Work With All Your Heart

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.” Colossians 3:23

Since I started working when I was 16 I have always tried to keep this piece of Scripture close to my heart. In fact, before my husband and I even dated we often reminded each other of this verse when one of us was having a difficult time at work.
As I have gotten older, however, I’ve realized how truly powerful this piece of Scripture really is. The verse says that whatever we do, we are to do it with all of heart.
If we truly do the work that comes into our lives as if we are doing it for the Lord, or when we simply realize that what we are doing is a way of serving the Lord, it changes our perspective.
I hate doing laundry. With a passion. And vacuuming. And doing the dishes. Really, I hate most forms of housework. But when I stop and remember that doing these things better helps my family function better and better helps me be hospitable to guests in our home (we love to have people over), I do it with cheer (Note: I am not a house-cleaning guru. I would be a complete liar if I said that our apartment was not a total wreck during my first trimester of pregnancy. I would also be a complete liar if I said I held this attitude all the time).
The real difference comes when I’m not making it about me. Sure, it’s nice when our place looks nice – it makes me feel good – but it’s not nearly as motivating to me as knowing that I am serving my family, God, and others.
Whatever you do, whether it be raising your children, working in your job, cleaning your house, going to school, do it for the Lord. Your stocking job at the grocery store may not feel a job in which you serve the Lord, but the attitude you have speaks volumes. Everywhere is a mission field.
Go forth and do whatever you do with all your heart, and remember to give yourself grace because we are never going to have it all together all of the time.
With love,
B

Photo credit: unsplash-logoBen Kolde

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Battling Laziness

When my husband and I first got married, we had a pretty good routine going. We were eating healthy, meal planning, going to the gym, and we had a cleaning schedule for our apartment. A few months later, though, a series of unfortunate events happened that threw us off track and we never really recovered. What started out as actual reasons to neglect housework and whatnot, eventually just turned to laziness. After awhile, we decided something needed to change; this laziness wasn’t good for us in more than one way. Physically, we did not feel very well because we were not eating well and we were no longer exercising. Our apartment was also taking a toll as was our spiritual lives. I was no longer carving out time to spend with God, I was giving Him whatever time I had left over – if any.

Scripture is dense when it comes to the topic of laziness (seriously, if you don’t believe me, Google it); it’s even one of the 7 Deadly Sins! As I said, we decided that we needed to battle the laziness that was taking over our lives, and we decided to do it as a team. We knew that individually we didn’t stand a chance, but sometimes being a team is hard. It can be hard to encourage one another about something like this without it coming across as nagging. It’s hard to motivate someone else when you don’t want to motivate yourself to do the same thing.

Despite these things, we decided to give it a shot. Making lifestyle changes doesn’t happen overnight, it’s a process that requires steps – and you have to remember that even baby steps are steps. So that is what we started doing – and are still doing – implementing baby steps to get our lives back on track to where we’d like them to be. We’re trying to avoid eating out when we can and to start meal planning again. We’ve started tag-teaming the housework.

A huge part of combatting laziness is effective time management. I’ve started using the planning app Cozi (it is AMAZING, check it out!) again. I have also created a quiet time basket full of everything I could possibly need during quiet time (Bible, highliter, pens,  Bible commentary, journals, lotion in case my hand get dry, etc). We are trying to work on getting up earlier so we can eat a good breakfast and have quiet time, but this has been our most difficult obstacle so far. I also use my 45 minute commute to sometimes listen to podcasts (my current favorites are the Read Scripture Podcast Series by Francis Chan and the Uniquely Woman podcast) – I can make the choice to wake up late and not have time for things, but I can’t make the choice to not drive all the way to work. Other times I listen to worship music, and, of course, other times I just have jam sessions.

Our current goal is to start going to the gym again. As I said, life change is made through baby steps and each baby step, no matter how small, is a victory that should be celebrated. Whether it’s laziness or some other obstacle that you are pushing to overcome, just remember that each day is a new day and a new chance – heck, each hour is a new chance – and to celebrate the victories along the way.

