5 Truths for Times of Waiting

5 truths for times of waiting Have you ever felt stuck in life, wishing that things were different?  Have those times of waiting for something to change felt like they lasted forever?

Waiting on the Lord's timing for things can be pretty difficult, especially when we feel desperate to get out of our current situation.

Today on the blog, guest poster Kira Bridges from Joy Pursued shares five things she learned from her current time of waiting.  I'm so thankful for her willingness to share her thoughts with us!

5 Truths for Times of Waiting - by Kira Bridges

Moving for my husband's job left me unemployed.  Even though the small town offered few job opportunities, I confidently applied for openings, believing that someone with my education and experience would have no trouble finding a job.  I was wrong.

I applied and interviewed for job after job, only to receive a "we regret to inform you..." email, or, more often, never hearing back at all.  "Why doesn't anyone want me?" and "I am useless," became regular thoughts.

Finally, after six months, I secured a job...but I hated it.  Truthfully, I knew before accepting the position that the organization was a bad fit for me, but desperation took over.  I thought a job would solve my problems and restore my purpose.  Again, I was wrong.

Unable to keep ignoring the knot in my stomach every time I drove to work, I quit six short months later.

Two years and four months later, I am still unemployed.  During this time I earned a Master's degree, volunteered for an organization in my field, and applied for jobs all over the western part of the United States.  Yet, despite my best efforts, here I remain.

This past summer, my frustration reached a peak.  I felt stuck, trapped even, and I let God hear it.  "Why have You brought me here to waste my life!?  Was all my hard work for nothing?  Haven't I suffered enough?"

In His grace, God answered me, "Stop trying to do things your way."  Suddenly I understood; God placed me here and then shut all the doors I tried to escape through.  I was indeed stuck...just the way God wanted me.

I would like to tell you I immediately submitted to God's will, giving up the job search and my quest for a "better life," but I didn't.  Even though I understood God planned for me to stay put, I didn't understand why (plus, my way seemed so much better!).  Still struggling with my desire to move, work, and be in control, I started taking baby steps towards God.

  • I invested time in studying the Bible (desperately looking for answers).
  • My prayers became more frequent and more fervent.
  • I adopted Proverbs 3:5-6 as my life verses, asking God for the courage to let go of my way and trust Him.
  • God called me to write about my journey, so I started a blog.

With every step, my desires slowly melted away, replaced by God's desires for me.  And as I inch into the life God intended for me, God restores my joy and refreshes my soul.

I don't know where you are today, but I believe five things are true for you during times of waiting:

  1. God plans times of waiting in order to draw you close.  In her book Wait and See, Wendy Pope says, "The wait is more about experiencing God than enduring the delay."  God longs to spend time with us, and periods of waiting often bring us right to Him.
  2. God wants to work within you.  God desires to shape us into the image of Jesus.  In fact, Paul tells us, we can be confident that God is constantly at work in us.  "For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus (Philippians 1:6, NASB).
  3. God desires to do amazing things in your life, if only you will work with Him and not against Him.  "God can do anything, you know - far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams!  He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, His Spirit deeply and gently within us (Ephesians 3:20, MSG).
  4. God works with a willing heart and small steps of obedience.  Isaiah 1:19 tells us, "If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land" (ESV).  Even as you wait, show God your willingness and obedience, and He will bless you for it.
  5. God will not fail you.  Remember Jeremiah 29:11, "For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope" (ESV).  Your wait may feel like it will never end, but God promises a future, and a good one, too.

So are you ready to let go of what you want and turn instead to what God wants?  I can't promise your situation will change, but I am confident that your heart will!

Kira Bridges is pursuing joy by seeking the life God intended for us.  She blogs at Joy Pursued, sharing lessons learned and resources to help women move fully into the joyful life God has waiting for them.  Living in the sunny part of Oregon with her husband, daughter, and two dogs, Kira believes living with joy is a lifelong journey and would love for you to join her.  You can hang out with her on Facebook and Instagram or follow along on Pinterest.

5 truths for times of waiting

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Is Your Goal Setting Missing This Crucial Component?

is your goal setting missing this crucial component

Note:  Some of the links in this post are affiliate links.  You can read my disclosure policy here.

