life beyond the well…


Leave a comment

25 Questions to Ask Yourself Before the End of 2013

I have my dear friend Jovian to thank for this.  She sent these questions out in an email to a bunch of us, and I thought I’d tackle them in this space…because I feel that doing so makes me slightly more accountable than just answering them in my head or replying via email.

So, let’s have at it (warning- this is long):

25 Questions to Ask Yourself Before the End of 2013

1. What am I most proud of this year?

I am most proud of my growth as a wife.  Every day, there are new challenges and new opportunities for growth.  In our first year of marriage, we had experienced changes beyond what either of us could have imagined.  I’m proud of handling the change with faith, and by being on the same team.

2. How can I become a better person?

I ABSOLUTELY must be better by asking for help.  Note to self: It takes a strong person to admit where they are weak, and to ask for help to become stronger.

3. Where am I feeling stuck?

In my pursuit of having a more healthy lifestyle. My current reasons have not been compelling enough, nor has my discipline been where it needs to be. I’m looking forward to overhauling this area, and really understanding my “why”; as well as creating SMART goals to make sure that I see the progress I desire.

4. Where do I need to allow myself grace?

In my role as a wife. Preacherman knows this more than anyone, but I am incredibly hard on myself.  I’ve decided to adopt Emily Ley’s motto as my own: “I will hold myself to a standard of GRACE not PERFECTION.”

5. Am I passionate about my career?

Yes! I love what I do, and who I serve. It’s been a huge area for growth, but it’s been rejuvenating and fun. I’m grateful for the opportunity to help students see the possibilities, and then make them realities.

6. What lessons have I learned?

Not so much lessons, but reminders: God is a faithful. God is love. God is a provider. God is…

7. What did my finances look like?

I’m extremely proud of our saving this year- we came up with a plan that works, and with God’s provision, we were able to handle a huge move in the short-term without taking much of hit.  This year, the goal is to live lean, save more, and to look for ways to build wealth.

8. How did I spend my free time?

Pre-move: lots of time was spent serving at church, and fellowshipping with friends and family.  Post-move: lots of time was spent on organizing our new home, getting acclimated to new jobs and a new area, and creating systems to make us more efficient.

9. How well did I take care of my body, mind, and soul?

I started out on a roll with all three- exercising and eating healthy, striving to learn new things, and purposefully seeking growth in my relationship with God.  As things got busy and life happened, I didn’t do as great of a job at balancing all three- I would maybe have 2 things going well, but missing the third one.  Again, I believe that creating SMART goals for 2014, along with clarity about what’s most important in this current stage of life will help me be better at all of these in the coming year.

10. How have I been open-minded?

In seeking, hearing, believing, and trusting the promises of God beyond what I can see or feel.  The circumstances of my life this year have required that I be more open to seeing, hearing, believing, and trusting the promises of God.

11. When did I feel most creatively inspired?

I don’t know if I can identify a time, but I know that I feel more creatively inspired to write (for this blog and otherwise) when I’m most balanced in my relationship with God and can hear Him clearly.

12. What projects have I completed?

Getting the new home organized and decorated.  It’s great coming home to a place that you love.

13. How have I procrastinated?

Dissertation.  See also #15.

14. In what ways can I re-structure my time?

Reducing some of the social media activity (although I LOVE the debates and conversations that take place on Twitter and FB), Scheduling meetings in the mornings, blocking out my day tasks- and not being afraid to say no to someone else’s “urgent” (your emergency is not my emergency) when it could be detrimental for me.

15. How have I allowed fear of failure hold me back?

Dissertation- the feedback that I have received while working on my dissertation has been the most critical feedback that I’ve ever received in academic work.  I’ve always enjoyed school, and I’ve always done well at it.  While I enjoy this, I find myself in a situation where I’m doing a ton of work that is extremely time consuming…only to get a significant amount of feedback of where you can improve.  It can be paralyzing to know that you’re doing all that you can to submit your best work and you KNOW that you’re going to get  a return email with your document…and even more corrections to make.  I definitely let this affect my mental approach to this work, and that CANNOT happen this year.  I need to keep the end goal in mind.

16. Where has self-doubt taken over?

In appearance- turning 30 in a workplace where the average employee is a female around the age of 23 or 24 and has their college metabolism and college body really forced me to think about what I wanted 30 to LOOK like and feel like for me, and how to really get to “my best self”.

