Monday, October 7, 2019

Why Complaining Accomplishes Nothing But Bad









As recently posted in the Emma Joy Weekly Newsletter



You Gain Nothing from Complaining


Hey, everyone.


Today I'd like to talk about the effects of a heart prone to complaint and why this is never in your best interest no matter your life's circumstances.


Whether you realize it or not, complaining leads to a discontented heart and blinds us to the very real luxuries we get to enjoy on an ongoing basis. It takes our minds off of the good and makes us zero in on what we cannot change or cannot control. It is a calamitous habit. Complaining gives us something to do but the results can be disastrous. Complaining serves to convince us that others have it better and causes us to think that life could not get worse.


Complaining distorts reality. It leaves us feeling dissatisfied, angry, and in a bad mood. It does not change anything. It is a pointless practice.


Complaining causes us to turn away from God instead of toward Him. It disrupts the harmony in all of our relationships. It disturbs our peace of mind.


The way of the wise is to consider your steps, examine how you have contributed to your problems, and ask God what He is trying to teach you through what you're experiencing.


The way of the foolish is to shut down, mock God, snap at the people around you, and give the devil an opportunity to remind you of everything that has ever gone wrong throughout the years. So now you aren't just in the frame of mind to complain about what is happening today, but you begin to recall every single time you have suffered in the past. And like lust, it is never satisfied. It will demand more and more until you're consumed and completely give up.


I challenge you to train yourself in the following exercise until you perfect it: Every time you go to complain, list three positives instead. Every time you want to engage in complaining, list ten things you have to enjoy. Every time you are tempted to complain, praise God instead. Every time you want to complain, remember that tragedies happen every day and you ought to be grateful for every hour you aren't experiencing loss or pain. And when you do experience loss or pain, personal or global tragedy, put your full faith in God and cling to Him. Quote Scripture. Remind yourself that there will be no pain or suffering or loss or brokenness in heaven. Remember the pain and suffering Jesus suffered on your behalf because your soul was that precious to Him.


Every time you want to complain, remember God's beautiful creation. Remember all the times you've made good decisions that led to healthy outcomes. Remember that every person struggles and some, to be sure, would gladly trade their losses and crosses for yours. Remember that the past can be redeemed. Remember that Jesus can give you a new heart and a bright, hope-filled future. Remember that we live in 2019 where all manner of inventions and technology make our lives run smoother in myriad ways. Remember who is still alive in your life that you care about and then send them a text, give them a hug, and call them letting them know you're grateful for every day you have together. Remember all the health problems you don't have. Remember all the times the Lord has made a way out of a bad situation. Remember that you have electricity, the ability to shower often, working toilets, books to read, jokes to tell, people to pray for.


Remember that every moment spent complaining is a moment that can never be regained.


Remember that complaining dishonors the Lord and is a terrible example to the people around you.


Remember that gratitude mends and complaining breaks. It hurts us. It affects our physical and mental health. It doesn't even make us feel better. Why hold on to something that leaves us feeling worse off?


"Happiness comes when we stop complaining about the troubles we have and say thanks to God for the troubles we don't have."


And keep in mind that healthy choices lead to healthy outcomes, healthy perspectives lead to increased tranquility, and deciding with your will to trust in God no matter what life throws your way is always in your best interest. It is these choices that will actually benefit you. It is these choices that will better your time on this earth. Unlike complaining that leaves you feeling hopeless, helpless, and disillusioned (often exaggerating the bad and diminishing the good).


Will there always be reasons to complain? To be sure. Will there always be reasons to be grateful? Most certainly.


As I stated in my previous newsletter, perspective is everything.

Monday, September 23, 2019

How a Wrong Perspective Can Bring Us to Ruin








As recently posted in the Emma Joy Weekly Newsletter



Outlook Determines Outcome


Hello, everybody.


Today's subject has the potential of totally changing your life around (for better or worse). It also holds within it the power to destroy your well-being, increase envy, and hurt your view of God and other people OR to make you one of the most thankful, vivacious, and healthy people out there. It's the topic of perspective.


