Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Mid-Week Boost: Working Right

Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. Remember that the Lord will give you an inheritance as your reward, and that the Master you are serving is Christ. (Colossians 3:23, 24 NLT)

Sometimes it feels like I have been working so long and hard over the years that I am already ready to retire. According to my human development course, I am still in early adulthood--a time in which I should still be choosing a career, so the real work is only just beginning. 

I am a hard worker. And while being hardworking is a quality that most people want to have, sometimes we can let it get in the way of actually enjoying life (at least I do). Do we really need to read that e-mail or respond to that message within 10 seconds? We may not have quantity time given our occupations and our various roles and responsibilities but we ensure that we are using our time in quality ways. Think about this as we finish out this week.

May is almost here.

Four months of 2014 have passed us by.

How will you use your time for the rest of this year?

Get this devotional Life Application Study Bible Devotion for free in Bible App or here,
It is short and sweet everyday!

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Being Comfortable with the Uncomfortable

Have you ever noticed that almost everything we want comes to us through being uncomfortable? You want to lose weight? Workouts and backing away from the plate are uncomfortable. Those jeans that used to fit get a little tight. Ladies-you want that hair looking fresh? Sitting under the hot dryer or getting those braids in is uncomfortable. You want that baby? Delivery is uncomfortable (uncomfortable is an understatement here but I digress). Climbing that career ladder? There are a ton of uncomfortable moments along the way. This list could go on and on.
Personally, I am not a fan of being uncomfortable. I am all about a spa day, relaxation, or peace and quiet reading a book. Hiking doesn't excite me. Running doesn't bring me to a clear headed state. I don't like to argue. I like seeing people happy. Being uncomfortable is not my cup of tea. Is it any ones?
I have found myself at yet another crossroads were there are going to be some necessary uncomfortable moments. At this point, I am picking which type of discomfort I want to endure momentarily in order to reach my long term goals. In the end, being uncomfortable is a means to a desired end in most cases. Think about Jesus on the cross. He could have come down and stopped his pain at any moment but he knew the big picture. We may not always know the big picture and our big picture may change but the discomfort that comes with getting there will have to happen. We can either embrace it or let it paralyze us. 
Think about what you are most proud of. Were there some uncomfortable moments along the way?
We have to be comfortable with the uncomfortable some times.
Don't get so comfortable that you miss Gods calling on your life and opportunities to live out your purpose.

From the Life Application Study Bible Devotion. Get more here.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Weeks 11-14: Marathon Not a Sprint

Okay okay this is way late but here is my final post for my 95 days of 1,500 challenge. Whoa! Where did the time go? It seems like only yesterday that I decided to get back into this weight loss/healthier eating game. 95 days have come and gone. I didn't hit the mark all 95 days but, I am refocused and ready to make the most of the rest of this year. I was a little annoyed at my annual exam when I had only lost a whooping 1 pound since last year. Who has time to keep re-losing the same pounds?

Well here is a recap of the last four weeks: 15/28 days under 1,500 calories. Since I started this challenge, I have lost 11 pounds. My goal for this year was to lose 10% of my body weight so I am only 12 pounds away from that. Cheers to me for making a realistic and achievable goal. Who has time to keep failing on this journey?

Overall, I have found during this personal challenge that 1,400-1,800 calories is what I tend to eat on average. Not bad in the grand scheme of things. Since the weather is warming up, I plan to get in some walking a few days a week. While I don't have another challenge lined up, I am going to continue to focus on nutrition and incorporate some abdominal and arm toning too.

I can't wait to walk in the doctors office next year and instead of that lonely 1 pound gone, my doctor may have to do a double take at the numbers hehe. I have been a little unfocused these last few weeks but I am slowly getting it back together. This is a marathon not a sprint.

How are you all doing with your fitness/weight loss goals? The first quarter of the year is almost gone. Don't give up!

It is Finished

Hey Y'all!!
Well I started a lovely draft for you all on Friday but I guess I forgot to save it. This Easter weekend and this Lenten season as a whole was marvelous. A lot of reflecting, soul searching, and renewing and strengthening my connection with Christ (and with my sisters in Christ!). I am loving my Good Friday tradition of going to church at St. Luke Baptist Church in Paterson, NJ. I even made Hot Cross Buns for breakfast.

When I tell you I heard some good preaching on Good Friday--I don't even know where to begin to tell you how it blessed my spirit. My baby boo was even well behaved at church for the whole 2-3 hours. Major win. The service is titled "Seven Words One Friday" each year. Seven preachers each preach a short sermon centered around Christ's seven last words on the cross. Some of the preachers repeat but for the most part each year they are new and if they repeat, they preach on something different. I have been combing through my notes to find one thing that really stood out to me but there was so much. I will have to break it up.

