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Book Announcement: Are You Ready to Break Right?

If you’ve followed my other blog (2blu2btru.wordpress.com) or followed me on social media, you may have seen that I’ve been working on a new book. I’ve kept many of the details close to my chest. This is one of my most personal projects, and I wanted to make sure I wrote this well before sharing it with the world.

 

In 2016, it seemed like everything I touched broke–I lost my job, ended my relationship, and faced a move with no savings or income. I ended up leaving the city I’d come to think of as home, my church family, and many of my friends behind. It was truly a breaking season for me. Yet God kept me in perfect peace as these things occurred.

I learned many things in this season, and many books could have come from it, but in the end, God placed Break Right on my heart. As I worked through the ramifications and realizations breaking up brought to the forefront in my life, I wrote the things I was learning and experimenting with in my journal. This season looked different than I expected, in ways that both humbled and encouraged me. I began to wonder if others might be interested in what I was learning, so I reached out to a few women and pitched the idea. Once I put the heart of this book into words, I knew it had to be written, and I had to be the one to write it.

In the process of writing this book, I experienced the full force of what heartbreak can do. I found myself struggling to repair things I didn’t know were broken or damaged. I confronted truths I ran from before battling with the blank page. The writing of this book further healed me, and I know the wisdom God shared with me will help others discovering the healing He wants to give them as well.

If you’ve read my other books, you know I’m not the “woo, woo, woo” or “there, there, there” girl. I’m the “dig deep”, “let’s look at the lady in the mirror and be honest about what we see” girl. I’m the hard truth teller, the “what does the bible say” redirector, the spiritual fruit inspector. I’m a southern gal who’ll bless your heart and tell you about yourself in a ladylike, well-mannered way, clutching my pearls the entire time. I wasn’t sure I could write a book bound in sensitivity AND filled with hard truths for hurting women in search of healing.

But God met me on the pages of this book. He walked me through this season the way I needed Him to, while helping me hone the message of it in a way that’s sensitive and respect of where a woman walking through a breakup is in her healing process while presenting truths wrapped in a ton of love. I didn’t hurl hand grenades at injured soldiers; I’m helping in the healing. Like many medical procedures, there is some pain and discomfort involved, but it’s necessary.

I’m so excited to share the final product with you! As I finish getting the final details wrapped up, I wanted to let you know about this book of my heart and what to expect when it comes out next month. The book is entitled Break Right: Finding Wholeness in Heartbreak, and a Good God in a Bad Breakup. Part memoir, part practical advice and encouragement, and all from the heart, this raw, real and relatable work will comfort, correct and challenge the Christian woman in the midst of a breakup to reexamine heartbreak and healing from a biblical perspective. Filled with biblical examples and personal experiences from myself and other women, Break Right seeks to provide the perspective shift many of us need so we can shine our lights for the Lord in the midst of a dark season.

This book is not a blow by blow of the breakups I’ve experienced or a way to bash an ex. In fact, you won’t find much about my ex, and I hope you won’t focus too much on your ex as you read it. This book is about how you can emerge better and help the next woman do the same. I share many personal stories, but they probably aren’t the ones you’d expect. 😉

This book feels different, and it’s inspired me to do something different with its release. I am opening pre-orders for Break Right tomorrow, February 14, 2018. From Valentine’s Day until Wednesday, March 7, you can order Break Right for the introductory price of $9.99 in paperback (it increases to $14.99 after the pre-order period). Why should you pre-order? Those who pre-order will receive some cool perks: breakup greeting cards, bookmarks, and prints, as well as a free eBook of funny and introspective tales from my romantic life, Misses before Mrs. You will also received the first section of the book to start reading and access to a special Facebook Group. I saved the best for last: all those who pre-order the book or a book bundle will be entered to win a $25 Amazon gift card. All pre-order books will arrive by the release date, March 13th.

If Break Right sounds like something you need in your life, come back tomorrow and see the front cover, read the book description, and reserve your copy. I’ll be sharing more about this book in the coming weeks before release, so watch this space.

For all my eBook readers, don’t fret. The eBook is coming! I will open eBook pre-orders two weeks before release, with digital perks.

I love you all and can’t wait for you find your wholeness and experience how good our God can be, even in a bad breakup.

XOXO,

Erica

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It’s Time to Get Serious!

The Season for Getting Serious Front Cover
My New Book is Here!!!

Have you ever had a season stretch you for all you were worth and hold you so close to the fire you felt singed? Have you ever had a season you thought would never be over? Has a season of life driven you to your knees like never before? That’s what 2016 has been for me.

I was “trying” to release my second book for most of this year. It was supposed to be released by New Year’s, Valentine’s Day, my birthday (February 24), and the National Ladies Lectureship (mid-April) at various points in the year. But each time the new self-imposed deadline came around, the book wasn’t ready. There was always something more to be done.

Some might say it was nerves keeping me from releasing this book. Indeed, there were a lot of nerves involved. I knew it would be hard to follow up Altered before the Altar. Everyone wanted a follow up to Altered, but I was working on something completely different. But I was willing to trust God. I got a little ahead of Him in my eagerness to get the book out, but ultimately God knit this work together and it was released right on time.

