Jesus Feeds five thousand. (Luke 9: 10-17) This is a very familiar passage in scripture. It is one of the few miracles that Jesus did while on earth. (share the story) If you aren't familiar with the passage, I encourage you to take time to read it for yourself.
There are a few key takeaways from this passage. I want to focus on three.
1.Give thanks for what we already have.
In verse 16, Jesus takes the loaves and fish, looks up to heaven, and gave thanks. Simply put, He thanked God for the food he already had in his possession. He gave thanks before the miracle was performed, a behavior we should model. Sometimes we can become so focused on the problem or what we lack, causing us to overlook what is already in our possession.
2.Operate in faith. Move/act like it will happen.
In verse 14, Jesus had the crowd sit down in groups. He didn't put them in groups based on those he thought would get food and those that might not get food. Jesus had faith that all would eat; He didn't doubt. He also didn't wait until the miracle was performed or happened to prepare the crowd to receive. He prepared them in faith. Are you waiting on God to do something before you take action? Are you ready to receive what you are asking for? Should God do it today?
3.Our Blessings don't just impact us.
Once Jesus said grace and the disciples distributed the food to the people, they later found that it was more than enough. Once the crowd left, the disciples picked up twelve baskets of broken pieces that were leftover. They went from not having enough to having more than enough. The crowd was fed and satisfied, and so were the disciples. The results of the miracle speaks to the character of God and how he can work in our life. He is gracious in that we ask for something, and he provides more than we ask for-overflow. We may not have enough at the moment, but when we thank God for what we have and give it to Him to use, He can multiple it. In some cases, we have leftovers. Again overflow! We can't hold on to our stuff too tightly. When we hold on too tightly, it can be difficult for God to multiple what we have. God blesses us so that we can be a blessing to others. If we hold on to things tightly or don't like to give, we can eliminate ourselves from blessings and overflow.
Not only do you benefit from God's blessings, but those around you also do.
Questions to consider:
This word has been jumping off of pages for me, the first half of 2021. I have learned over the years that when things keep showing up like that, I need to pay attention. Willing is my word for 2021. God first revealed the word to me at the end of 2020, but I missed it. In Luke 5, Jesus calls His first disciples. The word willing was not in the story, but it was the heart of Simon Peter. His actions demonstrated willingness. One of the definitions of willing in the dictionary is prompt to act or respond. In verse 11, it says, "So they pulled their boats up on the shore, left everything and followed him." Simon was WILLING to leave everything to follow Jesus. He left a job he had been during for years. He also left what appears to be one of the biggest fish he had ever caught. I honestly don't think Simon knew what following Jesus would entail, but he trusted Jesus enough and was WILLING to leave it all on the shore and follow him.
He had a willing heart.
There are other biblical examples where someone demonstrated a willing heart. They were given a command and, despite not having all the answers or doubting their ability to perform the task, or having uncertainty on how to accomplish the task, they did what was asked of them.
What is God asking you to do that you haven't done yet? I have found this question to be an excellent starting point for reflection. This question causes me to take a step back and do a self-assessment. It's a high likelihood that if you aren't doing what God has already commanded you to do, you won't be willing to do the things He will require of you to obtain what you are praying for or necessary to go to your next level.
Do you have a willing heart?
God may not ask you to leave a large catch of fish on the seashore; however, He will ask something of you.
Again I ask, are you willing? Do you have a willing heart?
In my journey, I have discovered that my desires don't always match my willingness. For example, I have desired to get in shape and tone up. Yet, my willingness to eat better and work out regularly is not there. This mismatch of desire and willingness consistently resulted in me not reaching my desired goal. On the other side, I have also given a proverbial yes to doing what's required to achieve something, but I wasn't willing when it was time to do what was required.
For example, I desired increased self-awareness and personal growth. I said I was ready to do the work on myself and dig deep. As I started on the journey and the time came to dig in, do the work, and go deeper, I wasn't willing. Eventually, when I was ready, I was able to begin to attain what I was desiring.
