It’s Time for the Fourth Quarter Review

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Today is known for a lot of tricks and treats because it is Halloween but it is also a reminder than one-third of the fourth quarter is gone. This year will close in about 62 days. You still have plenty of time to make some changes. Are you tired of making the same resolution every year? Are you tired of making the same excuses for why something has not been done yet or why you continue to do the same thing over and over again with the same result? Well this is the time to make those changes. Making changes does not mean everything will change overnight but let us try to intentionally and slowly improve our quality of life. To see my previous article on the fourth quarter, click here. Let’s dig a little deeper.

  1. Boundaries: Sometimes you may have to make a decision to start or stop doing something to gain or maintain your sanity. Sometimes you may even have to start a new tradition or modify your current one. As we approach, the fall holidays you may now have a new norm. It is important to start having conversations about these changes with the people who will be impacted right now and not wait to the day before or the day of an event to have a serious conversation.  You can read more about boundaries by clicking here.
  2. You health: Our health is not just physical but also emotional, spiritual, social and mental also to just name a few. Have you take inventory in these areas? First, I would encourage you to be gracious to yourself. Sometimes, we can become so busy that we lose track of something. It is okay to say yes, no or let me think about it before committing yourself to something that could change your health. Click here to learn more about joy vs happiness.
  3. Your Contacts: You can modify your contacts. Suppose you used be super close to someone and you had all their contact info. You can scale back to an email address or a phone number. You can also completely remove the person from your contacts. Also, make a decision to invest in people who also invest in you. When I mean invest, it maybe their time, talent or money. Make sure you find at least a good and loyal potential friendship for 2019. Great things take time to develop.
  4. Friendships and Relationships: So as you consider buying gifts and blocking out time for people in the next few weeks, ask yourself if you are truly in an authentic friendship or relationship? A true friendship or relationship involves sacrifice and being authentic. People will disappoint us but that should not be the case 90% of the time. Also, it takes two to be in a friendship or relationship. Are you meeting your friends or mate halfway? Are you giving them the benefit of doubt? Never take anyone for granted. I would encourage you to take the time the rest of the year to show appreciation to everyone who you care about and love. Sometimes, we assume people know how we feel but it does not hurt to say out loud.
  5. Goals: You do not to accomplish your goals all at once. You can modify your list and sometimes seeing your goals will make them more real. I would encourage you to do a vision board or ask yourself, why do you have these goals? Is it for your loved ones or for yourself? Remember the who or why as you approach your goals.
  6. Finances: You are allowed to enjoy the fruits of your labor. You can also tackle debt or a savings plan little by little. Find someone in your life that you trust who can hold you accountable in this area. Someone who can hold you accountable in love while guiding you toward your goal. I am telling you two people or more make the heaving lifting in life so much lighter and bearable.
  7. You are a Gift: You are a gift to this world. There will never be another person who looks, thinks or moves like you. No matter where you are in your life right now, know that you are greater than your biggest setback and it is a setup for your next victory. Let’s us finish 2018 strong so we can be refreshed and ready for 2019.

Anytime Prayer

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Heavenly Father. Thank you for allowing me to see a new day. Thank you God for being the author and creator of the universe. You are majestic in how you intricately made me from knowing the number of hairs on my head (Luke 12:7) to knowing the things in my heart and on my mind (Psalm 139:1-4). I repent of every deed that I have done that was not pleasing in your sight (Psalm 51:10). I also repent of those things or areas where I  have procrastinated or put off in doing because disobedience is a sin also (James 4:17). Although I am not perfect, I am your righteous daughter because of the shed blood of Jesus Christ ( John 3:16-17) and I am saved (Romans 10:9-10). I am eternally thankful.  I pray in Jesus’ name because I know He intercedes on my behalf ( Romans 8:34).

I thank you for being a God who loves us in spite of our shortcomings. I pray God that your Holy Spirit will fall down in a special an unforgettable way. God, you are the author  of so much. I pray right now for anyone right now who is discouraged and is about to give up. I pray right now in the name of Jesus that you would open that person’s eyes to get a fresh or new revelation of you. In Matthew 7:7-8 (NIV) says, “ 7Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” So whatever the need is, I pray you would exceed it and this person can testify about how you once again showed up.  Lord, I thank you in advance. 

I pray right now for our world. There are a lot of things that are concerning but God I pray that you would intervene and encourage us. God I pray for love, peace and unity. I pray that people will love one another and even when there is a disagreement, they would see another human being. In 1 John 4:8 (NIV) is says, “He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.” I pray for those who have been ostracized or silenced. I pray you would be their advocate. Micah 6:8 (NIV) says, “He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” Thank you God for your unconditional love. Thank you for your grace and mercy. God you are excellent and there is no person, place or thing that can be compared to you. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen!

 

Happy Belated National Chocolate Day!

