This past weekend we had a great family reunion. This was the first time in years that we had all been together, and it was wonderful 🙂 My cousin Carly is an avid runner and marathoner – she ran her last marathon in 3 hours 15 min! Crazy!! Anyway, she had already planned to run this half marathon on Sunday after the big reunion on Saturday. I thought, I’m sure I could run 13.1 miles, I should totally do it too! So after a little debate, I went online and signed myself up!

We had to leave the house at 4:45am to get there in time, so I was up at 4 and the race began at 6:45am. It was a great experience, I will definitely do it again. I paced myself, my goal was to finish, however long it would take me. The first couple miles were frustrating because I couldn’t get a strong enough signal to stream music from YouTube! Then I remembered I have a few books on Audible, so I put on “You are a Badass at Making Money” and ran the next 10 miles or so listening to that.

Carly finished in 1 hour 35 min, and waited patiently for me. I finished at 2 hours 27 minutes, which I was super proud of!

I knew I could do it. Obviously I would have had a faster time if I had trained specifically for it, but still, I did it and it wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be! This makes me think about life and how there are so many things we are pretty sure we could do, but don’t because we don’t feel we have the right training, or situations, or whatever. Now don’t get me wrong,  I am all about being well prepared, but let’s not stay on the sidelines when we know we can do it! Experience is the best teacher!

So give it a shot! Don’t expect it to be perfect. And have fun!

We also had Family Yoga on Saturday morning, which was amazing 🙂 Be Fit Together! <3

As an entrepreneur myself, I understand how your head can be going in a million directions at times. Thinking about that new program you are creating, how to best help that client who stays on your mind, making sure all your marketing/funnels/links/ autoresponders are working properly — not to mention running your household and taking great care of your kids, and spending quality time with your husband.

Financial Planning and Investing is probably something you know you need to start doing or get some help with. Here are 3 things you need to know to help you get started.

1. Life Insurance 

I know this isn’t very glamorous and even the sound of those words puts an immediate glaze over your eyes. There are so many different policies out there, it can be so confusing and frustrating! (Serously I know, getting my life insurance license was not fun! Haha)

I will make this super simple for you. In most cases, just get term life insurance, not whole life/ universal life, none of that- – just Term Life Insurance. It costs less AND the money you save will be better invested in a retirement accounts or mutual funds. There are some situations where you may want a different type of policy, but generally this is the way to go.

How much insurance do you need? God forbid you were to die prematurely, like tomorrow – You would want your policy to cover all your debts (especially your mortgage) and provide for your funeral costs and for your family to continue living in the lifestyle you are accustomed to. This number will be different for each family and will probably be a lot higher than you first think. Good news is term insurance is not that expensive and after your first payment, you have created an immediate estate that is tax free to your beneficiaries! Think of the peace of mind you will have knowing that your family would be well taken care of in the event of a tragic loss.

2. A Will or Trust

Along those lines, if you have children, YOU NEED A WILL OR TRUST!  Trusts are more complicated to set up, and you will want to do that eventually — but in the meantime if you don’t have anything, set up a simple will so you can designate who will take care of your children. I know it’s awful to think a out these things, and hopefully you and your spouse will live to a ripe old age together – but tragedies do happen and if you and your spouse died without a will, the state would decide who will take care of your children!

3. Budgeting

I know this seems pretty simple, and yet it can be neglected, especially when your income is inconsistent. You need to create a budget frequently, at least monthly. Excel has a number of free budgeting templates you can use that are very user-friendly and super simple. Take your income and distribute every penny where it need a to go. Want to go to the spa for the weekend? Put it in your budget and allocate how much you want to spend! Need to pay down some debt? Make a plan and do it!

Trust me, when you actually do this you will see how powerful it is! You need to take command and ownership of your money, and we do this through our budget. Of course each month will never go exactly as planned, so you go back to your budget and adjust accordingly. You can also build in space for your “miracle money” to come in — that money you are working to bring in but hasn’t arrived yet. Put that in there and where that is going – if you are staying connected to the vine and aligned with God’s plan for you — you wan watch it come in and CELEBRATE!

If you want further information, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me. I offer free consultations and free financial needs analyses to help you get on the optimal track to building wealth for the soul!

Biblical Importance of Giving

            Giving is clearly important to God. He first gave to us; He gave us life and this world we live in. He gave us Jesus and therefore a relationship with Him and eternal life. Every good thing is a gift from God, and as our Creator, everything is His. When we give generously and joyfully by ways our time, money or resources, it not only blesses those we give to and ourselves, but it also glorifies God. Giving should be a foundational part of our entire lives.

