Chasing After You

Photo courtesy of Heaven’s Harvest on Facebook

The last few weeks have been a real struggle for me. Truth be told, the past few years haven’t been my best.  When I write or speak to anyone, I don’t profess to have all the answers.  I try to only speak on things that I have experienced in the hopes that my friends and family won’t make the same mistakes that I have.  But lately it seems with every good word that comes out of my mouth, a mile of strife follows.

It’s hard to keep the focus and remember whose I am.  I realize I have been writing about this a lot, as I am trying to learn and walk my way through it.  Every day I am faced with a new challenge, a new battle, and it ‘feels’ as if it’s wearing me down.  My friend jokingly told me the other day that I am all over the place, though I am sure it was concern masked behind a smile.  Some days I am up, and some days I am way down.  And that’s NOT God’s will for our life.

I don’t want to write on this blog in a manner that would suggest that I have it all figured out… God knows I don’t! But I want to share how good He is to me, even when I feel like I don’t deserve it.  His grace is sufficient and He is so forgiving.  Honestly, that is the only thing that keeps me smiling sometimes.  Noticing the little things He does for me during the day like changing the light to green as I am approaching when I’m running late, a butterfly in a tree that I noticed just by chance, the spark in my son’s eyes when I’m having a bad day.  I’m not ashamed to say that God talks to me everyday in the smallest ways, and those little messages mean so much to me.

I came into work today feeling good despite the fatigue that is resting on my shoulders.  When I opened up my email, my daily scripture was there waiting for me as usual.  And the verse just brought everything back to me full circle…..

Luke 10:41-42 And Jesus answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.”

How good is God that He sends us little messages to let us know He is still here, still loving us, despite our mistakes and worries. No matter how many times I fall, my  ‘good part…will not be taken away’ and I am still chasing after you Father.

Now it’s your turn:  What ‘good part’ do you hold close to your heart to get you through the day?  Your method may be a revelation and blessing to someone else, so please feel free to share!

Calling all Shopaholics!

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Some amazing revelations were made during a recent lunch break conversation amongst a few of my closest fashion-forward co-workers.  Discussing where we bought our latest pair of shoes or which department store had the best sale last weekend are always par for the course.  But this conversation revealed a secret that in hindsight we all probably assumed yet never vocalized.

Being intelligent, successful and hard-working women, we often get swept up in the dizzying rat-race that we call life.  And before we realize, hours of sweat, tears and frustration, with the occasional ‘at-a-boy’ reward have passed by and now a release is needed.  The gym should be the go-to for comfort, especially after consuming a half dozen donuts after your lunch presentation bombed.  Yet the mere thought of sweat and hard work make you want to cry even more, so you avoid it at all costs; including that monthly membership fee that’s being paid to never even walk through the front door.  Lest I digress…

As we discuss our shopping ventures, one of the ladies sheepishly begins a story about how she snuck two bags of shoe purchases into her house and past her husband without being caught.  The entire room became a captive audience with everyone gazing at her in awe.  I found myself enraptured with her suspenseful story of how she crept light-foot around her home, stashing a bag here and a bag there, while her husband was fully distracted by the Giants game and his Budweiser.

The women burst into infectious giggles at the end of the story, and each is chomping at the bit to share their own best kept secrets about their shopping addictions, or shall we say habits.  We are all sidelined when our boss came into the room, curious about all of the laughing going on.  Knowing how down to earth he is, I began to explain the gist of the conversation to him.  He cackles and adds his own little antidote, ending with, “If my wife knew about all the bullshit I buy, she’d have a heart attack!”

That’s when I realize, to my chagrin, that I am not alone! It is not uncommon for women, and sometimes men (like my boss), to have to hide purchases that their significant other may question to no end.  In fact, I learned so much from that conversation that I left the room feeling like a novice!

Having obtained all of these useful and life-altering strategies, I felt it only right to share the jewels of that conversation to help others maintain their own secret shopping addiction. We are a group of many and we must stick together.  So get out your highlighters and read carefully!

