Fast Wednesdays, January 15, 2014 – Count it All Joy aka Faith Under Pressure!

Greetings Beloved!

Faith Under Pressure

SCRIPTURE:
James 1:2-4 (MSG) 
2-4 Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.
 
Today, we celebrate the first, full year without my sister, Sharon. God has put me in a good place and its only because of crazy faith and amazing grace. I pray for my mom and dad and Sharon’s sons, Sam, and Zane, and her grandson, Sam, Jr. as they continue to heal from losing her as we all grieve in various ways. Just like I learned from most folks who have lost loved ones before me, the more I remember her and the longer she is gone, the better the memories and the more I miss her. She was an amazing piece of the puzzle called “my family” and I will continue to do all I can to honor her memory. Again, thanks to all of you for the out pouring of love, the prayers, the songs, the laughter, and the memories you have of her and chose to share with us.
On the other hand, I celebrate the birthdays of some remarkable people God has put in my life such as my sistah cousin Paula Dickerson, “old friends:” Mary Ellen McGee and Jacqui McGugins and “new friend:” Gigi Raker! (Note to Gigi: we’re praying for you, your family and your stepdad Billas you transition him to the hospice, be of good courage)!

And, of course, its the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King. One of my favorite quotes of his: “Faith is taking the first step even when you can’t see the whole staircase.”

How many of you will join me in that first step of faith into all the blessings God plans to shower on you this year?

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“Making Resolutions Count”
Here’s more food for thought on the subject we discussed over the last two weeks, thanks to a Woman Owned Business Entrepreneur colleague:

Did you make a New Year’s resolution? According to a recent University of Scranton study, approximately 45 percent of Americans made resolutions concerning self-help matters such as diet, exercise, finance and relationships. Unfortunately the same study finds that by February, only 64 percent of those people who made a resolution will be maintaining it. And, even more startling, is the finding that only 8 percent of resolution-makers will actually achieve their goal. So, why bother making a resolution in the first place? Ingrained in our culture, this age-old tradition gives us a way to jump start our goals. After all, a new year equals a clean slate!

Making resolutions can reinvigorate professional goals too. For business leaders, key areas to focus on in 2014 include:
Engagement. As the U.S. economy recovers and unemployment rates drop, resolving to keep employees involved will help retain your employees and positively impact your bottom line.
Mentoring. Investing in the future of less-experienced employees not only increases their visibility and motivates them to reach their potential, it can advance your own career by helping you build a reputation and realize your vision.
Giving back. Corporate citizenship programs give you and your employees the opportunity to advance your organization’s philanthropic mission while creating a feeling of goodwill towards your company.

To make your professional resolutions count for you and your employees, devise short-term goals. Identifying simple and achievable actions will help you attain your vision and be part of the 8 percent who succeed at keeping their New Year’s resolutions.

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FINANCE:
1) Maria Shriver has a report just out “11 Surprising Facts About Women and Poverty From the Shriver Report; “Plus a closer look at why some fathers are leaving mothers in the lurch; Read more: http://nation.time.com/2014/01/13/11-surprising-facts-about-women-and-poverty-from-the-shriver-report/

2) TAX Return update, compliments: Linda V. Archie-Tax Consultant, 507 Palisade Avenue  |  Yonkers, NY 10703  |  (914) 347-7806  | www.protaxservices.biz  |  protax30@aol.com

Government Shutdown Impacts Return Processing…but only a little

Many anticipated that the Federal Government closure in October would dramatically impact the start of processing tax returns. It will, but only by approximately one week according to a recent announcement from the IRS. Here is what you need to know.

Return Processing Begins: January 31, 2014 (originally scheduled for 1/21/2014). This is one day later than last year. This processing date applies to both e-filed and paper tax returns.

Don’t wait: Tax returns can be prepared and will remain in queue until they can be processed. That means, like last year there will be a bottleneck of tax returns when the IRS starts processing them on the 31st. So if you expect a refund, do not procrastinate to gather your materials. Have your prepared tax return ready to go prior to the 31st.

No missing forms. Last year a number of tax returns using select forms could not be filed immediately. This included certain business tax returns and tax returns using the Adoption Credit. These limitations do not exist this year.

Still April 15th. Despite the fact that the IRS was not working during the government shutdown, the tax due date of April 15th remains unchanged.

Remember, just because the processing of your tax return may be delayed does not mean you should delay the preparation of your return. Send in your tax information as soon as possible. Having your tax return ready when the processing window opens will help ensure the timely filing of your return and help speed up the receipt of any potential refund.


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STRESS MANAGEMENT:

I promised myself that this year I would do more to be in control of my time, I will try to arrive early, to remove clutter as quickly as possible, and be less overwhelmed. A Facebook friend shared the following and I hope it blesses you as much as it did me:

A psychologist walked around a room while teaching stress management to an audience. As she raised a glass of water, everyone expected they’d be asked the “half empty or half full” question. Instead, with a smile on her face, she inquired: “How heavy is this glass of water?” Answers called out ranged from 8 oz. to 20 oz. She replied, “The absolute weight doesn’t matter. It depends on how long I hold it. If I hold it for a minute, it’s not a problem. If I hold it for an hour, I’ll have an ache in my arm. If I hold it for a day, my arm will feel numb and paralyzed. In each case, the weight of the glass doesn’t change, but the longer I hold it, the heavier it becomes.” She continued, “The stresses and worries in life are like that glass of water. Think about them for a while and nothing happens. Think about them a bit longer and they begin to hurt. And if you think about them all day long, you will feel paralyzed – incapable of doing anything.” Remember to put the glass down.

PRAYER:
We are having 14 days of prayer at my church. We started Sunday, January 12, and will end on Saturday, January 25, 2014. For those of you in the area the church is open from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. every day, if you want to visit for prayer. Please feel free to send me any prayer requests you may have as well.
Remember prayer is not a physical posture but a matter of the heart. Its seeking God’s purpose for his will to be done right here on earth. A prayer can be three simple words: Lord Help Me or it can be a dissortation. Either way, that’s between an individual and God.
Lord, I pray that as women and our significant others, you will help us to look at the places where we are broken and work on doing the things necessary to become whole. We know for many of us it will be one step at a time but for others it will be “suddenly and instantly” opportunities for challenge and change. Go with us, keep us in your perfect peace, and have your way in our lives. Mold us, shape us and make us into what you desire for your glory, here on earth, AMEN.

Love, Joy and Peace, 


Debra J. Ellis

Reminder AND/OR for those of you just joining us: The purpose of Fast Wednesdays is to draw near to God on this specific day of the week fasting and praying in whatever manner the Holy Spirit is leading you as sisters (and some brothers) in Christ…some have fasted from social media, coffee, or observed a traditional fast with no eating from sunrise to sunset with only liquids for the day, no deserts, etc. I know many of us, for various reasons, participate every week but in different manners. This has still been beneficial and the blog continues to grow!

The key ingredient is that we are doing this together as sisters, of all ages, in the Lord, both chronologically and spiritually in accordance to: A God-Filled Life Titus 2:3-5 “Guide older women into lives of reverence so they end up as neither gossips nor drunks, but models of goodness. By looking at them, the younger women will know how to love their husbands and children, be virtuous and pure, keep a good house, be good wives. We don’t want anyone looking down on God’s Message because of their behavior.”  Note: Please share Fast Wednesdays with your friends and/or send me names to add to the distribution list. For now, I will post in three places: email (djf52055@gmail.com), Facebook (Debra Fuller Ellis) and blog in Word Press:  https://fastwednesdays.wordpress.com/

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