Faith

Episode 131: How to Create a Life Worth Imitating

Welcome to Hustle in Faith. This podcast is dedicated to helping you find your trail to a happier healthier you by discussing topics regarding Christianity, health & wellness, beauty & so much more! I’m your host Tosha Johnson. 

This is Episode 131: How to create a life worth imitating 

Happy New Year!

 I can’t believe we are starting Season 4 of this podcast! I want to wish everyone a very happy, blessed, and prosperous New Year! I’m not big on resolutions. Many times New Year’s resolutions are broken. This shouldn’t come as a surprise but a goal without a plan is just a wish. 

In the past four years, I can honestly say that I’ve been truly crushing my goals. Because I created SMART goals, I have been accomplishing many of the goals I set for myself. SMART is an acronym that stands for Smart Measurable Achievable Realistic and Time-bound. I create my goals, I look for correlations within those goals, and then choose one word that I can easily remember that will serve as my theme for the year. 

For example, when I was creating my goals for this year, I decided that my theme for 2021 will be the word ELEVATE. I’m not going to go into my method in how I do this in this episode so be sure to check out the Hustle in Faith website for further information on SMART goals and to download the free grateful notes and goal setting planner.

Now, the reason why I picked ‘elevate’ to be my theme for this year is because of so many situations that happened to me last year. Despite the chaos that occurred throughout last year, I have never been more at peace with my life. When I say the year 2020 gave me the most peace I have ever had, I am not saying I did not have any problems with people or difficult situations.

What I am saying is that none of these things defeated me and/or brought me down. The reason being, I kept reminding myself of something that my mom always says, “Put God first and the rest will fall into place.” What her statement means is that we are to always pray and request God’s help before making decisions. In doing so, God will give us whatever we need, whether it be strength, courage, or wisdom to get through the tough times.

Applying my mom’s wisdom along with my determination and consistency, the year 2020 turned out to be a very successful year for me. Despite all the chaos in the world, I was able to accomplish my goals. Mainly because I was and still am fiercely protective of my time. Negativity is a thief that not only steals your time but it also destroys your goals.

I protect myself from this thief by protecting my time. I don’t allow anyone or anything to occupy my time unless they add value to my life. This is one of the main reasons why I don’t watch mindless TV or hang out with a lot of people.

My main goal in life is to be more consistent with cultivating the talents God gave me.  Focusing on this endeavor has really placed me in a position to create opportunities not just for myself, but for others as well. I truly enjoy helping people gain the skills they need to achieve their goals. A comment that I have grown accustomed to hearing is, “Tosha, you’re so lucky.” I just smile and laugh because I know what they mean.

However, the success I’m currently experiencing isn’t luck. I didn’t just all of a sudden arrive with the attributes of Christ (ie joy, peace and happiness). Whenever I respond, I make sure to tell them this. I want them to know that in life we have to intentionally work towards our goals and we start first by allowing Christ to lead.

My success and happiness are products of many years of determination, blood, sweat and tears. Wait, let’s not leave out trial and error, and a whole lotta praying!  Throughout this process, I developed two mottos in life: 

  1. I work to live, not live to work. This means to have a balance in life.
  2. I work down here but live upstairs. This means I live life based on God’s perspective, all of which helps me to rise above the obstacles and petty people that Satan sends to defeat me.

I must admit, it took me a while to really understand the last point. My focus was distorted. I was trying so hard to please people that I lost sight of God and eventually I became lost. With that said, this is why I don’t base my time and energy on pleasing people is another way Satan robs us of our time. I just put Christ first and proceed in living my life.

My way of life, “Put Christ first and everything else falls into place,” has gotten me recognition at work and in my personal life. I was just thinking back to all the compliments I received from those at work. I never thought in a million years that anyone would be watching me, let alone thinking that I’m worth imitating. 

One co-worker in particular stood out in my mind. She explained that she loved my presentation style. She then took notes on how I presented. This person’s comment reminded me that we never know who may be watching us. Now don’t get my comment twisted.  

 We should not care about what other people think about us. What I am saying is that we should do our best to live our lives in such a way that it can serve as a role model for those without someone in their corner. 

As we start this brand spanking New Year, I want you to ask yourself, “Are you creating a life worth imitating?”  Your honest response to the next 5 questions will help you to see what type of life you are truly producing through your actions.

Where is my focus?

This question sounds easy enough to answer, but living it out can be an entirely different matter; especially, if you say that you believe in putting Christ first. If you are constantly comparing yourself to other people as well as trying to please people, your focus is not on Christ.

Whenever I am feeling defeated and unsure about things and people, my mom would always ask me, “Tosha, where is your focus?”  Although I would readily say with Christ, through my self-examination I could see where I veered off course. I had replaced Christ with people and things around me. Hence, why I was feeling defeated and unsure.

As I have gotten older, my mom’s advice was right, “The only way you can win in this world is by focusing on Christ.” It took years of wavering back and forth and then essentially having my life fall apart before I really, really took her advice seriously.  At that point, I had nothing to lose, so I decided to listen to my mom and put Christ first.

 My mom’s comment and many more Bible studies, which we still have to this day, is why I’m on fire with crushing my goals. It’s all because I shifted my focus to the Source (Christ) and stopped looking at my resources.

Am I looking for a blessing or am I being a blessing?

I know this may seem like a trick question, which is why you may immediately say, “I’m doing both.” Through an honest self-examination, can you really say you are doing both?

What many of us fail to realize is that when God gives you a blessing, He expects us to share it with others. I’m confident that one of the reasons that I have been so successful is because I have no problem sharing the wealth (blessings).  I look back at all the dark, poor times in my life which taught me how to share with others.  I can understand people better because I have been there and done that.

I’m slowly but surely turning into my mom. She has truly been a blessing to me and now I am paying it forward by helping others that I come in contact with. Regardless of how hard things got, I have and always will take time to help other people. Seeing others achieve their goals genuinely makes me happy. If I can play a small role in providing the assistance needed to make that happen that’s just like icing on a cake for me. 

