Sneak Peek: A Look Into My Journal (05/01/2017)

Here’s another look inside my journal… so you can learn what I’m learning, alongside me!

sneak peek

Lord, my problem isn’t trusting You that you CAN do things — I believe You are fully capable. My problem is that I always have a hard time believing in Your WILLINGNESS to help me, or to do anything for me.

I guess it’s because I view You as a parent… with human parents, I’ve been taught that I will be “rewarded” for doing things correctly; for obeying.

And while -yes- You bless my obedience… it’s what that obedience CONSISTS of that is different, right? Instead of me striving to earn “rewards” by doing things right, obedience (in Your eyes) consists of SURRENDERING to Your Spirit — correct? No more striving or doing… just releasing control to Your Holy Spirit (within me), trusting Him to handle things… Seeking You is the most important thing!

Have I got it, Lord? Is this the answer?

“Seek ye FIRST the Kingdom of God, and His righteousness,
and all these things shall be added unto you.” (Matthew 6:33)

( ^^ this verse came to my mind ^^)

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean 
not on your OWN understanding; in all your ways
acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths
straight.” (Proverbs 3:5,6)

“A mind set on the Spirit is LIFE and peace…”
(Romans 8:6)

So, if I stop worrying about ___, and instead just trust You, Lord, that You will provide what I need in Your timing… and I instead focus on both seeking You, and serving those I come into contact with, You will help me succeed? Is that what You’re telling me, Lord?

“Commit to the Lord whatever you do,
and all your plans will succeed.”
(Proverbs 16:3)

….Aha! Seeing this verse with “new eyes”, right now! Instead of it meaning “ask God to bless what you’re going to do“, that word, “COMMIT” means GIVE IT OVER TO THE (SPIRIT) — in other words, SURRENDER — and then, of course, “your” plans will succeed, because they’re really God’s plans FOR you, and He is the one accomplishing them … not me! Wow.

Thanks for these insights, Lord!


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.


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 | Life, Unleashed

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.


A Double-Edged Sword

It took me two tries to watch the movie, “The Book of Eli“. The first time, I shut it off after only the first 5 minutes. The opening scene made me ill, and the violence that followed was too graphic for my tastes.

Double-Edged Sword | Life, Unleashed

But, my husband encouraged me to give it another go ~ he’d already seen it, so he assured me that there weren’t many more violent scenes, and that it was worth pressing on.

So, the next night, after fast-forwarding through the opening scenes, I watched the film in its entirety (closing my eyes for the major fight scenes, mind you). 

And hubby was right ~ the film was definitely worth watching through to the end. I’m glad I did.

If you are a born-again Christian (a follower of Jesus), I think that this is an important movie for you to watch. It really gets you thinking. And, more to the point, it reminds you of what’s truly important in life.

At one point in the movie, the girl, Solara, asks Eli what life was like before the war (the Apocalypse). And, Eli tells her about how people had more than they needed, and how they used to throw away things that wars were now being fought over (a little extra shampoo, for example).

The whole premise of the movie is that Eli is in possession of the last existing New King James Bible, and he is on a mission to carry it West, to a place where he knows it will be safe & protected. Others view this Bible — this “Book” — as a weapon, though, and will do anything to get their hands on it. They know its power, and they want that power for themselves.

This film really got me to thinking about how often I’m lax in my daily Bible reading, and about how I don’t give Scripture memory much importance (if any) in my life. Bible reading has become somewhat of a chore ~ something to tick off of my daily “to-do” list.

But… what if there were no more Bibles, and the world was given over completely to its dark side? How would I fight without my “sword“… without my armor?

Armor | Life, Unleashed

Eli read the Bible every single day, “without fail”, he said. He had the whole Bible memorized, word-for-word. And, while I don’t think we’re called on to memorize the Word in its entirety, I think it’s wise for us to have a good portion of it memorized, and tucked away in the event that we need it. God even told us that we are to “be prepared” for battle (2 Timothy 4:2-5; 1 Peter 3:15-17).

In the end times, knowing what God’s book says is going to be our only weapon against evil. Jesus used it to battle temptation, and we should do the same.

And yet, in my own life, too often I give every other book more time of day than I do the most important book of all.

What a shame…

My daily prayer, from here on out, will be that God’s Word will become precious to me, and that I will not lose sight of how important it is to get God’s Word into me, buried deep for future recall. You just never know when it’s going to come in handy.

Remembering My Source When I Need Direction

If anyone ever told you that choosing self-employment was easy… they lied! I will say one thing, though: It is definitely character-building!

Remembering My Source | Life, Unleashed

For many, many years, now, I’ve had the deep desire to be an Entrepreneur — to be my own boss, make my own rules, set my own schedule. My grandpas — both on my mom’s side, and on my dad’s side — were entrepreneurs; a couple of my uncles are, too; and so is my sister. So I like to say that Entrepreneurship is “in my blood”.

In 2013, I finally got the opportunity to pursue this dream of self-employment. And, while my business model has transitioned several times since then, it has all been a part of the learning process.

One thing that has become clearer to me, though, is that God designed me to be an Entrepreneur. I see this because of how everything has ended up working out to allow me to continue pursuing this path — even despite the times when it looked like things wouldn’t work out. If God didn’t intend for me to be self-employed, I would have been thwarted at every turn, and would be back out working for someone else, right now.

I think one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned, so far, through this journey — and it’s something I’m STILL learning, really — is how important it is for me to seek God’s guidance and direction for each move I make with my business.

For example, just yesterday I set out to work on my “ideal customer”, and I created a survey to help me with this. Then I shared that survey in several of my Facebook groups. But I ended up getting some pretty harsh feedback from those in my groups, and it got to me… it had me in tears (even though I know they meant well).

As I sat and processed this, God seemed to whisper to me, asking, “Why are you turning to those secular groups for direction, instead of coming to Me?” It was a gentle reminder that I had gotten caught up — yet again — in seeking answers from the “world”, and I’d forgotten to FIRST go to my Source {God}.

Not surprisingly, as soon as I asked God to give me His opinion on it all, peace washed over me. The stress I’d felt, minutes before, melted away. And I started seeing better questions I could ask of myself, which helped to calm & refocus me.

So, let me just encourage you, today: If you are self-employed, don’t forget to put God first in your business. Go to Him, first, for direction. I know it’s easy to forget to do this. But the more we practice, the better we’ll get at making it automatic (and, God is gracious enough to offer us reminders when we do forget!)

“You will keep in perfect peace
    all who trust in You,
    all whose thoughts are fixed on You!”
~ Isaiah 26:3 (NLT)

Spiritual Disciplines? No, Thanks!

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?

Spiritual Disciplines? No, Thanks! | Life, UnleashedWell, 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.