Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Ten Lies Pop Culture Teaches About Sex




Originally posted on CovenantEyes.com



Right or wrong, our culture teaches us about sex. The media conducts sex education all the time." –Stephen Witmer



Pop culture is a powerful force in society, as it colors our views of social issues, people, relationships, and sexual activity. What we see, read, and hear through the media influences our worldview on these important matters. We need an internal filter, moral compass, and high esteem of God’s word if we are to live rightly and thrive in our relational and sexual lives.



Sex is a topic that we would all do well to treat with care, being intentional to not swallow whole the ideas put forth by the culture. Lies can be found in excess through a secular view of sexuality. How most entertainment presents sexuality cannot do justice to such a profound and meaningful act. Here are ten lies pop culture teaches about sex.






Read the rest of my guest post for the Covenant Eyes blog here

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Utilizing Time Well






Time. When we think of it in terms of increments (an hour, day, week, month, year, decade), it becomes apparent that it is eluding our grasp quicker than we'd like it to. An adult cannot return to childhood because time has progressed since then, nor can a kid enter adolescence before the natural sequence of time permits. We see time played out in all different scenarios:


- A work day
- A meeting or counseling session
- Classes
- Drive home from work
- The entertainment we consume
- Cooking
- Holding conversations
- Exercise


We are called to "redeem the time," not squander it. And redeeming the time is only possible through goal-setting, planning, structure, and accountability. It involves remembering that we have but one life and every day we are writing our legacy. It entails living for a bigger cause than our own wants and desires and actively seeking to make the world a better place through our presence in it. It includes getting rid of ingrained habits like complaining and instead adopting a mentality of purposeful gratitude and positivity, regardless of how cumbersome our present season of life is. It requires us to examine our lives, spending habits, and the company we keep to see if such things hinder or help our progress in moving forward. It demands we be 100% willing to part ways with what society deems successful (countless hours at work in order to attain worldly treasures at the expense of quality time with our families) and instead look to God's word for wisdom as to what real value is. It calls us to turn from our wicked ways and do what is right (even when we are alone and it seems no one would ever find out). It calls for a new perspective, a proper outlook, a right attitude. It beckons us to return to simplicity and righteousness. It requires we think long-term. Indeed, redeeming the time is all-encompassing. Yet nothing we give up in pursuit of it can compare to the riches and beauty of a life well-spent.


It helps to see life from an eternal perspective. God willing you live until old age -- will you be content and at peace with how you spent your years? To be sure you can confidently say then, "I have used my life for the glory and exaltation of God and the good of others," you must begin doing so now and continue making right choices throughout your life (no excuses). I've found the following to be helpful regarding how I spend time:


- Have a plan for every hour
- Set a timer to get chores done
- Say no to anything that steers your mind toward shallow things and lessens your desire to pursue Christ wholeheartedly
- Seek counsel
- Grow to be responsible
- Learn to manage money
- Practice self-care
- Look for opportunities to serve
- Read remarkable books
- Engage in enriching discussion
- Take walks
- Spend time with the elderly
- Pray


Such choices add to my quality of life (unlike when I sometimes aimlessly view social media which tends to take up more time than I'd like to admit). Having a detailed plan helps ensure time is spent in a way that brings a smile of satisfaction to your face and a feeling of serenity as you ponder all you can accomplish over the course of many decades (God willing). It serves as a useful guide as to what you will agree to and what you will back away from. As the saying goes, "Good, better, best. Never let it rest. Until your good is better and your better is best." What a concept! Choosing what is best above what is convenient, what brings the most impact above settling for mediocrity in our endeavors, and what will profit others and not just ourselves.


When starting a school assignment, working on a project, or writing a book, people tend to make a rough draft, serving the purpose of preparation and making way for action. Yet in the realm of spiritual growth, personal issues, and relationship troubles we are far too often guilty of drifting instead of being intentional with making a rough draft as to guide our next steps toward mending the problems we face.


People settle for mindless entertainment instead of gleaning wisdom through lectures and books. We allow laziness to rule us, make excuses to delay improvement, and do not enlist the help of others. Then we wonder how months have flown by and there is little achievement and growth to show for it. Worse yet, we think we have time and thus don't mind currently wasting it on lesser pursuits than living passionately for the glory of God and making the most of every day we are given. But are catering to self, gaining a variety of experiences, and having fun the ultimate goals of life? Or could a better life await us if only we'd humbly offer God a surrendered heart and pray for wisdom as to what He would like us to do with the one life we've been given?