The Season for Getting Serious is finally here!! All the late nights, early mornings, and earnest prayers were so worth it. I can’t tell you how often I prayed over every word of this book and for every woman who would read it. I am overwhelmed by how well it all came together, and I can’t wait to hear how it is transforming Christian women’s relationships with the Lord.

In an interview for online magazine The Christian Girl, I was asked the question “If you had the entirety of Christian women in front of you, what would you say to them?” Sisters, this book is it. It’s my heart for us as women of God on paper. The Season for Getting Serious is for all Christian women: single, married, new convert, mature Christian, young, old, strong, or prodigal. Any woman who wants to grow a more intimate, personal relationship with Christ should get their hands on this book. I feel this book until is exactly what God wanted me to share with His daughters to encourage them to grow right where they are.

A word of caution: if you aren’t ready to be honest about where you are and where you want to go, you might have problems getting through this book. To be honest, I felt dragged by much of what’s in these pages. I felt exposed by it. I don’t sugarcoat  anything. They aren’t any cute sayings or affirmations in here–just the promises of God to His daughters. I’m not speaking to you from the mountain; I’m right here in the valley with you reminding you of God’s faithfulness.

The follow is the best description of The Season for Getting Serious:

 

“You were running well; who hindered you?”

Many Christian women want a deeper relationship with God, but they can’t seem to grow intimacy with Him. They start out with intention, but they are distracted and knocked off course by their life’s circumstances and responsibilities.

The Season for Getting Serious: Growing Intimacy with Christ in any Season, encourages and equips the woman of God to grow closer to Christ in whatever season she finds herself in. This is not another checklist or New Year’s resolution; it’s a clarion call to the woman of God to stop waiting for a new year, better circumstances, or less distractions and start growing in this season of their lives–right now.

The Season for Getting Serious speaks to the woman in the middle, on the run, grieving, or suffering from spiritual disease. It speaks to the woman wrestling with doubt, success, or burying the old man. This book whispers to the heart of every woman seeking Christ in the middle of the muck and mess of life and calls her out of the darkness into His marvelous light.

 

Ladies, you want to read this one. You’ll want to share it with every woman you know. You’ll going want your ladies bible classes and book clubs to read it so you can talk to someone about what you read. Most importantly, I pray you’ll want to live it.

What are the book’s vital statistics?

The Season for Getting Serious is 227 pages of encouragement from the word of God to Christian women at all stages of life. It’s portable size makes it easy to slip into your purse, tote or backpack to read on the go. The cost is $20 per copy with discounts available on bulk purchases of three or more.

How can you get your copy?

  • Get your copy or copies of The Season for Getting Serious from my online store here. Purchasing through my online store allows you to get signed copies and a gift with purchase. I also offer bulk discounts. If you would like to take advantage of bulk discounts, please email me at inquiries[at]aseriousseason.com.
  • You can also order copies from Amazon , CreateSpace, Barnes and Noble and Books a Million. Please note, these copies are unsigned and I cannot offer bulk discounts through any of these sites.
  • Pick up signed copies at events where I’m vending. This Saturday, August 20, 2016, I will be vending at the WINGS (Women in God’s Service) ladies day, A Wise Woman Builds, in Cocoa, FL. I will also be vending at the National Singles Seminar here in Orlando, FL on Labor Day weekend, September 1-5, 2016.

For my new on upcoming events, subscribe to my newsletter.  

Are you excited about The Season for Getting Serious? What do you need to get serious about? Feel free to leave a comment below.

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GOOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAAALS!!!

Every time I have to sit down and contemplate my goals, I start to sweat. I feel so much pressure to make SMART goals: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-Bound. Goals too dependent on numbers are thought to encourage comparison, competition, or feelings of inadequacy. The trend in Christian women’s goals now is to simplify, focus on family, go smaller. It’s not on trend to have big, scary goals anymore. Not in Christianity.

I don’t believe that goals need to be SMART. I believe dreaming big allows God to be bigger than our dreams. I want my goals to be reaches, big leaps of faith that require God to catch me and carry me to the finish line. I don’t put easily achieved goals on my yearly goals list.  I don’t make goals if they don’t make me a little anxious and encourage me to depend even more on Christ. I like goals that show my belief in God’s ability to meet me where I am and take me further than I ever imagined.

I dream big and make goals people think are crazy. I’m also reticent to share my goals because there is a good chance what happens may be different than I imagine. I don’t want to fail so spectacularly in front of everyone. But if I don’t give God room to work, how can I bring glory to Him?

All of that to say, some of my goals have scary numbers and metrics. Some of them are huge (to me). I can say with confidence I may fall flat on my face on them if they aren’t in God’s will. But I felt led to take a big leap this year. So without further adieu, here are my yearlong goals for 2016!