In competence- my school work transitioned from classes to sole work on my dissertation.  I thought that without having classes, I’d miraculously have more time and the ideas and words would flow freely.  But that’s totally not what happened…and while I had moments of progress and inspiration, it wasn’t nearly as much as I’d hoped for.  When I coupled that with my inability to really master my time in the best way, I began to doubt my ability to complete the task at all.  I ended this year on a high note, making much progress and getting positive feedback from my dissertation chair.

17. When have I felt the most alive?

In moments with Preacherman and/or our little- working on math problems, making funfetti pancakes, watching the Cosby show, helping to wrap Christmas presents, singing “Jesus Loves Me” before bed, reciting our confession of faith together in the mornings.  All the little moments that I won’t always have.

18. How have I taught others to respect me?

Setting appropriate boundaries- especially at work has been extremely helpful here.  Being vocal about what I need, and refusing to take on too much has been incredibly helpful here also.

19. How can I improve my relationships?

Be more diligent in maintaining and creating them.  This is a challenge as an introvert, but it’s one that I need to overcome…particularly if I want to keep friends and make new ones.

20. Have I been unfair to anyone?

I hope not (LOL!).  I’ve probably been most guilty of being unfair in not extending the same grace to others that I would want extended to me.

21. Who do I need to forgive?

There are a few people who really hurt me over the past few years, and while it doesn’t hurt anymore; there are times where I find myself angry or frustrated about the way things panned out, especially after doing what I could to reconcile the situation. I need to be better about taking any negative thoughts captive and committing my mind to complete forgiveness.

22. Where is it time to let go?

Overworking/being a workaholic.  I need to place better energy on being productive while at work, and not always allowing things to carry over into home life. My first responsibility is to be the wife and steppie that God has called me to be.

23. What old habits would I like to release?

Being mean to myself/being too hard on myself. Grace, not perfection.

24. What new habits would I like to cultivate?

Consistency in reading: The Bible, devotionals, and other books to promote learning and growth

25. How can I be kind to myself?

As mentioned above, I think Emily Ley’s motto sums it up perfectly: “I will hold myself to a standard of GRACE not PERFECTION”

Advertisements


3 Comments

Happy Year One!

ArtbyAsh Photography-1338

Dear Preacherman,

Happy Anniversary!  It’s hard for me to believe that it’s been a year since we gathered together in that church in my hometown, in front of a huge group of our family and friends, and got married. Time truly flies when you’re having fun!

There is so much that I could say about this past year, but I’ll just say “thank you”. Thank you for this past year.  For loving me more and more each day.  For being patient and kind.  For not keeping record of my wrongs (and there are many).  For pushing me to be better. For helping me to overcome challenges. For protecting me from challenges. For being my love and my best friend.

Thank you for your many sacrifices- of time, energy, and resources. Thank you for making me literally laugh out loud, every single day. Thank you for your unwavering dedication to God, me, and our family. Thank you for desiring to live a life of purpose, that will leave a legacy of faith for our family.  Thank you.

Cheers to you- the captain of #teamAlmond, the President and CEO of Almond Family Enterprises, my leader, my lover, my confidant, and my very best friend.  I love you and I am so grateful to share this life with you.

Love Always,

E5


1 Comment

Thoughts about Jax

It’s been just over a month since Preacherman and I made the big move to Jacksonville, Florida.  And since we’ve been here, we’ve been busy bees; working, getting our house together, and trying to create a “new normal”.

We like Jacksonville.  Even though it’s Florida, it’s still “Southern”, so we’re still able to get sweet tea, and people still say “Ma’am” and “Sir”.  Since we are in North Florida, it doesn’t have the tropical look that Florida is known for (which is more common closer to the beach, and further South- like in Orlando or Miami).  The greenery makes it look not much different from North Carolina.

We chose to live “outside the city” but are technically still in Jacksonville.  Most places are about a 20 minute drive (Target, movie theater), but we do have a little stretch not far from us that has no shortage of grocery stores, fast food restaurants, Walgreens/CVS, and pretty much any other store that you could think of, which is especially helpful and convenient.

We are working hard and definitely being stretched by our new jobs.  It is a blessing that Preacherman and I have the opportunity to work in the same school.  When days get tough, meetings don’t go well, kids act crazy, parents act crazy,  you can’t access the internet to really find the information you need, it’s great to know that your best friend is just downstairs (or upstairs).  But more than that, it’s a blessing to work with young people and their families.  We consider it a privilege to be able to do so, and though we are being stretched, we know that there is always a greater purpose for any challenges that we may experience.

