Don’t Ya Wanna Be Happy?

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As I realize we are already almost in August, I sit back and think about the days of the past few months. Sometimes we have really amazing days, most days seem to be just okay and of course, we have those days where nothing seems to be in our favor.

I’ve had a TON of those days lately. Even when I try to proclaim the day and change my mindset, it seems I just can’t change the pattern of my days lately.

I got tired of being the same. Of things not changing. So instead of staying stuck in how I feel, I have decided to get out of the WAY for the next 6 months. To allow Jesus to move in my life and take me down the roads I need to be on.  But I know this will only truly work if deep down I WANT to be happy and joyful.

Some people are satisfied with constantly having mediocre days and be consistently pessimistic. You KNOW those people. Someone is coming to your mind right now. Once I caught on to the fact that nothing could change until I understood I had to step out of the way and allow Him to do the work.

A few things I need to remember as I embark on my next 6 months that I thought you might find helpful as well:

  1. You are NEVER too far away. Stop listening to the voice that says you’re too far gone because that is a lie. The Lord wants nothing more than for you to come running to him!
  2. Invite others in. Having a group of girls who know you and can consistently push you towards Christ is the biggest blessing and a crucial part of one’s walk.
  3. This sounds elementary and maybe old school and boring, but I’ve seen it in my own life and countless others. The main way to grow in your faith is to study the word of God daily. Not just a devotional. The actual bible. It is life-giving, transformative, and so much more than a collection of old stories you’ve grown up knowing by heart. I’m working on Without Rival by Lisa Bevere and the Unshakeable devotional currently.

 

A BIG part of this journey is remembering that every single day won’t be PEACHY. That there are days that will still get the best of me. But that’s okay. Because I will be fine in the end.

 

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The Thief of Joy

 

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More than 80% of women…

believe they’re not good enough.
feel they don’t measure up in some way.
are sure they fall short when it comes to their looks, success in business and relationships.

80% of us!

Yep. I am one of them. As a young woman, the comparison game is real. From real life to scrolling through my Instagram feed there’s always someone who appears happier than me, skinnier than me or more successful in their career than me.

Even the most confident of us still play the comparison game in our minds.

You have to let go of both “more than” and “less than” in order to be free. Easier said than done right?

We’re all here for a reason, we’re each moving along on our journeys with perfect timing, and you are meant to make a difference in this world like only you can.

When your ex starts a dating a girl that is just “so much prettier than you” (not possible), your boss mentions how the person before you did a better job, or you try on your new swimsuit and it doesn’t fit on you quite like the size 0 model online, remember you value simply because you exist.

Comparison is the thief of joy.

There are days that this could not feel further from the truth for me. Days I wake up and feel incomplete, crushed by the world and my own insecurities. I’ve found myself in those moments, where I believe I’m simply falling behind everyone else who appears to have it all figured out.

Why is it so easy for me to silence the inner knowing that I’m actually capable and great?

Because I’m human. And I’m pretty sure you are, too!

These ideas, that’s all they are CRAZY ideas, are ruining our lives.

Everyday we have a choice:

Will I make choices in my life from “not good enough” and “she’s better than me”?

When you’re struggling the most with shame and self-doubt, try to remember that you’re not alone, and that no matter what television ads, and your old high school bullies, and the mean voices in your head may say, you are enough as you are. Right now.

I am so much more than what they allowed themselves to see. I am more than they could see. And I’m probably more than they could handle. I am so much more than what I have been conditioned to believe. I am enough.

You are enough. You are a thousand times enough.

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The B Word

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As many of you know, I recently entered the world of non-profit work. I have been with this organization for two whole months now. Time goes by quickly when you’ve got work to do and lives to change.

In the communications industry, people tend to shy away from nonprofit work. They tend to only focus on the amount of work, but never the impact of our work. As a staff of four amazing women currently, the workload can be intense as we set out to improve the quality of life for all children in the state of Alabama. But at the end of every day, I know the work I put in is for the greater good — and for that very reason it is all worth it.

In the organization I work in, we try not to say the word busy. We instead are diligently working, actively engaged in our work, engrossed in the issues our children are facing or just plain HUSTLIN’.

So, for the past two months, I have been trying to shy away from the word busy. We are so caught up in this lifestyle of being busy, heck, we even make it seem glamorous. We get so busy we don’t have time for the things that matter most — loved ones, our relationship with God, self care and a good night’s sleep.

Maybe you’re a type-A overachiever. Or maybe you inevitably end up with a to-do list that won’t end. These days, just about all of us accept our busyness with combination of pride and exhaustion.

Busyness brings worry. The more I worry, the less I look at Jesus and more and more at my situation. Instead of saying “God, I have a lot on my plate right now and I could use your strength to help me get through today,” I rely on my strength. Worldly strength that tends to get me nowhere but burnt out, tired and falling asleep on my laptop in bed (who am I kidding, I do this always).