  1.  Maintain a separate bank account; preferably a pre-paid debit card. – So you’re thinking, are you asking me to hide money? Yes!  Having a pre-paid debit card allows you to place as much money as you would like into an account that is hard for your significant other to trace.  Pre-paid cards often don’t mail statements.  They also do not affect your credit report or rating; something your spouse could potentially have access to.  The downside to this is that you may have to stash money away in small increments to accomplish this undetected.  Don’t worry.  If you are a true shopaholic, you’re up for the task.
  2. Know the landscape of your home and everyone’s schedules. – This sounds silly at first glance, but this is a key to the majority of your strategies. Sneaking things in the home will require careful plotting, scheduling and stealth skills.  A slight change in someone’s schedule could completely ruin your plans and reveal your secret.  It is important to remember that in this circumstance, children are not your friends.  They will not help you, even if you bribe them.  They will ask you a thousand questions and then rat you out when the bribe is gone and laugh right in your face.
  3. Establish safe spots. – Once you have step 2 etched into your memory, you need to find or create spots in your home where you can stash items without being detected. Think of places that involve responsibility, like the back of the kitchen sink cabinet.  Full of cleaning supplies and noisy pipes, no one goes into that cabinet unless it is an absolute emergency.  Areas like this are essential to your strategy, and you should have access to at least 5 such spaces.
  4. Know the dynamics of the storage space in your car. – There will inevitably be a few occasions where your plan is foiled for one reason or another. Hiding your purchases within the storage compartments of your vehicle can give you extra added comfort if you don’t know what to expect when you get home.  Also remember that you always need to be prepared to make a dash back to the car in case you get busted.
  5. Learn the mail system at your job, then ask permission. – Ironically, this was the biggest take home tip from my boss. Having worked for him for almost 10 years, I have noticed that his fishing addiction runs a very close second to his shopping addiction, so he has everything delivered to work.  He unpacks the items, and discards the boxes, packing slips and tags.  Then he takes them home and leaves it in his car, as if it was something he already had.  Genius!  Fortunately, when he joined our conversation, he commented, “Why don’t you just have the stuff delivered here? What do I care?”  For you, however, a formal request may be needed, or just strike up a conversation and jokingly mention about having deliveries sent to work.  Granted, this would be a last ditch effort, so only ask if you have a laid-back boss that you are on good terms with.  Getting fired is a swift way to end your shopping addiction, leaving all of this knowledge to just whittle away along with your life savings.

If you work hard, you should be able to spend hard, without being questioned by anyone. But that just isn’t reality for most of us.  You have to be careful and thrifty with your spending, and just as careful and cunning to hide it all away.

Your turn:  Now that I have shared my secrets, you all have to share yours! It’s only fair! ;)  What tips and techniques have you learned to hide your shopping habits over the years? I look forward to hearing your responses!!!

 

 

 

 

Challenge of the Challenge – New beginnings, again

 

New-Year-New-Me

With the ringing in of the New Year, I, like many other people, claim that I am going to start over. Refresh, renew: New me. Right?

Wrong!

Well, partially wrong. The New Year is a great time to start a new schedule or plan. For me, I declared that I would not consider my plan as ‘resolutions’ but as ‘goals’. I read somewhere that playing the semantics game can help trick your mind into thinking positively about making changes.  Hmmm… Ok, I can try that!

We can try a thousand different things, but will they stick?  That is the true challenge of the challenge!

Making changes are not as simple as turning the page on a calendar or joining a 21-day program.  I think as of right now, I am enrolled in 4 different challenges, addressing different aspects of my life.  After going through my ‘challenge emails’, including ones I missed due to ridiculous family obligations, I felt so completely overwhelmed.

Just because it sounds good or smells good, doesn’t mean it’s good for you.

The whole point of joining these different challenges was to make progress in my life, not to burden myself down with more obligations and responsibilities.  Realizing that I was almost a week behind on one of the plans, (the Biblical plan at that! That’s the one that should have more priority!), left such a heavy load of guilt on my chest.

I tried to shrug it off.  I mean, who is going to know I am behind but me?  And God?  It’s all good.  Right?

Not really.

There’s the old adage that God will not give you more than you can bear.  Now, I have yet to find an exact verse that says this, but the Bible does talk about this in relation to temptation.  In 1 Corinthians 10:13 of the New International Version (NIV) it states:

1Cor 10:13  “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.”

God didn’t sign me up for these challenges.  But in my head, I felt like God presented each one of these opportunities for me to build upon things that I feel need to be changed in my life.  It was not only tempting, but easy to fall into this trap of ‘busy’.   For one, I love to learn.  I could be a life-long student and enjoy every minute of it.  Second, I thrive in pressure situations.  There’s something about the thrill of trying to beat the clock!

