24 January 2014

21 Day Financial Fast

2:25 PM

My theme for 2014 is discipline, so I wanted to start the year taking that very serious. I decided that on the first of the year, I would go on a 21 day financial fast.

I have done Michelle Singletary's fast for the past 3 years. Or at least attempted to. I would start, but don't think I ever finished. You can read more about that here.

The entire purpose of the fast is to take a break from consumption. The rules are you cannot purchase anything that is not a necessity - you may not eat out; go to the movies; buy new clothes; drink at Starbucks. 

Oh, and you must use cash. Debit cards may be linked to your cash, but they are a no go on this plan.

I have to admit, it wasn't difficult for me to get through the fast at all. When you're committed to doing something, and have goals to reach, you will do what it takes. I turn 30 in July, so I am determined to not take old debt and baggage into this exciting new decade of my life. I have bigger and better things to focus on.

Each Friday, I would take out just enough cash for my grocery budget for the week as well as cash for gas. Doing this one week at a time helped so that I wouldn't dip into the next week's pot. Sticking to a gas budget is usually difficult because I commute 60 miles to work each day, but I was determined to stay on budget.

I also became very intentional in directing my money where to go. I actually now have my money planned out for the next 2 months. It's liberating to have a plan.

I did learn some valuable lessons this go around about myself and just how much I've matured.

1. I can do anything I put my heart to.

2. I have everything I need.

3. It is nice to be disciplined and live in control of your life.

It's taken me 4 tries to get it and complete it. Many of the philosophies had been sticking with me over the years, however, now I have the discipline and the desire to see them through. 

I can't wait to give my "debt free" scream!

20 January 2014

The joy of The Lord...

6:32 AM

Do you remember the last time you were awake at 2 am with worry? I do. It was just two nights ago.

I was up all night. I wanted sleep so badly but my mind wouldn't stop.

Before I knew it, it was time to start the day.

While standing in the atrium at church, a gentleman came over and greeted me. He said I can always feel your joy radiating off of you here. That's the joy of The Lord.

If only he knew I had stayed up all night worrying.

It was a gentle reminder that the joy of The Lord is my strength. No matter how much I worry, fret, or am afraid. I trust in The Lord more than anything - and I take much joy from that!

16 January 2014

Denim & Cords

5:39 AM

I joined Justfab.com some time last year. I love everything they have, including their prices, but I don't think I've actually ordered anything from them.

Just before Christmas, I received an email that my first outfit on fabkids.com would be free if I paid shipping. Score!

I was able to get this super cute outfit for Munchkin and only paid $4.95! You know I was one happy mama.

I was even more excited because the outfit showed up on my doorstep literally an hour before we were off to the airport to spend Christmas in Baltimore.

The only problem with packing "outfits" is that you get pictures like this from his dad:

Why is he wearing a purple Ravens shirt with maroon cords?! Haha. Le sigh.

So here's what the outfit was supposed to look like. Haha. Cool and the gang.

Munchkin wanted to shoot a picture of me while we were at the playground. Big kid at heart.

11 January 2014

Singleness is not equal

2:49 PM
When I separated from my husband, so many of my friends started coming to me asking me to pray for their marriages. I was always willing to pray for them, but I felt so insignificant and unqualified. Didn't they see how my fasting and praying for my own marriage wasn't yielding much? 

Over the past few years, I have prayed with and for many of my friends - single and married.  My single friends, including myself, desire to be married. My married friends are happy, but not without challenge. Everyone needs prayer and for God to be the head of their lives.

One thing I've learned is that singleness does not equal loneliness. I have prayed with many of friends who are lonely in their marriages. Some have gone through seasons where their spouse was going through a battle, and they felt extreme loneliness during this time. I know my single friends can feel lonely at times, and sometimes it as if we're just waiting to meet the one in order to lift that feeling. Loneliness is not synonymous with either relationship status. 

Because I know what it is like to be single, married, and single again, I know that you can be extremely happy in both circumstances. You can also experience extreme loneliness in either circumstance. Both singleness and marriage are gifts from God.

The secret for me is contentment.  I now understand on a real level what Paul meant when he wrote "I have learned to be content with whatever I have". Phillipians 4:11

Singleness does not equal loneliness but you have to believe and trust God that  He has you right where He wants you. I am guilty of thinking "well at least they have their husband to go through these hard times with".  You will be lonely if all you think about is getting married and who you will marry. God called us to focus on Him. To thirst for Him. To seek Him. To love Him. To desire Him.  Your loneliness is coming from focusing, thirsting, seeking, loving, desiring something other than Him. 
John 4:14

I pray for my single friends. That they not equate their time of singleness with loneliness. I pray for my married friends. That they not experience loneliness and separateness in their unity. I pray for everyone, no matter your relationship status, because no one is exempt from the emotions that can arise when we take our gaze off of God, whether single or married.

Be content right where God has you. In your singleness - focus on Him. In your marriage - focus on Him.

10 January 2014

His Timing

10:44 AM

His timing is perfect. We say that all the time. To live it is another story.

I have had two what I consider major life dealings wake me up to His timing recently.  I pressed for them. Prayed for them. Yet still God said not yet.
In both situations, once I walked away from the emotion I had about His decision, I could see clearly why God was saying "not yet". 

