As a Christian, have you ever felt the pressure to take care of your “spiritual disciplines” (Bible reading, prayer, devotions, going to church, etc.)? Have you experienced guilt and shame because you haven’t kept up with these as well as you feel you should?
Well, guess what? God doesn’t demand that you do these things in order to “be a good Christian”. He doesn’t love you any less when you can’t squeeze in the time for these practices. He isn’t disappointed in you!
“…the Lord has told you what is good, and this is what he requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.”
(Micah 6:8, NLT)
“Jesus replied, “‘You must
love the Lord your God with all your heart,
all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”
(Matthew 22:37-39, NLT)
These are what God wants from us. Our greatest “mission” and purpose here on earth is to love God and others, to make God known, and to bring Him glory in all that we do. He craves a relationship with us.
While the spiritual disciplines of prayer and Bible reading aren’t required in order for you to be “righteous”, or a “good” Christian — or, even for God to love you — practicing these two things helps you to know God better. And, guess what? When you know God, it helps you to love God… and when you genuinely love God, you then want to spend time with Him through prayer, and you want to learn all you can about Him through His Word!
Trust me: I used to want to run in the opposite direction when my mom or grandma “preached at” me about this stuff! But over time, God has shown me more of Himself, and He’s taught me these things that I’m sharing with you, now. He showed me that it’s not about have to — that’s legalism. Instead, it’s about the Creator of the Universe reaching down from heaven and saying, “Hey, come talk with me! I’d love to hear from you.” It’s about His patience with us, and His love softening our hearts to the point where we desire to spend time with Him — because we start to understand what unconditional love truly is.
So, the next time you read or think about prayer, reading the Bible, or any of the other spiritual disciplines, try to look at them as God’s invitation to you to get to know Him better… see them as His way of teaching you how much you are valued and loved.
They are always there. But you’re probably not looking for them. Maybe you weren’t taught to. Yet, it’s so important that you are aware!
I’m talking about the signs… red flags that warn you to pay attention, take notice. Subtle clues that things aren’t as bright as they may seem.
I wasn’t taught to be aware of these things. (Then again, I didn’t have the Internet so readily available back then, either!) So, I blindly stumbled through my dating years and into marriage, naive about how to guard my heart.
I see it so clearly now. A person’s true character will always be revealed, eventually. This is part of the reason why it’s better to take your time in getting to know someone.
Does this person that you’re dating treat everyone kindly — from the CEO to the janitor? Do they support you in your dreams, and listen to your ideas? Do they comfort you when you’re upset?
Too often, we get so caught up in the googly-eyed part of romance that we get swept away, and forget to listen to our intuition. Family and friends will sometimes see the “red flags” before we do (since they aren’t as close to the situation), and they’ll offer up warnings; they’ll state their concerns. Problem is, we’re so taken by our partner that we brush off these well-meaning comments. We think, “They just don’t know him/her like I do”. Or, we make excuses for our partner’s behavior.
Heads-up: That right there is a red flag. You should never have to make excuses for your partner’s behavior!
Think long-term: Do you want to be constantly defending yourself? (hint: you shouldn’t have to). Do you think it will be okay if you and your partner don’t see eye-to-eye on your deeply-held values and beliefs? (hint: you’ll grow resentful and bitter). Do you believe that he or she will change, over time? (hint: it’s not impossible, but it’s highly unlikely). And please… do NOT think that you can ever change another person! It is absolutely not possible. Change is an entirely personal (internal) responsibility. And, if you accept this person’s bad behavior now, why should they ever feel the need to change it later?
You are worth FAR more! Do not settle! I know this isn’t easy. But, trust me on this: you will save yourself years of grief and heartache by being aware and discerning up front.
Know your limits. Decide — before you even get into a relationship — what you are, and are not, okay with (remember: think long-term). The whole point of dating, really, is to prepare for marriage … to see whether you and this other person would be compatible as life-long partners. So, keep this in mind as you consider entering into a relationship with someone.
Read up on relationships — the good, the bad, and the ugly. Learn what the “red flags” are… and if you find even ONE, run away! (trust me on this). You are worth so much better! Do not let fear tell you that you may never find anyone else, or that truly good, loving men (and women) don’t exist — those are LIES! The devil wants to keep you stuck and miserable! (John 10:10). God, on the other hand, wants you to trust Him with your love story! He wants you to trust Him to show you exactly the right person for you. After all, God knows you inside & out, so He also knows who would be the perfect compliment to your life!
