Finding Joy in the Midst of the Pandemic and Spiritual Warfare

Daffodil flower or narcissus isolated on white background cutout

For the past couple of months, I would get stressed out when I listened to or watched constant news coverage about COVID-19, numbers of deaths and infected persons, business closures, job losses, possible food shortages, etc. Even now, I sometimes think, “Wow, I can’t believe we’re going through this” because I never imagined seeing anything like this occur in my lifetime. However, things may be getting a little better–Illinois has allowed restaurants, businesses and stores to re-open on Friday. Indiana has allowed some of their stores and restaurants to open back up; this past weekend, I went to a Goodwill store in Indiana which had re-opened, but their restrooms and dressing rooms were closed to the public. All (or most stores) are requiring everyone to wear face masks and to practice social distancing, which is the new “normal” for now.

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Random Thoughts/Updates–What I’ve Been Up To

  • My favorite show is Death in Paradise on channel 11. It’s a mystery/whodunnit type show in the Caribbean where the detective figures out who killed who by the end of the show. I like the characters and the scenery reminds me of when I went to Jamaica years ago.

 

  • My hair has grown quite a bit since I chopped my locs off last year. I can’t believe that next month will make 1 year! Caring for my hair at this length has been waaaaay less time consuming.

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  • I’ve been longing to get back to creative activities and to find things to do so I won’t be constantly stressed out about worrying about work (I work in the social services field and things pile up. I HATE that but I’m learning to stop letting it stress me out). I took a sewing class almost 2 weeks ago and really enjoyed it! I made a pillow (see below) and bought a sewing machine because I’ve always been curious about how they work. I can’t wait to see what else I can create!

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  • I’ve also been looking for interesting events to attend/things to do. Last month, I saw Shark Tank the Musical and went to the African Festival of Life. I took a belly dance class last night which was fun! In addition to learning the techniques, it was a great workout. I have another sewing class this weekend and a painting class in a week or two. I also joined a bowling meetup group where you meet up with other people to do certain activities together. So far, we’ve done bowling and miniature golf which has been great!

 

  • I had ANOTHER setback in regards to frustration and getting mad at God because I was struggling with a certain issue (a crush on someone); I thought I was over it because I’d been through the same thing before (and God helped me before!). I kept trying to change my thoughts, use scripture, pray for help, and give praise/thanks at times, but I seemed to have only temporary relief. The thoughts would pop up repeatedly and got on my nerves. The word “deliver” would come to me but I thought “WHEN?! Nothing’s happening and you’re not doing anything!”

I thought God was playing games with me and I ranted/raved and said all kinds of things. I was fed up and started feeling hopeless again (there were other things that had been building up which led to the explosion). I didn’t want to talk to Him or hear anything from Him.

I started looking up info online–a blog post or article to see if someone else had a similar experience. I came across a blog post that basically said that when we don’t trust God/when we’re mean to Him, that hurts his feelings. I thought, “Huh? God has FEELINGS?” It was such a foreign thought to me. I never thought of Him as having feelings. Maybe I’m still thinking of Him as a drill sergeant or task master. Seeing this post written about Him struck me…I wouldn’t talk to a friend or acquaintance that way. There have been so many times I’d tell myself I’m not going to behave that way anymore. But let anger and doubt creep in and BAM! off I go.

I prayed, repented and asked God to forgive me. I want to stop getting mad at Him and blaming Him for nonsense when He’s the one who’s helped me through various situations. I’m reminding myself that the enemy’s main purpose is to cause confusion and deter me from getting to know God and remembering His promises.

Please pray for me in this area–pray that I will truly get to know Him and not have the wrong view of Him.

Saved from Temptation

multiple mouse traps with cheese on a dark background

 

A few weekends ago, I found myself missing a previous vehicle that I traded in—a 2015 cayenne red Nissan Altima. I had purchased a compact SUV several months ago and while there were a few minor nuisances that I wasn’t fond of (aka first world problems), but overall, I was happy with my purchase. I had gotten the SUV because I wanted something that could handle the snow; I also wanted something that could haul thrift store purchases—tables, chairs, etc.—whenever I went shopping with my mom. There were technological features that I wanted—remote start, blind spot warning, all around camera, and all-wheel drive—but I couldn’t afford those. I didn’t do enough research on the new vehicle (re: ratings/reviews) and bought it when I took the Altima in for an oil change. A salesman had approached me about buying a new vehicle and although I was a little nervous (“Am I making the right decision??”), the timing felt right.

