Learning to Embrace Mondays

Image result for mondays are hard picture

I once had a boss who told me, on multiple occasions, that I didn’t perform my best on Mondays.  Never mind that this person later admitted in not so many words that that he/she was also not in the best moods on Mondays because of the awareness of all the tasks that needed completed that week.  The point is: Mondays are often regarded as our arch enemies, but can we change that?

Here’s a list of some things that have worked for me or ideas I’ve read about in other posts.  The below list is not comprehensive, as I know this topic has likley been covered by thousands of others, and I have no desire to reinvent the wheel.

(Note: If you don’t work a traditional Monday-Friday job, you can still use these tips for any time you need a little spring in your step.)

  1. Self-awareness: Don’t beat yourself up if you’re feeling tired on a Monday morning. It’s natural to feel tired after squeezing in your to-do list, time with loved ones, and trying to rest over a 2 day period that zips by at the speed of light.
  2. Plan something to look forward to for a Monday: It could even be something simple like a walk during your lunch break, or a quick trip to the local ice-cream shop for a milkshake.
  3. Sunday Prep: Take time on Sunday to prep your outfit and meals for Monday.  Try to go to bed early (or at least on time) on Sunday nights.
  4. Monday motivations: Wake up early, and spend a few minutes reading, listening, or watching something that encourages and motivated you.  It might be the Bible (my first go to), it might be a podcast, it might be “I Love Lucy” reruns.
  5. Listen to music in the shower: Actually I recommend this everyday.  You can buy very inexpensive Bluetooth shower speakers.  I have multiple playlists on Spotify that work for just about any mood, including “Believe and Step Up” for when I need a confidence boost.
  6.  Create a weekly to-do list in order of priority: Do a personal list first before creating one for work – If you have it all written down regarding your personal list, it may give your brain more space to shift to work tasks.
  7.  Treat your body right:  If you’re regularly eating healthy and exercising, your body and brain will be healthier and much more able to take on stress.
  8. Learn to say NO: Learn not to overcommit to activities inside and outside the workplace.  A little more free time will make the weekends not seem like the only time you get to prioritize R&R.

Feel free to comment below with ideas that have worked for you!

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A Place For You (Lent Bonus Post)

At church this morning, we sang a song I’ve heard what seems like hundred of times over the last few years.  A song with powerful lyrics – but those that I’ve sadly become numb to over time.  However today, one particular line of this song stuck out to me prominently.  It goes like this: “In my Father’s house, there’s a place for me…”

Why that line?  Why me?  Church is nothing new for me.  My whole life has been spent attending church, and Bible studies, and volunteering, and, and, and…BUT If I choose to be honest with you (all 5 of you that will read this) what I feel when I go to church lately has usually been a barrage of loneliness.  And often I let the loneliness win.

I can blame many factors for my loneliness – a tight knit church group from a few years ago whose fibers have started to slowly unravel due just to life happening and people moving on; to going to a new, larger, church but working too much in the past to really get involved and make the same connections.  Still, at the end of the day I know that I’m supposed to be in God’s house and that He always, always is with me.

I don’t know what the answer to the loneliness is quite yet, I just know God wants me in His house AND He wants you to know you are always welcome at church – no matter if you’re a seasoned Veteran, one who attends only Christmas or Easter, or you’ve never been.  Please let me know, because, at my Father’s house, there’s a place for you…right next to me.

Lent Post 4: (Un)Forgiveness

Unforgiveness can be a sneaky thing. It hides in the shadows of your heart. You might not even realize that you are treating someone with less kindness than normal. You may try to justify not helping someone in need, not realizing that the root of your lack of empathy is unforgiveness.

I recently realized that I had unforgiveness in my heart. I was holding on to negative feelings towards someone that I worked with. I was not acting mean or rude to the person, but my thoughts towards them were not always kind. It began when I had expectations that they would help me with a project, but they disappointed me. I did the project without them and everything turned out fine. I thought that I had just brushed it off, that the disappointment didn’t matter. But months later, when they were asking for volunteers to help them, I realized that I was not as eager as I normally am to help. I realized that I had not been very interested in how their life was going and had avoided engaging with them at work.

