Monday, June 24, 2019

Stay Close to Jesus/God even When Building Your Business

So many speakers suggest we are in a holding pattern, perhaps being tested, perhaps building character for that one day big assignment. 

That kind of thinking helps many, but reality is, not all will get bigger assignments. If they decide today is just training ground, will they miss the value of today? 

What if today contained your biggest assignment? What if all the other years of happiness, education, grief, and struggle culminated together so you could do one important thing today. You may know what that important thing was or you may not see it. 

Don't spend your time waiting for something bigger. Do all you can do today with the energy you have. Trust God to use you. 

How do you start your day? 

I start mine inviting God into it. I ask him to plan my day and put his thoughts into my mind. 

One woman said she runs her life by checklists. She's driven. But, alas, by Monday, she feels flat because even her spiritual life and weekend has been merely something on a checklist. She's more or less running her life on maintenance mode while supposedly building her home business. 

Do you live that way? Driven by checklists and evaluations? 

I'd like to suggest if it isn't working for you, if you don't have peace that comes from knowing God, that you remind yourself of these Bible truths: 

"But seek first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these. things shall be added unto you." (Matt 6:23)

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me." (John 15:1-4 NIV)

This verse is pretty clear that your checklist will get you no-where without giving the vine (Jesus) authority to direct you. Take time to be with Jesus/God every morning. Be flexible to change your schedule. One day all you do will no longer matter. What you do for God will matter. Do your best right where God has placed you and learn to live by the checklist God impresses you with. 

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Christian Woman, Are You Flexible and Surrendered?

Being flexible is an important trait to develop. With technology's rapid advancement and the affects social media has on culture, ways of doing business and living life are changing rapidly.  

Many people work via the cloud either from a home office or remotely in some other way.  You can take your tablet or laptop to work by the pool (although it's hard to see the screen in the sun) or to the local coffee shop to browse or complete work for pay.

Old boundaries have changed. It's no longer a 9 to 5 kind of life for many. For myself, as a freelance writer, I often do my best writing at night. When I did transcription for a company on the west coast, my projects arrived at noon my time. Then I worked until at least 8:30 each evening.  The downside of this new way of living and doing business, is many individuals are always on call. Those with cell phones and many contacts they've given their cell number too feel as though others think they can text at any time. So setting new boundaries is important. I'll list a few ideas later. 

Do Your Ideas Fit?

Being flexible means being open to new ideas. That shift can be hard for many. Some of us had preconceived ideas about life and now find those ideas don't fit. The first thing we need to do when we find this kind of dilemma is to check our flexibility level, then check our barriers to change. Then we need to simply surrender our preconceived ideas and submit them to God. 

If you're a Christ follower, you can be sure God is still in control of your destiny. He knows how jarred you feel at times. He knows the path he wants you to walk. 

Humble is Good

I have found, as an older woman now, that I don't know everything though I sometimes think I do. I am okay with saying "I don't know."  I'm okay to let things play out instead of trying to force my agenda. Life as a believer in Jesus requires constant surrender if we're to walk through the fast-paced life ahead of us well. 

Being flexible doesn't mean we discard everything we've done to-date--our education or the attributes and relationships we've developed so far--in order to take on a completely new role.  Rather, it means building on what we already have and who we are. God's word tells us wisdom comes with age. Someone needs your wisdom.

I'm convinced God wants us to grow and change with the times and to fill new niches as he opens them.  When one path doesn't seem clear, keep one window open to it.  Let God decide when it is time to close it completely or to unfold something bigger. 

Check your thinking on this flexibility issue by answering these self-coaching questions: 
  • Do you welcome change?
  • Are you convinced God is still in control of your life? 
  • What flexibility has God required of you lately?
  • What expectations need to shift? 
  • What in your life skills can you build on?

Boundary Setting

Being flexible doesn't mean you throw caution to the wind and stay available to everyone. Boundaries are still important. Sticking to your morals and values as spelled out in God's Word is important. 

My husband and I are still owners of a landline. I had a cell phone for the children's key years where I'd need it to let them know I'd arrived to pick them up. My husband has a cell phone covered by his employer. We made the decision not to give out our cell numbers to everyone. Hair dressers, service people, physicians and the like can leave messages on our landline.  I use a tablet and a laptop. I input my appointments into outlook on my laptop. It works for me. 

After the children graduated university, I rarely used my phone except for taking the odd photo. So I gave up my phone and save about $80 a month in so doing. 