Following God’s rule of sharing wealth is why I’m not only successful, but I am also able to enjoy my wealth. As you know many people have wealth, but they are miserable. Mainly because they did not get their riches and/or possessions the correct way and/or they are selfish like the rich man who only cared about himself (Luke 16:19-31).

 In such a case you can possess wealth, but you won’t enjoy it. A curse comes with such wealth whereby the owner is miserable.  Sadly, poor people that are happier than those with wealth. We’re to be a conduit. God gave us gifts and talents so they can overflow into someone else’s life. This is why I am always looking for opportunities to help people. Success does not have a quota. I’m a firm believer that if you put God first, we can ALL win.

Are you consistent? 

1 Thes. 5:19

Success doesn’t come overnight. It comes from building habits and routines that will position you mentally as well as physically with whatever tools your need to soar over any obstacles that come your way.  This is what happened to Joshua.  No one was able to stand up against him (Joshua 1:5-9). By always putting God first, Joshua became strong and courageous. Joshua’s blessings helped him to lead his people to their inheritance.

Joshua stayed consistent in life because he kept his focus on God and not people. As a result, he was a blessing for many. In order to be consistent we need to decide what type of life we want to live and work toward that outcome.  This is why I  literally end each episode of this podcast by saying, “ Remember, if you’re everything to everyone, then you risk being no one, you never know who you will inspire.”

I created this phrase many years ago as a reminder to myself that my opinions and decisions may cause me to make enemies. However, if I know I’m trying to please God and I feel like I’m doing the right thing, I could honestly care less about what others may think. If your words and actions are constantly being tossed around like waves in the sea, you’ll never make it to shore.

We must have a benchmark in life. You will never be able to see how much you have grown if you don’t have a benchmark. I’m very big on keeping journals and checklists in order to help me keep track of my progress. It’s little habits like this that keep us consist and stay the course  we have carved out for ourselves (1 Thes 5:19).

 Do you have peace?

In a world filled with chaos, peace is a precious gem that you must fight to obtain. Without the attributes of Christ, life is not worth living. This is why I make sure I start my day by reading God’s Word, prayer, and exercise. This routine is how I stay sane and prepare myself to face the challenges that lie before me.

As someone who spent a great deal of their life worrying, I have learned the hard way that worrying destroys our peace and other attributes of Christ. (Matt 6:27). Worrying about a situation doesn’t change anything. Worrying is a futile action that doesn’t produce any fruit. This is why the word of God constantly warns us against worrying.  As a result, I have learned this technique.

I literally make a list of pros and cons, I make my decision, pray about the matter and then I throw that list away. The list literally landing in the trash can represents me literally turning the situation over to God. I then do my best to not worry about it anymore because it’s in God’s hands.

Are you humble?

I am grateful when I receive compliments but I’m the absolute worst at taking them. I genuinely feel uncomfortable accepting compliments. Mainly because I know it’s all God, not me. If you knew the hoops I had to go through in order to get to where I am today, you would definitely know and agree that my success is due to me putting Christ first in my life.  

 Once I made the decision to let Christ use me to further His will, my life really did a complete 360. Now I’m not one of those crazy people yelling, “Praise Jesus,” every 5 minutes so that I can make a spectacle of myself (Luke 20:46). I believe in keeping my thoughts in their proper place; meaning, it’s all Christ. With this in mind, I’m a quiet, yet confident person.

 I’ve been told that my demeanor is a mystery. Being quiet people think they can take advantage of me.  When someone attempts to come at me crazy, they quickly realize that being humble doesn’t mean you are a coward.

Now keep in mind that you won’t always receive accolades in life; however, when I do, I always silently say, “ Thank you God,” knowing that my blessings come from Him and not the person who handed them to me.

If you keep all of the aforementioned in mind, your life will serve as a testimony to others. Your life is an advertisement so you need to ensure that you’re doing everything in your power to represent God’s brand in a light that would compel others to wear Him as well.

Thanks so much for listening to today’s episode. If you enjoy listening to Hustle in Faith and would like to support the show, please consider sharing it with your friends, leaving a review, donating, or making a purchase at  StarenguCrew, our new fitness apparel shop.

Be sure to connect with us on Facebook and Pinterest. Remember, if you’re everything to everyone then you risk being no one. You never know who will inspire you in the next episode!

Episode 130: How to be a butterfly

Wow! This is the last episode of the year. Thanks again for taking time out of your schedule to listen to the Hustle and Faith podcast. If you haven’t done so already, please be sure to rate and leave a review about this podcast in order to help others to discover it as well. Your support is very much appreciated! 

I just want to take a moment and reflect on 2020.  I know this year was a curveball for all of us.  No one expected life to change to this degree. I know for so many of us, 2020 has been a difficult year.   

My hope is that the Hustle in Faith podcast was in some way shape or form of help and encouragement to those who needed someone in their corner. I created this podcast because I know how helpful and encouraging it is to have a cheerleader in your corner.  Having someone to speak words of life and wisdom can make a huge difference during those dark, lonely periods in our life.  

With this in mind,  I created this podcast in order to share my life experiences as well as my victories for those who need to see that there is light at the end of the tunnel. I am fully aware that not everyone has a built-in cheerleader like I do.  When my life was dark and cloudy, my cheerleader is my mom. She has always been there to strengthen and guide me to the light (Christ).  Christ has all the answers and solutions to our problems.

As we come to the close of 2020, a year that no one will ever forget, my hope is that you properly use this pandemic for self-care as well as self-improvement. I encourage you NOT to focus on the negativity but use this time to shape and redefine your heart, soul, and mind. In other words,  use this time to align your character to the image of Christ. This pandemic can be a point and time whereby you can build up your relationship with Christ.  

