The Ultimate War Room Game Changer (and What You Need to Do to Make it Work)

Last Friday I wrote about the 4 reasons why having a war room isn’t going to change your life. For weeks and weeks after creating my special prayer closet, I didn’t make time to spend with God. This week, I’m going to tell you what has been my game changer. Are you ready for this?

2-War Room Game Changer

It’s quite simple really: I decided I had to change my sleep schedule.

Instead of going to bed late night after night, I set my bed time for 9-9:30 and my wake up time for 5-5:30. This means no more surfing the internet aimlessly ’til 11, falling asleep on the phone, or working on projects ’til my brain hurts and I can hardly keep my eyes open. Instead, I try to schedule my tasks so that I’m in bed at a reasonable hour so I can wake up and have those early morning moments with God.

Now, I can’t lie to you–this is a process. There are days where this works better than others. Sometimes I simply can’t get to sleep that early and wake up that early. Late nights are not only a hard habit to break sometimes they’re unavoidable. Like I mentioned in the last post, new habits are hard to stick to and prayer requires trade-off BUT it’s a process I’ve committed to because I believe in the power of early mornings.

Saying no to late nights and yes to early mornings is like setting a standing appointment with the Lord to meet Him at a time when fewer things can distract me. No text messages, no knocks on my door, no messages needing an immediate answer. I can enjoy the peace in my closet and focus on God-it’s a beautiful thing and it’s worth waking up for!

The Bible has a lot to say about seeking the Lord in the morning. Here are a few verses:

“My voice shalt thou hear in the morning, O LORD; in the morning will I direct my prayer unto thee, and will look up.” Psalm 5:3 KJV

“Cause me to hear thy lovingkindness in the morning; for in thee do I trust: cause me to know the way wherein I should walk; for I lift up my soul unto thee.” KJV

“My heart is fixed, O God, my heart is fixed: I will sing and give praise. Awake up, my glory; awake, psaltery and harp: I myself will awake early. I will praise thee, O Lord, among the people: I will sing unto thee among the nations. For they mercy is great unto the heavens, and thy truth unto the clouds. Be thou exalted O God, above the heavens: let thy glory be above all the earth.” Psalms 57:7-11 KJV

Early in the morning

Even though I’m most definitely a chronic snoozer and like burrowing under the covers ’til the last possible second, I’ve found that waking up early and tackling my top priorities first thing in the morning, makes me feel much better throughout the rest of the day.

So how exactly does one bounce out of those comfy sheets and into the prayer closet? Here are 4 tips to help you get started and make it work:

  1. DON’T HIT SNOOZE. This is the absolute hardest for me. It’s so incredibly habitual. DON’T DO IT. It’s best to have your clock or phone on the other side of the room so you have to get up and turn it off. Whatever you have to do, get yourself out of the bed before your body has a chance to think.
  2. MAKE YOUR BED. It’s easier to stay up when you’ve made your bed. Something clicks in my brain, telling me that sleepy-time is over and the day has begun. If making your bed isn’t a habit, try it and see what happens!
  3. HYDRATE. Seriously. It’s time to wake up physically and mentally. Your body hasn’t had water in several hours and it needs to be hydrated. Don’t shock yourself with cold water, room temp is good or warmed up with some lemon will do you even better!
  4. PREP FOR PRAYER. Don’t go directly from bed to closet. Trust me on this one. If I go straight into prayer upon rising, I fall asleep before getting very far. I usually start out with listening to some worshipful music and reading the Bible. The key is to wake up your brain while preparing yourself for prayer. But don’t check email or social media, don’t catch up on the news, don’t start playing your favorite podcast or reviewing project deadlines. All that can wait. It’s time to focus. This is also a good time to review any prayer requests you may have, either for yourself or someone else.

These are really simple steps but they help. But remember–it’s a process. You’re not going to be good at this right away and that’s okay–all good things take time. Pray about it! Be open about your struggles with the Lord. Ask Him to give you the strength to rise early and stay awake. And on the days that don’t go so well, give yourself some grace. Don’t bully yourself, God certainly won’t. You’re asking Him to change your heart in drawing you into a stronger prayer life, He’ll give you what you need to make the appointments with Him.

Let me just add that there isn’t a right time or a wrong time to pray. Your prayer time might be in the evening when everyone’s asleep for the night or maybe sometime in the middle of the day when everyone else is occupied for an hour and that’s totally fine. I personally think that giving God the first part of the day is preferable and, while it does take plenty of adjustment, it’s a worthy habit to develop!