Whether you live to be one hundred or died tomorrow, who will have their way regarding what you do with your time? Will self reign and the changing tides of culture dictate the choices you make? Or will you give God supremacy of your life and pray that He would change you and then use you in the lives of others so they too can come to know their Creator and the One whose purposes far outweigh in meaning and joy anything we could chase after on our own?


As someone who has made plenty of poor choices in life, I can testify (finally) that living life God's way truly is our best option. Oh, the trouble and wasted time it will spare us! Oh, the regret and sorrow we will avoid! And is not the ultimate purpose of life to know Christ deeply, obey Him regularly, seek His glory above our own, make His name known among the nations, and upon our dying day to then hear the precious words, "Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of your master"?


Surely nothing this world has to offer is worth throwing our lives down the drain (even gradually) and then being separated from God for all eternity because we chose to try and deify ourselves instead of accepting His offer of salvation and giving God His rightful place in our hearts.


It's ironic that, from a worldly perspective, complete submission to God and His word makes it seem like our freedom and independence are being stifled. And yet it is only through being in right standing with Him and living accordingly that we gain true freedom: freedom from people-pleasing, freedom from finding our identity in what can never fully complete us, deliverance from following the norms of culture, freedom to not go along with the crowd for the sake of fitting in. Equally ironic is how prone we are to not even acknowledge God until life hurts and we have exhausted all other resources.


So why delay? Why not get on your face before God this very hour and acknowledge you cannot live rightly or flourish as He intended without Him being Lord and Master of your life? Why not ask for His help and guidance in making a complete turnaround in the way you live? Take it from me: There is nothing like an intimate walk with God. Nothing compares to knowing Him (knowing about Him is very different). And I say this not as one promoting the concept of self-fulfillment because of what God can do for us, but as one who realizes how indebted we are to our Maker and sees the need to orchestrate my life and choices in accordance with His word because He is worthy. It is the King of kings and Lord of lords we are dealing with here. How foolish of us to regard Him as anything less.


"Only one life, 'twill soon be past, only what's done for Christ will last." C. T. Studd

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

When Common Sense Is Lacking in Dating





By Henry Cloud


It’s amazing how many people throw common sense out the window when it comes to dating and marriage. You would never invite a stranger off the street into your house and give him or her the keys and full access to all you own. But in matters of the heart, people do that every day. With little or no background checks, they give their heart, soul and very lives. Because it is "love," it seems to fall under different rules. "If it feels so good, it has to be right." Nothing could be further from the truth. Things can feel very good, and be oh-so-bad.


The best defenses against this happening are your own character, maturity, time and trusted friends to give you wise counsel. Don’t go from nothing with a person to giving him or her all of you without the proper process. Basic due diligence is required, but it takes longer than your hormones or fantasies may want it to go.


Go one phase at a time, and don’t rush it! If it is good, real and true, it will make it through all the phases. This is the only way good fruit is ever produced, by going through all the phases of growth. You can’t have a good tree in a minute. But if you grow it the right way, including taking time, you will know the true character of the person you are with.


Give the person time, and give each phase its time as well. It will pay off in the bad relationships you avoid – and the good ones you find.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

6 Lessons on Relationships that Animated Movies Teach Your Children


Originally posted on CovenantEyes.com








"The earliest messages are often the longest-lasting messages. Charles Spurgeon said that the voices of childhood echo throughout life so that 'The first learned is generally the last forgotten.' This can be a tremendous blessing when truth is taught early and when it sinks in deep. […] But this same principle can prove troublesome when the first lessons learned are poor ones, because those lessons are hard to correct and harder still to erase." –Tim Challies


Animated movies can be very fun to watch. They often bring quality family time and quotable humor. However, it can be easy to forget that even cartoons set forth a specific worldview that can shape a person’s view of beauty, relationships, and love for years to come. Whether subliminally or bluntly, the films teach lessons that may clash with the principles parents seek to instill in their kids during their formative years.


Children are impressionable and will likely emulate with their siblings or peers what they see modeled in interactions between movie characters. If stubbornness, rebellion, disrespect, laziness, or pride are exhibited, kids will think this is acceptable behavior or a normal way of being. When paired with catchy songs, dazzling apparel, or thrilling adventures, they will be all the more likely will to act out or think in a similar way as the characters they observe.


