Faith

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!

Episode 118: How Do You Find God’s Favor in Life?

I’m sure you have heard the saying that when it rains it pours. There have been several times in my life where I literally felt like there were storm clouds following my every move. No matter what route I chose to take to escape the rain, it was inevitable that I was going to get wet. Life boxed me in a no-win situation without an umbrella in sight.

I was reviewing some of the stormy periods in my life, I noticed one recurring theme…there wasn’t a single sign insight that let me know that I was on the right path. During this stormy season in my life, I felt like I was in one of those “Choose Your Own Adventure books”, but I couldn’t cheat and look ahead to see which road would end in my victory.

In this case, my decision would have to be made without having all the pieces to the puzzle. Despite this fact, my life turned out great. The interesting thing is that the only way I ended up where I am now is through prayer, faith, and my mom yelling, did I say yelling,  I mean very forcefully persuading me in the right direction. Those of you who know my mom, you know how she is…😂

I literally shudder when I stop and think about how my life would be if I made a different decision. Honestly, in every instance, if I gave up or made a different choice because I didn’t have a physical sign telling me I was on the right path, my life would be lousy. I would NEVER have had the energy to push through the storms so that I could achieve the goals buried in my heart.

The reason why so many people live a complacent, settled for life is because we fall prey to Satan lies. Satan takes away or distorts our physical indicators that inform us that we’re on the right road. I’m pretty observant and I’m always on the lookout for situations or someone to give a sign or some sort of indication that I’m on the right path. Sadly, in life we do not always get these crystal clear signs telling us which path to take.

I do understand why many people give up looking for success because they can’t find the right street signs to lead them there. What we fail to realize is that Satan purposely takes away the street signs to make us feel like we lost God’s favor (aka blessings) in our life. Wherever we take ownership of Satan’s lies, we need to learn the concept of turning our focus to God. In doing so we will receive the guidance, strength, wisdom and whatever else we need to push us in the right direction.

Since our mind dictates our actions, everything Satan does to us physically is done so that we will internalize his negative acts. When we allow ourselves to give in to the barriers/obstacles that Satan places in our (soul) it destroys us from the inside out. Whenever Satan can get you to accept his negative thoughts, he then can control the physical aspect of your life.

This is why I’m really big on keeping a journal. It allows you the ability to see how far you’ve come and easily identify what mistakes not to repeat. This is why we are not to allow anyone or anything to derail our blessing, goals, or desires.

Satan cannot enter your mind (soul) and delete the blessing(s) God gave you, so he puts up physical barriers in your life hoping you will give up and quit. For example, I graduated college with good grades, but yet, I’m a horrible test taker. I don’t know what it is. It’s like my mind goes blank because I focus on the fact that I only have a short period of time to get the right answer. I’m always second guessing myself or worse I come down with a case of analysis paralysis. 

My professors knew I knew what I was doing because it showed on the homework. However, that knowledge was often not reflected when it came to the exam. When I took exams, I never scored nearly as high as I did on the homework or even worse…I failed.  Even though this ended up happening, I found the classes to be very beneficial because I understood the material. I just couldn’t regurgitate it back exactly the way they wanted me to do so within the specified time frame. Mainly due to the unnecessary pressure I was inadvertently putting on myself.

Guess what? Even though getting the perfect exam score eluded me, I’ve got the knowledge I need to do my job. Gaining this knowledge enables me to have confidence. I can use this knowledge not just on my current job, but anywhere I choose to work. 

This demonstrates that the class was beneficial even though Satan put physical barriers, like poorly performing on tests in my way. I didn’t allow this to stop me. Every job I ended up kept getting better and better. It’s really hard for me to take compliments, but I’m going to attempt to give myself one right now. I worked really hard to get to where I am right now  and I feel like I do a pretty darn good job in my role. 

Again, Satan CANNOT take away your God-given blessing. However, Satan can put physical barriers in your way to cause you to think that God is NOT with you; which causes you to give up and quit pursuing the blessing God gave you.

