Riding the Storm: Living Monday like it’s Friday!

Chris Sweet

leadership training guru, life-is-awesome consultant, and oh-so-cool parent

Ride the Storm Month

Happy Friday Monday Femme Fuelers!

I am excited to be a guest contributor to Femme Fuel this month.  This month, I will be talking about how to ride the storms of life with God.

I know that today is not Friday and “Fun” should not be part of this conversation on a Monday.  But, what if we did live Monday like it’s Friday.  Like it’s the day before THE Weekend!!  Let’s turn our Friday party jam during Monday.  That’s right.  Let’s play with our minds to see what they will do, if we actually went through Monday with a Friday confidence.

Clip Art People Dancing Silhouette

Here’s the deal.  I too have gone through my share of anxious workdays like you.  And, it has caused my body, spirit and mind to be impacted.  That high amount of stress is just not good for you. That’s why it is so important to take care of your entire self: mind, body and spirit.

So what can you do?

  1. Figure out what is causing your dread on Monday.  If you love what you do at work, you are less likely to feel the Monday Blues.  But if you aren’t passionate about what you do, then it’s easy to feel the dread.  Sometimes, it may be just the season to bear through the angst of work for the time being or this might really be the moment to leave your job.

I believe that we have to live our days intentionally grateful and with positivity.  Sometimes that may seem difficult when it seems that at almost every minute your world seems to be crashing on multiple and different levels (work, health, family).  I understand.  I have been there.  I have asked myself that question like you, “Ok am I carrying an internal magnet which is attracting all of this negativity?”

  1. Acknowledge that the moment you are going through is difficult. But know that God, your Creator and Father, pays attention to every single detail of your life including the ones that you are going through that seem too difficult.  And, He loves you and He is holding you.  Sometimes that seems doubtful, when your part of the planet seems to be under perpetual darkness.  Get these verses through your spirit to stand on your identity (God’s view of you):

Jeremiah 1:5 ESV

 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.”

 Psalm 139:13-16 ESV

 “For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.”

  1. Realize that there is a purpose behind the traumatic event. It is easy to get upset with God that many of our traumatic events are happening successively or simultaneously.  Sometimes, I have the tendency to think that there is something wrong with me to attract the dark cloud over my head.  There are times, I want to hide from the cloud when it storms.  Sometimes, I have had to just allow the rain to pour on me.  Standing in the rain is a cold, spiritually stripping experience for me.  It makes me uncomfortable to allow myself to voluntarily expose myself to the elements for a long period of time.  But that rain, like the circumstance we are going through is necessary for getting rid of all that we hold onto that is not good for us.  And, after the rain (because there is always a respite period of after), the sun shines bright on our back healing our wounds.  But, we have to stand in the rain and we have to choose to accept the sun’s gift of healing. And, the hard thing to do, is to thank your Creator for the stormy cold rain as well as the bright life restoring sun.
  1. Change your mindset from the victim to warrior. This will require time with God and getting your armor of God on.  You can’t achieve peace and contentedness without having that spirit and soul-lifting pursuit as you go through your journey of pain.  That would be like a tree trying to sprout without the life giving seed.

Let your warrior mind influence your words and actions through your trial.  Sometimes, you have to be professional and calm through the worst of attacks.  Staying calm through the assault is important for you to not only to survive but to succeed.

“The basic difference between an ordinary man and a warrior is that a warrior takes everything as a challenge while an ordinary man takes everything as a blessing or a curse.” ― Carlos Castaneda.  I so love this statement because taking everything as a challenge is a mindset I too am trying to have no matter the situation.

We will talk about this during the next few weeks on how to accomplish this warrior mindset.

  1. Express gratitude to God for 1) this time in your life even if it is really bad 2) be transparent with God on your feelings of loss and lack of clarity about why the events are happening and 3) then express, “But, God, I trust you. I lean into You.”  When I go through these tough periods, I have prayed to God, “I am so painfully human Lord God and please forgive me when my heart feels despair for the weight of the tragedies that I am going through.  And, I praise you through these circumstances with my mouth even though my heart is not yet there.  Please forgive me.”