Romantic relationships frequently pop up as major plot points. Almost always close to idyllic, the relationship usually ends with a "happily ever after." Practically everybody knows that this is exaggerated fantasy with no real world correspondence. However, this fills young and impressionable minds with lofty ideas and unrealistic expectations because they have not lived long enough to understand the flaws of human nature and the conflicting wills that arise in a joint union.



Read the rest of my guest post for the Covenant Eyes blog here

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

5 Internet Dangers Your Children Won’t Mention



Originally posted on CovenantEyes.com








If your kids are awake, they’re probably on a smartphone, in front of a smart TV, downloading apps, or posting to social networks. And most likely you have no idea what they’re doing. –IParent.tv


While the Internet brings many positive opportunities to learn, laugh, and connect with our family and friends, it also gives easier access to many dangerous temptations, resources, and people. You may not be aware of all the dangers available if it’s used without any accountability or guidelines and how it can ruin your child’s reputation and self-esteem, scarring them in ways that may take years to undo.


Danger 1–I can access pornography.

Pornography can be found for free on any social media platform or Internet browser. Chat rooms include links to some of the most deranged content. Naked photos of non-consenting adolescents can be shared like wildfire among youth (also known as revenge porn) and easily fall into the hands of predators who upload the content to various websites so the pictures or videos cannot be contained from further exposure.


Porn stars usually have their own website or Facebook and Twitter accounts in which they post clips of their latest scenes, nude pictures, and promote other porn stars while including the links to the videos they have made together. Erotica can be found and read for free, while appalling sex scenes, dialogue, and practices can be seen in movies and television shows easily.



Read the rest of my guest post for the Covenant Eyes blog here


Thursday, March 2, 2017

Living Life Intentionally Will Make All the Difference





Deliberate. Intentional. On purpose.


These words describe the needed mindset behind the decisions you and I must make each day (otherwise it will be easy to become lazy, make excuses, waste time, and cause us to be flippant in our approach). It was only when I began keeping note of every task I am responsible for and being detailed in organizing and figuring out the best course of action to execute that I began to get stuff done in an efficient, timely, and thorough manner. It's quite impossible to solve a problem or accomplish a specific goal if you haven't defined it and worked on a step-by-step plan to execute it.


If we find ourselves overwhelmed with our to-do list, it's very possible we are not applying these words in our decision-making. We may need to delegate responsibility, learn to say no, and examine our priorities to see if our time, focus, and energy are being spent rightly or if they are being squandered in some way. A few adjustments, some careful planning, solid accountability, and simply asking for help can assist us in reaching our goals and focusing more intently on our responsibilities.


What areas of life do you wrestle to gain victory over? What chores do you find yourself completing only halfway before giving up or convincing yourself you will have more energy, time, or motivation later? What people do you surround yourself with that influence you toward a lazy lifestyle?


I have found (in my own life and in observing the lives of others) that life tends toward chaos, not order. And therefore we must be intentional regarding making wise use of our time in the present, preparing for the future, and dealing with the trauma and issues of the past that tend to weigh us down to this day.


Just as a boring life in many ways is a safe one, so too an orderly life brings a safety net of sorts as we are better accommodated to deal with the unexpected and be the ones in control instead of a lack of structure causing us to feel like we continuously cannot pull our acts together.


In living all of life with a definitive purpose in mind, the natural consequence is escaping the rat race so many people find themselves in and gaining a deep satisfaction and peace in knowing we are striving for excellence and are serious about having a plan for everything. It is only then that we will begin to feel competent and will have the tools in place to not be overcome with busyness or panicking at the last minute for forgetting what had to be done by now.


If you would like to share any ideas with me regarding ways your life has balance, I'd enjoy reading such letters. Send a note my way and start the discussion.


Wise people know there is always a way (and need) to improve. We can learn something (or many things) from others, and sharing the wisdom we've gleaned regarding various topics just might be the help and encouragement others have been needing for awhile!

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Every Life Is a Movie with Many Scenes




Life is like a movie and every person we meet is a character in the film. We go through different seasons with each person, and how we relate to them varies from romance to friendship to being mentored to having fun. We are rejected by some, accepted by some, hurt by some, and helped by some.They are all a piece of our story.


