Have you ever needed to do a “hard reset” on one of your electronic devices? Your mobile phone? A tablet? Maybe even your computer? You know, because it is frozen and won’t work anymore? I know I certainly have. It’s as if that device is saying, “Ok, I have had enough. I can’t take anymore. I need a break.” Thus, you have to shut it down, give it some time, and do a hard reset to get it to function again.
Well, as human beings, I believe we all need to take breaks, too. And, right now during this coronavirus pandemic, we are getting our chance. Maybe this is God’s way of giving us the ability to do a “hard reset” on our lives and ourselves.
Even though this pandemic is scary in a multitude of ways, we should be using this unexpected time at home to our advantage. If we just change our perspective a bit, we can look at this as an opportunity to better ourselves, our lives, and maybe even the world we live in. This is our moment to create some beauty out of the “ashes” of this Covid-19 mess. (See Isaiah 61:3)
Below are just a few ideas I have on using this time wisely.
Yet, more often than not, these are the first things that get pushed aside in our daily lives. We don’t necessarily mean to, but we get busy just living life. We have jobs and kids and chores. And, yes, these are all important too. But, we get so occupied with all of these other things, we forget our greatest concerns should be looking towards the Lord and then taking care of each other.
I pray that during this unforeseen season where our lives have slowed down to a snail’s pace, that we will all turn the tables to our benefit. Let’s do a hard reset on our lives and put the focus where it should be—God and others. After all, God’s commandment is to love Him first and second to love one another. (See Mark 12: 30-31)
Earlier this year, I was blessed to be able to join the Country Fried Creative family as a web designer. It is a job that allows me to do creative work and I truly love what I do. I also deeply appreciate having a boss and team-mates who care about our clients, the work we do, and each other. To me, it is an amazing example of what God can do in your life, if you just let Him. This job is an answer to prayer. (Many, many prayers, if I am honest.)
I have known for at least the last three months that this job has been a blessing, and today God sent me another huge reminder of this fact. And, it is something that I would like to share with all of you.
Today, my boss, and owner of Country Fried Creative, Joe Domaleski, made the following post on Facebook:
Hey y’all, it’s me again. So often we’re taught that you have to go out into life and get what you want by any means possible. What if I told you that sometimes you should just do the right thing without expecting a return? Two weeks ago I shared about an unprecedented act of kindness that really rocked my world and restored my faith in “sowing bountifully”. Another equally amazing thing recently happened and came to fruition yesterday. Yesterday, my SBA Paycheck Protection Program business loan was approved which is very nice, but that’s not the amazing part - how it came to pass is the real story.
Suffice it to say that these are difficult times for us all. If you’re an employee, then you’re worried about your job. If you’re an employer (particularly a small, local business like us), then you’re worried about your business and employees. I openly tell people I have a laser beam focus on two priorities right now: (1) Helping our customers, and (2) Protecting the payroll of my business family (employees). Customers trust us to help them. Employees trust me to lead the business. I trust my employees to take care of our customers.
When the government announced the SBA Paycheck Protection Program, it was designed to protect paychecks. It is not free money, it’s a loan (albeit with very favorable terms) that can only be used for one thing - making payroll. Our local business community worked through this together via workshops & webinars. The guidance given was to apply for the program through your business banker. I applied for the program on the very first day it was offered.
In a previous post I openly shared my frustration at how the first round of money was gobbled up by big “supposedly small” businesses. As was well reported in the news, that first round of money was not given to those with the greatest need or even in the order of application, but was awarded very arbitrarily based on very subjective factors. Banks were given wide latitude to loan the money (backed by all of us taxpayers) as they saw fit. Most of them gave the loans to their favorite customers. Despite having a longstanding banking relationship with a national bank for 15 years, apparently I didn’t make the cut as being a “favorite customer”. When I inquired about that, I was literally told that I didn’t have enough loan business with the bank!
A few weeks into the program, and I was notified that the SBA PPP program had run out of money - which was also widely reported in the news. The government passed a second round of funding and my bank said my application would remain on file to be considered for the second round. I heard nothing more from them.