I grew up in Florida, so hurricane season was a part of life. We would prepare for it as much as possible and wait to see what the season would bring. Some seasons were more active than others. At times we were in the hurricane's direct path, and other times we would only experience the outer bands or the indirect effects of the hurricane.
If you have never been in a hurricane, it can be a scary situation. While meteorologists do their best to predict and help you prepare, it is unpredictable. Preparation helps; however, that doesn't mean you are 100% ready for what will come. You are, however, better off than had you chosen not to prepare at all.
Similar to how we experience physical storms in life, we also experience them spiritually. James 1:2 says Consider pure joy, my brothers and sisters whenever you face trials of many kinds. Trails will come in our life, especially as followers of Christ. John 16:33 (TPT) also reminds us of this. "And everything I've taught you is so that the peace which is in me will be in you and will give you great confidence as you rest in me. For in this unbelieving world you will experience trouble and sorrows, but you must be courageous, for I have conquered the world!" We will experience storms in life, it's just a matter of when.
As followers of Christ, there are spiritual disciplines and principles that we should incorporate into our life.
-Reading the word of God
-Seeking God for guidance in all decisions for every area of our life.
Doing these with consistency is preparation for what will come in life. It doesn't mean it makes the storms of life easier or that it won't impact you emotionally, but it does mean you are better equipped to handle what comes as opposed to if you had not prepared. When we don't prepare, it's easy to get consumed by the circumstances, what we see or what we don't see. We can begin to operate out of fear and become anxious because we are caught up in and focus on the storm elements.
When you are in a hurricane in real life, the wind and rain can be intimidating and overwhelming. However, during the storm, there is a moment when the eye passes over, and you are in the eye.
We are moving right along into the 2021 year; however, since we aren't too far into the year, 2020 isn't yet a faded memory. I honestly don't think 2020 will be forgotten, just like 9-11. Only being a few months into 2021, we can recall all if not most of 2020. As 2020 began to come to a close, I started to reflect on the year. I went into 2020, saying, "20/20 vision." It would be a year of clarity on somethings in my life. That indeed did happen. I thought it would be clarity on my organization Purposed for a Purpose. Nope, I was wrong! It was clarity on the relationships in my life. It was a challenging year in this area as God grew me, strengthen friendships, ended friendships, and repositioned other friendships. While it was a challenging year in that area, it was all with purpose. The relationships in our life significantly impact and influence how we move, the direction we move, and if we move towards our purpose.
2020 was also a year; I believe that God was calling his children out of the darkness and into the light. It was as if He was asking, "Will you truly follow me?" Amid racial and social injustice, will you follow me? In an election year, will you follow me? Even if "your person" doesn't win, will you follow me? In a pandemic, will you follow me? When there is uncertainty in jobs and the economy, will you still follow me?
2020 wasn't for God. He knows who is truly following Him. God has 20/20 vision. We don't always utilize our spiritual vision, causing us to become comfortable and rely heavily on our physical vision more than we should. 2020 felt like the threshing floor in Matthew 3:12. It was God taking His winnowing fork and clearing the floor. Those who were genuinely following Him in obedience and surrendering (not perfect, but genuinely trying) and not just going through the motions and offering lip service remained. Because when things get tough and the storms of life rage, how you respond is a reflection of your heart, loyalty, and foundation. Amid the things listed above and many other things that took place in 2020, how did you respond? Like a follower of Christ, or did you mix in with the world? In 2020 God was calling us out of the darkness and into the light. He was exposing areas of our life that needed attention in order to be better followers and ambassadors. Before I go any further, let me say this. God doesn't expose areas in our life that need attention, only to leave us to figure out how to fix it by ourselves. He exposes it, and then He graciously helps, if you ask.
If 2020 was about clarity, helping you obtain clarity or clarity of vision, what is 2021? I will be honest and tell you that I can not say what it will be for you, but I want to share what God has given me.
