Study to show thyself approved…

Studying God's Word

Lately I’ve just been studying and studying. I feel such a great need to get back to the Word. His Bible. I love reading other books that supplement but goodness, so much of it is milk. I need something meaty (Hebrews 5:12). I want to know more and more about our Lord and Savior and to do that I have to study His Word. After all, He is the Word (1 John 1:1) and He fulfilled the Torah completely (Matthew 5:17).

In all my years of studying I never stopped to consider Jesus’ heritage or His culture. The more I study my own, the more I realize how much a part it has played in the person I am, how I speak, think, and live life. This has led me to know more about Jesus’ heritage and culture; the Jewish and Hebrew.

Studying God's Word

I started by inquiring of a friend who is more knowledgeable in this area than I am. Tracy gave me some resources to look into and shared some posts with me that she had written. After praying and considering what God would have me do I took the first step and read a book called Sitting At the Feet of Rabbi Jesus. It was such an eye opener. The significance of scripture is so much greater now that I understand the cultural implications. I know, love, respect, honor, and and am in awe of my Jesus so much more now than I ever was before.

Now, I am reading a couple of additional books and taking some online courses to have a greater understanding of Jesus’ life and time. Once I am done and can fully recommend it I will provide a link. I just have to filter it all first and make sure it lines up with the Bible. So far, so good. In fact, so far it’s been great!

So tell me, have you ever studied these aspects of Christ?

Bible Study Tools and Supplies

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There is so much we will be covering in regards to bible study. Really, it is an ongoing lesson for me too so I’ll share as I go. For starters, let’s look at some of the tools we can use. This is not meant to be an exhaustive list. It is simply meant to be used as a guide to walk you through practical ways you can get the most out of your study time and to find out for yourself the meaning of scripture as well as it’s origin. Over time you will develop your own techniques and style for studying God’s word and that is how it should be!

I am about to embark on some new learning adventures and I’ll definitely share them with you. Before you read anymore here is a short two minute video about all you really need to study the bible.

 

Helpful tools:
  • Bible (several translations if possible, including the KJV and Amplified) This list is an explanation of the most popular versions. I prefer the NASB and NKJ. For casual reading I still lean towards the NLT translation.
  1. KJV (King James Version) – This is the original English version written in the 1600s. Over time, as Old English was spoken less and less, it became increasingly hard to read and understand this version. It was predominantly written word for word from the original Greek and Hebrew even though English is not spoken using the same word order. It is the most widely accepted version and most all bible study tools use it as a reference which is why it is important to own this translation.
  2. NIV (New International Version) – This translation has tried to balance between emphasis on word-for-word translation and emphasis on meaning. It attempts to preserve the literal text, while bringing forth the concepts and ideas of the message.
  3. NKJ (New King James Version) – This version is similar to the KJV but it was translated putting less emphasis on word order making it somewhat easier to read and understand. It still contains idioms and metaphors which are highly suited for more advanced readers.
  4. NLT (New Living Translation) – This text is clearly written and easy to understand. It is translated thought by thought from the original Greek and Hebrew and places more emphasis on overall meaning instead of word for word translation.
  5. NASB (New American Standard Bible) -  This version translates the original texts as literally as possible, preserving word-for-word equivalency and original sentence structure in English wherever possible.
  6. Amplified Bible – The Amplified Bible captures the full meaning behind the original Greek and Hebrew fully defining the words along the way.
  7. The Message – This vivid meaning by meaning translation provides the reader with an easy to understand and applicable approach to the original language. It is not translated word for word and uses modern slang.
  • Colored pencils (for highlighting in your bible) It is important to note that liquid highlighters leave marks, fade, and bleed so it is typically better to use dry colored pencils on the thin sheets of the bible.
  • Notebook (for recording your findings) – Any notebook will do. JUST GET ONE! There is no greater disappointment than knowing God showed you something about a particular scripture or event in your life but not remembering exactly what it was that He showed you. If you write things down then you will always be able to go back over it.
  • Concordance (preferably Strong’s Concordance) – The Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance is the most complete, easy-to-use, and understandable concordance for studying the original languages of the Bible. Combining the text of the King James Bible with the power of the Greek and Hebrew Lexicons, you can gain a clearer understanding of the Word.
  • Bible dictionary- The  bible dictionary contains a wealth of varied information in an easy-to-find alphabetical arrangement. It cross references scriptures for most translations. It is filled with facts and pictures as well as a guide to the arts, cultures, geography, geology, theologies, philosophies, maps, and lifestyles of biblical times.
  • Bible handbook (preferably Halley’s Bible Handbook) -The bible handbook provides time-tested help for understanding the Bible—not just with the mind, but also with the heart. It includes a concise Bible commentary, important discoveries in archaeology, related historical data, church history, maps, and more.

