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Seasons

Seasons

// “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens…” ~ Ecclesiastes 3:1 //

 

Seasons | Life, Unleashed

I was talking with a new friend, today, and bemoaning the fact that I’m not very consistent with posting on my blog — something that really bothers me a great deal. I would love to post more frequently. I also commented that part of what has stolen my attention away from creating blog posts is the fact that I’m (finally) working on creating my first eCourse!

My friend was kind enough to offer the gentle reminder that it’s all about seasons … we can’t do everything, all the time. There’s a season for this, and a season for that — a time for this activity, and a time for that one. Perhaps I’m just in a season where I need to focus on creating my course, right now, and I can come back to blogging more regularly after the course has been launched.

Seasons | Life, UnleashedOf course, this has made me think of other life “seasons”, too.

Some seasons are easy. Everything feels like it falls into place without much effort, and all seems right with the world.

Other seasons, however, can be really, really hard. They’re places where you struggle, and waking up every day is a chore. What gives me hope in the hard seasons are these 2 things:

1) Just like nature’s seasons (Spring, Summer, Fall, & Winter), this “season” will eventually end, and another will come. The hard seasons won’t last forever. (And, thank the Lord for that!)

2) Despite the loneliness that can often accompany my hard seasons, I know God still walks beside me, through each minute of each day. He has promised never to leave or forsake us, so I can cast all of my anxiety on Him, because I know He cares.

So, I am choosing, in this season of creating, to give myself grace and patience, remembering that everything will balance itself out over time. And I hope you’ll do the same, no matter what season you may find yourself in, currently. Remember, “This, too, shall pass.

Squirrel!

Squirrel!

If you have seen the Disney/Pixar movie, “Up“, you probably caught the reference in today’s post title. Yes, I’m talking about… what, again? Oh, right — distraction.

Overcoming Distraction | Life, Unleashed

 

The Dark Side has many tricks and tools in its arsenal to keep us from living the full & abundant life God promised us. Some of those schemes include:

tools and schemes | Life, UnleashedDiscouragement | Fear | Procrastination | Gluttony | Apathy | Convenience | Mediocrity | Doubt | Ease | Instant Gratification | Laziness | Overwhelm | Pride | Greed | Lust | Anger | Jealousy

…and, of course, DISTRACTION.

The devil knows that we are easily distracted, so he uses this to keep us from doing what God asks us to do, and he slyly makes us forget what is really important. If he can distract us, then we don’t complete the mission we were sent here for (to make God known & bring Him glory). And that makes the devil really happy.

I have been falling prey to distraction, a lot, lately. This is part of why my blog post schedule has been somewhat erratic. I’ve gotten distracted by the side-hustle I’m building, the books I’m reading, and the worst culprit of them all — social media.

Revelation Wellness shared a quote, the other day, that really hit home, for me, on this. It said:

“My concern is that our generation will miss their destiny because
they are too busy scrolling through everyone else’s.” (Christine Caine)

Whoo-boy!

So, how do we combat this distraction? How do we wake up? Is this even possible?

It is absolutely possible. “With God, ALL THINGS are possible!” And it starts with prayer.

Actually, let me back up a bit. In reality, it starts with knowing that you have committed your life to God, by accepting His free gift of being saved from sin, through faith… which then gave you the Holy Spirit within you as your Counselor, Guide, and a sort of holy GPS system!

Battling the Enemy | Life, UnleashedThe Spirit will nudge you to pay attention (maybe He’s using this very blog post!), and that is how you start “waking up” to the devil’s schemes. Once you start to become aware of what’s going on, then you can start fighting back! And, prayer is a good place to start.

Prayer is our call to God to say, “Hey, I could use some supernatural help here, please!” Because really, we cannot fight the devil on our own. We can try, but it won’t last — it doesn’t really work. We need God’s help in this battle.

So, we pray and ask God to open our eyes to all of the ways that the Dark Side is trying to distract us and keep us from our destinies. And we ask God to give us focus and strength to combat the temptation toward those distractions. Then we need to trust that God will help us (for when we ask for something that is already God’s will for us, we can have FULL confidence that we’ve already got it — it’s a done deal!).

And finally, we then need to get to work, and DO what God has been asking us to do…pursue that which we have been distracted from.

