Leading By Example

Matthew 5:16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

When I think of the scripture Matthew 5:16 it reminds me of one of my friends. Her light shines so bright that she exudes a certain joyfulness that seems to be contagious. In fact the very meaning of her name is to produce light. She lets her light shine before others, that they may see her good deeds and glorify God and because of this, I constantly take note of the direction she decides to take in her life. Have you ever seen a rich person and notice that others want to follow him or her? I think it’s with hopes that our being in their presence could mean some of their luck and/or fortune would rub off of them and onto you.

I’ve never told my friend this but just being around her makes me want to be a better person. I see her strong desire to seek and love God and what seems to come from that is an overflow of blessings and everlasting peace in her heart. If seeking the kingdom of heaven equals salvation and peace what more can someone else obtain by examine your good works and adapting. It’s like the old saying when God blesses your neighbor God is in the neighborhood.

I’d like to strive to be admired in the same way I view my friend but there are times that make it difficult. When I tell someone I'm a Christian I find that some people are watching and waiting for me to trip up. There have been times that I've even felt purposely pushed for a out of character reaction to arise from me. It's not always easy to compose myself. I am only human, but I have to try and control my anger or outburst so to not let anyone get the best of me. I have no idea who is watching and how my reaction will affect others. I think my choices can have a domino effect. So when I smile at someone from across the street they smile back. Who knows what a little smile could do for someone else. 

The task of leading by example can be a simple act of kindness. You don't have to be in a powerful position to lead or make a powerful change in someone's life. I encourage you to stay positive, to live as though your actions can turn someone else's actions around for the better. Like my joyful friend, let your light burn brightly for all to see and mimic and know that this could be your way to glorify God.

 

Is Venting Necessary?

“I just need to vent for a minute.” Lately, I feel like those words are used often. I feel like venting is necessary. It allows me the moment to express how frustrated I am. I feel it’s somewhat therapeutic. I’ve been carrying the weight of the world around, and I just want to talk about all of my issues and have someone agree with me that what is happening is insane. But after I have finished my complaining I realize that I don’t really have a solution nor do I feel any better. I’ll be stuck in my same situation but I now I have this angry, negative cloud over surrounding me. Venting seemed necessary, but I realize it’s actually kind of destructive.

This month’s issue of Autumn Magazine is focused on Speaking Things Into Existence. A while ago I heard a sermon that Joyce Meyers was preaching about this very lesson. I believe it was based on the scripture, Death and life is in the power of the tongue (Proverbs 18:21), but Joyce had made a statement that really stuck with me. It was something like, You say what you think and what you say is what you do, and what you do is who you are. Interesting, right? I had come to the realization that the things I say might actually produce bad results, so I had made up my mind to start speaking positivity in my life and not venting about the bad. Although this was a step forward, I never considered trying to control my thoughts.

Even in one's silence, there is destruction. If in your mind you contemplate on the bad and fear for the worse you’re allowing destruction to have a voice and control in your life. I know it's hard not to talk about it, and I’m not saying the answer is ignoring your problems but inviting more negativity around the issue can and will only make it worse.  So, what are you supposed to do?  Practice having a mind of positivity. Look at the brighter side of things instead of dwelling on the bad. We all have a choice, so choose to be happy, choose to have positive, optimistic, Godly thoughts 

Just remember, you are what you think - ”For as he thinks in his heart, so is he.” (Proverbs 23:7)

Team Work

There are times that I’m not a great team player. One reason is because I find it tough to work in an unorganized environment. You never know who will be on your team and you are left juggling different personalities, agendas, and possible a slacker. I also believe my struggle with working in teams is that I have a lack of control over everything. Yes, you guessed it correctly, I am, Miss Type A, slightly OCD, must have it right girl. A lot of times I see myself picking up the mantle and doing it myself if it doesn’t get done the right way the first time. Then, I got married. I realized the real commitment and ownership of not only household chores, but decisions in life had to be equally split between both my husband and I. I have now found myself on a permanent team and I’ve learned a couple things in my first year of marriage.