Our time spent in seclusion can be a transformation that is as radical as a caterpillar. Consider how a caterpillar starts out in life. It is a pitiful, slimy, little bug that crawls on the ground. With God’s help, it morphs into a beautiful graceful butterfly. This same radical transformation can apply to us if we properly use our time in seclusion. In other words, we too can emerge from our cocoon (aka this pandemic) with the ability to fly above all the obstacles that once psychologically and emotionally trapped us. 

If we focus on improving our relationship with Christ, we would be just like the butterfly that no longer allows life’s obstacles to keep them down. Just like the butterfly is free to fly high above all the obstacles that once distracted and hindered them as a bug, aligning our life to Christ can produce a similar metamorphosis in us. In fact, this radical and miraculous transformation was God’s original purpose for allowing the Israelites to spend time in seclusion (in their case it was the wilderness). 

God’s goal was for the Israelites to morph into holy beings so they could live above Satan’s psychological and emotional bondage (Ex 19:5-6; Lev 11:44; 20:24; 1Pet 1:15-16; 1Thes 4:7). If the Israelites viewed and accepted isolation the way God intended, their stay in the desert (away from heathen nations and worldly distractions) could have been the perfect place for them to spiritually grow and emerge as holy beings with a close relationship with God.

My hope is that you properly use your time in seclusion by building up your relationship with Christ.  This way you can emerge from this pandemic a stronger and wiser person ready to achieve every goal you have in your heart so you’re in a position to be a blessing to others.

Thanks so much for listening to today’s episode. If you enjoy listening to Hustle in Faith and would like to support the show, please consider sharing it with your friends, leaving a review, donating, or making a purchase at  StarenguCrew, our new fitness apparel shop.


Be sure to connect with us on Facebook and Pinterest. Remember, if you’re everything to everyone then you risk being no one. You never know who will inspire you in the next episode!

Ep. 128: How to be thankful during a pandemic

Now I know, some people may think I’m nuts for saying that statement “How to be thankful during a pandemic.”  The reason why I can say that we can be thankful during a pandemic is because I learned that although we cannot control our circumstances, we can control our reactions to them.

As someone who has definitely had her fair share of ups and downs in life, I know for a fact that my focus on God and His blessings/promises were the only way I made it through life’s storms. Since this state of mind helps me, I encourage you to do the same. Keep your focus on Christ’s promises.

Now, let’s be clear, I’m not one of those so-called “life coaches” that just says stuff that sounds good because they heard someone else say it. I’m literally giving you advice based on my own experiences.

Despite all of the chaos that is currently happening in the world, racism, the Coronavirus, the economy, I want you to choose to focus on Christ and His promises. This is how I make it through this crazy thing called life.  I can honestly say, I have a very happy and successful life. MY LIFE IS GOOD!

One of my absolute favorite songs is Here Today by Aloe Blacc. I kid you not, it’s like he wrote that song based on my life! I know what it is to lose a loved one, job, savings, the list goes on…  

Yet, I am also fortunate to experience what it is like to be Back In The High Life Again which is another favorite song of mine by Steve Winwood (check out the songs/lyrics on my site). 

Anyway, those tough times put me in a position whereby I’m able to truly enjoy my life. Like Aloe Blacc’s song says, “ We ain’t promised tomorrow, so I’m gon live for today.” Realizing that life isn’t promised to you enables you to truly place emphasis on the people and things that do matter. 

Trying to enjoy Thanksgiving during a pandemic is not easy. Nonetheless, I want to challenge you to think of at least three things that you have to be grateful for in your life. With me, I am thankful for developing my confidence, God giving me a life whereby I have plenty of free time for hobbies, and last but not least, technology.

Confidence

The reason I am so happy with me developing my confidence is because when I was growing up, I was afraid to speak up for myself.  I was fearful. I wanted everyone to like me, so I would go out of my way to avoid confrontation. I tried to keep the peace at all cost; even at the point of allowing my reluctance to defend myself to eat away at my self-esteem. 

As I got older and entered the corporate world, I realized real quick that not everyone who smiled in my face had my best interest in mind. I’m a very creative person, so I’m always coming up with ideas. Out of jealousy, there have been instances throughout my career where I’ve actually had managers ask me to dumb down my ideas or not share so many of them.

After constantly being confronted with these types of people, I turned my reluctance to defend myself into pure anger and courage.  My mom helped me to see that nothing is worth losing your self-respect and pride. She taught me that I must be happy living with myself; not the people who want to destroy my confidence and possibly me myself. I am sorry to say that I was sort of slow in applying her knowledge and wisdom.  Anyway, I learned the hard way that she was right. These people are literally in your life for a short period of time, so why allow them to ruin your life?

I now can truly say that I have learned how to maintain my confidence by saying, “No.”  The word ‘no’ has increasingly become my favorite word.  There used to be a time I was afraid to say the word, “No.” Now, I’ll say no to anyone–LOL  i=If I don’t want to do something, or if I don’t feel comfortable doing something, I will say no without any hesitation. Titles mean absolutely nothing to me. You can be my boss or the President of the United States and I can confidently say the word NO to you.

Now do not get me worry, I believe in helping people by going that extra mile. My pet peeve is that most people want to treat nice people, like me, as a doormat. They want to take and use up all your resources and then toss you aside like a dirty rag. I have even had people who would not even say thank you after I helped them. I do not let this bother me because there were many people that Christ helped and only one or two were grateful enough and said thank you.

I am thankful that I finally learned that not everyone is like me. I am always grateful for whatever help I receive and express this fact.  My point is, I am so happy that I finally developed my confidence. I do not spend my time with people or doing activities that will waste my time. 

Time is the only resource on earth that you can’t get back. Therefore, I’m fiercely protective of my time. If you’re asking me to do things that don’t align with my goals or hang out with people that do not add value to my life, expect me to say, “No.” Which brings me to my next topic that I am thankful for “free time for hobbies”.