Since realizing this, I prayed for them and for me. I prayed that God would help me to see them the way that he sees them and that he would help me to get over the disappointment and forgive them. I started to make a conscious effort to talk to them more and think more positively about them. Things aren’t perfect, but I think our relationship is starting to grow. I don’t feel negative emotions when I see them anymore and I am glad when things go well in their life.

When Jesus was hanging on the cross, he looked down at the people who had mocked him, whipped him, and nailed him to the cross. They were in the process of physically torturing him and gambling over who would get his clothes when he said “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34). It’s not like the soldiers torturing Jesus were asking for any forgiveness. They didn’t even believe that he was the son of God! Jesus didn’t wait until he had risen from the dead and come back in glorious splendor to forgive them. But Jesus forgave them while he was still in pain and while they were still in the midst of hurting him. It’s amazing that Jesus was able to forgive people as they were physically and verbally torturing him, while I had trouble forgiving someone months later for a such a small offense!

I think that God expects that kind of forgiveness from his children as well. He wants us to forgive people before they even ask for forgiveness. He wants us to forgive those who are still publicly shaming us. He wants us to forgive people while they’re bad-mouthing us on Facebook. He wants us to forgive people while our grief over what they’ve done is still fresh. He wants us to forgive them right after they did something behind our back. He wants us to forgive them when they are calling us names to our face. The bible says that “If you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” (Matthew 6:14-15, emphasis added)

How on earth can any of us hope to have that kind of forgiveness? I think it comes from remembering what God has had to forgive us for. The times that we’ve lied, times that we stole, times that we were angry with God, the times we disobeyed our parents, the times that we treated others badly. None of us is perfect and if we can remember the times that we’ve made mistakes and sinned, that can help us to have empathy for the person who is also making a mistake and sinning against us. When forgiveness is hard, we can pray for God’s help. He wants us to forgive and is happy to help us when we ask for it.

Even if you don’t think that you’re holding unforgiveness against anyone right now, it might be hiding where you can’t see it. I would encourage you to pray and ask God to reveal any areas where you still might be holding on to unforgiveness. You might be surprised (as I was) by what turns up. I hope that you will be able to experience the freedom that I had when I finally found that area and was able to forgive.

Lent Post 3: Rat Race

Within the last few weeks, I’ve recently started going to the gym faithfully again.  I like to people watch, so while on the elliptical or treadmill I try to casually look around (hopefully without appearing creepy) and see what workouts others are doing.  Sometimes I take in a panoramic view of the whole gym and think how silly we all would look to, say, a 191h Century pioneer plopped smack dab into our 21st Century modern world.  Most Pioneers got a majority of their exercise plowing the fields, even washing clothes by hand.  There life’s work was their exercise, and  was largely a means to and end – to put food on the table and keep their families safe.

I am all for going to the gym, even though my job keeps me on my feet and lifting, bending, climbing ladders.   I’ve still made it a goal to go 3-4 times per week, and I’ve mostly been able to stick with my goal – except for last week when I only made it twice.  As good as I feel in my faithfulness to going to the gym this season – I can think back to many, many times when I fell off the wagon.  Paying for a gym membership I’m not using is nothing new to me.

Striving: It’s something most of us know very well.  Always setting goals for ourselves, making to-do lists, missing sleep to finish one more task.  It’s never-ending.  Just like a gym full of people running on a treadmill that won’t take us anywhere…how often do we strive to be better versions of ourselves and beat ourselves up when we don’t measure up?  I’ve got news for you, you won’t ever measure up.  I won’t ever measure up.  I’m all about reading books and listening to podcasts about productivity – but I know me, and I know I may never be the introverted underdog turned motivational speaker/singer/famous (insert noun) that would make me finally feel like I’d arrived.  None of us will ever fully arrive – and that’s okay.