My husband and I are two different people. I acknowledge that and know very well that we have different opinions and outlooks on things. At times, it can be challenging to work together because I may have one way of doing things and he has another way of achieving the same goal. This happens not only on work related projects but also in our personal life and chores. I like to wash dishes while I am cooking and before we even sit down to eat. I like the idea of relaxing after dinner and not worrying about cleaning. My husband has the same idea about relaxing after dinner but would rather have the dishes done in the morning. At the end of the day or morning, we obtain the same result. We’ve had to find middle grounds with each other to learn to negotiate so we are both happy. I still clean as I cook but wash our plates in the morning. We alternate this and it’s agreed that I may have to remind him every now in then. That expectation is set. I try not to get upset when things are not done right away or my way. I appreciate that it’s done and that I didn’t have to do it alone.

I think that’s the basis of a strong team and marriage. Knowing that you are not working alone makes the differences and challenges all worthwhile. You end up learning and opening yourself up to a new point of view. You learn how to relax and let go of some responsibilities. You learn how to trust and balance your life and your workload. Build a unified team, learn to comprise, and learn to trust.

I Bet You Wish You Could Know The Future

This may be one of my favorite quotes. Maybe it's God's references to him caring for the birds or maybe it's because it makes me stop and realize how small all my past worries seem now that I stand in front of them still breathing. I am full and satisfied, I have my family and friends who are in good health and surrounded with an abundance of love. We must focus on what we have and what's going right in our lives. 

I remember times when I dreaded facing a problem. I will play the worse cause scenarios in my head. I'd let them consume me and in turn my day would become worse. 

I realize now that none of the worry is worth the stress and it is written, Matthew 6:27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

The obvious answer, of course, you don't.

If only we could see in the future and realize that everything eventually turns out okay, after all. The storms may be large and destructive, but it'll settle. Things will pass. 2 Corinthians 4:16-18, The hard times are small compared to the good times coming ahead. There are things in the future that we can't see yet, but the things that are here today, will be gone tomorrow. 

We have to have faith that everything will be okay, and we'll get through it all. Try trusting in God in the situation you have now or the next time you face a challenge. Pray on it, act positively and thoughtfully on it, and then let it go. Give it to God. Trust him, believe Him, and watch.

Walk In Love

Ephesians 5:2 Walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. 

I appreciate this season because of the magic and love in the air. Christmas-time makes me a little nostalgic. When I look back on my past Christmas’, I’ve realized that I don’t have just one favorite memory. The fonder moments are of a yard being covered in a blanket of untouched snow and the smell of the wood burning in the fireplace. I also enjoyed hearing my mom play Christmas music by Luther Vandross and The Temptations. The one memory that seems to hold true despite what location I’m in are the people. I still feel that this is the season where you never meet a stranger. Hearts are softened during this time, and an unexpected and unexplainable kindness is given to one another. During this time, I believe we tend to be more Christ-like. 

Ephesians 5:1-2 reads, Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. 

A simple act of holding a door open for someone or an offer to allow one to jump ahead in line can make an impact in someone’s day and their behavior towards others. These acts are contagious. They make a difference. I encourage you to smile at people, to call a friend or relative just to say hello, or to compliment others. I promise you that these small acts of love can be bigger than any present that can fit underneath the Christmas tree. 

My expectation for this season is simple; to be more God-like, to love on one another, and to continue doing so even after the holidays. My traditional music may be switched out for a newer rendition of “This Christmas” and my need for snow can be met with a short drive, but it’s important to me to treat others with loving intentions and a kind heart. And in return, I hope to receive love, as Christ loves us continuously through and outside of this season to make our Christmas great. 

Try A Blessing Jar VS A Douche Jar

https://grizzlybomb.files.wordpress.com/2011/09/the-guys2.jpg

I find myself reflecting on the where, what, and why’s of my life. Where have I been, what have I done, and why aren’t I where I want to be. I ponder on those expectations, and I start to set new goals and expectations for my life. A while ago both my husband and I decided to start acknowledging not only the abundant blessings in our lives but the small ones that happen to us on a daily basis. To do this, we had to stop and acknowledge the moments when they happened, and this is how we created our blessing jar along with a little help from a favorite T.V. show. 