Getting God's not right now isn't easy. When I read yesterday's Jesus Calling it was like all the words in the book moved around to form this message just for me. "Much, much stress results from your wanting to make things happen before their times come."  Hi Niecy. 
I have really been focusing on the "moment by moment" statement.  I'm a big picture kind of gal.  Give me a glimmer of hope, and I'll dream up the whole moon and stars, heaven and earth.  There's nothing wrong with having big hope, only when you allow the moments to disappoint you when they don't add up to the big dream.  This moment by moment business takes choosing in every moment to be grateful for that moment. To not constantly be trying to figure out what that moment means in the grand scheme of things. To just be grateful for the moment. The simple small moment.
With this I am gaining new hope and excitement to see what God does once He strings all these moments together.  I'm excited for this new perspective along the journey.  Life is such a great teacher.

09 January 2014

Whose Shoulders I Stand

5:18 AM

A few nights ago, my Dad, Uncle, sister and I sat around the kitchen talking about our family. We talked about the amazing and thrilling lives, legacies, and love of those before us.

I love having those conversations. The women in our family have lived long lives. My great, great grandmother was over 100 years old when she went home, my great aunt pictured above was over 90.  It made me start thinking about all the things these strong women endured in their lifetimes.

I have yet to reach 30 and have found myself saying on a rare occasion "I understand why the old folks say 'my soul is tired'". I feel like I've endured enough trial and heartache for a lifetime just in my 20s!

Looking at the beautiful women of my family, and thinking about the trials, joys, good times and bad they must have endured gives me hope. I come from a heritage of strong, intelligent, classy, faithful women who lived their lives well. I'm grateful to still have my Granny to model virtuous living to me up close and personal.

One of my favorite stories of that night was about my great grandmother, who was nearly blind.  My Dad says she carried the church with her and the moment she walked in she got happy. I asked my Granny about it and she said oh yes. The Spirit lived all over her. I can only imagine the things she endured during her lifetime and yet she was still full of joy.

I am so grateful God chose me to fall in line with these phenomenal women. They inspire me and give me hope...to run the race well.

I stand on their shoulders.

05 January 2014

A message

5:58 PM
There is no logical explanation for why I woke up with so much peace today.

No reason why today's sermon spoke right to my heart.

No reason.

 Except for that's the God I serve.

People ask why I'm so serious about finding time to steal away every day. I have to. Without it, life is too hard.  I am desperate for a daily experience with God.

I look forward to walking in faith. To trusting God with everything. He performs miracles in my life every day. 

Today our Pastor preached from Acts 20:22-24. In this scripture Paul teaches us so much.  Read it.

Our Pastor did a phenomenal job of breaking out some key points.

1. Paul was compelled by the Spirit. He was saturated in the Spirit of God. Don't you want to be saturated by His Spirit? To allow His presence to permeate our lives?

2. Paul was certain of uncertainty. He said "...not knowing what will happen to me there".  Isn't it just like us to pull away from God and try to walk this thing out on our own because we feel like we can control it? Because we feel like if we're in control we know what will happen. Paul was certain that he wouldn't know what would happen, but that God would show the way.

3. Paul knew that there would be hardship and RESISTANCE. Our Pastor challenged us that if we're committing to a faith walk, we may as well acknowledge their will be resistance in our lives. Get used to it. "The moment you step out in faith - the enemy is going to challenge you."

4. Paul knew His purpose. He didn't always know how he was going to fulfill it, but he was clear of his purpose and knew he would finish the race. 

I'm sharing these notes because this message was exactly what my soul needed today.  It provided renewal and clarity for this walk. Sit with the lesson for a moment. I hope it encourages you in the way it did me.

I'l come back and add the link to the sermon when it becomes available. 

03 January 2014

Don't skimp

11:32 AM

4:30am. Alarm sounds. Press snooze. Grab my phone. Skim Instagram. Check Facebook. Oh no! It's 5:15. I still need to have quiet time and workout. Pry myself out of bed. Workout. Hope Munchkin isn't awake yet so I can have coffee with Christ. Skim Instagram again.

Does your morning at all sound like mine?

No matter how much I value my quiet time of journaling and connecting with God, the noise of this world seems to woo me.  This is why I'm focusing on being more disciplined this year.


So yesterday's Jesus calling entry was perfect.   "This sacrifice of time pleases Me and strengthens you. Do not skimp on our time together". Boom boom blat. Yes like that. If I could meet Sarah Young I would give her a big hug, because her gift with words and communicating His love for us is surreal.

So when I woke up this morning and immediately got into a Facebook conversation about Gabrielle Union and Dwayne Wade, I checked myself. I NEEDED to be talking to God and not about them. 

Check myself.

Our time with God pleases Him. You know when you're in a relationship and you love someone so much, there's no greater feeling than to know you please them by being in their presence. It's almost impossible to assign a feeling to it. 

I have long known I desperately need His presence, but knowing that my needing Him pleases Him is indescribable.

I'm working to prioritize my time better. To steady my gaze on the things that are important.

To please Him.

Look to The Lord and all His strength; seek His face always. Psalm 105:4

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