I have a friend – a newer friend but one I hope to continue to get to know more.  She couldn’t be more sweat.  We share a mutual fondness of houseplants, but we don’t share the same Religious beliefs.  She is a Buddhist, I am a Christian.  Not long ago we got together and ended up discussing our Religions during a Whole Foods salad bar run.  I was reminded of the Buddhist belief in karma, and that if someone sins (resulting in bad karma) that person must engage in acts of good karma to “try” and atone for that sin.  It’s a constant striving – and honestly seems exhausting to me.  As a Christian, I believe that all people are sinners and we can never make up for or atone fully for our own sins without Jesus.  Christianity is meant to be a life free of burdens because we believe that Jesus’ death and resurrection paid the price for our sins.  We are to do good in order to be more like Jesus, but not in order to earn forgiveness/a place in Heaven.  Even knowing intellectually that I shouldn’t have to do good works to strive/earn God’s love, I so often fall into that trap as a Christian.  I am thankful that Jesus has not given up on me or you!

Romans 3:23 For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,

Matthew 11:30 For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.

If you feel like you are in the rat race of life with no way to slow down, send us a message and we can let you know how to welcome Jesus into your life for peace and to remove the striving/burdens.

 

Lent Post 2: What is Lent?

After writing the first post, I realized that while I knew that Lent lasted 40 days and that it involved fasting, I did not really know anything else about it. Not knowing why you are doing something is a dangerous place to be. In the bible, the pharisees often did things that were “religious” without knowing the reasoning behind it. They kept themselves clean as God’s law required on the outside, but Jesus called them dead and unclean on the inside because they missed the point of the law (Matthew 23:27-28). They took God’s law to the extreme. They were so focused on doing no work on the sabbath day of rest that they got angry with Jesus for healing someone on the sabbath instead of rejoicing in the miracle. They missed the point of the sabbath. I don’t want my lack of knowledge of Lent to make me like the Pharisees, so please join me as I learn more about it.

Lent first started with the early Christians. The first written account of a Lent observance is from 325 AD (Fairchild, 2018). Lent lasts for 40 days to commemorate the 40 days that Jesus fasted in the desert before he was tempted, as well as the 40 years that the Israelites wandered through the wilderness before reaching the promised land (Fairchild, 2018). Most Christians actually celebrate for the 46 day period from Ash Wednesday until Easter Sunday (Fairchild, 2018). Sundays are not counted in the 40 days as they are considered like a “mini-Easter” celebration (United Methodist Church, 2019). The Eastern Orthodox church Lent lasts for 40 consecutive days and starts on Clean Monday, seven weeks before Easter (Fairchild, 2018). It ends on Lazarus Saturday, eight days before Easter (Fairchild, 2018).

Regardless of when it is celebrated, Lent is a time to fast, repent of sins, and pray to prepare for Jesus’ resurrection on Easter (United Methodist Church, 2019). It is a time for self-examination, a time to refocus on God. As a person fasts, that fasting is supposed to give them more time to spend with God. If you fast from food, you can spend the time you would normally be eating praying and seeking God. For Lent I am fasting from going on Facebook multiple times per day, so during the time that I would normally go on Facebook, I have been reading the bible and praying. God spoke to me the other day and said “If you want more of me, you need to make more time for me.” Lent is the perfect time to make more time for God.

Not all Christians celebrate Lent and in my opinion, that is OK. Lent is not a holiday in the bible, but a man-made tradition, much like the Pharisees’ tradition of no work on the sabbath. Is it bad to celebrate Lent? No. I think fasting during Lent can help bring a person closer to God and is a great way to deepen your faith. But as you celebrate Lent, make sure that you are not looking down on other Christians who decide not to celebrate. Looking down on others for not following religious practices is something that the Pharisees would do, and no one wants to be like that brood of vipers!