If you’ve ever watched the T.V. show, New Girl you are probably familiar with the character Schmidt played by Max Greenfield. Schmidt’s character is known to make some pretty arrogant and inappropriate comments. In a way to keep his comments under control and allow him to recognize that he has crossed the line, his roommates created a douche jar. Every time Schmidt makes a statement that could be considered “douchey” they make him place money in the jar. At times, he stands dumbfounded, not grasping that what he said was, in fact, inappropriate. In the end, he pays the jar and us as an audience laugh and shake our heads thinking, “that Schmidt is crazy.”

So, what do Schmidt and his douche jar have to do with the blessing jar, this month's issue, and me? It’s all relative, I promise. The blessing jar is a way to take a moment and reflect. You don’t necessarily have to put money in a jar, but it’s a way to help you reflect on the small good moments that happen in your life every day. So, during the day, we would jot things down on post-its and drop them in a jar at home at the end of the day. Afterwards, we could share them with each other and reflect on how God had placed interactions with others to allow us to reflect on more positive things in our lives. There are countless of times we go through life unsatisfied and unhappy that we don't appreciate the goodness of life.

I remember feeling very frustrated one day. It was one of those, waking up in a bad mood days. The week was rough on me, I had been laid off months before, still hadn’t found a job, and nothing seemed to be getting better. I started my day in a Costco facing crazy drivers,  attacked by grocery carts, shoved for food samples, and had an encounter with a very rude cashier. I was at my wits end. As my husband and I waited in line to exit Costco the woman at the door checking receipts looked past my husband and smiled at me. I didn’t even want to make eye contact with anyone. I mustered up some strength to give a half smile and looked back down. The door greeter then turned to my husband and said, “You are very lucky to have such a beautiful wife.”  That unexpected moment immediately softened my heart and made me smile. “Why am I such a grouch? I have to choose to be happy and continue to move forward,” I thought. This positive comment was just as caring as the couple of strangers we saw a day later who decided to pay it forward to me and my husband and buy our groceries for us. They didn’t wait for us to thank them. They didn’t want any gratitude. They did it out of the kindness of their heart. They couldn’t imagine how appreciative we were and how their sacrifice had helped to strengthen our faith.

Our blessing jar may have only lasted a little while, but I believe it was a great exercise. I still take a moment to acknowledge and fix my perspective and faith with the reminders I receive throughout the day. It is humbling. I count my blessings, and I encourage you to start to also. Cherish the small things, even if it’s a person smiling at you in passing. Smile back, hold on to that moment, place it in a literal or figurative jar, and share some of the positivity. You’ll see how impactful one gesture can change your outlook on everything.

My Path VS His

Image Credit to Will Fuller from Unsplashed

Isaiah 55:8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. 

Like many women, growing up, I had a list of accomplishments that I wanted to meet by a certain age. These bookmarks were a combination of personal and career oriented goals. I had the idea planted that I would find the love of my life and a job in the photography field right after college. I would marry and spend our first couple of years traveling and focusing on our careers. We’d have at least one kid by the age of 25, and the rest would play out in a happily ever after type of thought. That was the decision I had made for my life. So when at the age of 26 my husband and I found out we were expecting we never considered that months later we’d have a missed miscarriage. 

My plans aren’t His plans. I found that in trying to control every aspect of my life could result in quite a few disappointments. I’ve taking most of my unexpected roads in strides with a positive viewpoint. When I was laid off from my pervious job it seemed very unexpected to me but in my heart I knew that wasn’t where God wanted me. So, I said, Okay God, I’ll patiently wait, and I’ll have faith in this season. After a couple of months, I found both favor and work. I believe these types of changes were okay with me because I had made the decision that I was okay with God’s curve balls. But I couldn’t comprehend, control, or reason with the miscarriage. We had received many condolences, and I had heard many shared stories. I heard a lot of, “It just wasn’t God’s plan.” Those words were less comforting than they’ve ever been to me at that moment but within time, I started to wonder the same question. 

I never second-guessed God, but I racked my brain as to what His reasoning would be for this to happened to us. I knew the statistics that almost 50% of pregnancies end in miscarriages, I had a constant reminder that it wasn’t my fault and that this event didn’t mean that we couldn’t have kids in the future. I may never full understand why but after months later I didn’t realize something had changed. As heartbreaking as it was, it had strengthened and prepared me, and it bonded my husband and me at a time that could have broken us. I bonded with other women who had similar experiences. A lot of experiences were ones that they never shared with anyone, and some were from women who never fully coped. 

