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!

 


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The Weekly Muse (02/12/2017)

The Weekly Muse (02/12/2017)

I am trying out a new feature called “The Weekly Muse“, which will be posted every Sunday, here at Life, Unleashed. This will take the place of the previous “Journaling Prompts” meme.

The Weekly Muse | Life, Unleashed

Every week, for this meme, you will see the following list of prompts. And, I invite you to participate by either (1) answering these questions, privately, in your journal, (2) answering the questions on your blog, and then coming back to link that post here in the comments at Life, Unleashed, or (3) leave your answers directly in a comment here, on that week’s post. However you choose to participate is completely up to you!

So, here are the questions:

  • What went well, for you, this past week?

  • What didn’t go so well?

  • What can you do differently in the week to come?

  • List your top 3 priorities for the next 7 days.

 

PLEASE LEAVE A COMMENT with either the link to your own Weekly Muse post, or share your answers directly, right here at Life, Unleashed

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.

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

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.)

Who Do You Want To Be?

Who Do You Want To Be?

Do you have an alter-ego — a vision in your mind of who you would like to become? Maybe you’ve made attempts to change and become that person by making lists of what you need to do to change into that version of yourself. But, what if there was a better way? What if, instead, you focused on the who, rather than the what?

Who Do You Want To Be? | Life, Unleashed

I came across this fantastic quote, yesterday:

Darren Hardy quote

Powerful stuff. And, it ties right in with what James Clear says about identity-based habits.

Nia, at SipBlack.net, also wrote about these identity-based habits. She says:

“You need to become the kind of person who can reach those lofty goals. Be committed to embodying that individual. Then stop thinking like you, and start thinking like that other person… Create someone, if you must… If you won’t get it together, then become someone who will.”

Nia also writes:

“Reinventing yourself makes you aware of the sheer power of the mind… you can become anyone you want, do anything you want.”

So many times we try to begin with deciding to change our actions. And, while this might work for a time, many of us find ourselves falling back into the same old patterns.

Taking on a new persona, however, is based on a mindset shift… and this, truly, is key to any lasting change.

I think it’s important to remember here, that what is changing is what you do, when you do it, and how you do it. You aren’t necessarily changing your fundamental beliefs or values.

For example, my own alter-ego is someone who still holds to Christian beliefs, and values Freedom & Authenticity. However, this “better me” is someone who:

  • follows a daily schedule
  • obeys God without hesitation
  • eats wholesome, nutritious food 90% of the time
  • is capable of defending herself, if need be
  • is confident and secure in who she is
  • etc.

Basically, she excels where I often find myself lacking. In acting as though I am this other persona, I am just acting in the way I would truly prefer to be acting, anyway. In so doing, I’m leveling up!

So, if you could reinvent yourself, who would you become? What does this better version of you look like? Feel free to comment below!

Journaling Prompt (02/01)

Journaling Prompt (02/01)

Every week, I will be sharing a journaling prompt for you to use. Feel free to do these privately, in your journal, OR share them on your blog and then come back and link up here!

Journaling Prompts | Life, Unleashed

 

PROMPT: Three goals for this month.


Note: Prompts are mostly going to be courtesy of Elizabeth at Life of Lovely. She has free printables available. 

True Nourishment

True Nourishment

I recently shared my own take on what true nourishment looks like. Today, I’d like to follow up, and expand on each point, a bit.

True Nourishment | Life, Unleashed

TRUE NOURISHMENT…

TAKES SOME TIME

This is two-fold. First, you aren’t likely to completely change your habits overnight. If you’re used to eating processed foods and sweets, and rarely eat healthy, you aren’t going to be a consistent healthy eater from today, forward. However, you CAN start to practice eating better and making healthier choices.

Second, studies show that it takes 20 minutes for your stomach to signal to your brain that you’ve eaten just enough to be satisfied (not stuffed). So, it’s important to eat slowly, and watch for the “cues” your body will send you.

PAYS ATTENTION

In addition to eating slowly, you need to pay attention to what your body is telling you. We have built-in sensors (the hormones, Ghrelin & Leptin) that tell us when we are physiologically hungry, and when we’ve eaten just enough to refuel ourselves.

Unfortunately, most of us have lost the art of paying attention, so we aren’t familiar with these feelings, or “cues”.

However, if you choose to pay attention, you will begin to recognize your body’s unique signals, and can then respond accordingly.

