Friday, February 28, 2020

Input Equals Output

“Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, 
noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst;
the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse.
Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized.
Do that, and God, who makes everything work together,
will work you into his most excellent harmonies.” Philippians 4:8 (MSG)
If you are a regular reader of my blog, you probably already know I am an avid reader. But recently two incredible books came to my attention that I had to share. First let me explain something, right after the holidays, I began to experience an anxiety level I haven’t experienced in years. I stressed about not being further along in paying off debt by the time 2020 rang in the new year. I stressed over seeing family over the holidays and making sure everyone felt like they had ample time to spend with us while also realizing not everyone got what they wanted. I came back to work (I work in the human services industry) to a caseload that had more than doubled and hit an all-time burnout with hearing about the families’ drama and trauma that I work with all day, every day. Not to mention my upcoming tonsillectomy that I had scheduled and frequently tried to talk myself out of needing.
It was too much, all of it and I was ready to wash my hands of it all and climb in bed with my three dogs and tell everyone to let me know when this anxious feeling I had passed, and when winter turned to spring. But, that did not happen. Thank God, literally! God wanted me to get my head out of the sand and put my big girl pants on one leg at a time and I felt like over the last month that He has been working on my heart, body, and mind, he has been giving me a hug with resources at my fingertips to encourage me on my journey. Input= Output.
First, God had me open His word again. I hate to admit it, but the daily Bible reading that I have preached about in the past had slipped through my fingers except for the occasional Bible study. I felt that God wanted to begin showing me things through revelation with Him that I then began to see confirmed in other avenues. Input= Output.
 I knew a natural stress reliever for me and something I really enjoy doing is cardio dance. I began to make it a priority to attend more classes and make my health a priority. Because my day job can be very sedentary sitting behind a desk all day, God began to prompt me to wake up 20 minutes early everyday and get on the treadmill and get moving and the blood flowing. During this time, I would listen to my all-time favorite Bible teacher- Joyce Meyer on her podcast channel. Every morning this time with God is holy and I feel the need to protect it and savor it, no matter how tired I am. With my legs jogging and God’s word going through my ears, I feel as though my day can’t get started any better. Once I get to my office and check my emails, I open God’s word and look up scriptures God has put on my heart for the day for about 10 minutes. Input= Output.
I then began to watch what I ate because I didn’t want the increased physical activity to be all for nothing. I didn’t count calories, just limited my intake of sweets (I am a chocolate lover!), serve myself one portion of meals (no seconds), and incorporate more fruits and veggies in my life. Input= Output. 
My husband and I spoke about our financial situation and planned to put so much money towards debt even if it meant we cut back on frivolous spending this year to reach a goal of paying off a certain amount of debt by the end of the year. Having a plan in place made me feel so much better about the situation and I am excited to see how God helps us reach this goal and the incredible growth trusting Him for this will inspire in our family. Being better stewards of our resources (input) will result in a greater blessing down the line- being debt free (output). 
I also began to journal more often. Not everyday but about 2-3 times a week. I poured out my heart and soul on the pages of my journal, expressing my thoughts and feelings, praying prayers to God, and sorting through the place I found myself in physically, emotionally, and spiritually and asking myself “How did I get here?” and “What needs to change to get me to be emotionally, spiritually, physically, and financially healthy?” Input= Output. 

So back to the two book resources I wanted to share. The first is “Atomic Habits: An Easy and Proven Way to Build Good Habits and Break Bad Ones” by James Clear. This was a phenomenal read on the science behind habit forming and habit breaking without being too scientific and really abreaking it down to be very practical. This is a wonderful book for men, women and I want to give a copy to both my boys when they are around 16. The basis for the book is that if you want to create a habit you will stick with it needs to be obvious, attractive, easy, and satisfying. Behaviors and habits, you want to break or be rid of need to be invisible, unattractive, hard, and unsatisfying. I will leave that there and if you want more info, get the book. 

The other book is “100 Days to Brave: Devotions for Unlocking Your Most Courageous Self” by Annie F. Downs. This is an incredible author, speaker, and host of one of my favorite podcasts “That Sounds Fun”. This book was the spiritual encouragement I needed for each day. From talking about working at your job as unto the Lord (whether or not it is your calling), to exercising and eating your fruits and veggies, to remembering to rest and make time for fun, to even how the pain of surgery God can use to heal (remember I am having a tonsillectomy soon). It was everything I needed to hear at just the right time I needed to hear it. 
Input=Output. When I began to shift the input in my life to be habits that grew me spiritually and emotionally with my Bible and uplifting podcasts and books, to physically with healthier habits and exercise, to mentally and financially with learning to live more on budget, the output began to change. Shifting my focus to how big my God is made my problems I felt I had much smaller. My anxiety lessened greatly and the worries that kept me up at night began to dissipate. 
“You will have nothing to fear at night and
no need to be afraid of enemy arrows during the day”
Psalm 91:5
Whether you like to read books, listen to podcasts, listen to audible, exercise, eat healthy or not. I implore you to start looking inward and see where your stresses are coming from and what you can do about them and rest and trust in God that He will take care of what you cannot. Promise me you won’t sit idle and let your fears swallow you up. Do what you can with what He’s given you. 
I want to leave you with one of my favorite worship songs right now, “Nothing Else” by Cody Carnes. The words say it best: 
“I'm sorry when I've just gone through the motions
I'm sorry when I just sang another song
Take me back to where we started
I open up my heart to You
I'm sorry when I've come with my agenda
I'm sorry when I forgot that You're enough
Take me back to where we started
I open up my heart to You”

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