The basic formula for study could be derived from these key elements:

  1. Choose a book or topic to study.
  2. Pray.
  3. Read and ask who, what, when, where, and why.
  4. Study using tools to discover history, context, and author.
  5. Record findings.
  6. Apply.
  7. Continue to pray.

We will dissect one scripture as a guide. Let’s use John 3:16.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

1. Read the entire chapter of John to get a greater understanding of the time, place, people spoken to, and relevance.

2. Look it up in a couple of different translations. Do you notice anything different?

3. Look it up in the concordance. We’ll use the word “believeth” as an example. We find that the Strong’s number is G4100 and it is used 248 times in the bible. The original transliterations is pisteuō meaning:

1) to think to be true, to be persuaded of, to credit, place confidence in a) of the thing believed

1) to credit, have confidence b) in a moral or religious reference 1) used in the NT of the conviction and trust to which a man is impelled by a certain inner and higher prerogative and law of soul

2) to trust in Jesus or God as able to aid either in obtaining or in doing something: saving faith

3) mere acknowledgment of some fact or event: intellectual faith 2) to entrust a thing to one, i.e. his fidelity a) to be intrusted with a thing

4. Look up belief in the dictionary. Look at some of the scriptural cross references.

5. Record you findings.

“Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of Truth.”      –2 Tim. 2:15.

What are some ways that you study the word?

I Am A Woman of God

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Not too long ago I wrote a post about the women of God speaking up in this world and taking a stand for what God’s word teaches us. I think of women like Mary, Esther, Rahab, Lydia, and Deborah and I can’t help but ask God for that kind of boldness: that kind of faith.

For me, it helps to have life giving reminders in my home and and on my belongings. There is something about it that brings a peace and calm over me and reminding me that I am not alone and that He is always with me.

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With that in mind I’d love to introduce you to our new sponsor, I Am A Woman of God. This company carries t-shirts, hoodies (on sale now), bags, wristbands, and other items. I like that they infuse a positive, biblical message on everything. And, if that weren’t enough, if you follow them on Facebook or Twitter, they will bless your socks off with daily bits of the Word, inspiration, and biblical blesesings.

Here is a bit more about I Am A Woman of God:

vbd-black-shirtThe term “I am a Woman of God®” is a concept derived from one of the many passages of the bible, which are pertinent to the virtuous woman. The verse Job 33:4 states, “The Spirit of God has made me; the breath of the Almighty gives me life.” The movement wants women to realize that God abides in them and that they were created with and for a purpose. That the Lord himself has made a mark in their lives. We want women to remember this truth as it will give them the motivation to continue pressing forward in life regardless of the situation they may be facing.

Apparel emblazed with the slogan serve as a reminder for women that God is in their hearts and in their lives. Moreover, if you believe in God and have faith, then it is your duty to serve God unconditionally to your fullest potential and praise his name.

Deep Spiritual Cleaning

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Since I began posting about our journey to a spiritually clean home I have received dozens of emails with questions and concerns. Because of that I want to address a few things before we go deeper into the whole home spiritual cleaning series. First, I think the foundation of this is the bible and our belief in what the word of God says. That being the case I want to make sure we all know how to study the bible and think for ourselves.

I know oftentimes we take someone else’s word for what the bible says. That usually doesn’t teach us anything but someone else’s interpretation, understanding, or conviction. It is our responsibility to study for ourselves (2 Timothy 2:15) and not simply listen to the out loud thinking of someone else.

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So my question is do you all think it would be beneficial to start with how to study the bible? If so what parts confuse you or do you think you need help with? Do you have any suggestions?

My heart for women is that you would learn to think for yourselves and know why you believe what you believe. The word of God is what changes us, not the word of man.

