A Good Investment

#52DaysOfConsecration Week Eight Synopsis

God’s goodness is based on His nature, not our worthiness.”

-Kirk Franklin

Before I get into this week’s synopsis, I want to thank each and every one of you for joining me on this #52DaysOfConsecration challenge, and for allowing me to share my story and my journey with you all. I have so enjoyed this process and the discipline of this challenge and a special thanks to Amber Riley for inspiring me to get involved in the first place. Thanks again.

XO,

Ari


 

Pride comes in many different forms: Arrogance, Haughtiness, and Entitlement are just a few of them. Between this week and last week, I had to face an ugly truth about the latter. Prior to being offered my position at the Post, during the interview process, I carried a customized binder that I created with me to each interview that I had. It contained work samples from articles that I had had published over the years, my resume, stats, and my 5-year plan. The creation of it was truly a God idea, and I found that I relied on it heavily when I was first starting out. I compared it to the character in Charlie Brown, “Linus’ blanket.” I kept it close because somehow it gave me comfort. In a similar way, I’ve begun to observe that the person who was previously in my position, was the “Linus blanket” for the department in which I now work. Me coming into the role that I was hired to do, in some ways seemingly disrupts what the office has grown comfortable with. Not because it’s bad, but because it’s different.

Here’s what I know, the Lord doesn’t allow us to go through things in life for no reason. There is always something that He wants to reveal, fix, and uproot in our lives in order to draw us closer to Him and walk in righteousness. Though perhaps I didn’t see it at first, this week I recognized a sense of entitlement in myself that I didn’t like. On Monday, the Lord told me that that entitlement that I felt, however slight was a form of pride. Once I was able to make more sense of what those feelings were and why I was feeling that way, I went to God in prayer and repented.  I learned a long time ago that when I ask God for something like, “Lord, I want to be more humble.” He doesn’t give me the gift of humility right away, rather He gives me opportunities in which to be humble. The lesson there, is that He wants to continue to build and shape character, and in order to do that, He has to take me through a process. I have to grow through what I go through.

As I was sitting at my work station this week, I happened upon a song called, “Satisfied” by one of my favorite groups, The Walls Group that really drove all of the little lessons that I have sprinkled throughout this post home. The song gives a list of analogies and asks at the end of the chorus, “Will I be satisfied with You?”. To be all the way 100 with you, I was convicted listening to the song, because I know what my answer should be, and I know in my heart of hearts my answer is “Yes”, however there’s a line that caused me to think a little harder. It says, “If no one ever knows my name, and my gifts don’t bring me fame. If everything I have some day I lose, will I be satisfied with You?” 

What I love about God is that He is STILL good, even when I’m not. In Travis Greene’s song, “Thank You for Being God” there is a lyric that says, “[Lord] You loved me too much to leave me where I was.” You see, God is fully invested in what He has deposited in each one of us to allow us not to grow in different areas of our lives. He sees our potential even when we don’t, He sees the finished work even when we can’t. I was reminded that God goes hard for us every day, and we, as His sons and daughters, owe Him the same fervor and diligence in chasing after Him.

When I grabbed hold of these truths and as God was pruning me all week, blessings in the process were easier to recognize, and as He changed my heart, He favored me in ways that I wouldn’t have even known to pray for.

At the end of the day, I want the Lord to be satisfied with me. I want Him to see me as a good investment, and make good on the gifts that He’s entrusted to me, to bring Him glory.

Check out the song reference here:

The Walls Group- Satisfied

Peaks and Valleys

#52DaysOfConsecration Week Seven Synopsis

Inner Peace is the New Success.”

By definition,  consecrate means dedicated to a sacred purpose. As I get ready to draw this 52 Day Consecration challenge to a close, I am reminded of the faithfulness of Jesus. This past week was very trying. Yet, with every curve ball thrown my way, the Lord lessened the blows by meeting me while I was in the valley. God never promised us that life was going to be easy, but He does say that He will be with us, that ALL things are working together for [our] good, and that trouble won’t last always. These are all promises that we can take to the bank, because His word never comes back to Him void. We can count them as done. I read a fun fact that the bible tells us 365 times in scripture, “Do not fear.” That’s a reminder for every day of the year! I don’t know about you, but I find solace in knowing that NO weapon formed against me shall prosper.

