2017, the year of…

2017, the year of…

Tomorrow is a new year, and it’s time for a new word. For 2017, it is the year of Endurance.

2017-the-year-of

Halfway through 2016, this could have honestly been my word instead of Independence. My mind was already shifting to this focus. This year I wasted a lot of time being disillusioned about my life; I fantasized way to much and ended up disappointing myself because, surprise! life isn’t a fantasy. My writer mind wishes it can create my own story just as easily as it creates others, but I’m not the only one who can throw curveballs into the fray. By October 2016, I figured out what word I needed to focus on next. It came like a clear beam of sunlight through the reddening autumn leaves.

Here’s why Endurance is my word for the year: I’m a wimp. I’m not saying that because I started hating on myself. I really am a wimp. Or, in nicer words, I don’t have as thick skin as I thought I did. I am a naturally emotional person who quits on things too soon because I didn’t get an instant “click” within the first few days. This bad trait has caused me to make several regretful decisions that I try to distract myself from to keep the shame level low. I don’t seem to have any endurance, for anything.

I think it was when I came across Hebrews 10:36 one September morning as I was on the bus that I decided on the word:

Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that he has promised.

“Patient endurance” kept playing over and over in my head. It certainly was what I needed right now. The Bible has so many examples of people who endured through much suffering in order to finish and receive the reward: Joseph, Job, Elijah, Paul…not to mention Christ himself.

With a focus on Endurance, I want to develop every part of my endurance: physical, mental, emotional, spiritual. I don’t want outside forces to determine my choices anymore. I don’t want to be such an easy quitter anymore. I don’t want to be controlled by flighty emotions that just end up driving myself and others crazy. I want to endure, especially during the hard parts. I want to get strong. I’m working out this year, and I mean my mental muscles.

year-words-so-far

past years’ words

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You could be your Dream’s Greatest Obstacle

You could be your Dream’s Greatest Obstacle

Perhaps you’re in a place where you’re wondering why your dreams just seem to be playing hide-and-seek. There are a number of outside circumstances that can affect their ability to come true, yes, but have you considered that you might be the greatest obstacle?

It might be a tough thought to grasp, but grasping it can be the first step to shifting that dream-limbo reality. How might you be the greatest obstacle?

  1. You’re discouraged by missed opportunities. Discouragement is a rough thing to combat, and it never truly seems to go away even when things are looking up. After a series of unseized opportunities, it can shape your perspective into one that believes you’ve lost all opportunities and it’s time to give up. Nevertheless, discouragement can be beaten, and it doesn’t have to hold you back.
  2. You lack the motivation. I’ve come to believe that some people are more naturally lazier than others, and those individuals do have a tougher time getting places. Though not necessarily something to be ashamed of (we’re only human), it’s not something to be proud of either. A lack of motivation could be the cause, and so it would help to find some, a kind that will truly have a significant longterm effect on you so that it’s powerful enough.
  3. You restrain your potential. Either if it’s done unconsciously or with reason, holding yourself back just doesn’t make sense. There is no such thing as being “ready” for anything, so it will always be expected in vain. There are some mysteries about yourself that you haven’t uncovered yet. You’re never 100% discovered.
  4. You don’t take responsibility for failures. A lack of money or uncooperative people can easily suppress a dream, but putting the blame on them for your unfulfilled dream won’t resolve anything. The thing about those factors is that they can be adjusted with enough nitty gritty effort.
  5. You hang with the wrong crowd. Being around people who aren’t very motivated or goal-oriented is going to really hold you back. Seek out those peers who are innovative, independent, creative, and you’ll find yourself inspired to be the same.
  6. You keep your options a little too open. Quoting from an intriguing article I recently read by Psychology Today: “…our stress befalls the generation with the most optionality yet. This blessing could also be our curse.” It talks about how the stress present in the millennial generation comes from having an endless list of choices, from picking a breakfast cereal to choosing a career path. It’s been proven from research that the more options that are offered, the less likely someone is to make a solid decision. Rather, it makes us shy away and do nothing. Perhaps your dream isn’t happening because you’ve considered too many options. Even though they’re there, and they’re all equally achievable, it doesn’t mean they all should be achieved. You have to pick one path, and stick to that path. (read the article; I highly encourage it)

So, why isn’t your dream happening, you ask? Maybe it’s a matter of time, and maybe it’s something you can do. If you’re in the way, then step aside.

A balance of Faith thru Action & Faith thru Waiting

A balance of Faith thru Action & Faith thru Waiting

Faith-confidence or trust in a person or thing; belief that is not based on proof.