So again, to overcome distraction (or, any of the Dark Side’s other tactics), we need to:

  1. WAKE UP
  2. PRAY
  3. BELIEVE
  4. TAKE ACTION!

A quick example for you:

That quote from Revelation Wellness is what the Holy Spirit used to start waking me up. I recognized what had been happening (that I had been doing other things, rather than what God wants me to do), I prayed for focus and believed God would help me out, and then I took action — I left my computer turned off, this morning, in order to get this blog post written FIRST, before the online world could suck me into its distractions.

Like I mentioned earlier, maybe the Spirit is using this very post to get your attention! If so, don’t hesitate… pray, believe, and take action, today. It’s the best way to fight back against the enemy. Don’t let him steal another day. You’ve got this!

PS… As I wrote this post, my pens kept dying! I had to switch them out twice! Obviously, the Dark Side was working hard to keep me from sharing this with you! 

REVIEW: Moving Forward by John Siebeling

REVIEW: Moving Forward by John Siebeling

Moving Forward: Overcoming the Habits, Hangups, and Mishaps That Hold You Back” by John Siebeling

 

In Moving Forward, John Siebeling talks about the habits and mindsets that hold us back from living the abundant life that God has promised to us (John 10:10), and from moving forward.

He touches on topics like our emotions, and how we are responsible for how our lives turn out (how we react to life’s ups and downs is up to us). He talks about mindset and choices, too, which I love, as it aligns with what I teach, here on my blog!

Lastly, John also talks about dreaming big, and about our financial habits. There’s even a budget guide included in the back of the book!

Overall, I enjoyed this book, and found it to be a quick, easy read with lots of practical information. Definitely recommended.


A complimentary copy of this book was provided for review by the Baker Books Blogger program.

Battling For Freedom

Battling For Freedom

It was raining. A dismal, grey day in February. It made me want to curl up on the couch and ignore my priorities. I had things to do, but the Dark Side (how I refer to the devil & his minions, lately) was fighting hard to keep me down.

I’m sure you have had days like these, yourself.

And, as my newly acquired accountability partner, Anna, likes to say, the struggle is real.

Battling For Freedom | Life, Unleashed

I am thanking God for Anna, though! I’d complained to her about how I was feeling, and I tried to make excuses for why I wasn’t going to get things done. But she wouldn’t let me succumb to the Dark Side — she told me that I needed to “do it anyway” (just GO!), and that I’d feel better afterward.

I kept arguing with the Dark Side, in my mind. I was still making justifications, even after talking to Anna. But, I’ve been here before. I have fought this battle countless times, in the past year, especially, as I have been building the habit of going to the gym on a regular basis. And, each time I’ve made myself “do it anyway”, I have felt better afterward…and I’ve been able to do a little victory dance, as I’ve dealt one more blow to the enemy!

So in the end, yes, I did go to the gym, and I did get my errands run. Score: Jenn – 1, Dark Side – 0 … for the win!

For Freedom | Life, Unleashed

John 10:10 tells us about the Dark Side. It says that the enemy (the “thief”) “comes to kill, to steal, and to destroy“. He is out to KILL our dreams, to STEAL our freedom, and to DESTROY our future! And, he does it one poisonous thought at a time.

That is why we’re instructed (in 2 Corinthians 10:5) to “TAKE EVERY THOUGHT CAPTIVE”, and make our thoughts submit to Jesus’ ways. The battle truly does begin in our minds!

It is not easy, by any means. But then, that’s why it’s called a “battle”, right? We have to fight back against the Dark Side! Our default setting is to do what is easiest, and what feels comfortable in the moment. We’re suckers for pleasure. But that is exactly what the enemy wants — to get us comfortable so that we will forget that we’re in a war.

My goal is to level up my life, and to take back the years that the enemy has already stolen from me. And, if I have to do that one thought at a time, so be it! Like with getting myself to the gym … some days, I really have to fight my thoughts HARD! But, I usually end up telling myself that I can just do 20 minutes of cardio (on the treadmill). By the time I’m there and warming up, though, I always decide that I “may as well” do the rest of my workout. So, I win. It’s always that FIRST step that’s the hardest. And, like I read in someone else’s post, the other day, that first step is actually… SURRENDER. I know — it sounds counter-intuitive, right? Surrendering –not to the Dark Side, but to God’s will for my life– is how I win, because Jesus already fought the battle and won the victory for us! So all we have to do is CHOOSE to surrender to Him. By choosing to go against the Dark Side, by choosing to take our thoughts captive, and by choosing to fight for the abundant life and foregoing the “easy” path, we are choosing to accept Jesus’ victory, and to stand with Him against the enemy! So yes, surrender to God is how we win against the Dark Side.