References:

Fairchild, M. (2018). Learn about Lent and how the Lenten season is observed. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/what-is-lent-700774

The United Methodist Church. (2019). What is Lent and why does it last forty days? http://www.umc.org/what-we-believe/what-is-lent-and-why-does-it-last-forty-days

Lent Post 1: Our Everything

During lent, we give up something. I t might be chocolate, pop, coffee, or something else unhealthy. It might be electronic games, or some other way that we spend our time that we’re addicted to. I personally am planning on giving up Facebook for Lent and only going on once a day. (I would be embarrassed to tell you how often I usually check it a day!) In the time that I normally spend on Facebook, I plan to read the bible and pray.

It’s good to give things up for a time. It shows that we value God over those things. But God doesn’t just call us to give up one thing. He calls us to give up everything.

Most Christians know the story of Abraham and Isaac laid out in Genesis 21-22. If you need a refresher, take a break and read it now. Basically, God promised Abraham that he would have a son and Abraham waited and waited for that son. Abraham desired a son because in that culture, it was the only way to preserve his legacy. If he had a son, all of his possessions would go to the son. If he didn’t, all that he owned would go to a servant. It took 20 years of waiting for Abraham to have a son after God originally promised that he would have one. He was over 100 years old when his son was born! You can be sure that Abraham treasured his son above all else. Abraham’s son was everything to him.

God acknowledges this in Genesis 22:2 when he asks Abraham to “Take your son, your only son, whom you love–Isaac–and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you.” If I heard that, I would have trouble believing that it was God and would ask for a sign. But Abraham was faithful and did what God said. He made the long journey to and up the mountain in Moriah. Right before he kills Isaac, with his blade up in the air, God tells him to stop and provides a ram for the sacrifice instead. What really stands out is that Abraham was willing to sacrifice his son, his everything, for God. He honored God above all else and held nothing back from him.

So what do we consider our everything? Is is money, our job, our family? What have we prayed for above all else? And if God asked us to, would we be willing to give it up?

Instead of choosing your own item to give up this lent, prayerfully consider what God might be asking you to give up. It might not be the thing we’re most attached to, but pray about it. You might be surprised by the answer.

Nature of the Beast

I know someone who’s constantly saying “It is what it is”, and, “It’s just the nature of the beast” every time I mention a process that doesn’t make sense to me  or somebody who I feel is being treated unfairly.  In essence, she’s saying — this won’t change, just live with it.

I’ve come to loathe those phrases mentioned above.  Why?  To me, they sound like a cop-out,  It’s a “roll over and play dead” mentality in a world that will eat you alive if you don’t find some ways to stick up for yourself and others.  That might sound surprising coming from me, because I’m pretty timid most of the time.  Still, the thought of injustice in the world, both near and far, is sickening.  I’ve slowly been learning over the years how to stick up for myself – and I hope for others.  There’s so much more to do, but I’m not willing to just give up and succumb to the pressures and bullies of this world.  How about you?

A few years ago I had a dream – very odd as dreams often go – especially considering I seem to have a vivid subconscious imagination.  Anyway, in the dream, an evil spirit was terrorizing myself and those around me.  I ran into a building, which turned into a hospital.  The evil spirit came in and had a baby.  The baby immediately looked at its “mother” and shook its head no back and forth like a chastisement.

The takeaway from that strange dream today — For 2019 and beyond, you may be like the baby in the dream.  God has birthed courage in you even when you can’t see or feel it.  Do what right, stick up for others.  And please, don’t forget to stick up for yourself if you are being mistreated.  It’s not selfish.  It’s self-care.  And you can do it in a way that glorifies God and not a way that is just vindictive in nature.

I would love for you to comment below and let us know in what way(s) God may be showing you how to stick up for yourself and others.

Isaiah 40:29 —He gives power to the faint,
and to him who has no might he increases strength.