 Free time for hobbies 

I’ve got a lot of energy. So Netflix and chill is not how I have been spending the majority of this pandemic. I think I may be the last person in America that still hasn’t finished the Last Dance documentary and I’m from Chicago!

I’ve never been someone who watches a lot of TV.  I truly enjoy learning and doing different activities. I recently took an Adobe Illustrator bootcamp class because I have a desire to further develop my design skills. This is something that is not only going to help me with creating even more innovative presentations/ infographics at work but also create more detailed t-shirt designs for StarenguCrew.

I am thankful because I work from home and so I don’t have to worry about commuting. This has given me even more time to explore other interests and develop other skills. I don’t have to wait until the weekend to do these things. Here are some of the hobbies I plan on looking into even more are:

  • Further developing my photography/videography skills 
  • Learning more about nutrition and natural medicine
  • Perfect my ability to create earrings
  • Create my own soap 

This is just a tiny fraction of the activities that I would like to accomplish while we’re going through this pandemic. Again, you have two choices: You can either complain about being bored or you can channel that time and energy into an adventure of a lifetime.

I know the pandemic can be a difficult time for everyone. Unfortunately, it can be more difficult for some than others. Nonetheless, if you start focusing on what you have instead of what you lack, you’ll quickly realize that you are much more resilient and resourceful than you thought. I encourage you to utilize this pandemic time to learn and/or build up your God given skills. This brings me to my last but not least thing that I am grateful for and it is living during this era of technology.

 Technology

I am so happy that the pandemic hit when we are experiencing a boom in technology. Many of my activities that I enjoy would not be possible without technology. Since I properly channel my time and energy, I do not feel any of  the loneliness that I hear and/or have read that most people are experiencing.

Thanks to technology there is so much to do and explore. I encourage you, instead of sitting back feeling sorry for yourself, get busy enjoying all the possibilities technology has to offer. That’s exactly what I did and why I’m so incredibly grateful and fortunate that I am able to work from home.  Working at home gives me even more time to explore my adventures. It is absolutely astonishing when I read about people complaining about working from home. This will never make sense to me and I go into all the reasons why in Episode 119.

Again, I feel so fortunate and blessed to be in a position to work from home and it’s all thanks to technology.  Technology has allowed me the opportunity to connect with people in ways that I never I never in a million years would have imagined. One of my students, who by the way is now one of my friends, was looking for an English tutor for her son. One of my audience members who listens to this podcast and also happens to be a fellow podcaster one time shared with me that he has experience in teaching kids English.

One day my student explained how she desperately wanted a English teacher for her son. Since I have always been taught to not just look for blessings, but to actively look for opportunities to be a blessing to someone else, I was able to connect my fellow podcaster and my English student together and everything worked out perfectly for them.  It is situations like these why I am so thankful for technology.

I’ll never forget my student was taking a class with me while my fellow podcaster was teaching my friend’s son.  It was so funny, during a teaching session, my friend shared her laptop so me and her son’s new tutor (the fellow podcaster I referred her to) could all say hi. It still blows my mind that all four of us were literally in 3 different locations; yet, able to communicate as if we were in the same room.  That moment could not have been accomplished without technology. 

I’m big on education, so when I’m not working or teaching English, I thoroughly enjoy taking classes that will expand my mind. I’ve been teaching English online since 2013 and taking Spanish classes online for almost 2 or 3 years. Next year, my goal is to take courses in product management and UX design. I foresee the concepts in both of those fields playing a major role in my career in the future. 

I know there are pros and cons to remote learning, but as an adult, I LOVE it! I love being able to take part in a live session and then have the ability to review the class in case there are parts that weren’t as clear to me. In my opinion, the success of remote learning is contingent on how engaging the instructor makes the material. Speaking from firsthand experience, I go out of my way to make sure that I’m using materials that convey the concepts I want to share  without boring you to death.

When you’re able to take classes that expand your mind, it only makes sense to align your mind with your body. Taking virtual exercise classes has been a tremendous mood booster for me. I make sure that I’m able to support my favorite dance/boxing instructors by attending as many live classes as possible. I normally teach dance classes and was in the process of pursuing my AFAA certification so I could *officially* teach kickboxing/boxing  (my AFAA certification is on pause thanks to the Coronavirus).

During the first couple weeks of this pandemic, I was super concerned with how I was going to be able to function without a gym. However, I slowly but surely managed to turn my living room into a functioning home gym. My goal is to look as fit as possible once we’re past this pandemic. The virtual classes I have been fortunate to take are all on YouTube and/or accessible via Amazon Prime or Netflix. Virtual exercise classes are not only helping me to achieve that goal but also puts me in a position to have enough energy to work on my hobbies.

When you change your perspective, you’ll be amazed how fast time goes by and how much you have to be thankful for even during a pandemic.

Thanks so much for listening to today’s episode. If you enjoy listening to Hustle in Faith and would like to support the show, please consider sharing it with your friends, leaving a review, donating, or making a purchase at  StarenguCrew, our new fitness apparel shop.

Be sure to connect with us on Facebook and Pinterest. Remember, if you’re everything to everyone then you risk being no one. You never know who will inspire you in the next episode!