This is war, friends. But we’re already victors! So, stand strong, and show the Dark Side that you won’t be falling for its schemes!

 


This post contains affiliate links. Please see my Disclaimer page for more information.
Outcomes

Outcomes

There’s a quote I’ve seen, online, that says, “What screws us up most in life is the picture in our head of how it’s supposed to be.” {source unknown}. And, oh goodness, if that ain’t the truth — am I right?

Outcomes | Life, Unleashed

So, so often, I want to control how things will turn out in my life. I pray with the expectation that I will get what I think I need. Yet, God has other plans.

When I try to determine the outcomes I think should happen, I only end up frustrated, disappointed, and miserable in the end — because, yeah… I’m not God.

In thinking that I have any control, I am –in essence– trying to play “god”, thinking that I know what’s best for me & my life. How naive.

Thankfully, God is merciful and patient. He allows me to experience these situations (and their resulting frustrations) to gently correct me and remind me that He is the one in control, while also showing me that I can trust His plans for my life. He only has my best interests at heart.

And funny enough, it’s those times where I relax and hand over the reigns to my Lord — trusting Him wholeheartedly — where He tends to ‘show off’ by giving me something that is far, far better than I could have chosen for myself.

Though I seem to need continuous reminders about all of this, God is faithful.

God controls the outcomes | Life, Unleashed

REVIEW: “Without Rival” by Lisa Bevere

REVIEW: “Without Rival” by Lisa Bevere

Without Rival: Embrace Your Identity and Purpose in an Age of Confusion and Comparison” by Lisa Bevere

 

Lisa has a way of writing & teaching that really sparks a fire within me. She writes to empower other women to live boldly for the Kingdom of God.

In “Without Rival“, Lisa tackles the issue of our identity, and ushers a wake up call for us to remember who (and Whose) we are … and what that means for us, as we live out our daily lives.

Other topics that are touched on include: comparison, insecurity, responding to others’ judgment or insecurities, genders as equal in God’s economy, fearless living, God’s unrivaled nature and His unique love for each one of us, as well as our legacy, and the promise we have that all will be restored.

I loved this book, and underlined quite a bit. I will probably need to re-read it at some point, in order to gather even more… there’s a lot of great stuff here.

 


Note: Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.

Also, this post contains affiliate links. Please see my disclaimer page for more information.

Seek the Giver

Seek the Giver

I don’t know about you, but I have a tendency to get really obsessed over things — especially when these things fill me with hope, or make me really happy.

Seek the Giver | Life, Unleashed

For example, my husband recently bought tickets for a local lottery draw. It’s one of those big ones where the tickets aren’t cheap, and the prizes are things like $25K cash, a vehicle, or –the grand prize– a house! We have never entered one of these lotteries before.

Generally, I don’t put much stock in lotteries, anyway, as I believe that God prefers that we earn our income through the work we do. So, when hubby first bought the tickets for this draw, I didn’t give it much thought. However…

Our family of four has been living in a house that is practically falling apart at the seams; this house has a lot of major issues, and we have never been in a position, financially, to be able to fix them (despite hubby working 48+ hours per week, and even when both he and I were working full-time).

I have been praying, for years, for God to help us move to a better house… one with a bit more space and not so many issues. I’ve never expected, or asked for, anything extravagant or brand new; just a house that would give us peace of mind, and allow me to play hostess (I love doing so, but we don’t have the room for it, here).

So, the fact that this lottery includes the possibility of winning a house (and a mortgage-free one, at that!), I was drawn in, despite myself. And much as I didn’t want to let them, my hopes have gone sky-high.

approvedOf course, I know it’s still a lottery. And I am prepared to thank God, whether we win or lose, as I know and trust that He, alone, knows what’s best for us.

Yet, I can’t help but think that maybe, just maybe, we could win. It would be an absolute answer to my prayers! After all, I believe that God is sovereign, and ultimately He is the one who determines the outcome of the lottery. He already knows who will win, and –as I keep reminding my family– if God wants us to have that house, then it’s already a done deal (even though the actual draw date is a month away, yet).

But here’s the thing: As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, I have a tendency to get carried away and obsessed over things that fill me with hope. And, the possibility of having this long-time prayer answered in such a BIG way has me (obviously) majorly hopeful!

Thankfully, God is oh-so-patient, gracious, and merciful, and He has led me to read online articles that have helped to calm me down and to see what’s really important in all of this. He gently reminded me that I should be seeking Him (the Giver), not the (possible) gift.