Goal-setting.

Resolutions.

Planning.

The social media world is ablaze with these buzz words right now!  It seems that every blogger under the sun has a new planner, workbook, checklist, or course right now to help you prepare for the coming year.  And that's for good reason.

No one ever achieved anything of value without first sitting down, writing out, and preparing for his or her accomplishments.  Goal setting can mean the difference between having dreams and completing them.

Thankfully, many people are now aware of the extreme importance of goal setting and planning.  I'm even beginning to hear of people who consider themselves goal-setting junkies!  Most of us do some sort of planning at the beginning of each year, and many of us actually see some of our dreams start to bear fruit as a result of our preparation efforts.

I'm all for planning, preparation, and goal setting.  In fact, I think it's important not only to set annual goals, but also monthly, weekly, and daily ones as well, with frequent reviews at those same intervals.

But as excited as I am that so many of us are making good use of goal setting, I've also begun to notice that many of us are also skipping one crucial component of goal setting:

Spiritual growth.

We plan to lose weight, drink more water, exercise more frequently, be kinder to our families and coworkers, build businesses, and even give more to church and charity.  But when was the last time you set spiritual growth goals?

I haven't always set goals for growing in my walk with the Lord.  It's just not something that many of us think to do.  There's no way I can know for sure why the vast majority of Christians aren't making deliberate plans to deepen our faith, but these are some concerns that might be at play:

  • Maybe we don't do it because we know that the Holy Spirit is leading and guiding us.
  • Maybe we don't place a high enough priority on spiritual growth.
  • Maybe we're ashamed to admit on paper that we have so little faith.
  • Maybe we think too highly of our current spiritual state, assuming we don't need to focus on growth.
  • Maybe we have no idea how to go about setting spiritual growth goals!

Whatever the reason, what I do know is that we need to change.  Spiritual growth goals should be at the very top of our planning lists as we approach the new year, new month, new week, or new day.  In Hebrews 12:1-2, we're commanded to throw aside anything that entangles us and to run with endurance.  We can only do these things with deliberate goal setting and purposeful planning.

But how does one set goals for spiritual growth?

I would recommend three things:

Set aside time to pray.

You probably know by now that prayer is my number one go-to recommendation for everything, so yes, it's going at the top of my spiritual-goal-setting list!  Pray and ask the Lord to direct your spiritual growth this coming year.  Ask Him for wisdom to know which areas are your strengths and weaknesses and to show you which areas He wants you to build up your spiritual muscles.

I recommend keeping a sheet of paper nearby as you do your praying and preparing.  Jot down your thoughts and ideas.  This way, you won't forget them later on, and this will also help you to notice patterns.  Are you constantly thinking of a specific area in your life?  If so, this may be the Lord's prompting to work on that area.

Seek the counsel of God through His Word.

Study to know the Scriptures well.  As you read, the Holy Spirit can prick your heart.  Be sensitive to the verses that seem particularly convicting.  If the Lord is asking you to work on an area, be willing to follow His leading.  Again, write them down so that you're not quick to forget.

Ask other believers who know you well to give you advice.

Do you have a Godly spouse, mentor, or parent who knows you well?  If so, ask for his or her input.  Are there areas of strengths and weaknesses in your spiritual walk that this person would be willing to point out?  Often, our abilities and shortcomings are obvious to others even when they might be hidden from us.  Be willing to accept what this person has to say, even if it hurts or doesn't seem correct to you.  Then, pray over what he or she shares and ask the Lord whether or not He wants you to take a deeper look at these areas.

May I challenge you to undertake spiritual growth goal setting this year?  I know it won't be easy or popular, but I do believe that it is Biblical and necessary for your faith to increase.  I'll be joining you in this challenge!

If you're ready to go into 2017 with deliberate plans for spiritual growth but still feel as though you need more help, I would love to recommend Arabah Joy's Grace Goals.  Arabah Joy is an amazing Christian blogger who has really encouraged me in my writing.  She's put together an amazing, Biblical resource to help you set the goals that God wants you to set all while keeping grace in mind.  Even better is that this resource is reasonably priced - just $15 (that said, I completely understand if that doesn't fit into your budget right now).  If you think this might be a good fit for you, just click here to learn more.