“For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things”  Matthew 12:34-35.

At some point, your heart will catch up with your mouth.  So, thank God for everything in your life.

  1. Have fun!

Your season will pass. And when it does how will you serve? Encourage your friends, family and associates on what has happened to you in your life.  Also, have fun and live fully in the moment.  Laugh with someone.  Tell that joke.  Dance with your kids or dare I say it- by yourself!  Put your arms around your family and hug.  Love.  Love.  Love.

There is no question that this life is hard.  But for some reason, God has appointed us to live here on this earth for whatever season.   And, I have gone through experiences in life that revealed to me the dark side of humanity.  But, here is what I have learned. We are all created intentionally and uniquely not to live our part of life solo, but to work with others to engage our world and leave a successful blue print for the next generation of what we’ve done so that they learn from our mistakes and do better.  We also have an opportunity to help hurting people around us when their hurts are similar to ours.

So, let’s together live our life each day like its Friday.  Here are things I have been reading that help me ride storms.

Tim Storey, The Comeback and Beyond

Gretchen Rubin, Happiness Project

http://www.forbes.com/sites/jacquelynsmith/2013/02/25/11-ways-to-beat-the-monday-blues/.

Read about the Warrior’s Mind Training, http://www.nbcnews.com/id/27072979/ns/health-mental_health/t/warrior-mind-training-helps-troops-stay-calm/#.VkYQtfmrTjY

Art image:  http://cliparts.co/cliparts/5iR/Ko5/5iRKo586T.jpg

Good Night, Chicken Nugget

By JMathis

Dear Chicken Nugget,

You are so blessed to have the mother God has chosen for you. As you bathe in the warmth of your cocoon for the next several months, I pray that the Holy Spirit speaks to you about how precious and lovely your mother is, and how she is a light and a love to all who have come to know her.

As He quiets and reassures you, covering you tenderly, I pray that He whispers to you about your mother’s radiance. Her penchant to live vibrantly is infectious, as it reflects her desire to breathe in the movement of the Spirit and the ways of God.

It is through your mother, that you will learn about Him. For in her generosity and compassion, she will embody for you the essence of God’s transforming love for you and for others.

She is a brilliant diamond, sparkling with laughter, insight and wit, and her stories always hold the ability of drawing you into her heart. Yet, she never ceases to explore the worlds of her family and friends: comforting them during tragedy, encouraging them during darkness and lifting them up higher than when they first walked in through her doors. It is in these times, that she draws you into His heart.

She will be your advocate, your champion and your #1 fan. Focused and tenacious, she will fight for God’s best for you when the hallways of life seem to close in on you. She will do no less for you than she has already done for those within her constellation of reach.

She is a woman of causes, passions and ideas, and she longs to inspire people to chase their own dreams. She is a born teacher and leader, but most of all, her nature is as a friend. Learn from her, delight in her and draw strength from her. Just as God had designed, she is yours and you are hers.

Sleep tight and take rest, for when your day comes, you will meet this incredible woman who has housed you so sweetly. You will meet your brother whom she has so lovingly reared and your father whom she adores. She abounds with love for them and for her Savior, and will also spare no expense in filling your love tank with an endless supply of kisses, hugs and devotion.

Never forget that your mom IS a treasure, and should be treated as such. Sometimes life may divert your attention, but always remember how much she has poured into you, prayed over you and passed onto you.

Just as you are, she is fearfully and wonderfully made, knitted by the hands of God himself. Now, He has knit you to her for a lifetime, as He has knit you to Him for an eternity.

God has provided you with an amazing mother to safeguard your heart, your fingers and your toes. Love her and cherish her, as I do, and walk in the ways that she has taught, so that you will always remember to walk in Him. 

You are so blessed to have the mother God has chosen for you.

Good night, Chicken Nugget. Dream of Mommy’s love, just as I will tonight.

I Am In The Rainy Season

By JMathis

I am in the rainy season.

Tidal waves of despair threaten to steal my well-being.