Check out the blog every Friday morning for the next 4 weeks to read each new post in this series and let me know your thoughts in the comments

Stay blessed!

#quiettimefriday | #whereifight

4 Reasons Why Having a War Room Won’t Change Your Life (and the One Reason it Absolutely Will)

The day after I saw the movie War Room (Amazon) earlier this year, I walked into my tiny walk-in closet and made the decision that something had to change.  For too long, I had pussy-footed around my prayer life and decided that Miss Clara had the right idea and I needed my own war room to fight my battles. So I took out my dresser, vacuumed the floor, brought in a rug and a few special pieces from my bedroom and voila! I was ready to pray.

I was off to a great start. I bought a copy of The Battle Plan for Prayer (Amazon), I started writing Bible verses on sheets of paper in colored markers and taping them on my wall. I had my Prayer and Bible Study Journal. I was ready to experience a new season of powerful prayer.

Less than a week later, I was back to my frenetic busyness, not willing to carve out the time to kneel in my special place. Week after week, I’d kick myself for failing to take time out and really, intentionally seeking the Lord in prayer. And week after week I’d resolve to to better come Monday morning. It wasn’t a matter of not having time, it was a matter of not making time. All it would take was waking up 20 minutes earlier, spending less time on the phone, watching fewer YouTube videos, or reading fewer pages in the book I’m working on.

I was inconsistent in feeding myself spiritually. My life was too caught up in other things. My spiritual taste buds were craving worldly things. My spiritual antennae were picking up the channels I had turned to and settled on. And so it went, day after day, getting clothes out of my closet and feeling guilty that I hadn’t stopped to sit at the feet of Jesus in the special place I’d made for us. I’d made my beautiful war room but that didn’t change my prayer life. The battle was still going strong inside me.

Let me tell you why having a war room won’t change your life.

1-4 Reasons Why Having a War Room Won't Change Your Life

  1. IT’S EASY TO IGNORE.  I don’t know if you’ve found this to be true but I can say from personal experience that it’s easy to ignore my war room. Granted, it is in my closet which I’m in and out of everyday. And that’s part of the problem–it’s in my mundane, routine closet space, thus making it easy to pass through without much thought. Its existence tugs at my heart to be sure but it’s not compelling enough for me to stay and spend time with God. I breeze in and breeze out with a pair of jeans or a blouse and on to my next task, quickly forgetting that it’s been days since I’ve done much less than dig for socks and mentally put together outfits for the weekend.
  2. NEW HABITS ARE HARD TO STICK TO. I’ve said it more than a couple times here on the blog–I’m a chronic snoozer and, dear God help me, I’d much rather get extra sleep than drag myself out of bed and down to my knees in prayer. Once I’m praying I’m fine and I wonder why I’m such an idiot to keep skipping days but it’s that short trek to my closet that gets me more often than I’d like to admit. The problem is, everyday that I don’t get up brings me farther and farther away from the purpose behind having a war room in the first place–spending time with God and equipping myself for daily battles.
  3. VULNERABILITY IS UNNERVING. Prayer requires us to come before God with honesty and transparency. Have you ever tried to pray about something while simultaneously trying to keep Him from uncovering something you’d rather have kept in the dark? It doesn’t make for a fulfilling prayer time. Coming into your war room with all that going on inside is like going out to a special candle light dinner with your significant other and shooting down all his attempts at meaningful conversation. You both leave the restaurant feeling awkward and estranged.
  4. PRAYER REQUIRES TRADE-OFF. Sleep isn’t the only thing that can keep us from establishing a prayer life. New habits are difficult to acquire because it often requires a trade-off. Less time on the phone, fewer TV shows, less social media, fewer pages in a book, less going out. Often it means saying no to a few things in order to say yes to one very important thing. But trade-offs are hard because it means reprioritizing. We don’t like giving up the things we like. Nevertheless, a war room life demands change. But simply having one, won’t create that change.

Where I Fight QUOTE 1There is only one reason that having a war room will change your life:

Allowing God to change your heart and train you to become a prayer warrior.

The reasons I listed above are simply Satan’s ploys to derail us from what we’re truly seeking–time with God so we may fight the battles that face us daily and give glory to Him. Having a nice space to meet with God is a step in the right direction but you must take the next step and allow Him to make the heart change that will bring you back to that place again and again. It’s not about having a closet to pray in, it’s about carving out that time to pray on a consistent basis. It’s pointless to create a beautiful space if you don’t develop the habit to come back every day. I told myself this one day while staring defeatedly at my own prayer closet.