But on this particular weekend, several months later, I was bombarded with thoughts about the Altima: “I should’ve never traded it in!” “Maybe I made a mistake getting this other car,” “The Altima was gorgeous! I wish I still had it!” “Maybe I could go to the dealership and trade this new vehicle for a used Altima?” “Whhhhyyy did I trade it? Maybe I wasn’t really “finished” with it yet!” “Did I buy this new vehicle for the wrong reasons?” “I should’ve did more research! It’s soooo sloooow!” I even dreamt I was telling someone I was unhappy with my new vehicle—was this confirmation to get rid of it? The minor “issues” with the SUV were:

  • it has less horsepower than the Altima, but I KNEW that before I purchased it.
  • It didn’t have a small area for my CDs like the Altima had.
  • The center console is smaller (the Altima had a larger/longer one).
  • Car note is higher (well, it is an SUV!) but it’s still affordable.

I started looking online at various Nissan dealerships in my area to see if they had a cayenne red Altima for sale with a decent number of miles. I saw quite a few vehicles and all I had to do was call and ask if they still had the one I wanted. But did I really NEED to do THAT? Did I really need more debt? “Weellll…I could work more overtime to save money for a down payment,” I thought to myself. And what would happen if I did trade my SUV for another Altima? What if I started having mechanical problems with the used Altima? Or would I regret trading the new car and then beat myself up, thinking that I should’ve kept the SUV instead?

Despite me trying to think practically and talk myself out of this crazy desire, I STILL wanted the car! I asked God what I should do. I noticed that every time I had these thoughts about missing the Altima, the words “thief,” “deceit,” and “deceive” would come to me so I believe the enemy was up to his old tricks as usual. When I woke up the next morning, I felt like the Lord had said, “Keep what you have and pay it off.” I had a sense of peace following this realization. But then I started thinking about the other car again. “Noooo, I want the Altima! I’m not happy with this new car!”

And the online searches resumed.

Yet there was something that bothered me: I had this car on my mind—I want it, how can I get it, etc.—more than God. I didn’t want to make this vehicle an idol but that’s what I was doing. Not only that, but I was having constant anxiety about this—”What if I make a bad decision? Is God telling me to do this? To not do it? How can this be from the enemy? Aren’t these my thoughts/desires?” I asked God to help me to figure this out.

On that following Monday, I did some thinking and God helped me realize that the enemy was definitely behind this. After I bought the SUV, I did have a couple of thoughts about missing my previous vehicle, but I was enjoying the new one. I hadn’t been thinking of the previous car that much. And then months later, the thoughts/feelings came back with a vengeance. He also led me to Psalm 90 which talks about how He’s been around forever and His kingdom has been established forever. Now I realize that the Lord was saying that my emotions were unstable but He’s not; He doesn’t change. I can’t let my emotions dictate my actions. Did either of these vehicles comfort me or lead me to Psalms in my troubles? Did these vehicles give me wisdom or insight about certain people or situations? Nope. It was the Lord who helped me.

With this realization, the anxiety stopped and I felt at peace when I decided to keep my current vehicle.  But guess what? Those blasted thoughts about the Altima are popping up AGAIN. So all I can do is ask God to give me strength not to fall into this trap. I know He’ll come through for me like He did last time.

Welcome to 2019!

Man Leaping into 2019

Thank God for allowing me to make it to a new year! The months of November and December have been difficult spiritually—the enemy was whispering various lies in my ear and as a result of not having God’s word/truth rooted in me, I started questioning and doubting my salvation. I even questioned God’s character because I thought He was instructing me to do one thing (He would tell me to “stand up” against the lies and deception) and then saying I should do something else (the words “sit down” constantly came to me, especially when I would use His word to come against the lies that were hurled at me. Wasn’t I supposed to fight with His word? Was I supposed to be completely passive and wait on Him to do everything?).

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