The enemy knows us also, and how to play on our weaknesses and desires.  “Oh, yes! She loves learning and she likes being busy… I can use that against her!”

One thing I have to continually remind myself is that God is not the author of confusion.  1 Corinthians 14:33 in the King James Version (KJV) states :

1Cor 14:33  “For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace…”

I don’t have to participate in everything just because it was placed before me.  Especially if it disturbs the peace that God wants for my life.

So my goals for 2016 have changed somewhat. #1 – Don’t overburden yourself. #2 – Don’t feel guilty if you don’t reach every goal by the deadline.

I’m realizing the key is to not give up.  Scrolling through my Twitter feed this morning, I see so much is happening across the world, big and small.  I felt this surge of excitement and energy, because I want to be a part of that. That buzz.  That excitement.  That movement and progress.  And results.

Be open to whatever the end result is of your work.  See that last word there?  Work.

It’s mandatory and there is no way around it.  Anything God designed for your life will take hard work and much patience.  But that is what makes the results so rewarding!

That is what I want this blog to be.

I am in the process of revamping the blog so that it’s more personal.  I want to be transparent about the process, almost as a journal format, to help me stay in touch with the readers, share my personal thoughts and be able to see my own progress, all in one site.

So, here we go again!  I hope that each of you will take this journey with me!

Welcome aboard!

 

Interview: Vela Magazine Founder Sarah Menkedick on Women Writers and Sustainable Publishing

Great interview!! Let’s continue to champion, sponsor and encourage our fellow female writers!

Longreads Blog

Cheri Lucas Rowlands | Longreads | Oct. 2 2014 | 10 minutes (2,399 words)

Three years ago, Sarah Menkedick launched Vela Magazine in response to the byline gender gap in the publishing industry, and to create a space that highlights excellent nonfiction written by women. Last week, Menkedick and her team of editors launched a Kickstarter campaign to grow Vela as a sustainable publication for high-quality, long-form nonfiction, to pay their contributors a competitive rate, and to continue to ensure that women writers are as recognized and read as their male counterparts. Menkedick chatted with Longreads about her own path as a writer, the writer’s decision to work for free, building a sustainable online publication, and the importance of featuring diverse voices in women’s nonfiction.

* * *

Let’s talk about Vela’s origins. You created Vela in 2011 as a space for women writers in response to the byline gender gap — yet it’s…

View original post 2,454 more words

Just Hold On

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Photo reposted from Joel Osteen Ministries via Facebook

                                                                                                          Photo courtesy of Joel Osteen Ministries via Facebook

Making the choice to devote your life to God is one of the best and easiest choices you will ever make.  Following through with that decision is the hard part. 

Follow through has always been difficult for me.  I like to think of an idea, pass it on, then move on.  Or…I’ll start the project, then start another one, and then another one.  Weeks later, I’m swimming in deadlines and guilt.

In the past few weeks, I’ve learned that it all requires one step at a time.  No matter what you do, you can’t rush God’s plan; so you might as well take your time, enjoy the lesson and the test.  The key is truly knowing that every test can turn into a testimony if you grind you heels in and be determined to not give up or give in.

In all reality, my electric should be cut off right now; I barely have food in the fridge to get through the weekend.  But I refuse to worry about my needs… God already told me He would supply all my needs (Phil 4:19), and He has.  My electric is still on; my neighbor, who happens to be a chef, came by yesterday to see if we needed anything, because we were on his heart…

I can promise you, that if you make the committment to God, He will reward you with an enjoyable life, even in the midst of the trials.  Since I’ve committed – truly committed myself, opportunites are opening for me left and right!!  I have been invited to seminars and trainings that I normally would not have access to.  I’ve put down bad habits that used to feel like my lifeline and I no longer even have a remote yearning to indulge in that lifestyle anymore.  God took all that away, to provide me a better way.  Life has been challenging, but it is now far from dull and boring. 

I continue to “press toward the mark” (Phil 3:14), because I have no doubt that the best is yet to come.  Not just for me, but for all that choose to believe and recieve!

Stay blessed friends!😉

Recognizing God's love in every facet of our lives.

Allison Marie Conway

I write like it could swallow us both. My book, Vein, is available now.

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