This 6-part blog series is many months in the making. It’s the series about finding the time, creating the space, and enjoying the joy and peace of giving God set-apart moments, in His presence, in the calm. And I didn’t write it because I’ve figured it all out and it comes easy. I wrote this series because I’m still learning and God is still working patiently with me to make change in my heart. This is a process and a 6 simple blog posts are just the snapshots of the beginning of a life-long journey.

Are you ready to make some changes in your prayer life? I’m not going to lie to you and tell you it’s easy. We’re talking the patience of the saints here (Revelation 14:12). It takes commitment and a unrelenting desire to draw closer to the Father. But, oh, is it worth it!

I so cannot wait to share my heart and some of the ideas I’ve curated from other great posts and videos, as well as a few of my own ideas! Check out the blog every Friday morning for the next 5 weeks to read each new post and let me know your thoughts in the comments 🙂

Stay blessed!

#quiettimefriday | #whereifight

2016 Operation Deepen Faith

Hosted by Becky @ Operation Actually Read the Bible

This is probably my favorite reading challenge. Not because I’ve been particularly successful at completing it, but I LOVE the concept. This is my 3rd year and I plan on getting a lot accomplished in 2016. I’m really excited cause she’s added some new stuff this year :))

For full details, check out the original post.

Here are the 7 parts in this challenge:

  1. Wonderful Words of Life. Goal: Read the Bible.
  2. Sweet Hour of Prayer. Goal: Pray daily.
  3. How Firm A Foundation. Goal: STUDY (meditate too!) one book of the Bible throughout the year.
  4. Deep and Wide. Goal: read multiple books of the bible in multiple translations.
  5. Meditate or Memorize. Goal: Choose about a verse a week–or a verse every other week–to reflect and meditate on.
  6. Choose a Research Project.
  7. Christian Nonfiction.

Optional Choices:

  1. A. READ THE ALPHABET.
  2. B. BINGO.
  3. C. We Believe.

I’ve chosen the following categories:

  • Wonderful Words of Life.
  • Sweet Hour of Prayer.
  • How Firm A Foundation.
  • Meditate or Memorize.
  • Choose a Research Project.
  • Christian Nonfiction.

Progress:

 

1st Quarter

2nd Quarter

3rd Quarter

4th Quarter

10. Forever in His Care | 31 Days

This is post 10/31 of Write 31 Days. See full list HERE.

I was on Pinterest or Instagram the other day and I saw a quote that went something like, “My favorite childhood memory is not paying bills.”

Can I get a witness? Adulthood is wonderful, to be sure, but I do miss the simplicity of my childhood.

I was going through some of my old writing and I came across the lyrics to one of my absolute favorite songs of all times. As a music lover and a book nerd, the term “favorite” is not something I can easily assign but this song will always be one of them.

I don’t think there was ever a time when I didn’t know it but sometimes I forget the truth in the lyrics I know by heart. They’re a beautiful reminder that I don’t have to worry about a thing. God has promised to take care of me no matter what I’m going through.

“Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the Lord your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.”

Deuteronomy 31:6

So here’s a piece of my childhood. It’s by First Call and was originally on their 1987 album Somethin’ Takes Over.

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Yeah, lol just a bit before my time. Just a bit.

Anyway, I hope it blesses you as it has me for the past 25 years.

Forever In His Care

There was a time when I would fret about the time that lies ahead

Until the time my Savior said “You are Mine, never forget.”

So why should I worry if it shines or rains?

I’m safe and warm under His wings

I’m in no hurry for an earthly thing

I’m forever in His care

Troubles come and troubles go

Can’t change a thing by worrying so

I’m kissing goodbye to my worldly woes

I’m forever in His care

He robes the meadow with flowers bright

He see the sparrow fall

And though He leads me through the darkest night

I’m sheltered in His wings

Protected through it all

So why should I worry if it shines or rains?

I’m forever in His care?

#write31days

3. The Truth About Wisdom | 31 Days

This is post 3/31 of Write 31 Days. See full list HERE.

I’m what you call a book nerd. I’ve been an avid reader since I was a child and now, as an adult, I love seeing my books lined up on my shelves. Kindles and Nooks have their place but real, physical books remain supreme.

Naturally, while I’ve always loved the written word, my appreciation for their power has grown as I’ve gotten older. I love words, spoken and written. They encourage thought, they broaden knowledge, they convey emotion, they allow us to connect.

But knowledge will only take you so far. The key is to know what to do with what you know. To know what thoughts to have, what knowledge is worth possessing, how to correctly understand and express my emotions, how to effectively connect with those around me. It’s not enough to know that something needs to be done. That’s knowledge and that’s good. But we need something more to carry it through.