Life throws you curve balls. You may actually get hit because you didn’t plan on a plan outside of your own. When this happens, my advice is to allow yourself some time to reflect. Allow others to be there for you. Let whatever the experience is, mold you because it will whether you like it or not. Then move forward. God has something great planned for your future, and nothing will get in your way if you don’t let it. Stay positive and allow Him to be in control. 

The What If Game

Psalms 46:10 Be still and know that I am God. 

I remember the 2011 movie Butter. Rob Corddry plays a foster father who is caring for a young girl, Yara Shahidi with a unique but funny talent. He drives her to sign up to be in a competition and she gets so nervous she starts to doubt her abilities and whether she even wants to sign up anymore. Rob’s character asks her, what is the worse thing that can happen? They proceed to think up the most ridiculous things that could happen if she entered the. One being, “what if this place is full of good-looking British vampires or a racist ninja. The idea is very far fetched but for a second it allows you to feel like all your worries and anxieties is small in comparison to what could be.

Sometimes I play this “What If” game with my husband. Very similar to Rob and young Yara’s conversation I try to imagine how much worse the situation could be and sometimes find myself laughing at the end of it. It makes light of a situation very a second and makes me reflect on my ability to make it through other situations if they were to arise. Now, I do leave in reality. My issues will still be present but a little faith has to come in play. If I can pair my faith and remove my worry and lack of control I can get through another day. I think the hardest thing for some people is not allowing God to work through and in their lives. People don’t allow Him to take the wheel. I believe that we can make it harder for ourselves by our complaints, worry, and resistance. Life could be so much easier if we just let go.  

One early morning I heard God say. Be still (See Palms 46:10). Back then I thought it sure is interesting how I remember certain scriptures in times that I really need them. Now I know God is speaking to me. I’ve realized how important it is to study His word, to listen for His answers, and to walk in faith knowing His promises are going to come to fruition. When I look back at every time I've started to doubt, sure enough, I made it through. Why is it then, when I see another roadblock ahead do I freak out the way most of us do? It’s because I am human. It’s because I’m afraid and I’m unsure of myself. So each time that happens I try to cast my fears aside and do only what I can do here in the physical and know that God, who is on my side is working even harder on my behalf too.

Don’t allow your fears to overtake you to the point you don’t even try. Then you lose regardless. You’ll never know what was destined for you because you were too much in your own head. You decided that the option of putting in an effort to win wasn’t it worth it if it meant you might fail. Trust in God’s promises when you can’t trust in yourself. The What If game is just a way of looking at all of lives negative outcomes and realizing that the one more possible result is actually something that you’d be able to walk away and potentially grow stronger from. The most important thing to practice is strengthening your faith and relationship with God. Know that God’s grace is sufficient through life’s struggles and roadblocks.

Your Path

Zechariah 4:10 reads, For who despises the day of small things

 

It can be hard to continue moving forward when forward seems as though it’s the same position as yesterday. God's strength is made perfect in our weakness. You may have a humbling beginning, but your progress is in the works. A month ago I found myself speaking with my friend who just turned 30 years old. She felt like she didn’t accomplish all that she set out to by her thirty birthday and because of this, she was disappointed in herself. I listened while she compared herself to others and their success. What seemed to surprise me is who she was comparing herself to. It wasn’t her neighbor or even a fellow coworker. These people she felt inadequate in comparison to where famous people; People who were glorified by the media and their success was measured by their popularity. These people's success was dependent on their followers and friends on social media and their financial status.

I explained to her that it wasn’t particle to compare herself to these people. First, we have no clue what they’ve been through or did to get where they are today. Secondly, their measure of success didn’t have to match her measure of success. Thirdly, we have no idea what type of opportunities will open up in the next couple weeks, months, or year for her. I explained to her that her blessings are in the works. It can be hard to stay positive especially when you can’t see into the future or know what God is cooking up for you but at that point in your life, you have to strengthen your faith. You have to not give up and continue to push on despite your shortcomings.