Busy can beat upon us like a drum. When those closest to us have stopped asking for our time, it’s because they know we are too busy for them. That’s crushing to the heart. We all need “waiting” time, whether we think we do or not. Waiting time is when we say adamantly, “It can wait!” and we step back and do what is really important.

I’m here to remind you (and myself) not to get caught up in the kind of busy that edges out intentional living. Sometimes your busiest, hardest-working, least-restful periods of your life are not your most purposeful, or even most productive.

I know deep within my heart that being overloaded is a way for the enemy to distract me from those most precious to me. The storm that rages inside me is shouting, “Slow Down!” and demands my attention. But if I heed that call, the Creator of peace will shower me with a peace that surpasses all understanding if I just trust him. The fragrance of grace and mercy will overflow in me when I come to peace with being less busy.

One thing I have to remember on a daily basis is that wait is not an ugly word and “busy” is not a spiritual gift. After all, God says in Psalm 46:10, “Be still, and know that I am God.” Isn’t being still waiting? When you have a personality like mine, it’s hard to be still, but it is only during those moments alone with God that I can truly feel a peace that surpasses all understanding. Busy is the enemy of joy. Busy steals precious time. Busy robs my blessings.

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New Year, New Me?

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As 2017 comes quickly to a close, (no really, where did this year even go?), and I begin to think about 2018 and my goals and dreams for the year, the things I want to happen, the relationships I want to flourish, the tasks I want to cross of my list, God is telling me to slow down. He’s telling me to slow down because a year from now I’ll be sitting here writing the same thing. Wondering where the year has gone while I look back on photos of the memories this year holds.

You see, it is so easy to get caught up in the list making, the telling God what you want or need to happen, the thoughts that sound something like, “If only this could happen in 2018, I will be truly happy.”

Trust me, I did it about five minutes ago. I know where you’re coming from. This year has been a year of change and learning. Learning a lot about myself. Learning that the joys in this life come from the people you share the simple, small things with. Joy doesn’t come from getting a new home or a big raise. It comes within the day to day moments spent drinking your favorite coffee or seeing your sweet baby take their first steps.

God is telling me “I bless you far more than you dare to ask.” See God has a good sense of humor. As I write my monthly goals, budgets, and to-do lists for the upcoming year, He’s laughing because he knows He already has every single item already checked off the list. God is telling me He’s going to bless me with things I couldn’t even fathom to scribble in my 2018 planner. Things and people and moments I will never know I needed until God places them in my life. All my worries and concerns are already taken care of for the next year, God has already worked them out before they even settled into my heart.

Now I’m not saying anyone is in the wrong for planning what you want to achieve in the next year or setting resolutions-nope, not at all. But I am telling you God has spoken peace over every single thing already.

This year has brought some amazing things my way-most importantly some amazing people that bring my life so much joy and laughter. I get caught up in stress and boy do I forget to cherish them and all they do for my life. I don’t give them, or God, enough credit for the impact they’ve made on my life.

Friends, instead of spending your last few days of this year huddled over the budget sheets and color coded lists, worrying about how to become the “new you,” relax and relish in all that God has done for you this year-both big and small. All the times you felt like you were never going to see the other side of that dark hole, but here you are, on the other side. See God doesn’t need or want there to be a new you, He loves us just as we are.

Sit back, because God has your back and He’s going to bless you far more than you could ever imagine in 2018. Don’t dread the start of a new year, be thrilled to tackle it with God by your side.  I am so excited to see what He has in store for myself and each of you.

 

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College Exams

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It’s that time of year. Yes the holiday season. But also time for college exams. Whether you’re a freshman or senior, every semester when final exams roll around, the stress is still there. You would think as you get older, you would feel more prepared. But as the classes get harder, so do the exams. If you’re anything like me, you might let the stress get to you. When I’m stressed, I am STRESSED. Here are a few things I used over the years to make it through the dreaded finals week.

  • Write out every exam. Whether it be a test or presentation or final paper, write it in your calendar just as you would any social event.
  • Write out each chapter covered on the exam as well any articles and PowerPoints, or book chapters going to be covered on the exam. Then, see how many days before the exam and divvy up the chapters and PowerPoints and articles evenly to look over and study.
  • Index cards. You’ve probably been using these since high school, but they’re also good for managing your days. Make each index card into one day. Use them to keep track of meetings, class times, phone meetings, due dates, and daily to-dos.  It’s easy to pull out the stack of cards and see if you have time to schedule a study session at Starbucks or not. And for some reason, having separate cards (as opposed to one spread per week in an agenda) makes you realize how much time I actually have to work on things.  Basically, it keeps things in perspective.
  • Make sure your desk (or study space) is organized. Keep your laptop, glasses, iPad, index cards, and Sour Patch kids (anything but chocolate) within reach.
  • Take a break (that doesn’t involve eating food). Many times while studying, I would get bored and just start snacking for no reason. I’d walk to the kitchen, grab the snack, walk back to my desk, and inevitably continue working while eating whatever snack I chose. That really doesn’t even count technically as a break! Give yourself a manicure, go for a walk, read a (non-school related) book. Definitely avoid napping and online shopping during breaks.
  • Use an app to lock you out of apps on your phone or sites on your computer that you don’t need to be on while studying or writing a paper.