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I love chocolate a lot. I cannot believe yesterday was National Chocolate Day! I am pleased to tell you about some of my favorite chocolate desserts (in no not particular order).  Feel free to share in the comments your favorite dessert (chocolate or otherwise).  I promise that I will do some writing about restaurants that our national chains as well as local Baltimore area ones. I used to be a foodie years ago and I loved it. Happy (Belated) National Chocolate Day!

  1. Roy’s Melting Hot Chocolate Souffle’ (Roy’s Restaurant): Roy’s Restaurant is one of my favorite places to eat because of the ambiance, aloha hour(aka happy hour) and the food. My first visit years ago was sealed by this dessert. It is so Delicious and the ice cream enhances the dessert. You can share if you want but you can eat the whole thing alone.
  2. Godiva Chocolate Cheesecake (The Cheesecake Factory):  I cannot go to The Cheesecake Factory without taking a slice of cheesecake to go. Although, I have a few close seconds, the Godiva Chocolate Cheesecake is my favorite. It comes with a piece of Godiva cheesecake and is so rich.  I have to share mine or eat it over several days. It is so good.
  3. Gluten Free Triple Chocolate Cookie with Walnuts (Panera Bread) : Panera Bread is one of my favorite places to eat because the food is clean and healthy. The food tastes delicious. This cookie was a pleasant surprise for me this summer. I shared mine and it was so good. It is also gluten free which is an added bonus. The next time you go to Panera, make this cookie part of your meal.
  4. Brownie Obsession (TGI Fridays): This dessert was discovered a long time ago and is still one of my favorites. The warm brownie is the star of this dessert. I always have to share because there is always plenty. Make you end or start your next TGI Fridays meal with the brownie obsession.
  5. Chocolate Bag (McCormick & Schmick’s): McCormick & Schmick’s had an epic happy hour menu in addition to their food menu. As a Marylander, I am very particular about seafood restaurants and this places always makes the cut for me. The chocolate bag is a nice surprise. The chocolate bag has white chocolate mousse with berries and whipped cream. It is plenty to share. The upside down candied walnut apple pie is a favorite of mine also. Make these two dessert part of your next trip to McCormick & Schmick’s.

How to Survive Your Valley Moment

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Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,[a] whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.-James  1:2-4  NIV

This scripture is not the easiest one to digest but James was correct. He never said if you face trials but when you face trials. All of us will face trials. Our trials will come in all shapes and sizes. We need to realize that since trials are apart of life that they cannot dictate our life. I have had trials too and I am writing this article to encourage someone who is in a valley right now.  Trials cannot change our destiny.  We need to make a decision to press into God despite our trials. Isaiah 41:10 NIV says, “10 So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

So what happens when we get in the valley? When I say the valley, I am talking about that place where you feel lonely and cannot escape the pressure of your circumstances and trials. This tends to be the place where you cry the most and have a lot more doubt than faith. The valley is hard but tends to be the place where we encounter the most growth and can exercise our faith.  The most important thing we need to do is pray. Prayer is our beautiful way of connection with God.

God knows us better than we know ourselves. We do not need a  beautiful and eloquent prayer. We can approach God with our anger, tear-strained face and may even have nothing to say.  Paul reminds us in Romans 8:26-27 NIV that, “26 In the same way the Spirit [comes to us and] helps us in our weakness. We do not know what prayer to offer or how to offer it as we should, but the Spirit Himself [knows our need and at the right time] intercedes on our behalf with sighs and groanings too deep for words. 27 And He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because the Spirit intercedes [before God] on behalf of [c]God’s people in accordance with God’s will.”

We next need to stay in God’s word. The first place to start is the Bible. I would highly recommend You Version. This free Bible app not only has the Word of God but has devotions on every topic which can be done privately, as a group or publicly. It also allows you to create verse images.  Also, you can dvr Christian programs, listen to Christian programs, listen to Christian or Gospel music and much more. If you listen to, read or watch depressing and upsetting programming, you will be depressed or upset. Psalm 119:11 NIV says, “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.

The next thing we can do is find a trusted adviser, friend or mentor to confide in about our trials and circumstances. The key word is trusted. Someone you can bare your soul to and know you will be loved unconditionally and your circumstance and trial will be kept in confidence. Proverbs 18:24 NIV says, “One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.”

Nothing is too hard for God. We need to know that no matter what, we will be victorious. My prayer for you is that no matter how tough things may seem at the moment, that God will remind you as His child, you are not alone. “It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.”-Deuteronomy 31:8 (ESV) .

Dating Untangled: Social Media

 

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We are now living in a generation where everything is password protected and at times instant. You don’t have to mail an invite but you can do electronic invites or inbox your crew (Evite is my favorite). When you are in a committed relationship, honest and open communication is essential. Social media will be an important topic of conversation. You  have to make compromises and also be transparent with your mate. Social Media is a wonderful tool but it can also cause a lot of unnecessary grief. Here are some things to consider.