Flash floods of sadness threaten to kill my fruitful harvest.

The crackling bolts of fear threaten to destroy my peace.

To steal, kill and destroy are my enemy’s marching orders, and his thundering fists of defeat threaten to deafen and darken my hope.

The monsoon threatens to engulf and flatten my earthly castles and I howl angrily into the air, desperately in search of my Father.

Where are you???

I search for signs. I panic.

I listen for the sounds of rescue. I become anguished.

The storm rages on and my patience is battered and bruised.

I fall onto my knees, accepting that the waters will overtake me.

Confused, frustrated and disillusioned.

After what seems like hours, days and months, it is then that I hear His Voice:

I am in the rainy season.”

I look up in the torrential downpour and I see Him.

I see Him on the cross, naked and forsaken. Pummeled by the gusts of my sin and hopelessness.

It was then that it washes over me that He was on the cross throughout the entirety of my rainy season, preparing my escape.

Preparing my liberation. Preparing my victory.  

Preparing my redemption from the jaws of the enemy.

The tempest threatened to steal, kill and destroy my salvation, but my salvation hung on the cross faithfully until my future was secured.

I am in the rainy season.”

While the squalls of sin threatened to bury me, my Savior stayed on the cross until It Was Finished.

It was then that my spirit was flooded with the knowledge that It Was Finished 2,000 years ago.

It was indeed finished, so why was I allowing the enemy to steal my well-being? To kill my fruitful harvest? To destroy my peace?

To deceive me with empty, powerless threats?

I had forgotten that my Savior placed me on higher ground, on wings of eagles, in the palm of His safety, far removed from the sting of death and the barbs of the enemy.

He did all of this just for me, over 2,000 years ago, long before my rainy season.

Like a child, I had forgotten.

I had forgotten that the joy of the Lord is my strength. I had forgotten that His mercies renew every morning. I had forgotten that Love Never Fails.

Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you.”

I had forgotten that my Lord is King, Commander and Master over my rainy season.

I had forgotten.

I am in the rainy season and It Is Finished.

Yes, Father, you are in the rainy season and it is finished.

Help me never again to forget.

Spring Cleansing

By Bindu Adai Mathew

As I began to prepare to move out of our downtown condo that has been our home for the last 8 years, I realize that I’m not just cleaning out the clutter of the last 8 years of my life… I’m also cleaning out the clutter that I brought with me when I moved in 8 years ago as well. 

As I sit, literally sit, in my walk-in closet and reach for the stacks of notebooks and paper that have remained hidden in the corners of my closet, I begin to quickly feel overwhelmed, realizing that what should only take me a couple of minutes is actually going to take me hours. Part of my brain rebels and reminds me that since I hadn’t looked at them in that many years, then I should probably just grab it all and chunk it into the abyss of the oversized trashbag next to me. I should, but a still, small voice booms louder than my conscience. It is the voice that has ensnared and imprisoned me for years and labeled me as a “packrat.” I give in, as I always do, and start digging through the stacks.  An electricity bill from 2007. I hesitate for a moment… “But what if I need it?” I shake my head at myself, ashamed that the thought has even crossed my mind. Before it can repeat itself, I thrust the paper into the black abyss. Some receipts from a store purchase that I won’t even mention the year they’re from. I assure myself since I no longer plan to return those items, yes, these receipts can go into the trash as well. A journal from my single days when I was lamenting the woes of unrequited love. Yes, this one is a keeper and could be potential inspiration for my next novel! Not to mention it’s my journal, for goodness sake! I set it aside to my right, creating a new fresh pile of keepsakes. On and on, I go…I’m embarrassed to know that yes, while the contents of my trash bag grew so did the pile of keepsakes. While some things were easy to let go, others were painful, even if I knew I no longer needed them and probably wouldn’t have the time to look at them until I had to clean my closets yet again. I consider just throwing these keepsakes into a moving box to reckon with them later. After a heavy sigh and the feeling of dread, I look at my keepsake file and begin anew, making another pile of things I can’t part with. I slowly whittle away at the original keepsake file and soon it becomes something more manageable. While it has been painful, tedious, and long, I have to admit, I do feel more free…less burdened… 

