Use This Time Wisely

Many of us are enduring reopening phases as well as quarantine during this pandemic. It hasn’t been easy but for the most part, we have made adjustments to how we do things from our careers to education. Nonetheless, this pandemic has served much stress, loss, anxiety, uncertainty and hardships. Yet, many are still holding on despite the turmoil from Covid-19 and even the many issues, like racism and gun violence, that are now on the forefront of our current society that people are waiting and fighting for to finally be addressed.

As in one hand chaos and turmoil increase in the world and in another hand the world slows down. We are left to understand that we can’t approach life as we have been. We may have to make some adjustments that are deep within and that will prepare us for the next season. We may have to reevaluate how we were living before this time. Rediscover some goals and dreams. Realize that God can use this time for our good and He can help us use this time wisely.

Were you burned out prior to the quarantine? Were you in need of some quality time with your family? Did you have a business or foundation that has been on your heart to start? How about following through with writing or face timing a person God has laid on your heart to reach out to remind them God cares? Did you want to finally get healthy mentally and physically? Did you need to learn a second language? Did you need to let go of some things and some relationships? Did you need to get your bank account healthy? Did you need to finally deal with some pain and trauma? Did you need to strengthen your prayer life and faith walk? How about learning patience and trusting God?

Prior to the quarantine, shutdown, Pandemic, I was burned out. Overwhelmed and anxiety through the roof. I had some things I needed to deal with, boundaries to set, and goals to accomplish. One of those goals was to build my trust in God. And I also desired to have more quality time with God in prayer, His Word and presence. Other goals were simply to cook more, be more present with my family, write more, work on and eventually release my book. I also wanted to practice more self-care. I needed more self-care.

Using my time wisely and accomplishing these goals haven’t been easy and I am far from perfectly disciplined, if there is such a thing. However, by the grace of God, I have come to grow in these areas and accomplish some of my goals. I give glory to God because He not only knows what I need and what those around me need, but He works all things for my good.

I have been cooking more, making sweets and dishes such as cheesecakes, brownies, shrimp and chicken alfredo and more.

I love food and I love cooking and sharing my cooking moments and meals with family have been great.

I finished my book; praise God, and I am enjoying again taking photos of nature. I have also been tackling fear and anxiety by being vulnerable with God, prayer, His Word and grace.

Additionally, I’m learning to rest, spiritually, in the Lord and naturally to replenish and refuel. Walking with family, movie nights, and having pool time or errand runs have helped me to be present with family. I also sought a bit of therapy and started back journaling. God told me a while ago to reprioritize and organize my life. I wish I had started this mission before all of this but it is not too late.

God first and foremost and then everyone and everything else shall fall in their proper place. Learning to trust God and set boundaries will also help me to get some order in my life. Letting the Holy Spirit lead me and doing things with purpose and simplicity in mind will also help. Lastly, I aim to continue with strengthening my faith walk and love walk.

To conclude, I don’t know your goals or what God is calling you to do. I don’t know what you need to heal from, what things you need to part ways from and who you need to turn you attention back to. But I do know that you still have time today right now to choose to use your time wisely and set the stage for God to lead the way in your life. To choose to go deeper in the things of God and dwell in His presence like never before.

To choose to receive the life and life to the full Jesus came to give us as well as receive God’s unfailing love. To choose to live simply, fruitfully and purposefully. Prepare now and pray more. Rest while you can. Ask God to teach you to trust Him and rebuild your life on the foundation of His Son. Seasons will change. Prepare for the next season. Learn from this one and do all that you are supposed to do in this one.


Put Your Shoes On Honey,

Our journey awaits,

Tannika

Changing Lanes and Choices

Two guys, both on their way to court to go before the judge for various reasons, are involved in a fender bender. One, Doyle (Samuel L. Jackson), wants to exchange information and follow proper protocol. But, the other guy, Gavin (Ben Affleck), is in such a hurry to get to court. He, Gavin, is a lawyer representing a case but not in an honest way. The other man, Doyle, is headed to court to fight to stay in his sons’ lives. Gavin is in such a hurry that he does not oblige Doyle. So, Gavin takes off leaving Doyle on the highway stranded. Subsequently, Doyle arrives late for court and things do not go in his favor.

From there, things spiral out of control, and both parties take revenge as one man fights for his children and the other fights to get back a crucial file for his case. Both men are having the worst day of their lives, yet are full of pride that is bringing out the worst in both of them. This movie is like an emotional roller coaster.