Delight yourself in the LORD, and He will
give you the desires of your heart.(Psalm 37:4)

Thinking of this verse (above), the other day, I realized that I’ve been “delighting myself” in thoughts of winning the house, more than I’ve been delighting myself in the Lord.

I recently looked up what it means to “delight yourself in the Lord”. And, from the various articles I read, I learned that it basically means to “invest yourself” in the Lord, and to align yourself with Him. Another article said it means to “soak our minds in and appreciate the traits, attributes, and works of God“, and to “get engaged in what God is doing“. {It’s interesting, to me, how sometimes it really helps to take Bible verses apart and get a simpler definition, in order to truly grasp their meaning!}

I have known, for quite some time, that this verse (Psalm 37:4) isn’t saying that God will give us anything we want; that what it does mean is that, when we invest ourselves in God (delight ourselves in Him), our desires begin to line up with those that He has already had for us, and so then He is happy to grant the fulfillment of those desires! In essence, it is learning to genuinely want what God wants for us — to say “yes” to His plans for our lives (“Not my will, Lord, but Yours be done.“)

In other words, it comes back down to surrender and trust — being fully confident that:

…and that, even if we don’t get the answer that we were hoping & praying for (or, the answers look different from what we’d expected), God is still good.

God always answers our prayers. Sometimes He says yes, sometimes ‘no’, and sometimes He says wait. Often times, He seems to say, “Will you trust that I have something better for you?

Sure, if we don’t win that house, I will be mega-disappointed! But I will also know, then, that God obviously has something else in mind for us. We will only win if our getting that house is in alignment with God’s plans for our lives.

So even though I’m praying to win, and even though I know that God knows how beneficial that house could be to our family, I am also choosing to say, “Lord, I trust You, no matter the outcome. Not my will, but Yours be done.

In the meantime, while we wait to hear about the results, I am learning to seek the Giver — not the gift.

house | Life, Unleashed

An If-Then Culture

An If-Then Culture

Have you ever caught yourself thinking that if you just do the right things, in the right way, for the right amount of time, then God will see fit to bless you with that thing you’ve been praying for? I know I’ve been guilty of this.

an if-then culture | alifeunleashed.com

In fact, I didn’t realize it right away, but I’ve been doing this (again) lately… thinking that I need to do this or that in order for God to answer my prayer in the way I want Him to. Trouble is, God doesn’t operate that way. He isn’t a genie who grants wishes. And thankfully, He is patient with me as I learn this. He also sends me gentle reminders to get me back on the right track — like this one.

Hop on over to Rosilind’s blog and read the post that God used as my reminder.

FEEL FREE TO SHARE, IN THE COMMENTS BELOW, ABOUT YOUR EXPERIENCES WITH THIS. I KNOW I’M NOT THE ONLY ONE WHO DOES IT!

Lessons From a Sea Sponge

Lessons From a Sea Sponge

I’ve always referred to myself as a “sponge” when it comes to learning things. Reason being, I tend to soak up a lot of information on an almost constant basis.

sponge lessons | Life, Unleashed

I love to learn! In fact, while researching some things for this post, I also learned some things about sponges that I didn’t know before! For example:

  • Once cut, a sea sponge will re-grow within a few years, often to become bigger & healthier than it was originally.
  • Sea sponges have a life span of a few months to 20+ years.
  • Even the tiniest fragments of the original sponge can be used to regenerate & grow new sponges.
  • Sea Sponges are capable of regulating the amount of water that flows through their bodies by the constriction of various openings.
  • Sea Sponges are capable of drawing in and out 20,000 times their own volume of water in a single 24-hour period.
  • Sponges survive by anchoring themselves permanently to other solid objects on the ocean floor (eg. coral, rocks, shell beds, etc).
  • Sea Sponges are composed perfectly for their environment by means of the hole-ridden structures, and could not survive without their unique design.
  • While sea sponges are technically “animals,” for all practical purposes, they grow, reproduce, and survive as plants

And, also…

sea-sponges | Life, Unleashed

Fascinating, right? At least, I thought so.

Originally, this post was going to be about using what you’ve learned. I tend to consume so much information in one sitting, sometimes, that it’s almost impossible to put any of it into practice {Input is one of my StrengthsFinder “top 5”, after all}. For example, I can get on a site like JamesClear.com (which I absolutely LOVE), and follow the links, reading article, after article, after article — because it’s all so good! But, even though I agree with what he’s written, and think, “Man, these are amazing & simple ideas — I should implement this stuff!“, I have already consumed so much that I get overwhelmed with where to start, and then choose what is easiest… which is doing nothing at all; meaning all of the information I consumed is practically useless. After all, if we don’t practice what we learn, then what’s the point?