            As the body of Christ, it is our privilege to take care of each other and those God has put on our hearts. When God gives to us, we are then able to not only take care of our own needs, but help others in need. This is a huge way that we connect with other people and form relationships. As relationships are formed and strengthened, we are strengthened and able to share more and more of what God has given us both in terms of the physical and spiritual world.

            Giving makes us feel good, and makes those we give to feel good. It is a tangible way we as people can experience God’s provision, joy, grace and love. When we give to someone else, we are acknowledging their value as a child of God and showing them respect. We are bearing God’s image when we do this and shining light into this world. Actions speak louder than words and giving freely and joyfully speaks love and caring, loud and clear.

            On a practical level, giving plays a major role in the function of our world. We devote our time to education, we receive knowledge we then put into our work. Our work plays an important part in society and therefore gives to society. We receive payment for our work that we can then invest wisely to support our families and other people/organizations where God calls us. They receive our giving and are more able to function in their roles in this world and so on.

            My understanding of giving and receiving has grown a lot in the recent years. In our culture we tend to think in terms on the world’s economy and not God’s economy. When we give to xyz, we expect to receive from xyz – that is the thinking of the world, but not of God. When we give we are investing into God’s economy and He will then give more back to us. He is able to give back to us through every avenue possible, not simply the one we gave to. When we give, we are supposed to give cheerfully and completely without expecting anything in return. This is also how we are to love, unconditionally. We give and we love because God pours His love and blessings into us. We are supposed to be conduits, not reservoirs. When we give freely as God gives to us, we continuously give space for God to keep pouring into us.

          Giving is also an act of faith, surrender and trust. We are showing our trust in God when we give wholeheartedly. God’s word tells us that He is our provider and will always take care of us, therefore we can give knowing that His provision is constant. Often we give and give into people, places or situations and we don’t see the fruits of that giving right away, but we do receive blessings and provisions from other places – that is God’s economy.

          Understanding this concept of God’s economy has given me such peace. I do not have to be concerned with how what I have given is used. Obviously I want to exercise judgement and prayerful discernment when deciding where and what to give, but ultimately I am giving to God, and He is in control and makes all things right. When we withhold our giving, we withhold investing in God’s economy and we miss out on partnering with God in what He is doing. This is a big part of relationship with God, partnering with Him in His work. This is why giving is a foundational aspect of being a Christian. Giving is a foundational aspect of a healthy relationship, and God wants a healthy relationship with us.

          These mindsets are so important and have the ability to completely transform lives. God has called us to prosper and when we are able to be great stewards of the money and resources He gives to us, we will prosper in many ways. God calls us to give generously, and we can do this when we are wise with our money. All of these things enable the body of Christ to further His Kingdom and carry out the Great Commission.

“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing the in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20

 

             

 

This Means War

It was really late, or early depending on how you look at it, maybe 3 or 4am. Standing in the dim light, I caught myself in the mirror. I took a moment to survey the sight before me, what I had become. The light had gone from my eyes, all I could see was darkness, emptiness, and loneliness. I remember feeling… nothingness. How did I get here? How did I let myself fall so far? I was looming just above rock bottom; lost and alone in the darkness of my addiction, or so I thought.

I didn’t know then that my downward spiral of torment and self-destruction could actually be a gift. I couldn’t imagine that twelve years later I would have a beautiful family, my days of drug addiction a distant memory, and I would be living in freedom with a strong relationship with God. My twenty-year-old self had no idea of the strength and blessings she would gain as a result of overcoming this addiction.

Truly overcoming addiction alone is impossible. Thankfully God gives us tools, His armor: The Armor of God. God gives us Himself and because of that, we can overcome anything; and the degree of the darkness does not come close to the magnitude of the light on the other side. Most people would agree that addiction is a battle. The truth is, addiction is a symptom of the larger battle, Spiritual Warfare. “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 6:12) As Christians, we are born (again) into this war. This is clear in our daily struggles and especially in those seasons when it seems that all hell has broken loose.  It is extremely important that we learn the tactics of our enemy (the devil) and the weapons God gives us, so we can be victorious.

“Therefore take up the whole armor of God that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace, above all, taking the shield of faith which you will be able to quench the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints.” (Ephesians 6:13-18)

Paul used the illustration of a Roman soldier; his description of the armor was also an Old Testament reference to Isaiah 59; both of these were very familiar for his readers at that time. Each piece of armor was purposefully chosen to help describe its nature and application. He tells us to put on the full armor of God, all must be applied.

