How to pray your dreams into reality

Mark 9:23 “Jesus said to him, ‘If you are able!—All things can be done for the one who believes.’

If you want to hear more of this story, read Mark 9, but the basics are that Jesus has been asked to do something “if he is able.” I love His response. He’s like, “Really?! Yeah, I’m able, dude. Are you able to believe?”

 

I’m here to tell you that God is more than able and He can fulfill your greatest dreams, and I want you to start praying about your dreams and goals.

 

Now here are  the things you need to know/remember about praying for your dreams:

First, it’s NOT a one way ticket to getting what you want.

Even if your prayers never bring your dream to life the way you think it should, praying about it will bring you closer to God, shaping your heart like His and eventually your desires to be more like His.

 

BUT… God does still know that you have dreams and deeply felt desires – after all, He put them there!! (Unless of course, as I mentioned before, your dreams are just plain evil. Sorry, those who dream of world domination.)

 

It’s easy to pray for your dreams. Just tell God directly what you want – don’t be embarrassed or try to explain why your dream will really be in His best interest. He already knows what you want, and He’s got that best interest thing down. Don’t be afraid to ask for what you want because God might not give it to you, and then you’ll have to question His power or goodness or even existence.

Too often we give God cop outs to “protect Him.” But He doesn’t need our protection. Elijah clearly wasn’t worried about whether God felt like bringing fire when he challenged the false prophets (1 Kings 18). Elijah expected God to show up, and He did.  God is God! He can say yes or no or not right now or whatever He wants and still be God – even if you don’t like it.

So ask for what you want and believe that He can deliver. He loves and rewards faith.

Do your homework. God is not a genie. If you want to accomplish something, then put in the work. You’re not going to blow the world away like the next Taylor Swift (Gosh, I love her, btw) if you sing like Scuttle from The Little Mermaid and put no effort in to improve.

 

Ask God to purify your desires. Sometimes our dreams really are just selfish or they’re not good for us. If we pray openly and don’t keep a closed mind, God will change our mind if it needs to be changed.

Ask for wisdom, guidance and patience daily. Pray throughout the day as you work on your goals. Don’t expect a lot of help from God if you’re trying to accomplish your goals and expecting Him to help, but you’re not even bringing Him into the work. Talk to Him as you go. For example, if you’re about to start a photography class, as the class starts ask God to give you a good instructor, give you courage to ask questions, for understanding and retention.

Hugely important!!!

Pray in hope. God loves us to praise Him and proclaim His greatness, so state that you believe in Him, that you know He is powerful enough to bring about your dreams.

I found this great prompt at http://christianteens.about.com/od/christianliving/qt/A-Prayer-Of-Hope.htm

You know my dreams, Lord, and I know it is a lot to ask to realize those dreams, but I ask that you hear my prayer of hope. I would like to think that my hopes and dreams are all part of your plans for me, but I trust that you always know better. I put my dreams in your hands to mold and fit to your will. I surrender my hopes to you.

Last but not least, ask for God’s blessing and favor in the things you’re doing right now.  Maybe God has a different plan for you but you won’t see it until you excel where you are now. On that same note, praise God for the good things He has done/is doing now. Don’t agonize over what you don’t have.  Dreams are important, but life is too short to be miserable pining over an unrealized dream.

Don’t forget:

Forgive those you are holding a grudge against and live in God’s will. 1 Peter 3:12 “For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer. But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”

 

Join the conversation:

What are your dreams? How can I pray for you about them? Do you think it’s selfish to pray for your dreams when there are people in the world who are praying just to survive?

STSS: When I Didn’t Care About My Mom

Quite a while ago, back when I was still Queen of Eating Whatever I Wanted With No Weight Gain, I came home to find that my mother was making cheese dip – because my dad wanted some – and cookies – because my sister wanted some.

I said, “Cheese dip and cookies?! What is this, my lucky day?” I laughed. 

But my mom’s response killed my laughter pretty fast.

“More like my unlucky day.”

Suddenly I realized that my gain was coming at a cost – the extra time and effort my mom had to put in to make these two delicious treats in addition to dinner and doing laundry, dishes, cleaning up after the kids and more.

 

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Philippians 2:4 “Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others.”

 

Everything we do affects someone else. It might be small; it might be a long time coming, but we don’t live in a vacuum and so our choices do have effects. 

 

Humans are naturally selfish, but if we’re going to truly be God’s children, we have to fight against that nature. Go out of your way to lift others up and think about the potential consequences of your actions. If you’re in a bad mood and you snap at a coworker, you don’t really know how that’s going to affect him. Maybe his wife left him and he needed just one word of kindness today. If you ignore your neighbor when she waves at you, maybe you’re pouring into an ocean of loneliness that she’s been drowning in for years now. 

 

Really look and listen to the people around you. Find ways to bless them and think before you act.