Aim High
Aim High
  1. Seek God. The overall goal this year is to seek God with my whole heart. The ways in which I plan to do this are to study the bible more, pray more, and integrate other spiritual disciplines into my life. To this end, I will study the bible each day, pray each day, and meditate each day. I want to attend Sunday school and bible study each week and fast at least once this year. I’ve never completed a fast from food for any period of time, so this is one thing I am excited and nervous about.
  2. Seek to make God known. The goal of the books that I write and things that I sell is to promote the cause of Christ. It’s hard for me to market or get my work in front of other women, but I want to reach more women and get them excited about being serious about God in whatever season they are in. To challenge myself to reach more women, I’m giving this area number goals. I will speak at least three (3) times in 2016. I will sell 500 copies of my new book, The Season for Getting Serious. I will sell another 100 copies of Altered before the Altar. Writing these goals makes me queasy.
  3. Seek to Serve Others. I want to get back into serving others well. I think that the point of Christianity is to be united with God and others in the body of Christ as one. I’ve created goals here that will help me love on others this year. I will: participate in the benevolence Ministry at least three (3) times this year, go door knocking at least once (1x) this year, and complete at least two (2) Passion Projects. A Passion Project is something that can enrich my local congregation that I see. I don’t want to say what they are. The point is not for people to know that I’ve done them, but to do something that helps spread the gospel or encourages other Christians right where I am. These goals make me want to hide in my room and read or stay behind my computer, but I know it’s important to serve right where I am. In person. Gulp!
  4. Seek to Soar. These are the personal goals I want to pursue. I will get a publishing contract for my inspirational fiction. I will get a contract for my third Christian Living/Non-fiction book. I will turn The Season for Getting Serious into a site that encourages women to get serious about pursuing a Christ centered life no matter what season of life they are in. This goal makes me the most insecure. Rejection is a real probability for every one of these goals. But nothing ventured, nothing gained, right?

cropped-A-Serious-Season-best1.png

What are your goals for 2016?

XOXO,

806

 

 

 

 

 

 

Erica

Join me tomorrow for my first Monday Motivation of 2016: Praying Hands!

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No Trees, No Presents, Just Presence

Christmas is one of my favorite times of the year because everyone is recognizing/observing things and doing things I try to observe and do all year long. People are celebrating Jesus’ birth today like I celebrate His birth, life, death, and resurrection all year. People are going out of their way to show mercy and grace, to be kind, to be patient, to bless the people in their lives materially, spiritually, emotionally. Some are pledging lifelong commitments to their significant others or traveling to spend precious time with family. Christmas is the time of year when everyone recognizes God’s best gifts to us: His precious son and His unfailing love for us. I’m all about the celebration!

This year has been light on presents for me. What it has been heavy on is reading God’s word. I’d fallen off track, pursuing goals that I had for the year, and wasn’t making the time to read in the word as I used to. This week, though, I’ve made it a point to rededicate myself to study. I’ve been studying recognition the last few days, and the messages have stuck with me. I feel I could write an awesome Ladies’ Day lesson on Leah, Jacob, and Rachel. I have studied what Christ has to say about it in the New Testament as well. In the spirit of recognition, I’d like to acknowledge Mr. Perfect’s role in my intense study.

I was going to glance right over the principle of recognition in my book because I wanted to get it out before the holidays. I had the money in hand to get a cover ready, and a portion of the book was given to someone to review. I was all set to go, but I wasn’t feeling sure about it. I asked Mr. Perfect what he thought I should do with my extra money. He told me to hold off on the book cover and take care of other things first.

“But I won’t have enough extra money to do the cover again until March!” “March is only a few months away,” he answered. Mr. Perfect and I aren’t married, and I am under no obligation to listen to or implement the things he said. But I felt a lot more peace about his suggestion than I did with going forward.

I was going over the notes for the next section to be reviewed when I saw I didn’t have much for the last few principles I needed to highlight in the chapter: presentation, recognition, and knowing (in the biblical sense). Looking to fill in the gaps there has led me to this eye opening study that is still yielding fruit. Thank God for Mr. Perfect’s counsel in that moment! 

Every day I study it, I am amazed at just how perfect and relevant the story of Adam and Eve is to relationships today, both with God and with a spouse. When I first thought of using Adam and Eve to branch off into each topic of the book, it just seemed like a clever device to organize the book, but now I’m seeing the divine providence and guidance in that choice. The story of their creation and the establishment of the marriage institution is the seminal text about relationships. I’m learning so much about relationships and myself through writing this book, and growing so much. I can only hope it’s half as powerful to anyone who will get to read it.

I don’t have a tree or presents to give out this year, but God has gifted me with a purpose and a renewed desire to achieve that purpose. More importantly, though, God has renewed my desire just to sit in His presence, to take His yoke upon myself and learn of Him. Before the demands of the day, as sweet as they may be, pull me away to attend to family, I just wanted to say how thankful I am to God for the gift of his Son, today and every day of my life. As the song says, life is worth the living just because He lives.

Be blessed,

Erica

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Submitted and Free: My Review of My So-Called Life as a Submissive Wife by Sara Horn

“I can think of at least two types of people who do not need to read this book. These include women who already feel like they have a strong grasp on what it means to be submissive to their husbands and women who are looking for a clear, concise guide or handbook with steps, charts and footnotes on what it means to be submissive to their husbands.”