The people here are really nice.  On more than one occasion, we’ve been overwhelmed by the kindness and friendliness of strangers.  It definitely has helped to make this place feel more like home.  We’re slowly finding our way, getting to know our coworkers more, and visiting churches as well.

Though we are enjoying our new life, there are things that we miss about North Carolina.  Some of those would be our family and friends, our church family, WTVD News, great restaurants such as Watts Grocery, The Q-Shack, and Bull City Burger…just to name a few.  However, the longer that we are here, the more confident we are in God’s plan for us in Jacksonville, and that helps us to manage any feelings of being homesick.  We look forward to having our family with us in Jacksonville for Thanksgiving, and for hosting others in our home as they are able to visit.  More than anything, we are overwhelmed at God’s love and purpose for us, and excited about having the opportunity to pursue it.

Until next time…

Be encouraged!  Peace and blessings!


3 Comments

Those We Don’t Know

“Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.” –Hebrews 13:2 (NIV)

I recently started a new job, and have been working to meet students and their families, in addition to getting a good start on the massive amount of work that I have to do.  Preacherman and I work at the same school, so while students know me as “Mrs. Almond”, they also know me as “Mr. Almond’s wife”.

The other day, I was in the front office talking with one of our office assistants about a meeting that I was scheduled to have with a parent.  While there, I see one of Preacherman’s students who was signing in with her mother.  I smiled and greeted both of them, and the student smiled and waved back.  Her mother asked her who I was, to which the student replied, “Oh, that’s Mr. Almond’s wife, she works here too.”  The mother then replied, “Oh, I don’t know her”, and didn’t return my greeting or even continue to look in my direction.

I found this to be interesting and upsetting, mainly because I don’t believe that it is a requirement for me to know someone in order to return their politeness, or be polite in general.  But I also thought it was upsetting because of the example that it set for her daughter.  While I agree that we should teach our children to be wary of strangers, I also believe that we can teach them that we are kind and polite people.

However, this situation also made me reflect on how I treat people I don’t know.  This parent had no idea that I am the person who will be working with her and her daughter for the next few years to ensure that she gets into a good high school and a good college.  To the mother, I was just someone she didn’t know.  But how often have I just dismissed someone I didn’t know, who was actually appointed to help me get to the next level?  How often have I been less than kind, polite, or welcoming to someone who is new just because “I don’t know them”?

The truth is that it’s more often than I care to admit.  But, another harsh truth is that if we are going to be serious about doing the work of the Lord, we have to be mindful of how we treat others- whether we know them or not.  We are called to “love our neighbor we love ourselves“, and sometimes our neighbors are those we don’t know.  It doesn’t make them any less deserving to be shown the love of God and his kindness as others have shown to us.

Being in a new city, there are many people that I don’t know, and after this encounter, I feel especially challenged to demonstrate the love of God and his kindness in my interactions with those I don’t know- new coworkers, the cashier at Walmart, the family in the aisle with me at the grocery store.  If not me, then who?  If not now, then when?  More than ever people need to feel and see the love of God from and in others- and I want it to start with me.

Be encouraged!  Peace and blessings!

“For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’” – Matthew 25: 35-40 (NIV)

 


1 Comment

Lessons from My 5K

This weekend, I ran my first 5k.  With Preacherman accompanying me the entire time, I ran (the whole time!) and finished right at my goal time!  It was tough, but it was good.

Now, in my former life, I was a runner.  Let me correct that- I was a SPRINTER.  I say that because there is a difference between being a sprinter and being a distance runner.  Preacherman, in his younger days, was a cross country champion.  He started “training” for the 5k about 3-4 weeks before the race.  I started training about 6-8 weeks before the race.  I knew that while I had running experience, it wasn’t going to be enough to get me across the finish line so I was determined to prepare accordingly.

Despite my desire to prepare accordingly, I wasn’t able to complete my running plan due to some changes in our schedule.  As a result, I came into the race on Saturday having not run (at all) since the previous Monday. I ran the first half of the race pretty easily- and felt great.  After that, I began to struggle, probably feeling my lowest between 2 and 2.5 miles.  Through it all, Preacherman was super encouraging, and never left me behind.  Though there were points where I was able to push myself, I really struggled.