Fun Fact: Did you know that most people will “sigh”, or pause, during a meal, when they have reached their “satisfied” point? If you stop eating at this point, you will find that you’re no longer over-stuffing yourself!

REMEMBERS ITS SOURCE

It is important for us, especially as Christians, to remember that everything we have has been given to us by God — He is our Source.

At the same time, it’s helpful to also, occasionally, reflect on how our food got to our tables in the first place. We can choose to thank God for the people who worked to produce this food for us, from the farmers (or factory workers), all the way to the hands of the one(s) who helped to prepare the meal.

HONORS THE GIVER

Here, I am thinking not just about nourishing foods, but also our entertainment choices. 1 Corinthians 10:31 says, “whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do”, it should all be for the glory of God. So, before you eat, or partake in an activity, think to yourself, “Does this please God? What might be a more God-honoring choice?

DOES NO HARM

Yep. I borrowed this phrase from the medical profession. But, it fits. Think about the food you eat regularly: Is it helping, or harming, your body? Is that can of soda beneficial to your health (really)? While no foods are inherently “good” or “bad”, some are obviously more beneficial than others. Some foods give us energy (eg. water, fruits, vegetables, legumes), while others leave us feeling sluggish (eg. refined sugars).

 “You say, “I am allowed to do anything”—but not everything is good for you.
You say, “I am allowed to do anything”—but not everything is beneficial.
// 1 Corinthians 10:23 //

KEEPS IT SIMPLE

Meals don’t have to be complicated, or include big productions in order to be considered healthy. You could have an Antipasto platter, and call it a meal. Or, you could steam some veggies and get a Rotisserie chicken, pre-cooked, from the grocer’s deli department … all in under 30 minutes!

The key is to do what feels right for you. Don’t make things more complicated than they need to be.

OFFERS GRACE

We are al human, which means none of us are going to do things “perfectly” all of the time. If you slip or stray from your good intentions, give yourself grace, forgive yourself, dust off the crumbs, and try again. You haven’t truly ‘failed’ unless you stop trying, and stop moving forward.

For, though I fall, I will rise again.
// Micah 7:8 //

INCREASES ENERGY

This goes along with two of the points above. Again, certain foods will benefit you more than others. If you pay attention, you’ll start to notice which choices give you energy, and which ones drain you. Obviously, plant-based foods will be a better energy source than, say, a cookie (not that there’s anything wrong with the occasional cookie, of course!)

IS ENOUGH TO SATISFY

Ever notice how, some days, you can eat and eat and eat, and never feel satisfied? My guess is that, on those days, you aren’t really asking your body what it truly needs, and then listening for the answer!

Sometimes it’s not even food, at all, that our bodies are calling for! It could be that we need a hug… or, some time to ourselves… or, maybe you’re just dehydrated, and need a drink of water.

Also included, here, is the fact that our stomachs are, in fact, designed to hold very little food (approximately the size of your closed fist). It doesn’t take much to hit that “satisfied” point — at least, physically. So, check your emotions, and see if something else may be eating you!

NEEDS NO EXTRAS

For those who have trained their tastebuds to no longer crave refined sugars, many fruits & vegetables taste great on their own, without the need for anything “extra” (eg. butter, fruit dip, salt, etc.).

True Nourishment also feels satisfied with a single serving, and doesn’t need to go back for seconds (or more!). 

The truly healthy choices will leave you feeling energized, satisfied, and vibrant (not sluggish, stuffed, or guilty).

DO YOU HAVE ANYTHING YOU WOULD ADD TO THIS LIST? FEEL FREE TO COMMENT, BELOW!

Journaling Prompt (01/25)

Journaling Prompt (01/25)

Every week, I will be sharing a journaling prompt for you to use. Feel free to do these privately, in your journal, OR share them on your blog and then come back and link up here!

Journaling Prompts | Life, Unleashed

PROMPT: Advice you’d give someone else your age.


Note: Prompts are mostly going to be courtesy of Elizabeth at Life of Lovely. She has free printables available. 

Journaling Prompt (01/18)

Journaling Prompt (01/18)

Every week, I will be sharing a journaling prompt for you to use. Feel free to do these privately, in your journal, OR share them on your blog and then come back and link up here!

Journaling Prompts | Life, Unleashed

 

PROMPT: What needs to happen this month?


Note: Prompts are mostly going to be courtesy of Elizabeth at Life of Lovely. She has free printables available.