That’s wisdom.

There are a lot of really smart people out there. But that doesn’t make them wise.

“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: a good understanding have all they that do his commandments: his praise endureth for ever.”

Psalm 111:10 KJV

That’s not what the dictionary says but as a Christian, how could I ignore such a clear definition?

Wisdom comes from God. Period. So now matter how many books I read, classes I take, conversations I take part in, credentials I collect, or experiences I have, true wisdom, the ability to discern between right and wrong can only come from God.

A complete lack of discernment is what makes smart people do really dumb things. For all I love my books and like to learn new things, I’d much rather be simple in my knowledge of the world and rich in the wisdom and knowledge of God. That’s almost a weird thing to say, like I don’t want book smarts or street smarts, which isn’t true, I do! But I also don’t want to be counted among those who consider lecture halls and letters after my name to be more important than the quiet moments I spend in the Word. Wisdom comes from those quiet moments because in those moments, the Creator of the universe speaks and my heart and mind feast on things that no other educational experience could ever hope to offer.

The truth is, I cannot ever hope to attain or cultivate real wisdom without a real reverence and deference of the Lord (that’s what fear of the Lord is). My pursuit of God heart must be first on my list of priorities. Then He can take my knowledge and turn it into something useful and meaningful for His purpose and glory.

I can safely assume that you’re a smart person 🙂 Are you seeking wisdom too? Are you actively seeking the heart of God so that you can discern between right and wrong and put all that knowledge and experience to good and proper use in the world?

#write31days

Can You Be Trusted Now? | Virtues for the Single Woman

Last week I wrote 12 Virtues for the Single Woman from Proverbs 31. I had these grandiose plans for an inspiring 12-week blog series that would go through each of those virtues one by one. But somehow it just didn’t feel right. So I thought I’d take it easy, not force it and just write what was on my heart about these topics without any particular order or time constraints.

We’ll see what happens. So far, I’ll just say that Tuesday is will be my slot for Single Virtue.

With that, let’s talk about trust.

SINGLE VIRTUE Trust.1

When I think about what it takes to be a virtuous woman, now as an unmarried woman and later if I’m ever a married woman, I’m a bit overwhelmed by the huge responsibility. And I think a lot of that has to do with the fact that I so do not line up with what’s in those verses, or what’s on my 12 virtues list, for that matter.  And I’ve heard it said that it’s not about following the list–and I sort of agree with that.

Sort of.

I don’t think that God looks at women and requires each of us to have a life that mirrors the one in Proverbs 31. But I think that what she had is absolutely attainable. I think it’s more about principle–that’s why I wrote that list of 12 key areas of virtue.

God wants our lives to mirror His character and when you look at the verses in Proverbs 31, you see attributes of God. Attributes of faithfulness, selflessness, love, compassion, purpose, wisdom, humility, joy, contentment, etc.  These are the things we grow to love in our Heavenly Father and He wishes that we follow after the same pattern.

What does that have to do with trust? Well, verse 11 says,

“The heart of her husband safely trusts her; 

So he will have no lack of gain.”  

Proverbs 31:11

In order to be a trustworthy woman, I have to first place my trust in the only safe place there is: Jesus Christ. The heart of the husband of a Proverbs 31 woman can safely trust her because she has given him reason to. She has proven that she can be trusted to live a life that is pleasing to God and what God-fearing man wouldn’t see the treasure in that? 

Because her life is propelled by love, she does as 1 Corinthians 13 says: “[She] suffers long and is kind; [she] does not envy; [she] does not parade [herself], is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek [her] own, [she’s] not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” (verses 4-7, love replaced by she). She has developed a character that her husband can fully trust his life with. This happens in varying degrees across different relationships but the takeaway is the same: How is your season of singleness impacting your future season of marriage? Can you be trusted now? 

Because you don’t all of a sudden become trustworthy at some random time.

Are you building your various relationships on mutual trust?  Can your classmates depend on you to hold up your end of a group project?  Can your coworkers trust that you’re going to pull your weight and finish tasks on time?  Can your friends count on your honest opinion?  Can your family members trust that you’ll keep family matters inside the home?  Can you be trusted to make smart decisions? It’s how you live your single years that determines the health of your future marriage and family. No matter how long a season of singleness lasts–a few years or for a lifetime–being a trustworthy woman is something that is needed regardless of where you are or where you’re planning on going.

