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.

Squirrel! - Overcoming Distraction | Life, UnleashedThe 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:

Dark Side's Tools & 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

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

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

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... Aren't Mine to Control | 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 is in charge | Life, Unleashed

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.

Sneak Peek: Into My Journal (02/06/2017)

Here is yet another installment of the “Into My Journal” series, where I share a snippet from my own journal in order to show you the benefits of journaling, and to (hopefully) encourage you through the lessons I’ve been learning through my own writing.

Sneak Peek Into My Journal | Life, Unleashed

So, here is an entry from December 13, 2016:

…It’s not like I don’t have any ideas on what to write — I have TONS of ideas!!! It’s just this dang fear… fear of my writing being “not good enough”, and fear of doing all the work and not getting anything from it (eg. comments). I guess part of that is impatience, too, as the longer my content is ‘out there’, the more likely it is to be found.

God says that I should be writing, anyway, because I at least have an “audience of One” — “Whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” (1 Corinthians 10:31). It’s all for Him, in the first place (or, it should be).

And — AHA! — this is a TRUST issue, too! By worrying about my writing not being seen, not being good enough, or not getting comments, I’m in essence saying that I don’t trust God to take my writing and accomplish His purposes for it! Not to mention, I’m being selfish by wanting my writing to give me something in return for my efforts (that’s entitlement), and prideful in expecting it to all be so good that people can’t help but comment.

I’m people-pleasing… seeking my readers’ approval, rather than God’s. Yet, God’s approval is the only thing truly necessary or important (or, it should be).

Thanks for all of these insights, Lord. Please renew my mind so that I write for You… give me the desire to do so, please. And help me to trust You to do with my writing what You please — to use it for Your purposes. Help me to see & remember that my job is solely to faithfully write and be obedient, and to leave the outcomes to You.

(FYI… other than omitting the first part, which was too personal to share, this is exactly what had been written in my journal.)

Sneak Peek: Into My Journal (01/02/2017)

Once again, I’m sharing a snippet from my own journal, in order to show you how you can get clarity through writing, and how God can use your journal to teach you things.

Sneak Peek Into My Journal | Life, Unleashed

This entry is from July 20, 2016:

…That makes me wonder if my whole blogging premise is worth it? But, I know that it is not me who will change people’s minds. In fact, it’s like God and I are tag-teaming! All I can do is write about my own beliefs, experiences, and perspectives. Then God can step into the lives of my readers, and help open their minds to what He wants them to see.

My job is not to be successful, or to change people’s lives. My ONLY JOB is to be faithful and obedient to God, and to write. He will do the rest.

(FYI: nothing was changed… this is what I’d written in my journal. Though, I had to omit the first part of my entry, as it’s too personal)

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.

Of 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.

 

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 | Life, Unleashed

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!

Losing My (Fake) Identity

From about 2002 to 2012, I was immersed in the book blogging world. It started with a Yahoo! group I’d joined, called “Book-a-Week”. Its participants aimed to read 52 books per year (a “book-a-week”). One of the Book-a-Week group’s rules was that you had to keep a record of the books you’d read. So, I’d started keeping a book journal then, but only a paper version. In 2005, I decided to start keeping an online –blog– version, as well.

Losing My (Fake) Identity | Life, Unleashed

For the majority of my book blogging years, I was a stay-at-home-mom (SAHM). As such, I had plenty of time to read and blogging became my place to connect with other adults.

As for the book-a-week goal, I managed to hit it almost every year. And then I started to exceed it. I talked books, read books, researched books, collected books. My collection grew from approximately 300 books to over 1400 books!

Because I’d started several book memes that my readers came, weekly, to play along in (on my blog), I was becoming known in the book blogosphere. I’d taken on the alias of “Mizbooks”, which my readers shortened to “MizB” — something I was fine with. Friends and family even came to know me as “Mizbooks”, and called me “the crazy book lately”.

And so, that’s who I was — who I became. My identity was caught up in my love of books and reading.

Then came the 5 years of being back out in the working world. When I landed a busy, full-time job, my time (and mental capacity) for reading greatly diminished. All-of-a-sudden, I found myself in a sort of identity crisis. If I couldn’t read, then who was I? I’d been the “avid reader”, “MizB”, for so long… now I felt lost.

And I felt ashamed …like I was betraying my blog readers by no longer being this woman who read 80 books per year.

Fast-forward five more years. My reading has dwindled to about 12-15 books read per year. My book blog is barely hanging on, with just two memes left, and about 1/3 of the readership.

I no longer feel as bad for my lack of reading time; but I do still wish I could (would?) read more. Really, it’s now more an issue of time-management and priorities.

The book blog… well, I’d been questioning that aspect, and I’ve decided that I’m not going to keep going with it after the new year (2017). I plan to either hand my two memes over to other bloggers or just let them go, entirely. Part of me doesn’t want to do either, as they feel like my “babies”. But another part of me knows it will be a relief to let them go.

Regardless, this whole “crisis” has taught me something. And that’s that we shouldn’t place our identity in what we do, or in the roles we play. Our truest identity (if we’ve accepted Jesus as Savior) is as daughters (and sons) of the King of Kings, and all that that entails. It’s the only thing that will not change. We’ve been adopted into God’s family, so we’re now set apart and He calls us His own.

I’m still learning to accept myself as who God says I am. But already, it has been both peace-giving and empowering.

So, who do you say that you are? Do you know yourself as a child of God? What do you need in order to make that mental shift?