What I am learning is that the purpose God has prepared for us is greater than any obstacle that we face. You see, the valley is an important place to be. It is training ground for the higher heights that God wants us to reach in Him. The valley keeps us dependent on the Lord and puts us in a humbled state. It teaches us perspective, and reveals the places in our lives that still need to be healed.

Over the course of my walk with God, I have learned to appreciate the valley, because that is where the Lord often chose to deal with me in private. I faced some hard truths, I cried out to the Lord, I fought against past hurts, and tried to negotiate with the Lord, in the valley.  Those tough experiences were some of the most defining moments of my life. I quickly began to understand that when He allowed me to reach a peak, I could be proud of the work that I had done, but I could not take any of the glory unto myself. The peaks of our lives have absolutely nothing to do with us. They are platforms that God gives to us in order for His purpose to be accomplished here in the earth. That’s what we are created for.

Our valley experiences prepare us for our peaks and help us to appreciate them a little bit more.

Following Hard After God

52 Days of Consecration Week Six Synopsis

Learn where your gift, and your calling and your grace collide; work where they meet.”

Jonathan McReynolds

The shock of being hired by The Washington Post has died down now, but the excitement of the opportunity has not dwindled.  As I went into this second week on the job, I took a few moments each day to acknowledge the sheer goodness of the Lord.  How many people can say that they got a job in their specified field right out of the gate? (granted, it took me about 5 years to get here, but who’s counting?)  I recognize the true blessing that this [working at the Post] is, and that in and of itself keeps me in a humbled state. I am grateful to work with a team of people who are willing to guide me in my position, while still granting me creative liberties to really make the Client Services Coordinator position my own. The News Service and Syndicate department is good ground in which to be planted, and I can see myself not only growing here, but flourishing. What an incredible God I serve!!!

If you don’t know by now, words are very important to me. In my devotions this week, a few really resonated in my spirit: Humility, Obedience, Honor, and Surrender.

Growing up, my dad instilled these two key ideologies in my sisters and me, “Ask and Obey.” and “Obedience is better than Sacrifice.”  At the time, I didn’t fully understand the magnitude or significance of the latter statement. As I developed a personal relationship with the Lord though and grew in my understanding of Who He was, I began to grasp the concept with greater appreciation and clarity. During Jesus’ time on the earth, He lived out a life of obedience. He only spoke, worked, taught and acted if God the Father instructed Him to do so. For us as human beings, we would do well to do the same.  Being obedient, is not always easy, but it is necessary for the betterment of self and deepening of our spiritual lives.

When we relinquish our will for God’s will for us, we can rest in the knowledge that no matter what the circumstance, ALL things are working together for our good. We have to stop trying to negotiate with God, and just learn to be obedient. What I am learning more each day is that there is value and beauty in our RIGHT response to Him!

In Eat, Pray Hustle: Dream Chasing God’s Way, Cunnington talks about “Authenticating A Dream” she says, “God will test us even after the dream is real.” This particular part of the text brings me back to humility. I am of the opinion that all tests are not from the enemy. Sometimes, the Lord will test us to show us which areas in our lives still need to be worked out and given to Him. We are Christians Under Construction; our spirits may be willing but our flesh is weak (Matthew 26:41). This is why I believe we are called to die to ourselves daily. Eat, Pray, Hustle is a devotional that is based on the life of Abraham. When God asked Abraham to sacrifice his beloved son Isaac on Mount Moriah, he obeyed without delay. I found this to be a significant point, because I saw so clearly after reading that passage of scripture that we can hold up or delay our blessings because of a lack of obedience. God has the promise and blessing ready for us; it is ready for the taking. The question however, is are we willing to do what is necessary to receive it?

Cunnington goes on to say, “God wants to know that what He gives to us is still His, and we are simply stewarding over the promise.” She advises that we, “keep surrendering and honoring what God has given to us,” and “continue to hold the promise fulfilled with honor.”

The best way to honor God and the gift (promise) is to keep a posture of humility and not to delay our obedience to the Lord.

In The Confident Woman Devotional by Joyce Meyer, she talks about preparedness and responsibility. Meyer pulls from Proverbs 31:25, “Strength and dignity are her clothing and her position is strong and secure.” Proverbs 27:23, “Be diligent to know the state of your flocks, and look well to your herds.” Proverbs 31:27, “She looks well to how things go in her household, and the bread of idleness, she will not eat.” and 2 Thessalonians 3:11, “Indeed, we hear that some among you are disorderly [that they are passing their lives in idleness, neglectful of duty], being busy with other people’s affairs instead of their own and doing no work.”