Consider your life and honestly ask yourself if you truly trust God with your life. And not just bits and pieces– you’re whole entire life. Ask Him to cultivate in you a complete trust in Him as well as a trustworthiness that others can safely count on.

-Elyssa 

12 Virtues for the Single Woman

I remember reading about the Proverbs 31 woman when I was a teenager and wondering: 

  1. How in the world does she do it all?
  2. What about if you’re not married?

I decided to answer at least the second question.  So I started reading books about femininity and womanhood and singleness.  Several years later, I’m still reading and learning and goofing up and trying again.  If I’ve learned one thing about the Proverbs 31 Woman, it’s that she didn’t get to be a super woman after she got married.  The woman described in those 11 verses was a woman of great value before she became a wife and mother.  That’s good news for us single gals because that means this passage most definitely applies to us as well.  The life season may be different but there is definitely application sans the hubbie and kiddos.   

So, lister that I am, and after many, many attempts, I’ve finally finished this post on Proverbs 31 for the Single Woman. I’ve settled on 12 virtues that single women should aspire to from the Proverbs 31 model.  This is merely a framework.  There are so many other qualities that can be attributed to this woman but these 12, in my opinion, are foundational.

So single, dating, engaged, or divorced, it’s no matter–this list is for all the wonderful, unmarried hearts who may have wondered how Proverbs 31 applied to them.

SINGLE VIRTUE 12 TITLES

1. Woman of Faith (v. 10-31)

The Proverbs 31 Woman has built her life on the Solid Rock of Jesus Christ.  He is her Life-Giver, Champion, Defender, and Best Friend.  Everything she says and does is for His glory (1 Corinthians 10:31).  She finds her life’s mission in His will and she spends her everyday seeking after His heart.  It’s Jesus living in her heart that makes her the loving, hard-working, wise, compassionate woman she is.  She doesn’t worry about the days ahead because He has given her “a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11 NKJV).  

2. Woman of Trust (v. 11-12, 26)

Verses 11 and 12 say that her husband’s heart safely trusts her and she does him good and not evil all her days. He knows he doesn’t have to worry about her conduct or judgement.  And he knows this because she’s proven it over time.  She keeps her word and takes care of her relationships.  Her family and friends know that she can be counted on.  

3. Woman of Compassion (v. 15, 20, 26)

The Proverbs 31 Woman is unselfish and giving. With love and compassion, she pays attention to the needs of both those inside and outside her home circle.  She takes care of those she loves with her time and resources and actively shows compassion to those around her who are in need.  

4. Woman of Integrity (v. 26, 29)

A woman who’s husband can trust her in marriage must be a woman of integrity well before the white gown and vows. TheProverbs 31 Woman has developed a character of integrity over the years.  People don’t question her behavior because she conducts herself with uprightness, dignity, honesty, and selflessness.  Verse 29 says that her husband tells her “”Many daughters have done well, but you excel them all.”” (NKJV)  This isn’t because of her beauty or accomplishments.  She excels because she has allowed Jesus to shine in her life and make her a woman of integrity and that has poured into every aspect of her life.  

5. Woman of Purpose (v. 10-31)

The Proverbs 31 Woman has a purpose in life–do all for God’s glory.  Because she manages her household and businesses so well, we can conclude that these are talents that she nurtured over time. She lived with purpose and drive while she was single and the Lord entrusted her with the precious responsibilities of wifehood, mothering, and business. I’m sure there were screaming two-year olds, bad hair days, failed business deals, and a cranky husband, but her purpose never falters because her life isn’t ultimately about her, it’s about God and allowing Him to use her for His will.    

6. Woman of Industry (v. 13-22, 27, 31)

Not only does this woman know her purpose, she knows how to get it done. She is a shrewd business woman, not afraid to get her hands dirty, uses her creative talents, and makes wise financial decisions. She is not haphazard, frivolous, or lazy. She keeps herself busy because she knows that idleness gives the devil ample room to cause mischief in her life. She manages her time well, knows when to make sacrifices and when to say no. She develops her talents and ensures that she’s doing all she can provide a good future for herself, her husband, and her children.  

7. Woman of Wellness (v. 17, 22)

A person will perform only as well as they take care of themselves. The Proverbs 31 Woman knows that she will only be able to serve her family and succeed in life if she takes care of herself. So she exercises and eats well and takes time to take care of her physical needs. Verse 22 says she even dresses well. There’s nothing about her that’s sloppy or unbecoming–she takes time to make herself look presentable, and feel good. We can assume that she doesn’t spend too much time on herself otherwise she wouldn’t have time for her other responsibilities but she knows the value of a little ‘me’ time to keep from burning out. 