But, in researching sponges, I couldn’t help but notice the similarities to our Christian walk. So, here are a few lessons I believe we can learn from the Sea Sponge:

PERMANENTLY ANCHORED

The Sea Sponges permanently anchor themselves to the ocean floor by attaching to something that doesn’t move. This is how they survive. Likewise, God is our unmoving and unchanging “anchor”. When we attach ourselves to Him, He becomes our unshakeable hope, and the way that we can stay grounded, despite the turmoil in our lives.

We have this hope as an anchor for our souls, firm & secure.
 — Hebrews 6:19 

 

SELF-REGULATING

Sea Sponges regulate the amount of water that moves in and out of their bodies. In similar fashion, we need to monitor what we put into us, whether that’s food, or information. Too much of anything is not good for us. As evidenced by my own information overload, it’s more helpful to consume things in moderate or bite-sized amounts, and then use that up, or practice it for a while, first, before taking in more. That way, our intake is actually useful and doesn’t go to waste (or to waist!).

BETTER THAN BEFORE

God likes to prune us, removing anything that doesn’t help us live the life He has planned for us. This pruning can often be painful. But, like the Sea Sponge after being harvested, we, too, can then grow to be “bigger” (with a deeper, stronger faith and character) and healthier than before.

UNIQUELY DESIGNED

The Sea Sponge’s unique design — with all of its pores and adjoining channels — helps it to be able to survive and grow.

For example, look at its hard outer layer and soft interior. We, God’s children, aren’t called to be timid, but to be strong & courageous, bold, shrewd, and discerning! This is our “outer layer”. At the same time, we are called to be quiet & gentle, kind and compassionate, and innocent as doves … our hearts are to be soft, and not “hardened” with unbelief.

But, the most important aspect of the Sponge’s design is its ability to let massive amounts of water flow through its body. This makes me think of Jesus, and how He describes Himself as “Living Water“. When we have this –when we have Him– we have everything we need.

:: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: ::

So, there you have it. Lessons from the Sea Sponge. Bet you didn’t realize you could learn something about God from something you use when you take a bath! Ha!

Stealing Christmas

Stealing Christmas

I used to love the Christmas holiday. Truthfully, part of me still does. But I also feel that Christmas is being “ruined”, in a way, by commercialism.

stealing-christmas

Christmas has always been my favorite holiday — the family get-togethers, the fires in the fireplace making a home feel cozy, the traditions passed down through the years.

However, with the recent trend of stores, and even individuals, starting to decorate or put out Christmas paraphernalia sometimes even BEFORE Halloween has come & gone, it’s practically “ruining” Christmas! It steals that “magical” feeling that Christmas has always brought — the 2-3 days of celebrating the real reason for the season: Jesus’ birth. When the focus skews toward making sure you buy your presents early, and get your decorations up before everyone else, you lose that “magic”, and you lose sight of what’s really important.

Christmas isn’t about the presents or the decorations. It’s supposed to be a time of celebrating the fact that Jesus came to earth in human form, in order that He might show us how He can relate to all of our human struggles & joys… because now He’s experienced them, too. He came “to save us all from Satan’s power when we were gone astray” — and we shouldn’t forget this.

Perhaps you think that having only a couple of days, or a couple of weeks, to celebrate Christmas just isn’t enough time. But then you have to ask yourself, WHY is that? What has caused your life to be such that you can’t take 2-3 days to rest, and to truly enjoy the time with family? Is it the hectic schedule of running from one get-together to the next? Is it that you work so much, and Christmas is your only time off? Is it that you’ve said ‘yes’ to more than you should?

I, personally, hate the way that the season has become so commercialized. It’s now all about decorating, and what you can/should buy. This is why, despite the fact that the neighbors have their Christmas lights up already (some even had their Christmas trees up as early as the first week in November!), and despite the fact that all around me, people are “prepping” for the season, I will continue to wait until it’s closer to the actual date. I normally don’t put up my Christmas lights (on the house) until after December 1st. And my tree won’t go up until 2 weeks before Christmas.

Join me, won’t you? Let’s bring back the real meaning for this holiday season. Let’s remember to rest, and be thankful for our Savior.