Here Today by Aloe Blacc

[Verse 1]

I’m a long lost wandering soul tryna find where I belong

And I’m lookin’ for a place where it feels alright to be wrong

Just a loud-mouth, hard-headed, fool-hearted stubborn old son of a gun

Chip off the old block with a chip on my shoulder that weighs a ton

All I know for sure is that nothin’ is forever

And all that matters is how we get along together

Life gets harder every day that I get older

Hope I figure out why I’m here before it’s over

[Chorus 1]

‘Cause we’re here today and gone tomorrow

We’re here today and gone tomorrow

Lead the way, never follow

Here today, gone tomorrow

[Verse 2]

I been stuck at home alone on nights when no one calls

And I’ve had nights where I can take my pick or have them all

And I had those days where I search my pockets for a nickel and a dime

And I’ve had those days where tryna make money was a waste of my time

I’ve had shiny brand new leather patent loafers

And I’ve had torn up bruised old teddies handed over

All I know for sure is that nothin’ is forever

And all that matters is how we get along together

[Chorus 2]

‘Cause we’re here today and gone tomorrow

We’re here today and gone tomorrow

Through the joy and the sorrow

We’re here today and gone tomorrow

[Verse 3]

We ain’t promised tomorrow

So I’m gon’ live for today

Been from 5 star hotels to cockroach motels

And rode day-whole drive retails to thrift store re-sales

I’ve had chauffeured town cars to an old broken down car

It ain’t what happens to you it’s what you do about it

[Chorus 1]

‘Cause we’re here today and gone tomorrow

We’re here today and gone tomorrow

Lead the way, never follow

Here today, gone tomorrow

Here today (hey)

Here today (hey)

Here today (hey)

Here today (hey)

Back in the High Life Again by Steve Winwood 

It used to seem to me

That my life ran on too fast

And I had to take it slowly

Just to make the good parts lastBut when you’re born to run

It’s so hard to just slow down

So don’t be surprised to see me

Back in the bright part of townI’ll be back in the high life again

All the doors I closed one time

Will open up againI’ll be back in the high life again

All the eyes that watched me once

Will smile and take me in

And I’ll drink and dance

With one hand free

Let the world back into me

And, oh, I’ll be a sight to see

Back in the high life againYou used to be the best

To make life be life to me

And I hope that you’re still out there

And you’re like you used to beWe’ll have ourselves a time

And we’ll dance ’till the morning sun

And we’ll let the good times come in

And we won’t stop ’till we’re doneWe’ll be back in the high life again

All the doors I closed one time

Will open up again

We’ll be back in the high life again

All the eyes that watched us once

Will smile and take us inAnd we’ll drink and dance

With one hand free

And have the world so easily

And, oh, we’ll be a sight to see

Back in the high life againHigh life

High life

In the high life againWe’ll be back in the high life again

All the doors I closed one time

Will open up again

We’ll be back in the high life again

All the eyes that watched us once

Will smile and take us in

And we’ll drink and dance

With one hand free

And have the world so easily

And, oh, we’ll be a sight to see

Back in the high life again

High life

(Back in the high life)

Oh, we’ll be back

Episode 126: What happens when you ignore the warning signs?

Welcome to Hustle in Faith. This podcast is dedicated to helping you find your trail to a happier healthier you by discussing topics regarding Christianity, health & wellness, beauty & so much more! I’m your host Tosha Johnson.

Episode 126: What happens when you ignore the signs?

Before we jump into today’s topic, I wanted to share with you that I’m back to hosting my other podcast called Starengu on a more consistent basis. For those of you unfamiliar with the Starengu podcast, that podcast is dedicated to providing advice about business and where I interview amazing entrepreneurs in my attempt to motivate others to start their own business. 

Everything pretty much came to a screeching halt with the Coronavirus. Since I am not one of those people who likes to hear themselves talk for the sake of hearing themselves talk, I just wasn’t in the mood to discuss business. I thought my thoughts were better suited for this podcast.

Anyway, be sure to check out the Starengu podcast. I had the wonderful pleasure of interviewing Niani B, who is the owner of A Safe Space for Black Girls that Never Learned How to Braid. This was a super interesting interview. Mainly because she was able to literally create a business during the pandemic. If that’s not inspirational I don’t know what is, so check it out. 

Be sure to check out StarenguCrew which is my shop filled with fitness apparel shop filled with clothes and other items to help motivate you to achieve your fitness goals.

All right! Now, let’s jump into today’s topic; What happens when you ignore the signs? It never ceases to amaze me how many drivers ignore warning signs to yield and/or stop. Being very familiar with my area, when I’m walking, I know the spots where many people ignore the stop signs. At these spots, I am a defensive walker and take extra precautions or I may end up getting hit by a car. 

Don’t get me wrong, the area where I live is the perfect place for me. It is not congested, I am close to the beach, and all the major stores I need are within walking distance. This is why I typically walk everywhere. Although I have a car, I am into fitness, so I only use my car for grocery shopping or for traveling someplace outside my town.  

While walking one day, I noticed many drivers fail to heed the warnings, the yield and stop signs. This got me thinking about life’s warning signs. Many of us live our lives the exact same way. We fail to yield and/or stop when God is warning us that we are headed for danger. Throughout the Bible, and especially the book of Deuteronomy, God posted several warning signs for us. 

In fact,  Deut 11:26-28 confirms that God daily sets before us a blessing and/or a curse. A blessing, if you obey the commandments of the Lord our God (Josh 1:8) and a curse, if you do not obey. 

This curse can be in a form of punishment and/or death.  Death can and does come in many forms.  You can have death to your finances, death to your health, death to your relationships, etc.; In this context, death references things being taken away from you.  Sometimes the death of separation (something or some person being taken from us) can be worse than physical death.

This was the case with King Saul (1 Sam 15).  Saul’s kingship was taken away from him due to sin.  Samuel, the Lord prophet warned King Saul many times regarding his disobedient (1Sam 11-15 Chapter). Saul’s disobedience not only resulted in his kingship being taken away from him, but it also resulted in him going crazy, and eventually, he committed suicide. As I stated before, sometimes something being taken from us can be worse than physical death.

The life of King Nebuchadnezzar can also attest to this fact (Daniel 4-5).  Nebuchadnezzar’s stubbornness and unwillingness to heed God’s warnings led him to go crazy. Needless to say, God does have an interesting way of getting our attention. God will even use dreams in an attempt to help us heed His warning signs. This is exactly what He did to Nebuchadnezzar. Twice through dreams, God warned King Nebuchadnezzar that his reign was coming to an end (Dan 4-5). 