The bottom line is to always view the situations you encounter in life from a spiritual perspective. If all you see is what you see, then you’re not seeing all there is to be seen. Do NOT focus on the physical obstacles that Satan put in your way. Using physical obstacles and barriers is how Satan steals, kills, and destroys your blessings, goals, dreams, and joy. These physical barriers are given so that you can turn them into spiritual obstacles to cause you to fail. 

Allowing Satan to control your mind with his obstacles will make you feel like God is not with you. This defeated mindset will cause you to doubt the talents and gifts God’s given to you. That doubt will cause you to give up and quit your pursuit of the blessings God put in your path.

Worst of all, allowing Satan to control your mind with his barriers and obstacles destroys your faith. Your lack of faith then pushes God away from you. Separating you from Christ is the real reason why Satan puts physical obstacles or barriers in your way.

Satan’s goals for putting physical barriers (people, things or situations, etc.) in your life is to steal, kill, and destroy your blessings. He wants to deter you from finding and developing your God-given purpose. Satan wants you to buy into the lie that God abandoned you.

Never allow anything or anyone to derail your blessings, goals, and desires. I cannot stress despite all of the chaos currently happening in the world how happy I am. I wake up happy and ready to tackle the day. I learned a long time ago never to tie my happiness to my circumstances. Flipping through my journal made me realize that it is possible to make it through life’s storms without an umbrella or a map. 

It is possible to reduce the time it takes for you to finally arrive at success, you just have to be humble enough to admit that you’re lost so you can stop and ask God for directions.

Thanks so much for listening to today’s episode. Be sure to take the How Well Rounded  Are You in Life? quiz and don’t forget to 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 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 117: How will you profit from your circumstances?

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 117: How will you profit from your circumstances?

You don’t need me to tell you that the Coronavirus situation continues to wreak havoc on the world. This virus has brought death, destroyed economies, and dare I say, permanently changed how we live our daily lives. What we need to realize is that the Coronavirus is not going anywhere anytime soon.

Despite the chaos this virus is causing in our lives, we can still live the extraordinary life Christ came to give us (John 10:10). The one “bright spot” that I have been noticing lately is that this virus has forced people to tap into their hidden talents. These are God-given talents that many of us did not know that we possessed. Dare I say this, due to the Coronavirus situation, many of us are not only able to pursue our God-given passion but turn them into lucrative businesses.

Although the Coronavirus is affecting everyone, I can truly say, thanks to Christ, this year has been one of my most profitable year; both mentally and financially. The purpose of this episode is to encourage everyone that you can still live the extraordinary life Christ came to give us. 

Again, despite the Coronavirus creating trouble in the world, if you put Christ first, you can be profitable in the midst of this pandemic. In case you want to learn more about what I consider to be an extraordinary life, check out my podcasts. What is an Extraordinary life?  And What will your dash look like? 

My point is, although the Coronavirus is affecting everyone, it does not have to be in a negative way. For some of us, this virus has created opportunities for many of us to pursue and showcase our talents.  Again, the Coronavirus is affecting everyone in different ways. Once again, these different ways are NOT necessarily bad for everyone.

For example, I’m a part-time group fitness instructor. I teach dance and boxing/kickboxing. Up until this point, many of my fellow instructors who teach fitness full time, were running themselves crazy working at multiple gyms to make ends meet. 

What’s interesting is when the virus hit all over the world, this virus forced many of these talented instructors to be creative with their talent.  Some way, somehow, many of these savvy instructors were able to get in touch with their students and started hosting virtual classes.  As you can imagine, these instructors are living their best life.

They do not have to run themselves crazy from gym to gym; they can teach in the comfort of their own homes. Even better, these gyms that callously mistreated their fitness instructors and took their talents for granted are basically begging these instructors to allow the gym to promote their classes for them. Again, the Coronavirus is affecting everyone in different ways and these ways are not necessarily bad for everyone.