In my quiet time later that night, God prods my heart. No…not my heart, too, Lord! Wasn’t my closet enough for today? I sigh, knowing that my spring cleaning isn’t complete. If I don’t purge my heart as well of the unnecessary clutter, I will carry that with me indefinitely as well. As I pray, I began sorting through some of it. The betrayal of a once good friend. The letdown of another. The critical words of an inlaw.  The stinging words of a sibling. The disappointment of a setback. Yes, there are countless things that I have hoarded and held onto in the dark recesses of my mind and heart. Things I should throw out, things I should let go of…but like the piles of paper in my closet, I have allowed myself to hold onto it, allowing it to fill unnecessary space in my life, clouding it, crowding it. I want to feel that freedom I felt earlier when I looked at my closet and saw the cleanliness and tidiness of it after my spring cleaning. Yes, it was time…more than time to spring clean my heart as well.

 

Forgive me, Lord, for being so unforgiving. Help me let go of the hurt, the pain, and the bitterness of some of those memories. Cleanse me, Lord, and renew my spirit. Lord, you’ve promised me joy for my ashes. You’ve promised me that you will use everything, even the bad, for my good. Lord, I choose to believe that. I choose You over my hurt and bitterness. Renew me, Lord.

 

 

 

Spring Cleaning with His Presence

By JMathis

I was given the priceless gift of being able to soak in the Almighty’s presence this past weekend. Truth be told, I can’t even remember the last time I was able to have this opportunity (possibly pre-kids?).

Within minutes of being alone with Him, though, I knew immediately that it had been far too long. I had allowed the thorns of life to choke out my hunger and thirst for Him, and my well had been left feeling dry and depleted.  

It was time for me to have an encounter with my Savior, as my soul was ready for some Spring Cleaning.  

Now, if I had my way, spring cleaning for my soul would probably have taken the form typically associated with spring cleaning one’s house: pick up/throw out/de-clutter/organize/sanitize. Repeat. Pick up/throw out/de-clutter/organize/sanitize. Repeat.

Automated. Robotic. Mindless.

Thankfully, His ways are not my ways, and His Spring Cleaning does not mirror my own awkward attempts at starting anew.  

His Spring Cleaning is eternal and moves far past Spring, and into the moanings and groanings of all creation. Into the deepest recesses of my thoughts, my memories and my DNA. Into the snarled roots and tangles of my lineage: my womb, my mother’s womb, my grandmother’s womb. Mary’s womb, Sarah’s womb, Eve’s womb.

Continuous and timeless. Everlasting and without measure. His Spring Cleaning is life-giving and life-sustaining.  

The type of Spring Cleaning that can be found in His presence alone.

If you are searching for strength and joy, seek His presence. (Honor and majesty are [found] in His presence; strength and joy are [found] in His sanctuary. ~ 1 Chronicles 16:27)

If you are searching for rest, seek His presence. (And He said, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” ~ Exodus 33:14)

If you are searching for your purpose, seek His presence. (You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore. Psalm 16:11)

If you are searching for forgiveness, seek His presence. (Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord. ~ Acts 3:19)

If you are searching for a miracle, seek His presence. (The mountains melt like wax at the presence of the LORD, at the presence of the Lord of the whole earth. ~ Psalm 97:5)

If you are searching for a life transformation, seek His presence. (The earth shook; the heavens also dropped rain at the presence of God; Sinai itself was moved at the presence of God, the God of Israel. ~ Psalm 68:8)

I took one taste of His presence this past weekend, and I have no idea why I had ever left.  

With one taste, I found healing. With one taste, I found restoration. With one taste, I found forgiveness. With one taste, I found love.

All that, with just one taste.

Breathe life into me. Cleanse me. Renew me. Forgive me. Change me, Oh God.  

Hot water. Cold water. Rinse. Spin. Dry.

My Spring Cleaning has begun and I don’t want it to end.

