crop unrecognizable female psychologist and patient discussing mental problems during session
Christian Living, Encouragement, Intentional, Relationships

Who are you listening to?

When faced with decisions, who are you listening to?

Your sphere of influence determines your thought patterns.

crop unrecognizable female psychologist and patient discussing mental problems during session
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In I Kings 3, Solomon’s first response when he became king was to offer sacrifices to God. He came with a humble heart and asked for discernment to serve his people well. He was surrounded by David’s advisers, men who had been positively influenced by King David himself. Though Solomon eventually drifted away from this positive sphere, as long as he was in this place, the kingdom prospered.

In contrast, Solomon’s son, Rehoboam, went in a different direction. He became king in tumultuous times. Many tribes were frustrated with Solomon’s handling of things and even approached the newly crowned king, asking for reprieve. Rehoboam originally asked wise, experienced men what he should do. But he quickly rejected their advise and instead turned to his real sphere of influence – “the young men who had grown up with him and were serving him.”

Their advice ultimately led to the split of the kingdom – only the tribes of Judah and Benjamin were left for Rehoboam. The rest left and formed the kingdom of Israel.

Rehoboam’s friends may have told him what he wanted to hear, but it wasn’t what he needed to hear.

Now, your decisions will not end up dividing whole kingdoms or countries. But, it is still important to take a look at how you are making decisions in your life and who you are allowing to speak into them. Are they telling you what you need to hear, or just what you want to hear?

Who are you listening to? It is important to take a look at how you are making decisions in your life and who you are allowing to speak into them. Are they telling you what you need to hear, or just what you want to hear? Click To Tweet

read the full accounts in I Kings 3:7-9 and I Kings 11:7-11

ESV

Think through the five people who you speak with the most each day or week. 

This isn’t going to be necessarily your favorite people or the ones you want to hang out with the most. Instead, this would be the five people who interact with you the most. These five people, whether we want them to be or not, end up being the ones who feed into our decision making. It could be a boss, employee, neighbor, friend, or family member.

person leaning on bike while holding smartphone
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One influential “person” that may be overlooked, but has a huge effect on our thoughts and actions – Social Media. It is a tricky ‘friend.’ Time spent with them can be short and sweet – like catching up with friends you haven’t seen in a long time. But it also can be time-consuming and discontent-inducing when you find yourself scrolling way too long and wondering how ‘she’ can have it all together.

When you start to feel overwhelmed or anxious, it could be time to evaluate your circle. Who are the people you are allowing to speak into your thoughts and days? Do these people make you operate from a point of comparison? Are you doing things because you see others doing it and feel like this should be what you are doing too?

When you start to feel overwhelmed or anxious, it could be time to evaluate your circle. Who are the people you are allowing to speak into your thoughts and days? Do these people make you operate from a point of comparison? Are you… Click To Tweet

The people in your circle can lead you towards wisdom, as in the example of Solomon – or towards pride or fear, as in the example of Rehoboam.

This week, let’s take some time to look at our own circle of influence. Who are we allowing to speak into our life? Who are we listening to? If God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit isn’t the first on the list, then we need to start there.

Being intentional with our relationships and evaluating their effects in our own life, can be beneficial for our mental health. If we have people within our circle that we feel are leading us toward negativity and anxiety, we shouldn’t cut them out of our lives. We may actually be the light that they need right now. Instead, think through others in your life that you need to interact with more. The people who are going to encourage you, speak God’s truth, and even call you out if you’re moving off the right path.

Let’s seek to have a heart like Solomon in I Kings 3 – humble and desiring to serve, surrounding himself by wise counsel. And let’s also seek to be that in others’ lives as well.

Believe it or not, it’s not too early to think about Advent!

Looking for a short devotional that will help center your heart on the true reason for the season?

Prepare Him Room: an Intentional Advent welcomes you to come along on this journey of seeking to be intentional with the Advent Season – to look at several areas of our life where we can Prepare Him Room.

photo of vegetable salad in bowls
Anxiety, Encouragement, Intentional, Money

Is it time to address that grocery budget?

A 2-step plan to tackle anxiety

A few years ago, ‘the grocery store,’ would not have been a place that I would have named as one that caused me anxiety.

At one point in time, in order to save-more-to-give-more, we kept ourselves at a weekly grocery budget of $50 – for a family of 5. We had to get pretty creative, but there was always enough food to eat. And trying to make it all work out was more of a fun game than stressful.

assorted vegetable lot
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But the conditions of the last few years has made that $50 goal a distant memory. For one, our 3 children are no longer elementary kids with sizable appetites, they are 3 teenagers with bottomless pits. And I don’t have to tell you about the rising food prices.