 

Join the conversation:

When have you acted thoughtlessly and really regretted it later? How can we be more purposeful in our how we interact with others?

Yearn to Learn

I must admit I was a child who hated school.  But I always understood that there was a difference between school and learning.  Now, learning – that I loved, and the older I’ve grown, the more I’ve realized that learning should never end. Just check out what some people with more clout than me have said about learning:

“There is no end to education. It is not that you read a book, pass an examination, and finish with education. The whole of life, from the moment you are born to the moment you die, is a process of learning.” — Jiddu Krishnamurti

 

“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” — Dr. Seuss

Highlight either of the above quotes to share.

I especially love the way Dr. Seuss put it. Knowledge is a gateway, a bridge, a door to this big, big world. The more we know, the more places we can go.

Wow. That man knew about more than just red fish, blue fish.

Image from www.innovativestencils.com

So I challenge you, dare you, urge you to start actively learning. Learn new skills, research a topic you’ve always been curious about, improve your work or hobby skills, discover what is going on in the world around you.

 

There are 3 super easy ways to learn now: 

  • Read a book

  • Google

  • Ask someone

 

 

Luckily for us, we live in an age of technology and advancement. The hard work is done for us. There is a book or at least a web article on every topic you could imagine. Visit your local library or order a book on Amazon. Type anything you want into the search bar of your web browser … or just ask someone. 

 

The world is filled with knowledgeable people, and most of them like to talk. Offer to buy someone lunch in exchange for a chance to pick their brain. Plan out your questions ahead of time & take notes. 

 

If you took just 20 minutes a day or one hour a week to learn something new, you could open yourself to a world of new possibilities for your dreams, your job, your family and you relationship with God. I dare you to start today.

 

Join the conversation:

What topic or skill do you want to learn about? What kind of opportunities could this provide?

STSS: Why I Ruined Something Beautiful

Last fall I saw two miniature perfectly shaped pine cones. I admired their artistry and then immediately crushed them beneath my foot. Then I thought, “Oh, they were so cute and perfect and just adorable right next to each other and I ruined it thoughtlessly.” 

 

hippy girl holding up peace sign

Yes, I was mourning the destruction of pine cones. I appreciate nature, man. (image courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net, by Witthaya Phonsawat)

 

I stomped those pine cones for two reasons: I didn’t really notice them – notice them until just before my foot came down on top of them, and it is my habit to step on pine cones for the wonderful “Crunch!” they make.

 

I think we also “crush perfect pine cones” as Christians sometimes.

 

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Philippians 4:9 “Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me — put into practice.”

 

God wants us to practice His Word because – we’ve all heard this – “practice makes perfect.” The more we live out God’s commandments, the more natural it becomes. But it also works in reverse. The more we live selfishly and without regard for God, the more natural that becomes.

 

We need to examine our habits and determine what kind of person we are becoming. Do we crush beautiful things or lift them up? Do we notice when people have hurt feelings or do we contribute to their insecurity? Do we stomp all over people without even noticing or do we put them above ourselves?

Join the conversation:

What is your best habit and what is your worst? I want to pray for you to strengthen your good habits and destroy the bad ones. 

 

 

How to get yourself to do something you don’t want to do

We’ve all been there, right? We know we should do a certain task but we just don’t feel like it or don’t have the time.

 

For example, I’ve been putting off getting my inspection sticker because I have had NO time this summer … and now I have a ticket. I’m telling you, I am a cop magnet. Unfortunately, my magnetism only draws them into pulling me over. It does not help at all with charming my way out of a ticket – probably because I am very uncharming when I get pulled over.

 

So how can we make accomplishing difficult or annoying tasks easier?

Let’s discuss over an imaginary breakfast, shall we? Oh, but we can’t because I always say I will prepare enough eggs and sausage to serve as breakfast for a week but I never do.

 

The first step to overcoming this road block to our imaginary breakfast (and my real breakfast each week) is to identify the #1 obstacle that holds me back. For me, it’s the time it takes to get it done. I’m no Betty Crocker and I’d much rather spend my time doing something else. 

 

So, I timed how long it took me to cook the breakfast: 29 minutes and I always end up waiting on the sausage because I prep the eggs first and then they cook way faster than the sausage which needs to simmer for a while. 

 

So to decrease the time it takes me to cook, making the time variable less of an obstacle, I need to adjust. I could prep the sausage first and get it started and then cook the eggs, which would bring the cook time down to about 20 minutes.  I can also wake up 20 minutes earlier on those days to account for the cooking time so that I’m not losing any precious minutes on eggs and sausage. I don’t even like eggs and sausage that much.

Recap: Identify the #1 obstacle, gather information that will help you and then adjust.