BY THE WAY: I’m so sorry about any advertising that is coming through my feed. I think I have it fixed now but if you do see another ad please know I am working to have all of that removed.

Some Things I’ve Been Up To Lately

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You can find me posting today over at The Better Mom: Special Needs- Reacting to Differences

I had a few posts in queue but I haven’t been feeling well lately so I haven’t quite finished those posts. I’ll get to them just as soon as I feel better. I get to have a root canal tomorrow. It seems I’ve thought all this time that I had sinus infections and headaches but it is more likely because I have an abscessed tooth. Barrel of monkeys, right?

In the meantime I wanted to share a few things with you. My online presence has afforded me some amazing opportunities. Just last week my blog was featured on a Pennsylvania news feature. WFMZ-TV contacted me about offering my site as a reference for natural cleaning products. Of course, I said yes. They were a pleasure to work with and they offered some great facts about natural cleaning. You can view the episode and read the article here: WFMZ Natural Cleaning.

ylywyd-300px-jpgshespeaks-logoThen there is Proverbs 31 Ministries. I was introduced to this ministry a few years ago. I was immediately drawn in by their love for women and their focus on Christ. I asked Lysa TerKeurst to speak at our online conference, A Woman Inspired, and was shocked not only because she said yes but because she called me to chat about it. Lysa TerKeurst called me on the phone to chat!! I was on cloud 9. She was so personable and not at all like some other authors I’d worked with in the past. I attended She Speaks the following year and was able to meet Lysa in person, have breakfast with her, and chat with her about some possible projects for the future.

Here we are 4 or so years later and I am a part of the core team at P31 and this is my second year teaching at She Speaks. This year there will be small groups for platform building, more workshops on blogging (beginner and intermediate), social media, developing and marketing ebooks, and so much more!

I’m so excited to be teaching sessions with Lisa Boyd and Rachel Wojnarowski. And in addition to the Proverbs 31 Ministries ladies, more of my friends will be there teaching too: Jen Schmidt, Sheila Wray Gregoire, Holley Gerth, and Emily Freeman. I hope I get to meet you there. Registration opens February 28th and it sells out fast!

200wideI wrote a book, Pursuit of Proverbs 31, and released it last year about this time. I have sold several thousand copies to date and the feedback has been phenomenal. This has given me the opportunity to pursue a traditionally published book. I’m excited to share this journey with you when the time is right. In the meantime, would you share about the book on your Facebook page, Twitter stream, Pinterest, Google Plus, or blog? I would be so thankful! If you do share it come back here and let me know.

Also, I’d love to have you on my dream team. Check it out.

How about a timeless bible study for the modern Christian woman? Pursuit of Proverbs 31 by @AmyGBayliss http://bit.ly/S1TFxw (Tweet This)

Have you ever wanted to tear the 31st chapter of Proverbs out of your bible? Pursuit of Proverbs 31 by @AmyGBayliss http://bit.ly/S1TFxw (Tweet This)

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Finally, the ministry started years ago by Amy Stults and myself will be continuing. After Amy and I decided to divide our endeavors and I took on AWI, my family and I went through some pretty hard things. My boys’ dad died, we moved to a new town, and finding others to help fulfill the vision of A Woman Inspired was daunting. I knew when AWI returned I would be sharing the story of my boys’ dad so I had to make sure it was in God’s timing. And just like Him, when He told me I was ready and to pursue it, within 24 hours he had brought together a team of people that He chose. Not me, Him. I would love for you to meet these amazing women of God who will help me to carry on the ministry of A Woman Inspired. While you are there register for the Extreme Faith conference. It’s free! We’ll be bringing you more conferences throughout the year but this is our main event!

So what have you been up to? Do you have root canals as much as I do?

Laundry Soap Recipe – Borax Free DIY Tutorial

Washing Powder Recipe

Part of being a good steward of this platform we are given online is being able to say that I may not have given the best advice at one time or another. So here goes, I may not have given the best advice in my original post for the Powdered Laundry Detergent Recipe. For that, I apologize.

What I’ve discovered is that it may not be a good idea to use Borax in washing powder. It also isn’t so bad grating soap to make your own laundry powder. I’ll give you my new laundry soap recipe below, complete with a Borax free DIY tutorial, but first let me share the thoughts that brought this about.