 

What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead….Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect?…For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.
-James 2:14-26

 

Wait for the LORD; Be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the LORD.
-Psalm 27:14

For we through the Spirit, by faith, are waiting for the hope of righteousness.
-Galatians 5:5

I will take my stand at my watchpost and station myself on the tower, and look out to see what he will say to me, and what I will answer concerning my complaint. And the Lordanswered me: “Write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so he may run who reads it. For still the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end—it will not lie. If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay.
Habakkuk 2:1-3

 

Everyone, and not just Christians, have different ideas and discuss what faith entails. When I think of it in terms of action, I remember this one activity at youth camp called “Leap of Faith,” in which one or two people stood on a very narrow wooden post (which often shook like madness), some 10 or 15 feet high, with harnesses of course, and had to jump from it and grab onto a pole approximately five or six feet away. It was a leap of faith because, even though the harness rope would catch you eventually, you really did fall for a few split seconds unless you successfully grabbed that pole. When I think of faith in terms of waiting, I think of Job from the Bible, who had his entire life practically taken away from him, but he stayed passive and did nothing but continue to trust and worship God. It was a very long and strenuous time of waiting. Then everything plus some was restored to him.

More often than not, the “waiting in faith” concept is more commonly practiced, either intentionally or unintentionally. There is certainly faith in living by “I give it to God and he will take care of it.” But if that is your method year upon year, and nothing changes, then it’s either lack of balance or, sometimes, honest-to-goodness laziness. At the same time, if you constantly live by “walking it out in faith” and take leaps of faith at every corner, you’re more so taking personal initiative and forgetting to stop and listen to God, and, though boldness is an admirable trait, it is possible to be a little too bold. You’re basically throwing caution to the wind.

Throughout our lives, we encounter events and decisions that force us to choose waiting in faith or stepping out in faith. I have had so many moments when I waited longer than I needed, and in result it made me miserable and frustrated. Other times I took action too soon, and it fell through. The success of our decisions is based on whether it’s God’s timing or not. And I believe that God gives us equal amounts of waiting and taking action. He’s a God of balance, after all. So how do we know which kind of faith to operate in at each specific time? Listen to God, and by that, pay attention to the signs. Your heart will tell you, your closest people will tell you, and doors will open or shut. If doors seem to keep closing, then it’s time to wait. If doors seem to keep opening, then it’s time to take action.

The most important thing is, with either, it will always involved having faith in God. When you’re waiting, you’re believing that God will bring about the solution outside of your own effort. When you’re stepping out, you’re placing a dependence on God that is beyond what you could achieve if you were standing still.

 

What are some personal stories of your journey with these two kinds of faith?

 

 

Things I’ve learned on my journey so far…

Things I’ve learned on my journey so far…

There’s always new stuff to learn, and no matter how old I get or how far I get, I’ll always still be a kid in a classroom, getting some knowledge. Here are some new things I’ve learned:

  1. Not making a change when you need to can make you miserable. Only a select few can live contently in the same place doing the same thing, but more often than not, you’re not that person, and you’ll be miserable soon if you don’t change something. And you don’t have to be a young 20-year-old just starting out. The smallest changes can be the difference between a haphazard life and a fulfilling one.
  2. Don’t change too fast, though. It’s very easy to, once you make one change, to suddenly get into a groove and change everything. Take it easy. Only change one thing at a time, and give space in between them. Some things are meant to stick around longer. Best thing to do is ask God. You will know when he gives you the green light; you will.
  3. Stop blaming the forces outside of you. I am guilty of this, and it’s amazing the switch that happens in your brain when you decide to just be satisfied instead of giving control of your life to outside forces. Yes, perhaps that factor is making it hard to do something or be happy, but it all begins and ends up in your head. You can control that, so if you can’t change what’s on the outside, change the inside.
  4. Your fear may motivate you, but don’t let it be the ultimate catalyst. Fear can be useful when it pushes you to move or change. BUT! if it’s the only reason why you’re moving and changing, then its time to rearrange your motivators. In the end, if you continue to be controlled by fear, it will bite you in the butt and you’ll never be happy. You’ll always be fearful!
  5. Stay in your lane (don’t let others’ choices sway you). People are going to be ahead of you. You’re also going to be ahead of people, and that’s how it’s suppose to be. This goes back to that Bible devotion from Psalm 37:7. Are you going to be discouraged or inspired? Stay your path and don’t get distracted by the progress of others, including those who are behind you (yes, they can distract you, too). Refrain from judging or evaluating them. Put some blinders on your eyes concerning your lane of progress, and stay focused.

 

What are some things you’ve learned recently in your journey?

Remember, Character comes before Dreams

Remember, Character comes before Dreams

Romans 5:3-5 says: “More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”

Despite how much God wants to see your dreams fulfilled, and help you achieve those dreams (he has a purpose for you, after all), there is something significantly more important to him than that, and which should be more important to you. That is character.

And here’s the thing: you can invest in Character right now. You began from the moment you had the ability to make your own choices. Character doesn’t need resources. In your life pursuits, character comes before dreams. And with good character, the pursuit of your dreams will be more successful and pleasant. To the right people, your character will stand out stronger than your ability; to the right people.

What you leave behind will stick around longer than what you bring about in your lifetime. Don’t stop pursuing dreams, but pursue character first.