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44 The Lord gave them rest on every side, just as he had sworn to their ancestors. Not one of their enemies withstood them; the Lord gave all their enemies into their hands. 45 Not one of all the Lord’s good promises to Israel failed; every one was fulfilled. - Joshua 21:44-45
I encourage all of you to take the time to read Joshua. This is a book about moving forward. Despite all of the obstacles and massive road blocks standing in front of the Israelites, they knew God had told them to move forward. They stood against Kings and armies that should have defeated them. But through their faith in God's promise all of their enemies were delivered into their hand.
Today, ask yourself, is God telling you to move forward. In spite of the obstacles at work, in your family, and in the politcial and global sphere. Be strong and be courageous! If God is calling you out of the wilderness GO and watch him deliver your enemies into your hand!
As I continue through this journey called life I continue to learn the importance of in trusting in the perfect plan and timing of the Lord.
Recently, I have been reflecting on the things I often heard growing up in a semi-conservative baptist church in the Midwest. "He may not come when you want Him, but He's always right on time", "Can't nobody do me like Jesus", and anything that started with "First giving honor to God, who is the head of my life". In general I found these sayings and others to be dramatic and over used. I also found most expressions of praise and gratitude toward the Lord to be used by people who just wanted attention.
After going through so many struggles in the last two years I have a new appreciation and understanding of the power of the Lord, His voice, and His plans. I remember the first time I heard God speak to me. I was in 8th grade and had been preparing for cheerleading try-outs. 9th grade was right around the corner and cheering under the Friday Night Lights had been my dream since watching my cousins cheer as child. As I prepared to walk into the room to face the judges I said, "Ok Jesus, it's just you and me. I need you to be with me." I then began to hear a song play in my head..."He wouldn't bring you this far to leave you". This moment was a turning point in my relationship with God.
That experience led me to seek the voice of the Lord. Throughout college I worked on reading the Bible and mediating on the word so I could hear the voice of the Lord clearly. since then I have gone through trials and tribulations with family, friends, school, careers, and all other facets of life. Through it all I have learned to lean on the the Lord. To trust His word, planning, and timing. Learning this has come through painful trial and error, but through it all I have always felt the presence of the God.
In the past few months I have felt my self slipping away from God. Praying less. Reading my Bible less. Meditating less. I could feel the disconnect and knew it was a problem. As they say, you are either in a storm, coming out of a storm, or about to go into one. I knew I needed to get myself back together.
Recently, the stormy waters have returned to rock my world and as always my first step was to turn to God through His word and prayer. Yesterday, as I was closing my laptop to start my prayer and meditation I noticed I had missed an email from my aunt containing a daily devotional. Normally the emails contain a passage of scriptures, an encouraging message, and a prayer. When I opened this one I was so disappointed to see it contained one scripture. Then I read it.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. Isaiah 43:2
That verse was everything I needed. It was another reassurance that the Lord see me, hears my cry, and has a plan for my life. Now when I think back to all of the times that I believed people were dramatic or overreacting in their worship. Now I can see why they were so passionate. I understand their emotions. I have tried and seen that God's timing is perfect and His promise is unfailing.
"If you fail to plan, you plan to fail"
Planning is an important tool because it leads you to set goals for your future and a strategy with steps to ensure you reach your goals. Strategy - a plan of action or policy designed to achieve a major or overall aim. I began to focus on setting clearly defined goals during my junior year of college. I didn't know exactly where my life was going but I wanted to make sure it went somewhere. That idea began the process of developing goals and later learning the importance of creating action steps and deadlines. Below are 4 simple steps to help any begin to plan their more focused future.
Here are 4 steps for successfully planning to ensure you reach your goals.
- Create a Vision Board - This is a visual representation of your goals
- Set Deadlines - This is an important step to ensure you can measure your success.
- Find an Accountability Partner - Find who is also committed to their own goals and will help hold you accountable for your success
- Have Fun - You only get one chance at life so enjoy it! Yes, it is important to make accomplish your goals. But it is equally important to enjoy and learn during each step. So be present in every moment.
Of course life isn't perfect and occasionally you will need to adjust your strategy to match your current reality. Just remember your end goal, why it matters, and that all great things take time!
We all have goals, dreams, and aspirations. We also have real lives. Live that come with. Complications, trials, and hard ships.
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11
But it is important to stay focused on the purpose God has set for your life. Below are for simple steps and verses to help you stay focused on your journey.