During my blog break I had some time to think about it and do more research. I’ve also had lots of time and way too many loads of laundry to let it sink in. In fact, it was while doing the laundry that I realized that whatever you put in that machine is likely to end up in your body. Let me clarify what I’m talking about.

I’ve received lots of emails about the use of Borax with different studies cited as stating Borax is not safe. Let me go on record as saying that I do believe that Borax is safe for some uses. But… please research for yourself. So many people blindly follow the suggestions or opinions of others without investigating for themselves. We should never just take someone’s word for things like this.

I’ve read and seen debates on the Borax topic and with the in-depth help of two friends I trust (SIL is an environmental engineer and a dear friend is a chemistry professor) I have come to the conclusion that Borax is safe for most uses. I won’t cover all of the evidence and contributing factors that brought me to that conclusion (although I may in a future post) but I’ll hit on the main points.

The study some of you mentioned was done in Europe and the reason for it was that many Europeans were ingesting small amounts of Boron daily. That is the first misconception. Borax is not boron. Borax is a compound that contributes to boron. However, Borax, in my opinion and based on what I’ve learned, should not be consumed. I only say that because there is a minute chance that it could cause reproductive issues when orally ingested. Reproductive issues happened in rodents and rabbits that ingested the Borax but tests on humans showed no effects. However, I wouldn’t eat it just to be safe! And, it isn’t the Borax that is the problem but rather the chemical reaction that takes place once it is mixed with internal body acids.

This does not happen on the surface of the skin.

As far as the amount that is absorbed into the skin (it is not easily absorbed), more than 90% is excreted within 24 hours with the remainder soon to follow. But, study after clinical study shows that Borax is very difficult to absorb into the skin. Usually it only happens if there is an open wound.

Borax is not listed as a carcinogen and it does not accumulate in the body.

I also think it is important to note that Borax is considered just as safe table salt and baking soda. In fact, some spices and seasonings we use regularly get a higher warning than Borax. I think it is safe to use but I recommend you go with your knowledge and your gut instinct.

The reason I use Borax in my other natural cleaning recipes is because it allows me to skip a step in cleaning. You can get the same effects without the use of Borax but you will have to add a bit of time and additional product to your routine. Sprinkling an item with washing soda and then hydrogen peroxide will give the same effect as using Borax in the recipe. The difference is that you have to use the HP and WS before washing whereas the Borax can be added during. Both function the same and cause the same chemical reaction. So yes, you can substitute the Borax with hydrogen peroxide and washing soda. Just be sure to use that first and then wash or mop after using a plain water or vinegar solution.

Here is the part where I tell you why I don’t use it in my laundry detergent.

While cleaning my unmentionables that are used for that oh so not the best time of the month (cloth sanitary napkins), my son walked in and asked me what they were. First, yes, embarrassing but a great opportunity to teach him about women and hopefully he’ll have some compassion on his future wife. You’re welcome.

Then he asked why I used those instead of the throw away kind. I told him all about the toxic chemicals and plastics that are used to make the disposable ones and how it is safer to use a washable organic cotton pad instead because of how easily things are absorbed into that area of the body. *lightbulb*

That is when it hit me. Whatever I use to clean could leave residue on underwear, unmentionables, and all other things used “down there”. Why oh why take a chance with using Borax when it is not necessary?

So, I went to work putting together a recipe that not only cleans, whitens, and smells good but it is perfectly safe for unmentionables. I was even able to find a replacement for the Borax that works the same but is safer. Here it is:

Ingredients

  • 1 bar Castile soap or 1/3 bar of Meyer’s soap
  • 1 cup baking soda
  • 1/2 cup natural oxygen cleaner (ignore the name, it does not contain bleach but refers to the act of bleaching/whitening)
  • 1/2 cup Washing Soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon citric acid or 3 packs Real Lemon

Washing Powder Recipe
Start by grating the soap.

laundry soap recipe

Measure out all of the ingredients.

Laundry detergent recipe

In a food processor (I use a Hamilton Beach), layer the ingredients. Put 1/2 dry ingredients in the grated soap then the rest of the dry ingredients. This helps prevent the soap from sticking together and forms a dry powder instead of a goopy mess.