I am not constantly available as many are and I love it. It's a boundary I've set. I'm not saying my way is the right way, it's just what I've chosen to do for now.

Here are a few more boundary setting ideas you might consider:
  • Decide what things are upsetting to you and be aware they are areas you may be weak and need to set a guard. That means, preventing yourself from being exposed to these areas more than necessary. I don't watch the news or read the news on the Internet because I know it brings me down. 
  • It's okay to let voicemail answer the phone.
  • It's okay to have caller ID.
  • It's okay to say no to invitations or to only agree to what works for you. For instance, a party I've been invited to will be 2 to 10 pm. That's longer than I want to spend so I will go for 2 hours only. 
  • Be wary of great ideas others have. I have a saying I follow, "Just because I can doesn't mean I should." You don't need to copy what others are doing or be a part of everything. 
So my encouragement to you is to stay flexible. Stay encouraged. Set boundaries.   Surrender to God. Stay humble.

Let me know what windows you may be looking into right now, if it's appropriate.

 "put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator" (Col 3:10 ESV). 

Saturday, May 04, 2019

Do You Believe God Puts Thoughts in your Mind?

Most Christian women I know pray and try to hear God's voice. But I wonder how often they really trust the thoughts that come to their mind as being from God? 

Do they trust their gut, their insight, their hesitation, or their motivation to act?

These are ways God speaks. 

Recently, I was sitting at my computer working on a writing project when a specific person came to mind. 

Researching that person on the Internet, I discovered she'd passed away four years ago! In that instance, I could only believe God put her on my mind so I'd pray for her family. I felt troubled all day about it. 

Another person came to mind. I wondered if she'd unfriended me from Facebook, so checked. Sure enough, she had. Obviously, I'd offended her. 

I felt awful and could write more about that here,  but that's not the point. The point is the thought that came to my mind was correct.

Yes, I know the enemy can put thoughts into our mind too which is why we need to pray he doesn't. And, we can be guilty of letting our lips fly loose (through our fingertips) and get ourselves into trouble. We need to constantly be aware of the power of our written words. 

These two instances have reminded me more, though, of the Power of God. This is how he speaks to us and how he uses us--he puts ideas into our minds. 

We don't always know what we're to do with the thought. The unfriending one bothered me for many hours. But all these thoughts serve as life lessons. Maybe character is to be checked. Maybe a reminder to check up on friends still alive lest they pass away too soon. Maybe a call to action. 

I sometimes say I trust God but not myself. I think these examples are helping me trust myself a little more.  

Friday, April 26, 2019

A Slump Was Bound to Hit

Papers to be Sorted

I feel I haven't been consistent posting on this blog. I prefer to wait for inspiration before just spewing ideas, but time and again, the inspiration hasn't come. 

Today, has been a blah day. I told my husband "I feel flat." I suppose it means emotionless with the balance tipping more to the depressed side. But I'm not depressed and I know I simply have to walk through this slump

This evening, I got an update from another blogger who described her own slump. I related to what she wrote. I felt a small sense of relief. The message was it's okay to have blah days, to not be driven or productive, to feel disappointed or intruded on. It's part of life. 

Bear and Share Your Truth 

No matter how much positivity we want in our lives, there's a time we need to bear and share our truth too. Doing so can help others who need to hear about the imperfections we face. 

Try Being Authentic

While one of my goals is to stay positive and to seek to inspire others, I know the power of authenticity too. So I hope you find this post authentic. 

I experienced the power of authenticity today in the blog post I read. The writer's disappointments made me feel okay with my own. 

My Slump

Here is what had occurred this week: One of my five passions or goal areas is to look after my home and family. I set aside yesterday to finish sorting and purging old papers. I want to get several indoor projects done before the weather finally cooperates for yard work. 

I tended to laundry and got a lot accomplished. One of my spiritual challenges is to pause, pray, and act on what I hear God say. I prayed while I worked and stayed open to his direction. I felt close to God all day. I even had no tinnitus. It had been gone for 2 days straight and I hoped I was healed at last. 

I posted photos of my work on Facebook and enjoyed the responses. I made stuffed pork chops for our family dinner, and got to bed early. 

After Papers are Sorted

I anticipated returning to the gym Friday to meet up with a wonderful group of women I've gotten to know the last 2 years. I stagger my gym days so my body can recover.

But I'd had trouble sleeping and when my alarm rang, (There was a witch and demons in my nightmare!)

I hit snooze four times. When I got up I noticed it was dark and raining. My tinnitus was back, I felt de-energized, and I didn't feel like working out at the gym. But I kept my commitment. 