Worthless and Not Good Enough

Student. Wife. Friend. Daughter. Blogger. Follower of Christ. Babysitter. Employee.
These are all titles that I hold. These are also areas of my life where I often times find myself feeling like I’m not enough, and I know I’m not the only one.

How many times do we find ourselves thinking, “If only I had done it differently,” or “Why did I have to say that?” or “They deserve better than me”?

I know for me, it can be rather often. Especially lately as I’m learning to balance school, work, housework, and my relationships. I’ve often felt like I’m failing in one or more – and by more, I mean all – of these areas. I’ve been carrying around this weight of just not feeling good enough.

My thoughts have consisted of such negative statements about myself that I’ve been feeling pretty hopeless, honestly. Anyone else?

So am I sitting here on this beautiful Thursday afternoon saying, “What’s the point of trying when all I’m going to do is mess up?”

No.

I’m telling you that it’s okay to be human and it’s okay to mess up, but its not okay to get stuck. We can’t tell ourselves that we are worthless and good for nothing; that’s poison to the spirit and it’s a lie. I’m going to tell you something that you may find preposterous: you’re allowed to have rough days. You’re allowed to have rough moments. But the key thing is don’t stay there. Learn to let go. Learn to breathe and say, “it’s a bad moment or even a bad day, but it’s not a bad life.”

So what can we don’t feel like we’re good enough? When we are completely overwhelmed with everything going on? Here are a few things to try:

  • Learn to sincerely say, “I’m sorry.” You’d be surprised how freeing it is when you humble yourself and admit that you’re wrong instead of getting defensive.
  • Ask yourself, “Is this really worth arguing over?” If not, say, “I’m sorry, let’s drop it, this isn’t worth it.”
  • Take a walk and think and pray.
  • When negative thoughts are consuming you, combat them with truth.
  • Remember that even little victories are still victories.
  • Implement small changes; remember you aren’t going to change overnight.
  • Take care of yourself. Get enough sleep. Drink plenty of water. Exercise. Eat well. Have time to yourself. You’ll feel better all around.
  • Get up early and spend time with God.
  • Spend your time doing things that matter.
  • Take the focus off of yourself and do something for someone else.
  • Remember the truth. Christ didn’t die because we are wonderful human beings that are oh so lovable. Christ died because of His love for us. Remember you are loved. Remember Christ died for you despite of your shortcomings. Even on your worst day, you are loved.

We all have days where we feel like we aren’t good enough, and that is an awful feeling; However, we don’t have to passively sit by and let these feelings attack and consume us. We have the choice to not only change the way we talk to ourselves, but to actually do something! For example, lately I’ve been having an issue with getting angry with my husband over little things and it makes me feel awful. I don’t want to get angry with him, yet I do, and then I feel like a terrible human being and a terrible wife. So instead of spiraling into an upset mess, I’ve started trying to actually do something about the situation. I remind myself that this doesn’t make me a bad wife and then I choose to change my behavior.

So while I’m telling you to chin up, I’m also telling you that we need to take responsibility for ourselves. Feeling like we aren’t good enough is awful, as I’ve previously said, but we are capable of changing our thoughts and behaviors, and doing things to relieve stress and take care of ourselves. Every small change is a step in the right direction, even if that first small change is saying, “I don’t have to feel this way.” Some days you will be able to successfully combat your hopeless feelings and you’ll say, “Wow, that was awesome!” and other days the battle is longer and harder, and that’s okay. Fight it anyway.

And remember, these things we tell ourselves about being worthless and not good enough simply aren’t true; you can tell a flower it’s hideous, but it doesn’t change it’s beauty.

 

You Don’t Have to Be Superwoman

Before getting married, I already had a finance spreadsheet set up, a housework spreadsheet set up, and specific goals in mind (such as meal prepping). I got married and started implementing my schedule right away. Our apartment was pretty much pristine, breakfast and snacks were prepped the night before, and I was caught up on school work. Then, I think it was the second week, things started taking a downward turn. Schoolwork was piling up, housework was piling up, I didn’t have time to relax let alone meal prep. I also work two days a week. I was getting more and more stressed by the fact that I had a specific goal, a specific image, of what my house – and life – should look like and the fact that my reality did not look like that. One day, I hit breaking point. I was unpacking things I had left at my mom’s and I couldn’t figure out where to put the blender. I just sat on the floor against the cabinet, holding the blender, for I’m not sure how long until my husband found me. He sat down next to me, kissed my head, and didn’t say a word. Finally, after a few moments, I pathetically said, “I don’t know where to put the blender.” He gently took the blender from my hands and set it on the floor. He asked me all that I still had to do and when I told him he said he had no idea I had that much on my plate. He suggested that I go take a bath and read (my go-to relaxation method) and stresslessly do what I was able to do before bed.

