“Lazy people want much but get little. But those who work hard will prosper” – Proverbs 13:4
Is your life everything you dreamed of? Have you allowed your faith to guide your vision? Do you feel like you are working hard and prospering?!
6 years ago, my life was a mess. I was divorced with a young child; I was unfulfilled in my career and had no idea where I was supposed to be. I didn’t know what signs to follow, what feelings to believe, or what work was worthy. I didn’t have vision for life and I certainly didn’t have priorities or believe in the hard work necessary to achieve the big things.
Fast forward to today - I am remarried to an incredibly handsome man and we have three amazing kiddos with a fourth on the way, we love big vision, working hard, and achieving the impossible. Our life is BEAUTIFUL. For me - I am a wife, mother, and daughter to the King. I am also a health and wellness coach in direct sales. I enjoy volunteering with the children’s program at church, meal planning and prepping, Disney, budgeting (for real!), and doing the impossible. My husband and I both work part time from home.
But the process of getting to TODAY was dark, it was messy, and often it was without faith. So… how did we get from there to here? A lot of hard work and some pivotal learning moments. I will share one big thing I learned about BALANCE that I pray may allow you some peace.
When I first started leaning into my faith and following a bigger vision for life, I felt so HURRIED. I had finally gotten over my fear of hard work, but I only felt like I was falling flat on my face. I constantly felt pulled in different directions and never quite felt like I was achieving the things I wanted. The hustle didn’t feel like anymore more than running in place. I was all or nothing in every area of my life and by trying to do it all – and I felt like I was failing at everything. If I was successful in my business, I was sacrificing all my family time, if I was successful in my marriage I didn’t have time for my personal growth, if I took enough time in my faith I didn’t have time to focus on my personal health.
Enter – a phrase that changed everything. At a leadership conference I heard a successful businesswoman giving a struggling mama advice by telling her this: “Balance is myth. There is no such thing. There are only priorities.”
That moment changed my life. Because I realized that although I had priorities in my life - every single one of them was a top priority! In following this bigger vision for my life, I was also trying to orchestrate every single step and balance EVERYTHING. I didn’t follow the Lord’s plan at all and made it truly impossible to get everything done.
I have learned that we cannot be all the things all of the time. We can only be ONE THING at a time.
If you struggle with the hustle, if you struggle with trying to be everything to everyone, if you find yourself trying to BALANCE, if you are trying to follow your faith but map out every single step - I encourage you to stop. Slow down, sit down, reflect, and figure out your priorities.
Here are some simple steps I take to ensure my days and my time are aligned with a bigger vision in our life:
Every day you have the power to decide your priorities. You can work hard and create the biggest vision for your life. Your priorities will be different every day – and it will be ever changing because this is real life – and real life can be chaotic. I pray that you can lay down the burden of trying to balance life and enjoy the work without that struggle.
And please know this … the big vision the Lord has laid on your heart – YOU CAN DO IT. You can accomplish anything. Don’t be afraid of the hustle. Don’t fear the vision. Embrace it all with it your conscious priorities. Believe that your hard work will be rewarded and that you can achieve everything you desire.
SONG: You're Gonna Be Okay by Brian and Jenn Johnson
Cricket Mansour, Wife, Mother, and Health & Wellness Coach
“Who is he who speaks and it comes to pass, when the Lord has not commanded it?”
Lamentations 3:37 (NKJV)
It comes as no surprise to any of us that the world is hurting right now and in desperate need of healing. We don’t have to look very far (perhaps, not even past the mirror) to find someone who is longing for physical, emotional, mental, or spiritual healing.
Pain comes in many different forms and thus, healing can take on many different forms. For the purpose of this post, I’m going to focus on emotional pain. It’s important not to compare any one person’s pain to another’s. Pain is relative and when we compare, we can fall into a trap of judging others and/or isolating ourselves out of shame and fear of rejection. There is no such thing as “pain olympics.”
Prior to my senior year of college, I had lived a pretty fortunate, “normal,” and trauma-free existence. My entire world was rocked on April 16, 2007, when my school, Virginia Tech, experienced one of the largest mass-shootings of our country’s history. I was a senior, looking forward to graduation that was set to take place less than a month later. While I was fortunate to not be on-campus at the time of the shooting, the psychological ramifications are something that I still find myself having to work through at times...almost 13 years later.
I want to share some things that have helped me in my process of healing from this trauma.