As we approached the end of the race, I felt myself being able to provide a burst of energy to finish (and meet my goal time).  I finished, almost  in a full-out sprint, and was overjoyed.  One of my bucket list items was complete and I had pushed myself beyond what I believed I could do.  This experience was great physically, but also mentally.  Here’s some things that I learned from my 5K:

  1. It’s not enough to train for the race.  You have to train for the course.
  2. You need to have people on your team who’ve been where you been to encourage you for where you’re going.
  3. While it’s great to finish strong, you should train in such a way that you can be strong for the duration of the race, not just the end. 

 

Lesson 1: It’s not enough to train for the race.  You have to train for the course.

I did ALL of my training for the 5k in the gym, on the treadmill.  For about 6-8 weeks, about 3 times  a week, I hit the gym and followed my training plan.  While I did increase the speed as I was training, never once did I increase the incline.  When it came time to run the race, my body was shocked at the number of hills we were climbing.  Had I prepared for the course, instead of just preparing for the race, I would have been better equipped and could have possibly finished faster than I did.

Lesson 2: You need to have people on your team who’ve been where you’ve been to encourage you for where you’re going.

As I mentioned, Preacherman is a former cross country runner.  He ran the race with ease and confidence.  His support was integral to my finishing the race and meeting my goal.  Since he has run many 5Ks over the course of his life, he was able to effectively encourage me for the race.  If we had run separately, I probably would have finished 10 minutes slower than I did.  With his encouragement, I was able to run the race marked out for me with perseverance.

Lesson 3: While it’s great to finish strong, you should train in such a way that you can be strong for the duration of the race, not just the end. 

On the way home after the 5k, Preacherman told me how proud he was of me for my strong finish.  But then he said, “You know, if you were able to finish strong, you probably could have done more the entire time.”  I was initially shocked, but I realized that he was right.  With better, more consistent training, I would have been able to not only have more endurance, but more speed.  While I am proud of my strong finish, my goal for the next 5k (and there will be more) is to run a stronger race for the duration of the race.  I need to work on my timing and my pacing.

I’ve been mulling over these lessons for the past few days, striving to apply them not just to my running, but to my life.  In the race of life, I want to be prepared for the race and (as much as possible) the course.  I want to build a team of mentors who can encourage me as I strive to get to the next level.  I want to run a strong race with endurance to the end.  And at the end, I want to get the prize.

“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.” – 1 Corinthians 9:24-25

Be encouraged!  Peace and Blessings!


Leave a comment

Book Review: Real Love- How to Avoid Romantic Chaos and Find the Path to Lasting Love

“Real love. I’m searching for a real love. Someone to set my heart free…” – Mary J. Blige

Whether we admit it or not, we are all desiring a real love. We smile and feel joy in our hearts at the stories of couples of have been married for 50, 60, and even 70 years; and we often wonder if it’s possible for us to have that same kind of love and marriage. The truth is that it is ABSOLUTELY possible, but you have to go about it in the right way.

That’s where this book comes in. In “Real Love: How to Avoid Romantic Chaos and Find the Path to Lasting Love”, Andy Thompson provides wisdom to those who are seeking to find a lasting love relationship. The book provides simple explanations for how to know if you’re ready to be in a relationship (and reasons why you may not be ready), as well as other valuable tidbits such as “The Three S’s” that men need from their wives and “The Three S’s” that women need from their husbands–and an additional “S” that both husbands and wives need to demonstrate in their marriage.

While the book provides lots of practical wisdom for those who are married, there is also a wealth of knowledge available for those who are in dating relationships. Thompson explains items that should be considered when making “the list” of qualities that one desires in a spouse, the limits and boundaries couples should abide by while they are in the dating phase, and the things that one really needs to know about a person (“The Seven P’s”).

I would recommend this book to people who are hoping to be married so that they can approach their dating relationships with a sense of wisdom instead of being lead by their emotions and how they may feel about a person at the time.  I would also recommend this book to people who are married, as it provides tangible knowledge that can be useful in helping their marriage be the best that it can be.

Being in a successful, long-lasting relationship is not magic.  It requires work from each person involved, but it’s also helpful to begin the relationship with a solid understanding of what lasting relationships require.  While this book doesn’t provide all the answers, it does give you an excellent foundation on which to begin the search for a REAL lasting love.


1 Comment

Two Years.

JB

Javaris Brinkley: 4.24.1994-3.7.2011

The days are long, but the years are short.