I wouldn’t consider myself to be spontaneous, at least not by its traditional definition. If anything, I like planned spontaneity ( I’ll go to a particular place and figure out what to do when I get there.) I like having a sense of purpose, I need it in my life. This idea relates to what I am going to do for the weekend, how I prepare for my week, and with whom I choose to spend my time, and everything in between. Preparing as best I can for a particular thing gives me a sense of peace. I desire to be a good steward over what God has given me. Recently, my prayer has been that I would “be prudent and diligent in my work, that God would get the glory out of my life, that I would represent Him well daily,  and that I would be salt and light to those around me.”

What I’m learning is that when we stay in our own lane and keep our focus on the Lord and the tasks at hand, our roads are paved with God’s grace and His provision.

 

Learning to Properly Labor

52 Days of Consecration Week Five Synopsis

Wisdom. Prudence. Perseverance. Patience.   These were keys words throughout my week.

I started my job as a Client Services Coordinator at The Washington Post on Monday, and for the remainder of the week, I have been learning first-hand, what all my role entails. Prior to the start date, I consecrated my job and this new season of my life to the Lord. I prayed for Him to prepare the way before me, to put the right people in my circle, to be with me (Joshua 1:9) on the job, and increase my discernment, wisdom and understanding [revealed insight] so that I can grasp the information I need to know for me to do my job well and efficiently.

As I read my devotionals this week, yet again, they were very much in line with the requests I made known to God in my prayer time.  In Eat, Pray, Hustle, Cunnington talks about the importance of referencing the things that God has already promised us and/or recall what He has required us to do. She says, “Some the promises of God are conditional with what He asked us to do, and some are dependent on something He said He would do.” Through this experience and upon reflection, I am beginning to see more clearly that once we adhere to what God has required of us, His unmerited favor and abundant blessings are never far behind. God honors obedience and acknowledges patience. For five years, I  hopped from freelancing gig to one unpaid internship to another and back again.  There were times when I felt lost and discouraged, but what so often sustained me was the Word that I received from the Lord. I bombarded Heaven with my prayers, asking God to reveal and confirm for me what He wanted me to do. Many times I heard the same thing repeated in my spirit, “Wait.” But, just because you are required to wait doesn’t mean that you are patient while you wait. I learned that lesson in a season of pruning.

Joyce Meyer touched on a couple of other points in The Confidant Woman Devotional too. First was being wise in our decision-making, Second was being calm and rational in our thinking and third was learning how to be prudent in our work. Truth Moment? I was a bit overwhelmed when I got offered my job at the Post. I didn’t know what to expect, but based on the interviews that I had with the manger and one of the editors in my department, I knew that there was a lot that was going to be required of me if in fact I did get the job and chose to accept it.  However, my hope and faith was and is anchored in the promise that God supplies all of my needs. He created me, and knows the depth of my capacity to learn new information, grasp and apply it where necessary. He knows with what He has equipped me.

I have a sustained peace and assurance that even though I can’t see the whole picture, He has shown me enough to know that I can trust Him with every aspect of my life.  I want to live a life of faith, not one that is stifled by fear. I’m learning how to trust the Lord in a different way. It is my prayer and sincerest hope that I will continue to grow in the knowledge of who He is and learn how to labor into His rest (Hebrews 4:11). Lately I have been reminded that the Will of God will Never Leave Me, where His Grace cannot Sustain Me. That goes for all of us.

Lessons in the Wilderness

52 Days of Consecration Week Four Synopsis

For I am about to do something new.
    See, I have already begun! Do you not see it?
I will make a pathway through the wilderness.
    I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.

Isaiah 43:19

Hello Friends!

This week has been interesting. I’ve had deeply rich conversations with family members and friends and I’ve had time to do some necessary soul searching and self-introspection. When I turned 25 something changed. I lost the desire to be a people pleaser and I learned the value of transparency, authenticity, and being honest with myself.  Growing up, some of the biggest challenges and toughest battles that I faced were internal. Constantly, I questioned my value based on the standards that other people set and deemed important. In the natural, it seemed like I would frequently come up short. Despite how nice, how doting, or how positive I appeared. Some people took advantage of my kindness and thought that because of it, they could target it as a weakness. For years I struggled with feelings of inferiority, self-doubt, and fear. I felt like the girl people loved to hate. I was in the wilderness. Lost, weak [on my own]and uncertain about why things transpired in my life the way that they did.