  1. Name all your accounts (even the secret ones): You have to be completely honest about all your accounts. I did not say hand over your passwords but you cannot build a solid foundation of trust if you are not completely honest about how many accounts belong to you.
  2. Personal boundaries: Do you want every detail of your life online? Do you want everyone to know that you are in a relationship? How do you feel about pictures of you and your boo being online? You need to have a discussion about this and more so that you will be on the same page.
  3. Relationship boundaries: If you are in an exclusive relationship, your DMs should not be full of messages or pictures from someone who your mate does not know about. It is secretive and could lead to fights and an affair. You may have to block these people. Even if your mate knows the person, emotional and extended offline messages are not appropriate.
  4. No Stalking allowed: If you have questions about something your mate said or did online, ask them. Do not stalk them or use a friend to get some info. Be direct and do not become an investigator.
  5. Private accounts: It is okay to have private accounts but your mate should be able to follow you. If your mate is resistant to you following them, you need to have a conversation about that. Relationships should be transparent.
  6. Balance: If you spend more time on social media and it is not your job, that is a problem. The greatest way to show love is not to just say it but to spend time with your partner.

The key is to talk about social media and be honest. This will save you a lot of grief later on. Love is beautiful and this is another level to make your relationship more authentic and stronger.

We are Saved by Grace!

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“20 Therefore no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by the works of the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of our sin. 21 But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify.  22 This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile,  23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,  24 and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.“-Romans 3:20-24 (NIV)
As Christians, we need to remember our identity in God. We are righteous or in right standing with God. We are justified by grace. Grace is unmerited favor and a gift. It means we are not being rewarded or earning what God has already given us as a gift.  We are not justified by works or the law. The law guides us and works may be the fruit of obedience but those two things are not why we are saved. God gave us Jesus, who died on our behalf and took care of our past, present and future sins. He didn’t take care of some of our sins but all of them.
Are you living the life that Jesus bled and died for you to have? Jesus did not die for us to live a substandard life. He didn’t die for us to work for our salvation. He died so we could be in right standing with God and live not just any life. He wanted us to live life abundantly.  John 10:10 says, “10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” When we focus on the law and works, we are telling God his gift of grace is not good enough and we have to do the work.
Ask yourself, are you are living God’s best life for you? Are you trusting all aspects of your life to God in prayer? Are you focused on a mistake or error that God has forgotten about? You can trust anything and everything to God. He knows details about the person, place or thing you will never know so trust Him.  You are good enough today and do not have to wait until you have it all together before you can be all God has called you to be.
Remember who you are as a child of God. No person, place, thing or circumstance can negate your destiny. King David in Psalm 56:3-4 said the following: “When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.In God, whose word I praise—in God I trust and am not afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?” Mortals are mere meaning people are small or slight and our God plus us is always a majority. May God continue to remind you that you belong to him and that he loves you so much, He redeemed you. God bless you!

Dating Untangled: Fall Date Ideas (Part Two)

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This article is a continuation of my fall dating ideas article. You can see part one by clicking here. When I wrote part one, fall weather had not arrived. Most of us are experiencing fall weather and we can enjoy fall activities coupled with fall weather. You do not have to be in a relationship in order to enjoy these activities.  To make your day go smoother, please check the weather. Today maybe sunny and unseasonably warm but tomorrow could be windy with a frost warning. Checking the weather will ensure that you are dressed appropriately.  Make sure you and your date or your group are in agreement for your event. If you have seasonal allergies, an outdoor activity may not be a good idea. If you love being outside, being indoors may not appeal to you. You can compromise and find an activity that will be enjoyable for both or all of you.

  1. Hiking: This is a good activity for the couple or group that likes the outdoors. It will give you exclusive time alone and disconnected from your phone and other electronic devices. You can talk, explore nature and bond as a group. Make you dress appropriately and take plenty of food and snacks. Take a familiar trail  and be mindful of when the sun will set.
  2. Fall menu tastings: A lot of eateries and restaurants are debuting their fall menu items. If you do not like pumpkin spice or apples, this may not be your season. My top three favorites are:  Cheesecake Factory’s Pumpkin Cheesecake (eaten over several days) Panera Bread’s vegetarian autumn squash soup and a hometown favorite Fresh Bakery’s fall menu (in addition to everything on the menu).
  3. Cooking classes: Have you wanted to learn a new cuisine or how to make a fall dish? A cooking class is a way to bond and learn something new. Google your hometown and cooking class to get some places. Most cooking classes require a deposit and fill up quickly.
  4. Indoor places of interest: You have the option of touring places like aquariums,  art galleries, museums and indoor sporting events like basketball and hockey.  This guarantees that if someone has allergy issues or does not like being outdoors, this is a fun option. For a ticketed event, do your research and get your tickets in advance.
  5. Staying Home: If you are just starting to date or this is a first date, this is not an option. If you need some first date advice, click here. This is for anyone who has been dating awhile, engaged, married or us hanging with family and/or friends. You can do game night, Netflix with a meal, appetizers or snacks. The plus side is the commute is easy and you can be as casual and as comfortable as you would like to be.

Whatever you decide to do, make sure you have a good time and fully engage with your date or whoever is accompanying on this adventure. Happy Fall or Autumn to all!