The initial weapon Paul introduces to us is the Belt of Truth, to which we are to “gird our waist.” The truth is the Word of God and all things that are in accordance with it. The truth holds everything together; without it everything falls apart. The enemy tries to deceive us and blind us from the truth. Truth brings clarity, reality, knowledge, understanding and freedom. “Then you shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.” (John 8:32) Joyce Meyer explains that we cannot be free if we do not know the truth. The truth is the unchanging foundation, the standard. We can anchor ourselves to that.

Paul illustrates our need for truth with the image of the Roman soldier’s belt. These soldiers wore long tunics that would need to be tucked up into their belt so they could move freely in battle, without fabric getting in their way. This belt held their whole armor and clothing together. MacArthur speaks to this piece as instructions for us to “tie up loose ends” in other words, pull yourself together, begin living according to the truth. For the addict, or anyone stuck in bondage, pulling yourself together is a daily losing battle. This cannot be accomplished without knowledge and acknowledgment of the Truth.

If the truth sets us free, then lies do the exact opposite. Logically one can reason that if we are in any sort of bondage, we are somewhere believing and living lies instead of God’s truth. A dark cloud of denial forms and when the enemy really gets hold, the victim no longer believes or can see the truth, or that it applies to them. This is where people become completely lost; until a sobering, rock-bottom, moment of truth type of event occurs that makes it clear; there are two choices: life or death.

I had a “moment of truth” that changed the trajectory of my life. I was trapped in torment, slave to my addictions, powerless and witnessing myself slipping away. I was completely out of control and could barely recognize myself anymore. Out of nowhere, God spoke to me, but at that time I couldn’t even recognize His voice – I just knew that what was said was the truth. He told me that if I did not get out of this life, I would wake up one day, ten years will have gone by, and I would still be stuck here; if I was alive at all. That was the sobering truth, and for me, the thought of being stuck in that life ten years later was worse than death. I knew and acknowledged that this was reality, this was the truth. I had to choose my fate. I chose life.

To fully live as God intends us to, we need to live righteously. The next piece of armor to discuss is the Breastplate of Righteousness. There are numerous Biblical references and definitions of “righteousness.” Simply put, righteousness is behavior that is pleasing to God. (biblestudytools.com) The breastplate was a piece of armor that protected the chest, the heart. In putting on this protection, it also speaks to shielding, covering, possibly even bandaging the heart. In the Spiritual Battle, we certainly get wounded in the deepest places of our hearts. These places need to be protected while they heal. Behaving in a way that is pleasing to God will protect the heart from attacks inside and out. This allows the broken heart to heal while we are still engaged in the battle. For the recovering addict, the heart will scream through the flesh to give it the addictive substance it craves. This needs protection; the person also needs protection from the deception of their own heart. Choosing to behave in a Godly manor silences this deceptive voice and allows us to live in peace.

After the Breastplate of Righteousness, comes the shoes of the Preparation of the Gospel of Peace. In Paul’s time, the “Roman soldiers wore heavy military sandals called caliga, half boot and half sandal….The soles were made of several layers of leather and were “clenched with hobnails, frequently arranged in patterns” These hollow metal studs provided a firm grip on the soil.” (Shirer 95) These were no ordinary sandals. These caliga were fashioned with spikes on the bottom. These spikes were necessary to stand firm and endure the rough terrain ahead. (Shirer 101-103)

The enemy wants us to live in chaos, confusion and fear, the opposite of peace. The Bible tells us over three hundred times to not worry, do not be afraid, do not fear, etc. The gospel, the good news of peace is that God has already won this battle for us. We do not need to fear. We can walk in peace now because of what Jesus has already done for us.

“Spiritual warfare is all about standing in faith on the finished works of Jesus Christ. So for me to be defeated, somehow I stand off of the finished works of Jesus Christ, and do the opposite… I don’t believe it…he (the devil) defeats me every time by just simply convincing me that it might be not finished…” (Dollar)

Peace is necessary to stand firm and not be knocked off balance. In the process of recovering from an addiction, at some point it is necessary to be at peace with letting it go; to no longer wrestle or fight with it. This fight is a tactic of the enemy to keep us distracted and incapable of accomplishing our calling. When peace is declared within, the enemy is defeated.

Though peace is declared, the enemy will still continue to look for ways to knock us back down. This is why we need the Shield of Faith to “quench the fiery darts of the wicked one” These “fiery darts” are whatever distraction, temptation, illusion, illness, harmful thoughts or actions he can throw at us. Our faith not only protects us, but puts out these “flames.”

Paul uses the vivid imagery of the flaming arrows used in his day to describe this. In battle, the tips of these arrows would be soaked in a flammable substance and then lit on fire. When they were launched, they could not only hit their enemies, but also set fire to their clothes or any number of items within their area. One little arrow could destroy a whole army if it hit in just the right spot.