In 2019 I had the opportunity to teach a class called, Heal the Hurts at the Las Vegas Natural Hair and Wellness Expo. I was excited about this opportunity and talk. What I didn't know was the journey and work God would require me to deliver to the talk. I WAS NOT ready. It wasn't that I hadn't attempted to heal my past hurts; I just hadn't dug deep enough. The days leading up to the class were long and sometimes filled with tears, frustration, disbelief...silence. Yet they were wrapped in love, comfort, and promises from my heavenly father. I dug deep, but I stopped too soon. More work was required.
You see, healing the hurts in your life is vital because our hurts, if not addressed or correctly addressed, begin to shape our personalities. Soon we start acting a certain way and telling others and ourselves, that's just how I am. NO! That is how and who you have become as a result of unaddressed hurts. It is not who God created you to be! It's impacting your ability to fully live and embrace the life He desires for you to live.
While there was no pain from my past hurts, they very much had impacted my present.
Have you ever said you don't have time? I know I have! It's a commonly said thing. There are 24 hours in a day, 168 hours in a week. We may not use the entire 24 hours when we factor in our sleep. If you get 6 hours of sleep, then you have 126 hours in a week. Time is a resource, just like money, and we spend it daily. We may not be aware of how we spend it, but we spend it. When it comes to tangible resources like currency, it can be a little easier to see when spending. Our bank accounts let us know when we have spent too much. When my husband and I wanted to become better stewards of our money, we looked are how we were spending it. We found that it wasn't that we didn't have the money, but we were overspending or spending in the wrong places.
The same I found to be accurate with time. When I looked at it, and I mean really looked at how I spent my time...I had it, I have it...I just am not stewarding it the best way. When I really got intentional about my time management, my eyes were indeed opened! Where did the time come from, I thought? The truth was that it was always there. I just needed to look at my time bank account, and I had to be honest with myself. Did I have to watch 3 episodes? On some days, the answer is no. Other weeks it's yes because it was how I chose to unplug from a week of crazy. Did I stay on that call longer than I should have? Yes, because I didn't know how to tell them I needed to go or didn't want them to feel bad. Other times, it may be that I needed to stay on the call or keep texting because my friend needed me. When I spend in one area more than planned, I commit to cutting back in another place. I don't see it as a penalty, but a way to keep my time budget balanced. Should you feel like you don't have enough time, try taking some time to look at your time and obligations at the beginning of the week and determine how you will spend. Always remain flexible, but if you have not planned/budgeted, you increase your likelihood of blowing your budget.
As I sat and thought about the spending of time, it lead me to relationships.
I'm confident 2020 is a year we can all agree is one to be remembered! It will be a year that will go into the history books and be talked about among generations. No matter your thoughts on 2020, I think in some aspects, it forced us to slow down a bit, to spend time with our families in ways we may not typically have. We also had to become creative about connecting with friends and family for some self-love; you may call it self-care.
I am an advocate of self-care! I would love to say I consistently make time for it in my life, but I do not. I'm working on it. My struggles with self-care are planning it. I know how valuable self-care is, based on articles, blogs, my own life, and shared stories from others. I want to share what I have learned over the years and what I am implementing in my own life.
I want to encourage you and myself to be intentional about investing in yourself. Don't leave it to chance, don't wait at the perfect time; don't wait until you get the invite. You have to be proactive. Sometimes the challenge with implementing self-care is that we feel it has to be a certain length of time or present itself in a particular way. If we wait for these things to happen, it probably won't happen or happen as often as we need it to.
I love getting together with friends and family and taking a break from the everyday responsibilities that wait for me to wake up each morning as I roll out of bed. We need to make time to connect with others! You have heard it 1001 times, so let this be 1002; we are wired for connection. So go ahead and connect; it's good for the soul. What's also good for the soul is quality time alone. It still may be a challenge to find that solo time, especially with the current state of the pandemic, at the time of writing this. However, the need for self-care and solo time doesn't change. The holidays are approaching. Even if the holidays look a tad bit different this year, it is upon us. The holiday season can be chaotic, but that doesn't mean it has to be stressful. Nor does it mean you can't fit in some quality time alone.