I believe there is a serious hole in our Christian faith, today. Too many people become a “Christian” in order to avoid hell, or because someone convinced them that they needed to commit their life to Christ. However, these same people are then left without any idea of what they just got themselves into. What did you really just sign on for?
Sure, these people can go to church (or a church group). They can learn the “lingo” and rituals. They can hear the Bible stories. And they can “mimic” what they see the more “seasoned” Christians doing. For many, this is what happens, and what they settle for.
But here’s the real question:
DOES ANY OF THIS CHANGE YOU?
Because it should. Your life, when compared to that of someone who isn’t a Christian should look radically different. Life with Jesus should spark an authentic, genuine change of heart and behavior. Jesus was –and IS– compelling! Christianity isn’t a set of rules, and it’s not supposed to be boring. Jesus died to set us FREE — to enable us to live life to the fullest! (John 10:10)
Over the next little while, I hope to show you the transformation that I, myself, have gone through — how God showed me more of who He is, and what He’s taught me, thus far. I want to inspire you to live out what you believe, to seek God more & more in your everyday, and to show you that life with Jesus really is far from boring!
“My heart has heard You say, “Come & talk with Me.” And my heart responds, “Lord, I am coming!” (Psalm 27:8)
Maybe you have heard the term “Mindful Eating” (aka, Intuitive Eating, or the Hunger/Satiety method) before. Or, maybe you think you can guess what it is, just from the name. Either way, I would like to give you my version of it here, today.
First, though, three (3) things that mindful eating is NOT:
It is NOT some fancy diet
It is NOT anything mystical, New Age, or woo-woo
It is NOT another fad or trend
Mindful Eating is…
FREEDOM from the (confusing, conflicting, and ever-changing) diet industry.
RE-LEARNING to trust your God-given internal systems that tell you when to eat, and when to stop eating.
CHOOSING foods & drinks that you enjoy (rather than what you think you “should” be eating).
BEING MINDFUL of what type of fuel you are choosing (eg. the best would be non-processed, or as close to natural as possible).
SIMPLE — no need to count calories, avoid food groups, or feel deprived at restaurants.
IMHO, mindful eating is the best choice for eating, and for weight management. Why? Well, (1) it is how God designed our bodies to function (watch any toddler or baby — they are natural-born mindful eaters!), and (2) it works for anyone (including those with special conditions, like Diabetes, or food sensitivities, etc). You simply listen to your own body to determine when, what, and how much to eat.
Do you ever have the desire to create something — whether it’s painting, drawing a picture, or writing a blog post — and you just can’t seem to express it the way you want to? This has been one of my biggest struggles in blogging.
I have so many ideas of things I would love to write about… topics that set my soul on fire. I have so much I’d like to share! Yet, when I set out to write what’s on my mind, I can’t seem to get things to translate properly from my head to the page (or screen). It is extremely frustrating!
I think a lot of it comes down to perfectionism, though. Instead of just getting something out there, I feel like, if I can’t say it the way I “see” it in my head, then it’s not “good enough”, and I can’t share it at all. Sometimes (okay — quite often, truth-be-told), this fear completely disables me, and I end up doing nothing — which only adds to my frustration.
One of the things I’ve discovered, recently, is that when I feel like I have to write posts for my blog (because it is a part of my business), then I am even more stricken by this “perfectionist” disease. This is a part of why, in changing websites from A Daily Rhythm to Life, Unleashed, I made the decision that — at least, for now — Life, Unleashed will not be a business but, instead, solely a blog. I had lost the joy of blogging just for blogging’s sake, and needed to get that back.
So, as of right now, I am still in the process of “recovering” (I hope) from the need to have everything I write be “perfect” in order to send it out to the world. I am learning that the only way that my writing will improve is if I give myself permission to “write poorly” for a time, and to just learn to post consistently. The more I write, the better I will get. And the better my writing gets, the less this need for perfection will haunt me.
Do you ever suffer from this struggle — unable to get things from your head to the page, and have them look how you “pictured” them? What do you do to overcome this?
I had a dream, last week, that at first I thought was just strange — but it kept niggling at me. So I wrote down the details of it in my journal; and all-of-a-sudden, I saw meaning within it.