If I had to pick my favorite this year though, it was the sermon on "It is finished." (John 19:30b) preached by Reverend Maurice Porter, Pastor of Shiloh Baptist Church in Hartford, CT. As I reflect on it now, this scripture was also my favorite last year too. Reverend Porter talked about the fact that when something is finished, it is done--not almost or part of the way but all the way done. However, just because something is finished doesn't mean that the rewards stop as evidenced by the resurrection of Christ. He reminded us that we have to make sure that we are able to separate ourselves from whatever our "it" is. Jobs, relationships, rejections, or anything else that may change in our lives. Whenever "it" is finished, we are not. Because something is done, doesn't make us any more or any less. Jesus was still God's son as he died on the cross but he had to endure to finish his assignment (more on this one later). We are no different.
Rejection, setbacks, and just change period can really make us feel low and take us to dark places spiritually and emotionally but you can't start something new without finishing the old. What "it" have you finished or are about to finish? I know that no matter what "it" is, the Lord will be with you.

I hope everyone had a blessed Easter/Resurrection weekend. I even managed a mini-Easter hunt in my yard for Ebony and Ivory.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Spending Time in the Valley

All right y'all I am back with another guest blogger my friend Shavon! I often speak of the goodness of the Lord but I also want to be sure to balance that with the very real struggles we will have to endure even as believers. What I love about this post is that it is a real reflection of what it is like to really be in a valley BUT to ultimately NOT lose faith. Yes you will be upset, hurt, confused, frustrated and even feel like given up but God is faithful and his timing is perfect. Sometimes we have to learn some lessons the hard way and that is okay.

Without further adieu, here is Shavon's story:

2013 was a year filled with many highs but some brutal lows. As the summer began I was extremely excited to start my new job in a position that would allow me to blend all of my degrees and experience over the years. I was also looking forward to my first trip to somewhere beyond the Caribbean to Rome, Italy through my PhD program.

But when I returned from Rome, I felt like anything that could go wrong did. My boss had numerous issues and lacked in many areas in which a leader should thrive. As the summer months went by we constantly struggled to plan to open a new school with members of the leadership team coming and going. By the time the fall arrived I felt as if I was in hell literally. Work was extremely difficult and every thing that I was initially hired to do became non-existent and changed last minute.

One Friday in September, it hit me that I could no longer suffer at this job even though I had no job to replace it with.  I went to church and I heard God loud and clear, I needed to trust him. I was beyond scared as I have never quit a job before and had recently moved into a more expensive apartment. I knew this was a test of my faith and even when my call to an old boss did not go well I knew what had to do. I gave my two week’s notice but less than two days later I was walked out of the building.  In this same time span the guy that I was dating popped up after three months of no communication and called me stupid for even thinking of walking away from the lucrative job. 

October was the darkest month I have faced in my life in a long time. I had no job and despite four potential offers, they all fell through. In addition to no employment I received the worst news that no female ever wants to hear. The man who convinced me to believe in a long distance relationship actually working turned out to be a married man with three children. As you can imagine I literally felt like a marked woman. How could so many bad things happen to me at one time?

November brought a few ups as I received a few more leads about potential jobs. My mental state was shot at times but through the grace of God and lots of prayer I kept on pushing. At one point I thought I had a job as my references were called and everyone around me was excited. The day that I received bad news that they went with someone else I felt like my stomach was ripped out. I actually yelled at God and felt like giving up completely.

However what God has for you is for you and if you believe it he will bring it to you and you will make it through. Less than 48 hours following my painful rejection I received a call back from a previous school that I thought was no longer interested in me. Within 24 hours they asked me to come in for a demo lesson. I prayed and went on faith and that lesson was one of the best I have ever taught in my career. Four days later I got the call and was offered a job!

Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the Lord delivereth him out of them all. (Psalms 34:19 KJV)

To be continued there is a blessing in the rain….

Friday, April 11, 2014

Growing Pains

I wish someone would have told me that the career/life reality was really just like the picture above. Am I the only one who idealistically believed that staying out of trouble, going to college, getting a job, getting married, etc, etc was the straight and narrow path to success and happiness? I feel like I was set up for real. At 29, I have accomplished so much, and I am grateful for that, but the perfectionist in me wants everything to quickly come together as I get ready to make a shift in my career and into my 30s. The realist/christian in me is like girl calm down everything is going to work itself out. Some days I feel like I know exactly what I need to do but my inner perfectionist voice is like please don't do that. You know that may turn out badly and you don't do bad. Is there a support group for recovering perfectionist?? 

Anyhow I have been on break from work so that has helped me realize how much I need an extended break. Even though this was a work break, I have so many other things that are important to me that fill my life and days that I don't realize how I am functioning each day when everything is going full steam ahead. Any work break isn't really a "break". Being a wife, mom, and student is more than a full plate. Everything else makes me want to take a nap. I have a really good friend that always tells me that I know what I need to do but my feet feel stuck on the path of certainty. I am on the road to doing away with perfectionism but it is hard. How come people don't talk more about what it is like to make shifts in early adulthood? Career changes, changing jobs, changes because of babies, relocating, friendship changes, keeping marriages alive, etc? I think we may need to have some talks about these topics in the the future. 
You can check out more of this Life Application Study Bible devotional in the Bible App or here.