The dilemma of these instructors reminds me of a Bible principle. The Bible teaches us that we will reap a harvest if we do not give up (Galatians 6:9). I know this way of life takes more effort, but the benefit is well worth the outcome. Much of my success is due to me learning this principle of not becoming weary in well doing.

My hope from this episode is that you do some soul searching and find out who you really are and what God-given talents you have in your possession. In order to accomplish this endeavor, you must put Christ first in your life.  You do this by daily reading, meditating, and properly applying the word of God to your life.  In doing so, you will find out who God made you to be and what talents He put in your possession. The story of Gideon is a good example of what I am talking about (Judges 6 Chapter).

To make a long story short, Gideon was hiding from his enemy when the angel of God approached him. The Angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon, and said to him, “The Lord is with you, you mighty man of valor!”  I can only imagine Gideon’s expression when the angle of God said this to him.  Nothing about Gideon’s personality screamed valiant warrior. In fact, it was the complete opposite. 

Gideon was fearful and hiding from his enemy. I can only imagine him saying “What you are talking about . . . mighty man of valor!” I can see Gideon looking around to see who the Angel was really talking to. It’s easy to understand where Gideon is coming from because he like many of us don’t see ourselves the way that God sees us.

If you read the story, you will see that Gideon had gifts and talents that he did not know that he possessed. Like many of us, Gideon had settled for living a settled for life.  He saw himself as the world saw him, powerless and without recourse. In other words, Gideon did not know that God created him to be a victorious leader, not a victim.

Again, like many of us, Gideon did not know who he was from God’s perspective.  Due to his lack of knowledge, Gideon did not know what talents and gifts God had already given him. This is why I encourage people to study the Bible. By studying God’s Word, the Holy Spirit will show you your God-given talents as well as how to pursue them. All of which will help you to live the  extraordinary life Christ came to give us (John 10:10).  

Once again, the Coronavirus situation has not been bad for everyone. I know firsthand that many of the fitness instructors are out there living their best life. They are literally making more money now than they did before the Coronavirus. They have been able to teach students not just from their local gyms, but ALL over the world virtually by live streaming via Zoom or other online platforms.  I for one have been attending many of these classes.

In fact, I had the wonderful opportunity of connecting with one of my favorite dance fitness instructors who teaches overseas. When I don’t create my own choreography, I can rest assured that they have choreo I can use. Needless to say, this virus situation has taught people that they do have other resources.

I know many people are faced with the dilemma in how to stay safe as well as pay their bills. Teachers on a larger scale are facing a similar situation as the fitness instructors. The business side of me sees all sorts of opportunities these teachers can leverage. I hope these teachers do as my fitness instructors did and harness their power by tapping into the gifts that they possess. Many of these amazing instructors realized that teaching virtual classes allowed them the opportunity to not only save money, but still have the ability to do what they love.

Sadly, corporations and institutions have proven time and time again, that they believe their employees are disposable.  Although we may not be able to control our circumstances, we can control our reactions to them. Instead of wallowing in self-pity and believing the lie that you are doomed without that dead-end job, you need to seize this opportunity to channel your time and energy into seeing your life from God’s perspective. All of which will help you to carve out other career paths to help pay the bills.

This is what I did. Seeing how corporate America mistreats people, I channel my time in energy into developing my God-given talent. I am happy to say, many of my passions (side hustles) have been very, very lucrative. In fact, this year financially has been fantastic! The bottom line is, I learned to see myself how God sees me. Only in this perspective can you truly see what talents and gifts you have at your disposal.

By Gideon embracing who God made him to be, a valiant warrior, Gideon was able to defeat the Midianites and protect his people. The reason Gideon was defeated all those other times, is because he saw himself as a coward even though God made him to be a valiant warrior.

With this being said, so many of us walk around with defeated mindsets because we buy into society’s narrative of who we are. Some of us have even bought into the lie that where we are born and/or the families we were born into determine our success in life. Now, don’t get me wrong. I know that some of us were born into this life with more hurdles to overcome than others.