If this opportunity isn't for you, no worries.  You don't need anything more than a prayerful heart and your Bible in order to set spiritual goals for this next year.

Are you feeling brave?  I'd welcome you to share one of your spiritual goals in the comments!  Here's to a faith-filled 2017!

is your goal setting missing this crucial component

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4 Benefits from Seasons of Waiting

4 benefits from seasons of waiting

Note:  Some of the links in this post are affiliate links.  You can read my disclosure policy here.

For most people, waiting isn't fun.  Not only does it try our patience, it can cause stress and strain unlike anything else.  But have you ever thought about what benefits seasons of waiting might bring us?

Today, I'd like to welcome guest blogger Erica Morrison from Passionfruitful Life!  She's sharing with us 4 blessings that seasons of waiting can bring us.

Waiting for your dreams to unfurl? - by Erica Morrison

So, perhaps you have some great ideas and dreams for your life.  You are excited about the possibilities, and you've even begun to take some baby steps, or even big steps, in that direction.  You take a few more baby steps and wait patiently.  Surely your dreams are around the corner.  Excitedly, you round the corner and...nothing seems to happen.  So, with a tiny bit of doubt but still a lot of hope, you try something else...and still, those dreams don't seem to be anywhere close.

After some more tries and some discouraged feelings, you might wonder what you're doing wrong and why you have to wait so long.  You feel ready now!You may have heard a story about a little boy who was watching a butterfly struggle to get out of its cocoon.  The boy wanted to help the butterfly get out, so he got a pair of scissors and cut a slit in the cocoon so that the butterfly could easily get out.  The butterfly did get out quickly, but unfortunately, it flopped to the ground and wasn't able to unfurl its wings and fly.

The fact is that the patient wait and struggle to get out of the cocoon would have helped the butterfly to strengthen its wings and therefore fly once it got out.  (Adapted from a story in Streams in the Desert by L.B. Cowman.)

You might be tempted to fly into the things you believe God is calling you to.  But for now, this time of waiting and active struggle is for a purpose.  It's strengthening you - your patience and character, your contentment, your faith, and your skills and abilities.  One day, in perfect timing, you'll be ready and have the strength to "leave the cocoon" and begin to unfurl your wings and fly.

Let's go more deeply into why God allows us to wait and some suggestions of what to do while we are waiting.

Waiting grows our patience and character and makes us more ready for our dreams.

We may think we are ready now...or maybe even yesterday, but God might think otherwise.  He wants to mature us and build our perseverance and character so we will be better able to handle our dreams when they do come around.  Even when the little seeds we plant (our baby steps toward our dreams) don't seem to be growing, like a farmer, we need to just keep planting and tending our seeds.  In time, with plenty of water and good soil, those seeds are going to begin to sprout...and slowly grow into mature dreams.  Our lovely field of dreams is coming, but we need to keep persevering and not give up.

We need to learn to enjoy life and all the good things in our lives now as we wait for our dreams to unfurl.

It's so easy to focus on the future and miss enjoyment of the wonders of our current moments - for example, the people in our lives, nature in the changing seasons, and the opportunities we have now.  It's easy to notice these good things only briefly and then hurry on to whatever urgent things we can do to meet our goals.  But even when we do reach our goals, there will always be more goals to look forward to - as well as new struggles - so it's important to enjoy our time now and not miss out on our current life and all its delights.

Waiting can build our faith.

It's so easy to get discouraged and give up when we thought our dreams were just over the horizon and they weren't there yet...nor were they over the next one.  But "believing without seeing" is such an important quality to develop.

God loves for us to build our faith; it shows that we trust that He will come through on His promises even when we can't seem to see a hint of them.  And He loves to eventually reward that faith.

When our dreams don't come easily, it can stretch us to consider new options, try new strategies, and build new skills.

We may have new ideas that will turn out to be better than what we originally planned, or we might be challenged to do some of the things we were a bit skittish about doing before.