I had this idea that I had to be Superwoman: spotless apartment, perfectly cooked meals (trust me, that wasn’t always the case), ahead – or at least caught up – on school work, and still time to relax alone and with my husband. Instead what I had was a clean apartment, a whole lot of homework, and even more stress. By trying to do everything all the time, I was wearing myself out to the point that I didn’t want to do anything (and I am a person that honestly loves doing housework; I am my mother’s daughter), and when I did, I just wanted to cry the whole time because even though I was checking one thing off of my to-do list, I knew that what felt like a hundred more were waiting for me.

After the day that I remember as “The Day I Sat On The Floor Holding a Blender,” I realized that while it is great to have goals and be organized, sometimes, something has to give. I had to let go of my ideals about what my apartment should look like, what my days should look like, and replace it with what I am able to do that given day. Because let’s face it, some days the dishes have to wait. Some days cleaning the kitchen has to wait. Some days I’m too tired to meal prep. And that’s okay. Some days I need extra time with my husband or he with me. Some days, I need extra time to myself. Some days I need to focus on school more. And that’s okay.

We were not meant to zoom from one task to the other 24/7. No wonder we don’t handle it well when we try! We were meant to have rest as a routine part of our lives. God setting aside the seventh day of creation as the Sabbath has a message deeper than not working one day a week. It sends a message that we are to rest.

So, I still have my exact same housework schedule, but it isn’t law. I still try to meal prep, but if I don’t it’s okay. I still like my apartment to look nice, but if it doesn’t always look it’s best, that’s fine (especially now that our family has expanded to include two doggies who leave evidence of themselves everywhere). You don’t have to be Superwoman – or Superman. Sure, certain things in life need attending to, but there is a balance (check out a post from awhile back that I wrote on the topic). I also have an amazing husband who does his fair share of the work and calls me out when I’m overworking myself.

Take a rest from your superhero duties. It’s okay to have dishes in the sink. It’s okay to take an hour or two to yourself. Well, lovelies, it’s time to get back to making dinner. Until next time!

Lessons from Job

I briefly mentioned in my last post (“Journaling Through Life”) that I was near the end of the book of Job – I also admitted that it has been the most difficult book in the Bible for me to read so far.  So here are three things I learned from Job.

Throughout the book, Job has been struggling with his circumstances and his friends aren’t giving him the best advice in the world, but in chapter 38, God speaks.   The Lord pretty much brings it back into perspective that He is God and Job is not, and it humbled Job – and me, too.  Too often we get caught up in our problems and slowly the center of our universe starts to shift from being God to being ourselves, and no wonder we become miserable! We were not created to be self-centered beings, we were created to be God-centered. At the end of the day, no matter what we are going through, God is still God and He is worthy and deserving of our praise.  Psalm 99:3 says “Let them praise Your great and awesome name— He is holy.”  We praise God not because we always feel like it, but because He is deserving of it.  

Alongside Job 38, a verse in chapter 42 really struck me.  Verse 5 says “Before I knew only what I had heard of You, but now I have seen You.” Job finally experienced God for himself, and that’s the thing, you can tell someone about God all day long, but until they experience Him for themselves, there won’t be a heart change.  I’m not saying don’t tell people about God, actually I’m saying quite the opposite: let people experience God’s love and goodness through you.  Love people without limits. Speak life into people.

Let yourself be humbled like Job.  Don’t refuse correction.  Don’t let your heart become hardened towards God when He convicts you.  Have the boldness to admit that you are wrong.

Even when you’re struggling with God’s Word, expect Him to show you things.  He will.

Photo Credit: Colin Carey