I have found that assumption is a common problem in the lives of people. It really is a thief. We assume life will go our way...or assume it will turn out terrible despite our best efforts. We assume others have it better than us...or assume no one compares themselves to us and our circumstances. We assume we have life all figured out...or assume life's purpose and meaning cannot be known. We assume our finances and health will always be in turmoil...or assume a different trial would serve best in molding us for the better.


Perspective is powerful because it plants seeds of doubt or it increases our overall well-being. It allows us to rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep or it causes our jealousy to rage and makes us turn a blind eye and deaf ear to the afflictions of others.


It can be the difference between suicide and staying alive, between working on problems in a relationship or leaving all change up to the other person.


It can bring us perpetual gladness despite circumstance or can overwhelm us to the degree we turn to unhealthy coping mechanisms to numb our reality.


It can stir up hatred in our hearts toward those who have wronged us or can cause us to weep on their behalf and diligently pray for them.


You see, perspective is the way we view the many facets of life. A healthy perspective must be cultivated. It most certainly does not come naturally to any of us. It's like trust in God--it is built as we exercise it and choose to think biblically instead of going by our feelings.


Perspective is shaped through many means. It can take a drastic change for the worse depending on what we fill our minds with (social media, the news, depressing lyrics in songs, comparison, negativity, pessimistic people) or can take great leaps toward the better through monitoring our self-talk and filtering our thoughts, words, and actions through the word of God.


Our choices affect our perspective because every decision has a certain consequence and when we choose rightly, good results. But when we choose wrongly, we suffer.


I'd encourage you to humble yourself before God and plead with Him to give you the right perspective in all things, build in you gratitude and contentment, and make it clear to you what you must start doing and stop doing to become a healthier person. I'm sure you can tell by my writings that I am a serious advocate for working on every one of our issues and surrendering all to Jesus--our past, present, future, all of our relationships, our hurts, our traumas, our insecurities, our fears, our worries, our concerns, our desires, and our shortcomings.


The Lord truly is able to refine us and make us whole. And part of being healthy and whole is choosing to make choices and think thoughts that add to our quality of life instead of taking away from it.


The very fact that you are still living and likely have food, shelter, and clean water puts you above many people around the world. You might not have everything you want currently, but that may happen in time. Be patient and rest in God.


"The things you take for granted other people are praying for."

Monday, September 9, 2019

Why We Shouldn't Care What Others Think of Us








As recently posted in the Emma Joy Weekly Newsletter


Opinions Are Not Facts


Hey, everyone.


I'm glad to be addressing today's topic. It is something that stole my joy and increased my insecurities for too many years of my life. I am referring to the opinions of others regarding us.


People often form set opinions about us without knowing us well at all. They assess everything from our attire, to our walk, to how we decorate our homes, to the music we enjoy. It's never-ending. What's funny though is that they don't know much at all of what has made us who we are. They don't know the life experiences or friendships that have helped shape who we are and what we like. They don't give us room to be our own person with interests, hobbies, likes and dislikes all our own.


People may want to shape us into their image and sometimes succeed through their incessant (and unnecessary) comments or gossip. Sometimes we cave...or worse yet, sometimes we begin to hide who we really are and get so caught up in our own world that we start to shun good people from having the opportunity of getting to know us for who we are. We wrongly assume that every person we meet is judgmental, cruel, rude, and mean. We believe that no one will like us if they got to know the real us, so we begin to wear a mask and keep the conversation shallow despite who we're around since we fear mere opinion. And this is a shame and disgrace.


How many people have deep insecurities that stem back to a few words a family member, teacher, or passerby said in haste because they were in a bad mood or thought they knew how our lives should go? How many times have other people made us think that their opinion of us is what everyone thinks of us? My sister was a cruel and hurtful presence in my life for years. Her careless comments or meanness really scarred me deeply. And sadly the result has been one of separation in our relationship because I refuse to converse with someone who is belittling by her very manner and has a way of leaving me feeling undesirable and like I won't ever amount to anything.