Two weeks ago I received a text from a long-standing friend of mine who I’ve known for almost 15 years. He and I had developed a friendship through the Chamber. We got to know each other in the community, at special events, and even at the local gym. Over the years, I’ve watched his career grow in the banking business, and he’s now the President of a local bank. He has never pressured me to move my money to his bank. Quite the contrary, he’s been a steady low-maintenance friend. The text he sent me was simply “Call me when you get a chance.”
So I called my friend and after the obligatory “how’s it going” exchange, he stunned me with his next question, “Hey Joe, have you gotten approved for the PPP yet?” My heart froze and I didn’t know what to say. He went on, “If you haven’t gotten the loan yet, I would be happy to process it for you. You’ve been there for me all these years. I can do this for you.” I literally choked up... I mean, when has a banker ever gone out of their way to help? My friend is no ordinary banker. I meekly answered, “yes please help.” He went on to explain that he’s literally been working around the clock to get the PPP apps processed and that if I can turn around the paperwork quickly, he’d personally do all that he could to make it happen - and so he did. Over the past 10 days we’ve been handling paperwork and yesterday the funding arrived in my bank account. There were no strings attached to the loan, no conditions associated with his offer to help - he simply helped a friend in need.
It’s easy to get jaded in the business world. When you have something desirable (power, money, prestige) everyone wants to be your friend. When you need something (money, assistance, a favor) few are willing to help. It’s times like these you know who your true friends are. Like the previous act of kindness from my non-profit client, this one brought a tear to my eye too. I have goosebumps just sharing the story with you.
So who is this incredible banker that I’m telling you about? In due time, you’ll know who he is - some of you may already know. He has asked that I keep his identity secret for now because he’s literally overloaded with loan applications and doesn’t have the capacity to take on more. Keep the faith friends. Do the right thing. (2 Corinthians 9:6-8 ESV)
On behalf of our entire CFC team, thank you.
God is alive and well, and He hears our prayers and knows our hearts. As Joe has pointed out, keep the faith and do the right thing. Joe also shares 2 Corinthians 9:6-8, which says this, "The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work."
The Bible teaches us that we should love God and love others. (See Mark 12:30-31) It is God's will for our lives is to reflect His love and share the good news about Him with everyone we meet. As God's children, we are to be His hands and feet. It is up to us to spread goodness and light in this dark world. We should be as loving, kind, generous, and helpful to other people as we can be. When we do these things, we are showing others who God is. This is how we tell others about God without ever opening our mouths or saying a word.
When we sow bountifully, we will in-turn, reap bountifully. We should become givers; not because of any monetary or earthly possession we will gain, but because of how it will make us feel on the inside. This is how we become happy, fulfilled people. This is how we become cheerful. And this my friends, is how we become cheerful givers.
Being a giver is good for your heart and your soul. And, during this COVID-19 crisis, we need as much good as we can get. (Oh, and did you know that giving is also good for your health? To learn more, read this great article.)
We are smack dab in the middle of something I have never experienced before, and pray that I never experience again - a two-week quarantine. This is all thanks to the coronavirus, better known as COVID-19. And, while the quarantine in Georgia is mostly self-imposed at the moment, at the suggestion of White House officials, there are other parts of the world where they are not so fortunate. And, by fortunate, I mean that they are in a mandated quarantine.
Currently, Italy is having an extremely rough time. I would like to ask for all of you to be in prayer for this country and it's people. Of course, you should be praying for everyone here in the U.S. as well. Especially, our doctors, nurses, emergency responders, and anyone working in the medical community and nursing homes.
And, while the present situation is scary because we don't know as much about COVID-19 as we would like, I wanted to take some time today to remind you that the Bible tells us not to worry about anything. This includes COVID-19. And, yes, I know this is easier said than done.
So, to help calm our fears and worries, I thought I would share with you 18 Bible verses about NOT worrying.
As you can see, there are many verses in the Bible that we can turn to and take comfort in when it comes to worrisome situations. These are just 18 verses that I found in my initial search, I am sure there are a lot more that I am missing. But, these 18 are a good place for us to start.
And, the key is for us start--start reading our Bibles, start praying to God as often as we can, start believing in His love for us, and start trusting in His promises. He truly does love and care for us and wants the best for us.
And, once we start doing all of these things, we will realize we truly can STOP worrying--just like the Bible tells us.
Growing in the Lord can sometimes feel like a struggle. In your heart you know you want to be a good Christian and reflect God’s love and light, but you wonder if you are actually doing that. You want to learn and grow and study the Word of God, but you feel like it is time-consuming and arduous. What can you do?