Spending time alone may require a new perspective. It may require some thinking outside of the box, depending on your situation.
Spending time alone allows you to calm down, regulate emotions, better understand yourself and your priorities. Taking time to be by yourself benefits the relationships in your life. It's also a time that allows you to evaluate relationships in your life and determine any needed changes. To access what boundaries you may need in your life. that need to be made or boundaries put in place. It's a great time to reflect on your goals and priorities and access if you are in alignment. It's merely an excellent time to get to know yourself better. It's challenging to reflect when you are engaged in conversations or entertaining deeply. It's also challenging to do when you are distracted by TV, cell phone notifications, and email. It's simply good practice to have uninterrupted moments alone with the person you greatly value-yourself.
Whether you’re trying to save the world, lose 20 pounds, write a novel, start a business or get a promotion at work, there will be at least one person in your life trying to drag you across the coals for it.
At some point in your life you will be criticized, perhaps in a professional way. Sometimes it will be difficult to accept – but that all depends on your reaction.
There’s no way to live life without critics, naysayers, and haters. They’re part of the human experience. However, you do have a choice on if you allow them to stop you from living your life.
Follow these strategies to avoid allowing the critics in your life to influence you:
1) Find your passion and purpose. If you were doing something that was very important to you, you’d care far less about the criticisms of others. If they can easily throw you off your path, you might want to consider finding another path. Are you living your purpose? If not, determine what you want to do with your life.
2) Understand why people are not always supportive. Sometimes the people that criticize you do it from a place of just trying to be annoying. They enjoy getting under your skin and being noticed. Other times people are not supportive because seeing you do well or the idea of you reaching a goal evokes negative feeling about themselves. They may feel bad about their own life and situations when as they look at yours.
3) Focus on your mission. Train yourself to be more focused and determined when criticism comes your way. Use your critics as motivation. While some people are intimidated and deflated by the haters of the world, others are able to use the negative comments as a source of motivation. This way, the more the critics bark, the more you’ll accomplish. Most people are distracted by criticism. Don’t be like most people. Learn to use they negativity as a way to push you forward, not pull you back. Use your critics’ words as fuel for your success.
One of the significant obstacles to maximizing your success and happiness is a lack of self-awareness. You know your friends’ flaws better than they do. It’s human nature to not have an accurate view of yourself.
We’d rather stick our heads in the sand and remain oblivious to our shortcomings. We’d prefer to believe that we’re unlucky rather than taking the wrong approach.
Taking this approach presents a considerable challenge, because if you can’t see yourself and your behaviors accurately, how can you grow and evolve optimally?
If you’re brave enough to develop a keen sense of self-awareness, you’ll be more likely to have a successful and rewarding life.
Try these techniques to learn more about yourself:
How self-aware are you? Do you know how others view you? Do you understand your flaws? What are your greatest strengths? In what type of environment do you thrive? What are your values? What are your goals? How did you contribute to the failure of your past relationships?
If you can’t answer these questions quickly and easily, developing greater self-awareness will benefit you. Until you understand yourself well, your life will appear to be determined by forces beyond your control.
Become more self-aware and regain mastery over your life!
Until Next Time~
In the July podcast, “Say Good-bye to Imposter Syndrome” I talked briefly about the 5 types of Imposter Syndrome. As promised, here is a more in-depth description of each of the 5 types.
Below you will find a description of each as well as a few questions you can ask yourself to help determine if maybe it’s your type.
The Perfectionist: Perfectionists set excessively high goals for themselves, and when they fail to reach a goal, they experience major self-doubt and worry about measuring up. Any small mistake will make them question their own competence.
J.Branch is a wife, mother and child of God. She is passionate about helping others live the life they desire, have fruitful relationships and know who they were created to be and to live a life of purpose.
Interested in 1-on-1 or group coaching?