I used to think how she viewed me was how everyone viewed me, and let me tell you, it messed me up! I always felt less than around her because that is the air she put across around my family and me. But God has since helped me to work through the effects of her presence over a lifetime and brought along many people who appreciate my uniqueness instead of shunning me as "weird" or "random". Ever since I learned how to set boundaries, surround myself with healthy people, and sought to make a difference in this broken world, I have learned that one person's opinion cannot dictate how I live my life or how I view myself or my future.


I share this to encourage and comfort each one of you who have bought the lie that the opinions of others are fact or their thoughts regarding you are gospel truth. They are not. Their opinion is their own. And I can guarantee there is a world of hurt and unresolved issues behind every mean word, careless neglect, or gossip which is based on warped perception and a skewed lens.


We are all the result of our upbringing, our life experiences, and the people we've encountered since our earliest days. Please don't allow the opinions or words of others to convince you that they know what is best for you or how your life should go.


We should regard the endless criticisms of others as pride and clueless chatter. Just like you are not what has happened to you in life, neither are you what others have said to or about you. Only you and God truly know all the details. And only the opinion of God truly matters. How unfortunate we don't keep this truth at the forefront of our minds!

Monday, August 26, 2019

How Our Choices Affect Others






As recently posted in the Emma Joy Weekly Newsletter


What Your Decisions Have to Do with Others


Hey, everyone.


Today I am hoping to bring awareness to a subject many people might think flippantly about (if the majority ponder it at all). It's the subject of our choices and the ways they affect other people.


Living in close proximity to others means they are invariably affected by the choices we make. We are always influencing, whether we realize it or not and whether we care or not. And the quality of others' lives suffers or improves based upon our interactions and involvement with them and if that correspondence and influence is healthy and uplifting or destructive and careless.


If anyone depends on you, your daily health choices, financial choices, integrity choices, and honesty choices will impact his or her life in more ways than you can imagine.


A girl I have mentored lost her dad when she was fifteen due to his reckless lifestyle and drug use.


My father and his five siblings grew up without a dad present in the home (or involved in their lives) because he abandoned his role as husband and father and left the family for an adulterous relationship then moved to another state. My dad has cried to me and explained how deeply this wounded and affected him for decades--all due to one man's selfishness.


My mother's dad has refused to serve God with his life for eighty plus years and I am certain our family tree for generations would look entirely different if only he had sought the Lord diligently and lived for something beyond himself beginning from a young age.


I'm sure we could all tell stories of the people throughout our lives that have left a bitter memory in our minds or a blessed one. And I'm sure every one of us is remembered a certain way by the people we've known over the years. Whether that is a positive memory or a negative one entirely depends on the way we spoke to and acted toward them and toward others in their presence.


Legacy is a weighty topic. It's an unfortunate fact that selfishness, pride, resentment, bitterness, and lust reign in the lives of countless people. To the wise person who recognizes and can readily admit fault and take active steps to remedy what is wrong: you will make a positive imprint on the lives of anyone observing you and by your choices will influence him or her to follow in your footsteps. But to the unwise person who continually blameshifts and makes excuses for his or her behavior and words: people will learn also--and the results won't be pretty.


Every choice we make is leading us down one of two trails: wholeness or destruction. Every choice. And more choices than we might realize will inevitably impact those around us in ways that could take years and hours and hours of therapy to undo.


"A good name is to be more desired than great wealth, favor is better than silver and gold." Proverbs 22:1

Monday, August 12, 2019

Why the Past Shouldn't Define You







As recently posted in the Emma Joy Weekly Newsletter


Beauty from Ashes


Hello, everyone.


Today I would like to address something that commonly trips many people up: the choices they have made in the past.


I'd like to start out with saying that every single person you meet has made choices you know nothing about, has dealt with losses and crosses you aren't aware of, and has gone through circumstances that have shaped their character for better or worse depending on how they handled them.


I experienced self-hatred and gnawing guilt for several years of my life. I saw myself through the lens of what I had done or what had been done to me instead of resting in the Lord's forgiveness and seeking His restoration earnestly.