I do think a food processor is a necessary tool for this recipe. I’ve tried the blender and it didn’t work out so well. I’d love to hear if anyone else has found a way to do this without a food processor.

laundry soap tutorial

Pulse to a powder. Add 20-25 drops of essential oils if you want. I prefer Young Living essential oils. Pulse again to combine the essential oils.

washing powder recipe
Use 1/2 tablespoon per load or 1 tablespoon if very dirty. I hardly ever use a tablespoon and I have four boys and a dog. ‘Nuff said.

washing powder recipe

 

You can find more recipes here: 17 Days of Natural Cleaning

Fulfilling Your Marriage Vows

My sweet friend Amy Stults is partnering with another blogger, Carlie, to bring you 14 Days of Fulfilling Your Vows leading up to Valentine’s Day and the launch of a new site! Many bloggers are participating in this initial 14 days and I must say they have published some really good posts on marriage. Go check them out and enter the contest while you are there!

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Ryan and I have been married 5 years already and yet it seems like only yesterday that we dedicated our lives to each other. I call Ryan my eternal husband. That usually gets me some inquisitive looks. I don’t mean for it to but honestly, saying that he is my second husband and the stepfather of my older three children seems so dishonoring to me. When you consider that he chose us, sacrifices for us, and determines everyday to be all he can be for us then giving him that worldly label is so wrong.

Ryan loves us the way God defines it:

4 Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, 5 does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, 6 does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 8 Love never fails;

1 Corinthians 13:4-8

That verse is full of action items: decisions.

Too often we think we need to feel a certain way in order to do it and then God will honor it but quite the opposite is true. God made us in 3 parts: spirit, soul, and body. When we first go to God in prayer, with a pure heart, for breakthroughs in our marriage, then we act in faith and in love, then we notice something amazing. The feelings follow. We don’t have to feel something to do it, we must do it to feel it.

I hate hearing people say that they fell out of love. No, you just quit trying. “Falling in love” is a feeling that comes from you going into a relationship with pure motives and then acting on them. The feelings follow. Once we are into a marriage we get lazy and want to feel that euphoric love without working to receive it. That isn’t how it works.

Ryan and I are both stubborn, bull headed people. That means we don’t quit. Even on days when it’s hard we still try. We still keep giving to each other. What we have is eternal. He is not just my life partner. He is my eternal husband. The bible tells us we can’t take anything with us but faith, hope, and love. Did you notice that feelings didn’t make the list?

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8189155776_d3a9c1d3ddSpeaking of feelings following action, my good friend, Sheila Wray Gregoire wrote a book entitled 31 Days to Great Sex. Here’s what you get:

  • The first few days are devoted to seeing sex in a positive way, and talking through your baggage and insecurities.
  • Then we spend a few days on building emotional intimacy (your friendship),
  • a few days on building physical intimacy (the fireworks, making sex feel wonderful!),
  • a few days on spiritual intimacy (the oneness), and
  • a few days putting habits in place so that you can keep the momentum going once you’re done.

 

This post is part of 14 Days of Fulfilling Your Vows. Click on over to read more marriage-related posts AND enter to win a big ol’ pile of fantastic marriage-focused books!

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How To Teach Your Children Life Lessons

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Last week a great question was posed to me. I was asked how I go about “spiritually cleaning” when it comes to items that belong to my boys. The point was made that it could cause bitterness or rebellion and I agree, it very well could.

Train up a child in the way he should go, Even when he is old he will not depart from it.    Proverbs 22:6

One thing we do when it comes to situations like this is we ask, what are we teaching them in the way we approach this? How are we training them? If we take a “I’m the parent do as I say” approach then it may teach them to submit but it could also cause them to rebel. And just to be clear we are talking about older children, approximately 12 and up.

The problem we run into at this age is that our children are attempting to discover who they are and why they believe what they believe. If we simply tell them what to think then it leaves room for doubt in their mind whereas if we teach them to seek God for themselves and make decisions based on their own research then we have taught them, or trained them, a life lesson that is beneficial in the future. Teaching a child at this age to simply believe what he is told is dangerous. Our children need to learn to discern and discover answers for themselves.