Nonetheless, this does not determine your level of success.  If you recall, even Christ, our Lord and Master were not born in the best of areas. Neither was He born to rich and famous parents. In other words, Jesus did not have the best of circumstances. Evidence of this fact is why Nathanael said to Philip, “. . . Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth. . .” (John 1:45-46).

My point is that you can be profitable despite your circumstances. My hope is that you learn from Gideon as I did. Roman 15:4 teaches, “. . . For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope . . .”.  Gideon’s tribulation is one of these things.

His story was written so  you and I can learn to accept ourselves as God made us  to  be. In this world, in order to be successful in life, you have to master the art of embracing who God says you are, not how the society sees you. Seeing myself from God’s perspective is how I became successful. 

Here are some thought provoking podcasts to help you along the way to your journey are my interview with the Hustle in Heels podcast and What has the Coronavirus taught you about your brand?

Regardless of how many hurdles that you have to overcome,  run with all of your might so you can gain enough speed to clear over every last hurdle in your path. You may get tired along the way, but if you focus on God, He will give you the strength that you need, until you cross the finish line. 

Thanks so much for listening to today’s episode. Don’t forget to check out Hustle in Faith’s Prayer and Gratitude Journal for Men and Women of Faith  and StarenguCrew, our new fitness apparel shop.

If you enjoy Hustle in Faith’s content, please consider becoming a supporter by donating, purchasing a journal  or 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 116: It’s My Birthday!

I’m 38. Let’s Celebrate!

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 116: I’m 38. Let’s Celebrate!

Well if you couldn’t tell from the title of this episode I’m celebrating my birthday! I’m now 38 years old. It feels so weird so saying that number. I remember when I was a kid how I used to think 40 was ancient. Now that I’m approaching 40 at what appears to be lighting speed, I can’t help but laugh; forty is not as ancient as I thought it was.

Needless to say, this will definitely be a year I know many of us will never forget. Not only was this the start of a New Year, but a shiny brand-new decade.  When this year first started, I had all these plans. I had already written out my short term and long term goals and was all set to work through my bucket list. 

Then the Coronavirus or as Black Twitter calls it, Rona came around and pretty much said, “Slow your roll, you’re not going anywhere.”  I was supposed to be celebrating my birthday this week in Toronto  And later this year. In December, I was going to celebrate my mom turning 60 by taking her to Costa Rica. Although I was really looking forward to taking those trips, I made my peace with having to cancel them; due to the Coronavirus. Sitting on a plane with a mask on is definitely not my jam.

The Coronavirus and Black people having to take to the street in protest is not what I had envisioned for 2020. I’m not going to get into these topics, but If you want to learn more about my thoughts regarding the politicizing of the Coronavirus and Black community check out episode 108 and if you’re interested in learning more about why protests are taking place and how to fight back against racism check out episodes 109, 110, 111, 114 and another episode called Random Thoughts Thursday: Homelessness & Gentrification

What part of Revelation are we doing today? 😂 😂 😂

It’s amazing to sit back and think that we are literally living through a chapter that will without a doubt be discussed and debated about for years to come. If you’re Black listening to this episode, I don’t need to tell you how exhausting it is to be trapped simultaneously within two pandemics…the Coronavirus and suffering through the not so subtle effects of systemic racism. 

What I want to remind everyone listening to this episode is that our lives are like a vapor (James 4:14). Our life is a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Life is short. If I had to choose a theme song that represented my life up until now, it would be hands down U2’s “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For.”

I absolutely love that song and that group. I’ve actually seen them in concert twice. One time I was in the front row and Bono looked directly at me and smiled. I think he was just as surprised and pleased to see me there as I was to be there. Again, check out the lyrics to this song and you’ll see why I spent so much of my life unnecessarily searching for my place and purpose in this world.

U2 360 Tour

Despite all the chaos that is currently happening in this world, I almost feel guilty saying this, but this has been one of the best years of my life; apart from not traveling to Canada and Costa Rica. I can finally say, I found what I’m looking for. Peace and contentment. Now, there were moments in my past where I thought I found this dynamic duo, but I realize now that those events were meant to motivate me to get to the spot where I am now. 