Too often people believe that the choices they have made or choices others have made regarding them means they are that choice. But just because you have experienced something or done something less than noble does not mean those things have the final say over how your life will turn out.


There are always underlying reasons for what we do (or what others have done to us). When we actively pursue healing from our experiences, we gain a vocabulary for our wounds and begin the process of being transformed and set free. When we work through our issues we start to see that the wounds others have inflicted upon us are the result of their own brokenness and unresolved traumas.


Unless you understand that a child's mind and heart must be cultivated from a young age in order for them to be a healthy adult and productive citizen of society, you will always be at a loss when it comes to explaining your brokenness or that of other people. We don't know what we've never been taught. And what's been modeled to us impacts us. If we grew up in an unhealthy environment, we will be the byproduct of that environment and will live out our brokenness until God or the natural consequences of our decisions intervene and cause us to think twice about changes that need to be made.


Please understand that the Lord offers forgiveness to all who accept Jesus' sacrifice on their behalf. We can apply its healing balm to our past, present, and future. We can choose from this day forward to believe that God's word is true despite how we feel and in its pages we can find life, wholeness, direction, and conviction. Not one person is entirely pleased with the choices they have made and not one person has gone through life without other people inflicting serious wounds upon them through their words, actions, assumptions, or gossip.


We are all broken (even if that brokenness varies in intensity and manifests itself in very different ways).


I told my mom last night that I have come to believe life as an adult is simply working through all the junk that has taken place in the first half of your life and learning how to undo patterns, thoughts, and beliefs that crushed us during our formative years. Life is not a game. Anything worthwhile must be worked for and kept at until we gain the prize. We can be transformed. We can change and become entirely new people. I have and will continue to.


You are still alive. With every hour we have breath in our lungs, there is hope for a better future. We can begin making choices that will pave the way for a bright future and we can stop making choices that will steal opportunities and richness down the line.


As one song says, "You are more than the choices that you've made, you are more than the sum of your past mistakes, you are more than the problems you create, you've been remade."


What joyous and incredible news! Through Christ and through taking initiative to mend our brokenness and overcome our issues one by one, we can truly be made new.


I hope this encourages you today.

Monday, July 29, 2019

Every Choice We Make Determines Our Quality of Life







As recently posted in the Emma Joy Weekly Newsletter


Life Can Get Better Overnight


Hey, everyone!


At the start of this new week, it's a possibility you need to be reminded that in many ways, the quality of our lives is completely contingent upon the innumerous choices we make on a daily basis.


I don't think it'd be wrong to suppose that 90% of people let life happen to them and are not proactive, accountable, or intentional with respect to building a better life for themselves. It could be that they don't know how or they are lazy. It could be they have been living a certain way for so long that they cannot even imagine having more order in their lives. It could be that they feel other people in their lives are the main reason their own quality of life suffers. Or maybe they don't want to make changes because they know that inevitably means they themselves will have to change and the thought seems daunting.


There are simple yet effective practices you can put into place to gain at least a little more control of your life.



Here are a few suggestions:



  • A set bedtime
  • Make your bed every morning
  • Set up automatic pay for every bill and automatic savings to a separate account from every paycheck you receive
  • Build an emergency fund (if you don't make a lot of money, just put five dollars per week away because it will add up)! Life is unexpected
  • Take every thought captive (despite your feelings or how bleak a situation looks)
  • Memorize Scripture and quote it to yourself daily
  • Keep a food journal of everything you eat and drink daily (this will detail where you overspend, if you overeat, and whether you are increasing or decreasing your overall health with every bite)
  • Keep a time journal of where your time goes each day (having a written record will encourage change where needed)
  • Keep the temperature in your home and car comfortable at all times
  • Daily read one paragraph or one chapter in a book (imagine the growth after one year, let alone a lifetime of reading!)
  • List ten reasons you are grateful every morning, afternoon, and night (better yet, keep a running list in a notebook so you can refer back to it during times of difficulty and discouragement)
  • Do a thought download when feeling any sort of negative emotion (take a ten minute break from what you're doing and write out every thought in a notebook. This will get the chaos out of your head and onto paper so you can think more clearly. By doing this daily or whenever needed, you can plan an hour each week to go through your written thoughts, notice common themes that keep recurring in your mind, identify what weighs heavily on you, then be in a place where you can know exactly what needs to be addressed). Imagine life without this exercise! Swirling thoughts in your head breed nothing but stress and chaos. It's like the concept of throwing up when you're sick with the flu. It won't necessarily cure you of the illness, but getting it out surely makes you feel better!
  • Set timers for your social media and entertainment usage so you can track how much time you give to both daily and also set limits so you have time for other tasks you currently can't find the time for



