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Remembering the Time

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Do you ever feel like it’s too late to accomplish your dreams?  Too late to do something that you’ve always wanted to do?  Have you ever spent a lot of time regretting past decisions, wishing you would’ve chosen differently?  Maybe you feel like your life would’ve been so much better, richer, fuller, if you would’ve made other choices.  Probably, most of us have thought about mistakes we’ve made in the past.  I know that I have.  I mean, I often think that if I would’ve focused and pressed through challenges better, I could’ve had at least twenty books published by now, instead of only one.  However, if I allow myself to dwell on these thoughts, I get discouraged and quite frankly, it’s immobilizing.  It’s imperative for us to shake loose of past failures, disappointments, and circumstances to free us to make the most of the time that we do have now.

First, to redeem the time, or make the most of our time, we have to let go of the past, only using it as a point reference.  In other words, use the past mistakes only to propel you to make better decisions now and in the future.  Don’t make the same mistake twice!  It sounds so simple, but sometimes not so easy to do.  For example, some women say that they like ‘bad boys.’  Well, bad boys are well, bad boys, so the outcome is going to be, you guessed it—bad. 

We have to accept responsibility for our choices.  Placing blame on other people for our problems might make us feel less responsible for the outcome, but at some point, in order to get the results we desire, we have to accept that the past is the past.  If someone or others have done us wrong, through no fault of our own, we still have the responsibility now to move past the hurt and pain.  We have to take that past, whatever it is, and make it work to our favor and God’s glory.

We also have to remember the time that God has given us is precious and not to be wasted.  People say it all of the time, and it’s true.  Tomorrow isn’t promised to us, and the Word confirms this.  We have to look at each day as a gift and opportunity to accomplish much and bear fruit for Him.  Whether we have little or much, we should be about building and advancing His kingdom.  We may not be standing on the corning preaching, but most of us can offer a kind word to someone who is having a difficult time.  Instead of criticizing the flaws and faults in others, we can build them up, showing them their usefulness and importance in life.  When we look at life through this lens, it is never too late to accomplish our purpose.  As believers, we should all share this life mission, and when we adopt it in our hearts, we will be useful at all seasons in our lives.

Over the years, I’ve learned that one important component to being successful in life is to know what God has called you to do.  I may not know the intricate details of His plan for me, but I do know some of what God has given me to do.  Sometimes there’s been a comfort level and ease in what He’s instructed me to do, but sometimes, it’s a press.  In fact, often there’s a struggle and quite a bit of opposition.  Still, I have confirmation after confirmation, letting me know that it’s what He wants me to do.  As a side note, we can’t know what He’s called us to do by the ease or difficulty of the assignment, but we will know by the productivity and fruitfulness of it.  We will always draw others to Him when it’s our calling.

Another important thing to consider when we want to accomplish goals is to take action, one step at a time, one day at a time.  So often, people tell me that they want to write a book.  Sometimes, the people that want to write never read and rarely write.  Of course, we can’t accomplish our goals without learning, developing, and perfecting our chosen craft.  We also can’t meet our goals by just talking about them.  We have to get busy, making choices right now, today, because these choices will push our dreams into reality!  Every day, hour, and minute counts!

Ephesians 5:15-17 instructs, “Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise,  making the most of your time, because the days are evil.  So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.”   No, we can’t go back and change the past, but we can start right now, taking action and accomplishing what God has called us to do.  Remembering the time is a daily assignment to us, reminding us to be careful how we walk, how we talk, and how we use the precious gift of time that God has given each of us.

Blessings and Love,

MaRita

 

 

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If Only . . .

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“Everything would be fine if I only had . . .”

“I’d be happy if he would just . . .”

“If she would only. . .”

“I like it, but . . .”

I’m guessing most of us can fill in the blanks with something that would make our lives better, make us happier.  Yes, wouldn’t life would be grand if we only had this or that person, place, or thing?  For example, before I caught this lingering cold, I had a short list of things I thought I wanted to make me happy.  Well, now I just want to see what it feels like to stop coughing and blowing my nose.  I mean, really, that would make me happy—but only for a little while, I suppose.  The thing is, usually when we get whatever it is that we want, there always seem to be something else that’s not quite within our grasp.  Still, we convince ourselves that getting this or that will make us content.

The crazy part is that when we’re discontent, to put it frankly, it’s a mess.  We find fault in everything—even in things that should bring us happiness.  When I got my master’s, I remember making the decision not to walk for graduation.  I had worked so hard, sacrificed so much, and at the end, I just decided that it wasn’t that big of a deal to walk.  Today, I wonder why I didn’t enjoy and celebrate the moment, but I know that I let the stress of life and little things get in the way of just being happy about what I’d achieved.  If we’re not careful, we’ll let happy moments, big and small, slip through our fingers because things aren’t ‘perfect.’

Another things to remember is that when we don’t know how to really look for the good and resist the temptation to say or think, “If only. . .,” we will be devastated and crushed by life when hard times come upon us.  When we haven’t disciplined ourselves to look for the good, we may fail to see any hope, joy, or meaning when we’re suffering.  We have to remember that even in the worst of times, there is good to be found.

When I had been looking for a job for about a year with no success, I became discouraged and for the longest time, I didn’t do a thing but complain, which, by the way, got me nowhere.  However, when I began to pray and really seek the Lord, and He showed me that I needed to do what I was passionate about and write.  With no specific plan in the beginning, I wrote what turned out to be my first published novel.  If we seek Him and the good in situations and people, He will be there, exposing Himself and the good—every time.

