Invite Your Audience Carefully

Since beginning my podcast, I have had to think a good bit about “my audience” and how much I invite my readers and listeners into my life and world.

This past week, I went to complete my MSW Licensure paperwork and saw this poem posted on the wall of the DPS worker’s desk.  She’s a pro at people asking for copies and had one ready for me to take (Thanks Ms. Nancy!).  The author is unknown, but I wanted to share here on the blog.

If you’ve been reading or listening to me for any measure of time, you know how I feel about friendships and associations.  This hits the nail on the head.

Invite Your Audience Carefully

Not everyone is spiritually healthy and mature enough to have a front row seat in our lives. There are some people in your life who need to be loved from a distance.

It’s amazing what you can accomplish when you let go, or at least minimize your time with draining, negative, incompatible, not-going-anywhere relationships, friendships, fellowships.

Observe the relationships around you.

Pay attention to:

Which ones lift and which ones lean?
Which ones encourage and which ones discourage?
Which ones are on a path of growth uphill and which ones are going downhill?
When you leave certain people, do you feel better or feel worse?
Which ones always have drama or don’t really understand, know and appreciate you and the gift that lies within you?

When you seek growth, peace of mind, love and truth, the easier it will become for you to decide who gets to sit in the front row and who should be moved to the balcony of your life.

You cannot change the people around you, but you can change the people you are around.

Remember that the people we hang out with will ultimately have an impact on both our lives and our income, so we must be careful to choose the people we associate with as well as the information we feed our minds.  We should not share our dreams with negative people nor feed our dreams with negative thoughts.

It’s your choice and your life.

It’s up to you who and what you let in it.

Ask God for godly wisdom and discernment, and choose wisely the people who sit in the front row of your life.

– Author Unknown

Scriptures to Meditate On:

Proverbs 18:24 A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.

Proverbs 13:20 Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.

Proverbs 22:24-25 Make no friendship with a man given to anger, nor go with a wrathful man, lest you learn his ways and entangle yourself in a snare.

 

Colossians 3:16  Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts.

1 John 4:1  Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.

Proverbs 2:1-5 My son, if you receive my words and treasure up my commandments with you, making your ear attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart to understanding; yes, if you call out for insight and raise your voice for understanding, if you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasures, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God.

James 1:5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.

Fitness Friday: Pressing Through the Pain

This week has been tough.  I’ve shared a bit about my history of chronic pain and plan to continue to do so in my future blog posts.

It’s not always easy.  Some days are particularly harder than others.  Sometimes my pain is minimal, but I have other periods when the pain persists for weeks at a time.  I had to sleep sitting up following my sinus surgery this past December and I think that may have triggered some things, but I won’t complain because the pain is still not what it used to be.

Back in 2012, I remember praying and promising God that if he did what only he could do in the spirit realm, I would do what I could in the natural realm.  Prior to that, I’d worked out with a trainer and lost a decent amount of weight while in school in North Carolina. After moving to Mississippi, I slacked off of my workouts and the pain returned.  I quickly realized that a significant factor in managing my pain was building up my strength.

This leads me to the main point of this post: Pressing through the pain.

By pressing though the pain we gain our strength.  In Philippians 3:7-14, Paul writes to the Philippians in this frequently quoted passage of scripture about “Pressing Toward the Mark.”  If you follow me on Facebook or Instagram you’ve seen me use the hashtag #iPRESS often.  It’s my personal motto. I’ve even crafted my own definition of “The Art of the Press.” In my own words:

The art of the press is the process by which we continue to pray, praise and push even when it makes no sense at all.

The process of pressing may take us down a long road, but FAITH wins EVERY time. When we commit to the press, we make it to the promise or we come to a place where we understand the purpose of the process.

Take coal for example.  Coal under pressure can become a diamond.  If the coal does not become a diamond, it meets another destiny– Often a source as a source of fuel. Both are endings are significant.  The outcome is determined by 2 things– (1) the power working within it [us (Ephesians 3:20)] and (2) how it [we] withstand the art of the press.

Diamonds - Coal that Did Well Under Pressure

One of the greatest lifestyle changes I made for myself was creating my own “fitness corner” in our home. I have most of the elements I used at physical therapy. My intention here was to create an environment in my home that would allow me to continue those activities that helped to minimize my pain symptoms. A big thanks to#peakwinathletics for the stability ball and foam roller!  Both items are super sturdy and come in my favorite color– pink! I use the stability ball for core strengthening exercises and roll out my IT band to reduce any muscle fatigue after I finish my modified workout. I may not feel well enough to go back to the gym just yet, but I know I can remain active at home and maintaining my strength training makes a world of difference in managing my pain– #iPRESS!

In the same way, it is also important that we are intentional about carving out both time and physical space to focus on building our spiritual strength. I’m using apps on my phone like First 5, YouVersion, and BibleGateway. I like that each app has different features and that I can synchronize my activity between my android phone and tablet device as well as my online profiles (for YouVersion and BibleGateway).  First 5 is really awesome because you can read the morning devotional (which really does take about 5 minutes) and then schedule it to remind you to complete a complementary study called “More Moments” later  that same day.

I am in no way trying to tell you what do or how to do it, but I am hoping to encourage you to do and use something.  For both your physical and spiritual health.

Be intentional about your future and what you want to see for yourself in 2016.

I’ll be praying for you!

Brace Yourself

I’m in the middle of several transitions right now, but one thing I am reminded of in this season is just how much God CAN and WILL provide! {Luke 12:24}

I am also learning how just how necessary it is for me to brace myself– both physically and spiritually.