"Success comes with consistency."


It's all about doing more of what feeds your soul and improves your life and stopping altogether what adds to your problems or keeps you from maturing and enjoying your God-given days.


There is no shame in asking for help and learning from others who may be further on than you in certain regards. If you'd like advice tailored to your specific situation, I'd be glad to help. You can write to me at emmajoyblog@gmail.com

Monday, July 15, 2019

A Major Reason We Stay Stuck in Addiction






As recently posted in the Emma Joy Weekly Newsletter


A Key Ingredient in Overcoming Our Strongholds


Hello, everyone!


I really regret not utilizing writing over the last few years as often as I once did. It has served as a constructive outlet for me and it's really unfortunate that I wasn't consistent. There were reasons to be sure, but I am wanting to write more often from now on.


Today I'd like to address what often goes missing in our pursuit of freedom from the sins that bind us: making Jesus your first love, your highest priority, and your most treasured relationship. I'm sure I have addressed the need for keeping Christ front and center in our lives in previous newsletters or blog posts, but this truth hit me hard recently when I pondered why I am choosing to not live [a promiscuous] lifestyle or indulge in porn consumption whenever I get the urge for it (and there are plenty of times when I want to fully plummet myself in the depths of such depravity).


I realized that it is because I have been prioritizing the Lord above all other commitments and daily studying resources that enable spiritual growth and gaining insight and understanding over my sexual struggles which has opened my eyes to the deep wounds I carry and has equipped me to truly heal. And thus, my love for Him has grown and my desire to live for myself has decreased dramatically. It is only through intimacy with Christ that we begin to have the right perspective over everything.



I told my mom on a drive the other day that it is only when we treat the Lord with the respect and commitment He is worthy of that we begin to shun our idols and rest in His embrace. It is only when we seek the Lord fully and daily read much of His word (and apply it) that we experience the richness of intimacy with our Creator and understand more fully the depths of our poor choices and how they continuously and always pull us away from Him. It is only when we understand that life apart from a true commitment to the Lord will always end in regret and pain that we begin to search for Him who is able to keep us from the endless pitfalls our broken world has to offer.



We must see Christ through the lens of Scripture and surround ourselves with people who know Him well, people who are lifelong learners, people who diligently read edifying resources, and people who are working on becoming healthy, repentant, and growing in wisdom daily.



We must be willing to say no to the myriad of time-wasters vying for our attention and instead make seeking and serving the Lord our first priority.



We must be willing to grow up, mature, and spend our lives for the glory of God and the good of others if we ever wish to be pleased with how we've spent our brief years on this earth when we reach the end of our journey here.



We must spend time daily in praising God for His many attributes and in prayer asking Him to let everything in this world fall away in comparison to our relationship with Him.



We must honor the Lord as our authority by allowing Him to have first place in our decision-making.



Of course recovery from years of addiction or uprooting wrong ways of thinking or bad habits is the result of many steps, but unless we truly see God for who He is and treasure our walk with Him and guard it jealously from anything that would seek to uproot or diminish it, we simply will not remain repentant--especially long-term. We simply will not experience the growth and healing we desperately need and crave without Jesus being our first love and our most treasured relationship.



So when you are tempted, remember who Jesus is. When you want to let off all restraint and go wild with your sins of choice, remember Jesus. Remember His sacrifice on your behalf. Remember His pure love that wants only what is best for you. Remember His power, His goodness, and His mercy. Remember that He knows you intimately and is the only One who you can guarantee will never abandon or cruelly hurt or reject you. He is most worthy. He is most precious. He is trustworthy.