8. Woman of Humility (v. 10-31)

Not only does it take faith to live with a servant’s heart, it also takes humility. The Proverbs 31 Woman is extremely humble. She goes about her work without asking for accolades, recognition, or a gold star. Her humility not only shines through her acts of compassion and generosity, but also through the drama she doesn’t create, and the noise she doesn’t make about the work she does. 

9. Woman of Wisdom (v. 16, 18, 26)

The Proverbs 31 Woman draws from the wisdom she gains over the years. In her business dealings she “considers” (v. 16) and “perceives” (v. 18). She’s learned to do these things over time through experience or education. She doesn’t rush into things without carefully considering the potential outcomes. She listens to and learns from those who are wiser. She also knows the power that words can have and speaks with wisdom and kindness (v. 26). She doesn’t use words to gossip or tear other people down. She thinks before she opens her mouth and carefully chooses her words.

10. Woman of Joy (v. 28)

Christians should be the most joyful people on planet earth because we have Jesus in our hearts. But have you noticed the way we go about our days sometimes? I’m ashamed to say that I’m less than joyful way too often. The husband and children of the Proverbs 31 Woman call her blessed not because she runs a tight ship but because she’s a joy and inspiration in their lives. She has learned the value of being joyful while being purposeful, wise, and industrious. She lives with her heart full and takes pleasure in the simple things in life. She has a sense of humor and is easy to get along with. She doesn’t hold grudges and she is long-suffering in stressful situations. This joy that emanates from her comes from Jesus and her family thrives because of it.  

11. Woman of Contentment (v. 23, 31)

The Proverbs 31 Woman is content with her life’s work. Her husband has his work and responsibilities and she has hers. Together they work for the glory of God and the well-being of their family. She doesn’t begrudge him his work or wish to be doing something different because she knows her purpose and calling. She’s learned to roll with the punches, take the bad along with the good and remain at peace. She, like, the apostle Paul has learned to be content whatever the circumstances (Philippians 4:11).  

12. Woman of Femininity (v. 10-31)

The Proverbs 31 Woman lives the type of life that has long since been discarded as worthwhile and successful. Running a household and raising children is no longer the desirable life work it used to be. But a Proverbs 31 Woman lives according to what God’s will is for her no matter what may or may not be ‘normal’ or ‘politically correct’. Whether it’s pursuing a career, marriage, singleness, raising children, or a combination of many things, a woman of virtuous femininity will conduct herself with grace, dignity, direction, and love. Femininity starts in the heart and then quickly manifests it’s beauty on the outside and adds character to every unique personality.


There is so much more to say about virtuosity and the single life and over the next several weeks, I’ll be posting more about what I’m learning about this wonderful passage. My plan is to make it a regular feature on the blog every Tuesday, so watch out for it 🙂

-Elyssa

The Stuff of a Successful Life

When you hear or see the word ‘success’, what comes to mind?  Money?  Your byline on the front page?  A happy family?  A rise on the corporate ladder?  Success means different things to each of us and there are a myriad different roads to that success.  And while I’m not an expert in this area, I have learned a thing or two based on the little victories in my life and various pieces of advice I’ve received.  Tucked into the pocket of my adulthood are 5 things I think are woven into the tapestry of a successful life.

There are things you have to do or be in order to be a writer.  And there are things you have to do or be in order to realize success in your life.  These 5 life tips are written in terms of being a writer cause it’s my niche and I think the principles are all the same no matter what you’re pursuing in life.

Success-Writer

 1. In order to be a writer, you have to be a reader.

A writer who doesn’t read, is like a cook who doesn’t eat or a musician who doesn’t listen to music.  If you want to be a writer, a composer of sentences, you’ve got to read.  And not just read but read well.  Don’t just read one kind of book, read broadly and outside of your comfort zone.  Allow yourself to mature, learn and grow as a reader and that’s one of the ways you’ll mature, learn, and grow as a writer.  Get to know style, structure, and voice.  Stretch your brain with subjects that you may not be naturally in to.  Challenge yourself with topics that you’ve always been interested in but didn’t think you were ‘smart’ enough to understand.  This takes some work but it’s worth it.

While I think that reading is important not matter who you are, the principle also holds true when it comes to your actual life’s work.  Submerge yourself in those things that will enhance your talents.  The more you engage in your talents and passions, the better you understand what it means to be whatever you want to be.  No matter what kind of work you do, don’t be satisfied to know just what your job requires.  Familiarize yourself with the context in which you work.  It will help you do your job better, you’ll become a better conversationalist and you’ll set yourself up for upward mobility in your organization.  Just remember: cooks eat, musicians listen to music, and writer’s read.  What do you do?