In this particular situation what we did was begin by praying with our boys and asking God to reveal to their hearts anything that may be dishonoring to Him. We waited a few days and watched as our kids came to us with different possessions: video games, trading cards, toys, and music. God had prompted them to question each item. What we directed them to do at this point is that if they already knew for certain that God wanted them to get rid of it then they should do so without hesitation. If they were uncertain then we directed them to do research on the item and then make a decision as to whether it was beneficial to their life and glorifying to God.

steel_trash_canFor example, one of the items was a military video game. The game was rated for teens and by all worldly means it was okay for him to play it. But, as my son did research he discovered that children who play video games more than 3 hours a week are 10 times more likely to have low test scores, be more violent, unproductive in sports, and have a weaker social life than those who don’t. In the end he made the decision that this game wasn’t the best way to spend his time.

Another example is some wizard cards that my kids had. I had no idea they even brought them into the house. Apparently one of the neighborhood kids traded them with my child for something else. These cards had spells and other evil looking creatures on them. My son had been having nightmares at night and said that when he saw all of these cards he recognized some of the creatures as the ones that were in his dreams. He burned them without hesitation.

In all of these examples we trained our children how to make decisions instead of making the decisions for them. This is a lesson they can take with them throughout life. We won’t always be there to spiritually clean their rooms and homes but now they know how to do it themselves. And, it strengthened their relationship and walk with God.

This also makes me consider what I would have done had they not been so receptive. If they had not been then I would have gone back to God in prayer and sought Him for direction. I would have also, in prayer, spoke words of truth over my sons and allowed God to change them from within. I do believe God would honor that. What are your thoughts?

 

Feeling POOPED Beyond Belief with GIVEAWAY!

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The following is a guest post from my friend, Robert Smith, author of 20,000 Days and Counting.

 

Do you ever feel tired, exhausted, depleted, drained—you know, one of those states where you absolutely do not feel motivated to do anything?

Most likely, if you’re the person behind the wheel of your household who is juggling kids, a spouse, work, planning, finances, etc…then the answer is absolutely a “YES.”

If you have multiple plates spinning, the reality is that those plates are probably not going to come to rest any time soon. In fact, when you get good at keeping them spinning, the overwhelming (but exciting) reality is that they don’t slow down—they create even more plates for you to spin!

If you think you’re busy now, how are you going to find the motivation to keep up the activity once those new plates start popping up? (And trust me—they’re coming.)

The answer is: You won’t. Sorry. If you’re going to start looking for motivation in order to stay on top of all you have going on, you simply will not find it. It does not exist.

Motivation, in terms of how we think about it, IS a myth.  (click to tweet)

Here’s the truth—real motivation is the feeling that comes after action. Sure, you might feel motivated to start something, but unless you keep the action up, that initial “motivation” quickly dies.

We’ve been trained to think that productivity follows motivation, when motivation ACTUALLY follows productivity.

Think about it. When do you feel fired up and excited to do more? Before you do what you’re supposed to do…or after you do what you’re supposed to do? Before you start something you need to do there’s usually a bit of hesitancy, feelings of overwhelm, or nervousness.

We tell ourselves negative things like, Are people going to like this? Can I actually pull this off? What if it doesn’t work?

Once we get started though, the activity inspires us. Think about the last big, successful project you took on, whether it was launch a business from your home or finally planning a budget for your family. It probably started slow, but once things began to fall into place, it got exciting. You started seeing the benefits. You did a happy dance.  And then you started doing more!

William James, one of the founders of modern psychology, has a quote that I come back to again and again every time I think about this:

“I don’t sing because I’m happy; I’m happy because I sing.”
You don’t get things done because you are motivated; you are motivated because you get things done.

How to Start with No Motivation

OK, you’re probably thinking, so if motivation comes after I start, what’s the best way to get myself started in the first place?

I’ve noticed that we as human beings have an amazing ability to overestimate what we can do in the next year…while totally underestimating what we can do in the next 15 minutes!

To get started on anything big, all you need to do is, first of all, STOP thinking about the size of the project. Don’t think about the big end result. Don’t let negative thoughts creep inside your mind. With the project in mind, all you have to do is ask yourself two questions:

  • What’s important now?
  • What’s next?

The first question will tell you what you need to act on in the next 15 minutes, and the second question will tell you what comes after that. Start by focusing on the smallest thing you can think of that is necessary to make progress. It might be actually scheduling the time for you to work on the project. It might be clearing off a messy desk so you have a suitable workspace. It might be coming up with a title.