Thursday, May 23, 2019

The Worst Counsel for Breaking a Porn Addiction




Originally posted on CovenantEyes.com


“Is the love of pleasure and amusement growing on you—gaining the power and authority over you? Is it dulling the keenness of your zest for spiritual pleasures? Is it making Bible study, prayer, communion with Christ, and meditation upon holy themes—less sweet enjoyments than they once were? Is it making your hunger for righteousness, and for God—less intense? If so, there is only one thing to do—hurry…to return to God…to find in Christ, the joy which the world cannot give.” –J. R. Miller


The Worst Advice for Breaking Addiction: “Just Stop!”


An addiction of any kind is more complex than simple. It is all-encompassing as opposed to one-dimensional. It is fueled through many sources and overcome through several steps. Many people battle addiction for years with minimal success because they suppose the outward action is the problem and do not understand the strong roots stemming way back in the mind and heart.


For the addict, the command to “Just Stop!” is the worst advice. It is vague, ineffectual, and hopeless. It makes light of the problem and unrealistically sends the message that freedom from what binds him or her will be effortless, painless, and quick. Here are three reasons this is terrible advice.



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


Wednesday, March 27, 2019

De-Stressing for Your Own Good





"For fast-acting relief, try slowing down."


Being a mere mortal means you are incapable of being everything to everyone. Stress levels increase when we believe that we can handle more than we were intended to in our human frailty and limitations.


To achieve peace in our pursuit of stress management, we must keep a running list of our responsibilities but simultaneously not allow them to dictate every moment of our waking hours. Something's gotta give if we ever wish to obtain a tranquil life and find the time to unwind from the day's toils!


"Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under the trees on a summer’s day, listening to the murmur of water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is by no means a waste of time."


A harmonious balance is what you should be striving for. You want to aim for ongoing white space on your calendar and remain in control of where your time goes instead of resembling an amateur juggler who takes on more than he or she can handle and becomes a laughingstock when everything falls to the ground!


There is serenity in living a quiet and old-fashioned life. We should jealously guard our time for what matters most. How many of us look back at our younger years and shake our heads in disbelief at how much time was squandered on less than worthy events and people! Let's make every new year of life less about doing and more about being.


It fascinates me how some families will involve their children in more than one sport, volunteer opportunity, and instrument lesson and then wonder why they feel a perpetual sense of rushing and overwhelm! So much of what people pursue in life does not matter at all in light of eternity. And it is only when we return to God and His word to guide our every decision will we see clearly how we ought to be redeeming the time instead of filling it with busyness and stuff that has no eternal impact.


Ask yourself if all your current commitments are an absolute necessity to your long-term goals. Be willing to part ways with any extras that are taking up time you can never get back.


If you will do a regular inventory of where your time is going, you might just discover how many of your hours are spent on unfruitful endeavors and thrown down the drain over common time-wasters like television and the Internet. In moderation it might be okay, but if you are spending an unspecified, undocumented, unaccounted for amount of time daily on shows, movies, or social media, it's time to make a change.


Strive for simplicity and you are guaranteed to receive back profound and weighty dividends.

Thursday, February 28, 2019

Amassing the Riches of Relationships Done Right







As recently posted in the Emma Joy Weekly Newsletter


An Essential Undertaking


Happy February, everyone.


Each month (or day) we're alive is reason to celebrate.


At the beginning of 2019, I put together a document of monthly newsletter and blog post themes I would like to address this year and this month it is the topic of Relationships. My blog post theme for February is on the topic of Goal Setting which can be read here.


Differing wills can make any relationship feel more like work than play. But like anything in life, hard work always precedes play. We work to gain money, we exercise to be healthy, we study to grow as a person, we deny ourselves and take up our cross daily to do our part in the sanctification process!