And some scenes are scary, while others are exciting. Some parts of our movie make us laugh hysterically and other parts cause us to weep bitterly. Sometimes switching jobs or moving or no longer communicating with certain characters in the movie is forced upon us through circumstance and loss, while other times great changes and the unexpected lead to a more fruitful and enjoyable existence. Sometimes the scenes in our movie become rocky and dramatic and other times it is smooth sailing. Why? Our choices. Every decision we make leads us down one of two paths: further refinement and wholeness or further destruction, wasted time, and turmoil.


If only we saw all of life as a movie with several scenes and realized that while we can't control what happens around us, we can control how we respond to it, we would have a greater capacity to see life through the lens of hope instead of desperation and pain.


"I want to encourage you to not look at single events as the movie of your life. Each day, each event is just a single scene." Henry Cloud


It is to our peril if we keep replaying some scene from the past and get stuck on those characters. It is to our benefit if we are vigilant as to what can be learned from our movie up until this point.


Characters, places, and events come and go. We can't control when, how, or why. But our story doesn't have to end tragically. No one can change the past, but everyone (through the right means) can have a better future despite the obstacles that arise. It is a matter of perspective, good company, humility, a willingness to grow and seek help where need be, stopping intake of anything destructive (including people) and starting healthy habits, learning time and life management skills, and only surrounding ourselves with people, places, and things that will enable us to become healthy and whole.


Regardless of the genre your life has been up until now (possibly fluctuating from one to the next), your story can become completely different if you carefully consider every step forward. We all must take personal responsibility for our own lives, own where we have failed, and continuously seek to better ourselves and the people around us. It is only when people get super serious about life and are willing to address and deal with every one of their issues head on that anything positive can result.


So what are you waiting for? What is holding you back?

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

How Any Dad Can Hurt His Children Without Even Knowing


Originally posted on CovenantEyes.com






It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men. –Frederick Douglass


Countless lives testify to this reality. Every child grows up in an environment that either fosters health and wholeness or takes away from the potential of a noteworthy existence. Most often, the influence and teaching of a father drives one of these two options.


As the following points substantiate, fathers make a lasting impression on their kids. What they do, and do not do, will stay with them for years to come. Such a role must be taken seriously and given the utmost attention. Fathers who want to positively impact their children should avoid the following:


Communicating Inconsistently

One of the essential tenets of a good relationship is consistent and honest communication. Intimacy forms the closer you connect with someone, and connecting with someone involves sharing your heart with him or her and taking the time daily to grow in your knowledge of him or her as well. Growing up in a household filled with healthy communication gives children a safety net of sorts and an example to follow. It teaches kids that it is good and right to share openly, ask questions, and seek help.


However, a lack of regular communication stifles a healthy mindset regarding problems in life and even goals and desires. It hinders the development of maturity, a readiness to admit fault, and a willingness to apologize. It causes children to keep their feelings to themselves and can propel them to looking for acceptance and a listening ear in possibly dangerous places since they aren’t receiving teaching and admonition in the home.


Read the rest of my guest post for the Covenant Eyes blog here

Sunday, January 1, 2017

A Life Well-Lived Is the Result of Days Wisely Invested In






By John C. Maxwell


Just for Today . . .
Just for today . . . I will choose and display the right attitudes.
Just for today . . . I will determine and act on important priorities.
Just for today . . . I will know and follow healthy guidelines.
Just for today . . . I will communicate with and care for my family.
Just for today . . . I will practice and develop good thinking.
Just for today . . . I will make and keep proper commitments.
Just for today . . . I will earn and properly manage finances.
Just for today . . . I will deepen and live out my faith.
Just for today . . . I will initiate and invest in solid relationships.
Just for today . . . I will plan for and model generosity.
Just for today . . . I will embrace and practice good values.
Just for today . . . I will seek and experience improvements.
Just for today . . . I will act on these decisions and practice these disciplines, and
Then one day . . . I will see the compounding results of a day lived well.