1. Learning to recognize and cling onto God’s sovereignty. Now, just to be clear, I am not listing this first because it was something that came easily to me. In fact, quite the contrary. This was probably one of the later lessons I learned (and am still learning), but it feels like one of, if not the, most important lessons for me. Just last Sunday at church, I was reminded again of one of my favorite verses: “Who is he who speaks and it comes to pass, when the Lord has not commanded it?” (Lamentations 3:37). This verse is one that my priest often shared with me when I was in the throes of working through the trauma. It reminded me of the fact that God is truly “The Controller of All.” While that’s not at all to say that He caused the shooting to happen, He was still there in the middle of it and was and is ultimately still in control. Of my life. Of my pain. Of everything. And so, even if I experience pain, I can still trust that I am securely tucked away into the palm of His hand. And I can finally say that I would rather live a life that is marred by some pain, but being in my Daddy’s hands, as opposed to a pain-free life (which we all know isn’t possible, anyway) away from Him.
Another nugget I loved from the message at church this past Sunday pertaining to the sovereignty of God that also brought me peace was this: “God doesn’t have to swoop in to save us, because He never stopped holding us.” Praise God for His sovereignty and the fact that He didn’t just create us and then leave us to fend for ourselves!
2. Being honest with myself (and with others) about my thoughts and feelings. Pain sometimes has a way of making us feel very isolated and alone. We convince ourselves that no one else could possibly understand our struggle, and so, we hide. We may hide because we are judging ourselves for being “stuck” (i.e., “Why have I not gotten over this yet? It’s been X amount of time!”) and worry that others will also judge us. And the unfortunate reality is that sometimes other people will. However, it’s important to first acknowledge what we are feeling and then share it with someone we know loves and supports us, no matter what. That could be a family member, a friend, a spiritual mentor, a therapist (more on that, later). Sometimes when we judge ourselves for our emotions, we end up keeping ourselves stuck. I know it seems anti-intuitive because as humans, we immediately try to push away any painful emotions, at just about any cost. However, we find that when we can simply notice the emotions, without judging them or trying to push them away, they end up passing more quickly on their own.
3. Being honest with God about my emotions. So here’s another one that took me some time to learn. I was okay sharing my pain with God, until it turned into some anger toward Him. Then it all of a sudden felt like I had to hide from Him because being angry at Him felt so wrong. However, my priest also encouraged me to take all of my emotions to God, not just the “safe” ones. He reminded me that God is relational and He loves me unconditionally and wants an intimate relationship with me. If I’m angry at a family member or friend and don’t address it, it will put a wedge in our relationship. Same thing with God. I will admit, I felt a lot of healing from finally being willing to share ALL of my emotions with God.
4. Seek professional help. I’m a clinical psychologist, so you may think I’m “paid” to say this, but I’m not. I’m speaking not just as a psychologist, but as someone who also sought therapy to work through my trauma. Therapy doesn’t mean that something is “seriously wrong” or that you are in “crisis” or that you are “crazy.” I wish I could fully articulate the blessing that therapy was for me. It helped me work through my trauma in a healthy way and taught me so much about myself. And honestly, when I learn more about myself, it also helps me align myself with how Christ views me. And that type of healing then extends to how I see others (and how HE sees others)! So really, it’s a win-win!
If you are experiencing pain, of any kind, I hope that you will reach out to someone you trust. And reach out to God - you don’t even need to have the words, just a simple, “Jesus, help me!” is all it takes.
Sylvia Hanna, Clinical Psychologist, Skincare Consultant
“Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.” 1 Corinthians 6:19-20
We all know the popular cliché, “you are what you eat.” Most people hear that and think food. Unfortunately, we live in a culture that thrives off of junk food and industries making money off of supersized burgers and Sour Patch Kids cereal (yes, that’s a thing, I freaked out, too, when I saw it on the shelves). For the most part, we know that when we choose to eat junk food, we won’t feel good. Our organs start to fail, endurance decreases and energy will start to trickle away until we are left feeling drained and empty. Bad fuel = a car that won’t start.
When I hear that phrase, I also think of it in the spiritual context, “you are what you spiritually eat.” If you choose to consume negativity, hours of Netflix and comparison traps on Instagram, the same thing happens. Our hearts grow weary, energy to trust God declines and our endurance to hold on to hope start to trickle away. We are left feeling drained, again, but this time of good spiritual food.
These two areas of wellness are so tied together, a package deal really. You cannot have one without the other. In the bible, an analogy is given that our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit and we are to honor God with our bodies. (1 Corinthians 6:19-20, NIV). Scripture doesn’t just say our bodies are temples, but they are temples OF the Holy Spirit, meaning we hold God inside of us each day. We are chosen to carry the Holy Spirit each day, so what happens if we aren’t feeding our souls in the right way?
