Month: May 2014

NO MINISTRY, NO CAREER, NO MAN. GREAT PLAN? PART III

Image sourced from CreationSwap.com, made by Mark Lauman.

Image sourced from CreationSwap.com, made by Mark Lauman.

A miracle happened today.

After finally starting my new part-time job in retail (in addition to my existing part-time gig at the boarding school) I got a phone call about another job. Another big decision. (That’s not the miracle. Wait for it.)

My last big job decision led to the contentment crisis I wrote about in Part I and Part II. It involved weeks of nail-biting stress and fear of making the wrong decision. It even triggered a hissy fit about cheese.

Today I hung up from the phone call which could lead to another major decision and waited for the sky to fall in. I was about to hit the panic button and ring Mum when I paused and prayed.

Then I waited. And all was calm.

MIRACLE!

What? Calm? After the soap opera-worthy drama that raged in my head last time? Yep. So far it’s been a whole hour, and I’m still doing pretty good.

What changed?

It wasn’t simply the fact that I prayed. I prayed last time. I prayed like I was drowning and using my last breath to squeal at God. I prayed with desperation, begging for guidance and not really expecting to get it. I prayed without faith.

God has since pointed out to me my shocking lack of faith. Really, you’d think I’d get it by now. Not only do I have numerous examples from my own life when God’s been trustworthy, there’s also a bazillion examples in the Bible of faith and faithlessness. Remember what happened to the faithless Israelites? Forty years of wandering! Yikes. But what happened when Peter had faith? He walked on FREAKING WATER!

So I’ve been praying for faith and wisdom this week. God’s also pointed out to me (again) these verses from Philippians 4:

 

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:6-7

So this time, when I prayed, I didn’t whine, groan or gasp. (Although for some prayers, that’s fine.) This time I surprised myself when I realized that I’m confident God will give me the resources I need to be content, whichever path I take, and that He will guide me when it’s the right time.

This confidence totally isn’t from me. Just ask my sister who listened to my complaints about cheese.

I think it’s safe to say that God’s holding up his end of the bargain with this whole ‘prayer=peace’ thing.

In my experience, peace and fear are major factors in contentment and discontentment. Even when I’m not making decisions about my job, I’m often plagued by fear that I’m missing opportunities. When I’m 40, will I regret not going overseas to work for a year like lots of people my age are doing? Even though I don’t want to do that, fear still hounds me that one day I’ll regret staying in Australia. My writing is another thing. Most writers are 50+ years old for a reason. Am I making a poor life decision by pursuing my novels now?

Two weeks ago, I wrote about a new prayer God had given me.

“Thank-you for where I am, because it’s where You want me to be, God. And that’s more important than my own plan.”

It’s my motto for contentment. And it’s still holding true. I don’t need to worry about the ‘what-ifs’ because I’m following God. That’s all that matters.

Now I’m adding my new way of praying to that. Prayer with confidence. A conversation with God that’s still honest about my feelings, but contains faith that God hasn’t deserted me and knows what is best.

Who knows? Maybe next week I’ll walk on a puddle.

 

How about you? What’s the tone of your prayers? Have you experienced a link between faith and contentment in your own life?

Contribute to the conversation below!

 

 

Enjoy this article? Hit the ‘follow by email’ button on the right sidebar and you’ll get every post delivered straight to your inbox.

If occasional updates are more convenient, sign up for my newsletter! You’ll get an exclusive sneak peak at my novel-in-progress, All I Am. 

 

Four Ways to Not Be Controlled By Money

Photo by Filip Ologeanu, sourced from CreationSwap.com.

Photo by Filip Ologeanu, sourced from CreationSwap.com.

Today we have  a guest post from fellow Christian blogger Victoria Adeoye, from over at TheRadicalLove.com. 

I’ll have a post on her blog later this week, so keep an eye out for it!

But for now, please enjoy Victoria’s story about what God’s teaching her in the area of money.

 

Four Ways to Not Be Controlled By Money

By Victoria Adeoye

 

A couple of weeks ago I decided to do several topic series on the major areas in my life I felt I was struggling with or needed more work on. One of those topics that God showed me was money.

Yeah, getting a job that provides a steady income or even a lot of income is perfectly fine. But God wanted to show me specifically that I should never be controlled by it.

It’s not that I find myself being a selfish person or that I hoard all of my possessions; I just never want to get to a position where the only thing on my mind is getting richer or coveting.

About three months ago, I got a new job that paid me every week. It was one of the first miracles of the year and one of the things that I had been praying to God for, for so long. I was so excited that I told God I would give half of my first check to the work of the Lord. I did!

But then after the first check, I started to feel as though I was holding onto the rest of my money with a tight fist. When I found myself making excuses as to why I couldn’t give that homeless man on the street five dollars or why I couldn’t buy my sibling something she really needed, I saw the dirtiness in my life. Those weren’t reasons but excuses I was laying out before God so that I wouldn’t have to spend more money on others than I did on myself.

That drove me to the Scriptures even more. I love how God constantly reveals sinful areas in my life. It causes me to dive into the word of God. So that is what I did.