2. In order to be a writer, you have to write.

So, if you’re going to be a writer, you have to write.  Well, DUUUUHHH!

Lol.

Sometimes it’s not that simple.  Writing is hard and there are times when it’s more simple not to write.  But the desire doesn’t go away–so you have to do it!  Saying ‘you have to write’ means that you do it even when it’s hard.  Just because you’ve got a passion for something, doesn’t mean it’s going to come easily.  Having a passion for something means that even when it’s hard, you keep doing it.  

Same goes for anything else in life.  If you want to succeed at something, you have to do it.  You don’t wait around for ideal circumstances, you don’t wait until you know better, you just do it.  And you do it when it’s hard and you don’t want to. The BF once told me that this is what separates the boys from the men – the ability to keep doing something when it’s hard or you feel like it’s not worth it anymore.  The stuff of success is doing the hard things no matter what.

Note: I have to add a caveat – this doesn’t mean that you do things thoughtlessly or recklessly, without consideration.  But sometimes, we sit around and daydream about what we could be doing, despairing that we’ll never get a chance to do this, or be good enough to do that.  Sometimes opportunity doesn’t knock, you have to find it yourself.  Be prayerful and considerate of your options but don’t sit around and wait for easy – be purposeful and just do it!  

3. In order to be a writer, you have to be vulnerable.

Writing is putting your heart on the page and hoping no one steps on it or rips it to shreds.  It takes a lot of nerve to be that transparent with your thoughts.  And it takes a lot of guts to be okay when someone doesn’t like what you have to say.  A writer has to care more about writing and what she’s writing and less about what people think about it.  The ability to be that vulnerable is tough but it’s necessary.

There are times in life when you just have to be vulnerable in order to get anywhere.  Asking someone out, going on a job interview, striking up a conversation with someone who probably wouldn’t normally talk to you.  That first step, that first move – these are moments of vulnerability cause you don’t know what’s going to happen and your feelings may take a hit as a result of your actions.  But let me tell you something. Risking your pride and your feelings is a part of maturing and growing as a human being.  There’s no growth where there’s no risk and where there’s no risk, there’s no success. Care enough about your goal to take chances and be vulnerable.

4. In order to be a writer, you have to be willing to listen.

Confession – I struggle with this.  As a word lover, I’m too quick to speak and even slower to listen.  It’s really not cool and I have removed my foot from my big mouth on many, many occasions in my short life.  But listening is an important quality in a writer.  And not just when it’s your turn to listen in a conversation, but just in general.  Be aware of what’s going on around you.  It could spark your next blog post or start an interesting conversation.  You never know!

The same holds true in life.  Sometimes you really don’t have to talk.  If you’re like me, you have a zillion thoughts going on at once, multiple tabs open and comments on the ready.  But just because you have something to say, doesn’t mean you have to say it.  Practice listening.  Wait for people to finish their sentence before you respond and think about what you’re going to say (my parents just heard the hallelujah chorus in their heads and have no idea why!).  Maybe this isn’t an issue for you, but for all y’all fast talkers out there, be slow to speak and quick to listen.  Believe me, people will appreciate it!

5. In order to be a writer, you have to love it.

A writer doesn’t write for the sake of being a writer, a writer writes because she can’t help but write.  This quote says it best:

If you can quit, then quit.

In order to be a success in any area of you’re life, you have to want it enough.  If you you’re going to invest your time and effort doing something, make sure you love it.  This doesn’t mean quitting your day job, abandoning your responsibilities, or ditching your commitments simply because you don’t love them.  Life comes in seasons and everyone has to pay their dues or do things simply as the means to an end. Whatever you’re working towards, love it enough to use those things that you may not love, or even like, as learning opportunities and stepping stones along the way.


Success, like beauty, is in the eyes of the beholder.  One may look at the family who drives a old van and always seems to be struggling financially as not successful until they see the joy of the children, the contentment on the wife’s face and the spring in the husband’s step – that is priceless.  

You’re not here to please everybody else, just One Person.  When God looks at you, you want to be sure He likes what He sees you spending your life on.  He created you with a specific purpose in mind.  That purpose doesn’t necessarily mean something seemingly grandiose like mission work in a foreign country, leadership in a far reaching ministry organization, or a best selling book.  Sometimes that purpose looks more like faithful service in your local church, witnessing on the job, or raising children that love the Lord.  The stuff of a successful life is deciding to do whatever it is that God placed you on this earth to do no matter how hard it is or how much it costs you.