The second thing you can do is find ways to make the task more enjoyable. Listen to a fun playlist while you cook, clean or pay bills online.  Ask a friend to join you for your daily exercise.  Reward yourself with some chocolate for organizing a stack of files. The possibilities are endless, which is great because there are an endless amount of boring/difficult things you will have to do in life, my friend – not to bum you out, but it’s true which is just one more reason why it is so important for you to dream big and go for your goals.

 

Join the conversation:

What task do you hate doing? Following the two steps I suggested, how can you make the tasks easier to deal with? What tips did you have for doing things you don’t want to do?

STSS: Why My Cat Doesn’t Love Me Anymore

We have a cat.

OK, we have a lot of cats. But I think I am exempt from being a crazy cat lady because #1, I’m married and #2, I did not seek these cats out in an attempt to become a crazy cat lady. It just sort of happened…but I digress.

 

One of the cats I’ve been caring for is named Princess, and she was one cute, little sweetie.

white kitten
Oh my, the cuteness!

She loved, loved, LOVED people and everyone in my family loved her even my pretend-like-he-doesn’t-like-animals-but-is-already-talking-about-how-much-he-will-miss-Monker-when-we-move-out Dad.

 

Once we converted our laundry room into a cat room, Princess started spending more time in there with her half-wild sisters than with us in the main area of the house. And the next thing we knew, Princess started mimicking her sisters’ behavior and became really skittish around people. By hanging out with a “wild” crowd, she became “wild” herself.  (Ha ha, I am punny.)

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1 Corinthians 15:33 “Do not be deceived: ‘Bad company ruins good morals.'”

Christians should love everyone but we should also be careful about the company we keep. It is a lot easier to be pulled down than to lift others up, I guarantee you.  Just spend some time with a person who says “son of a b****” a lot, and the next time you get cut off in traffic, that will be the first phrase that pops into your head.

 

 

But as with pretty much everything in life, you have to find the balance here.  You wouldn’t be following Jesus’ commandments to love others and not to judge those who are not under His law if you never spoke to people because they swore or drank or whatever it may be.

Ask God to guide you in each relationship and also keep God as your most frequent company.

 

 

So here’s the lesson summed up in a nice, little tweetable:

If you spend too much time with the wrong crowd, you will become the wrong crowd.

(Highlight to share)

Join the conversation:

When have you been influenced negatively by friends, family, coworkers, etc? Where do you think the balance is between loving all and keeping good company?

3 Easy Ways to Fight Burn Out + Challenge Follow Up

Last month I challenged you to pick a goal & complete 5 tasks to push you toward reaching that goal. Now I want to know – how did you do??

 

Join me in commenting below & let me know what your goal was and what 5 tasks you did to reach your goal. I’d love to pray for you and your goals, so don’t be shy.

 

 

OK and now onto the info we all need to know.

 

Drum roll, please…………………………..

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How to avoid burn out!!

I am a pretty productive person – Not to be confused with a pretty, productive person although according to my hubby, I am that, too :)  – and I love getting things done.

 

Tiffany Dawn

Oh yeah, I am working that hair.

But even I get tired and lazy sometimes. It’s just part of being a human unfortunately. But there are ways we can combat burn out. 

 

 

#1 You have to take time to be with God.

Jesus took time to be alone for prayer with God. And Jesus was God, so if He specifically set time aside to talk with Himself in Heaven instead of just consulting on the go, we know it’s important. God renews and refreshes us. He gives us patience and strength when we’re at our last reserves. Plus, He’s full of life and love and fun. He makes every day better.

 

#2 Do something fun every day.

Yep, I said every day.  It doesn’t have to be a huge party but it does have to be something you enjoy: reading, dancing, gardening, walking your dog, or the best option of all – cuddling a cat. 

Tiffany Dawn with cat

Ahhhh…relaxation.

#3 Exercise.

We’ve all heard these things before: If you’re healthy, you have more energy. If you look better, you feel better. Plus, exercise releases happy chemicals in your brain. ‘Nuff said. Get off the couch and go.

 

Join the conversation:

When was the last time you were burned out? How did you overcome it? What other tips would you add for fighting burn out?

Getting Started: Tips For Pushing Past The Hardest Part

The greatest amount of wasted time is the time not getting started – Dawson Trotman

(Highlight to share)

Ugh, so true. For example, I wasted about five minutes before I started this post, wondering whether I wanted it now or later. Then I gave myself a mental kick in the behind and said, “Who cares?! Just write it and then you’ll have it for whenever you want to post it!!”

So here we are :)

Our brains are wonderful but they can also be terrible. Don’t let your brain trick you up. You don’t have to know everything about a topic or project before you get started, and you don’t have to be the best at it. Think about this: experts were not experts when they started. It was only through the many hours of working on something and learning from their many failures that they became experts. So tell your critical brain to shut it, breathe and allow yourself to learn and fail and be a beginner.