“And He said to them, ‘Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses.’”

 Luke 12:15 NKJV

Wow! Was this me? Was I  placing meaning to my life all because I was finally making money? Was I finding security in the material things that I was now able to buy because of the job God gave me?

Having a lot of money in and of itself is not a bad thing, but when we selfishly hoard it for ourselves, it leaves us nowhere…even worse, it leads us far away from God. The man in Luke 12 was focused on buying things for himself, making excuses as to why he couldn’t give some of it to the poor, and selfishly storing up all of his riches for himself. He placed high value on his life because of the abundance of the things he possessed.

I knew at that moment when God revealed this Scripture to me that I found my security in money and only focused on what I could do with it in this life. And as if God wasn’t through with peeling back my scars enough, he took me to another Scripture that did it for me:

“It’s better to enjoy what we have than to always want something else, because that makes no more sense that chasing the wind.”

Ecclesiastes 6:9

Jesus placed in my heart four ways to make sure I:

  • Don’t become a slave to the things he gives me;
  • Continue to find security in him alone and not in my money, and;
  • Remember that the true purpose of why he places these valuable things in my life is to give it back to him.

These four steps are:

  1. Don’t want what others have (Ecclesiastes 6:9, Luke 12:15);
  2. Be grateful for what you do have at the moment and enjoy it (Ecclesiastes 6:9);
  3. Use and be faithful with the little that God gives you and He will trust you with even more (Luke16:10-11, Luke 19:17);
  4. Don’t be selfish with your money. Give so that you may be rich towards God (Luke 12:13-21).

Everything belongs to the Lord in the end. Seek out/obey Biblical principles for money management with a pure heart. I am still learning. But I thank God for revealing this area in my life because when I remember those four lessons, I find my fist loosening up!

Novel Contest Results Are In!

I just received my score sheet from the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) Genesis Contest for unpublished authors.

I submitted a few chapters of my first manuscript, Open Your Eyes, into the competition. While I didn’t make it into the next round, I was still encouraged by my score and received helpful criticism from the judges. 

They seemed to like the premise of the book and my writing ‘voice’, which I’m really excited about! Many of the comments were about writing craft issues, not the real guts of the book. 

Can’t wait for next year!

 

NO MINISTRY, NO CAREER, NO MAN. GREAT PLAN? PART II

 

God's been teaching me about contentment.

Photo by Tom Black, sourced from CreationSwap.com.

 

“Thank-you for where I am, because it’s where You want me to be, God. And that’s more important than my own plan.”

This is my new motto for contentment.

Even before last Tuesday happened, I’d been thinking about contentment. Whenever I had a less-than-awesome day I worried that I wasn’t living life the best that I could. Should I go work in America for a year? Move across the country to get back into journalism? And so on.

I also spent a lot of time day-dreaming about the day I become a published author or get married. It even affected my motivation for getting closer to God. There wasn’t a Christian event I went to where I wasn’t subtly scanning the audience for husband material or mentally plotting my next book. While I did want to be closer to God for God’s own sake, I also figured that the closer I got to Him, the closer I got to His purposes for me (i.e. marriage and novel-writing).

God showed me this attitude wasn’t helping my life, and gave me that prayer at the top of the page. For a few days, each time I wished I was at a different stage, or worried that I wasn’t grabbing life by the horns, I prayed that prayer. I remembered that I was exactly where God wanted me. And the day He wanted me somewhere else, He’d tell me.

Then last Tuesday happened. The rubber really hit the road. I didn’t react well.

But the prayer still stands true.

I might want a good job, a writing career or a family, but that might not be in God’s plan. And was I designed to live a pleasant life on earth, or was I designed to live in relationship with Him forever and accept His purposes over mine?

I hope that God’s plan does include a family and some form of writing. But my contentment can’t be dependent on that happening one day. God asks for my ALL my heart, ALL my soul, ALL my mind and ALL my strength. (Mk 12:30) My contentment should depend on Him alone.

Now, I’ll be the first to admit I’m not good at this. If I get tired, hot or hungry, contentment flies out the window. Yesterday I was stressed about my job, so I got mad because my housemate ate my cheese.

Yep, I got angry over cheese. And there was other cheese in the fridge, it just wasn’t the one I bought.  So I’m certainly not perfect—not even close!

And once I do get good at this contentment thing, what if my life gets easy for a while? I’m afraid I might slip back into the same bad habits when everything goes my way.

But God will be with me. I’m asking Him to remind me of what I’ve learned, to keep me accountable and to keep me moving forward. If I keep my heart open, He’ll keep the relationship developing.

And that’s what we were created for.

 

Thanks for reading! I’ve also got a guest post up today over at Ritty’s Adventures In Writing.