I learned, however, three things from this movie. The first thing I learned is that we must slow down. Rushing can hinder us from thinking and responding carefully. It also can hinder our ability to listen to understand. Had the lawyer who although needed to be in court slowed down to follow the proper protocol the events might have been slightly different. Plus some car accidents happen because some one is in a rush. The second thing I learned is that we must not hinder someone from trying to do the right thing. The lawyer wants to give the father a check and call it a day. For some people that check would suffice but the father wants to follow the proper protocol following a car accident. He wants to do what he knows is right. The third thing I learned is that revenge and lies lead to one bad choice after the other. The lawyer keeps making one bad choice after the other, telling one lie after the other until he is in so deep. The father keeps making choices to seek revenge and it is making his situation even worse. One could argue it is the lawyer’s fault; however, at the end of the day we all are responsible for the choices we make.

So, without telling how the end goes if you have not seen the movie, these two men have some decisions to make. Or will this spiral so far out of control that both men will lose completely? Changing Lanes (2002) is a good movie and it makes one think about how he/she will respond. You can check this movie out on Amazon Prime.

Signing out,

Tannika

Annoyed To Godly Action

Ever had a time when you were so frustrated by your circumstances? (Raises my hand!!!) Trouble and their makers seemed to follow you everywhere you went. Every turn you made, they were right there to annoy you, derail you, and distract you.

Once when we were going to the place of prayer, we were met by a female slave who had a spirit by which she predicted the future. She earned a great deal of money for her owners by fortune-telling. She followed Paul and the rest of us, shouting, “These men are servants of the Most High God, who are telling you the way to be saved.” She kept this up for many days. Finally Paul became so annoyed that he turned around and said to the spirit, “In the name of Jesus Christ I command you to come out of her!” At that moment the spirit left her. When her owners realized that their hope of making money was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace to face the authorities. They brought them before the magistrates and said, “These men are Jews, and are throwing our city into an uproar by advocating customs unlawful for us Romans to accept or practice.” The crowd joined in the attack against Paul and Silas, and the magistrates ordered them to be stripped and beaten with rods. After they had been severely flogged, they were thrown into prison, and the jailer was commanded to guard them carefully. When he received these orders, he put them in the inner cell and fastened their feet in the stocks. About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everyone’s chains came loose. The jailer woke up, and when he saw the prison doors open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself because he thought the prisoners had escaped. But Paul shouted, “Don’t harm yourself! We are all here!” The jailer called for lights, rushed in and fell trembling before Paul and Silas. He then brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.” Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all the others in his house. At that hour of the night the jailer took them and washed their wounds; then immediately he and all his household were baptized. Acts 16:16‭-‬33 NIV

Anxiety, trials and tribulations as well as trouble makers may arise and follow you throughout life. They may make you feel so alone, hopeless, and even tired and annoyed. However, after reading these scriptures for the second time, I realized, thanks to the Holy Spirit, three things you can practice to lead your annoyance towards godly action. One, as a believer of Christ Jesus, I am in covenant with Him and therefore, I have authority over every demonic force (Luke 10:19, Luke 9:1). He (the Holy Spirit) that is in me is greater than he (the devil) that is in the world. Two, troubling circumstances are also opportunities to put my trust in God and keep my focus on God. Let me fix my eyes on Jesus for He is the author and finisher of my faith. Three, these are also opportunities to pull out two of my weapons (prayer and praise). Besides meditating on the Word of God, prayer and praise are other weapons to aid me in my battles. Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God instead of latching on to their despair.

Victory will come along.

Just keep on.

Keep praying,

And stay focused on Him too.

Keep praising God,

For He will see you through.

What has you in despair or frustrated? What things have you learned to healthily cope? What godly actions do you take to combat against your trials and tribulations? Why is it not a good thing to just avoid issues and circumstances? How does God want us to face them?

Guard Your Heart…At Work

According to the American Institute of Stress, “sixty-five percent of workers said that workplace stress had caused difficulties and more than 10 percent described these as having major effects.”

According to the American Institute of Stress, “twenty-five percent of workers view their jobs as the number one stressor in their lives.”

For more stats on workplace stress, click on this link: https://www.stress.org/workplace-stress

Upon prayer requests, it was an eye opener when God exposed one of the root causes of my anxiety was work. Moreover, every time I would enter a particular work site (I have multiple), my body would go on a stress alert, and one time I had an anxiety attack right inside of the classroom (thank God I was alone at the time). My anxiety levels at work/from work have decreased since that awareness and although I still have struggles, I handle the anxiety and stress much better. Life is a process and so is overcoming stress and anxiety. I found through research one way to handle anxiety was to just embrace it. Don’t fight it. Let it take its course while of course stopping what you’re doing, like driving if you are. This helped because fighting the anxiety was made my heart pound even more and the walls of my lungs close in tighter. The fighting didn’t help. The releasing control and allowing myself to feel physically and emotionally helped ease the symptoms and restore me back to calm. I also learned to take deep gut breaths. My anxiety often gave me more stomach issues to the point of having to run to the bathroom. I call it anxiety poop now. The breathing helped greatly to get my breathing and stomach under control. I have also watched funny videos and listened to worship music to change my mental channels. There are other ways to manage stress and anxiety but let’s talk about one way that should be supreme. That is to guard your heart.