The one thing I like to reflect on that I’ve heard from many a preacher is this; you may not be where you want to be, but you aren’t where you use to be. If we could all take a second and reflect on all of the hardships we’ve been through in the past we will start to realize quickly that we made it through even when we were doubtful we wouldn’t. I hope that in reading these articles you are able to pull strength, encouragement, and an increase in your faith. For these are necessary for continuing to move forward with a positive viewpoint in your life. Remember, God can work in you when you lessen yourself. He can make the small things in your life increase and cause an overflow of unimaginable greatness. You just have to trust Him and be willing to allow Him to do so. 

Humbling & Forgiveness

Humbling yourself can be done in many different ways. I believe you first have to find what you need to work on in your life. Sometimes you can pinpoint your personal shortcomings in your actions and other times you’ll find your faults from the harsh truth of a friend. Both discoveries can be hard to cope with because we tend to feel like we are somewhat flawless. It then becomes easy to make the decision to not change. You say to yourself, “This is how I am, and others just have to deal.” You’ll quickly find that way of thinking doesn’t work when you meet someone with the same mindset. How we choose to deal with our imperfections and other's are what make us have a more or less humble character. 

I found myself in a big argument with a good friend once. After weeks of not speaking to each other, she had called to apologize. She sounded sincere. I could tell she wanted to move on and put everything behind us but for some reason, I didn’t feel like her apology was sufficient. At that moment, I didn’t want to let her forget what she said or how she hurt me. I didn’t want her to just put it “behind” her. I wanted her to reflect more on the pain she had inflicted on me and to ensure that it wouldn’t happen again. Approaching the situation like this led into yet another argument where neither one of us were really listening to the other.

I remembered that particular argument a couple of weeks ago when I found myself on the other side of the apology. I had mustard up the courage to apologize for overreacting in a situation. I’d placed myself in a vulnerable state and had decided to be a bigger person but instead of acceptance, I felt like I had been disciplined. I felt horrible. I instantly regretted apologizing in the first place. I decided never to react that way to an apology I received.

As both a Christian and a friend, I am constantly learning to forgive to be able to receive forgiveness for myself. Matthew 6:15, "But if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses". In other words, how can you expect to be forgiven for your shortcomings if you don’t forgive others? So, I’m working on forgiveness and letting go but I also know I have to continue to work on receiving criticism. Maybe my friend was telling me a harsh truth, and I didn’t want to receive it. Galatians 4:16 reads, "Have I now become your enemy by telling you the truth?" I am learning to receive feedback with an open mind and improve myself. If it’s coming from a sincere and loving place, it may be something I need to hear about myself, so I can start working on that in my life.

In this particular season in my life humbling for me is to become a better listener and be slow to speak and anger (James 1:19). I think it’s better to step away from things that start to become a little heated and come back to them later with a level head. At the point when a conversation turns into the blame game, name-calling, and shouting neither party will get a point across. I’ll try to listen and not judge, apologize, and think before I speak or act. In the case that my humbleness does not yield the result of patching things up I’ll know that I’ll always find forgiveness through Christ when I don’t in men. In turn, I’ll be able to let go of any anger, hurt, or regret in my heart and be rewarded ten folds for my humble nature. 

Spending Time With God

I enjoy walking. Other than it being an easy workout I am able to have time to myself to think and listen to music and be in peace. I also have my best ideas when walking by myself. God will tell me things and connect with me in more ways when I am at peace and walking. Here are a couple tips and ideas of ways to get closer to God.

1. Studying the Bible:

Don’t just read but meditate. Reflect on His word and apply it to your life. If you are a new Christian, my recommendation is to start in the New Testament with John then work your way to Matthew, Mark, and Luke. Another suggestion is to read both the New International (NIV) and King James Version (KJV). I was raised and taught with the KJV and highly recommend it but for new readers you read the NIV or The Message Bible alongside for an easier read.

2. Have a Conversation and Pray:

Speak to God about your day as you would a friend. You can pray before you eat, sleep, and thank God for waking you up but talking to Him and having a conversation can be a different experience. Reflect on your day or how you feel. It’s just you and Him, informal and uncensored.

3. Worship Him in Praise: 

Sing! Feel your spirit leap within you. You can sing at the top of my lungs at church but also sing at home. Play some music while you clean or do choirs. Feel God’s presence with you. Pour your heart and soul out to him in song. 