In the physical sense, I still have some days when my lower back is in a bit of pain. I spent the past couple of days cleaning and organizing our home office and combined that activity with an event at church where we made vision boards with our Girls’ and Women’s ministries so I’ve been giving my back and lower body a good workout. Thankfully, I’d received this #freebelt to review and its lower lumbar support and heat are EVERYTHING right now!

What I most like about this belt are the built in stones and magnets inside the belt that transmit heat to your muscles and offer immediate relief by reducing any swelling and helping your muscles return to their normal state.
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This lumbar belt is also designed to support and strengthen your lower back muscles, while aligning your posture and reducing muscle inflammation and pain. You can even wear it during your workout. I’ve yet to test out this option, but I may do so when I go back to the gym tomorrow.
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In the spiritual sense, as I continue to go through experiences of trying, testing, and pressing I have to brace myself.  Before worry, anxiety or stress set in it’s of the utmost importance that I pause and pray and recenter myself.

I’m in a season that requires great faith.  And a key part of that faith is to remember just how faithful God has always been.  If I don’t brace myself daily and moment by moment, the temporary challenges and unknown future can overwhelm me.  But God has been so faithful and he has not changed.  He is the stability I can hold on to each and every time I find it necessary to take a moment to pause and brace myself.

You may find yourself in a situation somewhat similar to mine today.  If so, I’m saying a special prayer for you right along with myself.

Here are a few passages of scripture that I am holding near and dear to my heart at the moment:

Hebrews 13:8  Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

Luke 12:22-32 Do Not Be Anxious  And he said to his disciples, “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat, nor about your body, what you will put on.  For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing.  Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds!  And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? If then you are not able to do as small a thing as that, why are you anxious about the rest? Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.  But if God so clothes the grass, which is alive in the field today, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith! And do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, nor be worried.  For all the nations of the world seek after these things, and your Father knows that you need them.  Instead, seek his kingdom, and these things will be added to you. “Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.

Hebrews 6:19-20 The Certainty of God’s Promise   We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where our forerunner, Jesus, has entered on our behalf. He has become a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.

Keep Going

I thought I shared this a long time ago, but I found this draft yesterday. I was almost upset about it, but I trust that God’s timing is perfect and someone needs to see this now.

Life really came full circle for me yesterday. I sometimes over think this “blogging thing” and won’t share things because I feel like they’re not “developed enough” or are still in draft form. Yesterday, one of my good friends sent me a text about how much her friends enjoy and are encouraged by my posts. I can’t tell you how much that blessed me. Lately, I’ve been telling myself that it’s not about reaching hundreds/thousands. It’s about reaching that ONE. If there’s one hurting/lost person that reads one of my posts and is inspired to keep going and trust God, my purpose is fulfilled. That’s the legacy I want to leave behind.

I shared this as a Facebook post last year. I thought it deserved a place on the blog, so here it is. No matter where you find yourself this Good Friday, Be encouraged. Keep going! Your life matters. Your purpose matters and it won’t be fulfilled if you quit now. You just never know the impact your life’s witness can have on someone else.

My original post: Today was one of those trying days. So, like any mature adult :-), I called my mom for some encouragement. Only to find out:

1. One of my high school classmates stopped her today in my hometown Wal-Mart to tell her how much they are encouraged by my Facebook posts and how I accomplished EVERY thing I said I was going to do back when we were in school. (Faith and works!)

2. My mom has been reading my old blogs AND said they’re an encouragement to her. That BLEW me away. My mommy is THE ultimate encourager. I just wanted to cry. (Mind you, my mom is not a person that goes online much at all. I didn’t even know that my mom knew that I had a blog. I never mentioned it to her because she’s never online.).

God knew I needed THAT today. It’s easy to feel as if you’re just making a drop in the bucket or to wonder if your efforts really make a difference, but then God sends those reminders to let you know you’re on the right track! You may not be where you want to be, but KEEP GOING and, God willing, you will get there!

The world needs more encouragers and people committed to making a difference in this world. That’s why I’m here. From now on, I’m fully embracing the quote in this featured image. I’m not worrying about what anyone may think. I’m focused on the one that I can inspire.

Galatians 6:9
Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.

Isaiah 58:11
The LORD will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.

‪#‎thankful‬ ‪#‎encouraged‬ ‪#‎onamission‬ ‪#‎iPress‬

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There Remaineth a REST

Matthew 11_28

I have the feeling today’s going to be a GREAT DAY! Perspective matters so, so much. This morning, my mind keeps going to the declaration my Bishop made of 2015 as the year of REST. It’s hard to feel like you’re “resting” when you’re as busy as I am–I’m working on improving my health and fitness and working out for 1-2 hours every day is a  major commitment on top of family, church and work, but its so necessary to reach a place of TOTAL health and that’s my overall goal.

At the same time, I’m learning to REST in the peace of God in the midst of my busy schedule– If I was not as busy as I am, I wouldn’t be as focused on pursuing peace, so there’s another lesson in adopting the proper perspective.

My power verses for this morning are Matthew 11:28-30 (New Living Translation)

Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”

Here’s a song I love, by Donald Lawrence called There Remaineth a Rest.  I hope the lyrics encourage you today.  Remember–  God’s REST is promised.  It’s a finished work– just because you aren’t “there yet” doesn’t mean you can’t take on His rest.  Keep walking in obedience and carry your burdens to Him.  Philippians 4: 6-7

Donald Lawrence– There Remaineth a Rest

There remaineth a rest, a rest
For the people of God
A promise, a finished work
And we must guard it with our hearts
Everything you will ever need
Was provided at Calvary
There remaineth a rest, there is a rest
There remaineth a rest, there is a rest
A Rest, the finished work of the Lord