In an effort to protect myself and spare the feelings of others, I suppressed the anger and resentment that I had toward those who tried to break me. By God’s grace my spirit was never broken, but it was badly bruised. I am learning now though that there is still more to fix. And healing can only begin when I acknowledge that there is a problem. I am a “Christian Under Construction”. Throughout my life, I have learned a lot, but I will never claim to know everything. I’m still learning how to navigate through the wilderness. I want to be better in every aspect of my life: a better writer, a better daughter, a better sister, a better friend, a better follower of Christ. I want to learn how to run to God’s Word when life gets tough, instead of recanting and going back into my shell. I want to learn how to manage my emotions better, and I want to own who I am in Christ more fully. My greatest desire is to represent Christ well in everything that I do and share Jesus with the world. I want to be a conduit for God’s glory.

This week, I was reminded of a few things. One, the dreams that God has placed in our hearts need to be protected and nurtured. Even though the dream is big, it is in the understanding that we are not meant to carry it out alone that we find strength. I like what Joyce Meyer says in The Confident Woman Devotional, “We are sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency” (Philippians 4:13). Two, no matter what the enemy throws in our direction, he is already a defeated foe. None of his attempts compare to the incredible things that the Lord has already prepared for us. 1 Corinthians 2:9 tells us “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love Him.”  And three, God’s timing is perfect. This was exemplified in a conversation that I had with my best friend Mike. He called me yesterday to talk about the Christmas gift that I bought for him this year and how perfect it was for this season of his life, I heard something sentiments from my bestie Jasmine about the gift that I got her as well.  I gave both Mike and Jasmine their Christmas presents super late, like months late. Each time I saw them   sitting on my coffee table, I would grow more and more frustrated that our schedules were so different, but God knew exactly what He was doing. He allowed the delay so that we each could share in depth about what God is doing in our lives, what He’s teaching us and showing us. It’s exciting! I’m grateful for moments like that because it confirms the nature of God, He’s omnipresent, faithful and takes care of every detail of our lives.

Week 4 has been a rejuvenation for my spirit and as I prepare for the week ahead, I look forward to what the Lord is going to teach me next!

Trust Without Borders

52 Days of Consecration Week Three Synopsis

The first step towards getting somewhere is to decide that you are not going to stay where you are.”

Hey! So here’s the skinny for this week!

As the Lord would have it, all of my devotions flowed into one another. They each focused on Wisdom, Peace, Confidence,  Hope for the Promise [of God] and having the Stamina and Faith for the Journey that awaits.

Over the course of this week I have been reminded that the dreams that God has placed in our hearts are not just for us, they are God-sized! Big enough for both of us [God+ Me/You]. He wants to be a part of making our dreams a reality. He desires to see them come to fruition just as much as we want to see it for ourselves. God-sized dreams come a size too big so that we can grow into them. Grow in wisdom, in faith, and in hope. We cannot allow fear [of any kind] to stifle our growth in these areas; nor can we be lackadaisical in our pursuit of those dreams. We must move as the Holy Spirit directs and be lead by the Peace of the Lord without question or hesitation. God honors faith and looks favorably on obedience.

Lately, I have been preparing myself mentally and spiritually for my first day of work. I’m excited about the new opportunity. Ideas come into my head all day, but if I am not careful, I can overexert myself and go too far in my own head. I focused my attention this week first by waiting on the Lord and He directed me to the book of Colossians. There was one  passage that stuck out to me  that I hadn’t noticed the very first time that I read through the scripture. It’s Colossians 4:5-6.

Be wise in the way that you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” (NIV)

Conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, make the most of every opportunity. Let your speech always be with grace as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person.” (NASB)

Behave yourselves wisely [living prudently and with discretion] in your relations with those of the outside world [the non-Christians] making the very most of the time and seizing the opportunity. Let your speech at all times be gracious [pleasant and winsome], seasoned with salt to know how you ought to answer anyone [who puts a question to you].” (AMP)

I got hired as Client Services Coordinator. My job mainly consists of being the liaison between my department and the clientele of the publication for which I now work.  With that in mind, I thought it interesting and timely that the Lord would lead me to this particular passage in scripture. Many of the things that Paul was sharing here also apply to my current situation. I will have to be prudent, discerning, use discretion, and a great deal of wisdom in order to excel in the position God blessed me with and really make it my own.