It’s still difficult to believe that you left us two years ago. It’s still hard to believe that you’re actually not here anymore. You know, now that your classmates are in college, it’s easier for me to believe that you’re on campus somewhere too; studying, having fun, learning, fulfilling your life’s potential and purpose.

But that’s not true. And there’s many a day where I gaze at the picture of you and your classmates in my office, which I keep as a reminder of who I love and who I serve and why I choose to do so in this way, and just wish that it were different.

But it’s not. And it’s still tough to deal with.

We (those of us who love you here- and there are far too many to name) have good days and bad days. There’s the happiness we feel as we think of how much joy you brought to our lives, but there’s also the sad reminder that all we have are memories.  We are able to fondly look at pictures of you, living life to the fullest; but we’re saddened because we didn’t know that our time together would be so short.

We think of you often.  I know I do.  I think you’d be proud of your classmates- they’re all doing so well.  The girl that you loved so dearly, she’s blossomed into an even more amazing young woman who is leading many with the same love and exuberance that made you fall for her in the first place.  She took it really hard- we all did.  But she dug deep, and there’s a light there that wasn’t there before.  Thank you for being her light.  The school where you spent so many hours of your most precious life- it too has blossomed.  There are now little ones on campus, not much younger than your baby sister; and they learn about you as they have PE class in the gymnasium named in your memory.  You were such a wonderful member of our Pride.  And an even more wonderful part of our lives.

A lot has changed in two years.  But one thing hasn’t- we still miss you.

Author’s Note: I also wrote a “One Year Later” reflection on missing Javaris. You can read that here

 


Leave a comment

Share Your Burdens

“Carry each other’s burdens and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” -Galatians 6:2

As an only child for about 8 years, I became fairly used to not having anyone to really share things with.  Of course,  I talked with my parents, and I had friends; but I spent a lot of time reading and in my own thoughts.  As a result, I became quite the processor; easily analyzing and mulling over my thoughts and feelings.

It’s great to give careful consideration to your thoughts and feelings- taking the time to be in control of yourself and not being pushed by your impulses is a sign of maturity, that one must master.  But the other part of being a processor and an analyzer is that you can worry yourself with your thoughts, concerns, fears, hopes, dreams.

I’ve been reminded by two women that I talk with semi-regularly about my need to increase that communication; that I need to consistently share my burdens, and develop the relationship we have so that we don’t just talk when I’m having (what I view as) a crisis but that we are in a state of constant interaction and fellowship.  This is difficult for me, because I like to take the time to really understand what I’m feeling and why I feel that way before consulting someone else; but also because I don’t like to burden people or “cry wolf” with my “crisis”.

While all those thoughts are great for might be great for me, my failure to share my burdens with others makes it difficult for them to follow what the above scripture says.  In Christ, we are called to fellowship and commune with each other, to love one another as we love ourselves, and to carry each other’s burdens.  But those burdens can’t be carried if they are unknown.  And while people can surely pray on my behalf, trusting that the Holy Spirit will direct them to what I’m in need of as they pray, it could be a lot easier if I just shared my burdens with them, so that they could carry them to Christ.

What I realized, as I thought more about this, is that I’ve been treating people like “spiritual vending machines”, coming to them when I need a quick boost; as opposed to treating them like “spiritual grocery stores” that I shop and visit regularly.  The danger in doing that is that, if I’m not careful, it can seem as if I’m only talking to them when I need help.  It’s difficult to build meaningful relationships without consistent communion and sharing- and being willing to step outside my comfort zone and share the GOOD along with the not-so-good.  Nobody likes the “friend” that only comes around when they’re broke- and I’m committed to not just engaging with people when I feel spiritually broke, but also when I feel all the wealth and favor that God has promised me.

Be encouraged!  Peace and Blessings!


3 Comments

Don’t Be Afraid to Walk

“Do not let your fire go out, spark by irreplaceable spark in the hopeless swamps of the not-quite, the not-yet, and the not-at-all.  Do not let the hero in your soul perish in lonely frustration for the life you deserved and have never been able to reach.  The world you desire can be won.  It exists.. it is real.. it is possible.. it’s yours.” -Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged

I love being a woman and I’m convinced that there’s no other experience like it.  I particularly love being a black woman, and I recognize that as such, I’m constantly faced with experiences and challenges that others don’t face.  My experience as a black woman, and as a black girl were mostly empowering.  I was constantly reminded that I could do ANYTHING that I wanted to do as long as I was willing to put in the work required.  And I grew up with other young women who were taught the same thing- that anything was possible for us.