4.  Quoting Scripture:

Pick a passage for the week. Continue to repeat this throughout your day. You’ll be surprised how quickly you find yourself refocusing and getting your mind off your worries. A favorite one of mine is Mark 6:25-34 Don’t Worry. This scripture can help build faith and trust in God. 

5. Find a Friend:

Matthew 18:19 With two or more people get together on anything at all and pray about it God goes into action, and when two or three people get together because of God he will be present. One of my favorite past times is getting together with one of my best friends and talking about God. Chat about how He has worked in your lives, how grateful you are. Learn and feed off of your friend and let him or her pour more life and God’s word into you. Do the same for others.

Jesus, Take The Wheel

I've found myself uneasy as a passenger, especially when I am in the car with my husband. I feel out of my comfort zone; this I credited to my lack of control of the situation. So what do I do? What any person who starts to freak out would do. I start tensing up, flaring my arms around, and yelling about speed limits and blind spots. I become a mad man (or woman). Anyone looking at the situation from the outside would say I am doing more harm than good and they would be right. These actions will result in my husband taking his focus off driving and on me going crazy. His mood will shift because he now doesn't feel comfortable, and he also will feel that I don’t trust him. Things will now begin to snowball into other larger issues.

What is the lesson here? Learn how to be a passenger.

First, be self-aware. You know yourself better than anyone else. Before you opening your mouth or even before getting into the car be aware that you may tense up. Acknowledge what your action or reactions may be.

Second and most importantly, you should pray before entering the situation. I try my best to do this with my husband before we leave the house in the morning. You have to pray for protection and whatever area you may lack in. If you don’t know what area that may be just pray for self-awareness and for help for Him to work in that area in your life. It can be as simple as saying, God, please grant me patience today if I enter into any situation that may push me to my limit. Allow me to hold my tongue and feel comfortable. Please take the wheel of the car and keep my husband and I safe as well as any other people who are on the road today.

The third and last thing to do is believe. Believe that everything will be okay and then let go of it. Believe that God will and is working in that situation and you don’t have to overcompensate and point out a stop sign is ahead.

Be self-aware, pray, then believe and let go.

I hope this helps with whatever situations you may face today. 

Soar High On Wings Like Angels

Isaiah 40:31 reads, Those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.

 

I recently heard a sermon about sticking together. This particular message stuck with me because of the theme for this issue, Molding Your Circle. Initially, Molding Your Circle was supposed to be lessons that pertained to the removal of certain people from your life; certain individuals who could threaten your progression. Within each article and in my own message this month’s theme pertains more to the value of the current people in your circle and how you should value and appreciate them. Without them you may not be where you are today or at the least may have had more tribulations on your journey.

I’m sure you’ve looked up and have seen birds flying in a flock or even a v-shape formation. Have you ever wondered why birds fly together? While together they help each other fight the resistance of the wind by formatting in such a way where each bird flies slightly ahead of the other. I use this analogy today in representing how God has placed certain people in our lives to fly around us and how they help us through our journey. Flying directly behind me may be a friend who is there to boost me up. God uses this person to remind me how strong I am in the times that I don’t feel like flying; when I’m tired and the wind is blowing forcefully trying to knock me down. This person says, I’m right behind you, you’ve got this, no weapon formed against you shall prosper (Isaiah 54:17), and you are more than a conqueror (Romans 8:37). Then on my both of my sides, God places friends to fly close to me. Proverbs 27:10 reads, Better is a neighbor who is near than a brother who is far away. Friendship involves shared time and space. These relationships are with individuals who encourage me daily and they celebrate me. I place my trust and confidence in them. Proverbs 27:17 reads, As iron, sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another. Your relationships with others influence your character. You sharpen one another’s minds, grace, your gifts, and good works.

I am thankful for the relationships that I have. I know together we are gathered to keep each other moving forward to do great things. I believe and urge you to continue to surround yourself with positive, uplifting, people in your life. These people are God sent and will help you when you fall and celebrate you when you win. Together you all will soar.