This is how Sara Horn begins introducing My So-Called Life as a Submissive Housewife to her readers. She lets the reader know immediately that she is sharing her personal experiences in much the same way as she did with her first book, My So-Called Life as a Proverbs 31 wife. These two books chronicle year-long experiments undertaken by Ms. Horn in an effort to live up to the qualifications of a wife as written in the Bible. They read like getting a glimpse into a woman’s personal diary as she struggles to make sense of her role as a wife as defined by God’s word.

When I read the introduction to this book, I felt an overwhelming sense of relief. The introduction sets the tone of Sara’s writing (humorous and serious in turns), sets the expectations (not a step by step instructional but an honest account of one woman’s year long quest to learn to be a submissive wife), addresses the sociocultural climate in which she is writing, and tells us why this subject is important to us spiritually. I knew that this book, if nothing else, would at least be well written and edited.

At the beginning of this experiment, Sara Horn is a hardworking Type A wife and mother riding high off of the insights her Proverbs 31 experiment have afforded her in recognizing her role in her family. She sees herself as the thermometer for the family, setting the emotional temperature. She sees tackling this project as a way to grow closer to the kind of wife the Bible says she’s supposed to be. She is also living with her husband’s family as he has recently returned from a deployment.

Most of the people she tells that she is going to be a submissive wife to are either skeptical or disagree with it entirely, including her husband. “Why would you want to do that? We work together as a team…That’s not us,” he says. His problem is what he pictures when he thinks of submission. Sara anticipates a major problem for her will be waiting for her Type B husband to make a decision on something she wanted to do. *Spoiler Alert*: this WAS a problem for her.

Sara struggles to put her husband first in a climate where women are encouraged to seek to be comparable to men in the workplace and relationships, to see submission as a bad thing.  She struggles with trying to balance her work schedule and role as a mother with her role as a wife. “I Think most of us assume we are putting our husbands first, or at least somewhat near the front, simply because of what we do…No, I think most of us who are wives and moms wake up thinking not about or husbands, but about The List. What we have to do…Who really wants to worry about one more thing to check off the list, like submission?” she writes. Her thoughts cross some of the same ground over and over again in her struggle to understand what God wants from her in this area of her life.

What I usually do when reading a book is try to find the popcorns, or the passages that reveal something that may be useful to note down the line, as well as some ways to show how I am relating to the material. I highlight frequently in non-fiction, so while the number of highlights is important, it isn’t a good gauge of how I actually feel about what I am reading. So I have to introduce other elements into the grading rubric. In my Kindle, I used “twinzies” to mark passages where Sara Horn responded as I would or had the same struggle I would; ITYSS (“ I think you said something”) to highlight passages that contained truths that sparked realizations in me or a strong chorus of “amens”, and; when I couldn’t articulate the right emotion to express much a passage really struck me, I used “!!!” When I really agree with something, I “throw my shoe.” Throwing my shoe is equivalent to Patti Labelle kicking her shoes off in concert: it is just that good to me, and I am about to really get deep into it. Throwing my shoe, then, is the highest honor I can bestow. SMH (shaking my head) needs no explanation.

In My So-Called Life as a Submissive Wife, I did the following:

Favorite quote: This word submission is in the Bible. Not once but several times. So as much as we sometimes want to ignore it, I don’t think we can. I don’t believe we should. Not if we’re following Christ.

Highlighted passages: 186 (not including commented on passages)

ITYSS: 16

!!!: 22

SMH: 9 (mostly in her early attempts at submission)

Twinzies: 8

Popcorn: 2

Throw My Shoe Quotes: 3

I am not married yet, but like many young women today, I struggle with figuring out what Biblical submission should look like. As the possibility of marriage becomes more and more real for me, I, like Sara, wish there was a list of do’s and don’ts spelled out in plain English in my Bible. Even though Sara doesn’t provide a how-to guide, she provided me with hope that when you submit as God desires, the pieces will begin to fall into place as they should.

The things I didn’t like in this book are minimal. In the beginning we seemed to be covering the same ground a few times, which bogged me down in a section or two. There were a couple of soapbox areas whose preachy tones didn’t fit with the general tone of the book to me. There wasn’t as much focus on submission to God or how we are called to submit to one another as I thought there would be. But none of these makes this book any less worth reading.

I loved this book! It was real and relatable. I felt like Sara was really trying to figure out what being submissive meant and follow God’s leading in this area of her life. I felt like I was going through life with her for the space of this year, as if she didn’t hide any of the struggles and triumphs from me. There were times when I wanted to shake her and ask her what she was doing, as well as times I wanted to hug her and say thank you for expressing how I have understood it. Going into the book, I wasn’t sure that a book written in this diary style would be a good book to use in women’s classes or for discussions, but now I’m frustrated that no one else in my circle has read this book yet because I want to discuss it. It’s a discussion that is needed, especially for young women like me who need to know these things about being married. I would recommend this book to any woman, single or married, who wants to get a better understanding of how submission can work if you make the effort to follow God’s command to do so.

XOXO

Erica

cover28130-medium I was not compensated for this review, but I did receive a reviewer’s copy of the book. This book will be published by Harvest House Publishers August 1st, 2013.