Once you know what you need to do, begin moving forward with massive action. Don’t worry about doing it wrong. Don’t worry about being unsure. Just move. A lot. Now move some more.

The real motivation is right around the corner. All you have to do is meet it halfway. I know you can do this. I know you will.

What do you do to find motivation? How do you get yourself to start a big project? (click to tweet)

Robert-D-Smith-190x190Robert D. Smith is the author of 20,000 Days and Counting, a crash course in living every day with maximum purpose and intensity. He also writes about personal growth, entrepreneurship, and more at TheRobertD.com.

 

0849948541.jpgRobert is offering a giveaway of the book. FIVE readers will receive a copy. (click to tweet)

I have already had the privilege of reading the book (it’s a quick read!) and I highly recommend it. My husband and I both enjoyed it and gleaned from Robert’s wisdom.

To enter the giveaway just leave a comment. You have until Monday morning at noon CST. The winners will be contacted then.

Be Sure You Are Following the Right Shepherd

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My family has been going through so many changes lately. All good changes but gosh, they really get to the heart of things and stir up areas that you never knew were a problem.

For example, not only have we been spiritually cleaning our home but we’ve also greatly limited what is watched on TV, what books are read, what is allowed on iPods, game stations and the like and what friends or family we allow to influence us. We are doing this even more so now than we have in the past. You see, we’ve prayed over and over to hear His voice. We want to know for sure that we are following Him and not simply following the latest trend, or author, or person we admire. We want to follow Him.

My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.     John 10:27

Too often we get caught up in our “world” and we begin to follow its leaders instead of our Father’s voice.

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My extended family lives an hour away so every time we visit them we have to travel on a busy interstate congested with Baton Rouge traffic. If you have ever been to Baton Rouge then you know what I am talking about. On the way home there are a couple of splits and it never fails, there is always traffic idling, bumper to bumper, in the far right lane while the left lane is moving fast. And can I tell you there is no one in the center lane?! The center lane goes to both sides of the split yet hardly anyone goes down the center lane. We call the people sitting in the right lane “sheeple” as we fly past them. They just follow a leader not knowing that faster moving freedom is just a few feet away in the center lane.

This one incident happening over and over has prompted many conversations with our boys about thinking for themselves. In this day and age we have too many people telling us what to think instead of how to think (tweet this). We blindly follow people we admire or trust because it is easier than figuring it out ourselves. This is dangerous.

Be careful what you are believing from the pulpit. Be careful what you are “liking” on Facebook. Be careful who you are promoting and sharing. Whether they are a good friend or not. It doesn’t matter. People are human. We make mistakes. We go through seasons in life, good and bad. When others blindly follow us in our mistakes it can have eternal consequences. At the end of this lifetime we will have to account for every sheep that chose to follow us so we need to make sure we are leading them to Him (tweet this). It would also serve our Father well to drop to our knees in prayer for those we see making mistakes. They are dearly loved by Him too. We are to walk in and serve one another in love.

but don’t be silenced.

Don’t hesitate to stand up for what you believe in. Don’t be bullied into being quiet. The world will tell you your voice is just a whisper and it doesn’t really matter in the grand scheme of things. Maybe they are right. In this world your voice may not be heard but I promise you that someone is listening to the cries of your heart. Your Father hears your every word. Don’t just throw your hands up and surrender to this world because we are the minority. When we get to heaven, where it really matters, we will be the majority.

When Jesus was being tempted by Satan in the desert He spoke truth to combat the enemy. He didn’t remain quiet. When those money changers were making a den of robbers out of the temple Jesus did not just walk past and say, oh well, that is just how it is in this day and age. When the pharisees attempted to prove Him wrong He used His Father’s word to speak truth to them. He walked in love but He did not do nothing. And His Father, Our Father, was pleased (Mark 1:11).

At this point I would love to break out into a rockin’ rendition of Natalie Grant’s “I Will Not Be Moved” but I’ll spare you the experience. If you’d ever heard me sing you’d thank me. Instead, I leave you with this…

Seek Him. Think for yourself. Don’t be quiet. Walk in love. Listen to His voice!

Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm.   Ephesians 6:13

Are you happy? What stands in your way?

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Several years ago, just days before Christmas, I found out that my 7+ year marriage was over. I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know who to be. I didn’t know where to go or how to act. I opened my eyes to find the world I’d created had crumbled because I built in on things that change and grow; it wasn’t laid on a solid foundation.

I spent the next year trying to find myself. I needed to really figure out who I was.

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Maybe you have been there. Maybe you are there now. There are so many experiences in life that induce these feelings: death of a loved one, relocation, break-ups, infertility, empty nest, and sometimes the anticipated “18-21” range where you are no longer a girl but not quite yet the woman you desire to be.

So my question is what is stopping you? Why are you unhappy? And if you are happy how do you accomplish that?

I know the journey I’ve taken to get to a place where I’m joy filled and less stressed. I’m anxious to hear what others think.

I have no idea why I am posting about this or why I have a sudden passion to dig into the bible about it but I thought I’d chat it out with you girls first.

Oh, and I’ll be posting about our Spiritually Clean Home every Monday. I want those posts to be meaty and relevant. I don’t want to just throw them together. It is something that has drastically changed our life and I want to share it the best way possible.

What Makes You Angry? Become Aware of Your Triggers

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If Mama ain’t happy ain’t nobody happy?

I know you have heard that before. Like me you probably have said it a time or two. And you know it’s true. The emotional atmosphere of the house can affect it in a big way. Who cares if the house is clean if no one there is happy to be there?

Let’s talk about the triggers we may have never considered.

For years I was an angry person. The slightest little thing could set me off. I always blamed it on everyone else but especially my mom. Then I gave my life to Christ and learned to take responsibility for my own decisions and actions. For the most part I lived a peaceful life. Then I started getting angry again.

Truth be told I would get angry because I was angry. That’s bad. This time I started looking for the cause of the anger. I quickly decided it must have been my former spouse causing me to be so mad all the time. I settled on that for a while but God didn’t let me linger there long. I began to pray for Him to reveal my heart to me and to expose my inner workings. I began to take note of subtle changes in my body and in my thoughts. I noticed when I was becoming tense and when my heart would start to beat faster. Then I realized this signs were warning me of what was to come if I didn’t fix it.

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Matthias has nothing to do with anger triggers but that cupcake sure makes him happy.

When I realized what my triggers were I was dumbfounded. And sad. My triggers were two of my favorite things: rock music and forensic TV.

Don’t stop reading. I know it sounds crazy but hear me out.

I used to love listening to Christian rock bands but I realized that for me it was a bad idea. Rock music has a certain pattern to it. For the majority the music starts out with a melodic flow but then it escalates to a climax and then it just rides it out and stops suddenly. There is no calming down before the next song. It is like a reaction is building up inside your body but you never get to express it. It just stays waiting for the right moment to explode.

Watching shows like CSI was the same for me. Inside of my body I would recognize the tensing as certain clues were found, the anxiety of not knowing yet but trying to figure it out. The rapid heart beat as action scenes took place. Then, when the mystery was revealed I was still left all worked up because of the injustice, loss of life, and lack of morality I’d just seen.

I realize that not everyone has these reactions to music or TV shows. I’m using it as an example to share with you what signs you can look for to find your triggers. We are different people so we will likely have different triggers.

For one of my boys it was video games. He wouldn’t get to the next level in the time he was allotted and it would get him all worked up. For a family member it was speaking to one of his parents. He never got the relief or result he expected and so it would leave him stressed out. I’ve heard others say it is looking at celebrities in magazines or reading DIY blogs. Really, triggers can be anything that cause you anxiety and induce stress.

Our bodies are designed to have certain responses to situations. If a car fell on your child you’d get a rush of adrenaline that would give you greater strength and determination. Some things cause us to have these hormonal rushes but then there was no valid reason for it so we get no relief from a reaction. It has to be exerted somewhere so, for some, it happens in the form of anger or outbursts.

Some times we just have to decide to react differently. Other times we can eliminate that situation. Whatever way you decide to deal with it you will most certainly have a more peaceful home and let’s face it, happiness is contagious! You smiled when you saw Matthias’ picture up there didn’t you?

Have you discovered your triggers? If so would you share your experience? How did you know that was your trigger.




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