Lately, as I walk the aisles of the store, I can feel the anxiety creep in. Between an entire type of food no longer being available (yogurt?!) or some things causing twice as much as they used to (potatoes?!) I start to feel the cloud of doom and gloom and wonder how we’re going to make this all work.


One morning in the grocery store, as my panic started to rise, I stood still in the cereal aisle. My heart and mind needed a reboot. So, I stood there and prayed silently to God. Asking Him to calm my anxious heart and to also remind me that He is the provider of all things – back when we paid $50 and even now when we have to pick and choose what to get to make it all fit in the budget.

I have found, when it comes to anxiety, that being still and being active go hand in hand. First, we need to make ourselves ‘be still’ because it’s the exact opposite of what our body feels like it should do. But being still and remembering our God is in control is paramount. Once we have centered our mind on this thought, then we can move forward with the doing, the ‘being active.’

The same is the case when it comes to our money. Maybe you, too, feel the anxiety when it comes to your money and the food budget. When I feel the anxiety rising, I tackle it with the “be still and be active” approach.

fruits on glass top display counter
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  1. Be still. Remind yourself that God is the provider. There is an old hymn we sing at church, some of the lines include, “This one thing assures us, whatever betide, the heart cheering promise, the Lord will provide.” Whether it’s scripture or song lyrics, have a line that you can repeat to yourself when you start to feel anxious about the grocery budget. Force yourself to be still, remember the promise that God will provide, and thank Him for the provision He has already provided.
  2. Be active. Make a menu. This one is actually hard for me. I would prefer to just cook off what I feel for that day. But, to really stick with a budget and not over-buy, creating a weekly dinner menu is crucial. Often I have themes for different days of the week to help me when I’m not feel creative (which is more often than not!) Meatless Monday, Sandwich Wednesday, and Noodle Thursday are just a few.
  3. Be active. Stick to the plan. No matter how great the deal is, if it’s not on your list, don’t get it. If you feel like you absolutely have to, then swap out for something else on the list.
  4. Be active. Go meatless. No, you don’t need to be a vegetarian! But, one night a week, cook with beans or some other protein instead. Just one night a week will help whittle the expenses down. When you do cook with meat, cut the amount in half. Throw half the sausage in your marinara and put the other half in the freezer for the next week. You’ll still get the flavor and help stretch the food further.
  5. Be still. Respond in gratitude. Once the groceries are loaded, before you even turn on your car, be still and thank God. Every good and perfect gift comes down from the Father (James 1:17), including the milk and eggs. Stop and respond in gratitude, acknowledging your Provider and rejoicing in His goodness.

Your turn! I’d love to hear your tricks and tips for helping your food costs go further. How do you handle the anxiety that comes with budgeting?


Encouragement, Help, Intentional

Yes or No – 3 Questions to help you decide

I’m always excited about “volunteer plants.” These are the random vegetables that just start growing in the Spring without any help from me. Maybe it’s because I’m not that great at gardening, so when plants spring up green and thriving, I get a little giddy.

 

A couple years ago the volunteers coming up were pumpkins. I had tossed the remains of a pie pumpkin in the tired-out Autumn garden the October before. April came around and we planted a few rows of green beans. The beans came up alright, and right in the midst of all those beans, were some sprouts of pumpkin. I wasn’t expecting those sprouts, but there they were. Because I loved the idea of a bountiful harvest of pumpkins, I let them go, to see how they would fare.

Hindsight came to show, that, despite them being small and welcome in May, they became overwhelming and intrusive in July.

The green beans that came up 6 weeks earlier could barely see the sun, choked out by the explosion of pumpkin vines. We ended up with some pumpkins in the end, but we didn’t get a whole lot of green beans, which was kind of the original plan to begin with.

 

I learned my lesson that year. And this year, when the volunteer squash and tomatoes popped up – some were ripped out and some were transplanted. It pained me to have to rip out perfectly healthy plants, but I knew that if I didn’t pare down, nothing would really grow well.

Kind of like life, right?

There are a lot of things that we can say ‘yes’ to. And they can all be really good things.

But too many good things packed into a life means nothing is really thriving. Sure, they may all be growing…some. But nothing is really thriving and producing fruit like it should.

And, just like paring down the plants in the garden beds, choosing to say no to a good thing can be painful.

 

But, let’s not be quick to say no just because it feels like our life is too full already. Because, it could be exactly what God has brought across your path. So, how do we determine when we should politely decline, admitting that we can only grow green beans this year, or move ahead with a yes?