The Real Meaning of Love

By Bindu Adai Mathew

Love. The world defines love as an emotion…a feeling. From fairy tales to Hollywood love stories, we are taught from childhood through adulthood that love is this intense, electric emotion that consumes us and sends us to the stratosphere, robbing of us all sense and thought .

The Bible, however, defines love differently:  Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 1 Corinthians 13: 4-7.

We have all probably heard these verses multiple times in our life…and more often than not, they are read at weddings. However, it probably wasn’t until I was married myself that I truly understood what those verses meant.  The first time he squeezed the toothpaste from the middle instead of the end? (Sigh) The first time he left the toilet seat up?  (Head shake) The first time he stayed up late after I meticulously cleaned the kitchen and went to sleep,  only for me to wake up in the morning to find random dishes, glasses, frozen food and chips wrappings, crumbs, etc. strewn across the kitchen counter and living room table? (Steam coming out of my ears) During those early years, I found it very difficult to be loving at times. Loving=patience=forgiveness…neither of which I was good at. But thank God, even when I wasn’t acting very loving, my husband continued to love on me.

Love, I’ve come to realize over the years, is not just a feeling…it is an action. Forgive. Sacrifice. Protect. Trust. All actions that God has done for us: For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16.

Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. John 15:13.

As always, Jesus is our example. He loved us so much that he sacrificed his life so we can a chance at eternity in heaven. He loved us so much that even in the midst of intense suffering and pain at our hands, He said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.” Luke 23:34.

Wow. Sacrifice. Forgiveness. Love.

Hallelujah, hallelujah

By JMathis

It’s one of those times where worship at church has stayed with me throughout the days that have followed. Paul Baloche’s What Can I Do permeates my thoughts today, and is hitting me close to the core.

What can I do but thank you

What can I do but give my life to You

Hallelujah, hallelujah

What can I do but praise you

Everyday make everything I do a hallelujah

A hallelujah, hallelujah

I keep grazing over, “Everyday make everything I do a hallelujah.” How does one go about doing that exactly? How can I look back at 2013 and emphatically say that everything I did this past year was a “hallelujah”—a praise to my Father?

One word: Jesus.

Looking at His life here on this earth, we can see how every word He spoke, every person He delivered and how every life He changed was simply put, a Hallelujah, to His Father. The Father said as such in Matthew 3:17, “And a voice from heaven said, This is my Son, whom I love, with whom I am well pleased.”

Living like Jesus is how we make everything a hallelujah. Year after year, that should be our one and only resolution. Period.

Living in love. Living in truth. Living in the knowledge and the revelation that Jesus alone saves, heals and delivers. Living all of that OUT LOUD for all to see.

Instead, we (myself included) all jump on the societal bandwagon, and put fitness goals and other vacuous desires ahead of our Father’s interests.

Everything else takes priority, and He gets short shrift.

How often is our new year’s resolution to become closer with Christ? To hear His voice? To seek Him to the point where we forsake all other vain pursuits?

Keeping up with the Kardashians, instead of keeping up with our Savior.

When we put our Father’s work first, we honor Him. When we get down to the business of saving lives, we praise Him and acknowledge that He is the only source of hope, salvation and deliverance.

I fear that for my whole life, I have put barrier after barrier ahead of seeking Him first. Even after He promised me, “Seek ye FIRST the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added unto you”.

What happens when you seek “these things” (boys, looks, fame, success) first, rather than the “kingdom of God”?

Heartache, body issues, disappointment and feelings of failure.

Where are the hallelujahs at that point? When we are so mired in pain, it feels too heavy, too hard to praise Him.

While it’s never too late to scream “hallelujah” when things are falling apart, couldn’t some of this pain have been avoided, if we had just made everything a hallelujah to begin with, at the very start?

Make everything you do a hallelujah. Make everything you do about the kingdom of God.

Even when there are tears, even when there is rejection, this year and every year, make everything you do all about Jesus.

Hallelujah, hallelujah.

He saves, He lives, He’s yours.

Hallelujah, hallelujah.