In my dream, I was in the backyard of a house out in the countryside. Someone was with me, but it wasn’t clear who it was. The yard was littered with large gemstones, some buried beneath the surface of the earth, some poking through. There were also some large sea shells. I was crawling around the grass, collecting as many of the crystal gems as I could; there were so many that my arms couldn’t contain them… they were spilling over. I felt like I was in a rush to grab as many as I could take with me. All these crystal gems were probably a good 5 lbs each…
Strangely, I also uncovered 3 small statues of Jesus (each only about a foot tall). But I didn’t collect those — I just left them where they were. I was more interested in grabbing the stones.
When I wrote all of this out in my journal, God gave me insight into the possible meaning of all of this.
I so often chase things, in life, that aren’t really important — not in the grand scheme of things, anyway (not in God’s opinion). I chase material things, people, experiences… but, how often do I chase after God? Isn’t He supposed to be the only thing worth chasing?
God seemed to be saying to me that I need to chase after my relationship with Him — above all else. Everything I need can be found in Him alone.
For quite some time now, I’ve had this desire burning inside me to simplify — to cut back what I own, and get rid of all of the excess. I read “Essentialism” by Greg McKeown, and he talked about choosingonly the essentials in life, and getting rid of the rest (not just physical possessions, but activities and other things, too). This really resonated with me.
As such, I’ve been wanting to write about this craving for simplicity — this desire to simplify my life — but hadn’t yet found the words. Today, one of my favorite bloggers shared a guest post, written by Tsh Oxenreider, and it basically said what I’d wanted to express. So, I’m sharing the link — and some of her words — here. Tsh’s (excerpted) words are below.
There’s a beauty to curating our life’s needs to the basic essentials… I’m surprised at how little I need.
I hear God asking me… “Can you live with only what you need?”
It’s an act of discipline, a trust that God will provide for my needs exactly when they arise, and that I can live without the things I don’t really need.
Traveling light means a trust in God that life will be richer when the things that really matter have more wiggle room.
As my friend was passing the elephants, he suddenly stopped, confused by the fact that these huge creatures were being held by only a small rope tied to their front leg. No chains, no cages. It was obvious that the elephants could, at anytime, break away from the ropes they were tied to but for some reason, they did not. My friend saw a trainer nearby and asked why these beautiful, magnificent animals just stood there and made no attempt to get away.
“Well,” he said, “when they are very young and much smaller we use the same size of rope to tie them and, at that age, it’s enough to hold them. As they grow up, they are conditioned to believe they cannot break away. They believe the rope can still hold them, so they never try to break free.” My friend was amazed. These animals could at any time break free from their bonds but because they believed they couldn’t, they were stuck right where they were.
Like the elephants, how many of us go through life hanging onto a belief that we cannot do something, simply because we failed at it once before?
How many of us are being held back by old, outdated beliefs that no longer serve us? How many of us have avoided trying something new because of a limiting belief? Worse, how many of us are being held back by someone else’s limiting beliefs?
Life, Unleashed is dedicated to helping you see that –at any time– you can BREAK FREE! You are never without choices. Just like the elephants, God has given us great power … but, we have been “conditioned to believe” that we are limited in what we can do. Satan wants to keep us stuck. That’s how he “kills, steals, and destroys” our lives, and our futures. It’s time we WAKE UP and remember who we are.
Have you heard of the Bullet Journal system? It’s a method for planning that was developed by Ryder Carroll, and I have come to really enjoy it!
I have always loved the idea of being organized and using a day planner. I’ve previously written posts about using the popular planners, and also about DIY planners. Suffice it to say, I’ve tried many times — and many planners — to be someone who keeps track of their days in some sort of written fashion. But I hadn’t yet found the “right” planner — or system — for me.
Last year, I discovered Bullet Journaling via Pinterest. Basically, you use a notebook or journal (the preference seems to be for either Moleskine or Leuchtturm 1917 journals), and you create your own planner layouts, etc.
With my first attempt, in 2015, I bought a Moleskine (squared) journal from Amazon, and set it up like I’d seen others do via Pinterest. However, after a while, I found myself using the book as a “brain dump/ideas” notebook, more so than a “planner”. That, and I’d fallen behind on indexing everything, which is a key part of this system.
I’d really thought that this method was going to be “it” for me, but this “mess” that my journal had become left me discouraged. And so, I set it aside for a time. Meanwhile, I kept saving pins about bullet journaling on Pinterest — I guess the hope hadn’t completely died.