I want to be wise in my decision making and vigilant of what is going on around me and who is around me, not just on the job, but also in life. My heart’s desire is to share Jesus with the world, and minister effectively wherever He stations me. I was gently reminded through Colossians however that I must tread lightly and use wisdom if a situation presents itself for me to do so. One of the chapters in Eat, Pray, Hustle talks about how a God-sized dream reveals the talents that are already inside of us. That got me to thinking about what my talents might be and how the Lord has, does and will use them for His glory in my life and in the lives of others.

I came up with a few:

  • Natural Encourager
  • Divergent Thinker
  • Observant (of people and what they are not saying)
  • Creative
  • Intuitive
  • Nurturing
  • Grounded (as a person and in my beliefs)
  • Moral
  • Ethical

I like the idea that the Lord can use these things for His Kingdom purposes. It reminds me that I [we] are a part of something much bigger than myself [ourselves].

Question of the Day:

What Fuels Your Hope?

Struggles:

My biggest challenge this week has been social media. I am trying not to stay on it so long. When I started this 52-Days of Consecration, I made it a point to be off of Facebook, Instagram and Twitter by 8:00pm. Some days have been better than others, but it’s been a struggle. I am well-capable of doing social media fasts. I really enjoy them actually. I’m not sure why this time restraint is seemingly more difficult. It may have more to do with the fact that when I start my job, I won’t have as much time to devote to my pages. My whole brand [Simply Ari] is based online and across different social media platforms. I guess subconsciously, I am trying to get as much content uploaded to my pages as possible while I still have the time.
Please continue to pray my strength in the Lord and I vow to do the same for you.

 

 

 

 

 

Grace Upon Grace

#52DaysOfConsecration Week Two Synopsis

Grace will take you places Hustling cannot.”

I am so glad that I am doing this 52-Days of Consecration Challenge. What I am enjoying the most is the discipline of it. I had a routine similar to this in undergrad and it served me well. This challenge is obviously more tailored to what I am believing for in this season of my life.

The devotions that I’ve read from Joyce Meyer (The Confident Woman Devotional) and Havilah Cunnington (Eat, Pray, Hustle), both touched on weakness. Weakness is something that we as human beings don’t like to focus on. It often has a negative connotation attached to it. But what if we redefined it, repurposed the word entirely? Taking the focus off of what we lack and put it on all of Who God is, and what He can do through us coming to the end of ourselves.

This week has been incredibly rewarding for me.  For years, I have been praying and believing the Lord for a job. Since deciding on career in journalism and interactive media, it has been my desire to work for a major publication. The experience that I have in the field of Communication is unconventional to say the least. I’ve worked as a Social Media intern at a few places, freelanced a few articles for a few publications, and have been blessed to experience blossoming where I’ve been planted, without much aid from people. However, what I began to discover that I was lacking, was a real job that could anchor me and make me a more desirable candidate for the positions for which I was constantly applying.  I went through a period of self-doubt, and bouts of oppression (during some really low points), but the Lord never allowed me to stay there for long. He was faithful to gently remind me that the troubles I was facing would not last always, and that His grace is ALWAYS sufficient. For that, I am forever grateful.

These days, I choose to dwell in hope and in the knowledge of Who God is. I find such peace in that understanding. Proverbs 19:21 says, “Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.” This beautiful and awe-inspiring truth has taken on new meaning in my life. Even with the dozens of letters archived in my inbox that read, “Thank you for applying for [name of position] at [name of company/publication], we have decided not to move forward with your application. We wish you well on your job search.” The  Lord allowed the right opportunity to come along, just when I needed it to the most. He showed me that He heard and hadn’t forgotten the most intimate prayers and desires of my heart; even though I never voiced them aloud! Not only was I offered a position at one of, if not, the most prestigious publication in Washington DC, God had it so that they pursued me!

My grace is sufficient for you, for [My] power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”

2 Corinthians 12:9 (NASB)

The lesson in all of this is that regardless of how much hustling we do on our own, it is the matchless grace of the Lord Jesus that propels us into the destiny and purpose that is rightfully ours through Him. I am humbled, encouraged and excited about what God is doing, and it my sincerest prayer that we experience the fullness of what He has for each of us in this season.