Write down your plan. This is different from planning your days. When you want to accomplish a project, jot down each step of the project into bite-sized tasks, BUT don’t let the need for the perfect plan paralyze you. You can always change your plan. 

And then – this is the most important part – take action!! Action is a catalyst, and each task you accomplish builds momentum and pushes you onward. There are great benefits to planning ahead but none of it outweighs the benefits to actually moving forward. 

Think “Go, set, ready” rather than “Ready, set go!”

(Highlight to share)

In other words, someone who takes off at the jump of the gun with less than perfect form is going to have a 100% better shot at winning than the person who has perfect form in the starting blocks but never leaves them. As you go, you will learn and improve and eventually, you will be “ready.” You’ll start to feel and act like an expert. 

Now I challenge you to pick a project and take action on it. Complete 5 tasks that push you toward the completion of that project. I’ll challenge myself as well and then we can compare notes and see how we do. You in?

Join the conversation:

What project do you need to take action on? This can be cleaning your house of clutter, applying for your dream job or reaching out to reconcile with a family member. Nothing is too big or too small! I’d love to hear from you so please comment below.

STSS: Straight Ghetto

For all my new blog friends, STSS = Simple Truths from Simple Stuff, which is a devotional series where I share insights from everyday life experiences. Hope this blesses you!

A couple of years ago, I coached for a local children’s basketball league. During one game, one of the coaches pitched a fit and had to be escorted from the game. I always feel embarrassed for people when they act so horribly, but in this occasion, I was doubly embarrassed for the coach.  Why?

She was black.

Now, before you go crying, “Racist!” let me enlighten you – I am half-black, and I am not racist against half of myself :) I don’t believe that the color of your skin causes you to act one way or another. Rather, it tends to be the culture you’ve grown up in that dictates your actions. Look around your community, and I’m sure you’ll see plenty of horrid people – black, white, brown and in-between.

But stereotypes and racism do exist, and as I watched this coach get forced out of the gym, I felt that she was blindly strengthening those stereotypes in the minds of the people who observed. There was a pretty good mixture of white, black and Hispanic parents and players, but she was the only black coach. And she suddenly dropped all her professionalism and good manners and started acting like she was straight from the ghetto.

Seriously, it looked like something from an episode of COPS. And it played right into common stereotypes that plague the black community. I hated it, especially the example it set for her team.

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1 Peter 2:9 ” But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, in order that you may proclaim the mighty acts of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.”

 No matter who you are and where you are, you are always representing someone or something else. Christians are representing Christ every second of the day – talk about some pressure! So we need to be careful with our actions especially when we’re angry, having a bad day, even if we’re totally in the right or we’re dealing with “idiots.” The world is watching and we need to be showing them a true picture of our holy Savior, Jesus. 

We can’t use our circumstances or the way we were raised or the bad habits we’ve developed as excuses. You’re your own person and your decisions are your own no matter your past or your upbringing.

You’ve been raised. Now rise above it!

 

Join the conversation:

What past mistakes have you made in your representation of Jesus? What do you want people to say about your character when you’re not around?

 

3 Easy Ways to Manage Your Time & Get More Things Done

Last week we talked about how you can live your life more purposefully and purposely. Today let’s dive into 3 different methods for managing your day to day life.

1. Use a planner

Um…duh! But you’d be surprised how many people don’t take the time to write down what they want to accomplish in their day. First of all, when you write things down, you are more likely to accomplish them. Writing tasks down also makes them more likely to stick in your head as well as getting your brain juices flowing so that you can plan better. 

2. Use a timer system

There’s flexibility in how you do this, but I recommend using a 30 minute/10 minute split. Set a timer for 30 minutes and work, work, work! Don’t get distracted, don’t check Facebook, don’t answer random emails. Just focus on the task in front of you. Once the timer goes off, reset the timer for 10 minutes (Even better, use a second timer so you don’t waste time continually resetting timers. I use http://www.online-stopwatch.com/countdown-timer/ for my 30 minute timer and my cell phone for the 10 minutes). During the 10 minutes, make sure to get up and move. That keeps your body healthy and rests your mind so that it will be ready for the next burst of work. Drink some water. Organize stuff in your office. Crank some music and dance – really, it is completely up to you what you do with then 10 minutes. I tend to pray and organize stuff making sure that I am always being active.

3. Pick 3 most important tasks daily

Some people struggle with timing everything out and that’s OK. One way to make sure you get stuff done is to simply pick your 3 most important tasks of the day and knock them out first. If you put your most important tasks at the front of your day and refuse to stop working on them until they were done, you’ll be surprised how much you would get done. 

I challenge you to pick one of these methods and use it for a week. Let me know if it improves your time management.

Join the conversation:

If you had more free time at the end of the day, what would you do with it? I’d learn how to paint! Which of the above methods do you think would work best for your lifestyle?