1. Make your plan
35 “Be dressed ready for service and keep your lamps burning, 36 like servants waiting for their master to return from a wedding banquet, so that when he comes and knocks they can immediately open the door for him. 37 It will be good for those servants whose master finds them watching when he comes.Truly I tell you, he will dress himself to serve, will have them recline at the table and will come and wait on them. 38 It will be good for those servants whose master finds them ready, even if he comes in the middle of the night or toward daybreak. Luke 12:35-38
In order to succeed at anything you have to decide on a goal and create a plan or action steps to achieve that goal. This is the first and most important step toward seeing your goals and purpose manifest themselves. To help create your plan establish measurable, realistic goals with a clear timeline. Measurable goals include progress that can be tracked through target dates, quantifiable increments, ect.
2. Discipline yourself
24 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. 25 Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. 26 Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. 27 No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize. 1 Corinthians 9:24-27
When on the path toward achieving your goals set in step 1 it is important to stay focused on your action steps. Don't become distracted by the attraction of the easy route. When we are in the middle of our journey it can be hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel. This is why it is important to set clear measurable goals. I encourage you to write your goals down in a journal or vision board. Also note your tracking system and target dates. Use these as reminders of what your next steps should be and where you are with your goals. This will help you stay focused on your success and areas of weakness. This can also help you eliminate distractions so you ensure you make it to your end goal.
3. Be Strong
6 Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their ancestors to give them. 7 “Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. 8 Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips;meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. 9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
When on the path toward achieving your goals set in step 1 it is important to stay focused on your action steps. Don't become distracted by the attraction of the easy route. When we are in the middle of our journey it can be hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Working toward any goal can be draining and exhausting. Just keep push. Stay encouraged. I love using quotes and Bible verses as my regular motivation. Find what motivates you and keep it close.
4. Stay focused on the finish line
1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. Hebrews 12:1-3
You were put on this Earth for a reason. You have a purpose and God has a plan for your life. Remember that and keep running!
For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. Hebrews 12:11
To marry or not to marry? To have kids or not to have kids? Those are the important questions every 20 something woman asks herself and is asked by everyone around her. The consensus from society seems to state the correct answers are yes and yes. But are a husband and children really necessary to have a full and happy life?
The older I have gotten the more I have seen the debate surrounding these issues move from a discussion on a random television show to a thoughtful often worrisome conversation among friends and social media. As I move toward making my own decisions there are three things I've learned to keep in mind:
1. You are not who you date
As women it is important to create your own identity. Decide what your empire will look like and work for it. If/When you decide to enter a relationship it is important to ensure you are entering a partnership. Building an empire with someone who fully supports your goals while working toward their own goals. Keeping in mind the importance of equal and fair partnerships.
2. You are enough
No matter what happens you are always enough. Life will continue to throw curve balls, and your job is to pick yourself up, learn the lesson and keep pushing forward. This lesson applies to jobs, friendships, and love interests. While you keep your eyes on building your empire don't let anyone tell you that you are less than exceptional. With that being said, be confident in your choices. If you decide to date or marry someone be secure in your choice. If you decide you’re not interested in marriage or children, be confident in your choice. If you change your mind, that's fine. You are not defined solely by your relationships. Choosing to live a life without a husband and/or children will not make you or your life less than. You are enough.
3. Make a decision that works for you
Life presents a lot of choices daily. When thinking through such a significant decision, such as marriage or children, it is important to take your time. Reflecting on your thoughts, feelings, and the reasons for your feelings is a process that does not happen overnight. If you’re unsure take the time you need to ensure you make the best decision for you. And of course, trust your instinct.
My favorite lesson of 2015 is a concept new to me, Shine Theory. The concept is simple: “I don’t shine if you don’t shine”. The idea behind shine theory is to encourage women to revel in the success of other women instead of foster feelings of jealousy and inadequacy.
Most women can understand and relate to the feeling of competition between women. The Beyonce song Flawless eloquently explained the sense of competition instilled in women from a young age. The idea that there are only a few spots available for successful, beautiful women causes an unfortunate chain reaction of women seeking to destroy the next woman in an effort to build herself up. Shine Theory works to turn the feeling of competition into pride and empowerment.
I first heard of Shine Theory while listening to one of my favorite podcasts, Call Your Girlfriend. CYG is pro woman podcast that led by two intelligent and articulate women, Aminatou Sow and Anne Friedmen. The podcast brings thoughtful and often humors commentary on current events and life from the female perspective. The ladies of CYG often promote Shine Theory. If you are looking for a great example of Shine Theory of motion I suggest you listen to Call Your Girlfriend.
Take away for the day: Allow another woman's shine to warm your path! Bask on the shine of all of the great women doing wonderful things around you! Use it as motivation to push forward and carry other women with you!