Trust me, I know how hard it can be. It is a busy world. We all have a lot going on. We are parents, spouses, employees, and friends. We all have a lot of things we are responsible for and people we are accountable to. We have jobs to do, houses to clean, errands to run, laundry to wash, and food to cook. And, all of these things are never-ending. (Especially the laundry!)
While growing my relationship with the Lord is a top priority in my life, it recently dawned on me, that it doesn’t have to be complicated. Actually, if you want to, you can make it a simple process. You can grow and will see growth in your spiritual life by taking three easy steps: be thankful, and trust and believe.
Yes, that’s it.
First, be thankful. I have gotten into the habit of thanking God every day as often as I can. Before I get out of bed, I thank God for another day, for my health, for my family, my job, and my home. I sprinkle small “thank yous” to God throughout my day. It helps me stay connected to God and it works wonders on my attitude.
Next, I just trust and believe. I believe in God. I believe that He loves me and wants the best for me. I trust in God. I trust Him to take care of me. I trust His will for my life. I trust His timing. I trust that He will work all things out for my good.
In addition to the above “trusting and believing”, I have cultivated a little “special sauce” I have added to my life. I tell myself that good things will happen. I just make up my mind that good things will happen. And, you know what? They do!
It sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it? Nothing can be that easy. I agree. Most things in life are not this simple. But, with God and your love and belief in Him, it really can be this straightforward.
How can I be so confident? Because I am living it right now.
Nonetheless, I must be completely transparent with you. Getting to this point in my life--where I love and trust and believe in God this much--has taken me years. But, each one of us is different. Just because it has taken me years to get to this stage of my spiritual growth doesn’t mean that it will take you that long. But, maybe it will. Only God knows your future and your path. But I would like to encourage you and help you along your journey as much as I can. That is why I have this blog.
So, I will finish this post by saying that this is now my life. I am thankful and I trust and believe. And, God is showing Himself to me in all sorts of amazing ways. And, I couldn’t be more grateful or thankful for it. Which, is to say, I couldn’t be more thankful and grateful to God and His love for me.
I just love God and how He works! Today, I have to share with you a story about a very dear friend of mine and how good God is and how God works in our lives.
My friend, Marie, has been working in various jobs over the last fifteen plus years that have left her feeling depleted, unfulfilled, and unhappy. She has often found herself in toxic work environments that were killing her inner spirit. She says she feels like she has been searching for a place that would connect all the dots in her life—a place working with good people, who did the right things (because that is the way she thinks the world should work), a place where bosses and co-workers were responsible and respectful and kind to one another, and a place that would allow her talents to shine and be put to good use helping others. She used to joke that she was searching for the “unicorn” of the work world; a place that she never thought could exist.
Well, recently, Marie was offered a position with a company that checks off all the items on her “unicorn” list. And, she was over-the-moon about it and excited beyond words.
The only down-side, if there really was one, was the salary. In order to accept the “unicorn” job she was offered; she would have to take a pretty big pay cut. After discussing it with her husband and taking a close look at their bills and budget, she realized that she could not do it. As a family, they could not afford for her to take a step-back that big in her salary. It was disheartening to her, to say the least.
Now, here is where God comes in.
Fast forward five months.
Marie and her family are in a better place because some major bills have been removed from their plates. The owner of the “unicorn’ company not only saved a place for her, but he reworked his salary offer and it was much closer to where she needed to be, only off by $5,000. After reviewing their budget and more discussion, she and her husband realized that they could make the new financial arrangement work. So, this time around, she joyfully accepted the offer!
Then, a few weeks after this happened, God was still working His magic. Marie and her husband had applied for the homestead exemption on their house. This lowered their monthly mortgage payment, which would help with her having a lower salary. Then, they received a check they were not expecting, due to some bills being overpaid. Guess how much that check was for? If you guessed $5,000, you are right! And, this completely made up for the $5,000 loss in her salary.
Now, if this doesn’t point straight to God, nothing does!
Only God can work everything like this out in such an amazing way.
And, this is why I love God so much and why He deserves so much praise and glory. He certainly works in mysterious ways.