A short while ago, Anne at Modern Mrs. Darcy started using the Bullet Journal system. And, since she’s a blogger who I find to be extremely similar to me, both in personality profile (INFP) and interests (books, psychology, faith), I was super interested in hearing her take on things!
After Anne posted her 3-month update of using her Bullet Journal, I was inspired enough to try again. So, I ordered a Leuchtturm 1917 journal (dotted, this time) from Amazon, and avidly searched Pinterest for ideas while I waited for my new book to arrive. By the time it got here, I was armed and ready with a solid plan.
Part of where I went “wrong” with my first attempt was that I didn’t section anything out; I just tried to go page-by-page. As I said, though, this left everything too scattered for me, and because I’d fallen behind in indexing, it really made my book more time-consuming, rather than time-saving.
So, this time, I chose to create different sections for the various parts and layouts. This was partly thanks to Anne’s update of how she usesher journal, but also partly based on my own idea, given what didn’t work for me the first time around.
I should mention that the first thing I did, before I even got this new journal, was think about what I needed this system (and book) to do for me. Honestly, I don’t think anyone who tries the Bullet Journaling method should skip this step — it’s really key. After all, they say that “if you don’t know your destination, you’ll never reach it”, right? Same thing applies here. You need to start with WHY you’re using a Bullet Journal — what do you need to track? (credit for this goes to Kim at Tiny Ray of Sunshine for her post, “The 8 Stages of the Bullet Journal Addiction“).
My own needs (at least, right now) were to track my business & blog-related activities, as well as my healthy-living pursuits. There are other things, too, of course, but those are my two BIGGEST reasons for wanting a place to keep track and plan.
With that said, I chose to set up my Bullet Journal with the following sections, and in this order:
12 pages for the Monthly spreads
52 x 2-page spreads for Weekly
a “Lists” section
a “Brain Dump & Ideas” section
Here are some pictures of my Bullet Journal, so far:
(click any of the images to see them larger)
The nice thing about the Leuchtturm 1917(as opposed to the Moleskine) is that its pages come pre-numbered, and they also give you three (3) pages already prepped for your Index, which is super-handy! I also like the two ribbon markers, and the pocket in the back (similar to the Moleskine).
So far (a few weeks into using this new method), I’m loving it. This time I have a “plan” for my planner, and it’s making things so much more enjoyable.
And again, I cannot tell you how awesome it is to have such flexibility! I only set up one week’s spread at a time, thereby allowing me to change things up as I go along, should the need (or desire) arise. And, of course, it already did! LOL. The first week, I found the “to-do” section too small for everything I wanted to note, and the other space too empty. So, for week 2, I added a second column for ToDo’s (one for personal, and one for business), and it’s worked out a lot better. But again, I can still change it up (later), if I need to.
Lastly, the addition of the “brain dump/ideas” section in the back of the book was kind of genius (thanks, Anne!). It allows me to jot down any random thoughts or doodles, without worrying that I’ll “mess up” my weekly spreads, or the order of things, as I’ve set them up.
So, there you have it. I think I’ve finally stumbled upon something that works for me!
HAVE YOU USED THE BULLET JOURNALING SYSTEM? If so, what do you like or dislike about it? Share in the comments!
I’ve played the game. I’ve attempted to do all of the things that others say are “best practices” (do this, not that), and I’ve carefully organized my information, and only shown what (supposedly) needs to be shown.
And I was miserable.
I was dizzy from all of the conflicting advice. One site said to do it this way, while another said that that way is wrong, and I should do it the opposite way. No one could seem to agree.
My gut led me here … to radical authenticity, regardless of what “they” say.
People can always sense when you’re putting on a “mask”, or pretending, or trying to be someone you’re not. And they tend to walk away from that — they are repelled by it.
When you let go of others’ expectations and let the real you shine through, people gravitate toward you. They, perhaps, don’t yet let their own real selves show through, so they are therefore drawn to those who have the courage –the audacity!– to take that risk. To be free!
It is, too — it’s completely liberating to stop pretending, and to just be you. Faking it takes far too much energy. I’d rather be genuine and attract those people who like me as I am, than be the “proper” lady who attracts other stuffy, fake people.
When you choose to be real, you free yourself to be of more help to other people. You’re no longer constantly concerned with keeping up appearances, and can just serve other people, meeting them where they’re at.
I believe this world would be a much better place — and a lot more fun! — if everyone would just give up the act, and be truly themselves.