By Dale Witherington



Today is the most important day of my life.
Yesterday with its successes and victories, struggles and failures
is gone forever.
The past is past.
Done.
Finished.
I cannot relive it. I cannot go back and change it.
But I will learn from it and improve my Today.
Today. This moment. NOW.
It is God's gift to me and it is all that I have.
Tomorrow with all its joys and sorrows, triumphs and troubles isn't here yet.
Indeed, tomorrow may never come.
Therefore, I will not worry about tomorrow.
Today is what God has entrusted to me.
It is all that I have. I will do my best in it.
I will demonstrate the best of me in it--
my character, giftedness, and abilities--
to my family and friends, clients and associates.
I will identify those things that are most important to do Today,
and those things I will do until they are done.
And when this day is done
I will look back with satisfaction at that
which I have accomplished.
Then, and only then, will I plan my tomorrow,
Looking to improve upon Today, with God's help.
Then I shall go to sleep in peace . . . content.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

What I Would Tell My Teenage Self





As a teenager, I went through different phases of attitudes, interests, and attire. I experienced periods of isolation and being a loner, and at other times spent time with friends or boyfriends every day for hours without fail. I did not attend church at all during my adolescence, other than sporadically.


My guidebook for living, sadly, was the culture, a corrupted and godless mindset, and lust. As you can imagine, my teen years were wasted on selfish indulgence, sinful entertainment, and poor company. Much time was spent and wasted on what brought me pleasure, what brought me comfort, and even what brought me pain.


I chose to disregard heeding my mother's counsel that in dating, I should choose to be with a Christian guy. If I were honest, I think I saw her as outdated or too innocent and naive to have any fun. I feel regretful as I ponder the years of my youth and wonder who I would be today and where I would be today had I lived fully for Christ during such formative years of my life.



Here is a bullet point list of what I would tell my teenage self:



  • "It is better to be alone than in the presence of bad company."
  • Associate with people of high caliber. It will bring you further in life and character than an excess of acquaintances ever could
  • Titillating music lyrics, television shows, movies, websites, and conversation will feed the monster of lust in your life to the degree you will be bound by sexual pleasure and it will lead to consequences that will last for years to come (repent now!)
  • Christ-like character, a Biblical worldview, an unwavering commitment to Christ, the application of God's word to everything, and leadership/servanthood qualities are what you should look for in a guy (even if it means waiting for years before dating or losing your virginity)
  • Starting or basing a relationship on mutual attraction and fun is no guarantee it will last
  • Pride and perversity exhibited by guys is not as intriguing as you may think and will be total turn-offs as you mature and realize such qualities are destructive to a person
  • Life has many pleasures and its enjoyment is not limited to just sex
  • Pop culture is not worth patterning your life after
  • The models you so wish you were are most likely not women of value and have little more to offer than their bodies
  • Being popular says nothing about a person's inner worth
  • Following the crowd or following your heart, indulging in random hook-ups, being dishonest, and wasting time will bring nothing but negative repercussions and truly wound those who engage in them (smiling now in these pursuits isn't worth the tears it will later bring)
  • Being mature for your age, serious, having a deep-thinking mind, and speaking eloquently is a precious rarity and should be prized (don't listen to people who mock you as if such qualities shouldn't be true of an adolescent)
  • Being smart is attractive. Girls who lack intelligence will often have relationships that are based on something other than thought-provoking conversation, which wouldn't be worth the time invested. Likewise, date a smart guy. Intelligent conversations are riveting
  • Study Apologetics (it will be what increases your faith and intellectually satisfies you)
  • Spend quality time with your family and learn from them
  • Eating disorders, weight loss supplements, or profuse exercise is not the solution for obtaining a nice figure. Only a consistent plant-based, healthy diet and walking/running a few miles per day will do that (and maintain it)
  • Go to sleep by ten pm every night, including weekends. It isn't cool or attractive to miss out on sleep
  • Get good grades and study diligently (laziness, fun, and apathy isn't worth failing and dropping out)
  • Your mom really does care about you. She's right when she says that Jesus is the meaning of life and obeying/living for Him is our best option. She's also right when she says to not stay up late on the internet or stay out late at night
  • Be content with living a simple, God-honoring life (this world is full of luring and dangerous opportunities to sin and it will only destroy you)
  • Money isn't the key to lasting happiness and one day you will be thankful you didn't grow up rich
  • Save 20% of every form of income you receive, do not buy everything name-brand, be thoughtful with gift ideas instead of breaking bank to impress others, and learn to live without (a lack of sufficient funds later in life will bring more stress than you now realize)
  • Comparison is futile. You have no idea what goes on or has gone on or will go on in the lives of the people you envy
  • Finding your security, identity, and purpose in Christ alone is the only way to be liberated from the demands and unrealistic standards of the culture
  • Knowing your worth in Christ and seeing Him for who He is will be the key to overcoming insecurities
  • The Bible really is THE handbook for living and Jesus is the way to healing, freedom, peace, restoration, and life indeed
  • Being aware of the reality that choices have consequences will help you to weigh your decisions by the outcome and not immediate gratification
  • Beauty really is in the eye of the beholder (there isn't a one-size-fits-all for what is considered attractive)
  • Just because you feel ugly or dirty or rejected at this point in your life doesn't mean it will last
  • You will learn as you get older that looks matter little but what is most important that you will take pride in one day and actually like about yourself is having a deep-thinking mind, intelligence, being goal-oriented, family-oriented, and devoted fully to God, learning lessons and investing in the lives of others
  • It is actually a blessing to not be called "hot" because this shows guys see you as a body, not a person, and being flirtatious actually takes away from a guy respecting you and makes you appear easy (which will not attract the right sort of attention)
  • A day is coming years down the line when the very way you dye your hair and the weird ways you dress will actually be popular among people of various ages and will be seen as hip (not viewed as "screaming for attention" like a boy at school said about you)
  • Everything influences worldview, attractions, and desires so seek wisdom as to the best path to take regarding what you read, watch, listen to, and pursue
  • Trying drugs and alcohol may give you something to talk about with people at school but you will only look back woefully in sorrow
  • Do not meet anyone online and do not trust strangers with personal info
  • Contrary to what the culture is teaching or what most entertainment portrays, not all men are perverted and not all teenage guys watch porn
  • If you don't live with God's glory in mind and obey Him in all things, you are sure to make choices that will bring you to certain ruin
  • Your thought life matters. Without filtering your thoughts through the grid of Philippians 4: 8, your mind will be the hotbed from which choices of self-destruction, hurting others, planning your suicide, self-loathing, making excuses for poor behavior, and constantly putting yourself down will result that could take years to undo
  • Just because you go through seasons of loss and the people around you seem to be living in ease does not mean your circumstances will never improve or guarantee that the lives of others who appear to lack nothing will only be filled with good things. Hardship touches every life. No one is exempt from loss and suffering
  • The priorities, interests, and mindset of many adolescents really is strictly confined to that stage of their lives. What is important to teenagers most definitely will not be important when they hit their twenties and beyond, so do not be overly concerned about what is popular. It really is no big deal to stand out from the crowd (and with God, will actually prove to be the wisest choice you make as a teenager)