During those 15 years of searching for the “unicorn” job, Marie grew spiritually. So that time was invaluable to her. She told me how vital all of this was for her to be able to grow closer to the Lord. She also said that she has finally realized that everything gets done on God’s timetable, not hers. These are just a few of the priceless gifts the Lord has bestowed upon her in her waiting.
Have you ever thought that much about the words you speak, hear, and use each day? Have you ever put any thought into how nuanced your words are? Or, how nuanced the English language is? Or, honestly, is NOT? While I have pondered on this from time to time, I never gave it any real, considerable thought. At least, not until recently.
(As a side note, the reason I say our language is not very nuanced is because we tend to use the same words for many things. For instance, did you know that Eskimos have 50 different words for snow? Or, that the Tamil people of India and Sri Lanka have more than 50 words that mean variations of the word love? Isn’t that awesome?! I think so!)
I am doing a Bible study on happiness and it has brought all of this to the forefront for me. And, it is fascinating to me. Which, of course, means that I must share it with all of you.
How about the word word? Dictionary.com says that it is a unit of language. Which is true. But, thanks to my Bible study, I now think of words as containers that carry meaning. Isn’t that cool? A word is a container that carries meaning!
Now onto some words that are new to me, and one that I have been defining incorrectly.
Let’s start with the word blessed. Have you ever thought about what the true meaning of the word blessed is? I have always thought of it as meaning being gifted with something, or having something nice bestowed upon you, that you didn’t ask for or deserve. And, I have always associated it with being a Christian. Basically, I think of being blessed with gifts from God. (Gifts such as life, a home, food, etc.)
But, as we all know meanings of words can change over time.
Did you know that, in the Bible, blessed often really means happy? I had no clue! Blessed is the word that I mention above that I have been defining incorrectly.
Here are some new words for you. The Hebrew word for happy is asher. The Greek word for happy is makarios. So, both asher and makarios mean happy. And, many translations of the Bible use blessed for asher and/or for makarios. When the KJV translators rendered asher and makarios as blessed, their audiences knew the words meant happy. Happy was a synonym for blessed at that time.
Now though, no one seems to associate these two words--blessed and happy, happy and blessed. What a shame! God wants all His children to be happy. He wants all of us to be blessed. God has hard-wired all of us to want happiness. God, our Father, is a happy and generous Father, and He created us in His image.
Finally, before I go, I must share with all of you the word makarios doesn’t just mean happy, but it refers to deep, true happiness in God. Isn’t that beautiful?
I came across this post on Facebook today and I had to share it. Tera Elness is the Christian blogger who wrote this. Reading it was like an epiphany to me. I love, love, love it!
Thank you so much, Tera for writing this and sharing it. What a blessing you are!
I don’t know what you are waiting for Beloved, but I suspect you are waiting for something.
A breakthrough. A blessing. A boundary to keep him or her safe.
A dream to come true. A fear to get lost. A hope to fully be realized.
A restoration. A revelation. A real in-your-face-can’t-deny-it rolling away of the giant stone you just can’t seem to push out of your way.
Perhaps you are waiting.
For something to give.
For something to change.
For something to at least just shake loose.
Waiting is hard.
Amen and understatement.
And I’m not here to tell you otherwise, or proclaim it’s any easier for me.
I will tell you what He has shown me this year.
For truly, that’s what I do.
I can take the waiting and call it preparing.
Yes, I most certainly can.
I can call it glorious, holy preparing.
For I know, I have learned, that this is who He is.
A God who knows the value of the wait.
Babies in the womb take time to develop.
Seeds in the ground do too.
Cake batter in the oven doesn’t fair well after only five minutes in.
The best time.
The perfect time.
He knows the plans He has for us Beloved, He wrote them.
Each and every one.
For each and everyone.
And every one serves purpose.
He is the Author of our story and the Perfecter of our faith.
And I truly believe...that OUR waiting...is HIS perfecting.
Making us complete.
Making us whole.
Working things together for good.
Going ahead to prepare the green pastures before He leads us in.
For this is who He is.
He is good.
And His love endures forever.
And that will never change.
Trust the wait.
Trust the One.
Leaning on the everlasting arms...the ones that are carrying you home.
You can follow Tera's blog, One Girl's Faith Journey, by clicking HERE.
I am so glad you are here! I am Erica Strickland, a girl who loves God. My goal here is to simply share His love and light.