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Letting Patience Have Her Perfect Work…

The last couple of weeks have been busy, and I have been neglecting writing here as well as my personal Bible study (not for this site or the book I’m writing). I say neglecting it and not that I was too busy because that really hasn’t been the case. I’ve had to repent of that and come back refocused. In this period of busy-ness, I’ve had a few moments along the way that I wanted to share with you all.

After a particularly long Friday at work, I came home to an email from my graphic designer with his first revision to my logo/header and it is AMAZING! He is tweaking a couple of things, but the design is far better than I ever could have imagined, and I’m so pleased with what he has come up with so far. I can’t wait to reveal the header and do a whole post about working with this amazing designer. As someone who spends a lot of time attempting to make myself clear to people, I really appreciate when someone gets my vision right away and supports it, taking it to the next level. That email really made my Friday.

On Sunday, I met a visitor who was looking for a church home in the area. Another sister and I were able to take her out for ice cream after church. Not only was I excited to have the opportunity to visit with her, I found her to be incredibly funny and so genuine. We had a great time together. I’ve been missing that connection with other young women lately as everyone’s lives are changing and we don’t get to see each other very often. I love gathering with other Christian women and having a good time just being ourselves, and I was so grateful to have been invited, to show this new to us sister who I really am as a person.

None of this has anything to do with the title of this post. The reason for the title is something I’ve been thinking about lately. I was thinking about how hard it can get for us to trust and believe God when the events of our lives or the lives of the ones we love aren’t going the way that we feel they should. I’m talking about when we have faith, an active faith, and we are striving to live for Christ, but things just keep happening that keep us from progressing in an area. I’ve seen how this wearies people. Scratch that. I’ve experienced how that can test your faith. It’s like when you spend months paying everything down so that you can get something you want, and just when you are within reach of your goal, something happens that knocks you down the ladder a few rungs. The first couple of times, you take it in stride, but after so many times, you can be tempted to give up. You start to wonder what you are supposed to learn, what this is supposed to accomplish.

Whether for you it is a financial goal, or you are trying to fight a particular sin that has become a stronghold in your life like gossiping or fornication, it is discouraging when you are trying to do what you know God will have you to do in the face of adversity and you are still failing to reach your goals or accomplish things. It feels even worse when you aren’t struggling with a sin but still just can’t seem to progress. Not only that, in the book of James, we are told to count it all joy, or be joyous and excited when we go through tribulations, knowing that the trying of our faith brings about patience.

I’ve given you two examples of things that were joyous or exciting this past weekend, and neither of those things involve tribulations. When was the last time you faced trials and tribulations and went “Yes, God! This is exactly what I need! I’m finally going to receive patience! I’m so excited to exemplify Christ to those around me who will see me going through these trials! Thank you Father for choosing me; I’ve been waiting for you to choose me”? Anyone?

But it doesn’t stop there. We are admonished (urged) to let patience finish her work in us to make us mature, lacking nothing. The whole point of this can be summed up in two words: grow up! Hmm, that sounded harsh. I didn’t mean it to be harsh. I meant it to be emphatic.

I don’t know if you’ve ever been to a workout class or done a very intense workout video, but when they get to  high intensity interval training (HIIT), they really have to encourage me. “Stay right there!” “Keep pushing!” “Don’t stop!” When I feel that burn, I want to stop, to tag out, to say “this is for the birds” and stop. I want to take a moment to breathe. But what any good instructor will tell you is that shaking is good; burning is good. Burning means that you are getting toxins and fat out of your body. Shaking means the muscles are working hard. If God is going to get all of the toxins and impurities out of our character, He’s going to have to push us past where we want to go. Unlike some fitness instructors I’ve had, He knows when to give us a break, just how hard to push, what we can bear.

I’ve been seeing some people who are having going through many different trials and it is hard to watch. I know they are feeling fatigue, shaking and burning, and I want nothing more than to help them out. But the very best advice I could give them is to stay there; keep going. I know you don’t want to hear me telling you to pray or read your Bible. I know you’ve done that already and you are still in the same place. I know you don’t understand what God is doing and you wish He would just tell you, but there’s no way to become mature and complete, to grow strong, unless you’re tested. We can get so angry and upset when God is doing things for our own good if we don’t understand why. So for everyone who asks if it is fair that I work this hard and try to live right and I still haven’t been able to reach a certain goal or acquire a certain thing, I have to say it is fair. For everyone who wants to know why things are happening to you, there are only two reasons: consequences of sin  or the trying of your faith. If it’s the former, repent. Turn away from your sinful behavior and turn towards God. If it’s the latter, continue believing God and endure so that you earn your crown. I know it’s easier said than done, but what’s the alternative?

This is meant to be encouraging. You aren’t always going through things because you’ve done something wrong; sometimes you are going through things to help you become even better, to trust God even more. Don’t be a fair weather Christian who leaves God whenever He requires more of you.