 

The Worth Of A Penny

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:16

Yes, kids say and do the darnest things but did you know they also do some wise things as well? I have started babysitting two little girls during the week. The first couple days were tough. One would get upset because the other was playing with a toy the other wanted. This would lead to a fight or one of them crying. Then there were times where I’d see them in an inseparable state; they were best friends. They would care and make sacrifices for each other. Ironically the few times I’ve seen them treat each other this way was when they weren’t being told to treat each other with respect and to try to play nice. Observing these moments have taught me some valuable lessons. 

The girls actually remind me how to be a better, more selfless person. Yesterday the younger sister, Anna lost her penny while we were walking to school; this meant that she wouldn’t be able to purchase a juice box for lunch. She stopped and searched frantically around the sidewalk for it before I told her we had to move on without it. A couple minutes later her older sister, Alley pulled out a penny from her backpack and said, “Here you can have my penny.” Anna hugged her sister and thanked her. That act warmed my heart. I wanted to reward Alley for her sacrifice. Even at such a young age, Alley could make a decision to give to make someone else happy even if it meant sacrificing something that she may have wanted later.

The act of love and sacrifice they show each other in between the sisterly quarrels continues to amaze me. I contemplate these situations and wonder if I would have done the same thing in my life when I was a child. What about now? Would I sacrifice my last “penny” as an adult? It’s tough being an adult. I want to answer yes wholeheartedly, that I would give my all without second guessing. A last penny could mean going without food or not paying a bill. As adults, we don’t easily expect unconditional rewards to come with unconditional giving. If we somehow lose our money, we don’t expect the same amount to come back to us. We have a hard time believing that we may receive if first we sacrifice. Luke 6:38 reads, Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap." I want to strive to become a more giving person, a more sacrificial human being. I want to become someone who can give unconditionally without placing even the smallest amount of doubt in the middle of everything, don’t you? 1 John 3:17 "If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person?" 

In this season, in particular, reflect on what you have, what you’ve been blessed with even if in comparison to other’s it’s not a lot. Be thankful for your blessings and for the journey that God has written for you (See 1 Thessalonians 5:16) and take a moment and help someone this season. Make it an ongoing thing. In exchange, you may just find yourself with an overflowing reward. 

Choose A Beneficial Job While In School

During my years in college, I found myself jumping from job to job. Looking back I wish I had saved more money or did something that would build my resume for the future. At first, I didn’t want to overwhelm myself until I was acclimated with school and my new schedule so I chose something that was flexible. Afterward, it was more about meeting new people since I was in a new city. Whether you are currently working or thinking about finding a new job, these tips should help you start thinking about what it is you want in a new position in the future.

1. Have benefits with your job (not just medical and dental)
I worked for Old Navy my first year of college. A majority of my checks went to buying new clothes. I received discounts from there, Gap, and Banana Republic. I found steals especially in the clearance section. Even though I wasn’t holding onto a lot of my funds, I was saving a lot from purchasing my clothes exclusively at these stories.

2. Actual benefits
Have you heard how Starbucks is paying 100% tuition for their employees (even to part-time) who attend Arizona State University? Take advantage of this. Research and find a job that will help you pay off the rest of your tuition or at least a percentage of it. Starbucks isn’t the only job that does this. I promise you’ll be grateful for it in the future.

3. Have it close to campus, dorm, or apartment
Almost all of my jobs were within a convenient distance from my home or at least close to school. I would be a quick bike ride or walk away from my jobs. This in turn also kept me active and allowed me to save time (and my sanity) by not being in heavy traffic. I also was able to have lunch at home (BONUS).

4. Flexibility for your school and your social life
My senior year of college was an overwhelming year with my class load, building my portfolio, and submitting applications to companies. I looked and found a job that could be flexible with my schedule. So, I worked for the school’s cafeteria. It wasn't the most glamorous job, but I was able to balance both work and school. I would work about 3-4 days a week, but the hours would be broken into 2-3 hour shifts with a 3-hour break in-between. I would be able to take a  long lunch because the café shut down between meals or even go home and relax. I would acquire 25 hours in no time during the week. Also eating for free every day was a big bonus!

5. Work for a place that you already spend most of your time at:
There are exceptions to this rule. If your place is a restaurant and you're always working when your friends come in it can be easy to feel discontent with your job. No one wants to work while seeing their friends laughing and having a good time. Find something that fits appropriately. I had a friend who worked at the school library, which is a great idea. The library is a place where people are already working while you're working. You get free internet access and study time when it's slow.