Being prideful and filled with vanity, King Nebuchadnezzar did not listen. However, his evil deeds finally caught up to him.  Nebuchadnezzar went crazy and endured 7 miserable years of suffering. God shared stories like King Saul and King Nebuchadnezzar in the Bible in order to demonstrate the disaster that awaits us for not heeding His word. The Bible was written for us to learn from so we can experience patience and peace when we encounter various circumstances in life (Rom 15:4).  

The Bible shares several examples of people whose lives were destroyed because they failed to heed God’s warning. The story that always bothered me the most was Samson and Delilah (1Sam 9th. Chapter). Samson came from a good home with godly parents. The downfall of Samson came when he stopped listening to his parent’s advice and married the wrong woman. The downfall of Samson could have been avoided had Samson stopped and heeded the warning signs. 

You can’t keep playing with fire and not get burned. Yet, so many of us live this same daredevil lifestyle. When I was young and full of myself, I tried living this daredevil way of life. I learned real quick that we cannot live outside the will of God and expect to have a happy and prosperous life. 

In retrospect, I can only imagine all the deaths (“separation”) I would have endured if I had continued ignoring God’s warning signs. There would have been permanent death to my finances, my health, and even my relationship with my mom. I realized the error of my ways and got everything back on track. Feel free to listen to Episode 116: It’s My Birthday! Let’s Celebrate! where I share more about my experiences.

Just like the driver’s lack of attention or willingness to heed to street signs can result in them hurting themselves as well as those around them, the same applies to the warning signs of life. Throughout the Bible, God posted warning signs that sin leads to death (Ez 18:4-9; Rom 6:23; Jas 1:15). What many of us fail to realize is that death is not necessarily when we physically die. It can result in us being separated from something or someone we truly love. This is what happened to Adam and Eve (Gen 3).  

To avoid unnecessary grief, we just need to obey God’s warning signs. This is what Hezekiah did (Is 38 ). There came a time when Hezekiah was sick and near death.  God warned him to set his house in order because he was going to die.  The reason Hezekiah did not die is because he took God’s warning seriously. Hezekiah turned away from his sinful behavior and sought God’s forgiveness. God not only forgave Hezekiah, but He also protected Hezekiah from his enemies and allowed him to live an additional fifteen years.

God makes every attempt to  grab our attention because He wants us to live the extraordinary life He has planned for us. We can either heed His warning signs and slow down or keep going and leave a path of destruction that will without a doubt cause us and those around us harm. I chose to slow down because my desire is for everyone to make it safely to their destination.

Thanks so much for listening to today’s episode. Don’t forget to take the How Well Rounded Are  You in Life quiz and check out  StarenguCrew, our new fitness apparel shop.

If you enjoy Hustle in Faith’s content, please consider becoming a supporter by donating, purchasing a  Hustle in Faith journal  or an  item from StarenguCrew in order to help offset the cost of producing this show.

Be sure to connect with us on Facebook and Pinterest. Remember, if you’re everything to everyone then you risk being no one. You never know who will inspire you in the next episode!

Episode 123: Have you misplaced your faith?

I’m writing this episode after finishing a nice 4-mile run. Running is the perfect way for me to start the day. Running allows me the ability to escape whatever is bothering me.  Although I have already limited the time I spend reading and/or watching the news,I still think about all the sadness, anger, and frustration taking place in this world. 

I’m a very positive person, but lately, after listening and seeing the mess this world is in, I notice that I have to fight harder to remain happy. Although, some days are harder than others, I’m doing my best to hold on to my sanity even if I feel like I’m just going through the motions. All of which has led me to question my faith.

Since I refuse to give up on happiness, I know I need to readjust my faith. Seeing all the chaos taking place in this world has left me feeling helpless. This led me to wonder, “Where is my faith? What or whom do I have faith in? With my conflicting emotions, I did some soul searching and readjusted my focus so I can maintain my attributes of Christ (joy, peace, and happiness).

Although the cure to fear, confusion and other negative traits of Satan is faith, oftentimes, our faith is misplaced. This is why our faith does not provide the comfort, protection, and assurance that we need. This world is in chaos because we place our faith in the wrong things and/or people such as our government, jobs, and even in ourselves; even though we do not have a clue as to how to fix our own mess.

I started reflecting on the chaos in the world, the news and the Bible and thought about Rom 1:17 says “. . . The just shall live by faith. .  .” and 2Cor 5:7 teaches us to walk by faith, not by sight.  Considering the chaos in this world, many of us are walking in the wrong direction. In other words, our faith is misplaced.

While I was on my run, I thought about how much of life’s issues stem from fear and confusion. I remembered how irritated, fearful, and confused I felt when I placed too much faith in the wrong things such as people, job, government, money, prestige, etc. In other words, I misplaced my faith and turned the aforementioned things/people into idols; meaning, I allowed them to take the place of God.

To rid myself of these crutches, I have even further reduced the time I spend reading and/or watching the news and utilize this time listening/reading and meditating on the word of God. I have also started to reduce my engagement in conversation about current events.  I’ve pretty much said all that I can say. Feel free to check out the website and listen to the episodes classified under the categories called Random Thoughts. 

Again, the reason why so many of us are anxious during chaotic times is that we misplaced our faith. If we put too much faith in people, this can decrease our attributes like joy, peace, happiness, etc. and send our thought life on a negative journey. This episode is geared towards helping you gain or regain your attributes in Christ by answering the above questions for yourself – Where is my faith? What or whom I have faith in makes a difference. For example, having too much confidence in people.

People 

Having too much confidence in family members, friends, government officials, so called church leaders, etc. is misplacing our faith. Many times, these people are weaker than we are and nor do they have the answers to life’s problems.  Listening to the news and relying on government officials to guide us to safety is misplacing our faith. This mess that we are in is spiritual in nature. Only by following the word of God can we fix this mess.