              As you can see, there is much I wish I would have known during my adolescence. I can only imagine the pain I would have been spared and the blessings I would have reaped had I walked faithfully with the Lord from a young age! Please learn from my mistakes and pursue Christ wholeheartedly. Nothing should take His place in our hearts and the teenage years are no exception. We are safest when clinging to Him, and His word contains the ingredients for a life well-lived. A life, in fact, that when resembling Christ and keeping Him first on the throne of our hearts, will result in a winsome gracefulness and protection that the masses wish they had.


              I would love to continue the conversation on such an important topic. Please write to me at EmmaJoyBlog@gmail.com or leave a comment with what you would tell your teenage self or any advice you'd give to the adolescents of today's culture.

              Tuesday, November 29, 2016

              Comparison Blinds People




              Comparison blinds us to the very real problems others have. We focus only on what we can see and forget that people are really good at hiding the not-so-glamorous parts of their lives.
              But have you considered...


              *The beautiful coat that girl is wearing may have been given to her after she lost everything in a fire?


              *The nice outfit that guy is wearing may be the only attractive attire he owns which was purchased strictly for special occasions?


              *The family ahead of you in line at the grocery store with all that delicious food might actually be homeless and living in a motel but after receiving gift cards from someone who was generous, they were able to buy delicious food...finally?


              *The successful businessman you envy may have endured ill treatment throughout his entire childhood by strict parents whose demands and neglect drove him to stop at nothing with pursuing success so that hopefully, he could gain their approval one day?


              *The new car that couple has may have been given to them as a gift from their church or a dear friend after their previous car got totaled and two of their kids died in that accident?


              *The girl whose makeup always looks nice may have learned to perfect her look in order to hide the bruises or scars on her face that have resulted from an abusive relationship or birthmarks?


              *The man or woman who materially lacks for nothing might be battling addiction?


              *The marriage that has endured for twenty years, husband and wife may rarely communicate and have slept in different rooms and led separate lives for more than half of it?


              *Popularity might be the downfall of an otherwise innocent teen who will overdose on heroin in a matter of months or contract a fatal STD because they hate the label of still being a virgin?