Scripture goes on to say our bodies are not our own, that we were bought at a price, and so we are to honor God with our bodies. I read that and realize that when we don’t take care of our physical body, we are refusing to value something that is God’s possession. When we choose to not take care of it, we are choosing to not take care of something that belongs to God. Throughout history, temples have always been built with purpose and created to be a place of beauty where people can come to worship. Temples should be well taken care of, as they are a dwelling place for God to move. What if we saw our earthly bodies in the same lens? What if we consistently valued our body enough to give it the proper nutritional fuel and care it deserved?
God pulled back the curtain on this concept of physical and spiritual wellness about 4 years ago during graduate school. My life in grad school looked something like a juggler at a circus. Dozens of colored balls traveling in a circle, labeled as “straight A’s, volunteer, work, student teach, relationships, sleep, time with God, physical health.” Unfortunately, the “time with God” and “physical health” balls often bounced right out of my juggling routine.
I am not sure when the switch happened, but at some point I realized that I would not be successful post-grad if I didn’t get my physical health and spiritual walk in check. I felt like God was pushing me towards complete obedience in wellness. While I wasn’t totally sure what that was going to look like, I knew that I need to make room for God to show me how to properly take care of my physical body and make room for him to speak to me about what it meant to live deeply with Him each day.
Let me be clear in saying this was not an overnight transformation. Even 4 years later, this blend of physical and spiritual wellness is still something that I have to often submit back to the Lord to ensure I am still walking in obedience. However, that idea of “you are what you eat” could not be more accurate. I work as a health coach now (in addition to teaching) and my main focus is ensuring my clients can learn the importance of prioritizing those areas of wellness to see maximum progress. When we eat well and exercise every day, the brain functions better, metabolism and organs work efficiently, we have more energy and we are actively reducing our risk of chronic diseases. When we spiritually eat well, I believe we reap similar benefits: greater brain functioning reaps greater discernment, increased physical endurance leads to increased spiritual endurance for hardships, and heightened energy for our day-to-day activities heightens greater energy in believing God is working victories in our life. When our body is well, our soul is also well, too.
I want to leave you with a few healthy habits that I have implemented over the years that keep my temple physically and spiritually well each day.
Remember, God has IMMENSE GRACE for us. There is not an expectation to have perfect nutrition and never watch Netflix again. There is power in conviction for areas of your life that aren’t being fed in the right way, so take it just as that. God doesn’t want you to make room for condemnation, just room for you to treat your temple well and place God at the middle of your health so you can reap an amazing harvest.
Written by: Tori Fantasia, Health & PE Teacher, Wellness Coach
Song: Make Room by Jonathan McReynolds
Scripture: 1 Corinthians 6:19-20
“The grass withers and the flowers fade, but the word of our God stands forever.” Isaiah 40:8 NLT
Though not physically tangible in and of itself, I’ve noticed that most people hold on dearly to hope. When we are hopeful about a situation, we are always talking about it. We are dreaming and we hold whatever precious thing near to our heart. We cling to it.
But what happens when your situation, your testimony, the order of life events, the sudden lack of faith or vision, the unanswered prayers, the doubt or the fatigue in believing for something for so long eats away at that hope you once held so tangibly to?
What do you do when you feel there’s nothing left to hope for?
Recently, I’ve been going through chemotherapy. It is currently one of the most enduring times I have ever experienced. It literally takes strength to get up every day. Though rough, every single day since starting my chemotherapy journey on January 8th, I’ve heard the song, “Never Lost” by All Nations. It has rung through my head when I wake up, when I’m in pain, when I feel like worshipping God, or when I feel like yelling at God because I have no idea why this is happening to me in the first place.
I love the lyrics because they ring true to God’s character in that He has never lost a battle before and He never will. That’s most of the song on repeat. It’s a reminder that God does not lose.
That has been my hope I hold on to when I feel like I can’t go on anymore - that God has a perfect score of winning ALL battles (big or small) and that He’ll never lose. That is what I sink my hook of hope into.
My encouragement to you is to guard your hope. Guard it like it is one of the most sacred jewels in your jewelry box protected by armor. If the enemy can snatch away your hope, it will take your perspective off of God and then you’ll walk around feeling defeated. A defeated, downcast life is not one that God has for us!
So, what do you do when you feel like there’s nothing left to hope for?
Written by: Roneka Spady, Every Nation Campus Minister, Divine Unity Community Church
Song: Never Lost by All Nations
Scripture: Isaiah 40:8 NLT