Be blessed,

Erica

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Getting Serious About: Managing Your Time

If you’re a single woman like me, you may experience people disregarding the importance of your time and your ability to decide what you should do with your time. For example, I am volunteered for things all the time. When I have to decline or say I don’t have time to do whatever I’ve been signed up for, I am told things like “it’s not like you have a husband or family; you have plenty of time to [blah blah blah].” When I ask others to help me with whatever project I’ve been saddled with, spouses, children, chores, and jobs are the main reasons they can’t help. Never mind I have chores and a job as well. Anyway.

Whoever you are, your time is probably at a premium. There are so many balls to keep in the air for all of us, as well as time sucking activities we engage in to “unwind.” I find that there isn’t enough time in the day to do it all, and I’m sure you do, too. But one thing I’ve realized in life is that we make time to do those things we REALLY want/have to do, even if it means getting up earlier or staying up later.

Of course, everyone else knows exactly how you can better utilize your time. It’s like finances; everyone knows just where you can cut something out to better use your resources. If you just forgo eating out of going to the movies, you can find the money to pay your bills, etc. But when it comes down to it, they aren’t going to have to live your life and make those sacrifices to see those results. This is why you need to know what’s important to you and figure out what you can cut out to better utilize your time.

I was having a conversation with a friend yesterday about Christianity and scripture. She was talking about how people have different interpretations of the same passage of scripture and use different passages to argue for opposing points. She said she reads both passages and prays for the best. I shared with her my methodology for studying scriptures: read the scripture in context to figure out what it is actually addressing, cross reference for consistency, read it in different translations, go to the Hebrew/Greek Lexicon and/or concordance to see the meaning of the original words, etc. She said this takes a lot of time…more than the average person would ever do. I said “with my soul in the balance, I take only God’s word for it. Some things are worth the effort. I’m not picking lotto numbers.” This conversation bothered me. It made me wonder what people are doing that’s so important that they don’t have time to get God’s commands right.

I won’t tell you to skip your daily exercise or quit your job to free up more time. I won’t tell you to skip vegging out in front of the TV or going on vacations to free up more time. But it is past time to get serious about how we spend our time. We need to make sure we are doing what’s important with our time. Time is our most precious commodity. We don’t know when we’ll be out of it, so we have to spend it wisely.

What I can tell you is that time spent with God, trying to get your life right, is never wasted. If time were money, you would see a double return on your investment of spending time with God. Spending time in prayer, meditating on scripture, and worshipping God gives you the skillset to tackle every other thing you have to do. It makes you less anxious and agitated. It only makes things better.

There are always a few things that I want to do that I never seem to get around to doing. One of them is taking a bath. I find I never have time to just sit in the tub reading a book and listening to music. But I yearn for it. Yesterday, after finishing a little Power Fusion (which I also never have time for, by the way), I sat down to watch “Say Yes to the Dress.” Then I thought to myself, no; I’m not going to watch this. I don’t need to watch a bunch of women trying on dresses right now. It’s not adding anything to my life but a sense of discontentment that I’m not picking out a wedding dress. Why don’t I use this two hour block of time where nothing is on TV and I have nothing to do to take that bath I’ve been wanting to make time for? So I did.

How can you get serious about your time? Here are a few simple things to implement:

  • Put the most important things on the schedule first. Time with God is a must. Going to work is a must. Assembling with other believers is a must. Taking care of your body with food, sleep, and exercise is a must. Etc.
  • Ask yourself what an activity is adding to your life. Is it bringing you closer to your goals? Is it bringing you in closer relationship with God? Is it preserving your sanity? Or is it just a waste of time?
  • Evaluate how you have spent your time at regular intervals to spot inefficiencies. Perhaps each week or each month, you can look back and see if you spent enough time on the important things and where you can stand to cut some time wasting activities.
  • Prepare things ahead of time to use your time more effectively. Learn the route to take to a destination so you don’t waste time getting lost. Make sure you have tickets so you don’t waste time going back for them. Put your keys in a consistent place so you don’t waste time looking for them.
  • Allow yourself to freely enjoy some moments without rushing to the next. When I call my mom, aunt or best friend, I know to take a seat and get comfortable. Most times, we don’t talk about anything much, but I need that time to connect with them. Maybe for you it’s a favorite show or meeting a friend for lunch. Whatever it is that you don’t have to do but you want to do because it enriches you, make a little time for it. Not everything we do has to be calibrated for efficiency.

How are you getting serious about your time?

XOXO

Erica

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Submission Guidelines

*Sidenote: Never have I had such trouble coming up with a title for a post! I’m having one of those moments where the word of God and the Holy Spirit have left me at a bit of a loss for words to describe exactly what I’m experiencing, so bear with me.*

This work is convicting me. It is causing me to find all of those areas of weakness and sin and confront them. That’s a…painful and humbling place to be. It’s one thing to say I’m going to write a book to show other women how it’s done, or that I’m going to create a website that helps women get serious about their lives, but it’s quite another to realize how much of what I research and pray about and write pertain to me and what I need to do. I hear my minister say all the time that he is preaching a sermon to himself; now I know what that means. Knowing what that means also means that I have been avoiding a couple of areas that I need to write about, because I know I’m going to be called onto the carpet in them.