Here’s a peek:

Writer’s block, deadlines, falling sales, rejections, blog statistics, criticism…there’s plenty of things to freak out about in a writing career.
My recent concerns? 
I’m worried my marketing skills are inadequate and I can’t write fast enough to please myself.
A few weeks ago the self-inflicted pressure built till I resented any interruptions to my writing. But even when I was left in peace, I just couldn’t get everything done that I wanted to. It was taking me too long to achieve ‘success’. With my stress levels skyrocketing, I read this verse…
You’ll have to visit Ritty’s blog to see the rest!

Enjoy this article? Hit the ‘follow by email’ button on the right sidebar and you’ll get every post delivered straight to your inbox.

If occasional updates are more convenient, sign up for my newsletter! You’ll get an exclusive sneak peak at my novel-in-progress, All I Am. 

No ministry, no career, no man. Great plan? Part I

God's teaching me about contentment regarding my work, ministry and boyfriend situations.

Photo by Silas Nelson, sourced from CreationSwap.com.

Career, ministry or spouse.

I didn’t realize it till last week, but all my life I’ve judged people’s success against those three criteria. If you have at least one of these things, you’ve got something going in your life. Got two or three? You go, girl! (Or guy. 🙂 )

But none? What are you doing with your life?

Now I’m realizing that I’m one of those people.

I’ve always expected that the closer I get to God, the closer I get to meeting a great guy and God ‘doing great things’ through me. After all, that’s what everyone tells you. ‘Run hard after God and one day you might find someone running beside you’. ‘I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me’ (Phil 4:13 NKJV). ‘God has a great plan for your life’.

All good advice, when taken the right way.

I wasn’t taking it the right way.

In my mind, a great relationship with God + His timing = dreams coming true in one way or another, even if it’s not how I expect. I’d go to ‘God stuff’ to get to know Him better, but at the same time I was scanning the room for potential husbands and dreaming up the plot of my best-selling book. Suffice to say, God usually didn’t get 100% of my focus.

But on Saturday, as I joined with a group of 20-somethings on a mountain to seek God together, a question popped into my mind. What if my journey with God takes me away from the path of marriage and publishing contracts?

Everything suddenly looked a whole lot less glamorous.

What if God’s great plan for me involves boring everyday stuff that no one appreciates? It might accomplish great things from His point of view, but it’ll look ho-hum on earth. There could be no recognition. No one asking how I had the faith to accomplish such a thing. No career to be proud of. And no husband—or at least not for a long time.

Am I as motivated to seek God then?

Saturday showed me some big truths about my motivations. God told me I need to be content with just Him, and trust in His plan—even if I can’t see how it all fits together.

Then on Tuesday, God drove the point home.

I had been waiting to hear back about a job I’d applied for. I really wanted it, and I thought I was going to get it. And then they gave it to someone else.

With my current work situation, packing supermarket shelves is a very real option. One I don’t like. And still with no man. Still with no ministry. And with no indication that things will turn around.

What’s the point of that kind of life?

I’ll be honest, I had a mini meltdown on Tuesday. I cried on the phone for an hour to Mum, who told me to go get chocolate and watch my favourite TV show and not think about it for a few hours till I’d calmed down. Good advice. It worked.

After sitting on it for a few days, God’s reminded me of a few things:

1. He knows what He’s doing. He’s King. If he says I need to pack supermarket shelves for the rest of my life, I should pack them with a smile coz that’s where He wants me.

2. My pride runs deeper than I thought it did. (Which pride usually does. If we were humble enough to be aware of it, we wouldn’t be proud.)

3. Whether or not my life has meaning is not tied to how spiritually impressive my life appears. God may be more pleased with a pensioner than a mega church pastor (depending on their respective attitudes).

4. God knows what this feels like; He experienced the full spectrum of human emotion on earth. He understands, and He’s with me. (See Heb 4:15)

5. All things considered, it’s not the end of the world. A lot of people are far worse off. Suck it up.

So, here I go. Off to a life where I don’t measure up by my own standards. One where God keeps peeling my fingers back off my pride and my expectations.

One where I keep learning what full surrender to Him really means.

 

Keep an eye out next week for Part II!

Enjoy this article? Hit the ‘follow by email’ button on the right sidebar and you’ll get every post delivered straight to your inbox.

If occasional updates are more convenient, sign up for my newsletter! You’ll get an exclusive sneak peak at my novel-in-progress, All I Am. 

Sneak peek at my new book

Welcome to the new website everyone!

As I launch this baby and approach the half-way mark in my latest manuscript, I’m celebrating by offering everyone a sneak peek at my novel-in-progress, All I Am.

Just sign up to my newsletter in the sidebar on the right and you’ll receive the back cover blurb of my book, sent to your inbox.

Also, the new site comes a new web address. This site is now http://www.jessicaeveringham.com and instead of ‘Consumed By Him’ it’s called ‘Jessica Everingham Writing’.

But don’t worry—this is just a facelift. The guts are staying the same.

My blog, novels, recommendations and short stories are all still available.

Additionally, I have a guest post up today at Janet Sketchly’s blog. Click here to read My Identity Is Broken.

It’s something I’ve been learning a lot about this past week, so make sure you check it out.

Now go sign up and tell me what you think of the book! All feedback is welcome.  🙂