I remember when I was expecting with my first son.  Nine months pregnant in August during a heat wave was no picnic.  My feet, ankles, and hands swelled until I didn’t recognize them.  I complained and fussed so much, not really finding the joy that was there all along in the experience of carrying a new life for the first time.  By His grace, He had blessed me to carry a child, and I focused on the inconveniences and discomfort of the process.  It was only after my son was born that I realized how I had robbed myself of the joy and blessings that were there all along, by complaining.

Have you ever noticed how easy it is to see imperfections in ourselves, other people and things in our lives?  If you look for the negative, it’s always there, waiting for you to pay attention to it.   However, an approach that will always yield positive results is when we position ourselves to find the blessing in every situation.  By the way, it’s not best to wait until we’re in the middle of a trial to do this.  Instead, we should be like a runner, training for a marathon.  When we’re hit with minor infractions and aggravating situations, we should train ourselves to respond by seeking the good.  When we do this with the little things, we will be prepared for the big challenges.

If life is peaceful for you right now, I want to encourage you to be thankful, happy, and positive.  Bask in the glow of this season because, as we all know, things change.  If life isn’t peaceful for you right now, continue to press forward and be thankful, joyful, and positive.  Nothing changes for the better when we complain.  When we’re positive and seek the blessings in the worst of times, we are blessed and we become a blessing to others.

Don’t let Satan rob you of your joy in even the smallest of things.  Whether someone lets you in front of them in traffic or someone cuts you off, don’t be robbed by either thinking the good thing is no big deal or the bad thing is the most horrible thing in the world.  In other words, minimize the negative.  Magnify the positive, both great and small.

I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.  I can do all this through him who gives me strength. (Philippians 4:11-13)

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Slaying the Jealous Monster

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Sometimes, no matter how hard we may try to avoid it, jealousy can rear its ugly head, and when it does, it’s dangerous.  I’ve always been quite proud of the fact that I’m generally not a jealous person.  I’m a firm believer that what God has for me—well, it’s for me.  But unfortunately, my story doesn’t end there.   Sometimes, life is strange.  When you think that you’re above a fault, yep, you guessed it, that monster, whatever it may be, can come roaring in with a vengeance.

Lately, it seems like people are making progress all around me, and I was happy for them—until I stopped and realized that my dreams  seemed further and further away instead of closer.  The more I pursued, the further they seemed to be moving away.  It’s difficult, to say the least, to do all that you know to do it right and find that things are slowing and/or seemingly stagnant.

What am I doing wrong?  Why them and not me? When will it be my time?

All these questions and some have crossed my mind more than a time or two.  Most of us know that it’s generally not a good idea to measure ourselves up against anyone else.  Intellectually, we know that, but it gets challenging when we operate in the flesh.  After all, no matter how spiritual we may be, we see and hear things that can affect our emotions.

As a result, I had to remind myself of the story of Joseph and his brothers in the Bible.  The whole account with Joseph and his brothers is comforting when we put ourselves in Joseph’s position.  However, I had never really flipped it and put myself in the position of his brothers until recently.  If you have ever felt jealous, you can sort of understand why the brothers felt so much disdain for Joseph.

Joseph was his father’s favorite son, and his brothers hated him for it.  After Joseph dreams that he will rule over them and tells his father and brothers the dream, his brothers hate him more.  They decide to destroy Joseph by putting him in a pit and eventually sell him (Genesis 37), believing that this will put an end to the dreamer.  (Of course, this is all a part of Joseph’s destiny because in the end, Joseph is second in command, only after Pharaoh.)

Joseph’s brothers allowed their jealousy of their brother to consume them.  Instead of focusing on their own future and possibilities, they lost vision and honed in on the person who had what they desired.  We can do the same thing if we’re not careful.  We’ll stop focusing on what God has purposed for our lives, which can delay or totally cut off our own dreams and blessings.

If we find ourselves struggling with jealous feelings, we have to admit it to ourselves and quickly line ourselves up with the Word.  Instead of responding to set backs or delays in our lives with jealousy, we have to be like Joseph and let nothing kill our dreams.

It took years and years for Joseph’s prophetic dreams to be realized, but they came true.  He resolved within himself to trust God and go through whatever he had to receive the promises of God.  We should never want to be in the state of Joseph’s brothers.  The time and energy they spent envying and hating their brother, they could’ve been fulfilling their destiny.

Slaying the monster of jealousy requires an internal admission that it exists.  When we accept that it’s rearing its ugly head, we have to cast the thoughts and imaginations down immediately.  We also have to know that God is a jealous God, and we should not let anyone or anything come before Him.  When we are jealous of someone, we are putting our selfish feelings and attitudes above our love, honor, and worship for Him, our creator.

We don’t like to admit, and I’m no exception.  However, we have to be willing to identify jealous thoughts or behavior.  Only then, can we arrest jealousy, and move forward with all that God has for us.

On one final note, I’m thankful to know that report that God showed me through the story of Joseph that even when things seemed delayed or denied, I can still move forward spiritually, maturing in ways that can do nothing but bless me and others.  Even when it feels like I’m stagnant, He’s working, molding, and shaping on the inside.

My prayer is that you can move past the circumstances that appear to be unchanging, and instead focus on our unchanging God, whose promises are always for our good.

Blessings,

MaRita