One of those areas is talking about beauty and worth. I have a problem in these areas. Self-esteem, especially when it comes to my looks, has always been an area in which I struggle. Yet, I know that there is more that I should be doing on the outside as well as the inside to cultivate a more attractive person. There’s a song we sing at church, “Let the Beauty of Jesus Be Seen,” whose first verse talks about the inwards beauty:

Let the beauty of Jesus Be Seen in me; all His wonderful passion and purity. May His spirit divine/all my being refine/let the beauty of Jesus be seen in me.

That’s the inward goal. The outward goal is what I like to call temple maintenance. Our body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, according to I Cor 6:19; it is where the spirit of God lives. There is no more tabernacle and mercy seat where God’s presence dwells; it’s inside of us. We are the church. Well, my church has leaks and sagging soffit and swollen baseboards. My temple needs to be renovated. It’s not a swanky, luxuriously appointed piece of prime real estate right now, if you know what I mean. I need a little work, and I haven’t been doing it.

I read in I Peter today, I Pet. 1:1-3:7. What stuck out to me, other than the advice to wives about their appearance was when Peter talks about spiritual sacrifices (I Pet. 2: 5). We are a royal priesthood offering spiritual sacrifices. It caused me to think, what am I sacrificing? What am I offering to God?

I’ve actually been studying sacrifice a little bit for me book. I only say that so you’ll know I didn’t just start contemplating any of this when I opened my Bible this morning. Anyway. Sacrifices are made for several reasons in the Old Testament: friendship, goodwill, sin, thanksgiving, etc. It involves giving something that you have earned that has some value to God. What of value have I been giving to God?

While I think this blog is a good work and it’s done for the glory of God, while I think the book is a good work that will bless someone to the glory of God, what about me and my personal walk with God? What am I giving him that is valuable to me? Paul says “I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection; lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway (I Cor 9:27).” This is the peril of all teachers, preachers, evangelists, and elders: that we will save others and yet miss the mark because we are neglecting our own relationship with God. I need to make sure I am submitted to His will and that I am working out my salvation with fear and trembling (Phil. 2:12).

If this blog has a point, it is that in all that we do for others, we must do for ourselves, whether we need to repent of sin, ask for strength in an area, stop avoiding an area, or offer better to God than we have been. God doesn’t accept anything we give Him; we have to give Him what He asked for. Those are the submission guidelines. If we don’t submit our lives to Him the way He has told us to, the submission won’t even be considered. I’m talking to myself here. If it encourages you, glory to God. Let’s give Him what he asked us for, not what we have lying around.

XOXO

Erica

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Getting Serious About: Social Media Part 2

There was something else about social media I wanted to address that I forgot to mention in the last post. Social media has a bigger influence on us than just who we follow and what we put on the page. The addition of features such as “favorites” “likes” “retweeting” and ads have expanded the reach of social media into even more areas of my life. There is a such thing as online peer pressure now; facebook will suggest pages for me to like, telling me which friends of mine have already liked it. Even if I follow a select amount of people carefully chosen to influence me positively, there are still featured posts and promoted tweets that make it into my timeline that I don’t follow or endorse.

The worse thing may be the ads. I can’t tell you how many times ads on Facebook have unsettled me. I could have just left off reading the Word and praying and have decided to be content in the season I am in, and here comes Facebook with an ad for Verragio engagement rings. I’ve just decided to trust God’s timing with when I’ll be finished with this book and should market it, and here will come the ads for how to publish your book. It’s like their in my head.

If I read the statuses of my friends and they are in a different season of life and appear to be so happy getting married and having babies, I can be discontent, but I also feel happy for them because I know them and their stories. But there are times when the statuses and the ads get to be too much. I read a post by a high school classmate who had gotten a three book deal. When we were in school together, her love was theater production, and still is. I was the writer; everyone knew that. But here she was doing what I wanted to do. I’ve seen someone on twitter that I don’t know personally write a Christian book for women that has sold tremendously, like I hope my book will. But I am not there yet. I’ve seen so many people, many of whom I thought I would have beaten to milestones get married, have children, advance in their careers, find success with their dream jobs, move forward, and instead of feeling joy, I just felt upset that it didn’t seem to be my time for anything, not one thing.

These are the times when no amount of unfriending and unfollowing will do. The ads will still pop up; strangers’ blogs will suddenly reference all of these things happening for them. The only thing to do at that point is to draw back from the social media rat race. Last year, I did a social media fast for a couple weeks. I felt like I couldn’t hear God through all of the information I took in from so many different sources online. I was so discontent and disappointed and disenchanted. I needed to get clear on my purpose and my focus. I needed to allow God to tell me where I was and why, and not everyone else. Whether they were inspirational or inspired me to jealousy, I backed away from them and read the Bible.

It was hard at first, but it got easier. I was able to see that I wasn’t where I wanted to be, nor had I put in all the work I need to put in, to be properly situated for the things I wanted. It’s easy to forget that people aren’t posting every step of their journeys everyday of their lives online. You only see what they want you to know: when times are celebratory or things are happening that they may have been working on for years. You don’t always see when they argue with their spouses or are disappointed with their children.You don’t always see when they want to be alone and can’t get away from their families. You don’t see when the deadline is near and they have nothing to write about. We miss all of the sowing and are judging ourselves by the reaping, and it’s not fair to us.