On the other hand, we do need to be careful and prayerful about our steps so that we do not try to make our dreams happen in unwise ways (which don't work well, anyway) rather than doing the things God does want us to do.  It's wise to slowly step out in the direction you think God is leading you and make sure it's really the direction He wants you to go.  You can then prayerfully look at the results and then decide whether or not you should continue.

So in these moments of waiting and struggle, just keep praying, asking God what He wants you to learn at this time, taking those little steps as you grow in your patience, faith, and skills.  One day, your strong butterfly wings will beautify the sky with your gifts and dreams, and we'll all benefit from the way you've grown and unfurled during your wait.

Your turn:  What else can we do during our wait for our dreams to come to pass?  Any other reasons you can think of why we might experience a time of waiting?  Share with us in the comments!

Erica Morrison lives in Ontario, Canada with her rambunctious almost-2-year-old and husband (yes, he's quite rambunctious, too). She is a Christ-follower seeking to live a life of passion and fruitfulness and wants to help others do the same. She loves to travel (when she can afford it) as well as learn about the many cultures right here at home.

Erica recently became a certified professional life coach and is loving the opportunity to help women move closer to their dreams in life, career and parenting. She blogs at Passionfruitful Life, and you can find her on Facebook here 4 benefits from seasons of waiting

A Christian Blogger's Review of Elite Blog Academy

a Christian blogger's review of Elite Blog Academy

Note:  Some of the links in this post are affiliate links.  You can read my disclosure policy here.

In February of this year, I took a big risk:  I enrolled in Ruth Soukup's Elite Blog Academy.  While thousands of other bloggers had already gone through the course and loved it, I felt really torn when I first signed up.  After all, it was a lot of money, and the only way I was able to take it was because earlier that same week, we'd gotten back a very unexpected tax return.

Even after we had a plan for paying for the class and staying out of debt, I still wondered whether or not this had been a good investment.  As a Christian, I've been privileged to steward some of God's resources, and I don't want to be wasteful with what is His.

But I talked with Jon about it, shared with him my desire to continue my blogging journey, and explained why I wanted to take this course more than any other (it was specifically geared for bloggers, not business in general; it was less expensive than other courses I'd heard about; and I knew that Ruth really knew her stuff when it comes to blogging).  He supported me in my dreams and surprised me by agreeing that I should enroll, especially given that we had a plan for paying for the class.

So, was Elite Blog Academy worth the investment?

Absolutely.

But my reason for being so confident in its merits might surprise you.

You see, I've not yet made back the money I invested.  My blog has earned about $20 total this far, not even enough to cover my annual hosting costs, let alone any class I've paid for.  But I'm perfectly okay with that.  I have some really exciting things planned for the blog in 2017, and I am hopeful that I will begin to see a return on my monetary investment.

However, financial gain isn't my biggest purpose for blogging.  When it comes down to it, I'm much happier hearing that my writing has been encouraging to someone else than I am about earning an income.  And because of Elite Blog Academy, I'm now much better equipped to share hope from God's Word than I was before I took the class.

No, EBA, as it's often referred to, isn't exactly a Christian course, though Ruth Soukup is a believer and many of the students are faith bloggers.  It didn't grow my faith or improve my understanding of the Bible.  But it did teach me all about the nuts and bolts of blogging, how to deliver my message more effectively, and how to grow my platform so that I can reach a wider audience.

EBA also deepened my love of writing and blogging, taught me how to streamline my online efforts, and find balance between family and online life.  Because of these benefits, I'm not worried about blogger burnout or having to give up my passion when life gets difficult.

Just recently, I learned that most blogggers abandon blogging after only a few years, and most blogs that are started are faith blogs.  I personally believe that we need more faith bloggers now than ever before, so it's heartbreaking to hear that so many aren't able to go the distance.  EBA is helping me to keep up the work the Lord has laid on my heart.

We need all hands on deck right now, as my friend Arabah Joy likes to say.  If you're a faith blogger or are interested in becoming one, you might find that Elite Blog Academy is the tool you need to set a firm foundation and equip you for the journey ahead.  EBA can mean the difference between fizzling out after a short time or creating an ongoing ministry platform.