If we want our relationships to thrive instead of barely survive, the following must be pursued by each party and lived out intentionally:


  • Humility
  • A willingness to admit fault
  • An eagerness to own up to your part of the problem
  • A respect for the other person's separateness and an awareness of how to navigate each of your roles
  • Learning each other's love language, apology language, and communication style
  • 100% honesty
  • Transparency (as discretion and discernment see fit depending on the level of intimacy and depth of relationship with each person)
  • Diligence in working on one's own flaws
  • A desire to apologize and make amends where need be
  • Handling each argument, disagreement, or conflict honorably (and learning the skills for this, as it does not come naturally to the sinful, prideful heart in any of us)
  • Total upheaval of bad attitudes, cruel words, and immaturity
  • Removal of all toxic, unsafe, and unhealthy relationships for one's own good
  • Involving an outside party for accountability and the pursuit of wise counsel
  • Making God, His word, and prayer your highest priority regarding all your affairs in life


It is only when these things are adhered to with deliberateness that relationships begin to blossom. Such choices will only make your life better. Will it be easy? Nothing worthwhile is. But don't let pride, stubbornness, or blame shifting get in the way of making changes that will yield a bountiful return.


What else would you add to this list?

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Specifics of Goal Setting







Happy Thursday, everyone!


At the beginning of 2019, I put together a list of themes I'd like to address each month this year. The topic of this month's blog post is Goal Setting.


I once read a quote that posed the question, "How do you eat an elephant?" The answer was simply one bite at a time.


The same applies to the overall endeavor of setting goals. If we are to succeed at anything, we must have numerous steps in place. It is best to make your goals specific, measurable, attainable, trackable, actionable, rewarding, and realistic.


If you would like to lose weight now that it is a new year, focus on becoming healthy and strong through making it a lifestyle. Your weight will take care of itself if health becomes a priority above weight loss (otherwise it is sure to fluctuate based upon stress and circumstance). Find a form of exercise you love engaging in so it is a delight instead of a burden or chore. Instead of buying processed foods, prepare meals yourself with natural ingredients. Add organic lemon slices to water for natural flavor and to make drinking plenty bearable and even enjoyable. Stretch for ten minutes every morning and night. Take a walk for thirty minutes a day.


Whether we are seeking to heal from a past trauma, just want to make exercise a consistent part of our routine, realize we need to overcome a bad habit or sin, or want to get our homes or relationships in order, it all requires a plan.


You also want to implement accountability. If someone else knows about your goals and regularly asks you about the progress you're making (and helps you think of a plan), you're more likely to accomplish what you set out to do than if you tried doing so alone.



Here are a list of categories in which you might want to set goals and some helpful ideas for each one:


1. Health

- What type of exercise? How often? Where at? What time? With whom?
- What sort of diet? When will you meal plan? When will you meal prep? How much money will you allot for restaurants? What restaurants will you stop going to altogether? How much water to drink daily? What vitamins will you take?
- How much sleep does your body need? What do you need to purchase for better sleep (i.e. light blocking curtains, a fan to drown out noise, a diffuser with essential oils for a calming atmosphere)?
- How much of your self-talk and thinking is defeating, negative, or not based on the biblical model of Philippians 4:8?
- What coping mechanisms do you have in place for life's unpredictability and myriad stressors?


2. Spiritual growth

- Do you read the Bible every day? When? Where? How much?
- Do you pray regularly? About everything?
- Have you fully surrendered your past, present, and future to God?
- Do you frequently read articles and books that enable spiritual maturity?


3. Relational harmony

- Are you humble?
- Are you teachable?
- Are you generous?
- Are you intentional about self-improvement?


4. The pursuit of knowledge

- Is gaining knowledge important to you? Do you see it as a necessity or an option?
- How can you practically live out what you learn?


5. Annual reading list

- Do you spend more time watching television, being on the Internet, or reading?
- How many books would you like to read this year? What subjects? How many chapters per day? When? Where?


