Devotion is hard work

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Colossians  4:2 “Devote yourselves to prayer with an alert mind and a thankful heart.”

Devotion is not something that comes easily to me.   

The definition of devote is “to give all or most of one’s time or resources to a person or activity.  

I see devotion as discipline which is driven by deep desire or moral calling.

I find for myself, that I can be deeply moved and desire to be devoted, but I find the daily grind of choosing to show up and then actually showing up requires great self-discipline and persistence.  I would love to get up early each morning and pray, but showing up every morning and actually praying takes way more self-discipline and persistence that I imagined.

Human nature seems to naturally take the path of least resistance.  I try to remind myself that nothing great has ever been accomplished by being mediocre. 

That it is actually in the mundane of choosing to show up daily, when the greatness happens;

When the breakthroughs happen;

When overcoming bad habits happen;

It is here when the change happens.

We do not one day wake up having achieved our goals.  If anything, we wake up and realize that we have done nothing to achieve the goals we desire and have wasted so much time on a course of least resistance.

It is my desire to be woman of faith, who wholeheartedly seeks God, and who is known for devotion to her God.  But the world’s pull is a strong one.  It pulls my heart, it pulls my thoughts, it pulls my time, it pulls me.  I really believe this is why Paul says, “Devote yourselves to prayer with an alert mind and a thankful heart.”  Paul knew the pull of the world was strong.  We have to make a stand, we have to deliberately walk again popular culture and choose devotion to God and prayer.

And we have to choose an alert mind.  This means being quick to notice any unusual and potentially dangerous or difficult circumstances; vigilant.  I have written about this before, but it still amazes me.  I have found this in myself, I can be pursuing the right course, and before I realize, I have completely lost focus and wondered off the path I was pursuing.  Being ALERT is incredibly important if we are choosing to live a life of Godly integrity.  The devil is our enemy, and he would love us to fail, and will use the most innocent looking bait to achieve that. Be alert!

And the last part of this very short verse is….a thankful heart.  Do not underestimate the power of gratitude.  It has the power to completely change your heart, your outlook and your perspective.  Gratitude is being thankful, showing appreciation and returning kindness.  I make this a regular practice in my life, especially if I am noticing myself grumbling or becoming bitter.  I stop, take a moment and thank God for 5 good things in my life. 

Photo by Marcus Wöckel on Pexels.com

I suffer from back pain, and there are days I am hurting and bitter.  These are the moments I must realign.  I choose to thank God for the health I do have.  I thank Him that I can still lead an active life.  I am grateful that my longstanding injury is not worse for it sure could be.  I thank God for resources that help me with my back pain. Gratitude changes bitterness to joy; it changes hopeless to hopeful; it changes sour to sweet.  Gratitude does not make us unrealistic or unaware of reality, instead it allows us to find peace and be fully present and aware in our current reality.

Today, I challenge you and myself to devote yourself to prayer with an alert mind and a thankful heart.

Crushing goals

Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

2 years ago I wrote “Dare to Dream.”

Today I write about Crushing goals!

Two years ago I was unhappy.  Not like “having a bad day” unhappy.   I was deeply, emotionally unhappy.  I was missing joy in my life.  I was missing creativity.  I wasn’t sure who I was anymore or how exactly I had ended up at that point in my life where I just felt unmotivated, unhappy and uninspired.

I was a Christian, couldn’t I just pray this away? 

No. It wasn’t that simple.

Yes I was a Christian.  Yes my faith was real.  But I was still in a rut.  And no matter how much I prayed I still had to find a way to climb out of that rut.

I had recently quit my job as an agency nurse.  I had a crazy immune reaction that put me in the ER for days and the medication I had to be on for the following weeks caused me to gain 20lbs!  And to top that all off, my back locked up causing me to need intense chiropractic treatment and muscle relaxers just to cope with the pain.  I was a hot mess, and an emotional train wreck.

I remember praying one day, “God, help me lose 5 lbs.”

I wasn’t expecting an answer so quickly, but I very quickly heard that still, small voice say, “No Sarah, I am not going to do that for you. That’s not how I work.”

I was a bit offended and caught off guard. However, the more I thought about it, the more I realized how self-centered that prayer was.  God is not a genie granting me my wishes.  If I wanted to change, I was going to have to take a hard, deep look at my life and make a plan.

God didn’t want me to lose 5 pounds! He wanted me to stop looking for a quick fix and to start taking care of my body.  He wanted me to stop making bad decisions and to start caring for myself. I knew something had to change, I didn’t know how just yet, but I was determined that I was going to change no matter what.

This is the part where my goals first were created.  You see, deep down we all have goals, ideas of what we think our lives should look like, might one day hopefully look like.  But what we lack is a plan.  I got out a pen and a journal (I have about 5 at any given time that I write in) and I did something that scared me.  I dared to dream and I dared to write my dreams down.

What if I failed?

What if my goals didn’t work out?

Well, I figured at the very worst, I would still be in the same miserable spot I was in.  At the very best I would succeed. Either way, I had nothing to lose and everything to gain.

So I wrote out goals and made them real. I dated my pages so that I could not forget. I was scared to dream big.

I wanted career fulfillment.

I wanted to lose the weight I gained and to have a healthy lifestyle day in and day out.

I wanted to be fun again.

I wanted to have fun again.

I wanted to write.

As a working mother of 3 girls, it is very easy to lose yourself and your identity in the daily chaos of real life and raising a family. The chores and to-do lists really never end.  You need to take time re-evaluate and set a course for your life that you want to travel on.

Today, 2 years later I had that moment of realization. That moment where I realized that the very goals I have been working on for the last two years are my daily life now.  The dreams that I wrote down on paper two years ago and was scared to even say out loud for fear of failure have come true.

As I take time to reflect, it is clear to see that it was not an easy journey.  There were tears and growing pains.  When I fell down, I refused to stay down; for I knew that if I didn’t get up and keep pushing forward, I would remain miserable and nothing would change.

I fulfilled my 10 year dream of becoming an ER nurse.  I am almost at my 1 year mark in the ER.  I am also working 12hr day and night shifts.  Something I simply thought I wasn’t strong enough to do.  And to take it one step farther, I have lost the 20 lbs and working out 4 times a week is a normal and natural part of my life; one that my family has come to embrace and join me.  We eat so much healthier than we used to. 

I am so proud of all the changes that have taken place.  All the small, daily decisions towards my goals have added up to an awesome outcome. 

If you look at your life and are uninspired, don’t give up! I have been there, its a hard place to be in. I challenge you, take a deep look. Ask yourself what you want your life to look life. What do you want your life story to say? And don’t stop there. Get a pen and paper, and give life to the dreams and goals that are deep down. Big or small, just start somewhere.

Pray for God to give you wisdom and direction on how to start making positive changes in your life. And pray for the audacious courage and determination to follow through on your goals and dreams.

Crushing my fitness goals one workout at a time.

If you do nothing, you will be sitting in the exact same spot one year from now. Don’t waste a year.