Work-related stress can get so bad it can result in sickness, mental instability, the inability to be present, anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, low morale, poor productivity levels, and even death. I have been a part of numerous work conversations or chatter that lead to one or more of us expressing the effects of stress at work personally and as a whole.

Sometimes stress can be in the everyday routine and demand, or from workplace bullying, or betrayal, gossipping, and backstabbing, unprofessionalism, outside personal issues affecting inside work issues, or from coworkers who are aware or unaware of the unruly pressures they put upon the team due to the pressure put upon them. And nonetheless, these issues may be all spiritual for we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places (Ephesians 6:12).

Since we spend much of our day at work, how do we live our lives where stress no longer controls them or seeps into our hearts and cause emotional infections?

We, as believers, are taught to guard our hearts. Above all else, guard thy heart; for out of it flows the issues of life (Proverbs 4:23). But do we keep our hearts guarded even at work? I am not talking about putting up a 10-foot wall and threatening all the coworkers you dislike from trying to climb it guard.

Our spiritual heart is composed of our thoughts, will, emotions, and desires. We are to protect it and allow God to transform it. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God (Romans 12:2). Guarding our hearts is a battle for we sometimes forget much of the war takes place there. And if the enemy can can throw grenades there, he can get you off course with what God believes about you and wants for you.

So, let’s begin to purposely and actively guard our hearts, even at work. Work is not just to earn a paycheck but it is like a second home for many, and it is definitely our mission fields. There are people on our job hurting and need to receive God’s love and presence to envelop them. Walking in consistent stress and anxiety can stifle you from walking in the love and presence of God to impact others. Your mind is clouded; your heart can grow weary. Edited: There are beautiful things that can take place at work. For example: today, I had a moment of break down when I arrived at work and was embraced and comforted. I was embarrassed but little did I know that I wouldn’t be the only one who needed comfort. After our movie and discussion session with the young ladies for Women’s History Month, some of the students expressed their hearts but it was the female staff who poured out their hearts, and I witnessed such love and support surface. Guarding your heart also means allowing vulnerability to surface in your heart to receive the genuine love and care you need. When your heart has grown numb and cold, nothing grows there. I thank my school today for being a safe place for us to share and receive the love necessary. That school knows who they are.

Guarding your heart at work takes four things:

1. Taking every thought captive. Catch those thoughts, check those thoughts, and change those thoughts that do not line up with God’s Word about you, others, or your circumstances. “I am not good enough.” “Things will never change.” “My coworker hates me.” Maybe she does or maybe she is coming down hard on you because when she was little they told her she will never be anything so now she demeans everyone to lift herself up. You don’t excuse the behavior at all but seeing them the way God does can ensure you won’t hold a grudge, seek revenge, or internalize their low self-worth and make it yours. You will be able to address them professionally and with love and understanding. Even avoid thoughts, gossips, and opinions from others at work that are causing division, stress, and just plain ungodliness and unprofessionalism. I have not always done this. But sometimes you have to change the subject and give those things no attention.

2. Change your perspective. Seeing things, others, and yourself the way God does. This takes prayer, even fasting, and saturating in the Word of God. I remember upon getting evaluated at work last year by my bosses and one saying they noticed I wasn’t as stressed or sick like I used to be. I told them I still got sick and stressed sometimes but what changed is the fact that I had to change my perspective. I had to see things differently and not take every thing personal. Seeing things from a different perspective, from God’s perspective, helps us to maintain our joy and our witness before others even during rough times.

3. Take a day off to renew. Every now and then you need a day of rest to reset. Some times I had to take off because I was sick and needed rest. I not only rested but I took that time to spend quality time with God. That refreshed me, having unrushed, quality time with the one who created me, loves me unfailingly, is the Source to my resources, and sacrificed greatly for me. I also would find myself able to catch up with something I normally wouldn’t be able to. I also found that rest was needed to be truly productive. I can think straight and function well.

4. Lastly the Word of God is alive and active and it is our sword. Saturate in it, read it and study it, use it as your weapon against the enemy’s lies and threats, and submit it to the Father in prayer. His Word cannot return to Him void.

Be encouraged!!! What other ways can you guard your heart? Are you a source of comfort and truth for others at work? How do you navigate work-life balance?