If the body of Christ (the church Christ left on earth to represent Him) does not have the answers, surely, our corrupt government does not have a clue as to what we need to do about the issues facing this world. I cannot echo these words enough — The answer to our problem is in Christ. Only Christ can give us the safety, security, and protection we need. If we learn to walk by faith and not by sight, as God commands us, our faith in Christ will dramatically reduce our anxiety as well as give us the joy, peace and happiness that we desperately need.

As I stated before, a good run helps to clear my head. It helps me to calm down and readjust my faith to where it should be, in Christ. Focusing on Christ’s guidance and protection readjusts my thinking so my joy, happiness and peace can return to me. We misplace our faith when we take our eyes off of our Source, Christ, and put  our faith in people, the government, and other things that cannot help us. 

When we calm down and readjust our faith to focus on Christ will position us to receive the attributes of Christ-like joy, peace, and happiness. No matter what problems we face, God will cause all things to work together for our good (Rom 8:28). This includes our need for employment.

Job 

Although everyone needs employment in order to meet our financial obligations, we still need to view our job from the proper perspective. It’s just one of many resources that God can use to provide for our needs and desires. With this being said, we need to be careful and not allow our job to compete and/or take the place of Christ.

Our real problem stems from us having too much confidence in the physical world. Most of us are relying on the government to guide us in this dying economy. Once again, when we place too much faith in a person or things; we have misplaced our faith and turned that (“whatever” it may be) into an idol. 

An idol is anything or anyone that we rely on and place before God. What many of us fail to realize is that this world’s system is set up to draw us into idolatry. It is set up so we can have faith in only what we see; our job, people, and relying on the government for safety and guidance.

Misplacing our faith by attaching it to the government or this economy is what brings about the fear and anxiety most people are facing.  Sadly, many of us fail to realize that if all you see is what you see then you are not seeing all there is to be seen. In other words, if we are one of his faithful disciples we are not seeing the helping hand of Christ.

I know it takes much more effort to see past the physical aspects of life.  Nonetheless, we must learn to see things spiritually; which is why God commands us to walk by faith, not by sight  (2Cor 5:7). Throughout the Bible God tells us to live by faith (Rom 1:17). In doing so we will see Christ’s helping hand, which is exactly what God wants to see; which is why He tells us to live by faith  (Act 4:12;  Phil 4:13; Joh 15:1-7).  Sadly, many of us have more faith in money than we do Christ.

Money 

Money is yet another thing that we misplace our faith in. If all your hopes and dreams are tied to your bank account, that’s the first thing Satan’s going to come after when he comes to steal, kill, and destroy you (Joh 10:10). 

Listen, learn from this pandemic. Money cannot solve the problems we are having.  The rich and famous are good examples of this fact. They are in the same mess we all are in. Their economic status cannot buy them good health, happiness, or a longer life. Money is not a catch all for life, liberty and happiness. Many of the rich and famous are just as scared, confused and bad off as some of us. 

Oftentimes, we elevate money above God. However, this pandemic is setting the record straight. Money cannot buy everything or solve everything in life. The rich and famous are in the same “boat” as us common people. Their money and status cannot buy their release from this mess. 

Considering how this pandemic is putting everyone on the same field, we can understand why God tells us not to place confidence or faith in money (1Tim 6:10 / Act 8:20). I am happy to say, God taught me this lesson a long time ago. I guess I have always been one of those people before my time.

There was a period of time  in my life that I barely had a dime to my name and yet, God showed me that He could bless me with what I needed and desired without giving me money. I’m going to try and list many of the things that I was able to get when I was poor. Scratch that I wasn’t poor I was po. 

During this time in my life, God taught me many invaluable lessons that I’m now able to share with others. One of those times was when I was barely making enough money to pay rent. God blessed me with everything I desired as well as needed without giving me actual money. 

Although my mom has alway taught me that God can bless us in a variety of ways, it took me a while to learn this concept. Seeing that I was slow in learning this concept, God helped my mom out by allowing me to experience these blessings. Before I get into my testimonial, I want you to keep in mind — everything that I’m about to name — the trips, the cars, the events, and many more that I haven’t mentioned, were all gained while I was extremely poor or should I say po.  

Again, I barely had enough money to pay rent. So all the extras such as entertainment, gas for my car, etc. meant that I had to do without. Trust me y’all, I did NOT spend one dime on discretionary items during this year I’m about to tell you about and yet blessing after blessing came my way.  I didn’t have money for anything, but food and shelter and I barely had money for that. I had to use every coin I had to pay rent. During my poor year, God showed me the best time of my life. During the summer/ fall of 2011 without me spending one red cent of my own money God blessed me with the following:

  1. Here is the CliffsNotes version-LOL I desperately needed a laptop so I could apply for jobs. Drowning in despair, I entered an essay contest about how technology helped improve my life. I won!  I not only won a laptop that I desperately needed, I also won a Sony Google TV which also doubles as a computer monitor that I still use today. Not only did God give me the laptop and the Sony Google TV which was the icing on the cake. God added even more to my dessert. The contest I won paid for Best Buy’s Geek Squad to install everything so that I did not have to lift a finger. This win was worth a lot of money that I did not have.
My Sony Google TV/ computer monitor (the laptop no longer works, but I kept it as a memento 😊 )
  1. Another blessing that came a month or so later. I used to blog a ton back in the day. I was considered a brand ambassador which today would be considered a social media influencer. This is when social media was just taking off, so I used to partner with a lot of different brands. I used to go to a ton of fancy restaurants for free, I went on boat cruises, or had products sent to me in exchange for a review. Just so you know I never did product reviews if the product was lousy; and, I always let people know how I was being compensated for the review.
  1. I wanted so badly to go to Oprah’s Show Farewell Spectacular show at the United Center. I wrote an essay stating why I wanted the tickets and won them for me and my mom to attend the show. I will NEVER EVER forget this day in my life. Due to the nature of how I wrote in for tickets to the show, we were able to sit wherever we wanted upfront. I was feeling particularly bold that day and sat in the front row where they said that the seats were reserved. I made friends with one of the ushers and she gave me the BEST seat in the house. 