              *The good-looking guy who has no problem getting women might have nightmares every night from the trauma he experienced as a child?


              *The seemingly happy family has many skeletons in their closet?


              *Celebrities with countless fans may cry themselves to sleep often because they don't trust people and lack genuine friends?


              *The outgoing and confident girl may be haunted by the choices she made a year ago and desperately wishes she could undo her past?


              What we see of people is usually only a tip of the iceberg. Humans are secretive by nature due to the shame and guilt we all experience, so save yourself the pain of comparison by not wishing you were someone else or thinking others have it better than you.

              Friday, November 18, 2016

              The Sanity Which Results from Structure and Routine





              The absence of calmness and serenity in our lives can also be defined as the presence of turmoil, strife, and stress. In such times of uncertainty and confusion, anger and disillusionment, we are faced with the choice to either:


              - Immediately seek God
              - Pursue the counsel and wisdom of godly mentors and counselors
              - Commit all to the Lord in prayer
              - Take the time to make a plan to better structure our lives


              OR


              - Panic
              - Yell
              - Worry
              - Give up
              - Mask issues through unhealthy and destructive means that just leave the problem(s) unaddressed



              Due to stress in my family and life in recent weeks, I thought I would make a list of what brings order to my life that each of you can learn from as well so that your individual lives and relationships may become more orderly and bring a sense of sanity and well-being instead of frustration and rage:


              • Leave your keys in the same place everyday
              • Have a specific spot for your wallet, stamps, safety pins, and other items that people usually scramble to find last minute
              • Charge your cell phone before going to sleep or leave it on the charger overnight so you don't wake up to a full day ahead of you with a phone on only 5%
              • Pay all bills on the first of the month
              • Put 20% of every source of income (including birthday and Christmas money) in a savings account, if possible
              • Pay tithe consistently
              • Avoid intake of sugar, dairy products, and processed foods
              • Meal-plan
              • Don't waste food and only purchase what you need
              • Drink a tall glass of water upon waking, one before and with every meal, and one before bed
              • Learn to cook homemade meals and coffee/tea at home instead of wasting money elsewhere
              • Attend church weekly
              • Keep open lines of communication with accountability partners, trusted friends, and mentors
              • Learn how to communicate effectively and efficiently
              • Get some form of exercise every day
              • Go to sleep at the same time every night (even on weekends)
              • Get to bed by 9:30 pm (it's been proven that people get the best sleep between the hours of ten pm and two am)
              • Take naps if need be (even ten minutes of lying down in silence can work wonders)
              • Wait a day or two before making a purchase so you have time to ponder if it is worth the money or is actually worth investing in
              • Borrow books, movies, and CDs from the library for free instead of renting or buying them
              • Become a life-long learner and see it as a privilege and joy
              • Don't just be on time wherever you go; arrive fifteen minutes early
              • Get everything ready the night before and put it near the front door so you don't forget anything
              • Keep up with laundry so the clothes you need or want to wear are always clean
              • Keep the house in order (it really brings a sense of sanity)
              • Read at least once chapter a day in an edifying book (if you lack sufficient time, read a few sentences or paragraphs)
              • Watch one sermon or lecture a day
              • Watch a documentary twice a week instead of TV or a movie
              • Buy grocery store giftcards at the start of the month or with each new paycheck so you only spend the set amount and don't impulse buy (do the same for stores like Wal-Mart and even the gas station)
              • Make the bed every morning
              • After using something, immediately put it back in its place
              • Keep up with dishes and be sure to clean counters and stove before going to bed
              • Vacuum and dust every few days
              • Wash rugs and all bedding once a week
              • Keep post-it notes in car or on bathroom mirror listing what needs to be done that day or week
              • Unsubscribe from all unread emails
              • Sign up for paperless billing and pay all bills online
              • Make a budget and be rigid about it
              • Use a planner and mark/highlight important dates, events, appointments, etc.
              • Get an oil change for your car every three thousand miles
              • Get Direct Deposit from your job
              • Respond to emails within three to five days
              • Give honest and sincere compliments to others; be sure to thank them for their help
              • Set an alarm for everything if it will help you remain focused and not waste time


              I would love to hear your suggestions for what adds to an orderly life. There is always room for growth and it is a sweet blessing and luxury that we can all learn from one another. You may leave a comment or write to me directly at EmmaJoyBlog@gmail.com

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