There are days when I don’t write posts because I’m tired, it’s been a long day, and I have other things to do. Then there are days when I don’t feel like I have anything interesting or inspired to say. I have to keep up a certain high standard of posting. I have to know what people need to hear or are interested in so that I have something relevant to say. Blogging was supposed to be freeing, but if I give in to the pressure to try and gain followers and get views, it’s not freeing or fun anymore. I’m not serving my purpose in posting.

What am I saying? In addition to being cognizant of who we follow and what we put out for public consumption, be cognizant of the feelings provoked by ads. Realize that you are seeing what one twitter user calls the “highlight reel” of someone’s life, not the dailies. When it gets to influencing you to much or you see yourself compromising your character, withdraw from it. Put some distance between you and negative influences and renew your strength. Control the flow of information.

That’s my two cents, anyway. Feel free to leave yours in the comment section.

Erica

Note: this wasn’t the post I was supposed to be writing today, but I wanted to finish my thoughts on social media before moving on. The real post is still in the works.

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Getting Serious About: Social Media

I said in a previous post that people we friend on Facebook, follow on twitter, or follow their blogs are in a unique position to influence us. It used to be that we were only influenced by our friends, but in the digital age, we can have “friends” across the globe. We can follow celebrities and see for ourselves exactly how they are feeling and what they are doing. With the diluge of information we are exposed to, it is easier to believe that individual things we read or follow are inconsequential, but this is not the case.

The main thing that brought this issue to the forefront for me was the announcement of Janet Jackson’s wedding this week. In this world of the overshare, Janet Jackson has always managed to keep her private life private. Janet Jackson could be 11 kinds of crazy, be into all sorts of weird things, and we would never know it. I don’t know if she practices any religion or any other personal details that haven’t been carefully run by a publicist before sharing. I may not agree with some of the things I do know about her lifestyle, but it would be hard to accuse her of being too forthcoming.

Between what we allow ourselves to be exposed to and influenced by in social media, and what we put on social media to be scrutinized by others, I see many pitfalls and opportunities to be pulled off track if one is trying to get serious about their lives. Associations are king in our society. The saying has been for years “it’s not what you know but who you know.” If you want to get serious about your life, whether career-wise, relationship-wise, in your Christian walk, or otherwise, you will need to get a hold on your social media associations.

We all know that employers check facebook, LinkedIn, and other accounts to evaluate candidates. Most people have taken off incriminating pictures or set their profiles to private to combat this. We are aware that many relationships have been negatively impacted by Facebook statuses, a relationship status on Facebook, a tweet or Instagram pictures, whether they be friendships or romantic relationships. We can see the influences, but yet, so many of us can’t seem to grasp the delicate balance between being open and telling things that should be kept private, between sowing seeds in our conscience through social media associations and our feelings or actions. So how do you balance interacting with friends through social media and putting your best digital foot forward?

I have three friends who have recently gotten married. They run the range from putting every detail of their lives on Facebook to only updating occasionally. One went from in a relationship to changing her profile picture to one of her walking down the aisle on her father’s arm. One sent out a facebook message as I sat waiting for her to walk down the aisle. One only posted when she got engaged, a week before, and the day of the wedding. Neither of this is inherently wrong. Where we draw the line depends on what we hope to accomplish.

The first thing to note is that anything we put out for public consumption is subject to be scrutinized and judged. Whether you ask for it or not, you are subject to outside input on anything that you share. Furthermore, it’s hard for love not to keep a record of wrongs if you have documented those wrongs on Facebook, Twitter, and everywhere else. It is the social media age’s equivalent of telling your friends all about your relationship; they will still be mad when the two of you have smoothed it over. Don’t say you don’t want people in your relationship if you are volunteering information about it for people to judge. Find someone you can trust, and who may be able to help, and talk to them about it, not the world.

The second thing is to make sure whatever you post or share is in line with your beliefs and the life you want to live for Christ. We are to avoid the appearance of evil; it shouldn’t even look like it might be sinful. I shouldn’t be holding bottles of alcohol, wearing revealing clothes, smoking, or “dropping it low” in pictures on any profile I maintain. I shouldn’t have derogatory language all over said profile, either. I shouldn’t reserve all my sanctity and holiness for Sunday when the whole week could use some.

When we are deciding who to follow or befriend, it is important for us to see the influence they can have on our lives. Am I following them because they say mean things about other people that I find funny? Am I following them to be envious and/or judgmental about what’s going on in their lives? Is this association helping or hindering me in pursuing the life I want to live?

I’m not saying that you can’t follow anyone who you find funny or interesting. I’m not saying you can only follow people who say “praise Jesus” at the end of everything. I’m saying that evil communications (or associations) still corrupt good morals. The universal laws that God put in place have not changed. We can’t say we aren’t being influenced by pop culture or media if all we do is consume hours of negative and sinful images and messages and don’t consume any of God’s word. I’m all for enjoying your life and having fun, but choose your associations wisely.

Are there any associations you need to let go of or cultivate? How has social media influenced your attitude and actions?