I love seeing the same message in society today- that our young girls and young women can accomplish anything; that there is an entire world out there that is theirs for the taking.  I still feel the sense of empowerment and “You Go Girl!” when I hear of women being the first in the field to accomplish a task or assume a role, and I am proud to work in a department that is lead by women.

Yet despite all of this, I still deal with the little voice in my mind that allows me to question if I’m good enough, strong enough, smart enough, capable enough, competent enough.  And I know that I’m not alone.  Some of my sister-friends and I have frequent conversations about how we feel like we’re “not there yet”- and how we may never “get there”.  Or we lament our struggles with  “Imposter Syndrome“, even though we know that we have both degrees and knowledge to back it up.

All of this makes me wonder- when does this change happen?  When do we go from believing that we can do anything to wondering if we are deserving of what we have accomplished?  What causes us to lose the confident stride that comes with knowing that we are “Phenomenal Women” and leads us to crawl slowly with our head down, wondering if we’re worthy of the life we’ve dreamed of?

I can’t pinpoint what it is, that causes this change, but I want to encourage you- don’t be afraid to walk!  Whether it’s walking away from the relationship or the job where you know in your heart that you’re settling for less than you deserve, or it’s walking toward the career that you’ve dreamed for, the degree that you aspired to but told no one about- don’t be afraid to walk.  You owe it to yourself to walk away from anything that makes you unhappy and unfulfilled, and to walk towards anything that God purposed for your life.  And when you walk- walk with confidence, knowing that you are capable, that your dreams can and will come true, that you can have the life you want to have- because it IS possible.

And if you’re confused about what it is that you should be doing or where you should be going, start to listen to yourself.  Take time to hear the voice of God within you and follow that voice.  You aren’t an accident- there’s a purpose for which you have been created and the world NEEDS for you to walk in it!  Be fabulous!  Be fearless!  Walk it out!

 

Author’s Note: This post was also featured on Up4Discussion.org for Women’s Empowerment Month.


2 Comments

Be Nice or Be Quiet

I have very little patience for people who say mean things.  I know that sometimes people don’t always mean to, but it still bothers me.  I feel like there are so many areas of life where we hear negative things (especially on the news), that we should hold ourselves accountable to saying nice, positive things to each other.

Now, I will also acknowledge that this is difficult.  There have been quite a few “bite my tongue” or “Lord, hold my mule” moments in my life (or in the last week).  I still have to fight the urge to not pop off and say the first thing that comes to mind when I feel that someone has approached me in the wrong way or has verbally attacked me.  I often tell Preacherman that I’m glad that there’s not a scrolling marquee on my forehead because I’d find myself in some trouble in certain situations.

However, for 2013, I’ve decided that I REALLY want to be purposeful and intentional about the words that I speak.  And as I continued to think about what it means to mind my mouth (or rather, getting my mouth to mind my mind), I arrived at this: “Be nice or be quiet”.  It’s probably not that much different than what I learned as a kid of , “if you don’t have anything nice to say, you shouldn’t say anything at all.”  But sometimes, we don’t take hold of those lessons as we should as children, and we need to learn them again as adults.

But on another note, this has been my approach to any situation that threatens my peace of mind and my confidence.  The devil is real, and his ability to attack our mind is real.  And if he can attack my mind, he can steal my peace, my confidence, my joy, my hope, my salvation.  So, I feel that for this year, as I’m believing God for great things, I must address the enemy.  I can’t expect him to be nice or to play nice, but I don’t have to listen to him- and I can tell him to be quiet.

I can choose to listen to the foolishness of the enemy, or I can choose to fill myself with my word, with positive music, confessions, and affirmations until I have effectively tuned him out. Be nice or be quiet is more than what I choose to say to others, but it’s also about what I choose to say and HEAR myself.  I’m believing God for FAR TOO MUCH this year, and the devil won’t talk me (or have me talk myself) out of my promise.

Be mindful that the voice of the devil comes in many forms- it can be the nagging uncertainty that you feel after you’re excited to try something new, or it can be the “friend” who’s never able to share in your joy about your accomplishments or aspirations, or it can be the person in your family who never thought you’d amount to anything.  Be mindful of those voices and be willing to tell them the same thing you’re telling yourself: BE NICE OR BE QUIET!

Peace and Blessings!