2015| Me and my mom riding ATVs in La Fortuna, Arenal Volcano area in Costa Rica

I can TRULY 100% say that I have a peace that surpasses all understanding (Philippians 4:7). I have never been happier than I am in my current life right now. I am satisfied with my life. Not many people can say this.  You know what? I can say this because I did not allow the hardships I have experienced go to waste. I know what it’s like to be broke; I know what it’s like to lose a loved one; I know what it’s like to feel like the world is against you and you’re left to muster what little strength and energy you have to fight back against what oftentimes feels like the wind. 

Now, I’m well aware that the majority of the people listening to this episode may not want to hear about my happiness, but just hear me out anyway.  I have been through a lot of ups and downs in my life. Emphasis on a lot. This is why I’ve learned not to allow my peace to be dictated by my circumstances. In other words, I do not let anyone or anything steal my joy. Don’t get me wrong this is much easier said than done. I am here to tell you that peace that surpasses all understanding is possible if you put Christ first and work toward that outcome.

My parents never sugar coated anything. I do not come from a rich family. Fighting for peace and success is something that I’m so blessed my parents instilled in me when I was a child. I knew early on in life that in order for me to experience success that I would have to work twice as hard and be creative in how I achieved success. People are quick to envy your success, but I guarantee they will think twice about taking the journey you took to get there.

I always wanted to mirror my mom’s life. My parents got married when they were 19 and shortly after had me and my sister. I envisioned myself getting married young and doing the same thing. I remember being so mad when I was in my early 20’s about not being married or having kids. What was wrong with me? Why couldn’t I find Mr. Right? The funny thing is I was the one putting all this pressure on myself, not my mom. My mom literally said, “Tosha, I love you but if I could do it all over again, we would not be having this conversation.”

My shero aka my mom 😂

She went on to share all the reasons why I should enjoy being single and childfree. I love the analogy she came up with to describe marriage. You’re wearing a beautiful dress. Marriage is like a necklace. That dress is going to be beautiful regardless of whether you decide to wear that necklace. She was brutally honest in sharing with me, how much she sacrificed for us and how she didn’t want me nor my sister to go through all the pain and heartaches she went through in trying to provide for us.

My parents were happily married, but it was a lot of work. Emphasis on a lot. It was even harder because neither of my parents came from good families. My mom literally had the worst parents in the world. Prayer and constantly seeking God’s guidance is the only way she knew how to raise us. She clearly listened to God. We had a wonderful childhood. We had the childhood my dreamt about but never got a chance to experience herself. My mom is proof that where you start in life does NOT determine the level of success you can and will achieve if you put God first. I am not just saying this because she is my mom, but her life story is absolutely fascinating. I’ll convince her one of these days to let me interview her. 😉

As I get older, I noticed from my own experiences and those around me that my mom was right about everything; not having kids and not rushing into marriage. Both duties are a lot of work. After watching my friends and others struggle with raising their kids or listening to them complain about their marriages confirm that my life is perfect “as is”.  Now do not get me wrong, I would still be open to the idea of marriage if I found the right guy. I’m so glad that I didn’t get married when I was younger. I was not complete; nor was I ready for that responsibility.

Looking at the divorce rate and others who remain in unhappy marriages demonstrates that they were not ready for the responsibility of marriage either. In order to have a successful marriage both people have to know who they are in Christ’s eyes. Honestly, I had got married earlier, I would have been bringing a lot of unnecessary baggage to the table. I was too insecure.  I was looking for a spouse to make me happy and give me fulfillment. With this weak mindset, my marriage would have been doomed from the start.

As I stated before, marriage and raising kids is a lot of work. I know how hard I had to fight to finally find peace in my life. This is one of the main reasons I know for a fact I would lose my peace and joy if I had kids.  Marriage and children would have derailed my life, not enhanced it. Thanks to me often seeking and appreciating my mom’s godly advice, God has blessed me with not only being able to find contentment in my personal life, but my professional life as well.