Oprah literally sat one seat away from me. The seat right next to me was the seat where all the celebrity guests sat while they were watching the show with Oprah. I was literally watching Beyonce perform Girls Run the World and dancing with Tom Cruise and Oprah. By the way, Beyonce did that entire performance twice. I guess Beyonce wasn’t happy with the first take. I did not care because I LOVE Beyonce so seeing her doing that song twice was amazing! That choreography was insane and I felt exhausted for Beyonce.

As someone who has taken dance classes and now teaches dance fitness,  you had to be in crazy amazing shape to pull that off twice (back to back like that). 

My point is, iGod blessed me with everything I need as well as entertainment without money. My point is, do not focus on resources, keep your faith in the Source; meaning, God. You may not know how and when God is going to bless you, with or without money, but if you stay in faith, you can be assured that your blessing will come.

That entire day was crazy fun. I was able to give Oprah a hug, met Tom Cruise, joked around with Jaime Foxx, Jerry Seinfeld, Tom Hanks, and so many other celebrities that I’m literally drawing a blank on. If you don’t believe me, check out the website and fast forward to the time marker 2:45 and 4:27 I’m literally on the left side of Tom Cruise and my mom is waving right behind Oprah.

Fast forward to 2:45 and 4:27 for my cameo-LOL

In between the taping, everyone  kept asking me, “How did you get that seat?” I just kept shaking my head because it was just too surreal. Again, when God blesses, He blesses big. So, do not misplace your faith. Put your faith where it should be in Christ.

4.     Moving on from those blessings, here is another win that God blessed me with. My blogging and networking enabled me to connect with someone who worked at GM. I ended up becoming a brand ambassador for General Motors. I was invited to join their blogger network. Meaning, they literally would allow me to test drive different cars and in exchange for my reviews about them. I test drove quite a few cars and went to their events.

5. However, the ultimate “sign” that let me know that God was still with me during my difficult time was when General Motors invited me to participate in their marketing campaign called Road to NABJ (National Association of Black Journalists): Powered by Chevrolet. It was an all-expenses paid media trip which consisted of four Chicago journalists/bloggers (none of us knew each other before this trip) from Chicago performing community service work as we drove to the NABJ Convention in Philadelphia in a Chevrolet Suburban.

We were doing good in the Black/Latino communities while advertising the Chevy Suburban; which by the way was crazy comfortable and amazing. We created community gardens in food desert areas, we helped paint murals at schools, we got to read and help do writing exercises with the children at different schools, we drove through the mountains and had some interesting adventures in towns that I NEVER, you hear me, never would have driven through if we weren’t together. We shared so many laughs on that trip.

The NABJ convention was amazing! I was able to meet so many high profile journalists and attend so many inspiring events like the Black Girls Rock party (Solange Knowles was even the DJ at one of them) and other sessions to help hone our media skills. Guys, they even flew me back home and gave us gift cards with money on it. Which really came in handy because I didn’t have enough money to pay for my luggage for the trip back home. I’m not joking when I say this.  I literally did not have enough money due to the weight of my luggage. 

Not one dime of anything that I named did I pay for that year. Not even the gas for the cars I drove that year was paid for by me. General Motors gave me the car with a full tank of gas. All for my enjoyment. There are so many instances in my life where God gave me things, introduced me to people, or allowed me to attend events without a dime to my name.

This is just one way God taught me that He is my Source in life. Through this period in my life I learned not to put Him in a box. I stopped thinking that the only way God can bless us is with money. I am living proof that all we need to do is keep our focus on our Source (Christ) and the resources will follow. This is a concept my mom has always taught me, but since I was a little stubborn it took me longer to learn.

I now understand that “faith” is the currency we need to use in order to purchase the things we desire, need, and want in our physical life. Once we learn the concept of placing our faith where it should be, in Christ, these troublesome times will not lead our thought life on a journey of fear, frustration, and anxiety. Finally, prestige is another idol we misplace our faith in.

Prestige

I cringe when I see people placing their faith in something as fragile as prestige. Now, I am not against titles, when one has fairly worked themselves up the ladder of their choice. However, I put titles in their proper perspective. They do not mean much to me. I am not one of those people who is into titles. 

Now don’t get me wrong.  I know I was just talking about how in awe I was over the celebrities I got a chance to meet. Although I am an admirer of these folks’ works, nonetheless, I keep things in their proper perspective. People are people. They put their pants on one leg at a time just like we do. 

Don’t place your confidence in titles, promotions, awards, etc. Have a balance.  I’ve seen co-workers lie, cheat and steal because they thought this would help them get praise from their bosses. When this happens, you have just misplaced your faith and no good will come of it. Why? You left God, your Source, out of your life (Heb 11:6).  Placing too much faith in people, your job, money and prestige will lead to nothing but disappointment and heartaches.

My hope is that this episode reminds you that your faith should be in Christ (Act 4:12;  Phil 4:13; Joh 15:1-7) and not fall into the trap in storing up treasures on Earth instead of heaven (Matt 6:19-24).

Thanks so much for listening to today’s episode. Don’t forget to take the How Well Rounded Are  You in Life quiz and check out  StarenguCrew, our new fitness apparel shop.

If you enjoy Hustle in Faith’s content, please consider becoming a supporter by donating, purchasing a  Hustle in Faith journal  or an  item from StarenguCrew in order to help offset the cost of producing this show.

Be sure to connect with us on Facebook and Pinterest. Remember, if you’re everything to everyone then you risk being no one. You never know who will inspire you in the next episode!