It's definitely a hefty investment, but it's one I feel was extremely worth it.  I'm excited to see where the Lord takes me in my blogging pursuits, and I hope that you'll consider joining me in proclaiming His name with me in the blogging world!

Just a note:  the doors for Elite Blog Academy won't open until next February, when EBA 3.0 will debut.  But I'd encourage you to go ahead and sign up for on the waiting list today so that you'll be sure to know when it becomes available!  Even if you decide not to enroll, the free blogging information Ruth shares with her subscribers is fantastic and will be a huge help in your blogging pursuits.

Let's grow our Christian blogs to the glory of God!

P.S.  I've recently started a monthly newsletter for Christian bloggers and business owners.  If you'd like Biblical business tips, be sure to subscribe here!  I'd love to have you join us.

a Christian blogger's review of Elite Blog Academy

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Are You Nagging God with Your Prayers?

are you nagging God with your prayers? Do you struggle to pray while in a season of waiting?  Do you ever feel as though you're nagging God with your requests?  If so, today's post is for you!

I am so blessed to be able to introduce you to guest poster Katie Beth from Our Seasons of Grace!  Katie has graciously agreed to write today's post, and I am so glad to have her here at the Hallway Initiative.

While You Are Waiting - Katie Beth

When I was much younger waiting for something, I learned to not nag to my parents. Instead of annoying my mother with persistent questions or requests, I was quick to be quiet and instead, wait. I clearly remember a time when my mother became very annoyed with my requests and lost patience with me. I was quick to please so I soon resolved I would not annoy her again with questions or requests. Nowadays, I am sure I take that to the extreme and don’t ask at all because I don’t want to be seen as a nag.

This behaviour often tends to seep into my prayer life. I have found I will pray a prayer once, and that’s it. I don’t want God to think I’m being a nag with my prayers. Even when I want something so badly, I often feel like I'd just be annoying God with my requests.

But guess what?  Guess what I am slowly learning when praying to our Heavenly Father?

When we approach our Heavenly Father, we are not nagging or annoying. When we have prayer needs, we are not nags.

God wants to hear our requests

God wants to hear our requests.  And He wants us to keep asking.

A couple of months ago, I was privileged with the opportunity to attend the True Woman conference. Talk about being convicted and encouraged! The overall theme was Crying Out to God. In one particular session, Janet Parshall talked about the widow in the book of Luke who approached a judge everyday while waiting for his answer.  Since then, prayer has been on my mind more than usual.

The widow is an example for us: she always asks and she never gives up. Every day she approaches the judge. And every one of those days, she pleads for mercy. She doesn’t hesitate to go to the judge. She doesn't go to him one day and then stop because she's concerned that she'll be a nagger.  She persists.

God still hears our prayers even if we pray them once. But we can look to the widow and be encouraged to approach God every day without being a nag.

The beginning of this passage in Luke 18 even says, ‘Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and never give up’ (NIV). Jesus may have been talking to his disciples at that time, but I am confident we can use this advice as well:

We should always pray and never give up praying.

The apostle Paul is another example on how we should pray. On numerous occasions Paul talks about praying continuously. In almost every letter he wrote to a church, he said he was praying ‘always’, and 'continuously' for them.

Other verses by Paul tell us to ‘be constant in prayer’ (Romans 12:12); ‘in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be known’ (Philippians 4:6) and ‘pray without ceasing’ (1 Thessalonians 5:17).

These verses give me assurance that I am not a ‘nag’ to God. And I hope they give you assurance as well. We can take these verses and pray confidently every day knowing God wants to hear from us. God doesn't see me as a nag, nor does He see you as a nag.

Just like we all should be, I need God’s direction in my life. Each day I am asking God to reveal His plan, to lead me in His direction. While I am waiting, I am going to keep asking. While you are waiting, know you can keep coming to God.

Katie Beth is a daughter of the King, writer, housekeeper, and student in Australia.  She is learning to find contentment in her singleness by leaning on the Lord's strength and trusting Him with His plan for her life.  She blogs at Our Seasons of Grace, where she shares about recognizing God's grace in our lives.  You can find her on Facebook and Twitter.

Related:  Are you waiting well?

are you nagging God with your prayers?