Speaking of my professional life, when I graduated from college and started my career, I had all these crazy ideas that working hard would move me up the corporate ladder. Good grief, I was so naive!  I seriously thought I was going to conquer the world. I legitimately thought I was going to make it to the top of the corporate ladder.

Due to my own stupidity, I ignored society subtle reminders about where my place was supposed to be on the corporate ladder…the bottom.  Although society kept sending me notices to stay in my place, if you know me, their notices were never going to be an option for me. I kept working my butt off for a dream that I soon realized would never materialize. There were so many times in my career I knew I was doing Director level work but never received the title nor the pay. Obviously, this isn’t fair, but it is what it is.  Again, super naive on my part.

I will be the first one to admit that I had bought into society’s definition of success. Again, I was super naïve.

My ethnic sounding name, my unwillingness to play mind games nor lose my dignity to get ahead, endure endless microaggressions and working with just flat out racist people had me questioning if this was the type of  “success” I really wanted for my life. Being unfulfilled with the corporate BS led me to question what success is, how to achieve it and why I even desired it. While I was searching, I discovered that what society deems as success was not real and it did not align with what God had in store for my life.

God knew deep down that I’m not the type to lie, cheat and steal my way to the top. He knows my motto is, “Work to live, not live to work,”.  This motto is something I deeply desire and live by.  This is true success for me.  In case you want to learn more about the steps I took to create my ideal life, check out the episode called What will your dash look like? The dash I am talking about is the one seen in an obituary or a headstone.  There are two dates. Your birthdate and the day you leave this world. In between those two dates, is a dash. That dash represents the life you led while you were alive.

My point is, I want my dash to matter. One of my biggest fears in life is to wake up one day and realize that I had my ladder leaning against the wrong wall (in this case that wall was the corporate world).  Challenging my fears led me to take a long hard look at my desires and aspirations.  All of which leads me to take a different approach with life. I now view life from God’s perspective.  After aligning my life with God, I can see that God gave me a 9 to 5 so I could use that money to fund my life, not be my life.

The money I make from my 9 to 5 enables me to fund projects and endeavors that bring me joy, promotes my creativity as well as allows me to be a blessing to others. As I stated before, despite all the chaos that is currently going on, this year has been one of the best years of my life. Here is how all this came about…

Back in the day, I spent many sleepless nights teaching myself how to create websites, use Photoshop, create voice overs, edit audio and create videos. Although these things were my passions in life, I often wondered if it was a waste of time and money. I remember I would tell my mom how much I really wanted to learn these things even though I knew I would never get to use them on my real (9 to 5) job. The thought of not utilizing my knowledge made me want to give up and quit learning.

Due to my mom being my biggest cheerleader, I kept going. She convinced me to stop focusing on the money aspect and just enjoy the journey. She continues to explain that the money will come later, and that money should never come before my passion. She was right again. It was not until I started truly taking her advice to heart that I started getting hired for the creative jobs I truly desired to do.

People have been hiring me as a business consultant; I am doing voice over work for anything ranging from company voicemails, small movies roles, video games, company tutorials and one of my projects that I’m most proud of is that my voice is being used for Virginia’s Department of Education online learning curriculum. Even right now, I’m literally working on yet another amazing project creating a suite of product tutorial videos for a company that found me on YouTube. They found me on YouTube guys. They literally said, “Hey, we like your teaching style. Can you do this for us?” I can’t make this up! My websites have opened so many opportunities for me that I never in a million years would have thought were possible.

I know there are times that you may feel like giving up but I’m here to tell you to keep going.  Because I took my own advice, I created this podcast during the second worst period of my life.  When it rains it pours.  I was unemployed for a year, so you can imagine what my bank account looked like. I went on a ton of soul crushing interviews. During this time in my life, I just felt so defeated.  After I was done throwing myself a pity party, I figured I would share my journey in how I wanted to create my ideal life by putting God first.