  1. Am I in a season where I can give this commitment the time and energy it deserves? Maybe a few things have dropped off your plate, making room for this in your schedule. If I’m already booked sun up to sun down, then this may be someone else’s yes and not mine.
  2. Would I be saying yes out of obligation or is it the Spirit prompting me? Being a people-pleaser, I really have to check myself on this one. You don’t want to commit out of obligation, that will only breed resentment. But, if the Spirit is telling you to move, you better move.
  3. Does this line up with my convictions and priorities? If you are finding your schedule full and there just isn’t any more room, it may be a good time to take a look at what you’ve already committed to. Is your life full of things that line up with your priorities (i.e. faith, family, etc) or has the schedule seemed to fill up with busy work and other people’s priorities that have been placed on you. If you are wanting to take on something new, something that does line up with your priorities, then some paring down may need to happen to allow that.

This is not an easy exercise. But if we are wanting to thrive, instead of just survive, it is necessary.

Your turn! What do you think? Do you have some volunteer plants in your own life that may need addressed? Do you have a hard time saying no, too? How do you combat the pull towards over-commitment?

   

Free Downloadable Guide

3 questions to help you decide

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Uncategorized

On disappointment and hurt

David hunkered down behind a boulder, gasping for breath and trying to slow his heart and mind. Once again, he was pursued. He had done nothing wrong. In fact, he had gone out of his way to go above and beyond to prove to his enemy that he meant no wrong. Yet, King Saul wanted him dead and was relentless in his pursuit.

You’ve most likely not had to hide in caves, lead a band of men devoted to protecting you, and navigate the tricky relationship with a king who wanted you dead. But, you’ve most likely had someone speak wrong of you, tarnish your reputation, or treat you in a way you didn’t deserve.

Psalm 43 is a heart’s cry for when we feel wrongly accused or treated unjustly. It’s only five verses long but it leads us through the process of crying out to God, seeking His truth, and resting in His promises.

To read the rest of the article, head over to A Good Day blog where this post is being featured!

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Depression, Encouragement, Intentional

a message to Jeremiah is one for us, too

You may be familiar with Jeremiah, also known as the weeping prophet. At around 20 years of age, Jeremiah was called into service by God, prophesying the coming exile of Israel and Judah. The Israelites were wandering away from God and God was trying to call them back. Jeremiah was faithful when God gave him a strong word and challenged him to execute that word. 

If you’ve read through the book of Jeremiah, you know it’s heavy reading. There is a lot of warning and devastation. Jeremiah didn’t have light-hearted things to say, but he was faithful to the task that God had called him to. However, Jeremiah had to have had low points, especially when everyone around him despised him for his words and doubted what he had to say.

At one point, in chapter 15, Jeremiah cries out to God. Despite Jeremiah doing exactly what God had called him to, he was met with hatred from others and a life of isolation. He likened it to “pain unceasing, a wound incurable, refusing to be healed.” (vs 18)

mountains with author quote

You’ve most likely not been in the same spot as Jeremiah, crying out to a large, lost people group who refuse to listen. But you may have felt alone as a Christ follower in the middle of a world that seems to be getting increasingly troublesome. You may look around and see people who are not following God’s ways, prospering and seeming to have it all. You may be in the middle of a calling that feels hard, unending, and isolating. Jeremiah felt that, too.

God had an answer for him, and He has an answer for you:

If you return, I will restore you,

    and you shall stand before me.

If you utter what is precious, and not what is worthless,

    you shall be as my mouth.

They shall turn to you,

    but you shall not turn to them. (vs 19)

God’s reply is relevant for us today as well. Three things we can do when we feel overwhelmed by our pain, circumstance, or position:

  1. Return and be restored. Repent of any sin in your own life. Be restored so you can serve God with a pure heart.
  2. Speak good words, not worthless ones. When we speak the words of God, if we are immersed in His scripture, then the words that we speak to others will be truth-filled and loving.
  3. Be the influencer, don’t let them influence you. It can be easy to get swept up in the latest news, ideas, and fads. But we are called to be in this world, not of it. We are effective servants of Christ when we choose to be influenced by the Word, not the world.

And with this command comes a promise. God said that if Jeremiah would do those things, He would follow through.

And I will make you to this people

    a fortified wall of bronze;

they will fight against you,

    but they shall not prevail over you,

for I am with you

    to save you and deliver you, declares the Lord.

I will deliver you out of the hand of the wicked,

    and redeem you from the grasp of the ruthless. (vs 20-21)

A simple command and a beautiful promise.

Jeremiah 15 command with mountain image

Return to God, speak good words, and influence others. Your enemies will not prevail, you will be delivered, you will be redeemed.

Intentionally go to God with your heart, pour out your complaint as Jeremiah did. And trust Him to be the keeper of His promises.