6. Get serious and find a job that can go on your resume
Working as a TA in your major building is another good option. Another friend of mine worked in “The Cave” at my photo building. I spent a majority of my sophomore year in the darkroom or the lab printing. You might as well work at the equipment checkout station where you can also reserve items or acquire more knowledge and experience in your field. You’ll be able to obtain the experience that you need to pursue your dream job after college. One more word of advice, after you receive your degree you’ll realize how quickly you won’t like working for minimum wage or volunteering so you might as well do it in school.

Other jobs you could seek that may be a benefit to you are: laundry mats, resident advisor (free room and board), waitress, book and supplies store, student gym, airport, or coffee shop.

I hope you find happiness with whatever job you decide to pursue but before you do, take a minute, write a list of what is important to you, and then make your job fit your lifestyle.

Take Your Confidence Back

Image Credit by Alexander Solodukhin from Unsplashed

There are quite a few times that I know God is standing here beside me. As I talk to him about my life and my fears, I find peace. One day I remember being overwhelmed and nervous. There was a back and forth battle between what I was thinking and what God was trying to convey to me. This uncertainty and hesitance can be dangerous.

I had an upcoming interview. There had been many interviews in the past couple of weeks as I had just been laid off from my job of almost three years. I did all that I could on my end to be ready. I prepped as I had done time and time before. I remember walking up to the front door of the building where my interview was being held. I cringed at the thought of failing. As I touched the handle of the door, I heard God speak to me, "Lift your head up." I immediately did so and straightened my shoulders and walked tall into the building with confidence. I greeted the receptionist and continued to keep my calm and confident stance as I was asked to have a seat. Minutes passed, and I watched and studied current employees walk around me and do business. Negative thoughts started to creep up again. I began to second guess my ability to do the job let alone get through the interview in one piece. Doubtfully I whispered, "God what am I doing here?" I had no self-assurance left in me. "Help me," I said. A woman comes out of an office and walks over to greet me. I stand, and a wave of reassurance covers me. I hear God say, "Stand in your confidence. Don't let anything or anyone intimidate you. I walk with you. I am with you, remembering?

I smiled back at the woman, shook her hand, and followed her through a door and down a hallway. "I've got this," I said to myself. I've prayed for this, I’ve asked for guidance from Him, I've prepped and made myself professionally presentable, and I know this company. Check, check, and check! My confidence and self-esteem was mine for the taking. So I decided to jerk it back.

I entered that room and presented in my opinion my best interview to date. Did I get the job? Unfortunately, no I didn’t. I did find something that had suited me better weeks later and in that rejection I had decided to focus on the positive lesson that I acquired from it. Not only would I not let anything discourage me but I will not be afraid of failure. 

 I am always thankful for the courage, strength, and level head I acquire from God. At times, those qualities may stray, but I must always remember that I can do anything through Christ who strengthens me. I will not let doubts keep me from reaching my full potential and neither should you.

Fix What You Hate

I once woke up to a sermon on tv and heard one line that I will never forget about finding your calling.

 1.       Find out what it is that you dislike in the world or that bothers you

 2.       Fix it, and that’s your calling.

 Of course, for this to actually work, you have to combine the second part of this idea with your passionate. That’s it. It’s that simple. My husband does this with his films. He loves to watch, talk, write, and film movies. In his passion and love for movies, he has an intense dislike for particular film genres, bad acting, and poor quality especially if the film is was supposed to meet certain expectations. When this happens, I become the woman who is sitting next to the man who is yelling at the film screen about how awful the acting is. “OH, COME ON, JUST DIE ALREADY!” So what do I tell my loving but frustrated husband? I tell him to fix it. I ask him, what would you do differently? He’ll have a quick fix that’ll end in him saying, “It would be SO much better.” Then he’ll implement it in his next project.

 Finding what you should do and feel content in it can be easy. You should combine your passion and talents to help make a difference. Whatever you do make sure to stay focused on that goal. Stay on the right track and don’t let anything distract or discourage you. It’s easier to pick yourself up again than to quit entirely and find yourself lost.