In defense to these fiery arrows, the Romans used large shields that covered their bodies These shields were covered in water-soaked leather, so when the flaming arrows came, the fire was put out. The soldiers could also be completely covered from every angle when they assembled in a specific formation. This indicates our need for each other. We are stronger together.

This is what faith in action does. It does not stop the attacks of the enemy, but when the assault has been launched, it will prove ineffective against the power of faith. In recovery these attacks will come; re-stimulation of traumatic events, anger, physical symptoms, arguments, guilt, temptations, intense cravings, etc. Holding ground with complete faith in God’s healing power will leave the enemy powerless and his attacks failures. Faith protects our heart, and salvation protects our head.

The Helmet of Salvation outlines the importance to protect the head, the mind and our thoughts. T.D. Jakes gave a sermon on this subject entitled, “This is no time to lose your head!” Jakes message was clear about the vital nature of not only our minds, but also leadership. The head refers to the leader, the governor. The enemy knows if he can destroy the head, the rest will come crashing down. This brings to light another scheme of the enemy: attacking full force on our leaders and fathers. With this knowledge we can also understand that when we are under attack, it is because we have God-given authority and power in a particular place or position. The role of the helmet is to protect and to cover. This also exposes the enemy’s tactics to convince us that we are “not covered.” Because of salvation, the finished works of Jesus Christ, we are always covered.

All of these pieces of armor so far have been defensive. There is only one offensive weapon needed: The Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. This was modeled for us very clearly when Jesus was tempted in the desert. The devil tempted and taunted Him, Jesus responded with appropriate scripture and the devil left him. Plain and simple, yet extremely powerful.

To effectively use the Word of God, we must know it. As Christians, we study the bible and the more scripture we know, the better we are able to disarm our enemy. For all of us, addicts and sinners alike, a simple way to have your sword ready is this: first, identify where the enemy attacks you the most. What are your weaknesses? Then find scripture that applies to that particular situation. For example, if fears and feelings of loneliness and abandonment attack frequently – Matthew 28:20 says, “And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age” These are the words of Jesus. This is the truth. You are not alone, He is with you.

Finally, we are told to pray. Pricilla Shirer says, “Prayer activates the armor.” This is the connection. This is how we are able to plug in to the supernatural powers of God that enable us to take up His whole armor. The battle is in the heavenly places, not the physical world. Our enemy is unseen and our weapons of the physical world will not work. Clearly, what happens in the heavens directly affects us here on earth.

Putting on the Whole Armor of God is a process of strengthening our spirit and relationship with God. When our spirit and relationship are strong, we can defeat the enemy and be victorious in all areas of our lives. Fully outfitted in the Armor of God, our perspective changes. We become fearless. We see attacks for what they actually are and not what they seem. The enemy is not your spouse, your neighbor, a nation, a corporation, etc. “The enemy is not your enemy, your enemy is the victim of your enemy.” (Smith) And because God is who He is, all the damage from our real enemy is turned to strength, courage, confidence, abundance, humility and love. Even addiction can turn out to be a blessing. “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Romans 12:21)

 

 

 

Works Cited

 

Dollar, Creflo. “The Secret To Victory In Spiritual Warfare.” YouTube. YouTube, 17 Aug. 2014.

Web. 22 Aug. 2016. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SdME4UfZ44s>.

Jakes, T.D. “Spiritual Warfare FIGHTING Demons | Td Jakes.” YouTube. YouTube, 01 Oct.

  1. Web. 22 Aug. 2016. https://youtu.be/8w5P_TtJC8k?list=PLVtmiRbYLTKeUWHr890jOzOQBeAsVzM-V

Jakes, T.D. “Bishop TD Jakes-This Is No Time to Lose Your Head.” YouTube. N.p., n.d. Web.

22 Aug. 2016. <https://youtu.be/zseV7KbHG1w>.

MacArthur, John. “The Armor of God: The Belt of Truthfulness and The Breastplate of

Righteousness (Ephesians 6:14).” YouTube. YouTube, 09 July 2012. Web. 22 Aug. 2016. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qSWr7oHp370>.

Shirer, Priscilla Evans, and Rick Simms. The Armor Of God. n.p.: Nashville, Tennessee :

Lifeway Press, [2015], 2015. The Charles and Gloria Jones Library Catalog. Web. 25 July 2016.

Smith, Colin S. “Sermon on The Full Armor of God from Ephesians 6:10-18 by Pastor Colin

Smith.” YouTube. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 Aug. 2016. <https://youtu.be/rKwVcl4YATU>.