I could give you all the tips and tricks in the world, but the most important to remember is your identity isn’t in making an A+ on every project, presentation, and final exam. If you don’t make that A+, it is not the end of the world (although it will feel like it for a little while). Your identity is in your purpose here on Earth and the greater things you’ll do to further the Kingdom of God. So color code your planner, get a good Spotify playlist going, and grab a good cup of coffee (or two) and get to studying!

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#blessed

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Why is it we center all of our feelings of thankfulness and count our blessings only around this time of year? What happened to the rest of the year? All the other weeks, days, and seconds spent living here on Earth? Why is it only the holidays bring out those feelings and thoughts?

I’m sitting here guilty as charged. I spend life go, go going and rarely stopping to thank God for the blessings in my everyday life. The people, my job, a warm place to sleep at night, food in my fridge, my health, etc… When I think back on where my life was a year ago compared to now, I’m thankful for the progress and change that has happened. I’ve graduated college, almost spent an entire year with my current company, started dating an amazing man, and made some really wonderful friends along the way. Even through the bumps and the bruises, He has blessed me abundantly.

So why are we not counting our blessings daily? In between what we consider “big” miracles, a lot of good things are happening around us and to us daily. If we started counting our everyday, messy lives as blessings, what a different perspective we may have. A joyful perspective. If we started thanking God for the food in front of us, the car that gets us to our 9-5, and the moments just spent sitting around watching football with the ones we love while our favorite soup cooks away in the Crockpot in the kitchen, we’d see that every day, every moment is a miracle. Everyday should feel #blessed.

If our perspective changes and aligns this way, it makes the tough days much, much easier. When we start to see everything as a blessing, the days that the we can’t catch up on the emails or we get hit with an unexpected bill, you see the bigger picture versus getting caught up in that small “tragedy” all day.

I try not to get on any social media for the first hour or so after I wake up. This can be tricky, since social media is my job. If the first thing you do every morning is scroll through Facebook or check Snapchat and Instagram, it will have you feeling defeated about your day before you even roll out of bed. Someone or something will have you feeling like you’re job, house, family, significant other, or just yourself is not enough. This turns into feeling like you need something different or something more. By staying off my personal social media for a little while, I can focus on what’s really important. I recommend the first 5 app first thing in the morning- yes, that’s only FIVE minutes of your time to get your mind right for the day.

I challenge you to thank God for one thing every morning before you crank your car. Keep a sticky note on your steering wheel or dash to remind you. It will set the mood for your whole day and align your perspective with His.

Let’s be a generation of people who thank God every day for this life, not just the ones who do it once a year. Let’s be a generation of people who are thankful for the mess that life can be and never compare our blessings to the those around us.

 

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31 Prayers

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Some of y’all might think I’m silly. I’m not even engaged, but I’ve been praying for my future husband?! I stumbled across this book on Amazon. Amazon can be worse than shopping at Target sometimes. You click on one thing and they suggest something you might like, you decide you do like it and then all the sudden your cart exceeds $100 and you’re not even sure how it happened.

I started this devotional as soon as it came in. It’s not just any devotional-the prayers are written there for you. So if you’re someone who has trouble converting a daily devotional message into a prayer, then this is for you! I’ve been using it along side my Jesus Calling devotional.

31 Prayers for my Future Husband covers so many topics you would never even think of. Things you would want in a future spouse, but maybe never thought to pray over on your own. Topics like making wise decisions, keeping good company around him, and a compassionate heart. It also calls you, as a future wife, to say well if I want my future husband to embody these ideals, I should embody them as well. This turns into you praying for yourself and changing your heart along the way.

How beautiful is it to say you’re praying for your future spouse, whether you’re single, in a relationship, or engaged. You’re praying for his heart, for his mind, for protection and for the future together. Praying for your spouse while you’re married is obviously important as well (they make a devotional for that too), but becoming a prayer warrior before the wedding will make that transition so much easier. The world we are living in needs our generation of husbands and wives to joyfully pray for each other and their relationship.

If you are in a relationship, I encourage you to insert the name of your significant other in the prayer. Speak them out loud. Start writing prayer letters to your future spouse. It all may seem silly in the grand scheme of things, but what a difference it can make.

I am going to revisit this devotional soon, but for now I’m passing it on to sweet co-worker of mine. Pick a copy up for yourself or give it as a gift- it is well worth the $12 investment. Ladies, this isn’t just for you. The man in your life can read along with their version as well.  This book will prepare, inspire, and cause a revelation in your life.

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