies have to answer to the law, and even if they can buy off the legal system, let’s be realistic and realize that we ALL have to answer to God!  2 Corinthians 5:10).

In Colossians chapter 3, Paul gives us “instructions for a Christian household.”  He tells wives and husbands how to get along; how children and their parents should interact with each other and….believe it or not, He tells us how to treat our bosses in the workplace:

“Slaves (employees), obey your earthly masters (bosses) in everything you do.  Try to please them all the time, not just when they are watching you.  Serve them sincerely because of your reverent fear of the Lord.  Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. Remember that the Lord will give you an inheritance as your reward, and that the Master you are serving is Christ.  But if you do what is wrong, you will be paid back for the wrong you have done.  For God has no favorites.”  Colossians 3:22-25

God was talking about literal ‘slaves’ in Colossians  because slavery was central to the life and economy of the ancient world – it was their normal way of life.  That is no longer the accepted way of life in our modern age, but the employee/employer relationship and the modern day workplace sure fits right into it’s place on the pages of Colossians, doesn’t it?  How often do people ‘brown nose’ in front of the boss, just to talk smack about them behind their back? Or how often are people using company time to meet their ‘soulmate’ on match.com or to play Candy Crush when the boss isn’t looking, instead of working to earn their fair wage and giving their boss a fair day of work? Well, no one is perfect, and I’m sure that we all have had bosses who are not worthy of respect, but God is calling us to a higher standard — He’s telling us to do WHATEVER we do as though we’re working for the Lord, rather than for a person.  Wow, those are some pretty bold words. And pretty humbling, if you ask me.

So I challenge you today:  go and buy your boss a little present, or a card and actually MEAN what you say. Even if you don’t personally care for that boss,  look at what you do as if you were doing it for the Lord.

Happy Boss’s Day!!

Jesus-cross

A Lesson from “Green Goodness”

If you know anything about me, you know I LOVE avocados! But who couldn’t fall in love with this tasty, wholesome fruit? There are SO many ways to eat the green-goodness:

– Smoothies

– Salads

– Replacement for butter

– Freshly Chopped up in Tomato-Based Dishes (or ANY leftovers!)

– Guacamole!

And the health benefits? Let’s just name a few:

– Half an avocado provides 15 grams of heart-healthy unsaturated fat and NO cholesterol

– Great source of Fiber, Potassium, Vitamins C,K, Folate and B6

– Helps to absorb antioxidants such as lycopene and beta-carotene

– Makes taste buds happy 🙂

Ok, I’ll stop advocating for avocados for a minute and tell you the real reason that this fruit taught me a lesson this week.

While I like to have avocados around almost always, they have a short window of ripeness time before they go bad. When they get all wrinkly, dark, and ugly, you can pretty much bet that you’ll find them rotting from the inside out when you cut them open.

"Bad" Avocado?

“Bad” Avocado?

The outside of one of mine looked just like that. In fact, it appeared to be so far gone that I was walking towards the trash to pitch it when for some odd reason, I decided last  minute to cut it open and see if anything was salvageable inside.

Wow…was I surprised! The inside wasn’t pitted, rotting, black or smelly, but a perfectly ripe “green-goodness” that was completely edible!

While I was enjoying half of it chopped up in my lunch of veggie-spaghetti leftovers, it hit me that I had judged this avocado by it’s outward appearance. I almost threw it away, and missed the opportunity for it to simply enrich my meal.

"good" on the inside

“good” on the inside

May sound juvenile, but it really struck me: What was on the outside wasn’t very attractive and LOOKED like it was going to be rotten, but it was actually sweet and desirable on the inside.  I hate to think that I might judge people on the outside like this sometimes, and throw away opportunities that could’ve simply enriched my life, or the life of another.

Do we ever see someone that looks undesirable to us – perhaps ‘dirty’ or ‘rotten’ on the outside – and choose not to take a moment to learn what’s actually on their inside? It’s humbling, but I know I’ve been guilty of this.

How about you? Are there any people that you avoid getting to know because from the outside they appear to be “mean” or “stuck up” or “scummy” or “trampy”?  God has actually brought one potentially missed-opportunity to mind, and I plan to remedy this the next time I have the chance. I’m challenging you to do the same.

Please leave your comments and feedback below, and let me know if you follow through with the challenge! I’m going to go eat the other half of my avocado now 😉

Do You Have a Running Buddy?

women runningI have to admit, I wasn’t in the mood to go to the gym yesterday. After a mere 4-5 hours of sleep, my body was raging war with me and my mind was thinking about all that I needed to be doing.  However, I had a standing appointment to workout with my friend at the gym, and I’m not one to back out for no good reason.

Turns out my friend was having a similar ‘blah’ day and she wouldn’t have made it without our set appointment, either. (Note: confirmed appointment = actually doing something!)

We started off with a 1-mile warmup around the track.

Funny how running that same mile by myself feels like A LOT of work (and sometimes pointless, like a hamster running around a wheel going nowhere), but when running with my running buddy, we both run faster times than when on our own, and rarely get that “I don’t think I want to go another lap!” feeling.  Somehow we manage to chat back and forth which keeps our focus on something other than what our body and mind are trying to tell us.

After we had finished the rest of our workout, consisting of weights, cardio and other muscle-straining activities, we declared our workout to be accomplished.

Then I don’t know why, but the words came out of my mouth, “Hey, let’s do one more mile.”

When she realized I was serious, she paused a bit but said, “OK.”  And off we went.

I know my marathon and triathlete friends are laughing right about now, but seriously, sometimes the thought of just 1 more mile to us “common folk” is pretty intimidating! There’s NO way I would’ve even had the thought to do another mile after all we had done if she weren’t there to run alongside me.

As we were running, we talked about the differences of running with a buddy verses running alone. I  mentioned that I should invent a “shadow running buddy” that projects a lighted image to make you feel like someone is running beside you — you know, like you push a button and it makes you think that your ‘shadow friend’ is speeding up, so you have to go faster to keep up, and another button that records what you’re saying as you talk to your friend and tell them all of your ideas that you’ll later use for blog posts….ok…I’m telling you WAY too much — no one steal my idea before I have a chance to patent it, OK? 🙂

But seriously, this isn’t just about running around a track, is it?  We all would like to have a ‘shadow buddy’ to run life with, wouldn’t we? I know that some of you reading this are struggling because you’ve lost your spouse, or you long for someone worthwhile to fill that daily void. Some of you have friends that have moved and you’re feeling  like you’re alone on this journey day to day. Others of you have ideas and dreams that you know you should conquer, but you’re afraid to take the necessary steps because no one else is going that direction, and you fear going it alone.

Believe me, you’re not alone! I think it’s cool  how God actually knows our every thought and even converses with us. I was working on my Bible study later that evening and in it was exactly what He wanted to tell me in response to my earlier thoughts:

Joshua 1:9 (NLT) “This is My command – Be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. FOR THE LORD YOUR GOD IS WITH YOU WHEREVER YOU GO!”

He wanted to remind me yesterday that I’m NOT a lone runner in this journey of life! He IS that shadow runner, that running buddy, that we often need in order to keep us going, and to encourage us along the way!

If we invited Him to go alongside us every day, wherever we go in life, how much more could we accomplish? How much further could we go? And faster? Not only that…how much more would we ENJOY the workout?

Curious…is anyone going to go make that appointment? 😉 Feel free to leave your comments below!