The stuff of a successful life is


I don’t know what challenges you’re facing this week, but I do know one thing – God’s got your back.  He has a beautiful, unique purpose for your life, better than anything you could ever hope for or dream of.  Don’t chase the world’s standard of success.  Embrace God’s great plan for your life and work diligently to become all that He created you to be!

Have a blessed week, y’all!

Elyssa

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3 Things God Absolutely Loves About You

You know the opening line in the beloved song, Jesus Loves Me:

Jesus loves me this I know for the Bible tells me so.

If you’ve had any church upbringing, you’re familiar with the truth of God’s love for His children.  But have you ever thought about what exactly about you God loves?  The fact that we are created in His image (Genesis 1:27) and knew each of us before we were born (Psalm 139:13-16) says plenty about His love for us. And the fact that He sent His only Son to pay the sacrificefor our sins tells us that we mean a great deal to Him (John 3:16). But have you ever thought what about you God loves?  We’re each different and God knows us on levels I can’t even fathom but I can guarantee you I know 3 things that God absolutely loves adores you!3 Things God Loves About You

1. Your personality

The way you can brighten a conversation with your sense of humor.  Or the way you can ease a tense situation with your calm, matter-of-fact nature.  You’re great at talking to kids.  Or you’re great at negotiating in meetings.  You have a knack for encouraging people when they’re down.  You know just what to do in an emergency situation.  You’re unselfish.  You know when to take charge. You follow directions well.  You’re dependable.  You’re fun to be around.  Whether you’re adventurous, creative, quiet, thoughtful, studious, imaginative, practical, stoic, free-spirited or a combination of all of the above, no matter your personality profile,  God loves those things about you that make you YOU.  He created you to be the only version, the only collection of your unique personality traits around.

(Note: Personality and character are two different things.  You may have a great, sociable personality but have a bad attitude, or a quick temper.  Or maybe you have a great sense of humor but only tell crude jokes.  Or maybe you have a way with words but you use them to cut people down rather than build them up.  All that not-great-stuff about yourself has to do with character, not personality.  When you bring those character flaws before the Lord and ask Him to help you work on those weaknesses, He will and the beauty of the unique personality He created you with will shine through in its best form and you’ll be a fabulous witness for Him!)

2. Your beauty

Hey, I don’t care what you may have heard in your past or what you may be hearing now.  YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL.  Period.  Why? Cause God created you and God doesn’t make junk.  The world has a cast system of beauty and we think that if we don’t look like the photoshoped-beyond-reality models on magazines, the stars in movies, or even that person in the checkout line at the grocery store, we haven’t achieved a desirable level of good-looks.  Stop comparing yourself to other people. You are a beautiful, made-in-the-image-of-God person and He loves that about you.

-Stop comparing yourself to other people

Are there parts of you that you need to work on with some good ol’ fashioned exercise and healthy eating?  Go for it! Are there colors that work best with your skin tones and clothing styles that look fantabulous on your body type?  Check them out.  Are there haircuts that look great with your face shape and hair type?  Look into it.  Focus on what works best for you.  Make the best version of you, not a second-rate version of someone else.  You have something fabulous to show the world because God created you to be beautifully, uniquely YOU.  Don’t trash your brand of beauty to chase some cooked up version the world keeps shoving in your face.  God loves your beauty – embrace it!

3. Your talents

You are really good with a paintbrush and colors.  You’re fantastic with numbers and problem-solving.  You play a mean bass guitar.  You’re a great speaker.  God loves that about you!  You’ve got a green thumb.  You’re a master in the kitchen.  You’re really good with kids.  You can sew or knit, or build stuff.  You can diagnose a patient, talk someone through a crisis, or manage a highly intense situation.  God loves that about you!  Just like personality, God gave us talents to be explored, cultivated and used for His glory and the good of others.  Even if you have talents that you think nobody else notices, they’re important.  Maybe your talents are mainly behind the scenes rather than front and center stage.  God sees them and He has entrusted those very important talents to you for a reason.  No matter where you’re gifted, develop those things and use them so you don’t lose them!  God loves these things about you and He gets a kick out of you doing those awesome things He created you to do!

There you go!  Three things about you that God absolutely loves.  You are fearfully and wonderfully made by God on purpose and He loves you with an everlasting love that will never fail you.  I don’t know what you’re facing this Monday morning but whatever it is, know that you can stand firm on the truth that God loves you and you never have to face life alone!

Have a fantastic week!

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