I wanted to share my experiences with others so that my knowledge  isn’t wasted.  Regardless of how hard a time I’m going through, I want to motivate others to keep going so they can define what success looks like for them. So in the event that you are having a hard time, one of the ways I shifted my perspective to focus on God was to express more gratitude. Learn to be grateful for what you have and not focus on what you lack. After all, why should God give you the desires of your heart if you’re not content with the blessings He’s already given you?

So several years ago I started this exercise, which I still do to this day. Every day, regardless of how bad a day I have had, I write down 3 good things that happened to me and then place that sheet of paper in a shoebox that my mom was so kind to decorate for me.  Now I’m not going to lie to you, some days are much harder than others to find something to be thankful for was hard work. There were days where I literally wrote, I have food, clothes, and shelter and that’s ok because you know what, I know that God appreciates our efforts.

Then at the last week of the year, I go through and read them all. I make a list of all the major events that I want to remember and write them in my journal. Obviously, you don’t have to do the last part, but it’s kind of nice having a Top 10 list to reflect on when you’re going through tough times in life. It serves as a reminder that you made it through then and you can make it through now. It’s just a matter of time before you will be back to living the high life again

If the exercise I just described sounds appealing to you, please be sure to download the grateful notes I created. They are a lot prettier than the post-it notes or a sheet of paper. This is an exercise that I’ve been doing for almost over 7 years. In the event that you are having a hard time, I want you to please download my free planner and grateful notes from my website. I can truly say that my desire is to have a well balanced meaningful life. I want to help others to do the same. With that being said, I want to share with you a couple of goals I have in store for the future.

So this year, I’m super excited to share with you one of my major accomplishments. I’m proud to announce my fitness t-shirt apparel shop called StarenguCrew

StarenguCrew is geared towards women who don’t doubt the power of a workout. Working out is a lifestyle. It is my honor to create designs that will celebrate your shine!

I’m super excited about finally being able to launch this project, so I hope you decide to support my shop.

I love teaching dance fitness and boxing. You don’t want to catch these hands! 😉

I’ m all about keeping it moving, so I want to share 3  more goals I have in store for the future:

1.) I’m in the process of studying for my certification in nutrition. My goal is to create a health and fitness show with my friend. You can learn more about this in Episode 115: How do all the pieces fit together?

2.) My goal is to create an afterschool program for high schoolers so I can teach them everything that I know about business. Oftentimes, students of color (primarily Blacks and Latinos) are not in a position to gain the skills they need to be successful in business. 

It’s amazing to me how many people express confusion in how to end systemic racism when an idea as simple as mine which seems to be glaringly obvious is overlooked or ignored. It frustrates me how school conditions you to only think about working for someone else. While there is nothing wrong with this, you should give kids choices.

3.) I’m going to teach myself how to build apps because I have so many ideas. The best way to make your dream come true is to build it yourself, so that’s exactly what I plan to do.

One of the greatest compliments I ever received was from my Spanish teacher. She said, “Tosha, when you say you’re going to do something, you do it. Like there’s no doubt in my mind that it’s going to happen.” Hearing that made me feel good because she’s right. Nothing irritates me more than empty promises. Actions speak louder than words. I know some of my goals will take a while to materialize, but just knowing that they will bring me great joy.

Again, my journey to peace and contentment is a daily constant battle that I must be willing to fight. If you’re wrestling with the same issue, please know that you are not alone. Let God take the wheel so He can reduce the time it takes for you to slay every obstacle that comes your way. I finally found what I’m looking for, so now the whole world can see that this girl is on fire!

Thanks so much for listening to today’s episode. Don’t forget to check out the Prayer and Gratitude Journal for Men and Women of Faith that is available for sale on Amazon and StarenguCrew, our new fitness T-shirt shop.

If you enjoy Hustle in Faith’s content, please consider becoming a supporter by donating or purchasing a Prayer and Gratitude Journal for Men and Women of Faith or Tshirt 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.