When I arrived I faced a shortage of parking (enough to put anyone in a bad mood). Once parked and inside, I notice the group was made up of mostly the new women. My heart sank.

You see, this gym group was an answer to a long period of prayer. It provides me with both a workout and socialization. Over time, the women and men have bonded. We know each other's names and bits about each other's families. We do coffee times together. 

The group is always open to new members. We all know that. We were all new at one time. But recently, due to an advertised deal, about seven new women signed up. Seven all at once! Do the new women want socialization or to be left alone? Only time will tell. 

Wednesday, I felt good about warmly chatting with a new member. I was using my spiritual gift of encouragement. I even mentioned it to a Christian friend. 

But today, many of the regulars weren't there, but seven new women were. Everything felt different. Our once-intimate group had grown and changed. I felt glum.

Once home, I didn't know how to spend my time. The sun of yesterday had disappeared.  My same old body aches and pains were back. The rhythm of spiritual sensitivity to God's instructions was missing. I didn't have a plan of how to spend my time in a fruit-bearing way and even if I did, the tinnitus and body aches were intruding on my focus. 

Add into the equation is my 14-year-old dog who has some senility. She barks loudly at times for no reason. Sleep is her go-to but she wants to sleep near me and follow me around when I change locations. My patience is being severely tested. 

I felt unproductive today and most of us don't like to feel that way. 

It's after 10 pm now. My dog sleeps next to me now in the bedroom. I brought my laptop up so I could type this post and maybe do a few other things to end my day. 

I know good days will be here soon enough. This long winter will eventually end. New projects will be tackled in time. God is still in control. 

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Dealing with Misunderstandings on Social Media

I hate feeling misunderstood. I hate it when someone puts a social media post out, I fall prey to comment, and they get offended. 

I was blocked this week for making a joke. I guess she didn't think it was funny. 

Another person I sought to show compassion to took her post down. Did I cross a line with my comment? Did I say the wrong thing? Did she simply have second thoughts about being so vulnerable online? I truly was trying to let her know at 1 am that she was not alone, I was awake too, I would listen if she needed it. Was I wrong to post a reply to her "I'm lonely" post? Will we feel weird now when we see each other in person? Now I feel bad I tried to reach out. Does that ever happen to you?

When Our Words Backfire 

In this modern age of Internet interaction, when we put something out in internet land, having it backfire is a risk we take. The poster takes a risk, and I take a risk responding. Equally, I take a risk when I share. It's important to be ready for backlash of being misunderstood. 

More than once I've made what I think are humorous comments to people, and it hits a nerve with them. They don't see it as a joke, but as a poke. They get angry with me. At times, I look inward and wonder if I'm really a bully pretending to be funny, or just a nice person trying to be a friend. Many times I feel hurt by being misunderstood because really, I just want to be everyone's friend. 

Recognize when to Leave

There are trolls out there too. And, generally snide or evil people. They post things to cause arguments for fun. They often choose inappropriate moments to do this and do so in a forum where proper explanations can't be given. It's important not to engage, but to walk away. 

My Reactions

I've deleted posts when I haven't liked responses too or when I've regretted making the post. I've turned the status to "only me", at times, so I still have the feedback visible to myself. It's a way to stop further comments or look-y-loos. 

Many times, a person just wants their feelings validated. I dislike it when I put something out there and someone doesn't validate me but implies I'm wrong or unchristianlike. They might do this because they're not of a similar personality as I, their circumstances differ, or because they don't know the bigger story. So my problem is: Why did I need someone's validation to my situation? Why wasn't I ready to receive contrary advice?

Relationships have become complicated. My self-esteem can easily be shattered if I dwell on what I think has happened. No one wants to feel someone doesn't like them. No one wants their efforts to care or encourage to be called judgemental. No one wants to be told they've done the wrong thing or don't have a right to feel as they do. 

Rather than let this stuff sabotage my happiness, peace, or self-esteem, I'm practising letting things go and not being guilty of making mountains out of molehills. I'm trying to not become prey to offence because often that is the bait of Satan. 

Instead, I take it to God. I ask for his input. I try to put it out of my mind and practise affirming myself instead. 

Open to Correction

Sometimes we need to be corrected. If we can't handle occasional correction, we remain immature.

When these types of events happen, I'm going to ask God:

1. To show me the TRUTH of the matter. 
2. To help me let it go. 
3. To keep giving me wisdom to stay out of trouble. 
4. To renew my peace when it becomes tested.