6. Learning a trade or skill

- Expand your horizons
- Become useful in many fields
- Learn to contribute value
- Look for opportunities to be compensated for the help you offer


7. Time management

- Set timers for everything
- Time block
- Follow a schedule and have a routine for everything
- Block out distractions
- Schedule in breaks and times of doing nothing
- Create a daily plan
- Allot extra time to make room for the unexpected
- Arrive everywhere at least 15 minutes early


8. Life management

- Prioritize
- Write everything down
- Learn to say no
- Declutter your entire home
- Identify when you are most productive
- Find a mentor for every aspect of life
- Do not multitask (give 100% to each task instead of a small percentage to several tasks at once)
- Be proactive
- Get Life Insurance for the sake of anyone who is dependent upon your income in the case of your untimely passing


9. Stress management

- Do not bring unhealthy food into the house
- Avoid rushing at all costs
- Do not neglect your responsibilities
- Learn to set boundaries
- Do not agree to anything you don't have time, energy, or resources for
- Exercise immediately or go for a walk or drive instead of turning to media
- Have structure for every aspect of life (I cannot overemphasize how important this is!)
- Do a daily, weekly, and monthly inventory of your life to see where you are contributing stress
- Write a daily gratitude list
- Laugh often
- Identify simple stressors and attend to them as soon as possible: get a car wash or oil change, fix a broken light bulb, fill gas tank every time it hits halfway point, keep up with laundry and dishes so everything is always clean, cancel the subscriptions you aren't using, make the quick phone call or appointment you've been putting off
- Identify complex stressors and pursue biblical counsel to learn the best way to navigate them in a thorough manner


10. Money management

- Budget every dollar
- Save 10-20% percent from every form of income (including birthday and Christmas money)


Your goal should be, within a specific amount of time, to look back and say, "This is how I used to live, and this is my new reality." If you aren't setting goals regularly, do not be surprised or upset when you're living the same reality tomorrow that you have been already.

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Prioritizing Self-Care






As recently posted in the Emma Joy Weekly Newsletter


Avoiding Burnout Requires Routine Rest


Good day, everyone!


If you are anything like me, you find it difficult to relax. You feel almost guilty for taking the time to wind down, or simply don't know what it means to do nothing. For years now, unless I am cleaning, cooking, reading, writing, exercising, or having a profound conversation with someone, I have almost felt like I was doing something wrong. Like I couldn't just be still and always had to be productive in some way, always had to be contributing value in some way, always had to be striving to make a difference.


Something I have learned over the past several months is that self-care (that is, making time to slow down, schedule in times of doing nothing at all, and accepting the fact that God gave us the capacity for rest and we would all be wise to do so regularly) is undeniably needed for us to remain healthy physically, mentally, and emotionally.


We need to schedule in leisure time, just like we need to schedule in exercise and drinking plenty of water daily and getting adequate sleep.


Whatever is going on in your life, whatever stressors you are facing and burdens you are carrying, by all means, please add taking naps, drinking tea, taking walks, sitting in the sunshine, driving without the radio on (as silence is golden and healing), and hobbies to your regular routine. If you enjoy playing an instrument, make this part of your schedule. If you enjoy watching or playing sports, write the days and times you will do so on your wall calendar or in your planner. If you enjoy going to the library, or the park, or being a homebody despite the busyness of so many people around you, add it to your week or month.


I am learning that a person can be productive and keep up with chores, friendships, family, work, and school even while making time for oneself in order to recuperate, recharge, and simply rest on an ongoing basis.


You may even want to unplug from all social media, cable TV, social events that aren't absolutely mandatory, and learn to set boundaries so your time isn't dictated by the overwhelming expectations of others. I haven't had cable TV for several years and deactivated all my social media accounts early 2018 and I am not planning on ever going back. I have even stopped looking at all social media except for a few beneficial YouTube channels and highly encourage you to not feel the need to be in the know as the culture would have you believe is necessary.


I wish each of you well at the start of this new year and would enjoy hearing about any changes you have implemented over the last few months or changes you are in the midst of making in order to increase your well-being and add to your quality of life.


Our choices matter and every single one counts because it is leading us somewhere. But let us also keep this encouraging quote in mind:


"Hope smiles from the threshold of the year to come, whispering 'it will be happier.'" Alfred Lord Tennyson

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